Bi-Rite’s Sam Mogannam Drinks a Lot of Sightglass Coffee, Loves Tofu Banh Mi
As we learned last year, Bi-Rite Market is kind of a cash cow, which makes sense as it's a business that's become highly integrated into the food fabric of San Francisco, and one that is the centerpiece of one of the foodiest streets in the city. Owner Sam Mogannam, who transformed his family's market from an average neighborhood deli to the gourmet destination it is now, is passionate about the community of growers and producers who form the backbone of our local food chain, and he expresses much of that love in the new book of recipes and details about every product he sells, titled Eat Good Food. Today we get a diary of a week's eating from him, for The San Francisco Diet.
(Note, in all the holiday madness, Mogannam took a couple of weeks to get it to us, so what you'll read about here is his Christmas week.)
Friday, December 23
We added 30 chickens and one rooster to our farm in Sonoma about 6 months ago and it has been wonderful getting fresh eggs every week. Even though their production slows down in the winter they are still producing delicious eggs. I started the day with two eggs scrambled with Straus butter and some toasted Acme baguette, along with two cups of Sightglass coffee and an anise biscotti that our neighbor, Barbara, gives us every year for Christmas. They are just sweet enough and have that perfect dryness that makes them perfect.
By 10 a.m., I was onto my third and fourth cup of coffee, this batch from Ritual Coffee Roasters. We have huge urns of coffee around the days leading up to Christmas so we can keep the staff at Bi-Rite juiced. It is a really busy week and the staff appreciates having the coffee close at hand.
For lunch, I had my current favorite sandwich, a Vietnamese Tofu Banh Mi, though I get it with extra jalapenos, just enough to get the blood flowing and work up a bit of a sweat. I had a side of roasted carrots to temper the heat.
I was so amped up from a busy day at work that I only had a Hauer Pippin Apple with Vermont Creamery Cremont cheese and a few slices of baguette, washed down with a few glasses of juicy red wine.
Saturday, December 24
Christmas Eve, one of the busiest days of the year, so started with sugar and caffeine. Two cups of Ritual and a slice of the best fruit cake I've ever had. It was another gift, this one from Lawrence, one of our produce guys, who makes it with so much love and attention to detail. His cake is loaded with the best fruits and nuts, dense, yet not a brick. He adds enough high acid fruits to temper what can usually be an overly sweet cake. I love it and hope he makes a bunch of them for us to sell next year.
We brought pizza from Escape from New York in for the staff, so I had two slices, one veggie and one potato, garlic and pesto. The staff at Bi-Rite eats so well every day, but getting a treat like pizza helped all of us get through a very busy day. More ritual coffee and a chocolate mint macaroon made by another of our staff members, Matt in the wine department.
Christmas Eve dinner is usually my favorite meal of the year. Anne, my wife, and I usually put our daughters to bed early knowing they will be up at the crack of dawn to see what Santa brought them, and then I cook a nice meal for the two of us. This year would have been our twelfth Xmas eve together. But this year Anne was sick, so we did not have our usual dinner, which always includes a Dungeness crab salad. Instead, we had some matzo ball soup with a chunk of cheese and some baguette. It was a real simple meal, still lovely and special.
Sunday, December 25
Sightglass coffee, some stollen from the creamery and more of Lawrence’s fruit cake to start my day while we all opened presents. Zoe and Olive were very excited. Santa was pretty good to them.
We had some friends over for lunch and ate chopped liver, salt cod brandade, smoked salmon on rye toasts and burrata crostini with olives and olio nuovo. I also made one of my favorite recipes from Eat Good Food, a raw kale Caesar. We had a few too many bottles of wine and I ended up taking a nap on the couch before having to get up and go to my parents’ house for dinner.
My mom loves the holidays and always goes all out for Christmas dinner. This year we had stuffed cabbage leaves, ground lamb kebabs, carrot salad with tahini dressing and some fresh coco blanc beans that farmer Martin grew. My mom made her famous pear skillet cake for dessert. We headed home, I was moving slow all day, and fell asleep reading the girls.
Monday, December 26
Finished up the left over chopped liver on some toasted Tartine bread for breakfast along with my usual two cups of coffee.
I had a bowl of lentil soup for lunch with a Hidden Star fuji apple and a Firebrand pretzel.
Anne was finally feeling better. We had a couple friends visiting from New York so we had them over and ate our xmas eve dinner together. Crab soup with horseradish crème fraiche and a lobster salad with cara cara oranges and frisee. Candy cane ice cream from Bi-Rite Creamery with chocolate sauce for dessert. It didn’t matter that it was two days late, it was still perfect.
Tuesday, December 27
Feeling the gluttony of the last few days and wanted to eat simple. Coffee and stollen in the am. Lentil salad for lunch. Leftovers for dinner—finished the crab soup and had more kale Caesar.
Wednesday, December 28
Started the day with a banana and coffee for breakfast. Had a tofu and endamame salad for lunch. Kept it all light knowing the holiday gluttony was continuing that night.
We went to a dinner party at my friend Tom’s house to celebrate the holidays. Tom [McGuigan] is a fellow chef and he and I have known each other since childhood. It’s always so much fun to cook together. After much contemplation, we decided to cook goose and do it two ways. We planned to confit the legs and sear the breasts.
We plucked the confit and made a salad with pomegranate, frisee and apples, tossed in a bright sherry vinaigrette. It was perfectly balanced. The apples countered the salty goose and the acidity of the dressing and the pomegranates cut through the richness of the meat. We could have stopped there and all of us would have been happy campers.
We seared the breast until it was medium rare and served it with a stewed mixture of root veggies that included rutabagas, Yukon gold potatoes, Tokyo turnips and carrots. We had to have some greens so sautéed some kale and made a sauce with a reduction of apple and pomegranate juice to liven the whole dish up. Our friend Heather made a super silky chocolate mousse to finish the meal.
I barely ate the next day and was now looking forward to the holidays being over.
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