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Archive for the ‘Cheese’ Category


Matt R.

Independence Day Wine and Cheese Picks

Wine4th1Happy 4th of July! The quintessential American holiday is here, and that calls for quintessentially American wines and cheeses!

On the wine front, we’re featuring Zinfandel, an iconic grape in America; the U.S. is one of the only countries that makes wine out of it in significant volume. While this grape originated in Croatia and made its way to California by way of gold rush-driven immigrants, it remains here (and in pockets of Southern Italy) as a lone star among countless French varietals.

On the cheese side, we’re featuring a grab-and-go basket trio of Red, White, and Blue American Cheeses! Perfectly portioned and carefully curated, this basket makes the perfect host or hostess gift, picnic treat, or easy DIY cheese course for entertaining!

Come see us at either Market to grab everything you’ll need to have a decadent Independence Day! (Both Markets close at 6PM on July 4th.) 

2009 Unti Vineyards Zinfandel  –  $25.99
Unti1
Unti’s wines are a staple on our shelves and for good reason. Their biodynamically farmed vineyards in Dry Creek Valley grow mostly Rhone and Italian varietals, but their Zinfandel is a favorite of ours as well. We have the last few cases of the 2009 vintage – a great one for Zin in Dry Creek! Lush plum and subtle spice qualities lead to a weighty but well-balanced palate. This is a Zin that’s sure to handle anything coming off the grill!

Cheesebasket1Bi-Rite’s American Cheese Trio  –  $19.99
Our pre-selected trio of Red, White, and Blue American cheeses is cut, packed, and ready to go for your Independence Day celebration. This cute basket includes the following:

Red: Cowgirl Creamery Wagon Wheel – Cowgirl Creamery’s homage to the great mountain cheeses of France and Switzerland, this washed rind cheese is made from pasteurized Straus Dairy cow’s milk. Its natural washed rind is the lightest red-pink hue and the paste is semi-firm with brown butter and caramel notes. It’s great on a cheese plate, but melts beautifully as well to top burgers or pizza!

White: Andante Fresh Goat Cheese – Soyoung Scanlan has become a cheese icon in the Bay Area for the magic she works with fresh goat’s milk. All the goat’s milk she uses is pasteurized and sourced from Volpi Ranch in Petaluma. Her fresh goat cheese rounds are the ultimate expression of this high quality milk. Light, tangy, floral, and complex, this cheese hardly needs any accompaniment other than a crusty baguette.

Blue: Point Reyes Farmstead Bay Blue  – Point Reyes Farmstead, near Tomales Bay, first released Bay Blue last fall and it has quickly gained a following, even winning a Good Food Award. The recipe is inspired by English Stilton, and this natural-rinded blue is rich in flavor and perfect alongside dried fruit or drizzled with honey.

Upcoming Tastings at 18 Reasons

18th Hour Cafe – Every Thursday, 6-10PM, Drop-In

Tasting Seminar with Pamela Busch: The New California – Tuesday, July 23, 7-9PM, Ticketed

Tasting Seminar with Pamela Busch: The New France – Tuesday, July 30, 7-9PM, Ticketed


Spanish and Portuguese Cheeses: Beyond Manchego

Abrigo2This is always the time of year when I start to crave heat: the calendar says June, and I’m itching for sunshine, warm nights, and spaghetti straps. Living in the reality of summer in San Francisco, I’m vicariously enjoying the heat as we celebrate Spanish and Portuguese cheeses this month at the Market.  Many of you know (and love!) Manchego, but the Iberian Peninsula’s cheese offerings are so richly diverse, why stop there?  Come taste a few of our featured cheeses this month.

Valdeon is a mixed milk blue cheese, made with cow and goat milk, and oh-so-Spanish!  It’s beautifully wrapped, and begging for either a savory tomato salad or a drizzle of something sweet like honey or fig jam. I admit, mixed milk cheeses pull on my heart strings, and the Tres Leches is a fantastic blend of goat, sheep, and cow milk that’s interesting and easy to enjoy before dinner.

