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Sana Javeri Kadri

Everything you need to know about December Festivities

The December holidays are upon us! This year, you’re sweater can be ugly, but your food doesn’t have to be! Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, the Winter Solstice, or simply hop from holiday party to holiday party, we want to make your holidays as convenient and easy as possible.  Read on for answers below to your most frequently asked questions and then some, from all the logistics including our complete meal solutions, holiday menus, gift ideas, how to give back to the community by supporting our fifth annual Toy Drive, and more.

When are you open?
Christmas: We’re open 9am to 9pm almost every day of December except Christmas Eve and Day. We’re open 9am to 5pm on Christmas Eve and closed on Christmas Day. We’re open as usual at 9am on 12/26, the day after Christmas.

New Year: We’re open 9am to 9pm on New Year’s Eve and 10am to 6pm on New Year’s Day.

You can now pre-order via our convenient NEW e-commerce website for in-store pick-up. Since internet never sleeps, 3am Christmas dinner shopping just got a whole lot easier!

How do I place a Christmas or Hanukkah menu order without having a meltdown in the wine aisle?
Pre-orders open on our Holiday E-Commerce site on 11/27 for all December Holiday and Gift Ordering. Stay in your pajamas, grab that extra bowl of cereal, and peruse our market offerings from your own personal internet technology!

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What are the pick-up times for Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year’s orders?

  • Order pick-up dates for the Hanukkah Menu are Friday 12/23 – Monday 1/1
  • Web pre-ordering for the Hanukkah Menu ends Sunday 12/22 at 5pm
  • Order pick-up dates for Christmas are Friday 12/16 – Saturday 12/24 (We’re closed Christmas Day, we’re closed!)
  • Web pre-ordering for the Christmas Menu ends Friday 12/23 at 4pm
  • Orders for turkeys and geese are taken until we sell out – we will sell out of specific sizes and types, so get your orders in sooner rather than later!
  • A 24-hour pick-up window will apply for all orders (so keep in mind you can’t place an order on Friday 12/20 at 9pm for Saturday 12/21 10am pick-up).

How do I go about picking up my December Holiday order?
You can choose which Market (18th or Divisadero), and specify your pick-up date and time during the checkout process on shop.biritemarket.com or over the phone.

If I ordered something for Tuesday and can’t make it till Wednesday, is that ok? What do I need to do?
No problem! Simply log into your account on shop.biritemarket.com and update your preorder with the new date.

crabscape_verticalwebI want to feel like a real deal Californian this year, so can y’all help me get my crab game on point? Is California Dungeness Crab even safe to eat? I heard some rumblings about toxic sludge…
California Dungeness Crab season is here and gosh, they are beautiful! After a sad crab-less season last year, we’ve got sweet, succulent, and meaty crabs this time around and we’re so ready to make the most of it. Get ‘em whole or get ‘em cracked and cleaned so all you need to do is melt the butter, bring out the good bread and wine and you’ve got a proper feast.

What’s the deal with Prime Rib? I’m equal parts awed and terrified…
We’ve got your back, or rather your rib? We threw together a Black Tie Dinner Kit so you can pair your Prime Rib magnificence with a bright winter salad, some cheesy, truffle-y potatoes, the best confections this side of the Bay, and eat a fairly epic meal without pulling your hair out at 4pm on Christmas Eve.

primeribscape2_webCan you tell me more about this Prime Rib, where/what/how?
Each rib weights about 1.25-2lb and we usually recommend 1lb per person. The beef is hormone/antibiotic free, grass-fed for 18-24 months and then grain-finished. We made a pretty sweet video to walk you through cooking your holiday Prime Rib AND you can find detailed cooking instructions at the markets in handy postcard form, easy!

