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Archive for the ‘18 Reasons’ Category

Matt R.

Welcome to Gamay-ville

In case you hadn’t noticed yet, fall is showing itself (if not by our hot days then by our early nights)! Time to break out the decorative gourds and chug pumpkin spice lattes by the gallon! We even had our first hints at San Francisco’s rainy season last week with KarlTheFog being unusually aggressive for October.

The transition to fall also means Rosé City in the wine section has been replaced with Gamay-ville! We’re not at all shy about showing our love for Gamay. We think it makes the perfect fall wine – either as a glass to sip on its own on a crisp fall night or to enjoy with a wide range of autumn food, even pumpkin.

Lastly, fall means Wine Blitz season! Mark your calendars for this year’s two Wine Blitzes, where you save 20% off 12 or more bottles (mix-and-match totally cool) with free delivery in San Francisco:

Wine Blitz #1: Thursday, November 8th – Sunday, November 11th 

Wine Blitz #2: Thursday, December 6th – Sunday, December 9th 


2011 Clusel-Roch Coteaux du Lyonnais ‘Traboules’  –  $16.99; Blitz Pricing  –  $13.59

Domaine Clusel-Roch is located in the tiny AOC of Coteaux du Lyonnais, which as the name suggests, surrounds the town of Lyon just south of Beaujolais. One of France’s newer appellations, it sits above the northern Rhone with soil and climate very similar to the Rhone valley. The primary grape here is of course Gamay. Having more Rhone-like soil and climate qualities, including the schist and black mica that the nearby Côte-Rotie is known for, this wine has flavors somewhere between Gamay and Syrah. Fresh red berry and black currant aromas lead to soft fruit flavors with a hint of peppery and herbal depth and a long medium-bodied finish. It’s fun and serious all at once!
Perfect Pairing: Oven roasted root vegetables with Herbes de Provence


2011 Clos du Tue-Boeuf Cheverny Rouge  –  $19.99; Blitz Pricing  –  $15.99 

Brothers Jean-Marie and Thierry Puzelat are icons in the natural wine world, having pioneered many of the natural winemaking practices in the Loire Valley. Their family has been making wine here since the 1960’s using organic practices – they’ve never had to convert to organic since that’s all they’ve ever done! This bottling is a blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay from their small 5.5 hectare plantings. It has aromas of bright strawberry and cherry with similarly bright and lively fruit qualities on the palate. It’s light in body with a great mineral depth and light herbal quality. They produce very little so grab some while you can!
Perfect Pairing: Red Kuri squash and curry soup

2010 Jean-Paul Brun Terres Dorees Brouilly  –  $22.99; Blitz Pricing  –  $18.39
Jean-Paul Brun is one of the most well-regarded producers in Beaujolais. He has vines in a variety of the Crus of Beaujolais and all of his wines are known for their great purity and depth. The area of Brouilly is known for its steep slopes on Mont Brouilly covered in blue and green granite, a soil type particularly well-suited for producing Gamay. This bottling comes from 50 year old vines and has incredible complexity for the price. Lively red fruit aromas up front are followed by layers of dark berries, smokey minerals, and bright acidity. One of our favorites every year that is both drinkable now and age worthy!
Perfect Pairing: Seared duck breast with pomegranate reduction


Don’t Miss These Upcoming Tastings at 18 Reasons!

Thursdays, Every week, 6-10PM, Drop-in 18th Hour Cafe

Friday, November 2, 6-8PM, Drop-In Thanksgiving Wine Blitz Preview Tasting

Friday, November 9, 6-8PM, RSVP and Drop-In Rioja Tasting with Bi-Rite and K&L Wine

Young Food Writers Bring Litcrawl to 18 Reasons

Connor kicked off the show

Emma anchored the young author lineup

Connor, Emma, Helena and Eli did themselves, their families and “Take My Word For It!” proud on Saturday night when they presented their writing at LitQuake, in honor of Kris and Anne’s Bi-Rite Creamery cookbook, Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones. Reading in front of a rapt audience at 18 Reasons these four brave young writers joined the ranks of practiced authors who participated in San Francisco’s city-wide festival of the literary arts.

Here’s Helena so eloquently delivering her story about the enjoyment of ice cream:

And Eli read us a story about a curmudgeon named Harold who decides he can’t deny his inner child and hunger for the sweet frozen stuff!

After the young authors were through, Anne and Kris read a passage from their book (did you know our White Chocolate and Raspberry swirl flavor led to a romance between one of our bakers and a guest?!)

Thanks to Sondra Hall for partnering with 18 Reasons to offer her “Take My Word for It” food writing curriculum to young writers in our community!