Roncal2For those who prefer a pure sheep milk cheese, check out Roncal, Spain’s first DOP cheese, and one I think of as Manchego’s more austere and reserved cousin.

campodevareVare is an equally lovely first cheese made of goat’s milk and balanced between sweet and tangy notes. Gardunha is classic Portuguese – rather than traditional animal rennet, a thistle flower is used as a coagulant. This imparts a distinct vegetal quality to this goat cheese; a fun contrast to its unctuous texture.

And though cow’s milk cheeses make up a minority of Spanish cheeses, Mahon Reserva is a treat with a little bit of bite!


Double Dutch: A Tale of Two Remeker Cheeses

We just cracked two wheels of Remeker, our favorite Dutch cheese, and couldn’t be happier! Our Remeker comes from Jan Dirk in Gelderland, in the eastern Netherlands. This very special farmstead gouda is made from the milk of his beautiful herd of Jersey cows (they still have their horns!). Jan is as enthusiastic about soil health and worms as he is about great cheese; he began farming biodynamically in 2004. Focused on achieving balance with his land and animals, the quality of the rich raw milk (something of a rarity among Dutch cheeses)  is a testament to his cheesemaking success!

olde remekerWheels are pressed for 24 hours, and then brined for 36 hours (about half the time of many goudas) before maturation on the farm. Some wheels are released young, between 9-11 months, while others are aged 18 months or more.  Which would you prefer: the bright, egg-yolk savory quality of a younger cheese, or the deep hazelnut and burnt caramel notes of the aged? Either way, it’s a stunning cheese, but do come in for a taste and decide for yourself.  And remember: age really does matter!

 


Cooking with Curds: Radishes à la Français

au3My French host-grandmother blew me away one afternoon many years ago when she appeared at the dinner table with a plate of radishes. She then introduced the simplest of pleasures when she showed me how to eat radishes “à la Français,” which is to say cut, stuffed with sweet cream butter, and then dipped in sea salt. The magical combination of these three ingredients is still something I look forward to every spring!  For a variation on the theme, I’ve made a compound butter with Fourme D’Ambert, one of my favorite blue cheeses, to add a savory zip to sweet cream butter, and create a perfect contrast to crunchy, spicy radishes!

Ingredients

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

4oz Fourme D’Ambert, trimmed of rind

Salt and white pepper to taste

1 bunch radishes (French breakfast are the best for their long shape)

 

Instructions

Add softened butter and Fourme D’Ambert to mixing bowl and mash together with a fork until the butter and the blue cheese are well integrated.

Season with salt and white pepper to taste, and mix again.

Scrape butter into ramekin (or other fun shaped dish) to chill for an hour.

Meanwhile, wash and trim radishes.

With a paring knife, cut an X into the bottom of each radish and serve alongside chilled butter.

Stuff each radish with blue cheese butter in the middle of the X and enjoy!

*****

Au revoir, French Cheese Month….bring on the Belgian and Dutch cheeses we have in store for May!


Bi-Rite Divis is Open!

b-man with divisadero lineThought I’d never say this….but we’re open on Divisadero Street! Please come visit us 9 am – 9 pm today and every day. Store location, hours and parking info (yes, we do have one hour parking for our guests!) is here.

Salty_Ginger

Salty Ginger Sundae, Divis contest winner!

We’ve spent about three years working towards this moment, so today is all about celebrating the long, winding path that brought us here. And what better way to do so than by treating ourselves to the newest additions to our Divis menu: the winners of our Divis Sandwich and Sundae contest!

The Giuseppe: Fra’ Mani salami and mortadella, provolone, lettuce, red onion, tomato, dijon mustard, pepperoncini, and lemon aioli on an Acme Rustic Baguette (congrats to Joseph Slattery!)

naima

Opening is so sweet!

The Salty Ginger: Ginger ice cream, ginger snaps, sea salt, chocolate fudge, and whipped cream (congrats to Zoe Byl!)