I want a really good, responsible bird for the holidays, you know? The kind I can take home to my parents and cleans up real nice for Christmas dinner, no argyle involved.
Our BN Ranch Heritage Turkey is the best turkey we know, with intensely flavorful meat and the highest standards of sustainable ranching to its credit. We also have BN Ranch Broad-Breasted Turkeys for folks that want the benefits of a BN Ranch bird but prefer more white meat. Lastly, we have a select number of Mary’s Organic and Free-Range Turkeys – a great, clean bird, at a more affordable price. All of our turkeys are always fresh and never frozen. If Turkeys aren’t your bird of choice, we have Muscovy and Liberty Ducks this year from some of California’s best poultry farmers too. Only responsible, tasty birds in our kitchens!

hannukkah3_webIs there anything better than Brisket? (i.e. can we talk about Brisket for a minute y’all)
There are a few things better than brisket. Namely, leftover breakfast brisket, the undying street cred of a well-made brisket, the memory of that amazing BN Ranch brisket, and tamales with brisket? Let us do the heavy lifting and slow cook that brisket to perfection for you, or you can put on your big kid pants and cook this beauty yourself. Either way, you can’t go wrong with our brisket, we’re not biased or anything.

champscav_webBefore I go on my annual New Year’s juice cleanse and sign myself up for pilates classes I’m destined to skip, I’d like to ring in the New Year like a real champ. Guide me towards tasty success?
What we’re really psyched about is farm-to-table American Caviar and some real good Champagne to wash it down with. Throw it back to the early 2000s with champs and cav! Plus, you know the Markets will be whipping up perfect party bites the week of to round out your meal.

What cheeses can I bring to ugly sweater parties? Trying to step up my cheese game this year to offset this heinous sweater…
For us, the holidays are about celebrating the seasonal Alpine cheeses that our Cheese Buyer works so hard to bring us. The incredibly unique, 250-pound wheel of Slow Food designated Gotthelf Emmentaler – an intense and nutty cheese that puts the industrially-produced emmethalers of the world to shame is a super special, seasonal staff favorite. But really, anything on our Cheese Course has been curated to pair beautifully with a holiday meal, with a fantastic origin story.

What wines do I take to my in-laws’ Christmukkah dinner?
We’ve curated our favorite holiday wines on our e-commerce site but what we’re *most* excited about is our #BiRitePicks wine service! You tell us what you like, what you’re trying to pair with, and we’ll customize a case of bottles that best fit your meal, mood, and maybe even your sun sign. A personal sommelier service, just for you #becauseyoureworthit.

creameryscape1_webI’ve got a sweet tooth and I’d like to spend the holidays giving everybody I love some really worthwhile cavities, what’ve you got for me?
Swanky Buche de Noel (complete with sugar plum fairies), nostalgic cookies, from-scratch confections in really cute tins, AND rumor has it we’ve got the best candy cane ice cream in all the land. We’re here to give you the sugar high of the year.

I like flowers, and wreaths, and centerpieces, and every time I check out Bi-Rite’s Instagram feed I am filled with floral envy. What’s your holiday floral situation?
We know, our Californian farm-direct flowers are pretty dreamy and have a rabid Instagram following of their own; we can take very little credit. However, you should gift your friends, family, and ugly sweater party hosts our flower bouquets, centerpieces or our gorgeous dried kitchen bouquets (and take all the credit). We’re here to make you look good, fear not.

gifty04webOkay so GIFTS. I have a lot of humans that I care about, and a lot of impressive gifts to give, but very few impressive gifting ideas. What do I do?
Luck you, we’re rather good at impressive gifting. Our Holiday Gift Guide is here to find the food gifts for everyone in your life and their aunties. Or visit the Markets, and our gifting experts will help you with everything from stocking stuffers to serious swag.

What about my boss? Or my coworkers? I work at a really cool non-profit/run a small business/hang out at the Googleplex and would like to win at the corporate gifting game this time around. No more gold embossed planners, please and thank you.
We’re with you and we’re all about winning at corporate gifting. Our Good Food gift boxes are a curated box of the very best of local, artisanal, craft foods, and a pretty fantastic way to show your appreciation to clients, coworkers, and bosses. Trust us.

toydrive02_webHow does Bi-Rite give back to the community during the holidays? How can we give joy and give back to our community this Holiday season?
Supporting our community is a year-round pillar of our business. Every time you shop with us, you are helping us make a difference by empowering our youth, strengthening the community, and creating resilience. This Holiday season, you can help us by donating new and unused toys, books, and art supplies to our fifth annual Toy Drive!

