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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.

PS – Want to be mesmerized by our Buche de Noel elves? Watch the method behind the magic from start to finish, here.

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!


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


Simon

Digging Deeper – The Story of the Bi-Rite Farm

For the past 13 years the produce section at Bi-Rite has been a dynamic portrayal of the incredible seasonal fruits and vegetables that are being harvested throughout Northern California. Today, we are so lucky to grow our own produce on a three-acre plot in Sonoma and a gorgeous one-acre orchard in Placerville.  In so many ways, starting the Bi-Rite farm was a natural continuation of our investment in food, agriculture, and the community we are feeding and being fed by.

cultivating-more-than-produce-1Building relationships with all the farmers we work with is at the heart of everything we do. However, the missing link has always been our own connection to the soil. Until we began the farm, we had experienced just about every part of the Good Food movement except actually getting our hands dirty. In 2009, we finally broke ground on a small third of an acre in Sonoma. That first summer we set up all of our drip irrigation on timers, planted crops that needed minimal attention, and just crossed our fingers! We had an incredible first summer of tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers, and eventually added a chicken coup and bee hives to the mix!

That same year, Sam’s folks purchased a small piece of land in the foothills of the Sierras. This one acre orchard supplies both the Market and Creamery with blueberries, apples, peaches, figs, and much more all through the summer and fall!

cultivating-more-than-produce-5In 2011, we partnered with 18 Reason to offer “Farm School,” a 10 class program that gives folks in our community the opportunity to learn how to grow their own food. In its fifth year now, we love seeing students transplant baby tomato plants into the ground in May and then harvest beautiful, vine-ripe fruit in August.  As we grow, we’re excited to deepen our education programs to get more kids in the dirt, stay tuned!

In 2013, we hired Layla, who beyond giving the farm the attention and care it needs and deserves, has been dialing in the crops that grow best, and the crops that our chefs love to work with in the Market kitchens, improving the systems for planting, irrigating, and harvesting in ways we couldn’t have imagined. We soon realized it had become increasingly difficult to properly rotate the crops and give areas of the farm the rest they needed on one single acre. So in the 2016 farm season we expanded our production into the entire three-acre parcel.  We’ve since begun planting perennial crops like hops, raspberries, and flowers, and upped our production of high-demand produce for the Markets in a big way!  Layla has built up her farm crew and with the hiring of Anna, Anton, and Michael the farm is now being run by a fantastic group of next-generation farmers.

Throughout the month of September into October we’ll be celebrating the wonderful fruits and veggies from both of our Farms. Look for veggie crops like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, and fruit crops like apples, figs, and melons.  The produce will be highlighted in the produce section at both Markets with Bi-Rite Farm signage and the Market kitchens will be preparing and serving the veggies in their Deli dishes.  Our farmer will also be taking a break from their daily farm work, coming down to meet our guests, and tell them more about the farm. Come “Meet Your Farmers” at 18th on Mon 9/12 and Tues 10/4 at 18th and at Divis on Mon 9/19 and Tues 10/11, always from 4-7pm!

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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


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!


Chili

Hogust: Heritage Breeds for all Your Needs

Hogust is here and it is definitely one of my favorite times of the year. The celebration perfectly encapsulates our Product Mission and truly highlights why our meat is special and tastes so delicious – because we focus on celebrating craft and heritage, environmental responsibility, genuine relationships and, above all, great taste!

Since 2005, Bi-Rite and Heritage Foods USA have partnered together to support small family farms that are committed to raising unique breeds of hogs with varied flavors and tastes.  All August long we will be highlighting center-cut pork chops from breeds like the Tamworth (lean with incredible tenderness and flavor), Old Spot (creamy and fruity with a high fat ratio), Duroc (well-marbled with nut and olive notes), Large Black (firm yet delicate with sweet and savory flavors), Berkshires (exceptional marbling and umami flavor), and my favorite, the Red Wattle (sweet and buttery with an expressive, porky flavor).

So come visit us in the markets meet our butchers and take advantage of this opportunity to experience pork from the breed perspective.  Be sure to stop by throughout the month to taste the different varieties and find your new favorite. To quote our friends at Heritage Foods, in order to preserve this amazing breed diversity “you have to eat ‘em to save ‘em!”

