A Taste of Two Cities

A Taste of Two Cities

Ten years ago, on a chilly late August evening, my husband and I were in a car, suitcases and a cat in tow, zipping across the Golden Gate Bridge. Moments earlier, our plane had touched down at SFO, and we were weary yet excited. We had arrived from Chicago, on one-way tickets, eager to start our life together in San Francisco.

At that time, if someone were to ask, “where are you from?” the response would be fairly longwinded. I would find myself saying, “Well, I was born and raised in New York, but just moved from Chicago, where I spent the last two years…”

For a while, I missed a lot of things from my hometown. Mostly family, friends and food. Whenever I would go back home (and this is still the case), my visits would be marked by eating marathons, to get tastes of the things I missed. On the list: pizza and gyros, hot dogs and falafel, crab meat soup dumplings, knishes with mustard, among many other things. I can’t forget bagels. Chewy, gnarly bagels, slathered thick with cream cheese and topped with thin slices of lox.

Somewhere along the way, I began to think of myself as a Californian. I’m not exactly sure when that happened, but now, I can’t imagine life without dungeness crabs, fresh avocados, artichokes, sourdough, wine, and figs. I can’t imagine living anywhere else.

I find myself with my heart and my stomach attached to two cities.

A few days ago, my daughter begged for some smoked salmon when we were at the market. When I got home, I found myself craving those bagels with lox, but I also could not wait to dig into a handful of fresh black figs.

So I put New York and San Francisco together.

Figs with Cream Cheese and Smoked Salmon, drizzled with Avocado Honey symbolizes the happy union of two amazing places, the sweetness of California with the savory bite of New York. This is a dish that requires the freshest figs and the highest quality smoked salmon you can find. If I had the patience, I might have roasted or grilled the figs, but I just couldn’t wait. My sentimental taste buds were calling.

Figs with Cream Cheese and Smoked Salmon, Avocado Honey

Make two cross-wise cuts into the top of the figs, about three-quarters of the way through. Place cream cheese into a piping bag or a zip lock bag with one corner tip cut (since I was in a rush, I used the latter method). Pipe about 1 teaspoon of cream cheese in each fig. Curl a slice of smoked salmon over each piece. Serve with a drizzle of a rich flavored honey.

If you choose to roast/grill the figs, make your cuts before grilling, grill the figs, then complete the assembly.

Comments

    • Liren

      Hi Donna! The avocado honey doesn’t quite taste like avocado, but it’s such a unique flavor. It’s rich, it’s almost smokey, it’s quite beautiful, actually! I hope you get to try it soon, it’s irresistible.

    • Liren

      Thanks, Steph! I love prosciutto with figs, and this is definitely a nice alternative!

    • Liren

      Hey, Mdivani! Thank you :) I know you relate well to this – be sure to eat for me when you go back home!

  1. Gitte

    Beautiul pictures and I can totally relate to having your heart in two different places.

    Reply
    • Liren

      It’s easy to fall in love with wonderful cities – I feel lucky to have been able to experience several great places to live and eat!

    • Liren

      It’s true, Carol, grilling the figs is so wonderful. Thankfully, these figs were so perfectly ripe, they did just fine w/o!

  2. Brian @ A Thought For Food

    What a fantastic recipe this is and a great personal story to go along with it. I’ve been to Chicago a couple of times and San Fransisco a bunch. I adore both cities (though I have a greater connection to SF), so I can see how you could be torn.

    Reply
    • Liren

      Hey Brian, yes, Chicago is another foodie town I have tasty memories of…there’s just great food everywhere! Well, almost everywhere :)

  3. Cristina

    What a wonderful combination of flavors, Liren! I’ve used pancetta w/figs and wondered if smoked salmon would be good too, and you’ve confirmed. Elegant little bites. Gorgeously presented!

    Reply
    • Liren

      Thanks Cristina! Smoked salmon does work, hope you get to try it!

