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Matt R.

Vinos de Mezcal: Tradition and Terroir in Oaxaca‏

agaveThe roasted maguey plant (pronounced mah-gay), or agave, has been a staple of the Oaxacan diet for thousands of years. Whether or not native Mexicans learned to distill before the Spanish conquest is debated, but the Spaniards do get credit for bringing Filipinos to Central America via the Manila/Acapulco shipping route, who brought the technology for crude, homemade stills (in tree trunks!). By 1621 when it was first written about, the practice of distilling roasted agave was well established.

Tequilas and mezcals are both vinos de mezcal, but tequila must be made only with the Blue Weber agave plant, and must come from the region surrounding the city of Tequila in Jalisco. Mezcal can be made with any of the hundreds of varieties of agave anywhere in Mexico, though it is usually made with the Espadin variety of agave in Oaxaca. What truly distinguishes mezcal is the process used to roast it, where the harvested piñas are buried in earthen pits lined with stones and smoked until the starches fully convert to sugars.

Aside from the occasional bottle smuggled back from vacation, it was almost impossible to get good mezcal in the U.S. until recently. Its availability these days is mostly thanks to Ron Cooper, an artist who twenty-five years ago committed to making mezcal available outside of the tiny villages where it was produced. He developed relationships with traditional Zapotec producers and Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal was born. Mezcal is at the heart of spiritual life in Oaxaca. Palenqueros ask for permission and give blessings, harvesting just enough to supply their village fiesta and a few hundred bottles for Del Maguey. These are spirits produced with reverence and love, and we’re lucky to drink them!

Agave-Sale_web_asset2We’ll be offering 10% off all tequilas and mezcals for one weekend!
Friday, July 18th through Sunday, July 20th at both Markets!
Learn! Drink! Viva! 

Del Maguey Mezcal Vida  -  $39.99
Vida
Vida is an entry-level, cocktail-friendly mezcal made in the traditional method. Agave are wild-harvested then buried to smoke in stone-lined pits. The roasted agave are then crushed with a giant stone wheel, or tahona, usually pulled by a donkey, then fermented in open barrels with native yeast for two weeks to a month. The resulting vino de mezcal is run twice through a traditional copper still to be light and clean while preserving the unique qualities that make it a true Oaxacan mezcal: smoke, honey, tropical fruit, and ginger-y spice. Vida is a wonderful introduction to the world of mezcal and makes a beautiful Margarita (we prefer Tommy’s style, with 2oz mezcal, 1oz fresh lime juice, and .5oz agave nectar). (Available at both Markets.)

Del Maguey Mezcal Chichicapa  -  $72.99
Maguey
Chichicapa is made by Faustino Garcia Vazquez in his highland village four hours south and west of Oaxaca over a mountain range accessible only via dirt road. Elevation here is 7,000 feet, giving the agave concentration of fruit, elegance, and finesse similar to those of a Highland Scotch. Its smokiness develops across the palate, accompanied by minty herbal notes and hints of bitter chocolate and the tropical fruits (guava, mango, and banana) that grow alongside it. (Available only at Bi-Rite 18th Street.)

Del Maguey Mezcal Minero  -  $74.99
MineroAn hour beyond the village of Chichicapa lies Santa Catarina Minas, where the award-winning Minero is made by Florencio Carlos Sarmiento and his sons. The water of the village is outstanding, yielding a mezcal with floral and citrus notes and a creamy sweetness that lingers on the palate. The still used is traditional clay and bamboo, which preserves a fresh fruity quality in the finished spirit. (Available only at Bi-Rite Divisadero.)

Upcoming Events:

  • 18th Hour Cafe - Thursdays, 6-9PM – Drop-In - At 18 Reasons
  • Wine Tasting with Cristin from Return to Terroir – Friday, July 11th, 4-6PM – At Bi-Rite Divisadero
  • Wine Tasting with Tess from Edward T. Edwards – Saturday, July 12th, 4-6PM – At Bi-Rite Divisadero
  • Wine Tasting with Christian Adams from Rudi Wiest Selections – Sunday, July 13th, 2-4PM – At Bi-Rite Divisadero
  • Loving Old Vines: A Tasting of California Heritage Wines - Tuesday, July 22nd, 7-9PM – At 18 Reasons
Beer Workshop: Hops - Tuesday, July 29th, 7-9PM – At 18 Reasons

Stephany

Cool as a Cucurbit: Cucumbers & Melons

The cucurbits (or cucurbiticae) are a plant family that includes cucumbers, melons and gourds of many kinds. They peak in sweetness and flavor during the summertime. At Bi-Rite we’re lucky to work with a number of local farms that grow unusual heirloom varietals in this family.

A few of my favorites:

Armenian cucumbers, which are botanically considered a melon. We have been getting the ‘Painted Serpent’ varietal, which is long and snakelike, with dark and light green stripes, from Full Belly Farm, Oak Hill Farm and County Line Harvest. You can use these like the more common English cucumber. The skin is very thin and not at all bitter, and the seeds are not yet formed, so no need to peel or seed–just slice them right up. They don’t need to be rock hard; the ones that are a bit bendy will still be crisp. Armenian cucumbers will make the prettiest garnish for your summer gin and tonic.

Lemon cucumbers are small, round and yellow with large but tender seeds. They’re great for slicing into salads, and make beautiful sandwich-sized pickles. They’re lovely sliced up and dressed with a little soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar or lime juice and a pinch of sugar or honey, perhaps over some arugula or baby lettuces.

