Home Posts tagged 'Cheese'

Posts Tagged ‘Cheese’

Jon Fancey

Gruyere 1655 Makes Everything Better

Now through November, the Bi-Rite Market Cheese Department is celebrating one of our favorite European cheeses: IMG_6279Gruyere 1655. I spent a week in Switzerland last month and ate quite a bit of Gruyere. Originally, the cheese was made by two brothers in the town of Gruyere, Switzerland, and the cheese took on the city’s name after the year 1655, when a noble in the area had the cheese made for his family. There are so many reasons that you should come in to the Markets and grab your own piece of Gruyere 1655 to enjoy!

  • It’s the perfect everyday cheese–Breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, or dinner.
  • It’s delicious–A well-rounded flavor and an amazing texture make this one of the most memorable cheeses we sell.
  • It pairs well with all of this season’s flavors–Heirloom Apples from California, Seckel Pear and Vincent Family Dried Cranberries from Oregon, or the new Underground Meats Summer Sausage from Madison, Wisconsin are incredible when paired with Gruyere!
  • It melts like a dream—Perfect for grilled cheese, quiche, a gratin, or even macaroni & cheese. Be on the lookout for recipe cards in the Markets, like the one below.
  • It’s sturdy & satisfying–Perfect for a picnic in the park, a day hike, or a weekend camping trip.
  • It preserves traditional cheese-making–Wheels of Gruyere 1655 are handmade at Fromagerie La Cret and are lovingly aged by Fromage Gruyere SA. Both firms are committed to the heritage of Switzerland’s most important cheese.
  • It’s the best cheese for Fondue—Everyone loves a pot of melted cheese on a foggy San Francisco evening, especially when it’s Gruyere 1655 in the pot.

Please stop by either Market and ask for a taste of this great Alpine cheese!

Gruyere recipe card_GrilledCheese

John Herbstritt

Sour Summer in SF

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

Jon Fancey

Better Summer Living Through Cheese

Cheese isn’t just for the holidays or special events.  Serving a selection of cheese is a great way to impress your guests at your next summertime gathering, too! Whether you’re hosting a casual backyard BBQ, a spontaneous picnic at the park, or an extravagant weekend brunch –- don’t forget the cheese. Here are some of the cheeses we love at Bi-Rite that I’ll be sharing with my friends this IMG_2967summer:

Alemar Cheese Company’s Good Thunder – Keith Alemar started crafting cheese from organic milk in 2008 – and now his small creamery in Mankato, Minnesota is providing us with some of our favorite soft-ripened cheeses.  Good Thunder has been a work in progress for the past couple of years, and it now tastes better than ever –- milky, meaty, and just slightly pungent.  This little brick of cheese that’s washed in Surly Brewing’s Bender Oatmeal Ale would be perfect with any Olympia Provisions charcuterie and is a great option for any summertime cheese board.

Uplands Cheese Company’s Pleasant Ridge Reserve – Andy Hatch is one of our favorite cheese makers, and his stunning pasture on Pleasant Ridge in southwest Wisconsin’s Driftless region is one of our favorite farms to visit.  Pleasant Ridge Reserve is an Alpine-style cheese made with the milk of one of America’s most beautiful herds.  The wheels we’re selling right now in the Markets have been matured for a year and have deep flavors of toasted nuts and brown butter.  This sturdy cheese is perfect for picnics and day trips –- a great one to take to Sonoma to enjoy with just about any bottle of red wine.

IMG_1819Jasper Hill Farm’s Bayley Hazen Blue – Jasper Hill Farm is nestled in the rolling green hills of Vermont’s Northeastern Kingdom, and is committed to nurturing the region’s dairy and cheese-making traditions.  Bayley Hazen is crafted with raw cow’s milk, and has a delicious fudgy texture with flavors of grass and nuts.  It’s delicious melted on a burger or crumbled on a steak -– it can also be an easy dessert when served with the season’s best stone fruit and local honey.

Marin French Cheese’s Petit Crème – The folks at Petaluma’s Marin French Cheese are celebrating their 150th Anniversary this summer and we’re proud to offer their little bloomy rind button.  Crafted with cow’s milk from neighboring farms – this baby brie is mild, milky, and perfect for any occasion.

Cheese is a crowd pleaser for all of your summer events — come to the 18th Street and Divisadero markets and chat with our Cheese team!

Jon Fancey

Fresh Cheese Makes All the Difference

Burrata, Chevre, Fromage Blanc, Queso Fresco, Mozzarella–these are just a handful of the fresh cheeses available here at Bi-Rite Market. Fresh cheeses are the best expression of the milk that’s used to make them, and they are easy to enjoy every day! May and June bring a bounty of stone fruit, berries, and tomatoes so it’s the perfect time of the year to pair them up with these fresh cheeses crafted in California. Here are a few you can look out for when you’re shopping at Bi-Rite!


