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Posts Tagged ‘Cheese’


Rose

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,

Rose


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


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.

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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.

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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!

Laychee

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.

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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.

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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!


Simon

Asparagus is Here!

asparagus At Bi-Rite we love to celebrate local, organic crops, and one of the most exciting vegetable crops of the late winter and early spring is asparagus. Around this time of year asparagus gets highlighted in lush bunches and fanciful dishes at markets and restaurants throughout the Bay Area, and the shelves at both Bi-Rite Markets are no exception.

Asparagus is a flowering perennial that can be a tricky crop to grow – once it starts producing, it needs to be harvested every day so that the stalks don’t get too long. One producer who gets it just right is Full Belly Farm of Yolo County, California. Because we work with Full Belly, we are able to offer our guests extra-fresh asparagus from the end of February through May, which makes this the ideal time to stop by and pick some up.

Why is extra-fresh asparagus so exciting to us? Asparagus is high in dietary fiber and is a good source of Vitamin B, K and C.  It also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities which make it a great cancer-fighter.  And in addition to being one of the healthiest vegetables you can eat, asparagus can be prepared in many different ways. Try pairing it with other spring veggies like spring onion, peas and tarragon to make an amazing omelet. On its own, it’s perfect dressed with olive, grilled and topped with shaved Pecorino Romano.

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Beautiful asparagus and fresh Burrata proudly stand shoulder to shoulder at our Markets

But for a real treat for the palate, try pairing this excellent asparagus with the fresh Burrata available in our Cheese Department. This Italian cheese is a study in contrast in itself, combining the texture of solid mozzarella with a decadent, pleasing filling of cheesy cream. But when paired with asparagus, the combinations of flavor and texture are enthralling, and since the asparagus we have in right now has superior flavor and texture, the combo is all the better. You can find asparagus and Burrata placed conveniently side-by-side in the produce sections of both of our Market locations. Come by and let us show you how healthy, fun and gratifying this pairing can be!


Matt R.

St. Valentine and Grape Vines: An Unusual History‏

st. valentineWhat do St. Valentine and grape vines have in common? The answer may surprise you!

In the 1800s, in the town of Roquemaure in the Rhône Valley, wine business was booming! Roquemaure’s wines had become known throughout France and they were one of the first villages known to label their wines CDR (Côtes du Rhône) to distinguish them as a sign of quality. Yet in 1866, strange things were happening to their precious vineyards. In Roqumaure, and all over Europe, grape vines were mysteriously dying, and no one knew why.

Things were getting desperate and French newspapers and local clergy blamed mankind’s reliance on science rather than God for the sudden vine deaths. In 1868, a Roquemaure dignitary, Maximilian Richard, was sent to Rome to acquire some relics of a patron saint for protection of the vines. He returned with the relics of St. Valentine and housed them in Roquemaure’s church of Saint-Jean-l’Evangeliste. The hopes of the villagers lay in the relics of St. Valentine to help protect the vines and to help the farmers determine why the vines were dying. And then in July of 1868, an accidental pickax blow by a farmer to a grape vine revealed the culprit – tiny yellow aphid-like creatures sucking on the vine’s roots. Phyolloxera!

In time, the French discovered that grafting European vines onto American rootstock, which was resistant to phylloxera, would allow the vines to grow unharmed. And however scientific the ‘cure’, St. Valentine had won a place in the hearts of the people of Roquemaure, where his relics are still housed and celebrated each year with La Fete des Amoureux (The Festival of Lovers).

So help celebrate St. Valentine and his contribution to wine (by way of a comfort to the people of Roquemaure) by enjoying some festive bubbly and cheese!

2011 Champ Divin Cremant du Jura Brut Rose  –  $22.99

wine 1Valerie and Fabrice Closset-Gaziaux have lived a life close to nature. They both grew up with families that kept bees, biodynamic gardens, and vineyards. They’ve both worked together helping farmers and winemakers convert to and farm using biodynamics. In 2009, after travelling the world spreading biodynamic know-how, they decided to settle in the Jura and bought a property with five hectares of vines. Their first bottlings are such a pleasure to drink! This sparkling rose is made in the Champagne method with Trousseau and Pinot Noir grapes. It has aromas of fresh red berries and flavors of tart rhubarb, herbs, and a lush fizz-filled finish. Perfect for your Valentine!