Watermelons, in mini and huge, seeded, seedless, yellow and red varietals. Orchid and Yellow Doll are two of the yellow-flesh varietals we get from Full Belly Farm. These should be picked when they are ripe and do not really keep ripening like muskmelons do. They should be firm and feel heavy for their size, although there is no surefire way to tell if they are ripe.

Muskmelons have netted skins and get very fragrant when ripe. These include cantaloupes, galia and goddess melons. These will smell very sweet and floral as they ripen, and can get a bit soft (though they shouldn’t be squishy). The more fragrant the stem end is, the sweeter the melon will be.

Recipes!

SaladGoodCucumber Melon Salad with Feta & Olives

This isn’t so much a recipe as a useful guide. Try using what you have and taste as you go. It’s a bit of a riff on a Greek salad and a wonderfully refreshing addition to a barbecue or summertime supper.

  • A mix of your favorite melons, cut into large dice. I like watermelon, galia, cantaloupe & piel de sapo or snow leopard.
  • A mix of your favorite cucumbers, diced or sliced as you like. I like Painted Serpent Armenian cukes and lemon cukes.
  • Red onion or scallions, thinly sliced. I soak the red onion after slicing in cold water for a few minutes to take the edge off, which also sets the color and prevents it from bleeding into the salad.
  • A nice feta, not too salty. Our French feta is the perfect balance of tangy and salty.
  • Kalamata or another fruity olive, pitted. I usually cut them in half, but they can be whole or cut into rings.
  • Fresh herbs. Cilantro and mint are great, but parsley, basil and chives all work. I would recommend to staying away from herbs that are too woody or heavy like thyme and rosemary. Fresh, bright herbs work better to highlight the delicate flavors in the melons. I like to chiffonade them (stack up the leaves, roll into a tight “cigar”, and slice into thin ribbons), but you could chop them or pick the leaves and toss them in whole.
  • Fresh or dried coriander seeds, toasted until fragrant and lightly crushed.
  • Olive oil
  • Red wine vinegar or lime juice
  • Salt to taste

Toss everything together in a large bowl or arrange on a platter. Dress to taste with olive oil, red wine vinegar or lime juice and salt. A sprinkle of toasted, crushed coriander seeds wakes up all of the flavors. This salad is best dressed right before serving, though you could certainly do it ahead of time.

Cucumber Raita

Really popular all over India, this is somewhere between a salad and a condiment, and I often use it as both. Awesome in the summer next to grilled meats such as lamb or chicken, or dolloped on top of a sandwich or rice bowl. Also delicious with pita or Dosa chips as a dip!

  • 1-2 cucumbers, unpeeled, shredded on a coarse grater.
  • 1 cup greek yogurt (you could use regular plain yogurt, but it will be less thick).
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds.
  • Salt, sugar, lime juice to taste.

Place the shredded cucumbers in a bowl, salt them and set aside for a few minutes. The salt will draw out the water. Squeeze as much of the water out as you can – a lot will release! Mix it up with some gin and tonic water and have yourself a cocktail, or discard. Place the drained cucumber in a bowl.

Add yogurt to drained cukes and stir. Heat up a small pan over medium to high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of neutral-flavored oil such as canola. When the oil is hot, drop in the cumin seeds. The seeds will darken in color and get really fragrant. Dump the spice oil into the yogurt mixture (this is a technique used commonly in India to quickly add lots of flavor to any dish by making a spice oil, called a tarka). Stir it around, season to taste with salt, lime juice and a pinch of sugar for balance.

Melon Agua Fresca

Again this is less of a recipe and more of guide. The proportions will vary depending on the fruit being used.

Cube up your melon and place it in a blender. Add a handful of sugar (or a squeeze of honey or agave) and cover with water. Blend until smooth. Add more sweetener to taste if necessary, or a squeeze of lime to perk it up. Super refreshing with basil or mint added!


Rose

It’s a (Cheese) Block Party!

Greetings, friends, and welcome to another curd round-up! Lately when recommending cheeses to our guests at Bi-Rite, I’ve been a big proponent of block cheeses. This is the designation that we give to cheeses that are perhaps not as unique as, say, an artisanal UK cheddar or a farmstead California sheep’s milk tomme, but still comprise the building blocks that we use for many of our most important and comforting dishes. Block cheeses include selections such as pepper jack, orange cheddar, Havarti or Jarlsberg. They’re often overlooked because of a misconception that they’re made from inferior ingredients. Given the right dish on the right occasion, these fistfuls of creamy goodness can dazzle the taste buds.

My boyfriend is as much a fromage fan as I am, and we’re always happy with a couple of cheese toasties on our plates. But last week I wanted to make something a little different for an evening meal, something that would satisfyingly pull together all of the scraps in my fridge. A closer look revealed that I had the ingredients to create a deceptively simple masterpiece.

CheesePic3First up was Vella Pepper Jack, a creamy and sinfully spicy delight from Sonoma Country’s Vella Cheese Company. This cheese is studded with green and red jalapeños from Vella’s special source in New Mexico; if that secret ingredient pizazz isn’t enough to draw you in, the flavor of the cheese itself certainly does. This cheese melts like a dream and has the perfect balance of milk to spice–making it a perfect offset to the next ingredient.

Cabot Extra Sharp is one of the most fascinating block cheeses I have ever come across. It’s moist and tangy, creating that sought-after burn that sharp cheese fans love. The cheese is supplied by New England/New York cooperative Cabot, and they describe it as “sharp cheddar without the training wheels.” This is the real deal: a salty, flaky, and creamy bite that compliments any dish, but really shines when we combine it with the Pepper Jack and our last cheese.