Teach a Child To Fish: Dinner with Sam & Craig

We’re proud to announce a very special evening in support of 18 Reasons youth programming. From teaching young moms about healthy eating, to creating culinary career opportunities for teens, to teaching SF public school teachers how to Cook the Common Core, we have developed robust initiatives to change the way kids eat, learn, and live. I would love to see you at this dinner, where you can learn more and enjoy a spectacular meal cooked by Sam and Craig.

RSVP today to claim your seat at the table!

If you cannot attend but would like to support 18 Reasons youth programming, you can do so via our fiscal sponsor here. Please make sure to write “18 Reasons” in the designation field.

Thank you!

18 + 2: Our Whole Systems Approach to Cooking

Our newest 18 Reasons “18 + 2″ video takes a look at our hands-on cooking classes, with a focus on knife skills classes. We offer a whole systems approach to all of our classes, teaching about culture, nutrition, policy and technique. In our latest knife skills class we tackled fish filleting with a focus on using fish that’s affordable and caught sustainably. Check out our video and let us know what you think!

Three Ranchers We Love

Don Watson

This fall we have some amazing opportunities to meet the ranchers we love working with at Bi-Rite.

The first on September 19th is a one-two knock-out series with Don Watson, our favorite sheep guy. Did you know he lends his wooly creatures to mow lawns across the Bay Area?  At the first class, watch Bi-Rite Butcher Zane Clark break down a whole lamb into primal and sub-primal cuts, then explain the best way to cook each cut of meat. To inspire your palate we’ll be serve up a lamb snack and beer. Tickets are $25 for members and $35 for the general public.

The following week on September 26th, meet Don in person over dinner and wine. Don and his wife will join us for a five course meal featuring his beautiful lamb prepared by Bi-Rite chef Wyatt Sandberg. For a delectable meal, wine and a talk with the rancher,  tickets are $50 for members and $60 for the general public.

Bill Niman

If you buy tickets to both you’ll get a discounted ticket price! If you can only come to one, that’s ok, too. Choose the class you prefer and sign up quick! Tickets for both Don Watson events are here.

Inspiration from our Farm Tour Series has led us to hit the road again on October 13th, this time heading north to BN Ranch to meet Bill & Nicolette Niman and Devil’s Gulch Ranch to meet Mark Pasternak and Myriam Kaplan-Pasternak. Mark will be whipping up lunch for us, cowboy style. Tickets for members are $40, for the general public $50. Tickets and more information about the ranch tour are here.

Mark Pasternak

Bill Niman is a pretty famous name around here for his beef production. His latest project, under the BN Ranch name, has shifted his focus on maturing beef to enhance flavor and texture. They are a grass based ranch that raises pasture raised cattle, heritage turkeys, and (sometimes) goats. They never use pesticides, herbicides, or artificial fertilizers on their land, use no irrigation, ground water or municipal water, and never administer hormones or antibiotics on their animals.

Devil’s Gulch Ranch, a diversified family farm located in Nicasio, Marin County, produces rabbits, pigs, sheep, premium wine grapes and asparagus for retail customers and direct sales to high-quality restaurants. Sustainable, humane agricultural practices and organic farming are utilized whenever possible.
What are you waiting for? Put on your favorite jeans and boots and join us!


So You Think You Can Write?

Announcing our 1st annual Edible Story Writing Contest, brought to us by “Take My Word For It!” and 18 Reasons!

You ready (and under age 12)? Here goes:

“Life is just a bowl of cherries”

Rewrite this idiom telling the story of what you think life is just a bowl of (500 word limit)

Please e-mail your story to us at sondra@takemywordforit.net no later than Sept. 8th!

Hard, but tasty, work: Peanut Butter and the Pen at 18 Reasons

Two lucky winners will have their piece published online and will each receive a 50% discount on this Fall’s after-school creative writing class, “Peanut Butter and the Pen”, beginning 9/12. All of the young writers in the class will have the opportunity to share their work at a reading for parents and friends at the end of the session. We also proudly post student writing on our blog. And as an extra perk this year, students will have a chance to read their writing at LitQuake with Anne and Kris from Bi-Rite Creamery! More info on this workshop is available here.

Since 2005, Take My Word for It has been teaching their innovative curriculum in after-school and community-based creative writing programs. Designed especially for young authors, our classes challenge and inspire our students to stretch their imaginations.




Get to know our 18 Reasons’ Instructors: Shakirah “Shak Attack” Simley

Shakirah Simley: Bi-Rite's Community Coordinator, 18 Reasons teacher, Canner-in-Residence...and lover of Edna Lewis and DJ Jazzy Jeff.

