Drink Beer, Do Good? That’s their mission at Ex Novo Brewing. And we can definitely get behind that!
Come taste with us and learn about this Non-Profit brewery from Portland!
When: Thursday, August 17, 2017; 4 pm to 5 pm. Join us!
We carry these fine brews:
Most Interesting Lager
Dynamic Duo DIPA
Photos borrowed from Ex Novo to promote their beer and cause.
Small batch, handmade, organic crackers made in Berkeley?
That’s exactly what Cory (long time employee of Berkeley Natural Grocery) said to Birgitta when she told him about her made-from-scratch crackers crafted from a Swedish friend’s recipe.
Birgitta is a long time (30 + years) shopper at our Berkeley store. For years, she bought the same superfood ingredients from our bulk bins. After chatting and recipe sharing with staff, she brought the team at Berkeley Natural (BNG) samples of her crackers. They were hooked. Birgitta and her partner Dianna credit Cory and the BNG team with inspiring them to start their small business.
The recipe originated with Birgitta’s friend in Sweden whose daughter is a very picky eater. When she finally discovered a winning combination that even her daughter appreciated, she shared it with Birgitta. While Birgitta and Dianna have altered the recipe a bit (most dramatically dropping the olive oil in favor of coconut oil), the Swedish roots are strong.
The flower on the label is a traditional Swedish decoration. Their label and logo designer lives on an island in the Baltic Sea between Sweden and Finland. The heritage (and inspiration) for these crackers points back to the majestic northern lands of the Baltic.
Cracker culture in Sweden is endless, with entire aisles dedicated to the craft. Everybody buys and bakes crackers. People commonly eat crackers with every meal whether paired with pickled herring, caviar, cheese, smoked meat, gravlax or soup.
The key to Birgitta’s leap into full time cracker production happened while selling Swedish ovenware. She was going to product shows and would bring her crackers along for snacks and meals. Everybody wanted the crackers more than the ovenware. With that nudge and the continued encouragement from Cory and the Berkeley Natural Team, Birgitta teamed up with Dianna (who has a culinary degree) to forge what is now Cult Crackers.
Together, they met the folks at Muffin Revolution and subleased kitchen space from them. That afforded them the chance (in a certified gluten-free kitchen) to produce more volume and become a registered business. When Muffin Revolution outgrew the space, they offered the lease to Cult Crackers. While it was a big jump, they accepted. And thank goodness they did!
These two ladies started their official Cult Cracker journey in June. Berkeley Natural Grocery was store number one, and now they are in ten stores throughout the Bay Area!
The crackers are delightful. At their kitchen, we snacked on them with Mitica Drunken Goat cheese and Crofters Jam. With a box to take home, I shared the crackers with my five year old son (and felt great about it!). He loved them with butter and salami.
We are so excited to carry their crackers at both stores so that you can try them sometime soon!
At The Natural Grocery Company, we are proud to sell 100% organic produce.
Some may question why this matters. After all, most grocery stores (even big box ones) carry organic options at this point.
A short story about my recent neighborhood (in East Oakland) shopping trip may help illustrate what can happen when a store sells both conventional and organic produce.
A couple days ago, I had to make a quick run to a market near our house for ginger root. The place we go has both organic and conventional options. I selected the organic ginger. When I got home and looked at my receipt, I realized the price I paid was low and the line item read: ginger (not organic ginger). Perhaps I picked up a piece of conventional ginger from the organic ginger bin. But how could that happen? It’s possible some other shopper ditched their conventional ginger in the organic bin. Or perhaps the piece was improperly labeled. Mistakes happen. I understand that. But I did not want conventional ginger. It made me wonder how many times this kind of thing happens. On this occasion I paid for the lower priced ginger. But what if conventional items are mislabeled as organic and you pay the premium without getting the product?
This is all to say, that I am grateful to work (and shop for most of our groceries) in a place with 100% organic produce. There is no chance for conventional fruits, veggies or roots to accidentally end up in my cooking!
I love entertaining at home. Compared to dining out, it’s more personal, relaxed, and affordable.
As a former restaurant manager and sommelier, I have a few tips to help you pull it off effortlessly at a moment’s notice.
I find it helpful to stock up (12 or so bottles) and have diverse inventory on hand. At Annex Wine & Beer, we offer a 10% discount if you buy a case or more. Couple that with some bargain items like our Closerie des Lys Blanc for $8.99, and you get great savings. That makes racing through bottles a little easier to swallow!
Wine Shopping list:
- Copious amounts of rosé! Most are delicious with or without food. That makes it a great “cocktail wine” for impromptu visits from friends.
- A yummy white to please your friend who just wants something cold and easy to drink. We have lots to choose from in the $10 price range.
- An affordable red for those who only go for the darker juice. Again, we have a ton in the $10 to $15 range. And remember, you get 10% off if you buy a case. Mixing and matching wine is just fine!