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Chili

SF Summer Grilling: “Chills-n-Grills”

Also known as “Cookin’ Hog in the Fog” or “Wearin’ Beanies while Cookin’ Weenies.” San Francisco summer is here and it means school is out, the days are longer, sometimes the sun actually breaks through the fog so let’s say that it’s a great time to spark up the grill!  This summer our butcher team added several new grill-friendly items to our grab-and-go prepack cases, featuring the sustainably-raised meat you know and love, seasoned and marinated with some of our favorite recipes and flavors.  All you have to do is grill:

  • SummerGrillingSemi-Boneless Mary’s Organic Chicken, seasoned with Omnivore Limone + Garlic & Herb Compound Butter: All the work for a classic brick chicken has been done for you, just throw it on the grill and add a brick (or heavy cast iron skillet)!
  • BN Ranch Korean Marinated Beef Short Ribs: A butcher case classic and staff favorite, now conveniently ready for you to grab-and-go. Serve it over rice, noodles, or just stand over the grill and eat ’em, they’re that good!
  • Five Dot Ranch Top Sirloin Beef Steak seasoned with Omnivore Salt + Garlic & Herb Compound Butter: An easy go-to value of a steak, perfect for weeknight meals, or a quick-and-easy impress your date dinner.
  • Niman Ranch Pancetta-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin: Pork on pork action for the pork lovers out there.

We’ve also added a couple of new sausages from our talented butcher team, to spice up our already hot lineup:

  • Jalepeno & Cheddar Pork Sausage: Tamara put together this spicy, cheesey winner of a sausage, sure to warm you up on a cold, foggy summer night!
  • Beulah’s Old Fashioned Chicken Sausage: Another sure shot!  Juicy, lemony and herby inspired by Chris Timm’s Grandmama’s recipe and still going strong three generations later.

Our new lineup of pre-marinated meats make weeknight dinners and weekend grilling that much simpler: just grab-and-go, whether you’re grilling at home or hitting the road in search of sun! For your foggy summer nights, try pairing your grilled delights with Zinfandels, hand-selected by our Alcohol Buyer, Trac, to complement the meat while still summery and sippable.

Not sure what to grill? We’ve teamed up with Angelo Garro’s Omnivore Salt to stock our butchers with his amazing salts, so our butcher team can season your meat to your exact specifications – let us do the work for you, so all you have to do is impress your dining companions.


Simon

Your Berry Best Friends are Back

BlueStrawBlackFINALMid-Summer in the Bay is the peak of local berry season.  The last of the local blueberries will be harvested through July and the blackberries and raspberries are starting to taste really good.  Strawberries have the longest season of any of the local berries, with the harvest lasting from April to October depending on the weather. Summer strawberries can be the sweetest with the cool coastal nights and warm days, but farmers are always wary of a heat wave that melts the berries in the fields! Berries always taste the best when they are harvested ripe and eaten as soon as possible, and we are so fortunate to get all to get all of our summer berries straight from the farms within 24 hours after harvest. With all of these sweet treats coming on at once, it can be hard to decide which berry to choose!  So we’ve decided to make the decision simple with our mixed berry 3-pack, so you can enjoy the best of them all!

The organic red raspberry market has been monopolized by Driscoll’s over the past 15 years, making it very difficult for small farmers to compete with the low costs.  With the resurgence of folks who want to know where their food comes from and consumers’ desire for high-quality fruit, we are starting to see more small growers planting raspberries in the Northern CaliforniaYerena Farms, located in Watsonville, is a family-operated farm growing berries on around 13 acres.  Poli Yerena and his brother came to the states to work in the Driscoll’s fields in the early 80’s, and after 12 yrs decided to start their own farm.  We are so lucky to work with a small farm like Yerena, who know how to grow a perfect organic raspberry and are committed to bringing the local raspberry market back to the small farmer.  Yerena’s neighbor in Watsonville, Live Earth Farm also grows raspberries are known for their organic gold raspberries.  Gold raspberries are an extremely delicate berry with super sweet flavor and a hint of tartness.

berry pedigrees largeBlackberries grow like weeds throughout the Bay Area! However, the flavor and texture of the wild blackberries doesn’t quite compete with some of the varieties the local farms are growing.  Toby at Free Spirit Farm in Winters grows the “Triple Crown” blackberry, a thornless berry plant with super juicy fruit that is sweet when ripe.  We love these berries so much that we are making our Public Label Blackberry Jam with them this month!  There are some pedigrees of berries that are very similar to blackberry like the Boysenberry and Olallieberry.  We get these varieties from time to time at the market, but they are so delicate and juicy it’s hard for the farms to get them to us before the turn to mush.

Throughout the summer we get strawberries directly from over 10 different farms.  Live Earth Farm and Swanton Berry Farm are a couple farms who have mastered the art of strawberry growing.  Learn more about strawberries at Bi-Rite here. Whatever your pleasure, your locally-grown berry best friends are back for summer!


Simon

Summer Lovin’: Stone Fruit Season

Bi-Rite Crew at Balakian

Bi-Rite team at Balakian Farms

The month of May is all about local cherries, but as they start to slow down in the middle of June, crops like peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums, and pluots start to taste really good.  Bi-Rite’s selection of stone fruit during the summertime is a showcase of the many different local varieties and the world-class farmers who grow them.  There’s truly nothing better than sinking your teeth into a peach that was picked at the perfect ripeness so that sugars have developed into the sweet juicy goodness that makes us nostalgic for summers from childhood.