NV Guiborat Fils Extra Brut Tradition Champagne  –  $39.99

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The Fouquet family has a long tradition in Champagne, having farmed their eight hectares in the sub-region of Cramant since 1885. Today, 5th generation Richard Fouquet and his wife Karine run the estate. While they have traditionally sold most of their grapes to other producers, life many in Champagne do, they’ve recently started saving some of their grapes and bottling their own Champagnes. The Extra Brut tradition is about 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Meunier. Although there’s not added dosage (sugar added after disgorgement), a bright floral and honeycomb nose leads to a rich palate full of stone fruit flavors and salty minerality. A great value for a great grower-producer of Champagne!

A Toast for Two: Champagne and Cheese Bundle – $39.99

toast for twoImpress your special someone with the perfect pairing, presented in a pre-made festive package. We’ve done the work for you and have these bundles pre-made and ready to grab at either Market. Each bundle includes one wheel of Cowgirl Creamery’s Mt. Tam cheese, a delicious, local, soft-ripened triple-creme, along with one split bottle (375 mL) of Guy Charlemagne Reserve Brut Champagne. This 100% Chardonnay Grand Gru Champagne is decadent, elegant and a perfect match for the rich and buttery Mt. Tam!

 

Upcoming Tastings:

18th Hour Cafe – Thursdays, 6-9PM – Drop-In – At 18 Reasons. On Thursday, February 13, 18th Hour Cafe celebrates San Francisco Beer Week!

Champagne Tasting with Sacred Thirst Selections – Friday, February 14, 4-6PM – At Bi-Rite Divisadero

21st Amendment Brewing Tasting – Saturday, February 15, 4-6PM – At Bi-Rite Divisadero

Speakeasy Brewery Tasting – Sunday, February 16, 4-6PM – At Bi-Rite Divisadero

Rich Higgins Beer Workshop: Food Pairing Techniques – Saturday, February 15, 3-5:30PM – At 18 Reasons

Tasting Seminar: Wine Basics with Pamela Busch – Saturday, February 22, 1-5PM – At 18 Reasons

Inexpensive and Incredible: How to Spot Great Value Wine – Monday April 21, 7-9PM, 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.


Celebrate Valentine’s Day with Flowers, Bubbly, and Heart-Shaped Cheese!

Need some ideas for a fun and romantic Valentine’s Day? We’ve got a selection of Champagnes, cheeses and flowers that are sure to bring a smile to the face of someone special. All of the offerings mentioned below are available at both our 18th Street and Divisadero Market locations.

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We’re highlighting two excellent Champagnes this week. Champagne Guiborat Brut Tradition NV, a great Champagne value, is produced by the Fouquet family, who have farmed a small vineyard in the Grand Cru village of Cramant since 1885. Now in the hands of 5th generation owners Richard Fouquet and his wife Karine, Tradition has a touch of brioche on the nose accompanied by notes of white flowers and green apple.

Champagne Guy Charlemagne Reserve Brut Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs is from a small grower located in a Chardonnay-rich Grand Cru villages of Mesnil and Oger, known for their rich limestone soil. This 100% Chardonnay pleaser has a lightness and finesse with touches of lemon and fresh nuts and notes of warm bread. For the perfect Valentine’s pairing, try our special A Toast for Two Champagne and Cheese Combo, which places this lovely Champagne alongside Cowgirl Creamery’s Mt. Tam cheese; its decadent, buttery creaminess is complimented perfectly by the complex intensity and long finish of the Champagne Guy Charlemagne. Try them together for an unforgettable treat.

photo 3You can also pick up a heart-shaped wedge of the Cowgirl Creamery’s Heart’s Desire, which is available just once a year just for Valentine’s Day. This special cheese will arrive fresh at both Markets on Valentine’s Day! Don’t miss this annual treat! Try Heart’s Desire on its own, or try our other featured Valentine’s cheese, the Andante Heart-Shaped Rondo. Not much is sexier than this cheese, an elegant blend of rich Jersey milk and tangy goat’s milk and crafted by one of our most talented local cheesemakers. Adorned with dried herbs and peppercorns, the heart-shaped Rondo is as beautiful to behold as it is sensuous to share.

FlowerBouquetsAnd to complete the picture for Valentine’s Day, don’t forget the flowers. Come by on Friday, February 14th to get a custom bouquet or floral arrangement made by our in-house florists. Bouquets of sustainable, organic and local flowers start at $25 and locally-grown roses by the stem will be $3 each. On Valentine’s Day you can get your flowers hand-arranged out in front of both of our Markets; our florists will create something special while you pop into the Market to get some chocolate, cheese and Champagne. We’ll have your Valentine positively swooning!


Jason Rose

Our Christmas and New Year’s Menu is Here!

Christmas menuBeginning today, December 20th, our house-made Christmas and New Year’s menu will be available at Bi-Rite Market on 18th Street and Divisadero. And this year, you can also pre-order everything you need online! Just place your order, select a date and time for pick-up, and you’re all set! Or call us or stop by to place your order. We look forward to seeing you, and are here to help with any planning or cooking tips you may need!

