I am one of those people who view this weekend as the official end of summer. From my years of living at The Shore, I've become programmed to accept that while the rest of the world remains in denial, those looking for a last thrill are finally gone, all that remains is an empty french fry cup blowing in the wind. LOL! Ok-it's more like I sat on my porch with a case of beer iced down and sat smoking my pipe, impishly flipping off departing tourists.
And so, I gleefully say goodbye to the season, while secretly adapting my tastes for cooler weather drinking and roasting in the oven (a no-no in the summer). Ah, the last stretch. Those final few days. Those last vine-ripened treats. Bittersweet.
Normally, I'd be enjoying the two types of figs from my neighbor's trees sometime in July. But, fig trees are fickle and sometimes extreme pruning can stunt their ripening. Nonetheless, the first ones (turkish large) have arrived, yesterday to be exact. And just in time for a bbq.
For foodies, there are few treats as enigmatic and eye-popping as tree ripe figs. Going on the less-is-more theme, you start by eating them just picked, while the milky sugar from their stem is still trickling out of the top. Then, you proudly bring them in the house and put them on an appropriately porcelain canvas, beaming like they just finished the 3rd grade.
While classically they cry for a gamy, salty ham, like prosciutto, I like to go the cheese route. Gorgeous, creamy bleu cheeses from Italy or California, like Pt. Reyes are nothing short of revelatory with fresh figs. Candied nuts, like pecans or walnuts are in good company with a ripe fig. But if you wanna get a little more adventurous, try a tapenade on warm, toasty crostini (make sure it, too, is at least room temperature). The theme in all of these supporting characters is salt. As pepper opens your taste buds for shy flavors, so does salt accentuate the sweet. And their rosy insides make you feel as though you've just ordered a rare steak.
Later guys. I'm headed for the porch.