I have a lot more questions that this blogpost doesn’t even begin to cover, can we chat?
Of course! Contact us at shop.biritemarket.com/contact-us or call us at the markets!


Shakirah

Our 5th Annual Toy Drive is here!

toydrive_2016_logo_logoWe’ve got something to fill your heart with cheer – our 5th Annual Bi-Rite Holiday Toy Drive is here! Join us from Friday, December 2nd, to Wednesday, December 21st as we collect Legos and coloring books, board games and basketballs for low-income and homeless children and families living in the Mission and in the Western Addition. This year, we seek to double the impact of our Toy Drive by also accepting cash and credit card donations online and in-store.

toydrive82_webWe’re continuing our long-time support of community-based organizations to create a happier holiday for our neighbors in need. Donations from Bi-Rite Market Divisadero will go to the Western Addition Beacon Center, which supports local youth through cultural programming, academic support, and sports activities. All toys from Bi-Rite Market and Bi-Rite Creamery on 18thStreet will go to Arriba Juntosa Mission-based community organization fostering economic opportunities for vulnerable populations, for almost 50 years. Children’s Book Project will receive all book donations. Children’s Book Project supports Bay Area children who have few or no books in their homes and attend schools and childcare facilities where children’s books are desperately needed.

Once more, we’re collaborating with mission-driven merchants to spread the love. Paxton Gate Curiosities for Kids and Rare Device will collect donations and bring in high-quality, educational and interactive toys, games, and art projects. Our excellent neighbors, Dandelion Chocolate and The Mill/Four Barrel Coffee are joining the fun with our annual “Toys and Treats” parklet parties and lots of warm beverages.

We need your support to ensure that underserved kids in San Francisco have a wonderful holiday. Donate in-store with any Bi-Rite purchase or please give new and unwrapped:

  • Toys (for kids 12 and under)
  • Books (for kids 16 and under)
  • Sports equipment (e.g. balls, bats, gloves, skateboards)
  • Art supplies (unused)

img_4306From Friday, December 2nd to Wednesday, December 21st, drop off goodies in the toy barrels at the entrances of:

Bi-Rite Market Divisadero:  9AM to 9PM
Bi-Rite Market 18th:  9AM to 9PM
Bi-Rite Creamery:  11AM to 9PM
PG Curiosities for Kids: 11AM to 8PM

Looking for extra neighborhood fun? Swing by our Toys for Treats events! Enjoy a delicious Bi-Rite Creamery Christmas cookie or artisan beverage in exchange for a new toy donation:

Sunday, December 11th, from 10AM to 2PM. Co-hosted by The Mill at their parklet, we’ll welcome all guests with hot Four Barrel coffee and a photo op with a Santa Dog! Rare Device will feature a holiday pop-up shop with kid-friendly art supplies, books and toys for purchase.

Saturday, December 17th, from 12PM to 4PM. Co-hosted by Dandelion Chocolate at their brand-spanking new parklet, we will welcome all generous souls with Dandelion cocoa nib cider and a special holiday performance by the Spice Queers! Paxton Gate will be on site with selected toys for purchase for all those who’d like to give on the spot.

Last year, we collected over 480 toys via the generous outpouring from our staff, guests, local businesses, and greater community. Help us increase our impact!

Excited? Have questions? Email Shakirah, Bi-Rite’s Community Programs Manager!

The 2016 Bi-Rite Holiday Toy Drive is in collaboration with these amazing partners:

COMMUNITY PARTNERS
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BUSINESS PARTNERS

dandelion-chocolate-logo 4b_burst_logo-1paxtongate  themill-black

 


Waverley

Shana Tova: Celebrate Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur

Shana Tova! While the weather may not reflect it, fall is here and it’s nearly time for Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur.  This year, we invite our guests to celebrate Rosh Hashanah and break fast on Yom Kippur with Bi-Rite! From honey to apples to brisket and more, we have what you need for however you’re cooking or marking the occasion.

wisesonschallah_webOur Grocery team is thrilled to announce some exciting new products this year, including Wise Son’s cult-classic Round Raisin Challah, as well as favorites like Lover’s Lane Farm Wildflower Honey.  Our Produce department is spotlighting local, organic apples while our Butchers are bringing the best of grass-fed  beef brisket from local rancher, Five Dot Ranch. And of course our wine team has something to suit every palatte, from Manischewitz to Côtes de Provence.

