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Archive for the ‘Producers Whose Food We Celebrate’ Category


Pomegranates + Persimmons = Flavors of NorCal Fall Fruit

IMG_6400Lately, autumn in the Bay Area means beautiful warm weather. In the Bi-Rite Market Produce Department it’s all about the transition from juicy and mouthwatering summer fruit to fall fruit that offers a much different eating experience. Local apples and pears are always an exciting crop in the fall, but there are a couple other crops that don’t get the recognition they deserve.  Persimmons and pomegranates not only represent the colors of autumn, they add unique flavors and texture to seasonal dishes.

Fuyu Persimmon

Fuyu Persimmon

Growing up on the East Coast, I had never even heard of a persimmon! In Northern California they are growing in back yards throughout the Bay. The squat-shaped Fuyu Persimmon is the most common variety— they are similar to an apple in the sense that you can eat it out of your hand when it’s firm in texture and ripe.  A Fuyu is ripe when the skin is bright orange, but depending on the exact variety or the growing region it can be pale in color.  Fuyus have a nice crunchy texture and the flavor that is mildly sweet with hints of cinnamon.  They are a great piece of fruit to chop up and add to savory salads and salsa since they add perfect texture and sweetness. Fuyus are very high in potassium and lycopene (a cancer-fighting antioxidant.)

Hachiya Persimmons

Hachiya Persimmons

The elongated, oval-shaped Hachiya Persimmon is a whole different ball game than the Fuyu. First off, a Hachiya can’t be eaten when it is firm like a Fuyu, due to its astringent qualities. The fruit needs to ripen up to a “pudding-like” texture, and the piece of fruit should feel like a balloon in your hand.  Once the Hachiya is ripe, the easiest way to eat it would be to peel of the top layer of skin and to spoon out the sweet, silky, and smooth pulp. The Produce Crew at Bi-Rite spends a lot of time ripening the Hachiya Persimmons, so that we have them ready to eat when we put them on the shelf. Many other retailers sell them in a rock-hard state and it may take 4-7 days to ripen on the kitchen counter before they are at their desired ripeness. Hachiyas are very versatile in the kitchen, from spreading the ripe pulp on toast like jam to making persimmon pudding and cakes.

For the past 10 years, from fall through the holidays, we’ve been lucky enough to have beautiful IMG_6391“Wonderful” Pomegranates straight from Balakian Family Farm in Reedley, California. Like most fruit, the longer the fruit gets to hang on the tree and ripen, the better the flavor will be. If a pomegranate is harvested too early the juice and arils (seeds) will be tart in flavor. The flavor of the Balakian Pomegranates is perfectly balanced between sweet/tart and the arils are plump and juicy. It can be challenging to pick out a ripe pomegranate, but we are fortunate enough to work with a farm that harvests them when they are truly ready, taking the hard work out of choosing the perfect fruit. Pomegranate arils are a great addition to chicory salad and also pair nicely with the flavor of persimmons.

Come in to either Bi-Rite Market today and have a taste of our incredible fall fruits!

Jessie Rogers

Thanksgiving Pre-Orders Are Here: Get Your Turkeys & Holiday Menu Today!


The Flavors of Fall are here! NOW AVAILABLE for Online Pre-Order from our trusted online ordering partner, Instacart, for quick and convenient holiday pick-up at both Bi-Rite Market locations. From our special Instacart Holiday Market you can shop our entire selection of Thanksgiving favorites, including:

  • BN Ranch Heritage Turkeys
  • Savory House-Made Side Dishes
  • Desserts from Bi-Rite Creamery
  • Everything you need for a perfect Thanksgiving!

The pre-order deadline for Thanksgiving is Tuesday, November 24 at 5pm. Thanksgiving Menu items will also be available in Bi-Rite Market stores for purchase, and for pre-order pick-up, from Friday, November 20 through Saturday, November 28. ORDER YOUR TURKEY EARLY TO INSURE AVAILABILITY!

Enjoy the finest Turkeys from our favorite farm: BN Ranch

turkey_niman_marinsuns-300x257BN Ranch HeritageTurkeys – $8.00 / lb
Long a favorite of our guests, these exceptional turkeys are a trademark of Thanksgiving at Bi-Rite. Each turkey is raised in Bolinas and Turlock, CA by the BN Ranch Team on the ranch of Bill and Nicolette Niman. Raised in a humane and environmentally-responsible manner, these birds are direct descendants of Standard Bronze, Narragansett, and Spanish Black breeds. The flock roams freely on grassy pastures most of the year, grazing and foraging to supplement their GMO-free, vegetarian diet. Intensely flavorful on their own, they require hardly any flavorings or additions to taste incredibly delicious.

