Vendredi Vocab: Affogato

Meet my (newly discovered) favorite dessert – the affogato!

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affogato [ahf-foh-GAH-toh] A scoop of vanilla gelato or ice cream topped with a shot of hot espresso. Though vanilla is traditional, chocolate gelato is sometimes used, in which case the dessert becomes affogato mocha. The word affogato comes from the Italian affogare (“drown”).

The New Food Lover’s Companion, page 7

I had a lovely table the other afternoon at the girl & the fig (where I waitress when I’m not blogging) – two gentlemen who enjoyed a long lunch with spaced out light bites, a few drinks, and plenty of laughs. A business meeting, they told me, although it seemed to me that the were more friends who happened to do business together and wanted an excuse to get lunch. They were the kind of guests who asked me to pick their food, surprise them and ‘just bring us a few of your favorites’ – so much fun for us servers!

At the end of the meal I handed them dessert menus in the usual fashion and they asked if we had “affocado.” It was my turn to learn…I must have looked confused (secretly wondering if they just asked for “avocados” for dessert, so they quickly explained that they were interested in the Italian affogato, meaning espresso with vanilla bean ice cream. I instantly loved the idea without even having to try it. What a delectable mix of hot and cold, creamy and bitter, a touch of sweet and the perfect amount of perk-you-up after a long meal. If you’re like me, sometimes after a meal, you aren’t in the mood for a full-on dessert. Well, affogato is your new best friend. To top it off, at the girl & the fig we make our own ice creams in-house and our vanilla bean is to die for!

So after explaining to me what affogato meant and that they would like to have it with a side shot of Cointreau to mix in (and you thought it couldn’t get any better!), I brought the gentlemen their after-lunch treat.

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Cointreau not pictured

And true to form, they mixed it all together and insisted I try it. It was, of course, heavenly. And I’m still day-dreaming about it.

 

Vendredi means “Friday” in French. Each week we add something new to our culinary vocabulary by delving into a word from our menu. We love food, we love words, and we love to learn something new. We also love Fridays.

Happy Vendredi, everyone!

 

Vendredi Vocab: Gravenstein Apples

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Gravenstein apple All-purpose apple with green skin streaked with red and yellow. The fine-textured, highly-aromatic flesh is crisp, juicy and sweetly tart.

The New Food Lover’s Companion, page 342

Not only are Gravenstein apples delicious and in the height of their peak season, but they also have a historical tie to Sonoma County?

During the first half of the 20th century, Gravensteins were the major variety of apples grown in western Sonoma County and were the source for apple sauce and dried apples for the U.S. troops in World War II. Most of the orchards in Sonoma County are now gone due to a combination of suburban development, a shift to wine production, and economic changes in the apple industry. Only six commercial growers and one commercial processor remain in Sonoma County as of 2006. In 2005, Slow Food USA declared the Gravenstein apple a heritage food and included it in their Ark of taste. Slow Food USA reports that production in Sonoma County is currently 750,000 boxes (15,000 tons) of Gravensteins a year. (Source)

Every year, our neighbors in the town of Sebastopol celebrate this special fruit with the Gravenstein Apple Fair. Go check it out Saturday and Sunday, August 8-9th! Details here.

This week at the girl & the fig we are honoring the Gravenstein apple with our interpretation of a deconstructed apple pie. And, oh my, is it delicious.

Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you this week’s bistro plat dessert – Gravenstein apples with pound cake, vanilla bean ice cream, and our amazing salted fig caramel sauce.

PLAT 4

 

Photo credit: Chef Jeremy Zimmerman

Picpoul People

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It’s no secret here at the girl & the fig, we love our Picpoul! As the heat of the summer sets in, so has our loyalty to this often under-appreciated grape varietal. We adore Picpoul, which translates to “lip stinger” in French, in so many ways. It so perfectly aligns with the reasons we love being in wine country in the height of summer – relaxing on the patio with laughter and conversations swirling around us, good food, great company, the hot sun shining down with unexpected yet welcomed gusts of wind, sunglasses, sandals…and Picpoul. Lots of Picpoul. The essence of Rhône. The good life.