Bi-Rite’s Christmas and New Year’s Menu 

House-Brined and Oven Roasted Diestel Turkey Breast

Bi-Rite’s San Francisco Clam Chowder

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup with Fresh Sage 

Bourbon Sweet Potato Mash with Candied Pecans 

Horseradish and Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes  

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Carrots with Bacon Maple Syrup

Roasted Delicata Squash and Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Shallots

Quinoa with Butternut Squash and Roasted Mushrooms

Balsamic-Roasted Red Beets and Carrots with Citrus Segments

Cranberry-Tangerine and Honey Relish

Wild Mushroom and Zinfandel Gravy

Chestnut-Apricot Bread Stuffing

Horseradish Crème Fraîche with Fresh Chives

prime ribOur Butcher’s choice this year for the ideal centerpiece for holiday meals is prime rib. We’ve selected prime rib from Five Dot Ranch. Grass-fed and grain-finished, this beautiful beef has just the right amount of marbling for a buttery mouth feel and texture. We’ve also got a wide selection of California-raised poultry including turkeys, geese, ducks, and more!

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Winter is also a perfect time to enjoy cheeses. We’ve selected five favorites, along with an array of perfect pairing options, to delight your dinner guests and party-goers. Plus, we’ve created two special bundles just for Christmas and New Year’s that are only available online! Try our Tradition Reigns: Celebrate with Stilton pack to enjoy the classic pairing of English Stilton and port.

No holiday dinner would be complete without decadent, festive, magical desserts!BiRite_Holiday-400

Bi-Rite Creamery has taken tradition to a new level this year with our gorgeous Bûche de Noël, featuring chocolate roulade with milk chocolate butter cream, chocolate glaze, and decorated with adorable meringue mushrooms, pistachios, and sparkling candied rosemary! Don’t forget the ice cream! Our seasonal favorites are back, including Candy Cane, Pumpkin, and Eggnog.

Let us help you select the perfect wine for your meals and spirits to warm you! With vintages that pair perfectly with main courses, festive bubbly and single-barrel bourbons from our favorite family-run distilleries, our hand-selected wines, beers, and spirits are sure to delight.

We look forward to helping make this season memorable for you, your family and friends as you gather and celebrate. Happy Holidays!


Perfect Cheeses for Your Holiday Celebration

The wedding adage about “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” always struck me as a bit silly. But I was recently musing on the phrase while celebrating a friend’s Big Day and thought, “Wow – that’s actually pretty good advice for starting an ideal cheese plate!” Just grab something perfectly aged, something fresh, something borrowed (European tradition, for example) and something…bleu. I’m always looking for delicious cheeses that highlight variety in flavor and texture, and the cheeses selected for our 2013 Holiday Guide are all perfect for holiday gatherings.WholeBoard1

If there’s one local favorite that everyone will love, it’s Cowgirl Creamery’s Mt. Tam. This rich, buttery cheese is made by our good friends at Cowgirl using organic Straus Family Creamery milk. It’s a sure-fire crowd-pleaser and you really can’t go wrong bringing it to a holiday party.

Redwood Hill’s Cameo, made with local goat’s milk, is a truly elegant show-stopper on the cheese board. Created in nearby Sebastopol, Cameo is studded with cracked black peppercorns and lemon verbena. This lovely cheese is soft, silky, and delicious.

BonneBoucheA favorite among Bi-Rite cheesemongers is Bonne Bouche from Vermont Creamery. Slightly tangy and beautifully yeasty, this cheese is given its distinctive blue/gray hue by its ashed rind and is accented with a mild minerality.

A wedge of Bleiki Alpkase, imported from Bi-Rite’s very own adopted Swiss Alp, celebrates everything traditional about old-world cheesemaking and brings a fruity, slightly nutty flavor profile to your spread. This cheese is a Bi-Rite exclusive and is not available anywhere else outside of Europe!

And for your “something blue,” you can embrace English-style Christmas tradition with the iconic Stilton. This cheese from Colston Bassett, aged to perfection, is creamy yet crumbly, with notes of wet stone and hay.

If you’re having trouble choosing among these excellent cheese plate options for the holidays, we’ve created two Christmas Cheese Bundles – one for cheese-lovers to share with friends and party-goers, and one for the cheese enthusiast who wants to celebrate holiday tradition. Both pair our favorite seasonal cheeses with some perfectly-matching snack and drink accompaniments. Pre-order them online!