BN Ranch Broad-Breasted Turkeys – $5.00 / lb
Raised in the same responsible manner as BN Ranch Heritage Turkeys, these traditional turkeys provide a larger ratio of white meat and are a delicious, free-range alternative to factory farm-raised turkeys.

Visit our Instacart Holiday Market for our complete Turkey selection, available size ranges, and serving information.

Bi-Rite’s House-Made Thanksgiving Menu

While you’re browsing for turkeys, be sure to check out our entire House-Made Thanksgiving Menu, wines, gifts, Bi-Rite Creamery desserts, and more! All of these delectable dishes are also available now for pre-order. Plus, you can try our Thanksgiving Menu at these preview tastings in the Markets:

Preview Tasting Schedule

  • Saturday, November 7, 3-6pm at both Bi-Rite Market locations
  • Sunday, November 8, 3-6pm at both Bi-Rite Market locations
  • Sunday, November 15, 3-6pm at both Bi-Rite Market locations
  • Monday, November 16, 4-7pm at both Bi-Rite Market locations

Just follow these easy steps for Thanksgiving Pre-Orders:

  • Create a free Instacart account at https://www.instacart.com/bi-rite-holiday. Or, log into an existing Instacart account, and select the Bi-Rite Holiday Market to begin your Thanksgiving shopping.
  • All orders from Bi-Rite’s Instacart Holiday Market are for in-store pick-up only, at either Bi-Rite Market location. (If ordering from outside San Francisco, please use Bi-Rite’s 94110 zip code to create an account.)
  • Need help? No problem! A Bi-Rite Thanksgiving Hotline is available at (415) 241-9760; select option 3 for Thanksgiving menu-planning and ordering assistance. Menus can also be ordered in person with Bi-Rite Market staff at either market location, or by phone.

Don’t forget the wine: Stock up and save during our Fall Wine Blitz sale!



Enjoying the Peak of Tomato Season

IMG_5651One of the most exciting times of year in the Bay Area is when the local farms start harvesting tomatoes in early June. By the time September rolls around, the local tomato season has hit its peak. All the local farmers from the Pescadero Coast to the Sierra foothills have vine-ripened tomatoes that offer different flavors depending on the growing practices and climate. Throughout September in at both Bi-Rite Markets, we are celebrating the Tomato Triple Play, which highlights three different tomato crops— Heirloom, Cherry, and Dry-Farmed Early Girls. All of the tomatoes we sell during the season come straight off the field to our shelves, allowing our growers to let them stay on the plant a little longer and develop that perfect flavor before picking. Be sure to check out our recommended pairings to make the most of your tomatoes–just visit our store on Instacart.com for a shopping list, and  even order everything you need online for delivery in San Francisco in under an hour!

Heirloom Tomatoes are an open-pollinated variety that have been circulating among farmers and backyard gardeners for more than 50 years—and many of the varieties were introduced before 1940! Heirlooms are not only important because they offer us so many different shapes and sizes to cook with, but they allow us to maintain genetic diversity in the agricultural world. The Cherokee Purple Tomato is one of the most popular. With its thin skin and meaty texture, the juicy, acidic flesh offers a rich, old-fashioned sweet flavor. They take BLTs and Caprese salads to the next level of enjoyment.

Cherokee Purple Heirlooms

Cherokee Purple Heirlooms

We are currently getting Cherokee Purples from Bluehouse Farm in Pescadero and Mariquita Farm in Watsonville. Another popular heirloom is the Brandywine Tomato.  Farmers love them because they get huge on the plants and the meaty flesh doesn’t break down easily when ripe.  Don’t let the large size fool you! These are one of the sweetest tomatoes out there. The Green Zebra Tomato is a small variety that starts out green but turns yellow with green stripes when it’s ripe. The sweet/tart flavor works really well with salsas and salads.

Our guests really get excited about tomatoes when the Dry-farm Early Girls hit our shelves! About 10 years ago we started selling these tomatoes from Two Dog Farm in Davenport. They’re the first farm in Northern California to grow these Early Girls, and over the past 5 years more farms have made the effort. Dry-farming is a farming technique used in a lot of climates where there’s not much rain. The roots of the plants can tap into moisture in the soil and go through the entire growing season with no irrigation. Two Dog Farm grows on the coast, getting moisture from the fog and the high water table in the soil allowing them to never water. The resulting tomatoes are usually smaller and lower in yield, but they pack pleasantly intense flavor and a dense, firm texture. 