Name: Shakirah Simley

Occupation: Community Coordinator/Canner-in-Residence, Bi-Rite Family of Businesses

Hometown: Harlem, New York City

What is a dish that you make for a regular Wednesday dinner? Do you want to share the recipe? Whatever’s showing off at the farmer’s market, in colorful, multi-textured salad form. On any given Wednesday in late summer, you’ll find me enjoying creamy burrata, dry-farmed early girl tomatoes, lemon cucumbers, and sweet white corn atop little gem lettuces.

When you were a kid what was your favorite thing to eat? Super sour whole dill pickles swimming in a bright green brine (in the pouch!) from the corner bodega. And Mister Softee vanilla soft serve with the requisite rainbow sprinkles.

Who do you admire most in the cooking word (this does not have to be anyone famous. Could be a friend, member of family etc.)? Why? Although she’s no longer with us, I have tremendous respect for the legendary, Edna Lewis – “The Grand Dame of Southern Cooking”. Raised by freed slaves, she grew up to take the culinary world by storm with her style, grace and powerful presence inside and outside the kitchen. Her commitment to freshness and seasonality predate the movement for more sustainable American cuisine, and she brought international attention to genuine Southern cooking. I am constantly inspired by her recipes and techniques and would have loved to meet her.

What’s your favorite part of working with 18 Reasons? I love the folks who come through our doors, with their eagerness to become a part of a more just food system. And Rosie and Olivia are my favorite Dream Team (sorry, 1992 Olympic Men’s Basketball). (18 Reasons:we did not pay her to say this. but we should have.)

If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring cook what would it be? If the personal is political, then there is nothing more personal nor political than food. Remember that eating and cooking is an act of empowerment, of choice and engagement.

Where do you like to take friends visiting from out of town? I live in Oakland, so definitely the Marcom Rose Garden and a jaunt around Lake Merritt. To lure friends into their eventual westward exodus, I’m a big fan of The Punchdown for tasty wine flights and warm, knowledgeable  staff, FUSEbox for their inventive, veggie-galore panchan, and Lois the Pie Queen for their chicken and waffles and lemon ice box pie.

What is your favorite park in San Francisco? Buena Vista for its marvelous views of San Francisco (on a clear day, of course)

Is there anything else you would like to share with us? “Love what you do and do what you love” – DJ Jazzy Jeff, “For the Love of the Game”


Join us for Shak’s next class: Capturing the Cusp: Seasonal Preserving for the Practical Cook: Sundays, September 2 and 30, 4-8PM

In this two class preserving series, Shakirah Simley (founder of Slow Jams and Bi-Rite’s Community Coordinator) will teach participants practical applications for capturing fruits in flux. In our “Savoring Summer” class on September 2, Shak will take on peaches, tomatoes and berries, cover an introduction to canning theory, safety and preserving basics, and show you her summer canning secrets for non-runny berry jam and how to tackle tomatoes like a champ. On September 30, “Fall into Fall” with our second course featuring apples, pears, figs and persimmons. She’ll tackle all the tricks to thicker fruit butter, seasonal seasonings and deliciously boozy fruits. You can come to just one or both classes.

Series: $200 for 18 Reasons members; $225 for the general public

Per class: $110 for 18 Reasons members; $125 for the general public

Tickets: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/265953

Get to know our 18 Reasons’ Instructors: First up, Louella Hill

We want to introduce you to the great chefs and artisan producers who teach classes at 18 Reasons, so we’ll be sharing interviews with them periodically. First up: Louella Hill, the SF Milkmaid, who teaches cheese making classes. Join her Sunday, August 26th for the second of her Big Wheels series, during which you’ll make cheddar cheese! And stay tuned for an upcoming interview with Shakirah Simley, who will be teaching preserving in September.

Name: The San Francisco Milk Maid, Louella Hill

Occupation: Cheese Maker / Cheese Teacher

Hometown: Bisbee, Arizona

What is a dish that you make for a regular Wednesday dinner? 

Simple chicken tacos with just-made sour cream, sliced jalapenos, raw onion & salsa.

Do you want to share the recipe?

Louella’s Salsa

In skillet, dry toast 1 tsp cumin powder with 2 tsp chili powder for ~ 2 minutes. Be careful not to burn them. Next, into a blender add 5 large skinned, gutted tomatoes, those just-toasted spices, juice of two limes, 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 cloves garlic. If the tomatoes aren’t flavorful, add 1 tablespoon honey or sugar or orange juice concentrate. Blend for 1 minute. Next, add another 1/2 cup cilantro leaves and another 2 prepped tomatoes and 1/2 cup corn. Blend for the tiniest amount of time possible (~3-5 seconds). This will give the salsa texture. Pour into glass container and store in fridge. Use within 1 week.

