Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Enchanted Fresh Fig

Last Wednesday I had my first harvest of figs, or brebas as they call it. It seems appropriate, as it was almost perfectly six months after I began this blog. Happy six month oh Enchanted Fig!

I haven't written much about figs yet because it didn't seem right unless I had a picture of the gorgeous, fleshy, sensual fruits to share. Well as I said, the brebas is here,so here is the much awaited photo(s):

A plate of Black Mission and Kadotta figs.
Note that the greenish ones are the same ones below
with purple insides. So beautiful.

For some reason, figs mean summer for me. They mean indulgence and beauty and home. In fact, it was the sight of a basket of fresh figs that made me suddenly agree to move back to California. I had just picked them up at the grocery store, and, not wanting to bruise them, I nestled them in the stroller beside my (then) newborn baby's little legs. As I was pushing the stroller up the hill to our home I randomly looked down. Through the flap on the awning of the stroller I could see the basket, a perfectly framed vision of figs. And all of the sudden I thought, "Oh! Figs, beautiful figs. I can move--I can move back to the heat. All shall be well."

Just like that.

I am yet unclear why exactly figs are cosmically connected to California for me. My first taste of fresh fig was actually in northern Germany at a farmers' market. I was eighteen and working for a few months at a family-style youth hostel in exchange for room and board. It was more like early spring than mid summer there, much like my experience of Vancouver. And I was very lonely. The only one my age around was Thomas, a twenty-four-year-old stout man who was kind enough to talk to me in English, but quiet enough for me to need a good three years to get to know. He routinely called vegetables wedgie-tables, a common Germanism, but that is what I now remember of him. That, and he did not much like my cooking. (Note: my cooking at the time consisted of a failed attempt at instant pudding--a lifelong issue--and another not-so-wonderful attempt at cooking mushrooms and eggplant together, with a lot of oil and a lot of salt. I do not blame the poor man. It was awful!)

My point? I only started having figs in California after I moved back from Germany. But since then I have become so attached to figs in their season that once, on a visit here during summer I cried eating my the first fig. I cried. And had a vision later not of the Virgin Mary, not of Jesus, no, I moved back to California because I saw figs. What else can I say?

So today, in honor of fresh figs, I give you my first fresh fig recipe. I looked around for ways to prepare fresh figs and there seems to be little out there in the way of recipes. Why? Likely it is because fresh figs are so luxurious as they are, so perfect in my own opinion, most recipes are about slicing them in half and serving as is on a platter (think David Tanis' recent book) or wrapping them in a thin pink strip of prosciutto.

The world has it right. Fresh figs should be showcased. Unless you have a tree in your backyard (in which case I hope you ask me over for a picking party), you might not want to do much else than just eat them. This appetizer recipe is perfect for this purist perspective. It is very simple, very straightforward. It is barely a recipe, but the combination of the tangy goat cheese, the deep herbiness of the sage, and the light sweetness of the fig and honey are worth going that extra step with your figs.

Fig and Goat Cheese Crostini

I use the pan-fry method here for crostini-making, but if you have a small toaster oven and if you like your crostini crunchier than toasty and soft, then by all means, bake them! Make sure to bake on both sides.

1 baguette, sliced diagonally 1/3-1/2 inch thick
fresh goat cheese
fresh sage, cut diagonally into thin ribbons
1 basket fresh, ripe, honey figs (I used Kadotta)
raw honey

Butter both sides of the toasts, making only as much as will be consumed at the serving. Toast in a heavy-bottomed pan like a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until golden. Transfer to a platter and let cool. On each toast spread about a teaspoon of goat cheese (or more! depending on the size of the toast), top with sage and 1/8 of a fig, and drizzel with a titch of honey. Place on a pretty platter to serve at a party, or eat standing up in the kitchen while making dinner. Pair with a dry white wine. Enjoy!


  1. I've been having a bowl of figs with yogurt and honey for breakfast. The only other fresh fig recipe I know of is one an old housemate used to make involving goat cheese and caramelized onions. I think maybe she just plopped a bit of cheese and a spoonful of the long-cooked, soft onions on top of a ripe half-fig.

  2. Amanda, that is funny! But have at it. Creative commons indeed. I adapted my own recipe from someone else's recipe for grilled cheese (cinnamon raisin bread, fig preserves, julienned basil, in this case, and goat cheese - it will make you sink down to your toes, in a good way). I like the fig wedges - much prettier than preserves.