Dry-farm Early Girls

Unfortunately, Two Dog Farm lost a majority of its crop this season due to the heat wave that hit the Bay Area. Crops grown on the cool coast can’t handle the heat! But we’ll have plenty of the tasty Dry-farm Early Girls from Live Earth Farm, Bluehouse Farm, and Tomatero Farm for the rest of the season.

When Heirlooms and Dry-farm Tomatoes are in full swing the Cherry Tomato varieties just don’t get the same amount of love. Cherry Tomatoes might be one of the easiest plants to grow, but keeping up with the daily harvesting and their delicate nature can make them a challenging crop for farmers. Similar to Heirlooms, there are a ton of different varieties but only a handful of them make sense for the retail marketplace. The Sweet 100 Tomato is one of the most popular for farmers to grow because they are a classic red tomato, extra sweet, and keep producing large clusters of fruit for most of the season. The Sun Gold Cherry Tomato is the most popular non-red tomato out there, with their sweet-but-tart flavor that explodes in your mouth.

Mixed Cherry Tomatoes

Mixed Cherry Tomatoes

The Yellow Pear Cherry Tomato is a teardrop-shaped tomato with tangy flavor and low acidity. You can get them along with our Sweet 100 and Sun Golds combined in a mixed baskets. Cherry Tomatoes are not only a perfect snack for kids, but they can add a flare to pasta dishes and almost any salad. They’re especially wonderful in cucumber salads!

One of the best parts of having all these local tomatoes at the Bi-Rite is that we get use them throughout the Family of Businesses—from the world-famous Gazpacho in the Deli to the Mozzarella and Cherry Tomato Skewers on the Bi-Rite Catering Summer menu. We also have an endless number of grocery items that enhance the tomato experience like the Public Label Tuscan Style Olive oil, Pt. Reyes Mozzarella, and Josey Baker’s Breads.  Do you know which tomato variety is your favorite? If not, this is the perfect time to swing by one of the Markets and ask for some tomato samples so you’re better prepared for tomato season next year. Enjoy!

John Herbstritt

Cocktails with St. George

St. George Spirits became famous for their Hangar 1 brand of vodkas, but when they sold the name to Proximo Spirits they had to cool their vodka jets for a while. Now master distiller Lance Winters is back with his own line and they are better than ever!  Although spirits like whiskey are all about demonstrating the depth of flavor that comes from long ageing, highlighting the different grains used, good vodka is all about mastery of the distillation process. Since the spirit comes out of the still at 190 proof or above, only the most skilled distillers using the best raw materials can make great vodka on the first run.

st george bottlesA little about the history of St. George Spirits: it was founded by Jörg Rupf in 1982. Inspired by the high quality fruit grown in California, he emigrated from Germany in order to start making eau-de-vie. These fruit-based spirits are distilled from a mash of thehighest quality fermented fresh fruitand only made seasonally. Jörg’s family had been distillers for generations in the Black Forest of Western Germany. He started on a single, 65-gallon Holstein pot still and the distillates he made were outstanding. At that time there was no craft distilling movement in the United States to speak of, nor was anybody drinking eaux-de-vie, but these still remain central to what St. George Spirits is all about. You might even make the claim that this foundation on eau-de-vie informs everything that St. George does.

Although the vodkas are not eaux-de-vie, the composition and balance of flavors and aroma is decidedly on the same plane. The base spirit itself is luscious and fresh with zero harshness. It has a softness to it that makes you want to sip it like whiskey. It almost feels like heresy to mix it with anything! For the Citrus and Green Chile flavors the distillation team uses a special, smaller still with basket attachment to make a highly aromatic distillate which they blend into the base spirit. The final products are balanced and beautifully aromatic.

We will be offering 10% off all three of the St. George Vodkas Tuesday through Thursday now through September 24 ($27, regualarly $29.99).Come on down and check them out for yourself, or shop the selection on our online store at Instacart.com.
The secret ingredient in the All-Purpose Vodka is actually pears! St. George distills the same delicious Bartlett pears that they use for their pear brandies to 95.1% in order to obtain a spirit with a luscious texture but no overt pear flavor. They then blend it with a GMO-free base spirit. Great for any vodka application: Dry Martini, Moscow Mule, it’s even great sipped on its own – or you can make like James Bond and whip up a Vesper!

The California Citrus Vodka is scented with Bergamot plus Valencia and Seville oranges all sourced locally. First, the distilling team infuses the citrus peels separately in their GMO-free base spirit. They then distill each infusion and blend them together, looking for harmony of flavor and texture. I like a Martini made from the Cali Citrus and Dolin Dry Vermouth, though you can also throwback to the ’90s with this Shameless Cosmo recipe. Ladies night!

