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Archive for the ‘Producers Whose Food We Celebrate’ Category


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!


Simon

Cherish California Cherries

California stone fruit season usually gets going in the beginning of May with the local cherry crop.  The lack of a robust cherry crop the past few years in the Bay Area due to warm winters and drought summers has really slowed down production of one of the best fruit crops know to humankind. With this being said, this year’s local cherry crop is off to an amazing start and we are so excited to celebrate these amazing farms and all different cherry varieties they grow.

BingCherries_HiddenStarOrchardsFrom now until July, Hidden Star Orchards in Linden brings us organic cherries straight from their orchard twice a week.  Johan at Hidden Star is like the “Cherry Whisperer,” he always harvests beautiful cherries right when they are peaking in flavor.  Hidden Star just started harvesting the Brooks cherry, a dark red cherry that is super juicy. This will be followed by the firm Bing cherry, which is considered one of the sweetest red cherries, but also with a little tang to the flavor.   The yellow and red-skinned Rainier cherry just hit our shelves and this large but delicate cherry has a sweet white flesh and is always a special treat.   Hidden Star will finish out the cherry season with lesser-known varieties like the Larian and Red Lac cherry.  Now is the time for cherry lovers to come by the Markets and sample this special crop.

CoralCherries_ChinchioloAt Bi-Rite we pride ourselves on building relationships with the farmers who grow our food, so whenever we have the opportunity for a new relationship we get very excited! This spring, we’re fortunate enough to start getting local cherries from the Chinchiolo Family Farms in the San Joaquin County.  This is a fourth-generation family farm that focuses on apples and cherries. Just this past week we received our first delivery of Red Coral sweet cherries and they did not disappoint!  The Chinchiolo family grows a firm cherry that has a sweet tangy flavor with plenty of juice.  This week they are harvesting the Bing cherry which will be at both Markets for the next week.

This is a really fun time of year at the Bi-Rite Creamery and Bakeshop with all local stone fruit and berries to cook with.  One of the most labor intensive crops to work with in the kitchen is cherries! Team Cream organized a couple group cherry pitting days where 500 pounds of cherries were hand pitted and cooked down in less than a week.  All this hard work will be turned into the seasonal release of the Cherry Almond Ice Cream, available only at the Creamery and Scoop Shop within the next couple weeks – keep an eye out for this once-a-season treat!


Chili

Wild Pacific Salmon, Your Go-To Fish

SalmonPostThe California wild Pacific salmon run signifies that the magic of spring is in full swing.  Salmon has always been an important historic, social, cultural, and economic resource to the Native Coastal Tribes of the Pacific. Our salmon began to gain worldwide recognition when commercial salmon fishing began in earnest in the late 1800s.

The commercial season generally runs from May through August, and the seasons have been fairly consistent since the first ever cancellation of the season took place in 2008, a cancellation that was caused by a drastic drop in the number of salmon returning to spawn. There are a number of factors that have been attributed to the decline, including weather conditions impacting the availability of feed, dams and water diversion, pollution, and overfishing. Even stricter fishing regulations have been implemented to help improve the salmon stocks; currently the fishery is in a state of recovery and will require us to be much more responsible stewards if we hope to see the salmon population flourish again.

Salmon-Recipe-Wine-ClubSo why don’t we eat farmed salmon instead, since it’s cheaper and we don’t have to worry about putting so much work into managing the wild salmon population?  First off, farmed salmon just doesn’t taste as good. Wild Pacific salmon has clean, rich, buttery flavors while farmed salmon tends to be oily and bland.  Additionally, the farmed salmon industry has been associated with a tremendous amount environmental pollution,  raising fish in overcrowded pens requiring heavy antibiotic use, and requiring a disproportionate amount of feed in relation to the meat produced.

There are five main species of Pacific salmon: Kings, Cohos, Chum, Pink, and Sockeye.  Chums, Pinks, and Sockeye are most abundant of the species and are the salmon of choice for canning and smoking. Kings and Cohos are more limited in availability, and are highly-prized for their eating qualities. During the wild season the majority of the salmon we sell in the market will be Kings, and we will transition to Cohos when the Kings begin to spawn (Cohos tend to head upstream later in the year).

Behind shrimp, salmon is the second most consumed seafood in America. We crave it year round for its flavor and health benefits (high in omega-3s), and the salmon fisheries have adapted, creating methods to freeze salmon so that it is available even after the season has closed.  Some may balk at eating frozen fish, but when done properly the end result can be amazing.  Alaskan fisherman Bruce Gore was a pioneer in freezing salmon without negatively impacting its flavor or texture. At Bi-Rite Bruce Gore’s beautiful, frozen-at-sea salmon is what we use to supplement our fresh, wild Pacific salmon program.

article_seafood_traceability_inline2We are excited to welcome a new producer to the Bi-Rite Family: Norah Eddy and her line of Salty Girl Seafood.  Salty Girl Seafood offers an assortment of frozen, marinated, wild-caught seafood, including a lemon pepper and garlic marinated Coho salmon.  All of their offerings are sustainably-caught – by entering the product code from the box into their website you can trace your entrée back to its fishermen and vessel. The different offerings are perfect for keeping your freezer pantry stocked with well-sourced seafood options for those times when you just can’t make it to the market.