Now that the construction is complete, it’s time to start the important work of building relationships with our guests. Our 60 Divis staff members are eager to meet and feed you. Plus, a bunch of our passionate food makers are joining us to give out tastes of their cheese, jams and more: check out the Divis events on our calendar here.

See you soon! And now more than ever, please let us know how we can better serve you.

P.S. You’ve gotta check out this video of neighborhood pup Trotter on his first visit to the store!

 

 

 


Patrick

It’s Time: Bi-Rite Divis Opens March 13th!

birite-divis-logoRefrigerators delivered: check

Divis Sandwich and Sundae contest  entries in: check

60 new staff members hired: check (almost)!

Guess this leaves only one thing…Opening March 13th!

divis team floor

Pre-opening Divis staff meeting

We can’t even wait to open our doors at 550 Divisadero (at Hayes). Just like our 18th Street Market, Divis will be open every day from 9am-9pm and will be a one-stop shop for farm direct produce, a full-service butcher counter, deli with prepared foods from our on-site kitchen, natural wine & spirits, fresh bread, local dairy… and of course important doodads like toilet paper and deodorant.

shak its time

It’s time!

What took us so long? We renovated and retrofitted the interior of the building –which was one of the original Safeways—while taking care to preserve the art deco façade. And we’re upping the ante from our 18th St. Market: Divis has an old world style cut-to-order cheese counter and an ice cream scoop shop right inside (yes, Sam’s sundae with chocolate ice cream, Maldon sea salt, bergamot olive oil and whipped cream will be here)!

We hope you’re ready to give us feedback on what dishes and items you love and what we can do better, so we can evolve together. We’ve got a 30 year lease, so we’re planning to be around for a while and we look forward to feeding the neighborhood for years.

Big thanks to our new neighbors for weathering the construction. And thanks to everyone who has already made us feel welcome—from the other Divisadero Merchants to school and church leaders from the Western Addition, Haight, Fillmore, and Hayes Valley neighborhoods that so richly intersect here!facade feb

 

 


Matt R.

Pierre Gonon and the Wines of St. Joseph

The appellation of St. Joseph in the northern Rhone Valley has witnessed quite the evolution since King Louis XII deemed its wines his favorite in the late 15th century. When it was designated an AOC in 1956, St. Joseph was a small collection of vineyards surrounding just six villages, carefully selected for their location and vine quality. Ten years later the region had expanded with the effect of lowering the quality of production and the illustrious reputation of St. Joseph with it.

In order to restore its reputation, the French committee on appellations (then called the INAO) drastically reduced the size of the region, declassifying poor vineyards to Vins de Pays status and capping the region’s maximum size. Pierre Gonon held on to a few vineyards in Mauves, and today his sons Pierre and Jean run the domain and work to restore the reputation of this region by carefully crafting wine from extremely well-cared for vines and minimalist wine making techniques. We’re fortunate to have two of their elegant, expressive wines to share:

joseph12011 Pierre Gonon ‘Les Iles Feray’  –  $24.99

Les Iles Feray is 100% Syrah that comes from a series of parcels right alongside the western bank of the Rhone. The vines used for this wine have been carefully selected over generations from the Gonon’s own cuttings and are planted in deep sandy soils. The nose has tons of purple and blue fruit qualities along with black olives and smoke. The palate is extremely refined and has savory flavors of plums, minerals, and vanilla – great complexity for its value. We only have 8 cases so grab some while you can!

 

joseph22011 Pierre Gonon Chasselas  –  $29.99

Chasselas is a grape variety primarily grown in Switzerland and is believed native to the area, although some think it originated in Egypt 5000 years ago! The Gonons purchased their vineyard of 80-year-old Chasselas vines in 2005 and have been bottling this white grape on its own. If you’ve never tried Chasselas, we highly recommend you do! Bright flavors of quince, pear, and white flowers lead to flavors of minerals, white peach, and white pepper. The texture is so mouth-coatingly lush that this would easily stand up to heavier dishes like pork and hearty fishes.

