Smitten's new "MVP" ice cream is a celebration of Vice President Kamala Harris. (Photo/Courtesy Smitten)
Smitten's new "MVP" ice cream is a celebration of Vice President Kamala Harris. (Photo/Courtesy Smitten)

VP Harris, this cone’s for you; kosher bakery in trouble; artisanal cheese of the month; etc.

Food coverage is supported by a generous donation from Susan and Moses Libitzky.

Smitten, the San Francisco ice cream company owned by Robyn Sue Fisher, is celebrating Kamala Harris as the country’s first female vice president by introducing a new flavor, MVP, or Madam Vice President.

“As a Bay Area, female-founded small business, we are ecstatic to welcome our country’s first-ever female vice president, who also happens to be from the Bay Area and also happens to love ice cream,” Fisher said in a statement. “Given our language of love is ice cream, nothing seemed more fitting than creating a flavor to commemorate this moment in history.”

MVP is malted salted vanilla ice cream with pecan pralines, and a portion of its pint sales will be donated to Five Keys Home Free, a nonprofit that helps victims of domestic violence. Smitten has three locations in the city, one in Oakland and one in San Jose.

In other dairy news, Straus Home Ranch in West Marin, started by German Jewish immigrants Bill and Ellen Straus, has started an initiative to help local artisanal cheesemakers who have been affected by the pandemic. While the Straus’ eldest son Albert runs the dairy company, daughter Vivien has long been involved in the cheese world, creating a local Cheese Trail map to highlight local creameries for locals and tourists alike.

There will be a different collection each month, each one featuring the work of California artisan cheesemakers. Also included will be Santa Cruz-based Mutari chocolates and a flour sack tea towel “decorated with an assortment of our mother’s doodling, kooky, crazy, fun cows,” said Vivien. “She and I always wanted to write a book about a calf on the farm and illustrate it with our cows, but we never got there, so I’ve been using them wherever I can.”

The collections will be shipped within California only for now.

Valentine's Day Artisan Cheese Collection from Straus Home Ranch. (Photo/Courtesy Straus)
Valentine’s Day Artisan Cheese Collection from Straus Home Ranch. (Photo/Courtesy Straus)

Vital Vittles, the kosher whole-grain bakery in Berkeley owned by Vietnamese immigrants Binh and Huong Tran, is in danger of closing, Berkeleyside reported last month. The bakery made a name for itself with its whole-grain bread made from flour they milled themselves. The bakery largely sold wholesale to schools, cafes and tech companies, all of which are closed, so the majority of its business has dried up. The bakery’s original founder, Kass Schwin (who is Jewish), has set up a GoFundMe to help the Tran family keep the business afloat.

According to a 2001 J. article, the bakery has been certified kosher by Sunrise Kosher since 1990 and many observant Jews who prefer whole-grain bread have long had their challah needs met by Vital Vittles.

The Good Food Awards were just announced, and the Local Butcher Shop in Berkeley is among the winners. Sarah Weiner, founder of the S.F.-based awards, which promote small, artisanally made products, and the Local Butcher Shop’s Monica Pallie Rocchino, who grew up in San Rafael, both have been profiled in this column. Rocchino owns the butcher shop with her husband, Aaron; they won for their pastrami. Given Rocchino’s longtime connection to Camp Tawonga, there are often Tawonga alumni working behind the counter. 

Mark ’n Mike’s, the pop-up New York deli menu at San Francisco’s One Market restaurant, is loading up on latkes right now — meaning it has added “loaded latkes” to the menu. While traditionalists can order this comfort food with applesauce and/or sour cream, those with more adventurous palates can get the latkes in three varieties: smoked salmon, chive, crème fraiche, caviar and dill; pastrami Reuben, with Russian dressing, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese; or pulled brisket, with barbecue sauce, pickles, jalapeño and American cheese. One Market is open Wednesday through Saturday and is offering pickups at 1 Market St. or deliveries through several apps.

Alix Wall
Alix Wall

Alix Wall is a contributing editor to J. She is also the founder of the Illuminoshi: The Not-So-Secret Society of Bay Area Jewish Food Professionals and is writer/producer of a documentary-in-progress called "The Lonely Child."