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Archive for the ‘Cheese’ Category


American Cheese Month Week Two – Reading Raclette

For the second week of American Cheese Month, Bi-Rite Market celebrates an American cheese with great flavor, and a great mission.

Jersey Girl

Spring Brook Jersey Girl

Located on 1,000 lush acres in Reading, Vermont, Spring Brook Farm produces beautiful jersey milk that, in combination with milk procured from nearby jersey dairies owned and operated by the Lewis and Miller families, produces Reading Raclette. This mountain-style cheese, modeled after European ancestors, is crafted by cheesemaker Jeremy Stephenson in copper kettles using traditional methods; at 20 pounds, the resulting wheel is smaller and flatter than some of its alpine brethren and boasts a beautiful salmon hue. The flavor profile of this cheese is dominated by creaminess and nuttiness and accented by notes of grass, and the texture also makes it a perfect melting cheese.

 

Lewis Herd Crossing

the Lewis Herd

Neither the Lewis nor Miller farms use silage (a type of livestock feed that can be environmentally toxic), and Spring Brooks provides the dairy farmers with target fat and protein ratios for the milk to ensure consistency in the cheese. Sourcing additional milk has allowed for great availability of Reading, especially here on the West Coast.

Spring Brook is also home to orchards, vegetable gardens and 3,000 maple trees, all of which are part of the teaching tools for their Farms for City Kids Foundation program. Proprietors Karli and Jim Hagedorn were inspired by a trip to England where they encountered a program that teaches farming to children from the city. Once home, they bought Spring Brook and in 2008 launched their own program for 4th-7th grade students from inner cities schools – many coming from as far away as Boston or New York.

The best part is that all of Spring Brook’s profits from cheesemaking go to the foundation, helping to further the foundation’s educational mission.

Swing by the markets to enjoy a delicious cheese and help support a worthwhile cause!


Celebrating American Cheese with Moses Sleeper from Jasper Hill Farm

Moses Sleeper 2 In honor of North America’s delicious and diverse array of cheeses and the farmers, cheesemakers, retailers, cheesemongers and chefs who bring them to your table, The American Cheese Society has designated October as American Cheese Month. To celebrate, the cheese teams at Bi-Rite Market 18th Street and Bi-Rite Market Divisadero are going to give special weekly shout-outs to some of our favorite American cheeses.

As a cheesemonger, I’ve learned over the years that there are certain words that seem either to entice or repel the average cheese-craving Bi-Rite shopper. Categorical, overly-simple, vague terms like Swiss, Pecorino and Brie are among the three that I hear most often. It is for this reason that I want to ring in our celebration of American Cheese Month with a delightful cheese that reminds us that a well-made farmstead cheese can challenge our biases about the quality and diversity of American cheeses.

Moses Sleeper

Moses Sleeper, an elegant but accessible offering from Vermont’s Jasper Hill Farm, is indeed a cheese to be celebrated. Named for a Revolutionary War scout, it is made in a style similar to the small-format Camembert-style cheeses that once dominated family farms in Normandy. Made with milk from Jasper Hill’s herd of Ayershire cows, this snowy, bloomy-rinded cheese brings beautiful and meaningful flavor back to a style of cheese that has too often (though not always unjustly) been written off as insipid. Moses Sleeper’s flavor profile changes with age, so when we have young wheels, we celebrate the cheese’s bright, lactic milkiness. In more mature wheels, the cheese has a stronger, deeper flavor redolent of cruciferous vegetables. Moses Sleeper is an incredible snacking cheese – nice with fruit when young and better with savory meats and pickles as it ages.

Moses Sleeper is one of many reasons to celebrate the visionaries and cheesemakers at Jasper Hill Farm who continue to raise the bar for American cheese and radically reshape the landscape of American cheesemaking. We’ve just got a handful of cases, so stop in soon for a taste at either Bi-Rite Market location and join us in the celebration. American Cheese Month has begun!

 


Daphne Zepos Teaching Award

Photo by Chester Higgins, Jr./The New York Times

Photo by Chester Higgins, Jr./The New York Times

Bi-Rite is once again mobilizing to support the Daphne Zepos Teaching Award (DZTA) and we need your help.