Cheesemonger’s Choice: Party Pack – $39.99CheesemongersChoicePairs

One 8oz round Cowgirl Creamery Mt. Tam

One 4oz round Bonne Bouche

One 10oz jar of Harvest Song Sour Cherry Preserves

1 box Raincoast Crisp Date and Almond Crackers

StiltonBundlePairs (2)Tradition Reigns! “Celebrate with Stilton” Bundle – $44.99

½ pound Colson Bassett Stilton

One 375ml bottle of Niepoort 10-year Tawny Port

One 5oz jar of Bi-Rite Holiday Nut Mix

The Cheesemonger’s Choice is sure to impress, while the “Celebrate with Stilton” bundle brings together the classic and beloved combination of blue cheese and port wine. Whichever way your taste and palate run, we’ve got your cheese needs covered this Christmas. You can pre-order our featured cheeses and bundles online, or come in for a taste! Happy Holidays!


Alpkase Bleiki – from our adopted Swiss alp to our San Francisco shelves

I’ve never felt compelled to adopt a puppy, since puppies don’t tug on my heart strings in the same way that they do for most of my friends. But Alpine cheeses are a true love of mine.  So when renowned importer of fine Swiss cheeses Caroline Hostettler launched her Adopt-An-Alp program in 2013, I couldn’t resist jumping in. In an effort to highlight and help preserve the centuries-old tradition of transhumance, Hostettler paired with six Alpine dairies around Switzerland who still make the annual summer pilgrimage up the mountain once the snow has receded and the pristine pastures are alive. By adopting an Alp, Bi-Rite is doing our own small part to maintain these fine cheese-making traditions – and to ensure that truly excellent Alpine cheeses remain available here in San Francisco.

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Alp Bleiki – “our” adopted Swiss Alp!

Thanks to Caroline, we’re partnered with the Barmettler family in Nidwalden in North Central Switzerland and have received periodic updates about their season.  Each year, the Barmettler family leads their small herd to an elevation of 4,600 feet above sea level atop our adopted mountain, Alp Bleiki. The diverse and pristine pastures on which the cows graze there give their milk an exceptional quality and flavor that the Barmettlers transform into an exquisite summer Alpine cheese. Five generations of the Barmettler family have owned this property since 1869, and this year they took twenty-six cows and ten calves up the mountain where they grazed on fifty acres between late May and early October. Though it sounds idyllic, life at high altitude away from the creature comforts of home is very hard work and certainly not for the weak of heart. Weather at high altitudes is unpredictable and can vary greatly, but word from the Barmettlers is that this summer was nearly picture-perfect. Said Paul Barmettler, “With the weather being so gorgeous, the environment was ideal for cheesemaking and the quality of the milk is outstanding.”

After a summer of grazing, milking and cheesemaking, the cows descended Alp Bleiki between October 3rd and 5th. Now this delectable cheese, straight from “our” Alp, has arrived on our shelves and is ready for you to try. We’re the only retailer in the new world currently selling this fine Swiss cheese, so cheese enthusiasts take note – it’s easy to enjoy, hard to find and not to be missed.


American Cheese Month Week Three – Tarentaise

For each week of American Cheese Month, Bi-Rite Market is celebrating one of our favorite American cheeses. Last week we discussed an excellent cheese made, in partnership with two of their neighboring dairies, by Vermont’s Spring Brook Farm. This week we’re celebrating Spring Brook’s very own farmstead cheese, Tarentaise.

Tarentais 2With its unusual and sexy concave-curved rind, Tarentaise was inspired by the legendary French cheese Abondance, a gem from the Savoie. The first cheese made by Spring Brook Farm, it was originally produced at neighboring Thistle Hill Farm and proved so successful that Thistle Hill cheesemakers John and Janine Putnam partnered with Spring Brook (and the affiliated Farms for City Kids Foundation) to expand production.

Though Spring Brook’s central Vermont locale might seem a world away from the French Alps, Tarentaise and Abondance share a number of similarities. Both are made, using traditional recipes and equipment, with raw milk from cows that graze on fresh grass seasonally and on dried hay in the winter. Vermont even has a number of plants in common with the lower altitudes of the Savoie, including clover and buttercups. However, the two cheeses are made with milk from different breeds of cow and their different production environments and microbes ensure that, while Tarentaise pays dutiful tribute to the old-world cheese that inspired it, its personality and flavor are distinctly American.

This flavor is beautiful and delicate with creamy paste, notes of cooked cream and toasted nuts and a slightly spicy finish. It pairs beautifully with cured meats or with tomato, but is also great on a baguette or enjoyed as a decadent delight on its own. Stop by our Markets on 18th Street or Divisadero, see the unique curvature of the rind and ask us for a taste.