This inspired beverage is made with a combination of infusion and distillation techniques as well. Although jalapeño is the main flavor, they also use a combination of other sweet and hot chiles. Be careful not to get to close to the still when it’s processing all those peppers! The end result is a spirit that is subtly spicy and redolent of mouth-watering peppery aromas. The emphasis is not on the spiciness itself, but the complex flavors that these lovely veggies lend to whatever they touch. Bloody Marys, duh!



Celebrating New Public Label Arrivals

Summer is here at Bi-Rite Market and we’re pleased as punch to announce the return of our Public Label Olive Oils, and a fantastic new collaboration with Poe Wines that created our Public Label Pinot Noir.  You may know that each Public Label bottle and jar contains ingredients sourced from our favorite farmers – we tell you who grew the ingredient, where it was grown, and how it turned into the final product you hold in your hand.  What you might not know is that Public Label is a whole lot more than a house brand.

Poe Grapes

Pinot Noir grapes at the Olcese Vineyard

Public Label is one of the many ways we “create community through food,” bringing our community together through incredible ingredients from fantastic farmers, invaluable expertise from our buyers and staff, inspiring craft and skill from our producers, all of which culminate in these incredible, high-quality products.  Our Public Label collaborations develop out of relationships with producers we admire most; just as we seek the finest sustainably-grown produce, responsibly-raised meats, and the best-tasting ingredients for our Markets, we constantly push ourselves to create new and unique Public Label products that are expertly crafted with flavors that stand out from the pack.

This year’s Public Label Olive Oils are as versatile as they are delicious, from salads to dipping to finishing.  In a marketplace that is saturated with olive oils (and we’ve tasted our fair share), we’ve hand-selected two outstanding olive oils that are exemplars in their category.  For our Public Label Pinot Noir, we’ve partnered exclusively with Poe Wines’ winemaker, Samantha Sheehan, to create a beautiful and versatile wine with some incredibly special Pinot Noir grapes.

Public Label Mission Extra Virgin Olive Oil$19.99 500ml
For our new “Everyday” Extra Virgin Olive Oil, we’ve collaborated with Stella Cadente who is based in Butte County, CA. This Extra Virgin Olive Oil is made from fully ripened 100% Heritage Mission Olives, the only American olive cultivar and part of Slow Food’s Ark of Taste. The olives are hand-harvested and pressed within hours, then stored in stainless steel tanks and being bottled to order to ensure freshness and full flavor. The olives are harvested at peak ripeness and the olives yield olive oil that is perfect for everyday use. It’s a very well-balanced, mild-medium intensity olive oil with undertones of butter, green grass, hints of spice that lingers on the palate, and a finish that is everything you taste in a ripe olive. Use in everything from dipping to preparing your favorite salad dressing!BiRite-HOLIDAY-2015-Grocery-004

New Release of Public Label Tuscan Style Olive Oil$24.99 750ml
We have collaborated with Divisadero guests Ben Herrmann and Evan Loewy from The Other Brother Company to produce our 2015 Tuscan Style Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Evan and Ben’s family planted their initial estate orchard when they were kids; they grew up with the trees, gaining experience in small scale agriculture and olive oil production.  It wasn’t until after college that they decided to switch directions and follow their passion for food. Inspired by their childhood experiences, they started The Other Brother Company. The oil is a blend specially made for Bi-Rite that consists of five Tuscan olive varietals: Frantoio, Pendolino, Leccino, Maurino, and Ascolano. These olives are grown at the family orchards which are located in Templeton, CA and Monterey, CA. The olives are hand-picked and milled within hours after harvesting to yield an oil that is bright, bold, and buttery with notes of fresh garden herbs and tomatoes. It has a hearty, yet balanced, amount of pepper in the finish. Drizzle this oil on your favorite steak, it is especially delicious on rib-eye! Or use it as an oil for dipping.  Toss it with radicchio, tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, greens, and roasted vegetables. Excellent in pasta and farro dishes, or as a finish on a bowl of soup. Marinate fresh goat cheese or feta in this buttery oil!BiRite-HOLIDAY-2015-hannakuh-235

Public Label Pinot Noir Sonoma County, CA 2014 | $21.99
Our Pinot Noir was sourced from the Olcese Vineyard, one of the oldest Pinot Noir vineyards in Sonoma. This vineyard was planted in 1974 to Martini clone, a California heritage clone of Pinot Noir. With this special vineyard, we asked one of the best Pinot Noir winemakers in California, Samantha Sheehan of Poe Wines, to make us a phenomenal wine for under $25. The result is a beautifully aromatic wine, with cherry and raspberry fruit notes to go along with a savory, earthy spice. We love this with a variety of foods, from salmon to pork chops.

