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Archive for the ‘Cheese’ Category


Jon Fancey

Cheese Trek Travelogue: Morrow from Mount Gildead, Ohio

MorrowThe sixth stop on the Bi-Rite Cheese Trek take us to my home state of Ohio.  Many things come to mind when the Buckeye State is mentioned, and fine sheep’s milk cheeses are not on the list.  My mom was the first person to mention Kokoborrego Cheese to me – she noticed their stand at her local farmer’s market and asked me if I had ever heard of them.  I had not. Most cheese made in Ohio comes from large cheese plants or very small artisan producers, and none of it really makes its way here to California.

Kokoborrego Cheese is one part of Sippel Family Farm, a 77 acre organic farm in North Central Ohio.  Ben and Lisa Sippel grow organic vegetables and apples, and raise sheep on pasture.  Ben and Lisa purchased the farm in 2004 when they were only 23 years old, and they’ve been making cheese for a handful of years with the assistance of cheese maker Ben Baldwin.

Morrow2Ben mainly focuses on crafting rustic tomme-style cheeses with raw sheep’s milk – sturdy cheeses that can be matured and sold throughout the year.  Morrow is the youngest cheese he makes: a small cube of dense sheep’s milk cheese that’s been dusted with ash.  It develops a light, bloomy rind after a week; the flavors are fruity and sweet with notes of green garlic and grass.  Morrow is Kokoborrego’s most sought after seasonal cheese – they only make it for a couple of months during the summer.  Enjoy it with a glass of sparkling wine on a warm summer day.

Up next on our Cheese Trek is a visit to the ‘Catherdral of Comté’ to select a very special wheel of cheese that will be available in the Markets the first week of August!


Jon Fancey

Cheese Trek Travelogue: Schapenboerderij De Zeekraal from Terschelling, Holland

The fifth stop on the Bi-Rite Cheese Trek takes us Terschelling, one of the Frisian Islands off the northern coast of Holland.  I recently had the opportunity to spend a few days in Holland visiting farms and enjoying great cheese.  My hosts were Betty and Martin Koster, the owners of Amersterdam’s Fromagerie L’Amuse.  The Kosters select and mature Dutch cheeses which they either sell in their shops or export.  Their L’Amuse Signature Gouda is a mainstay at Bi-Rite, but their selection and passion goes beyond aged cow’s milk Gouda.  Betty was excited to take me to Terschelling to visit one of Holland’s most inspiring farmhouse sheep’s milk cheesemakers.

Terschelling1Our day started with a drive from Amsterdam to the port town of Harlingen, where we boarded a boat for a windy and rainy crossing of the Wadden Sea.  When we finally arrived at Terschelling, we were greeted by Jolanda and Gerben Bakker of Schapenboerderij De Zeekraal.  Gerben grew up on the island and now spends his days milking sheep and maintaining an organic farm; his wife, Jolanda, makes cheese and ice cream with the milk and runs a charming farm shop on their property.  We made it to the Baaker’s farm just in time to see their 200 Frisian sheep being milked for the evening and we also spent quite a bit of time with the new born lambs out in the pasture.  We enjoyed the couple’s cheeses for dinner and were treated to an off-road excursion to the eastern tip of the thin island to watch the sunset (at 10pm!).  After spending the night in yurts on the farm, we woke to the sounds of the animals and cups of coffee with fresh sheep’s milk.

TerschellingJolanda is one of only three cheesemakers on the island – and the only one using organic milk.  Her signature cheese is a small wheel of sheep’s milk gouda named for the island.  I first tried this cheese a few years ago and was intrigued by its rich flavors of nuts and caramel that accompanied its smooth & dense texture – the wheel I tasted from had been selected by the Kosters and matured to export to the United States.  I appreciate the cheese even more after visting the Baakers and tasting younger wheels of their cheese on their farm – Terschelling is a unique cheese that reflects the commitment this couple has to their animals and land.  I recommended enjoying the cheese on its own encounter all the complex flavors.  Betty Koster is also passionate about tea and encouraged me to enjoy her selections with Jasmine Tea – the pairing was unexpectedly wonderful.

The next destination on our Bi-Rite Cheese Trek is my home state of Ohio for a taste of an extra-special seasonal sheep’s milk delight!


Jon Fancey

Cheese Travelogue: Condor’s Ruin from Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia

CondorsRuin1The fourth stop on the Bi-Rite Cheese Trek takes us to a newer farm in Chattahoochee Hills Country – a swath of undeveloped Georgia countryside that’s a short drive from Atlanta.  This area is the last rural area near Atlanta to prevent suburban sprawl with the hopes of preserving the natural beauty and agricultural traditions of the region.