Too busy to cook? You can still celebrate the holiday meal from scratch with our chefs’ holiday menus, now available for pre-order by calling the Markets (for 18th Street: 415.241.9760, for Divisadero: 415.551.7900), or you can order online for delivery (prepared foods will be available online starting Friday, September 30).  Our Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur menus will be available from Friday, September 30 through Wednesday, October 12. Don’t forget dessert! New this year, Bi-Rite Creamery has crafted a special fall flavor, Bourbon Cider Ice Cream with spiced apple cake and candied ginger.

High Holiday Menu


Jon Fancey

Cheese Trek Travelogue: Spicherahlde Alpkäse, Bavaria, Germany

spicheraldeThe tenth stop on the Bi-Rite Market Cheese Trek takes us high in the Allgäu Alps to a chalet on the border of Germany and Austria.  The chalet is the summer home of the Vogel Family.  Each May, the Vogels take their small herd of red and brown Holsteins to the chalet where the cows graze on Alpine pasture and their milk is used to make one of the best examples of alpkäse.

This cheese is very traditional – only two wheels are made each day using copper vats, homemade rennet, and century’s old cheese making techniques.  The large wheels are aged in a cellar under the chalet for a year or more.

The cheese is a true expression of the pastures surrounding the chalet. Delicate floral notes are balanced by an earthy nuttiness with lingering buttery finish.

spicheralde2The wheel available for the Bi-Rite Cheese Trek was made at the end of the 2015 cheese making season.  The wheel has an excellent smooth paste and notes of cream and hay.  Spicherhalde would be the perfect cheese to enjoy with any of the Oktoberfest beers currently available in the Markets, and would pair nicely with a Riesling too.

Just a quick note for all Cheese Trek participants – this is the tenth cheese and the first opportunity for ten passport punches!  Once you’ve purchased 10 cheeses and your card has been punched 10 times, please ask a cheesemonger for your exclusive Bi-Rite Cheese Trek tote.

The next stop on our cheese journey will be much closer to home since we’ll be celebrating American Cheese Month in October. Look forward to a great California cheese from a farm in the Sacramento Valley as you continue to #cheeseyourownadventure.


Simon

Put A Fig On It!

DSC_0630It’s that perfect point of summer where fig season is really taking off and we’re finding every which way to #PutAFigOnIt!

At Bi-Rite we realize that the best tasting figs are the ones that sit on the tree longer to fully develop their sugars, and are harvested just when the jelly-like flesh of the figs is about to explode out of the skin with sugary goodness. This means never biting into under-ripe, extra-firm, underwhelming figs. Only tree-ripe, mouth-full-of-goodness fruit will do!

The fresh fig selection at the Markets changes every day depending on which varieties our favorite farms are harvesting and delivering to the Markets.

Black Mission Figs are the most common grocery store fig since their thick skin makes them good for shipping long distances. However, if grown to the perfect level of ripeness as they are at Cloverleaf Farm, their dark purple flesh makes them one of the very sweetest varieties. It’s strawberry-colored flesh makes it perfect tossed in an arugula salad or atop pizza where its flavors caramelize and intensify.

Brown Turkey Figs are similar to the Black Mission in appearance, but a little lighter in color with green skin next to the stem. They’re known to be the largest growing fig and have a beautiful rose-colored flesh.

The green fig varietiesAdriatic, Kadota, and Calimyrna bring a lot of excitement to Bi-Rite each season with their lime green skin and beautiful reddish pink flesh. These are usually the some sweetest varieties of the season and a perfect dessert fig.  They’re on the shelves now from Knoll Farm and when wrapped in smoky, salty prosciutto or even bacon, make a stunning appetizer.

Our final and most awaited varietal every year is the Candy Stripe Fig, with bright yellow skin and green stripes – it’s always a Fig_Sign_8ways_8_waysmain attraction in the produce department in late August! The flesh is crimson-colored and they taste like raspberry or strawberry jam. Let’s just say they’re always dressed to impress.