OK, this is kind of cheating: Point Reyes Mozzarella is certainly not a block cheese. However, mozzarella still sometimes gets a bum rap as a melter without special merit. But if you know anything about us here at Bi-Rite, it’s what shout-out-loud fans we are of Point Reyes Mozzarella. It contains all the flavors of the rainbow: it is at once sweet, salty, flavorful and boisterous. It’s local, which we can’t get enough of. And it melts gorgeously, a treat for both the eye and the palate.

When I toasted these three cheeses with a healthy dollop of mustard, what emerged was a cheese toasty that left both of us dumbstruck. I highly recommend trying this recipe yourself, as well as adding and subtracting other block cheeses to the mix. Let us not treat these block cheeses as mere foundations upon which to pile the “greater” cheeses, but as beautiful notes that can be woven together to form a symphony of taste that you can really sink your teeth into.

Curds and whey,

Rose


Jason Rose

Fireworks! Blow up Your Tastebuds with our 4th of July Menu!

4th of july star-05

Both Bi-Rite Market locations will be open on
Friday, July 4th from 9:00am to 6:00pm!

4th of July is almost here! Time to celebrate with classic fare! We’ve got original spins on your favorite Independence Day celebration dishes. Come stock up, and while you’re here let us recommend great snacks and drinks to go along with your barbecue. Don’t forget dessert! Pick up some Bi-Rite Creamery seasonal fruit pies, galettes and ice cream!

Here’s the holiday menu from our kitchens, available from July 2nd to July 6th:

 Bi-Rite’s Classic Fried Chicken
With Mary’s GMO-free chicken
$12.99/lb

 Chili-Rubbed Heritage Pork Ribs with House-Made Chipotle BBQ Sauce
$13.99/lb

 Summer Pasta Salad with Farfalle, Fresh Ricotta, Cherry Tomatoes, Basil & Black Pepper
$9.99/lb

 Wyatt’s Cornbread with Jalapeño & Cheddar
$2.99/slice

 Carrot, Kale & Cabbage Slaw with Creamy Honey Dijon Dressing
$10.99/lb

Summer Pole Bean Salad with Tarragon, Lemon & Creamy Greek Yogurt Dressing
$12.99 per pound

Watermelon Salad with Cotija, Lime, Cilantro, Mint & Chili Flakes
$6.99/lb

Grilled Corn on the Cob with Chili Lime Butter
$2.99/each

BeefBoard

Grill the best! Celebrate with BN Ranch 100% Grass-Fed Beef!

BN Ranch Beef  is unmatched in quality and flavor.
Raised on pastures and rangelands and 100% grass-fed,
BN Ranch animals are harvested only in season at their peak. 

BN Ranch Prime Rib: $24.99/lb
BN Ranch Ground Beef: $9.99/lb

4th of july firework-05

 


Matt R.

Wines of the Vallée d’Aoste

    Blog1

The Vallée d’Aoste is one of Italy’s most remarkable wine regions that you’ve likely never had a glass of wine from. It has a long tradition of food and wine dating back to Roman times. Many of the old Roman acqueducts can been still be seen crisscrossing the valley which is dotted with Medieval castles and terraced vineyards. Nestled in the northwestern corner of Italy, sharing borders (and the Alps) with France and Switzerland, the Vallée d’Aoste feels more like its own magical kingdom rather than an integrated part of Italy or France.

Viticulture once played an important role in the region, with upward of three-thousand hectares of grapes planted. However after two World Wars and into the early 2000s, there remained less than eight-hundred hectares. Luckily, the region is making a comeback with many small producers working to preserve traditional grapes and winemaking techniques. The Vallée d’Aoste also boasts the highest elevation vineyards in Europe, with some in the Alps reaching 1,200 meters in altitude. There are thirteen indigenous grapes to the region including Morgex, Malvoisie, Fumin, Petit Rouge, and Petite Arvine that are planted among more recognizable French varietals like Pinot Noir, Gamay, and Syrah. The interplay between Italian, French, and Swiss grapes, languages, food, and traditions is very apparent here.

Wine production here is not easy. Looking at some of the dramatically terraced vineyards, that no tractor could ever survive, you can see the love and (labor!) that’s required to produce wine in the Vallée d’Aoste. Most of the wine produced here is made by small family-owned wineries, many with small plots of grapes not much bigger than a vegetable garden. Thus, it’s truly special to find a wine from this region and appreciate the place it came from and the work that went into it. Come by either Market to try these very limited wines from the Vallée d’Aoste!

Wine12012 Institut Agricole Regional Nus Malvoisie  -  $24.99
The Institut Agricole Regional was founded in 1951 as a professional agriculture program with the sole purpose of preserving the traditional agrarian practices and products of the region. This encompasses everything from wine to native fruits, vegetables, and cheeses. The wine-focused branch of the school works equally in the vineyards and in the lab. They work to genetically identify native varietals and preserve plantings of these indigenous grapes in the region. The wines they produce are a testament to the uniqueness of the Vallée d’Aoste. Nus Malvoisie is the local DOC exclusively for the grape Malvoisie, the local variant of Pinot Grigio. Lightly floral up front, with notes of tart citrus, chamomile, and tart acidity, this white is versatile and food-friendly. 

Wine22012 Grosjean Freres Petite Arvine ‘Vigne Rovettaz’  -  $29.99
The Grosjean family has been cultivating land in the Vallée d’Aoste since 1781. Today, Dauphin Grosjean and his five sons have just seven hectares of vineyards in the small town of Ollignan. In addition to winemaking, they cultivate chestnuts and graze cattle on the Alpine slopes. Their Petite Arvine is from the single vineyard ‘Rovettaz’ made from 100% Petit Arvine grapes. It’s lightly floral with notes of white peach, green almond, and a light, refreshing texture. We see this easily paired with pork or veal tenderloin topped with prosciutto and Fontina cheese. 

