I was a little star struck the first time I tasted a fresh fig. That might sound a little funny to you, but it’s the closest analogy I can find. Imagine a little girl who equated figs with Fig Newtons – a chewy cookie with a filling that was sweet and mysterious. Growing up in New York, fresh figs were not a common sight in the markets, ever. To me “fig” sounded like a cute name for a packaged good. It wasn’t until many years later that I bit into my first fresh fig, and it was like meeting my favorite actor in person for the first time. I was struck with its beauty. And I was pleased to learn that they are better in real life.
And they are. Fresh figs have found a very special place in my heart. It’s one of my favorite fruits of summer, and living now in California, I feel very blessed to have access to an abundance of figs this time of year. It’s the one fruit I find myself wistfully craving in the winter months; the season can never get here fast enough. The other day, I nibbled on them, some plain, some smothered with goat cheese, drizzled with honey. I would have been happy eating nothing else.
Yesterday, I was excited to join Azmina from Lawyer Loves Lunch as she hosted a jamming party for mutual friends in the food blog world. It has been a year since I have seen Lisa, Gina, Jean and Stephanie, and we gathered in Azmina’s bright kitchen to catch up while chopping summer fruits and learn the finer points of jamming.
But of course, you can’t have a roomful of foodies together without delicious food. Everyone brought delicious and fresh dishes to nosh on as the fruit bubbled on the stove. All except me. I had been working on what was to a be a beautiful tomato tart that morning, only to have an accident as I pulled the hot crust from the oven, leaving me with a broken crust and burns on my arm. Nothing like driving to Azmina’s house with an ice pack on my arm and aloe in my purse! I took solace in the fact that if anyone would understand, it was my friends, who were quick to share their baking battle scar stories. Thanks, you guys, the food you brought was delicious.
My dearest Lisa, who lives fairly close to me, and writes Authentic Suburban Gourmet, makes the most divine Fig Balsamic Jam. The first time I met her, she had gifted me with a jar of this sublime creation, and my eyes grew large as I saw her unpack pounds and pounds of gorgeous figs to make her jam. Gina brought amazing plums and nectarines from orchards in Brentwood and Santa Rosa. It was hard to not sneak in a few bites as we chopped up the beautiful fruits.
I could not stay the entire afternoon, but it was so nice just to see everyone and chat and learn from one another. But I did bring home some jam.
Smothered over a piece of toast, it is a sweet and simple treat any time of day. I placed a dollop on an English muffin for breakfast this morning, and I can’t wait to play with it some more later today. I may try Lisa’s gorgeous Fig Jam Straws – that would be fabulous with a glass of wine and some slivers of cheese. Or I may just eat it by the spoonful.
If you would like to try Lisa’s Fig Balsamic Jam (and you must!), please visit her for the recipe, which can be found here. Her recipe as written, includes a little lemon juice, but she omitted that in yesterday’s jamming party, with equally delectable results.