Followers of this blog will recall last fall’s announcement of Bi-Rite’s commitment to the funding campaign for the DZTA. Our own Sam Mogannam co-founded the award with a group of cheese retailers and educators from across the country to commemorate and honor Daphne Zepos and her immense contributions to cheese-craft in San Francisco and throughout the wide world of cheese. Daphne co-owned The Cheese School of San Francisco and lived in San Francisco’s Mission District, so the palpable absence left by her death last July has resonated for us professionally and personally. Before she passed, Daphne conceived of an award to help a selected cheese professional travel and share knowledge at the annual American Cheese Society conference, and beginning in 2012 the cheese community has worked to make Daphne’s vision of this award a reality.

L'Amuse Gouda

L’Amuse Gouda

The founders of the Award set an ambitious fund-raising goal of $250,000 by the end of 2012, and Bi-Rite resolved to support this goal with a portion of our cheese sales. These sales, combined with an in-kind donation from Sam himself, allowed Bi-Rite to contribute $5,000 to the campaign. But the effort to commemorate Daphne and her contributions to the cheese-making and cheese-educating community goes on, so this fall we are reigniting our campaign in support of that effort – and by working together with our marvelous cheese vendors and amazing guests, we believe we can exceed our contribution from last year. During October, November and December of 2013, we will donate 25% of our sales of Essex St. Comte and L’Amuse Gouda (both cheeses that Daphne selected, imported and introduced to our selection) to the campaign.

Comte: The first cheese Daphne imported through Essex St., hand-selected from among the 60,000 wheels slowly and coolly aging in the caves at Marcel Petite Fort St. Antoine. Herbaceous, fruity and kissed with deep, heavy cream, it’s delicious in sandwiches or simply served with fruit, nuts or bread.

L’Amuse Gouda: This two-year-old aged Gouda, made at the Cono cheese-making facility in the Netherlands, is a great example of the flavor that comes from aging at a higher temperature (as opposed to a cooler one that suppresses bacterial activity). It’s also a stirring testament to affinage, the art of gracefully bringing a young cheese to mature ripeness.

Essex St. Comte

Essex St. Comte

Since the DZTA campaign began last year, we have opened a second market location on Divisadero Street, and with twice the cheese-selling capacity, we’re excited at the prospect of exceeding our contribution goal. But we still need your help! Please stop by either  of our Market locations to taste these fantastic cheeses. And if you would like to honor the memory of one of the greatest cheese educators in America but can’t make it in to our Markets, please consider donating online. We ensure that 100% of your money, minus credit card fees, will go to the endowment, which is managed by a President and Board of Directors from the cheese industry. All funds are safely invested and their annual returns fund the scholarship.

Thank you for sharing these wonderful cheeses with us, for your continued enthusiasm and support and for helping us to commemorate a great individual and the professional community to which she contributed so much. We’ll see you at the Market!


Baserri – the first of 2013!

CheeseMountainOn a beautiful sunny day recently in West Marin, Marcia Barinaga of Barinaga Ranch welcomed a group of cheesemongers from the Bay Area for a tour and celebration of the release of her first cheeses of 2013.  “It’s not a life that makes you rich, but it’s a good life,” Marcia told us, recalling advice shared by her Basque cousin as she was learning her new craft.

After purchasing a ranch in overlooking Tomales Bay, Marcia and her husband searched for a way to contribute to the agricultural community that become their new home.  With her Basque heritage and a love of sheep, cheesemaking seemed a perfect fit.  Marcia studied cheesemaking in Vermont and in the Pyrenees where a rich history of Basque cheesemaking continues, before starting to experiment with milk from her own herd.

PrettySheepA talented and driven woman, Marcia has a PhD in microbiology and approaches cheesemaking from a seriously scientific standpoint!  Her commitment to quality and attention to detail are remarkable–traits that make her an excellent cheesemaker.  At Barinaga Ranch, the sheep graze on pasture all year long. Marcia has been crossbreeding their East Friesian sheep, which are known for their prolific milk production, with the hardy Katahdin, descendants of North African sheep.  Last year, Marcia really focused on improving the genetics of her herd for higher milk production and quality, and is milking 88 ewes this year.  She milks and makes cheese seasonally, often selling out of the previous year’s cheese before new cheeses from the current season are available.

CheeseStack (2)Our favorite cheese from Marcia is called Baserri, named for the ancient tile-roofed cheesemaking huts in the Pyrenees where Basque herders continue to make cheese in traditional ways.  Baserri is an exquisite raw milk cheese with a rich, nutty flavor.  This year, the first wheels of the season will be released a bit older – at 90 days, rather than at 60 days as they have been in the past.  They’re on the counter at both 18th Street and Divisadero Markets and are refreshing and lively! Swing by for a taste.


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