Wine32012 La Cantina di Cuneaz Nadir ‘Badebec’  -  $34.99
Winemaker Nadir Cuneaz has a mere half hectare of vineyards. Total. That’s basically 1/16th the size of Dolores Park. His grapes are a mix of various native varietals, many planted over 100 years ago. The ‘Badebec’ is a blend of mostly Petit Rouge, with small amounts of Fumin and Vien de Nus. Since it’s a blend of various grapes, which are all fermented together, the earliest ripening grapes are allowed to dry for two weeks until the remaining grapes are ready to harvest. The resulting ‘passito’ grapes are combined and vinified with the rest giving a concentrated dark and sweet blackberry quality to the wine, complemented by notes of Alpine forest and rustic herbs.

Wine42010 Institut Agricole Regional Fumin  -  $36.99
Fumin is a grape native to this ItalianFrench/Swiss area that’s a bit reminiscent of Syrah in its herbal and peppercorn notes. Very little is left planted in the Vallee d’Aoste and the Institut Agricole Regional is working hard to preserve what’s left and hopefully encourage local growers to plant more. Notes of dusty dark fruits, balsamic covered berries, pine forest, and smoke are well-integrated in a mid-weight palate with enough acidity to stand up to a variety of dishes. This would be killer with the traditional Fontina Fonduta (melted cheese and broth!) served with bread, veggies, and charcuterie for dipping! 

Upcoming Events:

Raph

Sharing in LGBT Pride

SF-Pride-logo-001

The 2014 San Francisco Pride Celebration is coming up this weekend, June 28th and 29th. It’s one of our favorite times of the year because we get to join in the fun and festivities, watch the inspiring Dyke March pass through our neighborhood, and express our love and support for the LGBT Community.Our 18th Street Market is the place to be on Saturday; we’ve got everything you need to stay fed, hydrated and in good spirits for what promises to be a day of beautiful weather and celebration.

Here’s some special stuff we’re preparing just for Saturday! All of these great sandwiches, drinks and snacks will be available right out in front of our 18th Street Market! Just stop by our table outside, grab what you need and go show your pride.

SPECIAL SANDWICHES

Caprese Sandwich     $6
Belfiore Mozzarella, Heirloom Tomatoes, Picked Basil, Olive Oil, Balsamic, Maldon Sea Salt on Acme Rustic Baguette

Rainbow LGBLT     $10
House-Made Bacon, Lettuce & Heirloom Tomato with Pickled Carrots, Coleslaw & Aioli on Bakers of Paris Sweet Roll

Bangin’ Weiner     $6
BN Ranch All-Beef Hot Dog, House-Made Kraut & House-Smoked Ketchup on an Acme Hot Dog Bun

COLD DRINKS & SNACKS

Waters & Munchies
C2O Coconut Water                    $3
Renewal Water                           $2
Kettle Chips                               $1.50
Organic Fresh Watermelon Slice  $1

Beer (Cans)     $4
21st Amendment IPA
21st Amendment Seasonal
New Belgium Shift Lager

Tallboys     $5
PBR
Sapporo
Tecate


Rose

Washed Rinds in the Summertime

Greetings, friends! I’m Rose, Cheesemonger at Bi-Rite Market on 18th Street, and it is an absolute pleasure to be writing to you from our cozy cheese corner. I hope that we will go on many enjoyable voyages together, sailing the Seven Bries, the Ched-lantic Ocean, and exploring all the islands of Fromageria.

JasperHillCellarsToday I write to you about one of my very favorite styles of cheese, one that’ s perfect for this time of year when the weather is bright and warm and the green grass of Dolores Park is glistening. We’re talking Washed Rinds. The beautiful , full-flavored B. Linens bacteria-covered cheeses that glow and make a room smell like a campfire, or roasted meats, or peat, or your grandparents’ favorite Limburger. Each cheese is washed in a particular bath, be it salt brine, liquor, or just plain water, that builds that beautiful orange rind and imbues the paste with character and flavor. These cheeses, though not always crowd-pleasers, can, in the right setting, make a “stinky” cheese-lover out of the most unsuspecting palate. Fortunately for us all, our cheese counter at 18th Street is awash (hah!) with a multitude of options in this cheese genre.

WRcropFirst up is the delightful Kinsman Ridge, a New Hampshire-made cow’s milk cheese from Landaff Creamery, a small farmstead cheese company. Known for their Landaff, a cheese made in a style similar to the Welsh Caerphilly, Kinsman Ridge is another homage to a cheese from across the pond, but with a domestic twist. St. Nectaire, the French inspiration for Kinsman, is an earthy, almost sunchoke-y tomme in a charming discus shape. Kinsman has a similarly pleasing form, but with much creamier flavor tones and a less earthy funk. We’re finding flavors like roasted green veggies, hazelnuts, and a spring onion bite at the end of the palate–one of my favorite tell-tale washed rind traits. It’s not super whiffy as you will find with many washed rinds, but it will let you know it’s in the room with wafting notes of butter and forest floor.

