Saturday, October 4, 2014

Figs... and a sunny good-bye to Summer.

Swooooooooosh!!!  And Summer is over.  Technically, at least.  Luckily the weather has been pampering Parisians lately, allowing for a mild, warm and sunny transition into Fall.  At daytime you still get fooled into thinking it's vacation season by the hot days, cloudless blue sky and liberating feeling of wearing short sleeves and sandals.  But the chilly mornings and Fall colors -- slowly yet decidedly starting to dominate parks and gardens -- tell you change is on its way.

I moved to Paris nearly a year ago and have been falling more and more in love with the city every day.  Summer in Paris was nearly idyllic.  Despite the continuos tourist invasions, the city slows down significantly, takes a step back, relaxes and breathes in the vacation spirit.  I quickly learned to avoid the crowded tourist spots, and explored what the warm weather had to offer in this amazing place.  Picnics in small, secluded parks, drinks on charming terraces, sunbathing near the Seine or water fountains, warm evenings watching the Eiffel Tower twinkle in the dark, while picnicking on the grass with good wine and amazing baguettes.  I miss these days already...

Another thing I enjoy so much about Paris are little shops and markets.  In particular those selling fresh fruit and vegetables.  They offer an abundance of seasonal, local produce, packed with color and flavors.  Being a big veggie/fruit enthusiast, I missed that so much before moving to France, and couldn't be happier after having found it here.  I also learned to "eat by the season", and started buying whatever was "in" at the time.  And so came the sweet and fresh strawberries, juicy cherries, mouthwatering watermelons, ripe plums and most recently -- FIGS.  

I have always been a fan of figs - both dried and fresh.  But I've never had such delicious, flavorful and beautiful fresh figs as the ones I bought here.  So as you can imagine -- I found my food heaven.  At a close-by market, they sell both purple and light green figs - the purple ones are my favorite kind.  Once you cut them open, you discover an exquisite deep-red treasure, elegantly lined with a white hem.  Their taste is sweet and refined, and complemented by a unique texture.

Taking advantage of the good weather and delicious figs, I prepared this quick fig and goat cheese salad and went out for a picnic in the park just next to my house.  The salad is very simple and has a great combination of flavors.  I love pairing figs with goat cheese - this is a perfect match.  Adding pine nuts, a crunchy and fresh salad mix, and honey-lime-balsamic dressing works as the ideal background for the two stars of the dish.  We paired it with a fresh, buttered baguette -- and a lazy Sunday afternoon, enjoying the sun, nature and life.  

Tempted to try it out too?

  • 8 large fresh figs
  • Small roll of goat cheese (approx. 100 g) - rather firm than soft
  • Package of salad mix (e.g. arugula, lamb's lettuce, radicchio)
  • 60 g pine nuts
  • 3 tbps walnut oil (or olive oil)
  • 1 tbsp liquid honey
  • 1 tbsp crema di balsamico
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • Salt & pepper (optional).

  • Wash and dry lettuce.
  • Wash and cut figs in 4, add to the lettuce.
  • Cut goat cheese in large-ish chunks.  Add to salad.
  • Toast pine nuts in a dry pan (watch out they don't burn).  Add to salad.
  • Prepare vinaigrette: whisk oil, balsamico, lime juice and honey together.  Season to taste and add more of whichever ingredient you think it needs to taste.
  • Drizzle vinaigrette over the salad, toss lightly but thoroughly.  Serve immediately, with bread and white wine.

Bon appetit!

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