When you were a kid what was your favorite thing to eat?

I loved fruit as a kid. I grew up where apricot and pomegranates grew wild on the hillside. My mom called me ‘The Fruit Bat’.

Who do you admire most in the cooking world (this does not have to be anyone famous. Could be a friend, member of family etc.)? Why?

I admire my godmother, Helen Suby. She grew up in an Orthodox section of Brooklyn, learned the secret of spice while living in Sri Lanka, then became Queen of the Campfire Taco in my hometown on the Mexican border. Her humble kitchen feels like the center of town to me.

What’s your favorite part of working with 18 Reasons?

I love teaching people to make cheese who are really, really interested- not just passing the time. That’s exactly the kind of people I find at 18 Reasons. One of my cheese students from last year’s 18 Reasons classes became an official recipe tester for an upcoming cheese making book I’m working on (due out Fall 2014).

If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring cook what would it be?

Remember that everything- even oil, even flour, even beans- get old. Keep a sparsely stocked fridge and shop often.

Where do you like to take friends visiting from out of town?

I bring visitors up to Sonoma to visit my milk cow friends.

What is your favorite park in San Francisco?

I have a 3 year old so it’s impossible NOT to love the Mission’s Dolores Park.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

The joke in my house is “And what’s in this mason jar, Hon?” I’ve filled our refrigerator with dozens of jars of culturing, fermenting dairy projects. It isn’t easy to find ‘just a splash of milk’.

Thanks Louella! Now check out her upcoming Cheddar cheese workshop with us! http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/252195

Mark your calendars: Saturday, September 29th is Party on Block 18!

Every other year, we partner with the other 18th Street food businesses to thank our neighbors for supporting us, and raise money for six local nonprofits.

As with our 2008 and 2010 block parties, 18th Street will be closed off between Dolores and Guerrero to make room for tasty street food (short rib tacos, kati rolls or salted caramel ice cream, anyone?) and a wine and beer garden. Music performances will happen throughout the day, along with a pie baking contest (this year, the judging will take place inside 18 Reasons)! We’re excited to be joined by newcomers to our neighborhood this year, including namu gaji, Izakaya Yuzuki, and Pot and Pantry.

As in the past, all proceeds from the event (including money raised through tickets sales, sponsorship and the pie baking contest) will go directly to a handful of neighborhood non-profits selected by the organizers. This year, the beneficiaries will be 826 Valencia, 18 Reasons, Nextcourse, Buen Dia Family School, Holy Family Day Home and The Women’s Building.

The pie baking contest is for non-professional bakers. Pies will be judged based on flavor and appearance in the following categories: fruit, chocolate, nut and other. Entrants will be chosen on a first come, first served basis, notified via email by September 15th; click here to enter the contest.

Advance food and beverage tickets will be for sale in the weeks before the block party here, at Delfina, Dolores Park Café, Fayes, and Tartine Bakery. A book of 10 costs $20. Click here to buy your tickets online.

Join our Party on Block 18 Facebook page to get updates on menu items and other announcements leading up to the big day.

If you’d like to volunteer that day, or have any questions for the organizers, please drop us a line.

We’re so grateful to the neighborhood that supports all of our businesses day in and day out, and hope that Party on Block 18 is a chance for everyone to come out and celebrate together the relationships that have been formed in our community. The first two block parties were great and we expect this one to be even better, hoping to raise even more money than ever before for the six amazing organizations in our neighborhood that will greatly benefit from
everyone’s help.

See you there!

18+2: Introducing the Bi-Rite Family Farm

In the second episode of “18+2″, 18 Reasons’ new video series, we share the Bi-Rite Family Farm, 18 Reasons’ annual Farm School, and our thoughts on working with Heritage breeds and Heirloom varietals (as well as what those words mean!).

In addition to Farm School, 18 Reasons hosts a year-round Urban Gardening School with Garden for the Environment , monthly Farm to Table Dinner Conversations, and hands-on cooking classes  so you know what to do with all the veggies you learn to grow! We also collaborate with the farms who deliver produce to the Market for seasonal farm & ranch tours.

Our next farm to table dinner will be with Bi-Rite Family Farms in September; get your tickets here to meet Simon and Riley in person! Finally, in September we’re hosting a dinner with Hayes Valley Farm and author Robin Shulman about food production in urban environments; tickets are available here.

Urban Farming: What Is It Good For?