AmeribellaSecond is Ameribella, a simply divine washed rind cow’s milk from Jacobs & Brichford Farmstead Cheese in Connersville, Indiana. For those who are fans of Winnimere (how we’ll miss that cheese until later this year!) and Grayson (another seasonal that we’ll hopefully be seeing again soon), this is a cheese to enjoy. A beautiful deep butter-yellow paste (their farm has a cross of Jersey, Normande, and Tarentaise cows) is paired with a terra cotta colored rind, creating that classic color combo that we have become accustomed to with washed rinds. The silky smooth, almost voluptuous paste very clearly sings its flavors of nettles, tangy strawberries, sweet grass, and that trademark spring onion. I’m a fan of this new cheese and invite you to revel in it as it announces itself with a strong aroma of brine, smoky meats, and vinegar.

Stay tuned for my next missive!

Curds and whey,

Rose


Christine Mathias

Celebrate Summer! Our New Seasonal Catering Menu

ApricotsPrettyI know, I know, summer in San Francisco isn’t necessarily “summer,” really, but c’mon! We still get all the amazing tomatoes, stone fruit, vegetables, and good vibes that summer brings to everyone outside the fog bank. The days are luxuriously long, BBQs can last well into the wee hours, and with the solstice and 4th of July just around the corner, there’s no better time of year to slather on the sunscreen and invite everyone you know over for a little sun (or not-sun) worship.

Bi-Rite Catering is gearing up for a great season using many of the fantastic seasonal fruits and veggies that are carried by our markets! There are so many new veggie options on the menu, in fact, that by the time you get to the Focaccia Flatbread with Peaches, Bacon, Goat Cheese, Fresh Thyme and Rooftop Honey Drizzle and the brand new Ciabatta Finger Sandwiches with Estancia Beef Tenderloin, Roasted Red Peppers, Grilled Onions, Chimichurri Sauce and Mixed Greens, you’ll have to figure out how to make room. And you’ll do it, too.

CornYou’ll have to! Otherwise how else are you going to figure out your favorite new salad dish? It’s going to be tough to choose between Summer Corn and Tomato Salad with Mediterranean Cucumbers, Peppers, Red Onions, Cilantro, and Parsley and something like our Fresh Summer Bean and New Potato Salad with Parsley and Roasted Shallot Vinaigrette. You know what? Don’t choose. Get them both! And if you absolutely must have some sort of food on a stick (who doesn’t?), we are all really excited about the Mozzarella Bocconcini and Cherry Tomato Skewers with Basil Dip. So simple yet so, so delicious.

So if it’s a 4th of July party, an office cocktail reception, or Aunt Dorothy’s family reunion in Golden Gate Park, we have your food desires covered. Now go chase some sun!

 


Stephany

Apricots Are My Jam

ApricotsPrettyApricot season is here! The season is short, but these beautiful and versatile stone fruits are at their peak right now. At Bi-Rite we’re lucky to have access to lots of different varieties, including Blenheim Apricots, which are one of the best for making jam. We’ve got Blenheims in the Markets right now, so it seems like a good time to share my recipe for Apricot Jam, along with our Cheese Buyer Anthea’s recommendation for some perfect cheeses to pair with it.

The beauty of jam is that the fruit doesn’t have to be perfect. Bruised, soft, unsightly or a day overripe–jam welcomes all fruits and makes them beautiful again. A mix of less-ripe and more-ripe fruits is good; less-ripe contains more natural pectin, and more-ripe contains more sugar, so the two balance each other out nicely. You can make a big batch of jam at the height of summer ripeness and put it away until the winter, then crack it open and take yourself right back to summertime. And jams are beautiful with lots of other foods, including yogurt, toast, pork, chicken, and cheese!

I asked our Cheese Buyer, Anthea, to try my Apricot Jam and recommend cheeses to go with it. She suggested fresh chèvre such as Andante’s, but also feels that any number of fresh, creamy cheeses would do well. She also recommends sweeter jams like this one with bleu cheeses (“Mold loves sugar,” she told me), such as Bay Bleu from Point Reyes. For a harder cheese pairing, try goat cheddar. Personally, I love sneaking a schmear of jam inside of a goat cheddar grilled cheese sandwich!

Simple Apricot Jam

This recipe is easy to scale up or down and adjust according to your tastes. This recipe uses the “noyau,” or almond-like inner kernel of the apricot, to flavor the jam. Amaretto and almond extracts are traditionally made using apricot kernels rather than actual almonds because the fragrance is much stronger. Other stone fruits share this quality, such as cherries and peaches, though apricots tend to be the most potent aroma. Just crack the pits open, and remove the little “almond.”

ApricotsRosesI recently made an apricot rose jam using this recipe, just added a few handfuls of organic rose petals at the beginning of the cooking process- they candy themselves and lend a gorgeous rosy color to the jam. Rosemary, saffron or lavender are also some of my favorite variations. You can adjust the sugar and lemon juice to make it either sweeter or brighter, depending on the sweetness of the apricots. You can process this in a traditional water bath to preserve it for the coming months, or it will keep for several weeks refrigerated.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb apricots
  • 1 ½ cups (300 g) granulated sugar, divided in half
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Directions:

ApricotJamCloseupWash the apricots, and chop into roughly even pieces. Save the pits. Toss the chopped apricots in a bowl with half of the sugar. Set aside to macerate for at least 10 minutes, although up to 1 hour is ideal. This will start drawing out the juices and dissolving the sugar.

Place the pits in a clean kitchen towel, and fold it over. Use a hammer, mallet or other heavy object to crack the pits open. Remove the inner almond-like kernel and place one in each of your clean jars.

Place the apricots and their juices in a large, heavy-bottomed pot and add the rest of the sugar, salt and lemon juice. Using a wider pot will make the cooking process faster, since a wider surface area will allow for the fastest evaporation of excess liquid. Place a few saucers in the freezer- you will use these to test the viscosity as the jam cooks.

