Plop … then chatter, chatter, chatters from a mob of Starlings devouring sweet fruit that’s splattered all over the stones on the patio; that was a regular occurrence every fall as the fig tree in our former backyard got heavier with fruit. There were times, especially after the rains began, that it seemed like just a slimy mess leaving sticky, blackish stains everywhere.
One summer hubby tried to cut the tree down, but it just kept growing back. I think it had more lives than a cat.
Now mind you, the cutting down was not my idea. I do like figs, but as many as grew, well it was a bit of an over kill, much like growing more than a couple of zucchini plants. Pretty soon people don’t want to look you in the eye because making eye contact means you’ll take those lake monster sized zucchini.
I don’t live in that little house any more or with that prolific fig tree. I miss picking a few as a snack while hanging out in the backyard. But I’m not one to have a pity party, crying over spilt figs; that’s what markets are for, right?
These confection-like pets of Newton notoriety are available year round as a dried fruit, but this is the time of year to be indulging on the fresh darlings. Whether you are fortunate enough to have a tree in your yard or shopping at a local market, look for fruit that is tender and gives to a gentle squeeze. Eat these luscious beauties within a day or two as they have a short fresh shelf-life.
Living in the Pacific Northwest, I’m one lucky girl. Figs grow, as I mentioned above. Maybe, a bit profusely at times, but what the heck, they’re good and good for you. The type that refused to go away in my yard was the bottle green Kadota. When you break these figs open a creamy, delicate interior is revealed. I’m pleased with the slight crunch you get from the tiny seeds.
A couple of other common varieties in my corner of Eden are Brown Turkey figs with their dark brownish purple skin and robust flavored pink flesh; and the earthy, intensely flavored Black Mission figs with their show-off salmon pink center.
Now the conundrum: What to do with all of the figgy goodness. Let me suggest copious amounts of simply consuming the flat-bottomed orbs. Beyond that, break open and smudge with really good blue cheese. May I suggest Rogue Creamery’s Blues? One of my picks is Oregonzola. It’s smooth and creamy, sweet and savory all at the same time. But, go for your favorite. There’s something spectacular about the pucker of blue with the honey of the figs. Opposites do attract.
Roasting figs opens up a whole new world. Pork smothered with garlic and thyme with onions and figs cuddle up to it…well, why am I not having this tonight? The answer would be a pot of white beans has been simmering all afternoon; equally heavenly, just in a different way.
For a quick dinner tonight, try dressing up a grilled cheese sandwich. Choose hearty bread and spread with whole-grain mustard, add slices of Manchego or Gruyere cheese. Top with pieces of fresh figs. Grill until toasted and cheese is bubbly. Fix a salad and there you have it.
I tell you, I am missing my fig tree, Missy