 

joseph3Cheese of the Week: Vare

Husband and wife cheesemakers Valentin Forcelledo and Anita Gonzalez first started producing cheese in Asturias, Spain as a way to create a lasting business that they could leave to their children. They chose to go against the grain and decided to produce mostly goat’s milk cheeses in Spain’s predominantly cow-covered region. They started with just a few Murciana goats and today are up to 450 in their herd – more than the human population of the cheese’s namesake village, Vare! All of the goats eat feed grown on their own farm and their high quality milk is made into just a few of these 4-inch wheels a day. The paste is smooth and firm with a fruity, floral and slightly tangy flavor. Come ask us for a taste!

 

Upcoming Tastings at 18 Reasons:

18th Hour Cafe: Today, 2/14, 6-10PM, Drop-in

Spring Beer Pairing with Rich Higgins: Wednesday, March 6, 7-9PM, Ticketed

Mini European Wine Blitz Tasting – 20% off cases this night only!: Tuesday, March 12, 6-8PM

The Hills are Alive: The Volcanic Wines of Hungary: Wednesday, March 20, 7-9PM, Ticketed


Matt R.

Germany and Austria: From the Alps to Burgenland

It’s time to dust off your lederhosen, practice your umlauts, pack up your herd of cows (stay with us . . .), and get ready for a trip to Austria and Germany! This week we’re exploring the unique wines and cheeses of this area and the unique producers dedicated to promoting the terroir of these widely unknown regions.

alp12011 Andi Knauß Trollinger  –  $16.99

Andi Knauß farms his family’s small plot of vineyards in Württemberg, the southwestern corner of Germany. His family didn’t always produce their own wine, and in fact Andi’s father used to work for BMW in nearby Stuttgart and sold grapes from their vineyards to other winemakers in the area. However, Andi studied wine making and had several internships with well-known producers in Austria, including Moric (below). This bottle is 100% Trollinger, a grape with a bit of an identity crisis as it’s known as Schiava and Vernatsch interchangeably in Italy and Austria. Light, fresh, and super easy to drink, the bright floral and strawberry aromas lead to a palate of fresh red fruit and just a hint of spice. The fun-sized 1-liter bottle and screw-cap opening make this a no-brainer for a picnic in the park!

 

alp22011 Moric Blaufränkisch  –  $29.99

Roland Velich has quickly become the rising star winemaker of Austria. When he first started producing wine in 2001 he had one clear mission: to prove that the Blaufränkisch grape can make elegant and ageable wines rivaling those of Burgundy. Well, mission accomplished: he’s put this obscure Austrian grape back on the map. Blaufränkisch is widely grown in Burgenland but is often made into wines that are over extracted, over oaked, or very rustic. Roland has dedicated himself to careful care in the vineyards and natural winemaking techniques that make the grape shine and truly express the unique terroir of his vineyard sites. This bottling is a blend from a few vineyards and has soft red cherry aromas, elegant and long tannins, and just a hint of rustic spice.

 

alp32009 Moric Blaufränkisch Reserve  –  $49.99

Moric’s 2009 Reserve bottling is also 100% Blaufränkisch aged in large used oak barrels. Roland has used the same oak since he started bottling this wine so each vintage gets smoother and smoother. Soft aromas of dark cherry and earth lead to flavors of blueberry, baking spice, and bright acidity. This truly does rival some high end Burgundies in terms of elegance and complexity!

 

alp4Cheese of the Week: Spicherhalde Alpkäse

Every summer, the Vögel family goes on vacation, but it’s far from your typical summer holiday. Rather than pack their roof rack with beach chairs, they herd their thirty cows through the Allgäu Alps from their home in Austria to their summer home in Bavaria. At an elevation of 4,800 feet, their cows happily graze on the green mountain hillsides and produce spectacular milk, with which they hand-make just two wheels of Spicherhalde Alpkäse a day. The cheese is aged at leased a year before being sold. Small eyes dot the buttery paste with earthy, floral, and tangy flavors. Come ask us for a taste!

