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Food Secrets of a Writer and Litquake Co-Founder: Jane Ganahl

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Jane Ganahl
Photo by Chris Hardy

Half Moon Bay is home to writer Jane Ganahl, who has nearly three decades of journalism experience. Ganahl is also widely known for her hand in helping create one of the most successful lit events in the Bay Area. In 1999, she and Jack Boulware co-founded a literary festival called Litquake over beers at The Edinburgh Castle, in the Tenderloin. Today, Litquake has grown into the largest fest of its kind on the West Coast and will feature more than 500 authors during a nine day run that starts on October 1st. Programming includes local and international writers and poets, youth programs, and topics ranging from science, religion, surf lit, "Hollywood Hell", and the intriguingly titled Fairy Tale Noir.

Ganahl wrote the novelized memoir, "Naked on the Page: the Misadventures of My Unmarried Midlife" (Viking), which Elle magazine described as "[Ganahl's] dating escapades are daring and delicious, but also emotionally profound." She has also covered City Hall, pop culture for both the San Francisco Chronicle and San Francisco Examiner newspapers, and is currently a freelance writer who is considered an expert on the field of single life. She edited the 2009 anthology "Single Woman of a Certain Age: Romantic Escapades, Empty Nests, Shifting Shapes… and Serene Independence" (New World Library), which featured writing from Joyce Maynard, Merrill Markoe, April Sinclair, Wendy Merrill, and others. A radio show is in the works, and the "Naked" book was optioned for a TV series. She grew up in the town of Woodside, and has lived in Half Moon Bay for years. Her picks for eating spots were shared via email interview.

In Half Moon Bay, Ganahl likes Chez Shea, for "great regional ingredients and international dishes. Inexpensive. I love the hummus and vegetables." When the craving for sushi hits, she heads to Sushi Main Street, which boasts "fabulous decor, reasonable prices. This place has become a destination spot for my friends from SF. Their Half Moon Bay roll (artichokes and avocado) is awesome." For drinks, Ganahl enjoys San Benito House, which she describes as an "old cowboy bar with comfy booths and good beer." As a busy freelance writer, Ganahl cheers New Leaf Community Market in Half Moon Bay. "I shall say that my life was much improved by [New Leaf's] opening a couple of years ago. WOW -- fabulous organic and local foods, and a great deli and to-go bar. I'm so busy that the to-go bar has become a good friend. Their turkey meatloaf and risotto and butternut squash cakes are to die for."

Date night options make for some tough decisions for Ganahl, who says, it's a "tie between Cetrella for their weekend live jazz in their bar (I order their vegetable fritto misto, which is excellent), and an afternoon at Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society in Miramar, also for jazz and a fabulous ocean view!" For a guilty local food pleasure, Ganahl goes to an oldie but goodie: "Sitting at the counter on weekend mornings for avocado benedict at Main Street Grill -- open for only breakfast and lunch. A plus is that the cook sings at top volume, often frightening the tourists."


Mary Ladd has volunteered and done event work for Litquake, and has a husband who is on the Advisory Board.

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