Ross and Rebecca Williams started Many Fold Farm in 2009 with an ambitious mission to craft meat and cheese products on a piece of land that adhered to natural systems, while also educating the public about sustainable farming in the South.  200 sheep and 800 chickens live on Many Fold Farm – ewes are milked to produce cheese, lambs are slaughtered for meat, and the hen’s eggs are sold at the nearby farmers’ markets.

I first tried Many Folds Farm cheeses while at a conference three summers ago and they definitely stood out from other cheeses I tried that week.  There aren’t many cheeses made in the South, let alone French-inspired small format sheep’s milk cheeses.  Ross and Rebecca also stood out as a couple – they were young, energetic, and engaging.

CondorsRuinFarmersIt has taken a couple of years for Many Folds to increase their production and meet demand for their unique cheeses; they are just now beginning to appear on the West CoastCondor’s Ruin is my favorite from Many Fold – a delicate sheep’s milk cheese inspired by the French classic Valençay.  The ash coated pyramid develops a beautiful white rind along with well-balanced lactic flavors with notes of grass & garlic.  This impressive effort speaks to the quality of the sheep’s milk and the care given during the cheese making process.  The velvety and dense paste of Condor’s Ruin is best enjoyed with a dry white wine or a complex sparkling wine.

The next stop on our Cheese Trek takes us to an island off the coast Friesland for one of Holland’s rarest farmhouse cheeses that will be available in the Markets on July 7th. Ask our mongers how you can join the Cheese Trek and #cheeseyourownadventure!


Jon Fancey

Cheese Trek Travelogue: Alp Blossom from Doren, Austria

The third stop on our cheese journey takes us to the small village of Doren in Austria’s Bregenz Forest.  Doren lies in the Alpine region where the corners of Austria, Germany, and Switzerland meet – a region known for aged cow’s milk cheeses.

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Cheesemaking students at Sennerei Huban

Sennerei Huban was founded in 1901 as Austria’s first cheese vocational school and sources milk from a cooperative of 34 dairy farms.  The cooperative members have 15 cows on average, mainly Brown Swiss, that are on pasture all summer and are fed alpine hay when there’s snow on the ground.  The dairy mainly makes cheeses that are consumed in the region – their production is focused on Emmentaler and Bergkäse.  Alp Blossom is the dairy’s most special cheese, an aged wheel of cow’s milk cheese coated in herbs and flowers from the region.  This style of cheese is seasonally available in Bavaria and the Bregenz but is rarely exported.

AlpBlossom

Maker: Sennerei Huban – Doren, Austria

I discovered this beautiful cheese while attending Slow Food’s Biennial Cheese Festival in Bra, Italy.  It was a warm day in the middle of last September and I bumped into Norbert Sieghart, the exporter of Alp Blossom.  Norbert selects the best cheeses from the Bavarian and Austrian Alps and operates some of the best cheese stalls in Berlin’s Market Halls.  Norbert promised me cold beer and tastes of several of his newest cheese finds.  Alp Blossom stood out more than any offering at his booth – the blanket of purple and yellow flowers really grabbed my attention.  The paste of the cheese was silky smooth and the flavors were long and rich.  The coating of flowers and herbs not only made the cheese visually stunning, they imparted an herbaceous essence to the paste.

It’s been over 8 months since I first tasted this cheese and am excited I was able to secure a few wheels for our Cheese Trek adventure.  I’d recommend enjoying Alp Blossom with any Bavarian beer – I first tasted the cheese while drinking a Pilsner.  A bottle of Riesling would be great, too, as Rieslings always pair well with aged cow’s milk cheeses from the Alps.

The next stop on our Cheese Trek is the Chattahoochee Hill Country of Georgia for one of the most coveted sheep’s milk cheeses being crafted in America.  Look for this next exciting cheese on the Market’s shelves on June 23rd. Visit the Markets and talk to a cheese monger to see how you can join the Cheese Trek and #cheeseyourownadventure today!


Jon Fancey

Cheese Trek Travelogue: Bleu Mont Cheddar from Blue Mounds, Wisconsin

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Willi Lehner, Cheesemaker

 The second stop on the Bi-Rite Cheese Trek is a man-made earth sheltered cellar in Blue Mounds, Wisconsin.  This ‘cave’ was constructed by Willi Lehner, one of America’s most interesting and inspiring cheesemakers.  I had the chance to visit Willi a few years ago when I was on a cheese-fueled trip across Southern Wisconsin.  His operation is very inspiring: solar panels and windmills provide power, a large greenhouse grows fruits and vegetables, and the cave perfectly ages his cheeses.