This spring the Bi-Rite Produce and Marketing teams took a field trip into the heart of Central Valley to visit a few of our favorite  organic farms, and learn more about what it takes to grow amazing organic fruit!

Mas Masomoto

Mas Masumoto, Masumoto Family Farm

Located just over 200 miles south of San Francisco in the heart of California’s conventional, industrial agriculture there are three family farms doing their best to keep organic stone fruit alive. Masumoto Family Farm in Del Rey, CA is a beautiful, 80-acre orchard of land purchased by the Masumoto family in 1948. A third-generation farmer and celebrated author, Mas Masumoto has mastered the art of building soil to support the growth of his trees.  The Masumoto family is in love with the tang of the yellow flesh fruit and seeks a sugar and acid balance that screams WOW! They’re just about to start harvesting the Flavorcrest Peach, a popular variety for conventional growers who like a firm piece of fruit that can ship.  Next up is everyone’s favorite, the freestone Sun Crest Yellow Peach, a large peach with a red blushed skin and juicy texture – this is the peach that put the Masumoto Family Farm on the map.  The last variety of stone fruit we will see from the Masumoto is the clingstone Le Grand Yellow Nectarine.  The Le Grand is a large piece of fruit with a rich sweet flavor and firm flesh which makes it awesome for making nectarine ice cream.

Peaches and nectarines are categorized in two ways, freestone and clingstone. When the flesh of the fruit is attached to the pit you have a clingstone variety. They can be the best to eat but are harder to work with in the kitchen. The meat (flesh) freestone varieties are completely detached from the pit which makes them easier to work with for canning, freezing, and cooking.

Stella Balakian

Stella Balakian, Balakian Farms

Stella Balakian moved to Reedley from Boston almost 50 years ago, and she is the heart and soul of the fourth generation Balakian Farms. For the past 15 years the Balakian family has been driving 3 ½ hours one-way to deliver fresh-picked stone fruit to the doors of Bi-Rite Market. The Balakian’s farm sits on just over 40 acres. They have diversified to grow one of the best pomegranates, which we celebrate in the Markets every fall. As far as stone fruit goes, Balakian focuses largely on early season stone fruit , but keep an eye out for the Flavor Grenade Pluot.

One of the biggest challenges facing these organic stone fruit grower in Central Valley is the limited local market for them to sell their premium organic fruit. These farms rely heavily on the markets in the Bay Area to bring them the financial return needed to survive as a small farm and pay their workers a living wage.  Most of the farms that grow us all these amazing fruits and veggies that we see at Bi-Rite are in low-income communities that can’t afford the prices for specialty organic fruits and vegetables.

Blossom Bryce and Dad

Ted & Bryce, Blossom Bluff Orchards

Blossom Bluff Orchards is located on a “bluff” overlooking the King River in Reedley, CA, and it’s one of the most stunning landscapes in the area.  As we walked the orchard it was so good to see all the wildlife taking advantage of the diversity on the farm.  The Loewen family farms on about 80 acres and grow a wide variety of stone fruit, citrus, and persimmons.  Bryce and his father, Ted, operate the farm together and they have so many different fruit varieties that Ted has to keep a little black book just to remember the locations of the each varietal.  Two of the crops the Loewen’s have mastered is plums and pluots, which are just getting underway. We are finishing up the last of the unique Black Splendor Plum with its dark purple/red skin and meaty flesh, which will be followed shortly by the Yellow Dolly Plum with perfect, yellow skin and juicy flesh.  Soon after the Dolly, the Catalina Plum will be harvested, with its dark amber skin – it is one of the sweetest plums of the season and just a taste of what you’ll see at Bi-Rite from Blossom Bluff Orchards this summer.

If biting into a sweet and juicy piece of stone fruit doesn’t get your taste buds fired up, we have a terrific recipe for Peach Cobbler from our Pastry Chef Keri,  and of course Bi-Rite Creamery & Bakeshop is taking advantage of all of the amazing stone fruit to create all sorts of summer treats like Masumoto Peach Ice Cream and Peach Frangipane Galettes.

StoneFruit_Recipe_web


Patrick

Good Work is Hard to Find

CaptureWe are always looking for passionate food lovers to join our crew, and right now we have an abundance of job openings. Working at Bi-Rite is work, but its Good work— whether preparing food in the kitchen, greeting guests over the deli counter or stocking the produce aisle, it’s work that leads to thousands of breakfasts, lunches and dinner all over San Francisco every day.

As a Certified B Corp, one measure of our success is based on the working culture at Bi-Rite. I think it’s outstanding: all staff members enjoy health and dental benefits, a staff discount on groceries, a 401(k) savings program (including an above industry match), paid time off, access to 18 Reasons classes, the opportunity for career advancement, and most importantly a positive and creative working atmosphere. To apply or view our open positions, visit our jobs page on Proven.com. Or stop by any of our locations in person – we love meeting potential staff members in person!

Sophie Capture AvoMike