Bring to a boil, then reduce to a hearty simmer (you want it going pretty strong, but not so much so it is splashing hot sugar/apricot juice). Stir occasionally using a heatproof rubber spatula or wooden spoon, scraping down the sides periodically. It should take about 15 minutes after it comes to a boil to reduce down enough. Once the foam subsides, stir the bottom more often and keep a close eye on it. Be careful, it will start spattering once it thickens up, just turn the heat down a touch. Then, start testing it. Dribble a little bit of jam onto the frozen saucer and wait for it to cool down (you can put it back in the freezer for a minute or two)- this will give you an idea of how thick it will be once cool. Once it has thickened to your liking, turn it off, and ladle into clean jars over the noyaux. Seal and process or let it cool down and then refrigerate. Enjoy!


Matt R.

Chill Out: Wines for San Francisco Summer‏

Memorial Day is behind us; that means it’s officially summer! And nothing better signals the arrival of San Francisco summer than the triumphant return of Karl the Fog from Spring Break. We all the know the drill for summer around here, but if you’re new to San Francisco, let us fill you in: it’s cold! Grab those scarves, parkas, and wind breakers because summer in San Francisco is no tropical retreat.

So what do you drink during these next chilly, windy, and foggy few months? The temptation to steer towards our favorite sunny-day whites and rosés remains strong, and when the sun does peek through the fog, that’s what we’ll be drinking. But what about when that wind is just too much and the fog is billowing around your house? Rather than go for our typical heavy and ‘winter red wines’ we like to split the difference. These couple of red wines are perfect for keeping in the summer mood! They’re light and crisp, and are both perfect served slightly chilled. And what about if you need something refreshing but also a bit stronger to keep the blood flowing? Try the Cocchi Americano, a classic Italian aperitif, much like Lillet!

So don’t be afraid of the chilly months ahead and embrace the best of both worlds with these summer sippers!

2013 Copain Wines Estate P2  -  $24.99Copain
Copain Wine Cellars are producing wines that are both deeply traditional and somewhat experimental. From Burgundian-inspired Chardonnay and Pinot Noir to experimental bottlings of Picpoul, Trousseau, and Poulsard, winemaker Wells Guthrie keeps things interesting at Copain! Their summer release is their P2, a blend of equal parts Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris from the vineyards surrounding their winery. Both grapes are fermented together and aged in neutral French oak for 5 months. The resulting wine has unmistakable white floral aromatics from the Pinot Gris and the palate is full-on tart red raspberry, cherry, and spice notes. A zippy acidity on the finish make this an easy pairing with most summer meals. Chill for a bit before serving for a refreshing summer red!

Agostino2012 Agostino Pavia Girgnolino d’Asti  -  $14.99
The Piedmont is known for lots of things, and Grignolino is not one of them. Home to Barolo, Barbaresco, Barbera, and Dolcetto, not very much Grignolino is made (nor taken seriously) in the Piedmont. However, Agostino Pavia is making a remarkable Grignolino in Asti. Grignolino is a grape often made into young easy-drinking reds, usually for drinking while awaiting the more serious Barolos and Barbarescos to be released. Agostino’s version is just as light and easy to drink as you’d expect, but with a solid herbal and tannic finish. The name for the grape originates from the word ‘gringole’ which means ‘many pips’ in the local dialect and refers to the abundance of seeds in the grapes that contribute to its tannins. Chill this down slightly and enjoy with grilled pizza or flat-breads for an easy summer meal!

CocchiCocchi Americano  -  $21.99
Modeled after the original recipe for Lillet, Cocchi Americano was first produced in 1891 by Giulio Cocchi and is the closest one can get to the original recipe for Kina Lillet, developed in 1872. The recipe has remained unchanged since then and is a base of Moscato d’Asti wine insued with cinchona bark, gentian, and sweet and bitter citrus peels. The Italians would serve this over simply over ice with an orange peel and splash of soda water, but use this in your Vesper Martinis or Corpse Reviver cocktails for a more authentic experience. A must have for the serious home bartender! 

Upcoming Events:
  • Wine Tasting with Daniel of Kermit Lynch Wines – Friday, June 6th, 4-6PM – At Bi-Rite Divisadero
  • Anchor Beer Tasting – Saturday, June 7th, 3-5PM – At Bi-Rite Divisadero
  • Ridge Estate Wine Tasting – Saturday, June 7th, 5-7PM – At Bi-Rite Divisadero
  • Women Organic Winemakers of Italy - Saturday, June 7th, 3-5PM – At 18 Reasons

Matt R.

Unconventional Beauty: Jolie-Laide Wines

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Trousseau Gris Grapes (Image from Scott Schultz’s Instagram)

Jolie-Laide literally translates to ‘pretty ugly’ but is more a euphemism to refer to something with unconventional beauty. Winemaker Scott Schultz of Jolie-Laide Wines is one of the small craft winemakers in California working hard to express the beauty of what many consider ‘unconventional grapes’.

Scott hails from Chicago and moved to Napa in 2007. Having worked in restaurants for a while, he’s been on most sides of the service-life from working the restaurant floor to sweating in the kitchen. When he moved to Napa, it was to head up the wine program at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon. After years of restaurant work, Scott decided to get more into the winemaking side of things. He volunteered to work a harvest and loved it! He worked at Realm for a few years as cellar master and currently works with Pax Mahle at Wine Gap Wines. He shares winemaking space with Wind Gap, Ryme Cellars, and formerly Arnot-Roberts; all like-minded winemakers searching for beauty in the unconventional.

