Food is sexy, there's no doubt about it and figs are one of the sexiest fruits I can imagine and fresh figs are truly things of sensual beauty. If you get a good one, the right one will see you swooning in ecstasy. Get a dry, light one and you'll probably wonder what all the fuss is about and you won't feel the sexy vibe at all whilst others will be moaning in pleasure at their juicy fig. It's like being at a Swinger's party where everyone is having a good time except for you. Or so I've heard.
There are some dishes that stay with you for years and years, long after you've eaten them and you tend to remember them for their revelatory awakenings. One dish I had was at Est during my advertising days. Where I was taken by one of my favourite sales reps, who understood my penchant for fine dining. I had a simple dish of proscuitto, figs and blue cheese and thought it was magical. And every time I see figs with blue cheese on the menu I order it.
When I was sent a copy of the Buon Ricordo cookbook to review I flicked through it eagerly. The cover is gorgeous with a lovely embossed fabric image. Armando Percuoco the chef and owner and David Dale start off explaining the basic ingredients of Italian cooking and how to buy and treat them correctly. One thing to note is that photos inside are stunning and are actually one of the highlights for me where images of even a simple poached egg dish or a T bone steak done his way are gorgeous with a very glossy quality to them. Some are downright and outright food porn such as the baked figs with gorgonzola sauce where the figs look like partially disrobed women with a bit of skin peeking through a cream robe. Many of the items that interested me required a timbale or a tall souffle dish which I don't have and the spectacular Timballo is one that I'll look at conquering at some stage in the future when I have more time on my hands (and he warns that it's fiddly). There's even a healthy section with salads and soups and lighter pastas.
Food porn no?
But back to the figs. If you're not sure how to buy them the best key is the weight. If they feel heavy then that is a good thing. If they are light don't buy them. They should be slightly soft to the touch (although not moldy) but not hard or firm. Also smell them, they should smell sweet and light but if they smell like soured fruit then pass on those. There are generally two kinds you'll find here: black Mission and green figs and although I prefer black figs, these won't be in season in Sydney for another month or so. They have a luscious sweetness with a tiny crunch from their seeds and a juicy bite to the skin which you eat. They're also low in calories and high in fibre.
Mine don't quite look anywhere near as perfect at theirs, my cream sauce was perhaps not as smooth as his so I'd suggest whisking it or processing the sauce. Also I found that the sauce clung to the figs a bit better when it was cooled slightly for 5 minutes or so. Nevertheless this dish was incredibly easy, and probably one of the easiest in the book whilst still looking inviting. It's great dinner party food as the figs can be wrapped ahead of time and the sauce made and just popped into the oven just before serving. Perfect for that Swinger's Party no? And before you ask, I've never been to one! ;)
Achievability: 3.5 out of 5 we are talking about a high end restaurant and as such some of the dishes can be tricky.
Usability: 4 out of 5
Degree of difficulty: Medium, some are hard but some are easily done. There is a range.
Food porn score: 4.5 out of 5. Much of it is just glisteningly, downright lustful.
Post it note tabbed recipes: 17
Gift book: Yes, beautiful cover and beautiful photography.
So I did promise that you could win 1 of 4 copies of this gorgeous book didn't I? To win, simply tell me_ _what your favourite Italian dish is! The giveaway ends midnight December 5th AEST just in time for that gorgeous Christmas celebration. Enter as a comment on this story and this giveaway is open to Australian residents only.
The winners are:
Congratulations to each of you and enjoy! :)_
Buon Ricordo is published by Allen & Unwin $65RRP
And yes ladies and gentlemen, it's Wednesday again (I know, how quick was that?) so here is your Wallpaper Wednesday! Salmon hors d'oeuvres from Aria restaurant from a Nepenthe Wine event_.
Fichi Biondo - Baked Figs With Gorgonzola Sauce
Serves 4 (3 figs each)
- 12 thin slices proscuitto
- 12 fresh figs
- 12 toothpicks (to fasten)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 425ml (14fl oz) cream
- 220g/7.5 ozs gorgonzola
- Handful of chopped parsley
Step 1 - Preheat the oven to 200C/400F. Get a piece of proscuitto, fold it in half lengthways and wrap it around the middle of each fig and secure it with a toothpick.
Step 2 - Melt the butter, gorgonzola and cream in a small saucepan over low heat until melted and stir.
Step 3 - Place the figs in a oven proof dish (I put it on a sheet of parchment just in case) and pour the cream sauce over it. Cover with foil and bake in preheated oven for 7 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for a further 1 minute.
Step 4 - Arrange three figs on each servings plate. Remove toothpick. Allow the sauce to cool a little and thicken (about 5 minutes) and then ladle the sauce over the figs. Sprinkle some chopped parsley over for some colour.