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September 5-11, 2007

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Phaedra

Taste of Marin

By Carey Sweet


What was the most delicious part of Taste of Marin, the posh fundraiser held Aug. 26 at the historic St. Vincent's School for Boys in San Rafael? Perhaps it was the truly worthy cause: raising money to support the Marin Agricultural Land Trust, Marin Farmers Markets and Marin Organic in their quest to protect the area's agricultural heritage along with the farmers and ranchers who keep it all going. No surprise, the $150-a-ticket evening was sold-out. It might have been the deluxe reception, held in the front courtyard and brimming with savory hors d'oeuvres, wines and displays of Marin's best local edibles, hosted by the very talent who grew the ingredients and the chefs who prepared them.

What was the most delicious part of Taste of Marin, the posh fundraiser held Aug. 26 at the historic St. Vincent's School for Boys in San Rafael? Perhaps it was the truly worthy cause: raising money to support the Marin Agricultural Land Trust, Marin Farmers Markets and Marin Organic in their quest to protect the area's agricultural heritage along with the farmers and ranchers who keep it all going. No surprise, the $150-a-ticket evening was sold-out. It might have been the deluxe reception, held in the front courtyard and brimming with savory hors d'oeuvres, wines and displays of Marin's best local edibles, hosted by the very talent who grew the ingredients and the chefs who prepared them.

Such delicacies! We nibbled on roasted plantains stuffed with vegetables under a mantle of melting cheese from Sol Food in San Rafael, and sweet rabbit sausage from Devil's Gulch Ranch. We slurped tiny shot glasses of oyster-jalapeño ceviche from Drake's Bay Oyster Farm (divine with a sip of Champagne from Pt. Reyes Vineyards), and ravaged entire legs of goat, lamb and pork from Marin Sun Farms, plucking meat from the bone with our fingers. I'd never before had "wild food paté," but here it was, crafted by Commonweal Gardens in Bolinas, and like a dense chutney of curly doc seed, nettle leaf, milk thistle seed, sunflower seed and plum slathered on an crisp apple slice.

Certainly it was the sit-down dinner, a new addition to the nine-year-old event. Under a nearly full harvest moon, we sat down to plates laden with Anna's Daughters Bakery rye bread slathered with Straus Family Creamery butter, and cups of Marin Roots Farm tomato and McEvoy Ranch fennel velouté soup bobbing with homemade olive croutons and Fresh Run Farm basil.

For the next several hours, we feasted on eight more high-pedigree courses including a ravishing local wild king salmon with Little Organic Farm purple potatoes and Star Route Farms purslane in a green goddess dressing of Cow Track Ranch garlic and chives, followed by a salad of roasted Fresh Run Farm chioggia beets, Marin Roots Farm golden beets, Andante Dairy Acapella goat cheese and Cowgirl Creamery Mt. Tam cheese atop Star Route Farms mixed greens drizzled in Marshall's Farm honey and McEvoy Ranch olive oil.

But absolutely, the tastiest part of the evening was the sales pitch my table received for membership in the nonprofit activity. As dinner began, a very attractive volunteer for one of the organizations seated herself at our table, and, sipping beer, extolled the virtues of her group with great encouragement for us to join. After a bit more beer, her extolment flipped to the virtues of the men such membership attracted—loudly pointing out, in fact, a nearby guest who'd joined, well, her at this same party last year (up against a wall of this very school, it turned out, and with nary a sign-up sheet in hand). More beer, and our passionate hostess was bidding on a raffle prize for a private tour of Mt. Tam's back roads, described as being led by "stalwart young rangers" of the Marin Fire department ("Orgy!" she shrieked).

By the time I left, our saucy salesperson had one new male enrollee whispering in her ear, another tugging her arm for a whirl on the dance floor, and another at our table yelping "Me next!" Sold!

For more info, contact Marin Agricultural Land Trust (www.malt.org), Marin Farmers Markets (www.marinfarmersmarket.org) and Marin Organic (www.marinorganic.org)


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