We’ve got handy #PutAFigOnIt signs throughout the markets right now to help you pair your figs with everything from Benton’s Hickory Smoked Bacon, to a rustic Canestrato di Moliterno cheese, to a rich whole milk Ricotta just begging to be slathered onto a crispy baguette.

Get figgy with it at the Markets through September or directly to your doorstep from our online store via Instacart.com!

And if you’re still on the fence about the venerable fig, we loved this wonderful ode to it in the New Yorker, on the history of the botanical world’s most under-appreciated yet essential little fruitLove the Fig.


Jon Fancey

Cheese Trek Travelogue: Twig Farm Tomme, West Cornwall, Vermont

TwigFarmTomme The eighth stop on the Bi-Rite Cheese Trek takes us to a small 40 acre farm just south of Middlebury, Vermont. Michael Lee and Emily Sunderman started Twig Farm in 2005 where they now milk 50 goats & make a handful of seasonal cheeses.  Michael was no stranger to cheese; he managed Formaggio Kitchen in Boston, one of the finest cheese shops in the country.  He honed his cheese making skills by apprenticing and experimenting and now, over a decade later, he crafts some of the most celebrated farmstead goat’s milk cheeses in the United States.

Twig Farm’s herd of alpine goats live outside on the pasture, grazing & browsing about the farm. They are fed organic hay when there’s nothing to eat TwigFarmTomme1outside.  Their milk is used to make Twig Farm Tomme– the farm’s signature cheese.  A small cylinder aged for 80 days with a beautiful natural rind, the rustic cheese has pleasant flavors of herbs & grass below the earthy notes from the rind.

Most Twig Farm cheeses are sold at nearby Famer’s Markets or reserved for cheese shops in Boston & New York. We’re really pleased to offer this seasonal stunner and encourage you to enjoy the cheese with hard cider, heirloom apples, or a pear preserve.

The next stop on our Cheese Trek takes us to the southern tip of Spain for another farmstead cheese from one of the rarest breeds of goats – available in the Markets on September 7th! Be sure to ask our mongers how you can join the Trek and #cheeseyourownadventure!


Trac

A Taste of Spain

Back in May, I went on a buying trip to Spain with a few San Francisco wine buyers and wine directors. We covered a lot of ground, from San Sebastien in the north, east to Rioja, down south to Madrid, and back to up Barcelona. This trip was eye opening and changed my entire perspective on Spanish wines and spirits. I wasn’t aware of how truly diverse the wine regions of Spain are, and how regional are their drinking cultures. Like most, I thought Spain was mainly big oaky wines like you find in Rioja or Priorat, and what are grown are more international varieties like Garnarcha (Grenache) – how wrong I was!

MarcIsartMalvarSpain is very diverse with a long and proud history of wine making, and the more obscure regions and styles are starting to make their way to the U.S. market. I met with Juan Antonio Ponce who is championing Bobal, a red varietal grown in Manchuela, a region just west of Valencia. Bobals are known to produce wines that are similar to Beaujolais, the of-the-moment region of France that sommeliers are falling in love with again. I also met with Marc Isart in Madrid, where he’s making amazing wines from a white varietal called Malvar. This grape is rarely planted anymore and is only made by just a handful of producers.

However, it isn’t all wine in Spain – their spirits culture is alive and thriving. Gin and Tonics are ubiquitous at bars, and there are even establishments dedicated to vermut (Spanish vermouth). I discovered the unique flavors of Spanish brandy, made from sherry wine to give it a nutty counterpart to the normally sweet spirit.

We’re so inspired by this thriving drinking culture, we invite you to make the most of the end of summer (and hopefully warmer SF days soon) with a taste of Spain! Stop in and chat with us – we’re happy to recommend a Spanish tipple for however you like to imbibe. And don’t forget to pair it with a tapas or two…

DSC_0533Wines:
Marc Isart “El Malvar de la olla” Madrid, Spain 2013 | $19.99

Malvar is indigenous to the Iberian Peninsula, and while not known for outstanding quality or distinctive character, Marc Isart is the lone exception. Organic farming and careful fermentation give this wine great charisma and freshness.

