The Heady Love Affair of Figs

Every now and then, I fall in love with a food. Sometimes from a restaurant, like Joules Duck Pastrami Fried Rice, or TnT Taqueria’s Brisket taco, or Paseo’s #2 Cuban sandwich. Sometimes from the kitchen of a friend, like a homemade batch of applesauce, or a particularly good staff meal at the end of service at the restaurant.

And then, sometimes, rarely, there are the love affairs. An intense, all consuming passionate, can’t-get-enough-of-you-love. Its pleasure is brief, limited by seasons, sunlight, and destiny, but it sure is ecstasy at its most finest when it hits.IMG00004-20100821-1406

I’ll let you in on a secret – I’m having such a love affair with figs right now. It started with an obscure Google search of figs. It was then, with that happenstance search, I stumbled upon a mention of a dish (written in French no less, which I do not speak, or read, or write) for Beignets de Figues. I scoured the internet for an English version of the recipe, my anticipation mounting, my quest for more, building. It became an obsession, much like how a love affair starts. When I could not find a suitable version, I returned to the French recipe  for what promised to be a luscious adventure. I hit Google’s translate button on the French-written recipe, did a few measuring conversions, and headed to Pike Place Market for a flat of figs. (This is a love affair – all good sense was gone and I sure wouldn’t settle for a mere pint of the decadent globes of gorgeous purple flesh). Once I had acquired my the little jewels, I hurried home, eager with the anticipation of unwrapping the case, delving deep into my extensive pantry for the perfect ingredients. I was no longer following the confines of the recipe I’d searched for and translated, I was going rogue, unbridled enthusiasm daring me to experiment. The anticipation of the end-result building along with my curiosity.

I gently rolled the soft flesh of the delicate figs between the tips of my fingers, then ran the knife gently through the figs, revealing petulant pink flesh. Baring the inner flesh of the figs was akin to slowly undressing before a lover, or maybe it was too much of Robin Thicke’s “Can U Believe” playing over the speakers, that set such a seductive mood for this exploratory tryst of sorts.

One of the ingredients I have in my expansive pantry are cases of Jack Daniel’s Whiskey since it is a key ingredient in my Succulent Grill Sauce (another story for another day.) On the stove, I brought a touch of sugar and the whiskey to a slow boil, adding the sliced figs once the liquid reached a thick, syrupy consistency. I cooked the figs for just a few minutes, retaining a touch of firmness to their texture, and then pulled them from the heat, letting them steep in the syrup. I turned my attention to the beignet batter that I had translated.

The batter came together very quickly and I let it sit for about 10 minutes, while I brought the oil to temperature. I gently lifted each fig and slowly dipped it in the batter, letting the excess drip off. I lowered the fig into the hot oil and let them cook for just a few minutes, until the batter just started to turn golden brown. I pulled the hot fig from the pot with a slotted spoon. I set the first fig on a paper towel to drain. Unable to contain myself, I took a bite of the decadent morsel. The pleasure of the bite was everything I’d anticipated, and more. I couldn’t wait to try another, so I repeated the process, dipping them in the creamy batter, cooking to a golden brown, letting them rest on paper towel and then popping them in my mouth.

It was on the third, or maybe fourth fig, it occurred to me that Seductive’s Vintage Port Syrup would be the perfect mate for these fig beignets. I eagerly searched Seductive’s fridge for the container of Mascarpone. I emptied the container into a small bowl and pour about two tablespoons of Seductive’s Vintage Port Syrup into the cream and whisked them together.

I cooked two more figs and christened each beignet with a dollop of the Vintage Port Syrup Mascarpone cream, and I knew I had reached the pinnacle of pleasure. Starting a morning with these beignets would be the equivalent of sex in the morning. Luscious and satiating.

The clandestine affair is out in the open now…

~Chef Traci

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