Cheesemaking came naturally to Lehner. Willi’s father was a Swiss immigrant who came to Wisconsin to make cheese, and Willi spent summers herding cows and making cheese in the Swiss Alps.  Despite his strong Swiss roots, an aged bandaged cheddar put Willi on the map.  Bleu Mont Cheddar is Willi’s signature cheese: a small cloth-bound wheel that is aged to perfection in his cave.  Willi sources milk from four small dairies and only makes the cheese when the cows are out on pasture.  This excellent milk makes a good cheddar, but the time spent in the climate controlled cellar transforms the wheels into one of the most satisfying cheeses made in America.  Bleu Mont is a sharp and fruity cheddar with notes of toasted nuts and brown butter; the earthy finish makes it stand out against other domestic bandaged cheddars.

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Entrance to the cheese cave

I was able to taste several ages of Bleu Mont on my visit – from a younger 8-month aged wheel to an extra-aged wheel that was over two years old.  I enjoyed the cheese that had been aged for just over a year, and the wheels of Bleu Mont available for our Cheese Trek are just over a year old as well.  It’s the perfect cheese to enjoy with a unique beer, and great for a picnic or day hike, too.

cheesetrek_Logo1-01The next stop on our Cheese Trek is a small village in Austria’s Bregenz Forest for an exciting wheel of cheese that’s rarely available outside the Alps. As always, be sure to look for the Cheese Trek sticker on cheeses in both Markets, get your passport stamped by a monger or when you check out, and show us how you #cheeseyourownadventure on Twitter and Instagram!


Jon Fancey

Introducing the Bi-Rite Cheese Trek!

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Welcome to the Bi-Rite Cheese Trek, a new way to taste cheese and explore the world. I’m your guide, Jon Fancey, the Bi-Rite Family of Businesses Cheese Buyer. I’m responsible for curating the cheese selection at our Markets; to do so, I spend some time every year traveling to discover new cheeses. I visit farms, meet cheese makers and exporters, attend cheese festivals, and explore the world’s finest cheese shops to find new offerings. By joining the Bi-Rite Cheese Trek, you’ll be able to join me on my travels and taste some of the best cheeses I’ve found. You can also engage with me and fellow Cheese Trekkers by exploring #cheeseyourownadventure on Instagram and Twitter, and following @biritesf. Stop by the Markets and talk to one of our mongers to join the Trek!

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Maker: Poitou-Chevre // La Mothe-Saint-Héray, France

The first stop on our cheese journey takes us to a small town in the Poitou-Charentes, a region in western France known for medieval towns and cognac. This region is south of Nantes and north of Bordeaux, with miles of Atlantic coastline. Agriculture is important to Poitou-Charentes – oyster farms, vineyards, and dairies are prevalent in the region. The first cheese on the Bi-Rite Cheese Trek is crafted by Poitou’s finest goat cheese maker.

Bonde d’Antan is a small round of goat cheese whose origins lie in the Middle Ages. When the Moors invaded the region in the 8th Century they brought livestock and food preservation techniques,

The goats of

The goats of Poitou

including goats and cheese making methods. Goats thrive on the green pastures of Poitou and small format goat cheeses are now a regional tradition. Poitou-Chevre was founded as a cooperative dairy in 1897 by goat farmers around the town of La Mothe-Saint-Héray. The cooperative produced classic, small-format goat cheeses for over 100 years before being turned over to the Rongeon Family. The Rongeons have been making cheese in Poitou for generations and are committed to sustaining the heritage of the cooperative by using the village’s goat milk to produce classic cheeses. The cheeses of Poitou-Chevre are the best cooperatively produced small format goat cheeses I’ve tasted on my travels.

The original sign

The original sign

‘Bonde’ translates to ‘stopper’ – the little cylinder of cheese is reminiscent of a wine barrel’s stopper. The cheese’s paste is dense and fudgey, and the flavors are slightly herbal, yet clean and lactic. I would enjoy Bonde d’Antan with a bottle of Rosé or crisp white wine from the Loire Valley – a neighboring region of Poitou-Charentes. This style of goat cheese also pairs very nicely with farmhouse ales from Belgium and Western France – we have several great examples available in the Markets.

The next stop on our journey will be a small village in Austria’s Bregenz Forest – the featured cheese from this village will debut in the Markets on May 19th, stay tuned and be sure to #cheeseyourownadventure!


Waverley

Treat Mama Right!

Though technically every day you show you care (right?!), treat mama right this Mama’s Day with some TLC in the form of Good Food! Brunch or dinner, a picnic in the park, we’re here to help you treat mama like the hero she is.