We have been serving flights of wine since the beginning of (the girl & the fig) time. It’s been a wonderful way to introduce people to Rhône varietals while showcasing some amazing local wineries and wines. We also love how they look on the tables in the little vintage glasses we collect from thrift stores around town (link to blog post here). Our wine flights have included red and white varietals, rosé, syrah, and viognier, but never our beloved Picpoul, until this week!

Picpoul takes takes its name from the exorbitantly high acidity in the grapes. The domaine, centered around a 16th century fortified farm, was bought by the Benau family in 1980. For almost 20 years they sold their viticultural production to the local co-op. In 1999, when their young daughter Julie returned to the domaine, they bottled part of their production for the first time. (Source)

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For our Picpoul flight, we are serving three of Julie Benau’s creations – the 2014 Picpoul de Pinet, 2013 Libero, and 2014 Pinkpoul. The three alongside each other make for a beautiful sampling of the world of Picpoul. If you’ve never tried this grape, you’re in for a real treat.

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My personal favorite is the “Libero” for which Julie Benau immerses four neutral oak barrels into the Mediterranean Sea for three months at 46 feet with a regulated temperature of 48F. The constant movement of the sea creates the Bâtonnage (the french word for lees stirring) and the result is amazing in complexity: pears, white flowers, citrus notes with hints of spices and a creamy texture. And I swear I can taste a hint of oyster shell and an undercurrent that I can only describe as oceanic. It is a real treat to be able to try this wine as it is usually only sold by the (500ML) bottle. You can read more about under-water barrel aging, Punch.

Here’s to the summer and here’s to our favorite grape Picpoul! Cheers!

Word of the Week: Squash Blossoms

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photo by Eric Oberg

squash blossoms The flowers from either summer or winter squash are edible and delicious. Squash blossoms come in varying shades of yellow and orange, with flavors that hint of the squash itself. They can be found from late spring through early fall in specialty produce markets as well as Italian, Latin and Filipino markets. Squash blossoms are naturally soft and somewhat limp, but choose those that look fresh, with closed buds. They’re extremely perishable and should be stored in the refrigerator for no more than a day. Squash blossoms may be used as a garnish (whole or slivered) for almost everything from soups to main dishes. They also add color and flavor to salads. The most common method of cooking them is sautéing, often after coating the blossoms with a light batter. Squash blossoms are sometimes stuffed with ingredients such as soft cheese before being baked or batter-dipped and fried. They contain vitamins A and C, as all as iron and calcium.

The New Food Lover’s Companion

If you are interested in trying squash blossoms at home, here’s a link from The Kitchn to spark your imagination – Five Ways to Eat Squash Blossoms.

New at the cafe this past week we started serving this delicious and vegetarian pizza, complete with smoked burrata, cherry tomatoes, squash blossoms and fresh oregano. If you haven’t been into the Fig Café before (full menu here), our pizzas are a must-try!

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Photo credit: John Toulze

Each week we add something new to our culinary vocabulary by delving into a word from our menu. We love food, we love words, and we love to learn a new word or see a new preparation of an ingredient we may have used before.

Cheers to the (three-day) weekend!

Vendredi Vocab: White Asparagus

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Okay, so you may be wondering why ‘white asparagus’ would qualify for a vendredi vocab, being that you know what ‘white’ is and you know what ‘asparagus’ is…but, I learned something this week. And, when I learn something I like to share it! Did you know that white asparagus isn’t a type of asparagus, but, in fact, a growing technique?

Considered a rare spring delicacy, white asparagus comes from the process called etiolation, which means growing something with the absence of light. Dirt is kept mounded around the emerging stalk, depriving it of light. Since the plant can’t produce chlorophyll without light, the asparagus never turns green. Who knew?!

White asparagus is considered to be slightly milder in flavor and a bit more tender than green asparagus.

This week on our Bistro Plat du Jour, we’re serving a French White Asparagus with frisée, bread crumbs, boquerone vinaigrette, and a fennel-dijon puree. It is so delicious and perfect for spring.

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Photo credit: Chef Jeremy Zimmerman

Hurry in while we have white asparagus – they don’t last long! Click here for the full Plats du Jour menu this week.

Did you know the story behind white asparagus? Or was I the only one still in the dark (pun intended).

Vendredi means “Friday” in French. Each week we add something new to our culinary vocabulary by delving into a word from our menu. We love food, we love words, and we love to learn something new. We also love Fridays.

Happy Vendredi, everyone!