Andante Dairy Fresh Goat Cheese

Andante Dairy Fresh Goat Cheese – Soyoung Scanlan is a true renaissance woman: musician, biochemist, dairy scientist, and cheese maker. We sell a small selection of her cheeses at both Bi-Rite Markets, and her fresh rounds of goat’s cheese are the favorite of staff and guests.  Made one day a week in Sonoma County and delivered to the markets the following day, it’s always the freshest cheese in our case. Perfect with peaches and berries or a glass of rose.

Pennyroyal Farm Laychee – Boontling is a jargon spoken in one specific part of Northern California. Laychee means “milk” in Boontling and is an appropriate name for this fresh cheese from Boonville. It’s crafted from the milk of a small herd of goats that graze this Mendocino farm, neighboring the famed Navarro Vineyards.  It’s one of our favorite brunch cheeses — sweet, creamy, and spreadable – and pairs well with sparkling wines.


Burrata from DiStefano Cheese Company

Di Stefano Cheese Company Burrata – Mimmo Bruno started working in an Italian cheese factory at the age of 11, earning $1 a week. In 1993 the Bruno family opened the Di Stefano Cheese Company in Southern California and introduced Americans to Burrata!  These cream bombs of stracciatella wrapped in a delicate mozzarella shell are a much-loved specialty of Puglia, the region Bruno and his family call home. Serve it as an appetizer with crusty bread and charcuterie, as a side dish with grilled vegetables, or as a dessert with roasted strawberries and a glass of Moscato d’Asti.

Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Fresh Mozzarella – The Giaconmini Family has been operating their dairy from the rolling green hills overlooking Tomales Bay for more than 55 years. Their beautiful land and herd of cows produce amazing milk that’s easily tasted in this fresh mozzarella. A favorite of guests at both Bi-Rite Markets: this is the cheese to use with this season’s best tomatoes!

Please come by and ask our knowledgable and friendly Cheese Team about our incredible fresh cheeses. They can help with pairings, wine suggestions, and are a great bunch of folks who love to share tastes and knowledge. Looking forward to seeing you!

Jason Rose

Super Bowl = Food, Food, and…FOOD!

IMG_0120Food, friends, beer, and bone-crushing football. Even if your team didn’t make it to the Super Bowl, it’s still a great opportunity to gather and enjoy each other’s company, the great commercials, incredible snacks, and festive food!

The Super Bowl Classic, of course, is chips and dip. We have house-made 7-Layer Dip, plus Bi-Rite Guacamole and Spicy Buffalo Wings with Blue Cheese Dip all made by our talented chefs. And we are so happy to now offer Nopalito salsas and chips, too, from one of our favorite neighboring businesses. There are also delicious salsa FullSizeRenderofferings from Santipapas and Papalote! And our chip options are killer: Casa Chicas, Primavera, Dosa Chips, and 4505 Chicharrones are all recommended for pleasing your crowd. We even have featured cheeses representing your preferred tea: Beecher’s Flagship Cheddar for the Seahawks fans, and Cabot Vintage Cheddar for you New England folks! Pair either with Rustic Bakery or Raincoast Crisp crackers for a perfect match.IMG_0118

And we’ve taken the hard work out of your heartier fare, too. Each Bi-Rite Market has a special menu of prepared items, perfect for a party, that are ready to pick up and take home.

                   Bi-Rite Market Divisadero Street Super Bowl Menu

                      Bi-Rite’s Barbecued St. Louis Ribs $13.99 per pound

Buttermilk Fried Chicken $12.99 per pound

Victory Chicken Wings with Sweet Chili Sauce,
Sesame, and Scallion
 $7.99 per pound

Pigs in a Blanket: BN Ranch Grass Fed Hot Dog
Wrapped in Puff Pastry 
$1.50 each

German Potato Salad $8.99 per pound

Pasta Salad with Seasonal Vegetables
& Red Wine Vinaigrette
 $7.99 per pound

Grilled Chicken Quesadillas $7.99 each

Bi-Rite Market 18th Street Super Bowl Menu

Bi-Rite’s Barbecued St. Louis Ribs $13.99 per pound

Buttermilk Fried Chicken $12.99 per pound

Victory Chicken Wings with Sweet Chili Sauce,
Sesame & Scallion
 $7.99 per pound

The Pig-Skin: Braised Pork Belly Sandwich
with Orange Mostarda & Chicory Slaw
 $10.99 each

German Potato Salad  $8.99 per pound

Winter Waldorf Salad  $10.99 per pound

Fried Falafel with Tahini  $5.99 for four

And don’t forget our amazing platters from Bi-Rite Catering! It’s not too late to get an order in for Sunday; you  have until Friday January 30 at 3pm to get it your Super Bowl yummies ordered and on their way.