MamasBrunch_WebOur chefs have crafted a light, fresh, spring menu that is sure to wow, featuring our Shrimp Louie with Oregon bay shrimp, butter lettuce, avocado, and cherry tomatoes with creamy Old Bay thousand island dressing. Pair it with our new, house-made Wild Salmon Rillettes with lemon and aleppo pepper, and our seasonal Quiche Maman with asparagus, Marin French “Petite Breakfast” Cheese, spring onion, and fines herbes. View the complete Mama’s Day menu here, available in the Markets and online for delivery May 6 through May 8.

Our bakers have whipped up something truly special for the truly special mamas in your life, the Creamery’s new Tarte aux Fraises. Made with peak season, farm-direct strawberries and almond frangipane, studded with pistachios, it’s a decadent and unique treat.

To complement this colorful spread, our cheese team is featuring brunch-friendly cheeses, like Marin French Cheese’s Petites (on sale now for only $3.99), plus an assortment of favorites like Cowgirl Creamery’s Mt. Tam and Fromagerie Onetik’s Tomme Brebis Chevre.

Gifts for mama? We’ve got some great Good Food ideas:

  • DIY Strawberry Shortcakes: Give mama a sweet treat, plus get the ingredients delivered to your door!
  • Gorgeous farm-direct flowers: Our florists will be creating custom bouquets in front of both Markets Saturday, May 7 and Sunday, May 8, 9am to 5pm; or, order farm-direct flowers from Instacart for delivery within an hour.
  • Seasonal Craft Cocktails: Our friends The Bon Vivants have created two beautiful, seasonal gin cocktails perfect for brunch or a day in the sun.
  • Handcrafted Chocolates & Truffles: Our Grocery Team has brought a collection of beautiful, handmade confections, truffles, and more so you can wow with chocolate.  Highlights include Chocolate Moderne’s Champagne Chic (chocolate-covered bonbons with double chocolate ganache in a champagne truffle), and Recchiuti’s Classic Truffles (traditional French-style rolled truffles).

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Jon Fancey

Perfectly Portable Petites for All!

BiRite-HOLIDAY-2015-Cheese-032Marin French Cheese was began to make cheese in 1865, started by a dairy farmer in West Marin who became well known for providing European-style cheeses to bustling San Francisco. Marin French Cheese is still making cheese over 150 years later – the longest continually operating cheese maker in the United States.  The Bi-Rite Cheese Department is celebrating the beginning of spring by offering three favorite Marin French cheeses for $2 off! Perfectly portable, these petite cheeses make for fantastic park picnics, party eats, or on-the-go snacks.

  • Petite Breakfast Cheese – Marin French’s original cheese from 1865. A little button of triple crème cow’s milk cheese that they refer to as a ‘fresh brie’.  It’s mild & buttery and perfect for any time of the day.
  • Petite Crème – A little round of brie that’s great for picnics or a cheese plate. It’s sweet and milky and pairs well with olives and charcuterie.
  • Petite Camembert – The Bay Area version of a French classic. It’s Marin French’s most robust cheese and fabulous with oysters from neighboring Tomales Bay.

Whether you try one or try them all, celebrate local cheese this spring by enjoying a Marin French Petite for only $3.99!


Jon Fancey

Cabot Vintage Cheddar, the Bi-Rite Cheese of Choice

CabotVintage_Sticker_StickerIn the crowded field of cheddar choices, Bi-Rite Market fully endorses Cabot Vintage Cheddar.  Masterfully made and matured at the Cabot Creamery Cooperative in Washington County, Vermont, this standout two year aged cheddar has been winning over guests at our Markets for years.  The Cabot Cooperative collects milk from 1,200 small family dairy farms in New England and is a fellow B Corporation that’s dedicated to social and environmental sustainability.

CabotAs a cornerstone of our cheese selection Cabot Vintage checks all the boxes.  Its sharp and satisfying flavor makes it great for snacking or meltingEnjoy it at the park with your favorite charcuterie and beer, or take a hunk home to make a grilled cheese sandwich or omelet for an easy dinner.  You can also find our cheese of choice featured on our favorite Roast Beef & Cheddar Sandwich at the deli counter or in our house-made Macaroni & Cheese in the prepared foods case (available for online order for convenient delivery).

Our cheesemongers will be campaigning for our cheese of choice during April and May in the Markets – stop by and ask for a taste!  One bite will win you over and get you ready to vote Cabot Vintage in 2016.


