by Diana Farrell Serbe
Organic Marin is a book that celebrates the bounty of the earth and the purity of soil, but the book itself soars in the air. Authors Tim Porter and Farina Wong Kingsley speak eloquently of organic, sustainable farming, the recipes are all tempting and mouth-watering, the photography is of the highest caliber, and the stories of the early pioneers of the organic movement are inspiring. Bravo to producer Marin Magazine, the authors, the pioneering food producers, the chefs who contributed recipes, and to the publisher Andrews McNeel for giving us this lovingly presented book. And while we laud excellence, let us also say thank you for the respect so evident in this work.
Imbued with the spirit that "food is community," the proceeds of Organic Marin support Marin Organic's school lunch program, which serves 12,000 lunches a week with food grown in Marin County.
The recipes have been created by chefs from Marin restaurants, all of whom work with organic produce from the local farms. And what recipes they are, each a reflection of how produce, glowing with its own vibrant life, can inspire the cook. Quality ingredients are the stars in these recipes: they need no disguise and can be faithfully followed by the home cook.
The recipes are divided into chapters following the four seasons, and work with available, preferably local ingredients. In spring, try a Fava Bean Bruschetta, or Gnocchi with Morels and Peas, possibly Vegetables on Quinoa with Miso-Ginger Sauce, or Panna Cotta with Fresh Strawberries. Move on to produce-rich summer and try Heirloom Tomato Flat Bread, or Grilled Pork Tenderloin and Nectarines with Bacon Vinaigrette, possibly Fresh Fruit Scones. In autumn prepare a Grilled Fig and Mâche Salad, Blood Orange and Star Anise-Braised Pork, or Apple-Brandy Crisp. In winter try Halibut with Rock Shrimp in a Saffron Nage, a Tunisian Vegetable Tagine, Cacao Nib Almond Sticks or Double-Chocolate Bread Pudding (featured on site).
The book opens with a short history of organic Marin County, a major pioneering area in the maintenance of organics and sustainable farming. From produce to dairy, Marin County is a paradise of organic foods, and with Porter's beautiful photographs accompanying the text, Marin comes alive in front of us. Following the brief introduction, the authors introduce us to Marin's organic farms and the dedicated people who run them. Devoted to the farms and philosophy of the organic movement, in this section you will read statements of dedication and love from the farmers.
"What organic ranching does for the land, for biodiversity, and for the local market is amazing. It's awesome for a farmer to know who's enjoying our food..." ((Kevin Lunny of Drakes Bay Family Farms).
"Let us come to work with a sense of amazing abundance..." (Helge Helllberg, executive director of Marin Organic).
"My marketing strategy was quality. Organic just made sense. Besides, I don't know how to do it any other way..." (David Little of Little Organic Farm).
The book is packed with the exceptional photographs by Tim Porter, whether of the vistas seen from a farm, the close-ups of fresh produce that almost spring from the page, or the completed dishes that lure the reader to both the kitchen and the farmer's market. If the recipes didn't compel the book to stay in the kitchen, this could be a coffee table book.
There is a Resource section for the Farms and Producers, Bay Area Markets and Food Organization, the Restaurants whose chefs contributed the delicious recipes.