John Herbstritt

Wines of Louis/Dressner

When Jules Dressner came to San Francisco last year to talk to us about his wines, his reputation preceded him. At Bi-Rite, we have been supporters of Louis/Dressner wines – the company started by parents Denyse and Joe in 1988 – for quite some time. When you purchase a bottle with the Louis/Dressner back label you know that it is going to be delicious and unique, but most importantly, made by real artisans: winegrowers and makers who care about what they do, and do it themselves with their hands.

Joe and Denyse were living in her parents’ summer home in the Mâcon in Southern Burgundy, tasting lots of wine (as one does) when they came upon an opportunity to introduce the work of these vignerons to the American market. They didn’t start off focusing on wines made “naturally” and they even had conventional growers in the book at the beginning, but they soon realized that the wines they most enjoyed drinking and those that had the most authentic feel were those that were made with minimal intervention by people who knew their land. Even though these were not the wines that necessarily sold themselves, they soon trimmed down producers working conventionally in order to focus on wines made in this style. Read the Louis/Dressner manifesto here.

But for Joe, the emphasis was always on the people: the vignerons who worked the land, and the moment of sharing the fruit of their labor with loved ones. In order to facilitate this vision, he invited his growers to do tours of their American markets so that buyers and consumers could meet the people who made the wines that they enjoyed drinking. Without that connection we run the risk of focusing solely on the end-product, not understanding all of the real work that goes into the making of a bottle of wine.

In the end, the only way to truly understand how natural wine is made is to actually go and do it yourself. I have never made wine personally, but from what I understand it is an intuitive process, governed by fickle Mother Nature. Each year is different, offering new promise and challenges, and winegrowers are wise to listen to those with more seasons among the vines. A sincere thanks to those whose hard work enriches our lives every day. Some gems to share with you:

mas-de-chimeres-terrasses-du-larzacMas de Chim
ères “Terrasses du Larzac” Languedoc, France 2012 | $19.99
For over 20 years, Guilhem Dardé meticulously tended his family vineyards and brought his grapes to the local coop to be blended with the overproduction of his neighbors. Finally, he bought winemaking equipment, scandalized the village and struck out on his own. With the 1993 vintage, he tasted his own wine for the first time.A self-describedpaysan-vigneron, Dardé approaches vinification with enthusiasm. His Coteaux is a blend of about 70% Syrah, 20% Grenache and 5% each Cinsault and Mourvèdre; the proportions vary according to the vintage. This wine is dark purple, with a ripe nose of cloves, cinnamon and coffee – it is spicy and concentrated on the palate. The considerable amount of tannin is balanced by rich, soft matter and the finish is long, with notes of licorice, coffee and kirsch. This wine is aged in barriques and bottled unfined and unfiltered. The abundance of pigments and solid matter results in noticeable sediment in the bottle.

PepiereClosdeBriordsPépière “Clos de Briords” Muscadet Loire, France 2014 | $19.99
At Domaine de la Pépière, winemaker Marc Ollivier’s goal is to make wines of terroir that express the character of the land and grapes. To this end, the vineyards are farmed organically, the grapes are all hand-harvested, and only natural yeasts are used during fermentation.The Clos des Briords is a single vineyard cuvée with classic minerality and freshness, as well as firm acidity with concentrated citrus and pear notes. Fire up the grill, and enjoy this wine outside while feasting on grilled shrimp, vegetables, and oysters. Top off the meal with some crusty bread and goat cheese, and you’ll have a feast to remember!

Foradori-101103895.jpgForadori Teroldego 
Vigneti delle Dolomiti IGT, Italy 2012 | $24.99
Elisabetta Foradori is the wine queen of the Dolomites. Teroldego was long derided as a variety unsuitable for fine wine production, but is native to her region. So when she took over her family estate at the age of 20 after the death of her father, it would have been easy to decide to rip everything up and plant Merlot or Cabernet and to bring in some new oak barrels. Instead she decided to stick with her native grape. Each year she picks the vines with the best grapes and replants her vineyards using only these cuttings. This process, called massale selection, is painstaking, but is the best way to ensure genetic diversity and to improve vineyard stock.These days her wines are known throughout Italy and the world. Her Teroldego has earthy, loamy, floral aromatics with flavors of pomegranate juice and cranberry, and an incredible deep length. Enjoy especially with pork. Sugo di Maiale with fried sage?

