make this now: 20 uses for fig balsamic vinegar


Our figfood line of condiments came to life as a way for our restaurant guests to take home a little of the “fig love” from our kitchens.

For years, visitors from all over would ask for these recipes to recreate a dish at home that they’d been introduced to at the girl & the fig or the fig cafe.

Now a complete assortment of goodies ranging from house-made shrubs to confits and chutneys are available outside our little sphere; and frequently, recipients of gifted “figfood” items will write and ask what to do with it.

If you’ve recently purchased or received of a gift of fig balsamic vinegar here is a collection of recipes and serving suggestions to enjoy!

  1. Beautiful flavors for a glaze
  2. Warmed and poured over vanilla ice cream
  3. Made into a fig balsamic jam
  4. Served with warm bread and a good quality olive oil
  5. Great for a marinade for chicken
  6. Perfect for a balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing
  7. Make a fig vinaigrette for a Cranberry spinach salad
  8. Perfect for drizzling on strawberries for a sweet snack
  9. Serve over goat cheese for a beautiful goat cheese and fruit platter
  10. Have a light dinner of tomato, basil, and fresh mozzarella drizzled with fig balsamic vinegar
  11. For more elegant dinner  sweet potato gnocchi with balsamic-sage brown butter (substitute fig balsamic for regular)
  12. Drizzled over baked asparagus
  13. Impress your guests with these amazing dark chocolate truffles (substitute fig balsamic for regular)
  14.  Seared scallops with a balsamic fig glaze
  15. Drizzled over roasted brussel sprouts
  16. As a reduction in eggplant ravioli
  17. Make delicious homemade balsamic fig ice cream (substitute fig balsamic for regular)
  18. A new take on the traditional Old Fashioned
  19. To sweeten up your risotto, try this Strawberry risotto with fig balsamic vinegar
  20. In a light dessert, like this mascarpone mouse with a fig balsamic caramel


Do you have a favorite use for fig balsamic vinegar?  Leave us a note!!

Where to Eat Now in Sonoma County – Sonoma Magazine

Pastis-scented steamed mussels and fries at the girl & the fig in Sonoma. (Beth Schlanker / The Press Democrat)

From food that’s good for you to juicy burgers, fries and milkshakes, these are the best spots for a bite right now.

the girl & the fig
This Sonoma institution has long been a favorite of locals, tourists and the occasional celebrity, for both its extraordinary outdoor patio and approachable Wine Country-French cuisine. Never one to rest on her laurels, chefowner Sondra Bernstein recently added breakfast service on Fridays and Saturdays, and brunch on Sundays, offering house-made bagels and smoked salmon, croque madame with Mornay sauce and applewood-smoked ham, house-cured ham hash with Hollandaise sauce, and caramelized-onion quiche. Bernstein also recently hit the road with her fig rig food truck, taking the girl & the fig menu to farmers markets, festivals and other events.

110 W. Spain St., Sonoma, 707-938-3634,


Source: Where to Eat Now in Sonoma County – Sonoma Magazine

chef tips & kitchen staples: blended oil


We use blended oil for just about every recipe.  Even plain olive oil, which we use here, can be very strong and in many recipes will overpower the dish, so we dilute the flavor with canola oil.

This blend will be subtle and not overwhelm the other flavors in the dish.

Makes: as much as you want!

You’ll need:

  • 1 part olive oil, such as Critelli
  • 3 parts canola oil

Simply combine and keep on-hand in the kitchen.  Will store best in a dark glass bottle.

Great for use in vinaigrette recipes for greens with a delicate flavor and texture!

Cruise Recaps – part 2 – food highlights … long post …

Cruise Recaps – part 2 – food highlights

There are a few things that should be very obvious even before I write this recap;

– there is no shortage of good food in Europe
– I know how to source great food no matter where I am – one of my special talents
– I would not sail on a ship with bad food

There is no way I can describe my 14 days of food experiences with you in a timely manner, but I will give you my standouts in chronological order.



(Photo Grid going row to row from left to right.)

