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Leslie Harlib's Cuisine Scene: Go West

Warren Weber's Star Route Farms is featured in Marin Farm Families, Stories and Recipes,' a new book that will debut at this weekend's Pure West Marin celebration. (IJ archive/Alan Dep)


Marin I.J. Staff Report

June 28, 2006


Pure West Marin: That's the name for a celebration of our West County's food and wine Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Point Reyes Station.


The festivities even have a headliner. Best-selling author and Berkeley resident Michael Pollan, representing his most recent book, "The Omnivore's Dilemma" (Penguin, April 2006; he's also known for "Botany of Desire," 2001) will speak at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Toby's Feed Barn.


"In many ways, Michael's talk is at the very center of our using the weekend as a way of celebrating West Marin's leadership in sustainable farming and living," explains Steve Costa, co-owner of Point Reyes Books, one of the sponsors of the event.


In the turbulent wake of Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla's visit to West Marin in October 2005, there has been so much attention from international media, West Marin businesses are banding together to figure out how to capitalize on what Costa says was the equivalent of "over $20 million of press exposure. It's why we can legitimately say our Point Reyes Farmers Market is world famous."


Costa and his partner, Kate Levinson, hosted a meeting at the bookstore last Monday to brainstorm ways to encourage locals to buy local and eat local.


"We also have an opportunity to influence the 2¶ million visitors who come to West Marin each year, mostly to visit the national seashore," Costa continues. "We want to reach both those visitors and locals, encouraging them to support the local economy, where independent businesses are so important."


Here's the lineup of activities:


Friday evening, the Pure West Marin campaign will launch with a party at the Station House Cafe. The reception will be, as Costa puts it, "Primarily for the business community and residents of West Marin who are interested in boosting our local economy."


- The main public events percolate Saturday, beginning with the Point Reyes Farmers Market from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in and around Toby's Feed Barn, on Highway 1. Now in its 11th season, the emphasis is on only organic foods grown or made within 20 miles of Point Reyes.


A new publication created by the Marin Agricultural Land Trust and published by the Marin County Development Agency will debut Saturday as well. Called "Marin Farm Families, Stories and Recipes," the book ($12) and is a collaboration between county government and local nonprofits that celebrate Marin farming. Recipes from the book follow.

This weekend will be a huge boost for Point Reyes resident Dave Evans, the fourth generation cattleman who owns Marin Sun Farms, producer of grass-fed organic beef. In partnership with Indian Peach Food Co., he's re-launching his Marin Sun Farms Butcher Shop and Eatery on the banks of Papermill Creek, 10905 Shoreline Highway, on Saturday.


The shop and restaurant, which debuted last summer, was wiped out by 5 feet of flood-


waters over the New Year's weekend.


"Since January, it's been a long wait, a finding period of what we're trying to do," Evans reflects. "Now we're down to the wire. Hopefully how it comes out will give everybody a great experience."


From 1 to 4 p.m., an education fair promoting healthy environment and community along with sustainable practices and living will be sponsored by West Marin's local radio station, KWMR, and Sustainable West Marin, a coalition of organization and individuals interested in sustainability. Live entertainment will be included.



From 6 to 7:30 p.m., an organic wine and food tasting will take place at Toby's Feed Barn, preceding Pollan's talk. Tickets for the tasting and lecture are $35. Tickets for the talk only are $10. For reservations, call Point Reyes Books, 663-1542, or purchase tickets through Marin Organic at 663-9667, www.ptreyesbooks.com or at www.marinorganic.org.



- Sunday will feature guided walks around the town of Point Reyes Station at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m., visiting local producers such as Marin Sun Farms, Cowgirl Creamery and several gardens. The tours are sponsored by MALT and Marin Organic.



Activities will wind to a close on Sunday afternoon with a free music festival, called the Pure West Marin American Song Fest and Picnic. The West Marin music festival ensemble will perform an afternoon of American folk music, and people are encouraged to bring their own picnics and sing along.



Marin Sun Farms' Eatery has a new look, says Evans; the centerpiece is a rustic oak community table that seats 15.


"We pulled out all the diner-style seats; the flood allowed us to remove those, so I guess that was a good thing," he says.