 

Upcoming Tastings at 18 Reasons:

18th Hour Cafe: Tomorrow, 2/14, 6-10PM, Drop-in (We’re pouring fresh Salted Caramel beer made by Cerveceria de MateVeza, the brewers down the block, with the help of Anne & Kris from the Creamery.)

Spring Beer Pairing with Rich Higgins: Wednesday, March 6, 7-9PM, Ticketed

Mini European Wine Blitz Tasting – 20% off cases this night only!: Tuesday, March 12, 6-8PM


Matt R.

Piedmont, Liguria, and Friuli: Preserving Native Grapes

Following last week’s exploration of wines from the Savoie, we’re journeying southwards this week into Northern Italy. Let’s head over the Alps and into Piedmont, Liguria, and Friuli – all very distinct regions but all with producers dedicated to preserving native grape varietals. Sometimes it seems that, with so many indigenous grape varietals all over the world that are constantly being replaced with more popular varieties, there should be an ‘Endangered Grape Varietal’ list! The following producers are working to preserve their native varietals and keep grape diversity strong!

pied12011 Punta Crena Mataòssu Vigneto Reiné –  $21.99

The Ruffino family has been tending vines in the small beachside village of Varigotti for over 500 years. Their vineyards are located on steep hand-built terraces just up the hillside from the quaint beachfront ‘downtown’. Run by four siblings, Tommaso, Paolo, Anna, and Nicola, Punta Crena is producing wine the same way their family’s been doing it for generations. They have the last remaining plantings of the native grape Mataòssu – which has been repeatedly ripped up by others in favor of more popular grapes. Traditionalists to the max, Paolo laughs at the idea of ‘organic farming’ as if it were a new high tech invention; instead saying, “We just do everything the same way our ancestors have for hundreds of years.” Mataòssu is light, crisp, and floral with light briny qualities reminiscent of the ocean and tart acidity – perfect with the seafood of the region!

Perfect Pairing: Fritto misto

 

pied22011 Zidarich Vitovska  –  $24.99

A visit to Benjamin Zidarich in the Eastern most region of Italy, the DOC of Carso (Friuli), is like a visit to the Shire. Benjamin’s estate is located on a series of small hillsides in the town of Prepotto, with views of the nearby Adriatic Sea. His aging cellars are a series of underground caves that open onto the middle of the hillsides with large wooden doors, somewhat like Hobbit holes! Benjamin grows varietals native to the area, specifically Vitovska, which originated in neighboring Slovenia. His vineyards wind up and down the hillsides, the soils are red with iron, and you can smell the sea air in the breeze. These unique aspects of his location transform themselves amazingly into his wine. His Vitovska is bright and floral, with aromas of stone fruit, orange, and sea foam. The opaque color of the wine tells you he doesn’t filter his wines and the texture is full and round with flavors of apricot, citrus, yeast, and minerals.

Perfect Pairing: Braised artichoke and grilled chicory salad

 

pied32006 Giuseppe Mascarello Freisa Toetto –  $22.99

The name Giuseppe Mascarello is synonymous with some of the highest quality Barolos being made today. And while winemakers Mauro and Giuseppe are definitely most well-known for their single vineyard Barolos, they are also producing amazing wines from less ‘noble’ grapes (at more affordable prices!). The Mascarello’s are also known for extensive aging of their wines and this bottle from the 2006 vintage is tasting amazing right now! Freisa is a grape native to the Piedmont that is actually related to Nebbiolo. It has beautiful floral and violet qualities along with scents of plums and earth. Medium bodied and elegant, flavors of juicy dark fruit, mushrooms, and minerals are long lasting!

Perfect Pairing: Guffanti 2-Milk Robiola (pictured below!)