Ameztoi Txakolina “Rubentis” Rosato Galicia, Spain 2015 | $21.99
Everyone’s favorite geeky Rosé from Basque Country, this pink sibling of Amestoi’s flagship white is vibrant and a little spritzy. Made from a mixture of white and red grapes, the Rubentis is briny with hints of watermelon and strawberry. Absolutely thirst quenching!

Bodegas Ponce “P.F.” Bobal Manchuela, Spain 2013 | $22.99
P.F. stands for ‘Pie Franco’, roughly translating to ‘on its own feet’ and is a reference to the fact that the vines for this wine are ungrafted – a true rarity, since phylloxera destroyed most vines on old rootstock in Europe. This red is made from a native grape of the region, Bobal, and is aged in old French oak barrels.

Gin:
Xoriguer “Mahón” Gin 1L Menorca, Spain | $49.99
A cult gin from Mahon in Menorca, Xoriguer is one of the only gins in the world (alongside Plymouth) to have a geographical indication, Gin de Menorca. Gin has been made on Menorca since the time of the British occupation in the 18th century, and Xoriguer commands a devoted following of happy travelers. Unusually, Xoriguer is made in wood-fired potstills from distilled wine (eau-de-vie) rather than the more usual grain-based distillate, and is rested in American oak barrels before bottling.

DSC_0571Vermut:
Destilerías Acha Vermouth Blanco Atxa | $19.99
Founded in 1831, Destilerías Acha has been at the forefront of distillation in the Basque Country for years. Acha’s Vermouth Tintois made in accordance with an early 19th-century recipe passed down through the family. It is made from a blend of a neutral wine and alcohol macerated with a selection of traditional herbs, fruits and roots, including wormwood, gentian and cherry.

Brandy:
Navazos-Palazzi 50 Year Old Single Cask Montilla Brandy | $109.99
One of the more unique artisanal brandy producers in the world, Navazos-Palazzi only bottle their brandy from a single cask. This particular one is at least 50 years old  and aged in ex-Oloroso sherry cask. This bottle was bottled in 2013. Masculine and feminine at the same time, this is a sipping on a snapshot of a time long gone and one that will never come again.


Jason Rose

Bi-Rite From Scratch: Because Dinner Matters

dinner_plattersWe know it’s not always easy to find time to cook dinner – between shopping for ingredients, preparing them, and serving them, it’s hard to carve out space in our busy schedules.  That’s why we prepare dinner nightly in the Markets, from scratchBecause dinner matters, and coming around a table to share a meal shouldn’t be work.  Made with the same locally-grown produce, sustainably-raised meats and seafood you find on our shelves, we do the work for you so all you need to do is take pleasure in the eating.

We tweet our dinner specials every day at 4:30pm, so you’ll know what’s in season and ready-to-eat. Plus, we’ll be sharing our favorite #biritelifehacks on social media through the months of August and September so you can have the inside scoop on how to make the most of what we have to offer.

Our chefs share why dinner matters to them:friedfish_dinner_hands

“For me, as a super busy parent that scrambles to put healthy, wholesome food on the table every night, our dinner offerings are true life-saver. Like most professional parents, as soon as we pass through the front door, the timer starts….you’ve only got about 25 to 30 minutes to knock out dinner, which can be tricky even for a seasoned chef. I’ll typically “sub contract” out 25-50% of dinner, as it just saves that much time. There are always 2 to 4 amazing vegetable dishes that I will often times simply fold in some beautiful greens into and call it done.  Aside from the convenience, what’s most important to me is that I know who made my food and where it comes from.  As a parent, knowing and TRUSTING what I’m feeding myself and my family is the most important thing. I’ve been and member of 3 different meal delivery services, but the impersonality of them paired with the fact that most of them do not go into specifics as to where the ingredients came from was enough to turn me off. At Bi-Rite, our dinners change every night, so you’re constantly tasting and discovering new dishes.”
-Jason Rose, Culinary Director