SalmonRillettesWhen you buy salmon from us you know exactly where it is coming from
. It’s amazing to think about all the different places where you’ll find salmon at Bi-Rite: as part of our sustainable sushi program, grilled daily in our chef’s case, as seasonal entrees in our packaged meals, smoked and ready for a bagel from our delis and Catering, and fresh in our seafood case.  We are proud to say that we have done all the work to let you feel good about making wild Pacific salmon your go to fish all year round.


Raph

Bi-Rite’s Best in Show: 2016 Good Food Award Winners

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We’re thrilled to be showcasing some of our favorite Good Food Award-winning products over the course of the next 7 weeks, giving our guests a chance to taste 24 winners that blew us away at this years Awards. In 2016, the Good Food Awards granted awards to outstanding American artisan producers in 13 categories ranging from pickles and preserves to coffee, spirits, and ciders. The Good Food Awards is an annual recognition program celebrating food that is “tasty, authentic, and responsibly-produced.” Bi-Rite has been a strong supporter since the beginning, as we share many of the same values and ingredient-sourcing criteria.

Now heading into its seventh year, Bi-Rite is proud to be the Good Food Awards’ premiere sponsor, joining the effort to nurture the next generation of Good Food producers, and foster a food system that is fair, just, and sustainable. Our staff lends their tasting expertise each year to the Good Food Awards’ annual Blind Tasting, where over 200 expert judges from around the country taste the nearly 2,000 products submitted each year. In addition, Bi-Rite is proud to be a member of the Good Food Retailers Collaborative, a group of like-minded, independent retailers from across the country with a shared vision for creating community through Good Food.

Be sure to visit the Markets early and often, as the featured winners will rotate throughout the 7 weeks, and you’ll want to enjoy tastes of truly exceptional products from makers who go above and beyond simple craft to excel in social and environmental responsibility across the country. Here’s a sneak peak of what to look out for:

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*Photo credit: Kassie Borreson, courtesy of the Good Food Awards


Trac

Live Vivaciously, Drink Herbaceously

GinHeaderIf you’ve been to any of the new hot spots in San Francisco, you’ll notice there’s a revival of sorts for gins and gin cocktails. Places like White Chapel and Aatxe are committed to gins as the centerpiece of their bar program, and we can’t get enough of it. We can understand gin’s rising popularity – today’s gins are better than ever, with a growing group of artisanal distillers putting their own spin on the classics. Each craft gin now has its own distinct flavor, with a fascinating story behind each gin as well. People are realizing that while there isn’t a great deal of variation in tastes between different types of vodka, with gin you get huge flavor distinctions and nuance.

With all the different types of gins being made now, we’re very spoiled with the fact that there are so many wonderful cocktails to accompany them. At Bi-Rite, we carry over five different brands of tonic water and syrups alone, that you can use to experiment with the diverse gins we’re featuring. Mix and match the tonics and gins to find out your favorites.

Check out these great new gins next time you come in – try out our pairing suggestions or concoct your own!

Rutte Dry Gin Celery Dordrechet, Netherlands | $32.99CoralGablesPhotowTagline

The celery gin was inspired by one of Rutte’s original recipes dating back to the 1800s for their highly regarded genever which uses celery as one of itsbotanicals. It’s great in a Bloody Mary.
Pro Tip: See Coral Gables Cocktail recipe

Far North Spirits ”Solveig” Hallock, Minnesota | $49.99
Far North is a farm-to-bottle spirit company. The Solvieg is made from AC Hazlet Winter Rye planted and harvest by the Swanson family, and every step of production is done by hand.
Pro Tip: Pair with Fentiman’s Tonic Water

Sipsmith London Dry London, England | $39.99
Produced in a workshop previously used by the late, great whiskey writer, Michael Jackson, this super small-batch gin is flavored with 10 botanicals carefully selected for a drier balance than a classic London Dry Gin.
Pro Tip: Pair with Bitter Milk No. 2 Tom Collins mix

Caledonia Spirits “Barr Hill” Reserve Tom Cat Barrel Aged Gin Hardwick, Vermont | $34.99 Aged in new, charred American white oak, Tom Cat is a completely unique gin with whiskey-like notes of oak, spice, juniper, and raw honey. This is a HarvestMoonPhotowTaglinemodern day adaption of 18th century England’s most revered spirit, Old Tom gin.
Pro Tip: Pair with Jack Rudy’s Tonic Syrup

Rutte “Old Simon” Genever Dordrecht, Netherlands | $44.99

Named after Simon Antonius Rutte, who founded the distillery where this genever is still made based upon his original recipe from 1872, which included 13 herbs and spices. This gin is popular with cola and a squeeze of lemon or lime in the Netherlands.
Pro Tip: See Harvest Moon Cocktail recipe


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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Waverley

Happy Passover from Bi-Rite!

