Summertime. Plump figs weigh down the branches of the fig tree in my in-laws garden. One of life’s great pleasures is to reach up, pluck a ripe specimen and after a quick rinse, enjoy it’s sensual sweetness, either naked as nature intended or accompanied with some salty cheese or in a salad with some greens, red onions and a simple vinaigrette.
The price of fresh figs drop in the shuk to 5 or 6 shekels per kilo and we gorge on the glut of produce – those that are screaming to be eaten are quickly consumed; the lesser specimens in each punnet are baked or grilled in the oven and then enjoyed warm – Greek yogurt or good vanilla ice cream are an indulgent accompaniment.
There’s one store in the shuk that sells dark purple figs – a Brazilian variety, grown on the Golan – big, plump and tempting – but at least double the cost of the regular garden variety and thus far ignored as a result.
Last month I was at a wedding and alongside the ice cream, chocolate tortes, watermelon and other dessert delights was a bowl of these figs. I sampled one, went back for more, finished the last one in the bowl and went off in search for more in another part of the wedding hall. They are simply superior in every way to their paler cousins – sweeter, bigger and tastier – whilst I can’t afford to go over to the dark side permanently, as a special treat these certainly get the nod!
The store that I buy these from is in the covered section of the shuk, shortly after you enter from the Agrippas end on the right hand side. I’m sure they’re also available at decent fruit stores elsewhere.
After eating the best figs in the punnet, take whatever is left over. Cut in half.
Put on a baking tray in the oven one a medium – hot oven – 180 degrees (350) is just fine.
Leave in the over for 15 – 20 minutes – you should be able to smell the sugars caramelising.
Perfect eaten by themselves or topping something soft, creamy and luxurious- as your diet allows! Greek or regular yogurt, mascarpone, creme fraiche, ice cream…..