MICHAEL DAVIS PHOTO
Gettin’ figgy wit it: Arad Evans chef Brian Shore displays a plate of his Duck, Duck, Goose.
the ancient Greeks got in on the action, prizing the small fruits as a
sign of forthcoming fertility. For them, the arrival of a new crop
meant some serious baby making. While Central New York has yet to fall
into a coital ruckus over a fresh fig crop, the fruits still exude a
sexuality few foods can match, according to Shore.
American origins date back to Spanish missionary fathers who planted
the fruits at their San Diego mission in 1759. As the missionaries
traveled north to spread the word of God, so too did the fig tree.
Across the globe, there are some 80-plus varieties of figs, but in the
States, the aforementioned Black Mission fig, Calimyrna fig and LSU
purple and gold figs are some of the nation’s well-known varieties.
their use as an aphrodisiac, for which Shore says there are plenty,
figs are also one of the highest sources of calcium in the plant world.
In addition to calcium, figs are a good source of vitamin C, potassium
and phosphorus and are chocked full of antioxidants. Not to mention
they hold the highest fiber content of any dried or fresh fruit.
this earthiness and sexual aura that has made the fig one of the major
it accompaniments to dishes both on the higher and lower ends of the
culinary spectrum in recent memory. Even Shore admits that he has
noticed their growth in more basic dining establishments, attributing
their increased availability in the area to a smaller world as well as
Wegmans. Even Flora Italian Foods has gotten in on the act by producing
a fig vinegar.
Regardless of its trendiness,
the fig has always been a culinary mainstay and Shore has no intention
of ridding his menu of its savory taste. Currently, Shore serves figs
in a port wine reduction, with sugar and vinegar, which he strains
until all that remains is the fig’s fine syrup. It’s the hidden twist
of a dish he calls “Duck, Duck, Goose.”
doesn’t have a lot of fat in it,” he says. “The figs provide a
sweetness that, when accompanied with the tanginess of vinegar, creates
a sweet and sour taste that is a wonderful addition to any game or
Complementing that sweetness is a
seared boneless duck breast as well as the leg meat of the duck, which
Shore confits (slowly cooking meat, usually duck or goose in its own
fat) until the flesh is so moist that it falls off the bone. The dish
also features seared foie gras, confit risotto and sauteed baby spinach.
confit or foie gras are a level or two above your culinary aptitude,
Shore is quick to point out that figs go well with just about
everything: blue cheeses, most nuts, honey, mint, orange, peaches,
pears, prosciutto and thyme, among a slew of other flavors.
an easy recipe that highlights the savory taste and earthy feel of the
fig, Shore recommends that you take fresh figs and cut the tops off of
them. Then, take fresh gorgonzola cheese, combine it with chopped
walnuts and stuff the mixture into the figs. Bake them in a moderate
oven (350 degrees) for about five minutes, just until the cheese and
figs are warm. Plate neatly and serve the fruits as a great hors
Apple Fig Crumble
This recipe is courtesy of Family Features.
8 ounces figs, quartered and stems removed
3 tablespoons Marsala wine or water
3 large tart, crisp apples, peeled, cored and cut into thick slices
1 tablespoon flour
¼ tablespoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon butter
²/3 cup all purpose flour
¹/3 cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¹/8 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
oven to 350 degrees. Coat an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with cooking
spray. Place figs and Marsala in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover with
plastic wrap and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes.
Stir until most of the liquid is absorbed. Set aside.
apples in prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with flour and cinnamon, toss
to coat. Heat honey and butter until melted; drizzle over apples.
Arrange figs over apples. For topping, combine flour, sugars, cinnamon,
salt in a medium bowl; cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over
apples and figs. Bake 40 minutes or until topping is golden brown and
filling is bubbly. Serve warm.
Prosciutto, Fig and Goat Cheese Quesadillas
Recipe courtesy of www.foodnetwork.com.
8 flour tortillas, taco size
5 ounces creamy goat cheese
3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
4 figs, sliced
½ cup shredded Monterey jack cheese
a skillet large enough to fit tortillas or an electric griddle, heat 1
to 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium heat. Lay out 4
tortillas; spread each with goat cheese. Divide prosciutto and figs and
place on top of goat cheese. Top with jack cheese and remaining
tortillas. Fry both sides of quesadillas for 2 to 3 minutes or until
golden brown; turning with a large spatula. Garnish as directed.