Bi-Rite dinner to me is simply about feeding friends and neighbors. In my opinion, all true cooking is about feeding people, it’s a strange thing that everyone eats yet not everyone cooks. Because of that fact, what we do is extremely personal, intimate, and reaches people in ways that we probably haven’t even considered. It takes a lot of courage to stand behind what we do every day. It’s clearly a great resource to our friends and community to be able to feed them and have them trust us enough to bring our food into their homes to feed them, it’s engaging, honest and again very personal. To be able to eat dinner daily with friends is a true expression of what cooking, community and Bi-Rite stands for. “
-Jeff Amber, Chef of Bi-Rite 18th Street

friedchicken_dinner2This is why we’re in the business, because we love to feed people.  It is amazing to be able to create whatever we want each day – there is literally no limit as to what we can produce for dinner so I look at it like a giant playground. Plus, it feels great knowing that folks are going to go home with quality dinners each night, knowing not only where our product comes from, but the attention and creative touch our chefs gave each dish. All in all our dinners are fairly healthy. I remember the times as a young line cook on a busy Friday night I could pump through about 15 pounds of butter on a saute line! At Bi-Rite we cook with amazing olive oils, produce from our “backyard” (and our very own farm!), cattle that roam freely eating only grass, fish that has been caught from fishermen we know by first name..and so forth.  Our product surpasses majority of our competitors by miles. It feels good to know where your product comes from.  It feels even better to consume it, share it, and love it.
-Jay Abrams, Chef of Bi-Rite Divisadero


Jon Fancey

Cheese Trek Travelogue: Comté Reservation from Saint Antoine, France

Comte1The seventh stop on the Bi-Rite Cheese Trek takes us to Marcel Petite’s famed cellars of the Fort Saint Antoine, the one and only ‘Cathedral of Comté’.  Comté is one of France’s most ubiquitous cheeses: it’s eaten at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  It’s produced by cooperative dairies in the Jura, a mountainous region on the border of France and Switzerland.  Strict guidelines are followed during the production of Comté – regulations that are rooted in heritage and tradition.  Only milk from two breeds of cows are used to produce Comté, Montbéliarde, and French Simmental.  The milk from these beautiful cows is the basis for great cheese, along with the traditional production methods, and the careful maturation.

I had the opportunity to spend a few days in the Jura a couple of months ago and truly experience Comté – the most memorable moments spent tasting and selecting cheese at the most famed aging facility.  The Fort Saint Antoine is a defunct military fortress in the forest of Haut Dobbs.  The altitude of 3,600 feet, the stone walls, and the earth sheltering provide an ideal environment to mature 80 pound wheels of cheese.  Over 100,000 wheels of Comté are aged at the Fort, and each is Comtetasted and graded by the experts at Marcel Petite.  It was quite an experience to walk through the cavernous Fort surrounded by cheese with a Master Selector and a daunting task to select one wheel for our Cheese Trek.

I was looking for a mature wheel, one that was at least 20 months old.  I prefer Comté with deep flavors (think roasted onions, toasted nuts, brown butter, fried bacon).  After tasting several wheels, I settled on one that was deep inside the Fort that is one of the most pleasurable wheels of Comté I’ve tasted.  I’m even more pleased to be able to share this hand selected wheel of cheese with you. It’s a once in a lifetime experience!

I encourage you to savor this cheese on it’s own, and have our wine team suggest a special bottle of wine from the Jura to pair with it.

The next stop on our Bi-Rite Cheese Trek is a very special farm in Western Vermont for a goat tomme that only makes a brief seasonal appearance – it will be available in the Markets on August 19th! Be sure to ask our mongers how you can join the Trek and #cheeseyourownadventure!


Simon

Late Summer Mouthwatering Melons

Vacation is defiantly the highlight of the summer months; for some of us, fresh-picked summer fruit is a close second.  In June we had fresh local sweet red cherries, July saw big, juicy yellow peaches, and in August mouthwatering melons.   Everyone has a fruit from their childhood that screams summer – for me hands down it’s watermelons! Unfortunately, for most of my youth I only knew watermelons, Cantaloupe, and Honeydew. Luckily at Bi-Rite Markets, we spend a majority of the late-summer months celebrating all the mouthwatering, vine-ripe melons that come from our favorite local farms, with anywhere from 7 to 10 varietals on our shelves at any given time!