Is it possible to feed a city from within its own borders, or is large scale agriculture the way to feed the world? With San Francisco’s new Urban Agriculture policy approved and $120,000 earmarked in the city budget for an Urban Agriculture plan, this questions is sure to evoke many responses.

On one hand, since it’s not possible to feed entire cities solely from within, large scale production outside of urban areas is the practical solution. On the other hand, there is more to urban ag than simply growing, processing and distributing food within an urban environment. There are educational, community, and health benefits that food trucked in from even just outside the city limits cannot replace. And what about “peri-urban” farming?

To help work our way through this thorny debate, 18 Reasons is hosting Jason Marks from Alemany Farm for a dinner conversation on Wednesday, August 1st. Over a vegetarian dinner sourced from Alemany Farm, we’ll discuss  the implications of large-scale agriculture, limiting food deserts, building community, and environmental education.

Alemany Farm is an urban farm located in San Francisco that grew from a dumping ground and now encompasses 4.5 acres. The farm is volunteer-run and produces up to 200 pounds of produce every week. Jason Mark, one of the managers and farmers of Alemany Farm, is also a writer for the Earth Island Journal.

Click here for more information and tickets for the event.




Jamming My Way Through the Food World

Three years ago this month, I ventured into the crazy world of food start-ups in San Francisco. My goal? To claim world domination through delicious, jewel-colored jars filled with fresh fruit, sugar, lemon and a whole lotta love. With a hint towards my production methods and a not-so-subtle nod to my favorite music genre, Slow Jams was born. With the help of La Cocina, I garnered a fair amount of attention, grew my business, and even made it to national TV. Not bad for a Harlem-raised girl who didn’t taste a fresh apricot until her first visit to the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market.

And then my life completely changed.

Along with being quite the foodie, I’m also a really big nerd. It turns out that the US State Department recognized said fact and I was awarded a prestigious 1-year Fulbright fellowship to attend the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, Italy. Selected to earn my Master’s degree in Food Culture and Communications, I tried to ready myself for copious wine tasting, olive oil sniffing and the consumption of ungodly amounts of cured pork products.

Alas, I had to say goodbye to Slow Jams and the momentum I had gained. But last year was incredible, from learning about traditional cheese-making in a hut atop the Dolomite mountains, to getting schooled by nonnas in the art of making tortelli pasta, to having thoughtful conversations about food sustainability with professors from around the world. Not to mention making my way through daily life in our tiny town with my Tarzan Italian (“Me want the cappuccino there now please!”).

However, in my heart, canning and preserving never went away. As I immersed myself in Italian food culture and traditions, I began to see parallels with our food culture here in the Bay Area. Throughout my travels, I sought ‘kindred canners’ and bonded across language barriers. I discussed sugar content and troublesome label-makers with a small-jam producer in Emilia. I learned secrets of mostarda in Reggio and discovered a native pumpkin only used for its pectin. I also taught “the American way” of canning for bemused audience of old and young Italians.

Earlier this year, I returned to the Bay a certified gastronome trying to find her place again in the food world. I knew canning and preserving would be a part of my life, as would my deep commitment to food systems work. So I asked my favorite dreamer-entrepreneur-foodie Sam if there was a place for me at Bi-Rite. As a new member of the Bi-Rite family, I now wear a number of hats. I’m working as our Community Coordinator, continuing our support of so many San Francisco organizations that need our help, and forging new programs that aim to increase access to healthy food across our city’s neighborhoods. I’m hosting our Sunday cooking classes at 18 Reasons (tickets are available for my blackberry-palooza on August 5th!) And as our in-house canner, I now work with our farmers, grocery and produce teams to make small-batch, seasonal preserves out of our Bi-Rite kitchens right here on 18th Street.

Macerating the peaches for my Bi-Rite PUBLIC Label jam

It would only make sense that pairing my jam expertise with the best of directly-sourced fruit from our farmers would yield some delicious new additions to the Bi-Rite shelves. Combining my trademark New York obsession with top quality, my commitment to preserving our Bay Area produce bounty, and a new hint of Italian flair, I’ve come up with several tasty preserves that we’ll offer in our new Bi-Rite PUBLIC Label line. Leave no cream scone untopped by my Summer Berry Jam; it’s clean, bold and fruit forward, bursting with fresh blueberries, raspberries and strawberries. And be on the lookout for the Santa Rosa Plum Preserve I’ve made from the tart and sweet plums we harvested from our Sonoma Farm.

We’ll be sharing tastes of our new PUBLIC Label releases throughout the summer; swing by and say hi, I’m looking forward to seeing some new and old faces! I have lots more up my sleeve and am pumped to have my Bi-Rite fam on my side.

Jam on!