While Susan is bravely (and successfully) navigating the landscape of the South Beach Diet (which I presume is filled with the image of bikinis and warm beaches ala South Beach Miami)…I present to you my fascination with plums and figs in recent days. Ah yes–for every disciplined person, there is another who eats carbs and sweets with abandon. And that person, my dear readers, is ME. I gladly take that role!
Even though I’m totally allergic to stone fruit, the memory of a sweet plum haunts me at all times during plum season. I loooove plums. Not so much peaches or apricots, but I dearly miss plums (and cherries). And so occasionally, I will still sneak a bite of the heart shaped purple fruit, letting the juice of it fill my mouth, even if it means an itchy swollen throat afterwards. I am not advocating this behavior (if you are allergic to a food, you should avoid it), but I am telling you that this is how much I love plums.
But the days of eating an entire basket of ripe royal purple plums are gone. To eat that quantity, I must cook the stone fruit and its poison away. This usually means a crisp or crumble or pie or galette or buckle. Sometimes, however, a girl just doesn’t want all that pastry and flour and butter.
Why can’t the fruit stand alone? Sometimes, all I want is a plum, in its simplest form possible.
Just look at that image–the deep purple prune plums coupled with the light green and amber kadota figs are a color palette to behold. (Thank you Eric, for giving the shout out for prune plums–for when I spotted them at the store this week, I grabbed them–ohhhh they are sooo gooood). Not just to behold, but to remember forever. How fresh how beautiful! I always believe the best color palettes are found in nature, not in a sample card of Ralph Lauren or Sherwin Williams paints.
This is the season for prune plums and figs. September. A sweet harvest to kick off Rosh Hashanah (when sweet fruits are so fitting in ushering a sweet new year) and welcome Autumn with its bounty.
And how can one consume them?
If you’re like me and are looking for non-crust/pastry recipes, you can poach them–in red wine and sugar and balsamic vinegar. And serve them with a dollop of mascarpone cheese. Mrmmm. This makes for a tart and sweet mouthful.
The plums took on a new kind of character when poached, transforming from a cool, sweet bite to something juicy and warm, just like the transition from Summer to Fall. Of course, if you know me, you’ll know that I prefer a fresh and simple plum. We always want what we can’t have.
Or you can broil and caramelize some figs and eat them with honey and mascarpone. I grew up with a fig tree, laden heavy with figs in September, whose fruit would drop on the ground, much to the delight of my parents’ desert tortoise who ravished them. We ate the fruit straight off the tree, and so perfect were they that I never thought of cooking them.
When I told Connie that I have never eaten a cooked fig, her eyes opened wide in surprise and out of her mouth, immediately, popped a description of a fig perfectly caramelized and served with creamy rich white mascarpone that made me feel like I was missing something in my life.
“Just cut a fig into fourths, but not all the way so that it looks like a flower, sprinkle with sugar, put under the broiler, and then serve with honey and mascarpone!” she wrote in an email to me, when I asked her exactly how to make them.
Oh yes, I was missing out. Let’s take another, closer look at the figs. Aren’t they beautiful?
A new year for some of you, and a new season for all of us, looms ahead. And I’m happy to say that I’m putting my hands on as many sweet things as possible, starting with plums and figs.