Waverley

Fill Your Easter Basket with Good Food

Fill your Easter basket with Good Food! The Bi-Rite Family has prepared an Easter feast perfect for an al fresco brunch or a pull-out-all-the-stops Sunday dinner. With traditional lamb roasts from our butchers, beautiful local produce from our farmers, light and refreshing house-made dishes from our chefs, and desserts from Bi-Rite Creamery that range from the traditional to the simply seasonal, we’re here to help you craft the perfect Easter meal for your family and friends.

From our Butchers

SpringLambOur butchers are bringing you some of the highest quality, sustainably-raised and harvested products for your Easter table, including the limited availability Don Watson Milk-Fed Spring Lamb (starting at $12.99/lb), with exceptionally tender texture and incredibly mild flavor. Our butchers are receiving whole lambs and butchering to order, so be sure to pre-order your preferred cuts today! A fantastic option for those seeking a twist on tradition, our Butcher’s Cut Spring Lamb Roast Recipe is sure to be a showstopper for your guests.

For those looking for classic lamb flavors and the larger-size leg, we’re pleased to offer BN Ranch Pasture-Raised, Grass-Fed Lamb (starting at $9.99/lb) from the Sacramento Delta, also available for convenient delivery from our online Market. Read more about what makes these lamb programs so special on our blog. If lamb isn’t your jam, we’re also featuring a selection of hams from Rancho Llano Seco, Niman Ranch, and Fra’Mani, also available from our online Market.

From our Chefs

Our chefs have prepared a beautiful house-made menu for your Easter celebrations, showcasing refreshing spring flavors like Grilled Local Artichokes with White Beans & Hikari Farms Greens ($13.99/lb) and Grilled Wild Alaskan Coho Salmon with Lemony Spring Pea Hummus & Shaved Radish ($11.99/ea). Perfect for brunch in the park or a fine Easter dinner, our house-made Easter menu will be available in the Markets and on Instacart March 25 through March 27.  If you’d like to pre-order your Easter feast, just give us a call, click here to view the menu!

From our Creamery & Bakeshop

FINALHotCrossandTeaThe Creamery is featuring some beautiful spring desserts for Easter, including the traditional Hot Cross Buns: sweet, yeasted buns baked with lemon, orange, and golden raising, topped with vanilla buttercream ($7.99/4-pack).  Venture beyond the classics with our Lemon Chiffon Cake with Citrus Glaze ($9.99/ea) or our Citrus Yogurt Panna Cotta, a Greek yogurt panna cotta with a layer of caramel, topped with candied kumquats ($5.99/ea). All Creamery & Bakeshop desserts will be available with the Easter menu, in the Markets and on Instacart. Visit the Creamery or Scoop Shop for our seasonal sundae, the Easter Bonnet featuring our seasonal Meyer Lemon ice cream with gingersnap cookie pieces, caramel sauce and whipped cream (available now until Easter Sunday).

From our Grocery team

FINALColombaChocolate bunnies abound! Our Grocery team has selected some of their favorite Easter treats to fill your baskets, like the Poco Dolce Olive Oil Rabbit ($12.99) and the Chocolat Moderne Brown Speckled Egg ($12.99), as beautiful as they are delicious. Don’t forget the Fiasconaro Colomba di Pasqua ($24.99)! Like Christmas panettone, this leavened cake is fashioned into the shape of a dove and filled with fresh candied orange, topped with Avola almond icing – extremely limited, it makes for a very special Easter dessert.  Plus, it wouldn’t be Easter without egg dying: we have a fantastic selection of pasture-raised eggs in both Markets and Color Kitchen’s Natural Egg Coloring Kit ($11.99) to dye them with!

From our Floral team

large_9acaf726-f303-4a6e-9f4c-f3c30b79f4acSpring is the season for local, farm direct, organic flowers from some of our favorite farmers like Full Belly Farm, Fifth Crow Farm, and Front Porch Farm. Just in time for Easter, Full Belly Farm is bringing back their gorgeous mixed farm bouquets. Look our for organic Ranunculus and Poppies from Front Porch Farm too.  Or, let our floral team create a unique bouquet for your Easter Sunday – we are featuring our Bi-Rite Mixed Bouquet ($24.99) plus our florists will be in front of the Markets 9am-6pm March 26 and 27, making floral happiness one bouquet at a time.

From our Wine & Cheese teams

Round out your Easter meal with the lovely Raventos Blanc de Nit Rose Cava ($24.99), perfect for brunch or dinner.  Pair it with a simple cheese selection, great for spring salads or as a light cheese course, including Marin French Petite Breakfast ($5.99) and Andante Dairy Fresh Chevre ($7.99).

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Whatever your Easter needs, we’re here to help you create a memorable meal for your family and friends. Short on time? Shop online! Our online Easter aisle allows you to build your Easter meal and have it delivered to your door!