12 September, 2010

Gettin' figgy widdit.

On any given Sunday in this period in between high summer and the cooling autumn there are still festivals and events galore, with the added bonus that most of the tourists have headed home. The locals come to the forefront, in full eccentricity, dogs in tow. Have you ever seen a three-wheeler motorcycle with spousal and canine seating? I can now say that I have. In Uzes, the event of the day centered around donkeys (purebred, natch, from the Provence) and plants. Free rides for the kiddos, in the hopes of luring buyers for the sweetly curious quadripeds. Buy at least two, lest they get lonely...
The sun is still in force, but the first leaves have begun to drop from the dehydrated plane trees.
To avoid our own dehydration, a leisurely stop for a noisette, before the plant browsing begins in earnest. A matter of pacing, you know.
Then there's day-dreaming over exotic chutneys and jams...
Yes, you read right: clementine and gingerbread, rose petal, apricot/peach/melon, and bananas flambee. So many flavors, so little time to experiment with my own variations...
I was taken by this hibiscus cocinea, purportedly able to withstand temperatures as low as -15 C/5 F. Are you familiar with it? Is it the time I've spent in Amsterdam that makes me think the leaves look smokeable?
If you aren't in the mood for marijuana, how about some "love in a cage"?
This is more my speed, to fill up those gaps as the deciduous plants begin to drop their leaves.I've all the herbs I need at home (or at least all the ones that can grow in my garden). Except garlic, I still buy that. What's more, the figs are ripening beautifully (from the tree the crows haven't been scavenging).After consulting the latest Elle à table, I pick the ripest figs for a quick, sumptuous noonday dessert: figs poached in lemon balm and muscat, which I served atop some velvety fromage blanc. In the original recipe, the figs are served as a dessert soup; I dialed down the sugar and turned up the lemon balm.If you can't find lemon balm, fresh, slightly crushed rosemary would make a charming substitute. Lacking any fresh herbs, you could add a few drops of a good vanilla extract (say a 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon) and a few grinds of fresh ground black pepper...The figs can also be served with a good vanilla bean ice cream or a slice of pound cake, with perhaps a smidgen of mascarpone, just to be decadent... The poaching liquid quickly takes a deep blush from the purple figs--and a fabulously figgy taste--so much so that I used the extra sauce to make fig kirs, using white wine. Here's to Sundays that still feel like the best of summer!
Figues pochées à la mélisse (Figs Poached in Lemon Balm and Muscat)
1 kg figs
2 cups Muscat or other sweet wine
100 g sugar
1 cinnamon stick
very generous handful of lemon balm

Having added the sugar and cinnamon stick, reduce the wine by half over a high flame. Lower the heat and add the whole figs and lemon balm, allow them to simmer gently for ten minutes. Clip the hard tips from the figs before serving; slice if desired. May be eaten warm or chilled.


  1. Tammy,
    Your photos are beautiful. And now I have more ideas for what to do with all the figs before they crack open on the tree enticing all the birds. Maybe you can tell me what you think happened to my fig tree....a month ago all the leaves turned yellow and fell off. It had already produced ripe, delicious figs before this but then after the 'fall' it produced even more. Strange?

  2. Oh Aidan, there are so many great and easy things to do with figs--roasting's another excellent way to go:

    As for your tree, what is the exposition? Northerly? Did it get too much rain in an unexpected summer storm? Is it in a pot?

  3. Ohhhhh....that looks SO GOOD. I loooove figs in all forms. Wishing I had a tree of my own!

  4. I love your phrase...
    'Then there's day-dreaming over exotic chutneys and jams...'
    I could not count the hours spent doing that...
    Merci for a wonderful post and for stopping by.
    You are a delight.

  5. What a naughty recipe...
    '4. Place them upright in a roasting pan,(the figs of course) splaying them out shamelessly as you go. Pour the liquid over each one. Roast for 15 minutes.
    No wonder the video is NOT available for the USA...

  6. Dear Rose,
    Get thyself to a garden center--stat!

    Oh Carol, you made me burst out laughing. Where is your mind this Monday? Honest John, the video's quite tame, even if the wordage of the recipe is less so...

  7. A downtown donkey festival - I LOVE it! They're darling. Somebody once told me that they thought our little brown jack, Donkey Doodle Dandy, looked like a French donkey, but the ones in your photos have the looks (and the ears!) of our girls, Daphne and Dolores, who look nothing like little Dan. Thanks for the smile. What a wonderful place to spend a Sunday! :)

  8. Hi Susan,
    I know! I love those ears, and the showy markings. There had to be at leat a hundred of them. The little kids were pretty blissed out...Thanks for stopping by!

  9. Tammy, the recipe looks delicious. And great idea for the kir! Last night I prepared a little phylo pastry...about 5 layers, cut it into squares, added a slice of fig, a slice of not-too-strong-chevre, sprinkled a little sea salt over the top, made them into little packages, baked for 10 minutes and voila. Served with a salad for lunch or as an apero. Wonderful...but I still have a box of my neighbors figs left. Gotta get busy!

  10. oh and by the way, how can I subscribe to your blog by email?

  11. Thanks for visiting Delana! I have some phyllo waiting in the refrigerator, so another thanks for jogging my memory! Your baked figs sound excellent--as a twist you can consider drizling a bit of honey over them after baking...I've got the latest basketful on my kitchen table. Now I just have to figure out what to make (no adult-sized guests around, so your apero's not an option this week).

    I've moved the subscribe bar up to the top of the page, so it's more visible. Hope that helps--and thanks for subscribing!


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