Scott is sourcing grapes from unique vineyard sites all organically or sustainably-farmed. His goal is to highlight these unique sites, producing wines in lighter and fresher styles that are made with very minimal intervention. His wines, and thus the labels, change slightly each year, “like album covers,” as Scott says. This year’s labels feature botanical drawings of butterflies, inspired by lepidoptera taxidermy (those huge boards with various butterfly specimen pinned onto them for study); something unconventionally beautiful in its own way.

Come by either Market to try these fascinatingly beautiful wines. Scott doesn’t make very much of any of these, so grab them while you can!

TrousseauGrisWine2013 Jolie-Laide Trousseau Gris  -  $26.99
Trousseau Gris is one of the greatest wine grapes you’ve probably never heard of. A mutation of the red-skinned Trousseau grape, which is native to the Jura region of France, Trousseau Gris’ skin and juice are both a blush rosy pink hue. Once widely planted throughout California and more commonly known as Grey Riesling, there are very few plantings remaining here. Scott sources his Trousseau Gris from the 10-hectare Fanucchi-Wood Road Vineyard in the Russian River valley, an organically farmed vineyard that he shares with Wind Gap Wines. At first glance in your glass, it might be hard to identify this wine as either white or rose, and it truly does toe the line between the two. Aromatic notes of citrus, green tea, and stone fruit lead to a richly textured palate with flavors of orange zest, wildflowers, and gentle tea-like tannins. It’s layered texture would pair beautifully with a variety of food, but we recommend something simple like a whole grilled trout stuffed with herbs.

RossiRanchWine2012 Rossi Ranch Red Blend  -  $36.99
The Rossi Ranch Vineyard is a truly special place. One of the remaining true ‘field-blends’ where different grapes are inter-planted, this vineyard is home to Grenache, Syrah, Muscat, and Viognier grapes. Most other people who have used this vineyard in the past have ignored the white varietals, leaving them to rot on the vine, and have made wines with the more traditional blends of Grenache and Syrah. However, Scott felt this site needed to be expressed as a whole, so he co-fermented all of the grapes together! The percentage of the white grapes blended is small, less than 2%, but once you realize they’re there, the aromatics are unmistakable. The light floral touch from the Viognier and Muscat are complemented by notes of rose, raspberry, rich tannins, and a long spicy finish. Drink this lightly chilled and enjoy it on it’s own – no food necessary!

Upcoming Wine Events:

  • 18th Hour Cafe - Thursdays, 6-9PM – Drop-In - At 18 Reasons
  • Wine Tasting with Keelyn of Alexia Moore Wines – Friday, May 30th, 4-6PM – At Bi-Rite Divisadero
  • Wine Tasting with Daniel of Kermit Lynch Wines – Friday, June 6th, 4-6PM – At Bi-Rite Divisadero
  • Anchor Beer Tasting – Saturday, June 7th, 3-5PM – At Bi-Rite Divisadero
  • Producer Dinner: Mas de Daumas Gassac - Friday, June 6th, 6:30-9PM – At 18 Reasons
  • Organic Women Winemakers of Italy - Saturday, June 7th, 3-5PM – At 18 Reasons
Don’t hesitate to call us with any questions or special requests: (415.241.9760 for 18th St. or 415.551.7900 for Divis) or email wine@biritemarket.com.

Simon

The Joy of Masumoto Stone Fruit

It typically takes three to four weeks into California stone fruit season before the flavor of our local peaches and nectarines really starts popping with that celebrated balance of sweetness and acidity, but this year we’ve already got some great ones rolling in. Almost all of the peaches and nectarines that hit the shelves at the Bi-Rite Markets are from farms with which we’ve spent years building relationships, but last season we were able to take our peach and nectarine selection to the next level with a new farm-direct relationship.

masumoto red diamond

Mas Masumoto with his Rose Diamond Nectarines

Masumoto Family Farm in Del Rey, California is a beautiful eighty-acre orchard located fifteen minutes south of Fresno. It was purchased by the Masumoto family in 1948 and its current owner is third-generation farmer and author Mas Masumoto, who has mastered the art of building soil to support the growth of the beautiful fruit-bearing trees. At Masumoto Family Farm, fruit is always harvested at the perfect level of ripeness, and you’ll notice one thing all varieties of Masumoto stone fruit have in common: beautiful yellow flesh. The Masumoto family loves the tang of the yellow flesh of the fruit, and their fruit boasts a sugar/acid balance that is a dream-come-true for summer refreshment.

Due to the warm winter, Masumoto harvested this year’s first yellow peach variety earlier in the year than they can remember ever having done before, and this past week we received our first shipment of Spring Lady Peaches. This is a very juicy peach with medium acidity that falls into the clingstone category of stone fruit (meaning that the flesh of the fruit is attached to the pit, the best to eat but hard to work with in the kitchen, as opposed to freestone fruits where the flesh is detached from the pit, making them easier for canning, freezing or cooking). We’ve been enjoying these beautiful, delicious peaches and they’ve definitely primed our tastebuds for what’s still to come.

