Cookbook celebrates county-grown foods

Wide variety of San Mateo seafood and produce featured in upcoming culinary volume

BURLINGAME — If “culinary hot spot” doesn’t jump to mind when you think of the Peninsula, a soon-to-be published cookbook featuring locally grown produce and seafood prepared by area chefs aims to change all that.

Due out Nov. 15, the “San Mateo County Fresh As It Gets Cookbook” will feature dishes such as roasted pumpkin risotto, seared halibut and fresh figs with rosemary goat cheese — all of which are produced locally and can be found in area restaurants when in season, according to Anne LeClair, president and CEO of the San Mateo County Visitor and Convention Bureau.

LeClair and Jack Olsen, of the county Farm Bureau, have led the Fresh As It Gets program since its launch in January 2005. They hope to bring more tourism to the county while promoting locally grown produce and seafood, Olsen said.

“I’m very, very excited about the cookbook coming out,” Olsen said. “We’ll be using this as part of our marketing effort, including living a healthy lifestyle,” he said, citing locally grown artichokes, Brussels sprouts and salmon as health foods.

From pumpkins at Daylight Farms to the renowned goat cheese of Harley Farms, both in Pescadero, to Dungeness crabs from the Pacific, the cookbook will tempt taste buds with 130 recipes using such ingredients as mushrooms, artichokes, strawberries, crab and salmon, officials said.

“All these things are grown in a part of the county that not everyone knows about, even the locals,” LeClair said.

“We do our best to use all locally grown products,” said Half Moon Bay Brewery Executive Chef John Brown, a featured chef in the book. A subscriber to the “slow food” movement — which views food as the center of community and emphasizes the connection between the environment and what people eat — Brown said the cookbook could help bring increased recognition to the county, which so far has been overshadowed by places like Napa and Monterey.

“I think it will draw more attention here because San Mateo County is kind of a sleeper county,” Brown said. This month, for example, diners at the brewery can enjoy fresh pumpkin and crab bisque, he said.

Besides promoting restaurants that use local ingredients and hopefully sparking the public to follow suit with the cookbook, Fresh As It Gets will lead its first public tour of local coastal farms, a winery and the Pillar Point docks next month, LeClair said. It’s a tour she hopes will be the first of many more in the spring.

The first run of the book will be 1,000 copies, costing $4,000, said Anne LeClair, president and CEO of the San Mateo County Visitor and Convention Bureau. Included in the book will be an insert of fruit stands and farms where locals and visitors can find the freshest seasonal products, LeClair said.

ecarpenter@examiner.com

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