Other touches will include an 8-foot bar for dining topped with limestone and decorated with cowhide. A 12-foot glass display will showcase mini cuts of Marin Sun Farms' meats. Evans just hired Dave Southard, formerly of Sam the Butcher in Ross.


The biggest change is the menu. Evans outlines a plan for organic hamburgers, hot dogs, a sausage dish and two or three salads. These will be supplemented by a daily special, such as a cut of steak or roast, soup, or stew. What's key, he says, is to emphasize Marin Suns' organically raised meats, chickens when they're available and eggs, as well as seasonal produce, such as local bolete mushrooms. Local organic beers and wines will be served. Cooked foods will be prepared by Indian Peach Foods under Kim Labao, which will also run its catering operation from the Eatery's kitchen. Packaged foods will come from local producers, such as Evans' sister Julie, who creates the delicious line of pickled vegetables and fruit jams called Point Reyes Preserves, also sold at the Marin Civic Center Farmers Market on Sundays.



"We're taking things more slowly this time, being a lot more patient" Evans says. "We are going to try and make a setting here for people to get a glass of wine, place an order, relax. We are all about slow food. That's what we'll try to put across."



Marin Sun Farms' Butcher Shop and Eatery will be open Thursdays through Mondays, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call 663-8997.


Two Outstanding in the Field dinners are ahead; the first five-course feast will be at the County Line Harvest Farm in Petaluma on Sunday night.



Chef Nate Appleman of San Francisco's A16 restaurant will present a white-linen tablecloth experience, set in the fields under the open sky. His menu includes grilled oysters with lemon, two dishes with rabbit, and raspberries and melon with Sonoma wildflower honey and Cowgirl Creamery cottage cheese.


The dinner begins at 4 p.m. and costs $150, all inclusive of wines and gratuities.



The second dinner will take place on July 16 at Marin Sun Farms in Point Reyes, where Evans will be the host and the guest chef will be Daniel DeLong of Manka's Inverness Lodge.



Outstanding in the Field, a nonprofit organization based in Santa Cruz, was founded by Jim Denevan, former chef of Gabriella Cafe in Santa Cruz. It launched in 1999 with the mission, as the Web site puts it, of dining "at the source, on the very soil that nourished the bounty on the plate, in the company of the farmers who cultivated it."



The idea was so successful, Outstanding has grown to become a national event. This year there will be six dinners in California before the Outstanding crew heads cross country. They will return at the end of August to produce three more end-of-season events in California.



For reservations and more information, go to www.outstandinginthefield.com; e-mail events@outstandinginthefield.com; or write to Outstanding in the Field, 849 Almar Ave., Suite C. Box No. 199, Santa Cruz 95060.



RECIPES The following recipes are from "Marin Farm Families."


@head Hogwash This is Hog Island Oyster Co.'s signature dipping sauce for fresh oysters.


1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar


1/4 cup natural rice vinegar


1 large shallot, peeled and chopped fine


1 jalape o pepper, seeded and chopped fine


1/2 bunch of cilantro, washed and chopped fine


Juice from 1 lime


Combine ingredients, chill and serve with fresh Hog Island oysters.


Organic Heirloom Tomato Caviar


2 cups dried organic heirloom tomatoes (see note)


3 to 5 cloves organic garlic


Organic extra virgin olive oil


Reggiano Parmesan cheese



Chop dried tomatoes into small pieces. Put 1/2 cup tomatoes, one clove of garlic, and a few tablespoons of olive oil into food processor. Pulse until tomatoes are finely chopped. Add thinly sliced piece of Parmesan cheese and pulse again. Continue to add more tomatoes, oil, garlic and cheese until a thick crimson paste is formed.



Serve with homemade crackers. Also good as a pizza topping, or stirred into fresh, hot pasta.


Note: If not available, use the best dried organic tomatoes you can find. Do not use non-organic dried tomatoes or dried tomatoes packed in oil.


- From Allstar Organics



Leslie Harlib writes about food and restaurants on Wednesdays. You can call her at 382-7340, send a fax to 884-1478, an e-mail to lharlib@marinij.com, or write to her c/o of the IJ, P.O. Box 6150, Novato 94948-6150.


- From Hog Island Oyster Co.