John Herbstritt

Arianna Occhipinti: In Search of Place


Arianna Occhipinti had a fabulous introduction to the world of wine when, as a sixteen-year-old, she was invited by her uncle Giusto (the ‘O’ in COS, a Sicilian winery that was organic before it was cool) to help him pour wine at Vinitaly. She knew nothing about wine at the time, but felt that it was a world that she needed to be a part of. Fifteen years later she has become an inspiration for a generation of young winemakers trying to farm authentic wine in a world that impels so many of us to consume ever more generic products. It all starts at home. She grew up in the Vittoria region in between the mountains and the Mediterranean. At approximately 250 meters above sea level the heat is tempered by cool breezes coming down from the mountains, which helps maintain acidity. It is the landscape of that place which informs her wine and her winemaking.

Inspired and spurred on by her uncle, Arianna enrolled in enology school, though what she learned there was so antithetical to what she had absorbed from him. The pesticides, potions, and “fixes” that conventional winemaking subscribed to obscured the connection to place, making wine that was devoid of feeling. In 2004 she started out on her own with only one hectare, determined to find her own terroir.

Shortly thereafter she found she had a lot in common with the growing “natural wine” movement. What is natural wine you ask? I would define it as wine made with the least amount of intervention possible – the less human intervention, the more natural the wine. This can mean many things: hand-harvested grapes, no added yeasts, little or no sulfite addition, sometimes a more oxidative ageing process, the idea being that human intervention kills what is real and authentic about the wine. But after a number of years making “natural wine,” she began to see even this as too constraining. “Natural wine” became another sort of dogma, when the whole point was to make wines of terroir that speak of the place where they are from. Instead, natural winemaking practices help her make a more authentic wine of terroir.

As in many other arenas, making wines that speak of place also has important economic implications: “I want to be an example for young people who leave Sicily in search of something better or more important than the country. I want to show them the importance of tradition, and the beauty of being attached to a sense of place.” Like many traditional agricultural areas in Europe, Sicily is an economically depressed area with seemingly little to offer young people, who tend to leave for bigger cities on the peninsula. By demonstrating that not only is it possible to survive in the Sicilian countryside, but also to thrive and celebrate it, Arianna acts as a beacon of hope. Man cannot live on “beauty” alone, but Arianna’s success is inspirational, at least for this city-dweller.

To learn more about Occhipinti check out this interview with Arianna, and be sure to visit both Markets or our online store at Instacart.com to taste her beautiful wines!

Occhipinti SP68 Bianco, Sicily, Italy 2012 | $26.99 
Arianna’s white wine is unique, even for verified Sicily-philes. It’s a blend of Albanello and Moscato di Alessandria fermented dry on the skins for 15 days. Golden hued, aromatic, and soft with ripe pear and nut flavors, it’s practically crying out for a good piece of aged pecorino cheese.

Occhipinti SP68 Rouge, Sicily, Italy 2014 |  $26.99 
This is the wine that I first fell in love with from Arianna. It is a blend of a younger parcel of Nero d’Avola and Frappato, the traditional blend from Vittoria. It’s fruity, charming and quaffable, with fresh pluot, dark cherry, and a hint of spice. Serve this one slightly chilled with your favorite red sauce pasta dish.

Occhipinti Frappato, Sicily, Italy 2013 |  $39.99 
Arianna uses the vines from her oldest parcel to craft this single varietal wine. Usually winemakers blend Frappato with Nero d’Avola to temper its natural fruitiness, but this has the structure and earth to stand on its own. Try with tagine or other Mediterranean fare.

Christine Mathias

The 18 Reasons Barn Dance is Coming to the City!

BarnDancePoster-2Yeehaw, indeed! The annual 18 Reasons Barn Dance is almost here! Saturday, September 12th is the big day for this yearly fundraiser, of which we are proud to once again be a supporter and sponsor. And, for the first time, the Barn Dance is being held in San Francisco; the San Francisco County Fair Building is playing host to an entire day of family fun and education, in fact.

The Barn Dance festivities begin at 4pm with a free Pie Happy Hour. We would love everyone who comes to bring a pie to share—show up with a pie in hand, and you’ll be entered into a drawing for fabulous kitchen equipment! If you can’t bring a pie, you can still enjoy, as Three Babes Bakeshop, Black Jet Baking, and others will be providing pies of their own. After that it’s on to grilled sausages, plus veggies and salads from Bi-Rite Farm in Sonoma, and wonderful tamales from Donna’s Tamales. Enjoy lemonade, Anchor Steam beer, and wine throughout the evening too—all included in the price of your ticket!

