“To eat figs off the tree in the very early morning, when they have been barely touched by the sun, is one of the exquisite pleasures of the Mediterranean.”
Elizabeth David, An Omelette & a Glass of Wine
Figs do look so exotic, they lure you in, succulent & sweet. Good friends with cured meats to deliver a little salty & sweet or alongside some mascarpone or creme fraiche for a fresh dessert or perhaps the piece de resistance next to little blue cheese to finish off a meal with a good glass of red. However I have always found them to be little bit of a let down, that is until this weekend.
I have just returned from 4 days in the Hawke’s Bay to celebrate a dear, dear friends birthday & what a wonderful few days it was, more on that later. Suffice to say laughter, wine & good food all featured, not to mention glorious sunshine & some spectacular NZ scenery.
Lunch on Saturday was at Ten24 & it was perfect. An idyllic few hours with exciting & exceptional food, delectable wines & great company. If you are in the Hawke’s Bay you must check it out as Kent Baddley is dishing up some quite wonderful food.
And to start a little trio of amuse bouche. In the middle snails on tapenade, by a country mile the best snails I have ever eaten & on the right a creamy white beetroot soup, the rosemary adding just the right amount of piney herbness. It was that little bright pink fig on the left that converted me to the wonders of the fig. Just look at it? It was sweet & fresh & finally I met a fig that delivered on all expectations.
So that brings me nicely to this salad for this week’s pot luck Ottolenghi at IHCCs. Again a handful of ingredients come to together in the tastiest way.
Fresh Figs with Manchego & Honey, adapted from Ottolenghi the Cookbook
Quite perfect on it's own or along side some grilled chicken. Ottolenghi makes it with young pecorino but I had manchego to hand. Blue cheese would also work a treat & I am thinking maybe a few toasted walnuts wouldn’t go a miss.
3 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive oil
2 tbsp Honey
Salt & pepper
Ripe green or black figs
For the dressing whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice & honey. Season to taste. Scatter the rockets & basil leaves over a platter. Cut the figs in to quarters & place over the top. Shave over some shards of manchego & drizzle over the dressing. Add a little more pepper & serve immediately.
These figs weren’t perfection, but I am a convert & against the peppery rocket, the sweet honey & the manchego it was a tasty salad.