FINALSederPlatewGoblet The celebration of Passover is an ancient and rich tradition, and we are happy to offer wide range of grocery, produce, and butcher items to complete your seder preparations, as well as a complete, house-made Passover menu so you can spend less time in the kitchen and more time with friends and family.

Our produce department will be featuring fresh horseradish root and organic, curly parsley for seder plates, while our Grocery team has a collection of Passover essentials and guest favorites, like the extremely limited-production, handmade Vermatzah. Made by Julie Sperling and Doug Freilich in Middletown Springs, Vermont, who carry on a 5,000-year-old tradition of baking matzah on an open fire.

BrisketOur butchers are showcasing beautiful, 100% Grass-Fed BN Ranch Beef Brisket for your Passover table. If you’re cooking for Passover, try our Zinfandel-Braised Beef Brisket recipe and shop it conveniently from our online store to have the ingredients delivered to your door! If you prefer lamb for Passover, we have two wonderful lamb producers supplying us with the season’s finest, tastiest lamb.  Learn more about what makes our lamb program so special here.

BlueberryCheesecake_InstacartIf time is tight, our chefs have crafted a complete, house-made Passover menu for your dining convenience, including old favorites and new, seasonal specialties. It wouldn’t be a holiday meal without desserts from Bi-Rite Creamery, like our Flourless Cheesecake – creamy, luscious and topped with the season’s finest blueberries! Our house-made Passover menu will be available in the Markets and for order on Instacart April 18 through April 30, for delivery within an hour.

To round out your meal, our wine team has curated standout kosher wines that go above and beyond the traditional Manischewitz (though we have that, too!).  Try the Domaines Bunan Côtes de Provence Rouge 2012, a full-bodied Cabernet Suavignon with savory notes of black fruits and spice, or the Golan Heights “Yarden” Sauvignon Blanc 2014, a classic Bordeaux-style Sauvignon Blanc from a cool climate site in Israel with herbaceous character and complex fruit.

Short on time? Let Instacart shop for you – find everything you need for Passover from our online Passover aisle and have it all delivered to your door!


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.


Jason Rose

New Red Table Meat, Sliced to Order

Slicing cured meats is an art form that takes practice and great attention to detail.  Each piece of meat is different – some are cured longer and are drier and easier to slice, while others are softer and take a little more finesse.  At Bi-Rite, our skilled butchers and deli servers have extensive training and education about our entire charcuterie selection and the best slicing practice for each product.

Abrams_RedTableMeatCo-0077We encourage guests to sample our charcuterie and taste the difference for themselves – we want our guests to feel confident about the charcuterie they’re selecting, and know that not only does it taste fantastic, but it meets our responsible production standards. We hold our charcuterie producers to the same standards to which we hold our ranchers: the meat is pasture-raised, humanely-treated, and sustainably-harvested. We emphasize transparency at every step of the supply chain, from the farm to the curing room to our Markets.

We met our newest charcuterie producers, Red Table Meat Co., at this year’s Good Food Awards where they were celebrating a triple victory. The Good Food Awards recognize American craft producers in 13 categories for food that not only tastes fantastic but is responsibly produced.  As the premiere sponsor of the Good Food Awards, our sourcing criteria are deeply aligned with their awards criteria for both taste and sustainability.

Speck+2Red Table Meat Co.’s charcuterie is made from pasture-raised, heritage hogs sourced from six local farms in Minnesota.  We’re pleased to welcome three of Red Table Meat’s salumis to our charcuterie assortment, sliced-to-order from our Delis:

  • Big Chet’s: A Good Food Award-winning finocchiona-style salami, seasoned with black pepper, red pepper, fennel, garlic, and white wine, aged 3 months ($37 / lb).
  • Coppa: A Good Food Award-winning dry-cured pork shoulder, seasoned with coriander, juniper, crushed red pepper, and black pepper, aged 3 months ($35 / lb).
  • Speck: A dry-cured, smoked ham, seasoned with bay leaf, rosemary, allspice, juniper, and coriander, aged 6 months ($45 / lb).

Be sure to ask for a taste of Red Table Meat Co. and our other charcuterie offerings next time you stop by the Delis, also available for online order for convenient delivery through Instacart.


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!