MixedBerrySquareAfter we’ve stuffed you full of awesome food, get ready to dance! Square Dancing is fun, and perfect for kids, pros, and beginners alike! KC and the Moonshine Band will be making beautiful music and caller Mike Lewinski will guide you and your family through the promenades. It’s going to be a fantastic family event.

If you want to spend the whole day in Golden Gate Park, our friends at the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department and their Urban Ag Academy are holding an entire day’s worth of FREE events in the San Francisco County Fair Building before the Pie Happy Hour! Their Grow it, Preserve it, Love it series of workshops starts at 11:30am and runs right through 5pm. They’ll be covering everything from Building a Raised Bed with Garden for the Environment to Fruit Syrup Creation with Master Food Preservers. Yay knowledge!

All your Barn Dance ticket and information needs can be met right here. We can’t wait to see you on September 12th!

John Herbstritt

Back in Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is one of the most widely planted grapes in the world with more than 275,000 acres. So why, you ask, are we featuring a grape that doesn’t need any help selling records? We feel that Sauvignon Blanc has suffered from its fame; like a starlet swamped with paparazzi and mired in tabloid scandal, her excesses have been recorded and disseminated, but underneath lies dazzling talent. We are here to resuscitate her career. Sauvignon Blanc has been planted all over the world, and not always in suitable terroirs, but a select few New World regions have emerged to sing with their Old World predecessors.

In the Touraine, where Sauvignon Blanc arguably reaches her highest notes in France, Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé are the two prominent spots. They look at each other from either side of the Loire river, and while the wines can be quite similar, they have distinct terroir. When young, the wines are quaffable, mineral-driven and bright, with aromas of citrus and crunchy nectarine, perfect companions for a semi-aged goat’s milk cheese. But with a little bit of age, the differences really emerge. The Sylvain Bailly Sancerre below is a great example of a younger Sancerre, but the aged wines from Gitton that we were able to get our hands on are extremely rare and special. We only have six bottles of each Gitton at our Divisadero Market – email us at wine@biritemarket.com if you’re interested!

Outside of the Touraine, Sauvignon Blanc can respond with quite different flavors, from gooseberry and pepper in Marlborough to ripe stone fruit and honey in Friuli, and even pineapple in Napa. The best versions balance fruit with an unmistakable minerality. New Zealand, in particular, has found an audience here in the US. Charming floral and grassy aromatics combine with fresh acidity to make New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc a tasty aperitif. But many people don’t know that the New Zealand winegrowing industry has also undertaken an unprecedented move towards 100% sustainability through the Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand program. You know that when you drink wine from New Zealand that it has been made using sustainable practices.

Love her or hate her, you have to admit that you can’t get her siren song out of your head. She’s been wandering of late, to be sure, but she’s getting her act together. We’re featuring six of our favorite little ditties over the next month at both stores. Tickets are on sale now, so don’t miss em!

FarellaSBbottleshotFarella Sauvignon Blanc | $16.99
Tom Farella is a tireless champion of Coombsville, a wine growing region in eastern Napa. Since Coombsville tends to be cooler than the rest of the region Sauvignon Blanc can avoid the pitfalls of over ripeness and maintain its fresh face. Tropical, grassy aromatics.

Nautilus Sauvignon Blanc | $18.99Nautilus
Many people believe Sauvignon Blanc didn’t gain popularity until the wines from New Zealand came onto the scene. It’s unlike any Sauvignon Blanc in the world, with its intense fruitiness and lush texture. Nautilus is a perfect example of Marlborough, and is delicious for sipping on the porch or as an aperitif.

BaillySylvain Bailly Sancerre |$22.99
Classic and classy, Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley is archetypal. With its quiet intensity and striking mineral notes, Sancerre is an ideal terroir to balance the grape’s natural fruitiness and aromatics.  The Bailly family has been making Sancerre since 1700 and is one of the most traditional producers in the area.

Scarpetta Sauvignon Blanc | $24.99 Sauvignon-Blanc-1
Friuli’s Sauvignon Blanc is the perfect midpoint between old world Sancerre and new world New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Less green and aromatic than New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, and boasts riper fruit notes found in Sancerre. Scarpetta is a project between two Friuli-obsessed wine veterans, Bobby Stucky and Lachlan Patterson of Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder, CO.

Gitton Père et Fils Pouilly-Fumé Clos Joanne d’Orion 1985 | $54.99 |Only 6 bottles at Divis!
A 30 year old Sauvignon Blanc is something we don’t get to experience often. After visiting the winery in Sancerre and tasting through several older vintages, we were blown away by the complexity of this wine. Nutty, savory, with bright acid and mineral notes.  A complete stunner of a wine.  Email us at wine@biritemarket.comif you’re interested in one of these bottles.