- Reds to complement grilled items. The caramelization that happens on steaks and veggies alike calls for Pinot Noir. Try the Domaine Girard Pinot Noir from France ($12.99), Klee from Oregon ($17.99) or The Gardener Pinot Noir from right here in Sonoma ($25).
- Sparkling wine (Prosecco, Crémant, Champagne) to have on hand for a celebratory start to the gathering or mimosas in the late morning.
Our wine specialists at the Annex can help you curate a terrific summer drinking list with both familiar favorites and new varietals!
Food Prep and Shopping Suggestions:
These finger friendly bread based snacks are great for noshing at formal and informal gatherings.
Step 1: Slice 1 to 2 loaves of French bread (try an Acme baguette) into 1/4-inch-thick rounds.
Step 2: Brush each slice with olive oil (Burroughs Family Farms Bulk Olive Oil is on sale right now. And it’s delicious!) or melted butter (I love how affordable and tasty the Cadia butter is)
Step 3: Place the rounds on baking sheets and bake at 350 degrees until crisp throughout and lightly golden around the edges, about 15 minutes.
1. Spread with Coeur Chevre organic fresh goat cheese, orange marmalade (try one from Frog Hollow or Full Belly Farms, both are located right across from the cheese section) and fresh mint.
2. Spread with fig jam (Inna just delivered their black mission fig jam!), top with blue cheese (Farmstead Original Blue) and prosciutto (try La Quercia) or ham (I love True Story).
3. Spread with fig jam, top with goat cheese and chopped walnuts (grab a bunch from our bulk bins).
4. Spread with butter, top with thinly sliced bread-and-butter pickles (Woodstock or Cadia are both great choices).
5. Spread with hummus (grab our Annex made pre-packed Hummus), top with olive tapenade (try the Divina Kalamata olive spread).
These toppings are all items that are fairly easy to either keep in stock or grab quickly from one of our stores.
Here’s to happy, memory-making gatherings!
Little super seeds like chia and flax are mightier than they look: while they may be tiny, they’re actually full of essential nutrients. The chia seed contains three times more calcium than skim milk, and is a great source of both omega-3 essential fatty acids and dietary fiber. Ground flaxseed is also a great source of fiber, as well as omega-3 alpha-linoleic acid, which supports normal cardiovascular function and helps maintain healthy hair, skin and nails.
Super Seed Tips:
Add chia or ground flax seeds to almost anything
Sprinkle over hot or cold cereal
Stir into yogurt or applesauce
Add to smoothies and beverages
Add to baked goods
Stir into nut butter or sprinkle inside a PB & J
Sprinkle over toast
Add to homemade nut/seed butter bars
Super Easy Recipe with Chia:
Makes 3 Servings
- 1½ cups coconut milk, unsweetened
- 1/3 cup chia seeds
- 2-4 Tablespoons honey or maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Toasted almonds or cashews
- Grated, unsweetened coconut
- Sliced Bananas
In a bowl, mix all ingredients. Stir until well-blended. Cover bowl and place in refrigerator for at least 4 hours. Once pudding has set, sprinkle with your favorite toppings and enjoy! The result is thick and luxurious, with loads of healthy side effects.
Here are a few reasons to add chia to your daily routine:
- DIGESTION: Chia is being studied as a potential treatment for type 2 diabetes because of its ability to slow down digestion and prevent blood sugar spikes. (Sources: Harvard Health Publications and Diabetes Care, 2007)
- FIBER: A 28-gram or one-ounce serving of chia has 11 grams of dietary fiber, which is important for digestive health.
- GOOD FAT: Nearly five grams of Omega-3 (important for brain health) in a one-ounce serving.
- MINERALS: A serving of chia seeds has 18 percent of the recommended daily intake for calcium, important for bone and oral health. It also has 30% of your recommended intake of manganese, another important nutrient/mineral for bone health (it helps your body use other essential nutrients like biotin and thiamin). And then, there is phosphorus. Chia seeds have 27% of your daily need. Phosphorus also helps with bone and teeth health by synthesizing protein for cell and tissue growth/repair.
- PROTEIN: One 28-gram serving has 4.4 grams of protein, nearly 10 per cent of the daily value.
- APPETITE, SLEEP AND MOOD: Chia seeds also have tryptophan which helps regulate appetite, sleep and improve mood.
- HEART HEALTH: Chia seeds may lower total, LDL, and triglyceride cholesterol, and raise good HDL cholesterol. All good things for a happy, healthy heart.
* *ADVISORY* *
Chia seeds can interact with the medication warfarin/coumadin. Patients on blood pressure medication should take chia seeds cautiously. Patients on blood thinners should not take chia seeds. – From the Cleveland Clinic http://www.clevelandclinicwellness.com/Features/Pages/Chia-Seeds.aspx
If you have a stash of Revive Kombucha bottles, be sure to return them by September 1, 2017 for your $2 refund. If you have questions about their decision to sunset the bottle exchange program please email them directly or contact us via the contact form. Thank you!