  4. Jean

    I’ve been having a craving for smoked salmon myself but I couldn’t have put together anything quite as lovely as this! Best of both coasts nicely represented. :-)

    Reply
    • Liren

      Thanks, Jean! Definitely a taste of the two seaboards!

  5. Brie

    wow, these look amazing. i could eat the whole batch. i also relate to your story of realizing where you feel like you belong and not knowing when that happened. it’s still peculiar to me to feel like i should be two places at once sometimes.

    Reply
    • Liren

      I’ve moved around a lot in my adult life, and it’s interesting each time how you go through the process of being a stranger in a strange city to calling it your own. Sometimes the process takes months, other times, years…you just never know!

  6. Priscilla - She's Cookin'

    You have so many creative recipes for figs! Like Cristina, I’ve combined pancetta with figs, but will try them with salmon & cream cheese for a taste of New York!

    Reply
    • Liren

      Thanks Priscilla! Hope you do try it and get that taste of NYC!! Maybe next time I’ll make a fig relish to put on a hot dog, lol!

  7. Monet

    As a recent transplant to Austin, I so related to feeling torn between two cities! I love this fig recipe, and I think that it might be a perfect appetizer to serve at a graduate party I’m hosting next month!

    Reply
    • Liren

      Monet, how are you getting used to Austin? Great town from what I hear. Let me know if you do make it for your grad school party – I look forward to hearing how people like it!

  8. Jun Belen

    Liren, this is sooooo lovely! The salmon just pops out. A new quick and beautiful appetizer to try for our dinner parties at home. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • Liren

      Thanks Jun! Yes, so quick and perfect to prepare in advance. I’ll have to remember the next time I entertain, too!

  9. CarolineAdobo

    It’s not such a bad thing having your “heart & stomach attached to two cities” or we wouldn’t get great combinations like these! I have yet to taste avocado honey so would look out for that.

    Reply
    • Liren

      So wise, Caroline :) These experiences definitely are inspiring in the kitchen!

  10. Becky

    What a beautiful presentation and creative mixture of ingredients. I’m from the Chicago area all my life, but have traveled to San Francisco and miss the dungeness crab,and fresh avocados.

    Reply
    • Liren

      Chicago is another incredible foodie town! I have such a soft spot for Chicago, too, and when I was there, all my visitors were treated to Liren’s Eating Tour. I miss Chicago sometimes, too!

  11. citronetvanille

    I do put NY and SF together too, they’re my two favorite cities in the US (sorry about Chicago), and I love the taste of your two cities, very fresh, summery and fast to prepare.

    Reply
    • Liren

      Thanks Silvia! I like to think that NY and SF are such incredible food towns, with amazing and unique culinary influences. Putting them together would be like…Paris!

    • Liren

      So lucky, Gina, a fig tree!? What variety? Enjoy this year’s crop!!

    • Liren

      I agree, it would surely be awesome grilled! (Next time!)

  12. bunkycooks

    Love the photos. These look yummy! I think you are very fortunate to live in CA. I can see that it would be easy to fall in love with the food and wine that you have so close by. I know I would.

    Reply
    • Liren

      Thanks! I am grateful each and every day to live here – I feel like I was made to live here, and yes, it’s very easy to be intoxicated by the food, and of course, the wine :)

    • Liren

      Wow, that Linguine recipe looks divine! I will bookmark and try it for sure – actually perhaps sooner rather than later. I still have a lot of smoked salmon left over! Thanks for sharing that with me!

  13. skip to malou

    Love the way your “heart and stomach attached to two cities”… evidently you have this Figs with Cream Cheese and Smoked Salmon, Avocado Honey to testify to that.
    My son stayed with my sister for almost the whole summer in Fl and when he came home, he said “mom Tita Marvie served us some figs, you gotta try it.. Honestly I haven’t tried figs yet… this recipe is a good reason to try…
    thanks,
    Malou

    Reply
    • Liren

      Oh yes, Malou, you have to try figs. Your son is right, you will love it!

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