Fig Season is Here!
The season for California figs has begun! To celebrate, I attended a dinner at Maialino Restaurant in NYC which featured figs in every course from appetizer to dessert. While you cannot go wrong with a sweet plump fig wrapped in prosciutto, or stuffed with Gorgonzola, the menu was an eye opener as far as creative ways to cook and serve figs.
Crostini topped with ricotta and sliced figs were among the starters followed by a salad of tiny Gem lettuce leaves, black Mission figs, walnuts and pecorino cheese with an olive oil and vinegar dressing. The salad was a study in contrasting flavors and textures, with sweet figs and salty cheese, tender lettuce and crunchy walnuts. Definitely a salad I’ll be making and eating a lot this summer.
Karla Stockli of the California Fig Board explained that the figs we were eating were from the first crop of the season, known as the breba crop. They were large and sweet, though the second crop, which appears later in the season, will be even more plentiful and flavorful.
Our next course consisted of tortelli, round ravioli stuffed with pork and chicken livers and drizzed with balsamic vinegar, butter, almonds and of course figs, followed by perfectly seared lamb chops with an “agrodolce,” sweet and sour accompaniment of dried golden and black figs with balsamic vinegar and red onion. Assorted vegetables accompanied the lamb, but the the slow roasted carrots topped with figs and pistachios had us swooning. A great leap forward in the annals of carrot cookery!
The meal ended with honey gelato topped with figs poached in red wine syrup and hazelnut brittle. My only regret was that I could not eat it all. The chef also brought out platters of ripe figs drizzled with vincotto. I packed up a takeout container full and the next day turned them into a small batch of tangy jam. You will find the recipe posted previously on this blog at http://wp.me/sEB1A-figs. We have been eating it for breakfast on whole wheat bread, and for dessert with a nice sharp cheese.
The California fig season is off to a great start. I can’t wait until more varieties like the golden green Calimyrna figs or the gorgeous striped figs known as Panache come into season later in the summer. I’ll be trying them plain or using them in recipes, like those on the California Fig Board website.