Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Figgling with Delight

Figs are the truffles of the fruit world.  Musky.  Intense.  Highly suggestive.  Over the top.  The object of animal lust and cultish devotion.  Disturbingly delicious.  And, lamentably, only available in their prime for a brief period of time each year....

But that time is now, fig lovers!  Lusciously plump juicy Mission figs are falling off the trees in Napa right now, into the slavering mouths of their admirers.  I've been remiss in my fig worship this year, probably because of the late ripening, but I finally got to stuff myself with them recently at one of the Soup Week dinner parties.  And the inspiration for this post was born...

While officially the evening was celebrating soup (Chef Robin White's carrot soup with blood orange and ginger cream, to be exact), I was caught in the thrall of the chevre-stuffed neighborhood figs the hostess had roasted as a pre-dinner snack.  The roasting had amplified the rich caramel sweetness of the fruit, and massaged the flesh into a state of delectable submission, barely able to constrain the warm cloud of goat cheese within.  A teasing drizzle of honey and quick cuddle with the rosemary sprigs brought them over the edge... and right into my mouth.

I like to believe that no one knew how two-thirds of the figs wound up in one-tenth of the visitors' stomachs (until now), but I suspect I was not as stealthy as I imagined.

The final one-third of the figs, with which I had studiously avoided eye contact throughout the meal, turned out to be the star of our impromptu do it yourself dessert, dashing my (very tiny) inner Puritan's prayers that there would be no more depravity that night.  A pint of vanilla ice cream, a pile of spoons, and the surviving figs--which by this time had been bathing in their honeyed fig juices for well over an hour--proved to be all we needed for an outrageously delicious and satisfying finale.

Despite the spartan figginess of the picture above, this dessert was a fig-lover's dream.  Step one: scoop modest mouthful of vanilla ice cream onto individual spoon, ideally in fancy quenelle-shape.  Step two: select a succulent cheese stuffed fig and nestle it into the ice cream on the spoon, being careful to ensure no honey/fig juice is lost in transit.  Step three:

Unhinging one's jaw isn't strictly necessary, but it certainly helps accommodate overeager ice cream scoops and girthy figs.  Plus it makes for good party pictures.

Thanks, Linda and Quent, for indulging my figgish ways at your house.  Call me if you get another crop of your neighbor's figs... I've thought of a few more things I'd like to try.