1. Poppies Fish and Chips – delish first night; traditional.
2. Brick Lane is where our Airbnb was located – interesting neighborhood.
3. Latte from our local coffee house, “Nude Espresso.”
4-5. Food Trucks in the neighborhood.
6. Borough Market – not to be missed if you are going to London!
7. Doughnuts are really yummy in London – they definitely have it figured out.
8. Scottish Egg that John & Claudia ate – much braver than I was.
9. Prosecco Spritzers for breakfast! Lovely!
10-12. Neal’s Yard Dairy, more below …
13-15. Harrods – a small indulgence of caviar, oysters and salmon. The food hall is stunning.
16-19. St. John – read below for more …
20. POP Brixton – a container-food truck-retail-music-barber shop – funky-hipster corner in BRIXTON (ramen, pizza, vegetarian …)
21. Brixton Village – cool sidewalks lined with cafes, retro vintage shops – could have spent the day here.
22. Chutney Mary – nice Indian Food restaurant, beautiful interior – first night to meet most of the group – excellent food.
23. Brick Lane on Sunday opens to an Open Air Market, no cars, food vendors and everything imaginable, including this adorable Black Cab Coffee Co.
24-25. More Donuts – this time at Spitalfields Market – again could have spent a few hours here instead of a quick jaunt.

Neal’s Yard Dairy
I have had the good fortune of tasting these cheeses and even offering them on occasion at the restaurant. However, to be able to taste and purchase the cheeses near Borough Market in London was a real treat (much less expensive in London, and you can’t say that about too many things). We tasted at least ten cheeses, comparing and contrasting them before making out selections. This was a deliciously smelly place to be.
If you have time – here is a great 7 minute video about what Neal’s Yard Dairy is about.

St. John
When I asked John where he wanted to eat in London, he only had one place and that was St. John’s. St. John is know for its extreme Head to Tail eating experience. Indeed it was. The dining room, as you can see, is as stark as it can be – simple and rustic. The food presentation matches the decor, but the flavors are intense and deep and rich in flavor. And that is why you go to St. John.

ANTWERP – The Jane

File Jun 18, 4 07 17 PM



This meal was absolutely stunning! If you find yourself in Antwerp for any reason, I would definitely recommend going to The Jane. I can say that I loved every single course and I did not want this meal to end. You absolutely must make reservations in advance. They have an upstairs and a downstairs, giving you two different options on menus and pricing.

Everywhere Else …


1. Bill’s birthday cake on the ship.
2. Prawns in the Crystal Dining Room
3. Special Chocolates at The Chocolate Line in Antwerp.
4-5. Menu Items from our Winemaker Dinner in the Lido on the Crystal Symphony.
6-7. At the FESKEKÔRKA, having a fish smorgasbord in Goteborg.
8-9. At Stora Saluhallen picking up cheese, (also had a Swedish meatball that I forgot to take a picture of) in Goteborg.
10. Outside of Cafe Husaren having pastries in Goteborg.
11. Food trucks in the Haga District in Goteborg
12-17. Copenhagen Street Food on Paper Island
18. Another outstanding food hall; Torvehallerne in Copenhagen.
19-22. Stedsans farm to table street cuisine
23-24. Lovely, organic, continental breakfast buffet at Avenue Hotel in Copenhagen
25. Tiles at South American restaurant Llama in Copenhagen.

noma – Copenhagen

I had the extreme pleasure of dining with Cindi, Marie and Erich at Noma the last night we were in Copenhagen. I can imagine for most chefs, farmers, foodies…this is one restaurant that is on the bucket list – it certainly was on mine. It was an AMAZING experience, food that I have never experienced, creativity that I will never comprehend and flavors that came from the earth and brought back childhood memories of summer camp and hiking in the forest.

As I will always say, a meal is really only as good as those you share it with, and the company at the table made this dinner a very special evening – one that I will not forget soon if ever. #gratitude

File Jun 19, 9 11 11 AM



If you want to visit noma before you can actually visit the restaurant in Copenhagen, watch the film, noma, my perfect storm; it is available on Netflix.

Vendredi Vocab: Vadouvan


Vendredi posts are back! If you don’t recall, Vendredi means “Friday” in French. Each week we add something new to our culinary vocabulary by delving into a word from our menu.

This week the word is: Vadouvan

Vadouvan (occasionally spelled Vaudouvan) is a ready-to-use blend of spices that is a French derivative of a masala known as vadavam, vadagam, or vadakam.[1] It is an Indian curry blend with added aromatics such as shallots and garlic. The spice blend is thought to have originated from French colonial influence in the Puducherry region of India. [Source Wikipedia]

At the girl & the fig you can enjoy vadouvan in creams and sauces; vadouvan adds a nice curry taste to your favorite veggies and meats. Currently on the menu is a beautiful dish of roasted carrots served with chickpea puree, garbanzo beans, cherry tomatoes & vadouvan crema.

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!