Several of the guest authors appearing at the Sonoma County Book Festival this Saturday have mined California's rich tradition of food and drink in order to create some tasty non-fiction.
Among these are Hank Shaw of Sacramento, author of the cutting-edge cookbook "Hunt, Gather, Cook," aimed at culinary adventurers with a rifle in one hand and a sausage attachment in the other.
Then there's Ken Weaver of Santa Rosa, an amateur hophead whose new book, "The Northern California Craft Beer Guide," whisks readers off to some of the best craft breweries in the land.
We talked to both writers in an effort to provide a taste of the literary feast to come this weekend.
Shaw, who will speak at
1 p.m. at Corrick's store, grew up picking beach plums and digging clams every summer on Block Island, just south of Rhode Island's coast.
"I've been foraging and fishing since I could walk," Shaw said. "It's part of our family's culture."
A journalist for 18 years, Shaw learned to hunt while working as a reporter for the St. Paul Pioneer Press. In 2007, he started a blog called Hunter Angler Gardener Cook (honest-food.net), which was nominated for a James Beard award.
The blog landed him a deal for his first cookbook, "Hunt, Gather, Cook," published in 2011 by Rodale. The cookbook is now in its third printing and is coming out in paperback next month.
"I have a very big readership in California," he said. "All I have to do here is to drive two hours, and I can get into some really interesting habitats."
Here in Sonoma County, Shaw offers seaside foraging courses that help adventurers identify wild edibles such as fennel, New Zealand spinach, wild roses, blackberries, edible seaweeds and huckleberries.
"Wild huckleberries are ripe right now," he said. "The evergreen huckleberry looks a little bit like a boxwood ... they are cousins of blueberries."
If you like to fish, the albacore are running off the coast, and lingcod have been biting, he reports. In the winter, you can find mussels and dig for clams with a license, but be prepared to work for the clams.
"They can be a foot and a half down," he said.
For those who just want to get started on foraging, Shaw said the best place to start is your own back yard.
"That is the gateway to the greater knowledge of the greater world," he said. "You'd be surprised to know what edibles live in the corners of your property."
But it's important to get a guidebook, take a class and do your homework, so you can be 100 percent sure of what you're eating.
Now devoted full-time to foraging and writing, Shaw has a second cookbook on duck and geese due out next fall from Ten Speed Press.
On Saturday, Shaw will talk about the recent phenomenon of authors who leverage their blogs into books.
"It's becoming less of a novelty and more of a requirement," he said. "Publishers are looking for people who already have an audience to sell a book to."
Ken Weaver of Santa Rosa, speaking at 3:15 p.m. Saturday at La Rosa Tequileria and Grille, received a master of fine arts degree in creative writing from the University of Maryland, but he first got into beer while getting his master of science degree in physics from Cornell University.