Getting “Figgy” With It
“I am sure that in the story of Adam and Eve, the forbidden fruit was a fig and not an apple, pear or anything else.” —Yotam Ottolenghi
The delectable and sweet fig is a small but powerful vehicle for the taste buds. This fall, as the harvest rolls in, this luscious fruit takes the spotlight in the San Diego culinary world. The most famous variety is the Black Mission fig (introduced to California in 1768 when Franciscan missionaries planted it in San Diego), along with the golden Calimyrna, Sierra and Brown Turkey. Figs are beneficial to the diet as a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin B6, copper, potassium, manganese and pantothenic acid.
San Diego business Jackie’s Jams works with local farms including JR Organics, People’s Plus, and Suzie’s to produce a variety of distinctive jams. Look for their Balsamic Fig and Truffle Fig, part of the Baron Family Reserve line from Jam Master Dave.
Fig jams, compotes and marmalades take center stage in San Diego’s restaurants. At True Food Kitchen a fresh fig compote accompanies their Moroccan half chicken; Vintana Wine & Dine in Escondido incorporates a fig jam in their smoked chicken salad sandwich; and BObeau Kitchen & Bar features a Beaujolais fig and shallot marmalade on their filet mignon burger.
Sweet figs find a salty counterpart in proscuitto in several San Diego locales. At Flour & Barley in Seaport Village, the prosciutto and fig appetizer is crafted with arugula, shaved parmesan and a drizzle of lemon oil. At CUCINA urbana, the fig and prosciutto pizza with burrata and basil makes a resilient comeback this fall.
Indigo Grill, 100 Wines & Kitchen and OB Warehouse all have fig flatbreads on the menu, with the latter incorporating cognachoney roasted pears, blue cheese, Mission fig jam, mozzarella, arugula and honey white balsamic vinaigrette. Fig fanatics can head to Temecula Olive Oil Company to grab a bottle of Vanilla & Fig balsamic vinegar and soak it up with the famous fig bread from Bread & Cie. Pizzas and flatbreads aside, even gluten-free folks can relish the fig harvest. At Herringbone La Jolla, Pastry Chef Becky Kastelz has a gluten-free date cake served with a fig preserve, fig salsa and toasted almond ice cream.
The vibrant cocktail culture in San Diego is known for using fresh ingredients from the farmers’ markets and rotating its menu for seasonal fruits and vegetables. Don’t miss these mouthwatering figgy local concoctions:
Notorious FIG, Saltbox: This clever cocktail is a perennial favorite featuring Milagro Reposado, fig-infused sherry, chili pepper, maple syrup and black walnut bitters.
The Smoked Fig, AVANT at Rancho Bernardo Inn: This gorgeous cocktail is composed of Maker’s Mark whiskey, fresh fig and rosemary syrup and charred rosemary from the on-property garden.
The Woodsman, Island Prime and C Level: A comforting fall cocktail of Maker’s Mark, B&B, honey liqueur, orange bitters, fig syrup (made with brown sugar and lemon), ginger and garnished with a dried fig.
Craft beer lovers, never fear: The beloved Ficus from Mike Hess Brewing (8.3% ABV) will be on tap this fall. This yummy Belgian Dark Ale is everything you are looking for with 10 pounds of organic Brown Turtle figs per barrel. Stone Brewing fans, watch for Mixtape Ale vol. 15 (on tap only), which contains figs and plums and is dry hopped with Hallertau Blanc.
No matter how you enjoy your figs, it’s going to be a bountiful, delicious harvest here in San Diego.