Gitton Père et Fils Sancerre Belles Dames 1990 | $54.99 | Only 6 bottles at Divis!
Ordered and aged at the winery in pristine condition, we’re so excited to offer some of these amazing Sauvignon Blanc from Gitton Père & Fils. Pascal Gitton believes 1990 was one of his greatest vintages for Sancerre and we can understand why. With nearly 25 years of age, this Sauvignon Blanc is surprising lively with stone and citrus notes. We feel like this can go at least 10 more years.  Email us at wine@biritemarket.com if you’re interested in one of these bottles.

John Herbstritt

Sour Summer in SF

sour-sf-banner-13“Turn on, Tune in, Drop out” is actually a phrase developed by the sour beer brewers in Leipzig in the 18th century when they discovered their delicious gose style of naturally fermented elixirs. They believed that the bright acidity of their beer was able to transcend the drinker onto a higher plane of existence…OK, so I made that up, but when you taste of the delicious new sours that we have in house right now, you may very well be transported.

Sour beer is all the rage in San Francisco, but how is it made? Brewers use special yeast strains along with lactic acid bacteria to coax more and more acidity from their fermentation, a flavor that is not often found in other styles of beer. Sour beers are also the perfect gateway beer for wine drinkers given their vinous nature.  Their flavors tend to evolve and become more dynamic over time, and many are barrel-aged.

These beers are prized for their pairability with food, since acidity is such an important component on the palate, but many are also great on their own with flavors and aromas that cascade over the palate in waves.  Sour beers tend to pair well with rich, fatty, savory foods – we’re particularly fond of sour beers with cheese.  The only rule about sour beers it seems, is that there are no rules.

Another particularity of sour beers is their affinity for fruit flavors. Locally, Almanac Beer Co. is famous for preserving the produce of a season by ageing their beers on the best local fruit, often calling out the farm on their labels. They follow a seasonal rotation, like the fruit that they brew with, so availability waxes and wanes with the changing of the sun’s position in the sky. Whatever the season (SF “Summer” or SF “Winter”) there is a sour beer companion for your meal, or as a gift for your favorite beer nerd.

The beers featsour-sf-circleured below are a wonderful representation of the diverse styles of sour beers, but only a smattering of the sours we have in house (and in our online store at Instacart.com), many in limited quantity.  Ask one of our Beer and Wine Specialists on the floor at 18th Street or Divis to show you the whole selection, and don’t forget to stop by the Cheese Department for a pairing! Turn on to the sour revolution, baby. Your palate will never be the same.


Brouwerij Verhaeghe Duchesse De Bourgogne 750 mL | $13.99
This traditional Flanders Red Ale is matured in oak barrels for 18 months. The final product is a blending of a younger eight-month-old beer with the 18-month-old barrel-aged brew. Fruity and rich with a full, sweet, and fresh taste.

Almanac Beer Co. Farmer’s Reserve Pluot 375 mL | $10.99
Pluots are created by cross-breeding apricots and plums; there are dozens of varieties with an amazing range of color and flavor. All through the summer, Blossom Bluff Orchards picks each variety at its peak: Dapple Dandy, Honey Punch, Flavor Queen, Black Kat, and Dapple Jack were all added to a sour blond ale and aged in wine barrels to create this funky oak-aged brew.
Pairs well with: Garden Variety Cheese’s Sweet Asylum – The balance of brightness and funk between this sour ale and tangy, creamy sheep’s milk cheese combines for a lush blend of floral, lanolin, and earthiness.


This is only a handful of the sours we have in the Markets!

Brouwerij Hof ten Dormaal “Zure van Tildonk” 375 mL | $10.99
Belgian “Farm to Bottle” sour beer brewed using hops and malt grown on the farm as well as the wild yeasts found around the farm. After a year of aging in a barrel, this sour is cellared for several months prior to release.
Pairs well with: Pecorino Sardo – The bright, buttery hay qualities of this sheep’s milk Pecorino shine with the tart, crisp funkiness of the Tildonk.

Cascade Brewing Barrel House Apricot (Divis Only) 750 mL | $29.99
Strawberry (18th Street Only)
 750 mL | $29.99
The Apricot is North West-style sour ale is a blend of wheat and blond ales that were aged in oak wine barrels for up to nine months before aging on fresh apricots for an additional six months. Flavors of fresh and dried apricot fruit are complemented by a tart acidity and lingering notes of apricot preserves.  Likewise, the Strawberry is aged in oak barrels with strawberries and vanilla for 12 months.  Bright and crisp, it captures the essence of fresh strawberries with subtle notes of oak, vanilla, and fruit preserves.