Bent Into Shape

The other night I was with a group of cheesemonger pals sampling a platter of the current offerings at Mission Cheese on Valencia Street. I excitedly pointed out Bent River Camembert, a beauty that had landed on the shelves at 18th Street some weeks back and is still showing beautifully, urging them all to taste it before taking a heaping hunk for myself. We were all struck by the complexity of this divine organic cow’s milk cheese from Mankato, Minnesota. Conversations were sparked, smiles exchanged and joy deeply felt.

Bent RiverThis ripe, pudgy cheese came rolling pleasantly into our lives from Alemar Cheese Company of Mankato. It contains buttery roasted vegetable notes, tangy acidic flavor swings, and that perfect springy bite that extends from the bloomy rind to a bright, creamy paste. It’s truly an expression of artisanal Old-World styles, an archetypal French cheese reinterpreted and expanded upon with typical American gumption. 100% grass-fed cows from Cedar Summit Dairy provide the milk, which pulsates through the cheese with lush ripeness. The vibrant waters of the river bend by Alemar’s production site shine through in the most pleasing way, making this cheese both flavorful and refreshing. And that’s saying something for a rich, buttery cheese like this one!

Not only is the Bent River Camembert a delight, but it comes with an interesting origin story.  Alemar founder Keith Adams had started his food career as a co-owner of the Bagel Bros. bagel shops. When the bagel craze subsided in the early 2000s, Adams wished to tap into food in a more interactive and personal way. He found inspiration after attending the American Cheese Society conference and, mentored by California cheesemakers Peg Smith and Sue Conley of Cowgirl Creamery, he set up his aging facility in Mankato and created Alemar. Bent River and his other cheeses have taken off in a very exciting way, and we are honored to carry his excellent product.

I recommend pairing the Bent River with bitter, effervescent beer. At Mission Cheese I tried it with Magnolia’s Blue Bell Bitter and was delighted with the result. You can also try experimenting with light, minerally whites; this should compliment the creamy paste beautifully. I’m sure you’ll love it as much as I do!

Curds and whey,



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,


Celebrate Summer with Point Reyes Mozzarella!

PtreyesLogoSummer is here (can’t you feel the fog?!) and we’re thrilled to celebrate one of San Francisco’s summer’s stars: Point Reyes Mozzarella. This mozzarella has a special place in our hearts – we were the first retailer to sell this farmstead pasta filata back when the only other place to score a fresh ball was at the farmer’s market.

I remember the days when our wine buyer Trac received our tiny allocation of Point Reyes mozzarella (thirty balls every other week) directly from Point Reyes family member Jill Giacomini Basch as she headed home from the farm.


The Giacomini family owns and operates Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company

But aside from that bit of nostalgia, why is this mozzarella special? And why do we still get excited to stock all these years later? Because it’s local, farmstead and cultured. The Giacomini family has a rich history in Point Reyes Station and has been dairying on their farm since 1959; they expanded their operations and began making cheese in 2000.  All of their cheeses are farmstead, meaning that milk comes from their own herd of Holstein cows and is transformed into cheese right on the property. Mozzarella is one of the newer additions to the Point Reyes cheese offerings. In a quest for great flavor, cheesemaker Kuba Hemmerling spurns the common commercial practice of relying on citric acid or vinegar to acidify the milk and relies instead on a process of culturing the milk to allow flavor to develop slowly, yielding a much more flavorful mozzarella.


A fruity take on classic Caprese salad.

We all know that tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella are a great combination, but don’t feel limited by that classic trio. I love roasting peaches or nectarines and serving with fresh mozzarella and topping with a chiffonade of basil or mint. Or try it drizzled with olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt and pepper.

At our Markets on 18th Street and Divisadero Street, you can discuss Point Reyes Mozzarella with any of our expert cheesemongers. Come by to admire the beauty and enjoy the incomparable taste of this true local favorite.

Spring Cheeses! Celebrate the Season!


In the world of cheese, spring is a very exciting time. It’s marked by a feeling of renewal and by the arrival on our local farms of green grass and lots and lots of baby animals! This makes it a very special time for young goat and sheep milk cheeses. The pastures are verdant and the kids (baby goats) and lambs that were born in March are running around the farm. With babies comes milk, and as cheese-lovers we benefit from this “freshening” in our own way: with an abundance of green grass and rich milk, we’re in fresh cheese heaven.