OrchidwatermelonFull Belly Farm is nestled in the heart of Yolo County and they grow a wide range of organic veggies, fruit and flowers.  Melons happen to be one crop that they love to grow, and it shows in their flavor and texture.  Each week we order up to 5 different varieties (each with something unique to offer) to share with our guests and let our chefs get creative in the kitchens with their melon salads. The Orchid watermelon makes heads turn: at first glance it looks like your everyday watermelon, but when you crack this bad boy open a bright yellow/orange flesh brightens your day.  It’s a very juicy melon with a sweet sherbet-like flavor.

SharlynwcaptionFor folks who prefer a cantaloupe-like variety give the Sharlyn melon a try. This cantaloupe/ honeydew hybrid has a soft light-orange flesh and nicely balanced sweet/floral flavor.  It will take any fruit salad to the next level of goodness.  The green-fleshed Galia melon is a muskmelon hybrid with a succulent flesh and a sweet tropical flavor.  Full Belly just started harvesting the Canary melon.  The bright yellow skin almost looks like a winter squash, but once you cut it open the pineapple/banana aroma takes over.  The flavor of this melon is a balance of pairs well with ginger, citrus and pretty much all other summer fruit! Sweet/tangy and the crisp flesh!

PielDelSapoHappy Boy Farms located just in the heart of Watsonville is known for their greens and tomatoes, but their melon game has been on point the past five years.  The two melons they are growing right now might be the best of the season and easily the most interesting.  The Piel De Sapo “Toad Skin” melon is football shaped with a bright green-yellow striped skin.  Its visual appearance defiantly stands out, and the extra-sweet and smooth flesh with a little bit of crunch is what makes it a Bi-Rite Staff favorite.  The Charentais melon is a gourmet French variety that’s been farmed for over 100 years.  Usually the size of a grapefruit, the Charentais has a tan-green skin with dark-green seams when perfectly ripe.  Don’t let this melon fool you, the uglier it get the better is tastes.  The aroma that comes off this melon is almost as enjoyable as the rich, sweet flavored orange flesh.  This is the ideal melon to wrap in prosciutto.

The past couple years we’ve even dialed in our melon growing on the Bi-Rite Farm in Sonoma.  Since we work directly with a handful of local farms that grow delightful melons, we’ve decide to grow more unique varieties on our farm.  The Ginkau melon is a small, oval shaped Korean melon with a golden skin and crispy, smooth white flesh.  The Lambkin melon is an early Peil De Sapo variety with very sweet, crisp white flesh.  Later this month will be harvesting the Crane melon which originated in Sonoma County and is a super sweet, fine flavored melon.MelonLineup

How to Pick and Store your Melons:
One of the main reasons we buy our melons straight from local farms is that they let the melons ripen on the vine, and pick them at the prefect level of ripeness. Most of the larger farms grow varieties that can handle being shipped long distances and are harvested early, before the sugars have fully developed.  At the Bi-Rite there’s always a melon that’s ripe and ready to eat.

Picking out the perfect melon can be a challenge. For muskmelons and other specialty varieties, smell the butt-end of the melon were the stem was attached and if it has a sweet and/or floral scent its ready.  Also, when you are looking at a display of specialty melons the ones that have brighter color skin coming are ready (usually the greener skin indicates a less ripe melon).

These techniques do not work for watermelons – it’s much harder to pick a ripe watermelon.  Try tapping on the side of the watermelon and if it sounds hollow when you tap, it’s ready (a not hollow sound usually means it’s unripe).  Your best bet is to ask the produce clerk which watermelon tastes best! If you purchase a melon that is ripe and ready to eat, either take it to the park and eat that moment or take it home and put it in the fridge for a few hours to chill the flesh before you eat it.  When you bring a melon home that is still a bit green, let is sit on the counter at room temp until it ripens up.  If you’re not ready to eat your ripe melon store it in the fridge.  However, watermelons store best at room temp. Cold temperatures can turn the flesh of watermelon to mush!