Soon after the Spring Ladies, we received the first of Masumoto’s Rose Diamond yellow nectarines. Mas’s daughter Nikiko, who is keeping the family farming tradition alive into its fourth generation, refers to this clingstone nectarine as a “mini firecracker.” The Rose Diamond is usually a large, richly-flavored nectarine with a dazzling red skin. This year, due to the lack of water caused by the drought, this nectarine is smaller than usual but is packing an extra-sweet punch.

masumoto peaches

Beautiful Masumoto Peaches

Early June should see the arrival of the semi-freestone Gold Dust yellow peach, considered by some to be the best early variety for eating. With its firm texture and rich, sweet flavor, it’s the textbook grilling peach. The Gold Dust will be followed shortly by one of the most popular varieties in California, the freestone Flavor Crest yellow peach, and shortly thereafter by everyone’s favorite, the freestone Sun Crest yellow peach (large with red-blushed skin and very juicy, it’s the peach that put the Masumoto family on the map). The last variety of stone fruit we’ll see from Masumoto is the clingstone Le Grand yellow nectarine, a large piece of fruit with rich, sweet flavor and firm flesh, making it great for producing nectarine ice cream!

PerfectPeachBook2

The Perfect Peach by the Masumoto Family

Tree-ripened peaches and nectarines truly are some of the most exciting treats of the summer. If you haven’t had the chance to sink your teeth into Masumoto fruit, you have the next couple months to swing by our Markets, so make it happen!

Stephany from the Produce Team at 18th Street is a huge fan of the Masumoto family’s fruit, as well as an accomplished cook, and she has pulled together a few recipes here to help you celebrate the season!

“Rose Diamond” Nectarine & Habanero Salsa

  • 6 ripe yellow nectarines, not too soft but with a little give (any bright flavored yellow peach or nectarine with medium to high acidity will work, but Masumoto’s “Rose Diamond” is particularly amazing & flavorful)
  • 1 habanero pepper, with slits cut all around sides but left whole
  • ½ bunch cilantro
  • 1 spring onion or ½ red onion, sliced finely
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Dice the nectarine into ¼ inch cubes. Add to a bowl with the slit habanero and stir around. Chop cilantro and onion finely, add to salsa. Season with salt and pepper.  Let sit for at least 15 minutes, then taste and add salt, and a squeeze of lime or honey to adjust the acidity or sweetness as needed. If it is spicy enough, you can remove the habanero, although cutting the slits as opposed to chopping lets the flavor get out without adding too much heat, and the floral notes of the habanero go particularly well with yellow nectarines & peaches. This can be done 1-2 days ahead. Store refrigerated.

Wonderful on grilled or roasted meats: chicken, pork, salmon. Try it on toast with ricotta or burrata for a quick appetizer, on fish tacos…the possibilities are endless!

Stone Fruit & Pt. Reyes Mozzarella “Caprese” Salad

  • 1 lb mixed stone fruit, ripe but not mushy: nectarines, peaches, plums, pluots, cherries…whatever you like. Or try a mix for color and flavor
  • 1 ball fresh mozzarella, such as the lovely Pt. Reyes mozz we have right now. Burrata is also delicious in this.
  • ½ bunch basil
  • A few handfuls arugula
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, such as Bi-Rite’s own PUBLIC label oils, something grassy with a peppery note is good to offset the sweetness
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Good sea salt, such as Maldon or fleur de sel…something with a crunch

Slice up your stone fruit and mozzarella. Layer the cheese and fruit on a large platter over the arugula. Tear some basil and sprinkle it around. Dress with olive oil, balsamic, and coarse salt. Eat right away!

This is a great alternative to the classic caprese while we let the tomatoes do their thing and get delicious! In the fall and winter I do the same salad with persimmons & citrus!

“Gold Dust” Peach-Ginger Shortcakes with Bourbon Whipped Cream

  • 4 yellow peaches, such as the “Gold Dust” we just got in from Masumoto (which is hands down one of the best peaches I have ever had)
  • A 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated or minced finely (I use a microplane, one of my favorite kitchen tools)
  • A handful of brown sugar or turbinado sugar, depending on the sweetness of the peaches
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream (I love Straus for the rich, grassy, buttery flavor)
  • 1 shot of your favorite bourbon whiskey- anything with nice caramel or brown sugar notes is delicious, like Bulleit or Elijah Craig
  • 4 shortcakes, from Bi-Rite Creamery or homemade (chopped crystallized ginger is a nice addition if you’re making your own!)

Dice or slice the peaches as you wish. Place in a bowl, and add a sprinkle of sugar and a pinch of kosher salt. If the fruit is very sweet it will need no more than 1-2 tablespoons. Add the ginger, stir, and set aside to macerate for a few minutes. This can be done up to 1 day ahead.

Whip the cream to soft peaks with the bourbon, a sprinkle of brown sugar (to taste), and a pinch of kosher salt. This is best done right before serving. Though it can be whipped a few hours ahead, the cream tends to break down after a day or so. To fix this, re-whip to desired texture.

To assemble: Warm shortcakes briefly in the oven to re-crisp (5 minutes at 375 should do it). Cut the shortcakes in half crosswise, and layer peach compote and bourbon cream over bottom half. Top with second half of shortcake and serve.  A little fresh basil or thyme adds a nice herbal note. A drizzle of salted caramel sauce is also a great addition.

Pickled “Gold Dust” Peaches

  • 6 peaches, ripe but quite firm. Masumoto says the “Gold Dust” yellow peach is particularly delicious pickled.
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup kosher salt
  • 1 tsp each coriander seeds, black peppercorns & fennel seeds- or whatever spices you like!
  • 3 dried arbol chiles (or use your slit habanero left over from the nectarine salsa!)

Bring everything but the peaches to a boil to dissolve the sugar and salt. Slice or dice peaches as desired and place in a clean jar. Let the liquid cool slightly. Pour over the peaches, let cool to room temp, then refrigerate overnight. Enjoy them the next day! They are a delicious addition to a charcuterie platter, grilled pork chop, or a grilled cheese sandwich. Their brightness cuts nicely through anything rich and fatty.