 

pied4Cheese of the Week: Guffanti 2-Milk Robiola

The Guffanti family has been producing cheese in the Piedmont since 1867, aging them in a re-purposed silver mine. Their 2-Milk Robiola is a small format bloomy rind cheese made with cow and sheep’s milk. Beautifully creamy inside, the paste is savory, yet mild with notes of mushrooms and hay. Perfect alongside a glass of Mascarello Friesa – come ask us for a taste!

 

Upcoming Tastings at 18 Reasons:


Matt R.

Domaine Dupasquier: Savoie Terroir

savoie1Visiting the picturesque town of Aimavigne, France is like taking a trip to a land found only in a storybook. The sweeping hills leading up to the Alps are dotted with steep vineyards and cut by winding roads leading to pristine lakes. The town name comes from a French phrase, “Aimer le vigne,” which translates to, “Love the vine.” So it’s no surprise that Noël Dupasquier and his son David, now fifth generation winemakers in Aimevigne, are working so hard to preserve the Savoie’s native grape varietals like Monduese, Altesse, and Jacquere.

We’re always excited by the arrival of Domaine Dupasquier’s wines to our shelves! They are one of the few producers left in the area really trying to showcase what the native grapes of the Savoie can do rather than ripping up old vines and replanting more ‘fashionable’ grapes. Here’s what we currently have from them:

savoie22010 Domaine Dupasquier Jacquère  –  $15.99

Jacquère is often referred to as the Muscadet of the east (of France). Native to the Savoie, it’s a grape known for producing light, crisp, and briney whites suitable for everyday drinking. Noël and David hold all of their wines back an extra year for aging – atypical compared to the other producers in the area. So the sometimes overly racy acidity in Jacquère is a little more mellow and rounded out in their wine. It has bright lemon, lime, and grassy aromas followed by flavors of lemon, apricot,  and a crisp, tart, finish. It’s perfect alongside a variety of dishes from briney seafood to spicy curries.

Perfect Pairing: Ginger and soy stir-fried winter veggies

 

savoie32009 Domaine Dupasquier Gamay  –  $19.99

Noël and David really do make the most of their small plantings of Gamay. Having been aged in used foudre (extra large barrels), this Gamay is bright and expressive. It rivals some of our favorite Cru Beaujolais bottlings and at a very affordable price! Bright fruit aromas, are followed by flavors of tart cherry, minerals, and earth. Great acidity makes this a bottle suitable for drinking now or one you could lay down for a few years. Grab some while you can – all of these wines are very limited!

Perfect Pairing: Sharfe Maxx Extra (pictured below!)


savoie42009 Domaine Dupasquier Pinot Noir  –  $21.99

The Dupasquier Pinot is another great value, rivaling some beautiful Burgundies! Again having been aged over a year in used foudre, this cool climate Pinot has had time to mellow out. Bright cherry aromas are followed closely by earthy and herbal qualities like pepper and fennel. Like any cool climate Pinot, it has a bright and clean acidity and flavors of cranberry, earth, and stony minerals. It’s one of our all-time favorite Pinots and pairs well with a variety of dishes.

Perfect Pairing: Seared scallops with caramelized fennel

 

savoie5Cheese of the Week: Sharfe Maxx Extra

As we continue to celebrate great Alpine cheeses, we’re excited to welcome Sharfe Maxx Extra! Made at the Studer family dairy in Thurgau, Switzerland, this is the extra aged version of their regular Sharfe Maxx. While the original Sharfe Maxx is aged for 6 months, Maxx Extra is aged for a year before release. A wholly unique Swiss cheese, the recipe is similar to an Appenzeller, but uses whole milk and added cream for a rich, creamy texture. The wheels are washed repeatedly, resulting in a pungent and sweet aroma. The extra aging also results in those wonderful little protein crystals dotting the paste. Come ask us for a taste!

 

Upcoming Tastings at 18 Reasons:

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

Saturday, January 26, 7-9PM, Ticketed: Producer Dinner: Chris Brockway of Broc Cellars