Bollie’s Mollies



We’re thrilled to welcome back with open arms a couple of cheeses that have been seasonally unavailable for the last few months. Lambs and kids are abundant at Pennyroyal Farmstead in Bonnville, and we’re celebrating the return of a couple of their cheeses. Early in the season, watch for Laychee, a beautiful fresh cheese with the silkiest of textures, made from a blend of goat’s milk and sheep’s milk and perfect for an array of applications. It’s delicate, pleasantly lactic and spreadable, great for brunch or as a base for a delicious crostini topped with preserves or sweet fresh fruit. Or you could just enjoy it with a simple drizzle of honey and a spoon!  Bollie’s Mollies, another delightful offering from Pennyroyal that’s aged for four weeks, is a denser, more toothsome option. It has a lovely light gray rind, thanks to penicillium album mold.

Kenne and Liwa

In other exciting news, Tomales Farmstead Creamery is milking their ewes for the first time! When we went for a visit in January, their herd manager was training the pregnant ewes to line up for milking in the milking parlor. Though we’ve had Tomales Farmstead’s Kenne on the counter for the last few months, it’s now being made with a blend of goat’s milk and the first of their sheep’s milk, which gives the cheese a richer, rounder finish with a hint of lanolin. Their farmstead-mixed milk is also being used to craft Liwa, a fresh, hand-ladled cheese that has a fudgy texture and more substance to it than some of our other fresh offerings. Cheeses from Tomales Farmstead Creamery are delivered directly to us from the farm each week.

I’m also excited to introduce you to our newest producer-direct relationship! Golden Valley Farm was started by Mario and Sandra Daccarett, who worked for twenty years as dairy nutrition and management consultants. As their children grew, they wanted a line of work that was more inclusive of the family, and are now the only sheep dairy in the San Joaquin Valley. From February to December they milk 340 ewes, and their son Mario Daccerett, Jr. transforms this milk into a number of different cheeses in a range of styles. The first cheese that we will feature is the Yosemite Blossom, a beautiful cheese with a snowy white coast that is aged for about four weeks. Expect a milky and creamy texture with a delicate flavor. It’s just begging for some fennel salami!

Come by and ask for a taste of our favorite spring offerings! And stay tuned: come June, we’ll start to see some of the first aged, raw milk cheeses made this spring!

Not All Parmigiano-Reggiano is Created Equal

Did you know that Parmigiano-Reggiano is our best-selling cheese here at Bi-Rite Market?  There’s a lot of Parmigiano-Reggiano out in the world, but here at Bi-Rite we’re on a mission to celebrate our Parmigiano-Reggiano in particular–and remind ourselves that not all Parmigiano-Reggiano is created equal.

caldera house

Daniele’s house and workspace

For one thing, we know our cheesemaker’s name! Most of the wheels of Parmigiano-Reggiano that we sell come from one farm and are made by Daniele Caldera. Daniele runs the farm, raises the cows, and also makes cheeses. The room where he makes cheese is right downstairs from the one in which he lives. It houses just three copper kettles and Daniele never makes more than six wheels of cheese a day. And (how fun is this?) ­–each day, Daniele bevels the wheels of cheese made the night before and mixes the cheese scraps with eggs for his breakfast. What a way to start the morning! Our wheels are aged for a minimum of twenty-four months, though usually they are closer to twenty-eight months. With a big wheel of this kind, a longer aging process allows for the development of deeper, more complex flavor.


Click this image to watch a wheel of Parmigiano-Reggiano get cracked open right before your eyes!

Parmigiano-Reggiano’s status as our best-selling cheese allows us to buy it in whole wheels–these large beauties are 80 pounds!–and break them down at each store using the traditional Italian knives. Every week we look forward to Wednesday, when we crack new wheels of Parmigiano-Reggiano. It’s a magical moment as the cheese splits and is revealed, exposing it to air for the first time in twenty-four to twenty-eight months. When you’re buying whole wheels of Parmigiano-Reggiano, the cheese ages as long as it’s kept whole, and the quality of flavor from a freshly cut wheel is one of the most exciting things to a cheese-lover. In Daniele’s cheese this flavor is brothy and bright with notes of fruity pineapple, and the finish is long and deep.

Parmigiano-Reggiano is a wonderful grating cheese and perfect with the arrival of spring’s first asparagus, but it’s a cheese too beautiful to be relegated solely to the role of an ingredient. Add a wedge to your next cheese plate and drizzle it with a little bit of aged balsamic for a decadent, hearty treat!