fig bits “best ever”

Today marks our little blog’s 2 year anniversary – and we’ve loved sharing news and inspiration with you, hearing from our readers what they’ve enjoyed: that our recipes have made it to your own tables, or that you’ve had successes in your gardens based on our trials (and errors!) at the “farm project.”

So today – the best of the blog:  a round-up of our 20(ish) most popular ever recipes and posts.  Thank you to everyone who’s followed along!!

Best of FOOD & DRINK

The term was first used in medieval times and applied to fruits cooked and preserved in sugar.

Vendredi Vocab: Confit

It’s interesting that, while the small buds on broccoli rabe, also commonly called “rapini,” resemble broccoli, the vegetable is actually more closely related to the turnip.

Vendredi vocab: Broccoli Rabe

At the girl & the fig we love farro for it’s nutty flavor, delicate chew, and versatility.

Vendredi Vocab: Farro

A good Negroni should be available at any respectable bar, as the classic cocktail contains standard items (namely, gin, vermouth, and Campari).

Negroni Cocktails for Summer

The history of this elixir stretches back over hundreds of years through turbulent history and troubled times.

Chartreuse, Carthusian Monks, and “the fig”

Sparkling wine, like many of the great things in life, was invented by mistake.

Don’t fight the fizz –  A History of Sparkling Wine

Best of the FARM PROJECT

The greens of most root vegetables are edible, in particular, beets, turnips, radishes, carrots (yes, carrots!) 042-560x374
from the farm: stalks fronds and flowers

There is so much to love about winter vegetables.  If spring decides to sleep just a few weeks longer, I suppose I can live with it.022-1024x684
from the fam: rise & shine

I always feel fortunate to live in a county where winter produce can be every bit as gorgeous, fresh, and flavorful (if slightly less plentiful) in winter as in summer.040-560x374
from the farm: winter prep in the garden

The purple shades indicate a sweeter flavor than in warmer months.

from the farm: the color purple


What to do on a beautiful Sunday in Sonoma?

Sunday drive

Here are a few local spots that you perhaps haven’t heard of if you’re passing through for a weekend.o
eat like a local in Sonoma

We always love to visit the wineries from on our wine list…today: ANABA!

Anaba Vineyards & Winery

The one-hundred acre farmstead and vineyard, family owned for generations, released its first cheese in the spring of 2012.

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Meet the Maker: Pennyroyal Farm


One of the most requested recipes from the girl & the fig’s menu!

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Quiche Lorraine

When summer squash transitions to winter squash, soup always comes to mind…

Butternut Squash Soup, Balsamic Reduction, and Fried Sage Recipe

Since we have put this dessert on the menu, two things have happened – 1) we can’t take it off the menu and 2) profiteroles are no longer the number one dessert. I guess this will be true until we come up with something that trumps the trifle!

from the kitchen: Chocolate & Salted Fig Caramel Trifle Recipe

Make sure to try Sondra’s all time favorite entree…

Pan-Seared Calves Liver 

In the mood for a Fall soup? Definitely try this one…

from the kitchen: cauliflower and gruyere soup


Now that a venue has been chosen and a date has been set, the real planning begins!

Planning a Wine Country Wedding: Setting a Timeline

For the hostess in your life….  

People magazine and us!


When it all started, our founder, Sondra, was a girl on a budget. As a way to cut costs, she decided to utilize all the thrift shops we have in Sonoma to furnish the restaurant.

the girl & the flight glasses

The fig cafe gets a make-over!  Thank you to our faithful friends who’ve been ever-so patient with us, our crackerjack staff, and the wonderfully talented design team, Alan & Ryan Barr of grey matters, who’ve helped bring a fun, fresh face to our beloved cafe!

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the fig cafe then and now!

Meet Anne-Charlotte! She is one of the most enthusiastic women I have ever met in the wine business. She is genuine, and warm, and has learned her business from the ground up.

chateau de la font du loup

Thanks for reading along with us!!

As always, if there’s a tip, recipe, food or wine that you’re curious about – leave us a note.  We’d love to hear from you!

pan-seared Pacific snapper, meyer lemon beurre blanc


(Recipe originally printed in PLATS DU JOUR, the girl & the fig’s Journey Through the Seasons in Wine Country by Sondra Bernstein. Photographed by Steven Krause.)

Yellowtail Snapper is a delicately flavored fish that is easy to cook and pairs with a wide range of spring ingredients. We recommend using the Meyer Beurre Blanc because both the acidity from the citrus as well as the creaminess of the butter are wonderful complementary flavors.

For the vegetables:
3 bunches baby carrots, peeled and blanched
1 bunch asparagus trimmed
8 baby artichokes,trimmed, blanched, and cut in half
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

For the beurre blanc:
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) plus 1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, diced
1 shallot, minced
¼ cup dry white wine
1 sprig fresh thyme
3 Meyer lemons, zested and juiced (fresh lemon juice can be substituted)
Salt and white pepper to taste

For the snapper:
6 snapper filets (6 ounces each, skin-on, scaled and cleaned)
Salt and white pepper to taste
¼ cup blended oil
¼ cup lemon segments (from about 2 lemons), for garnish

To prepare the vegetables:

In a medium sauté pan combine the baby carrots, asparagus, artichokes, and butter with ¼ cup water. On medium heat cook until the vegetables are heated through, about 3 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To prepare the beurre blanc:

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a small saucepan over low heat and add the shallots. Sauté the shallots until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the white wine and thyme, increase the heat to high, and reduce the liquid until almost dry. Remove the pan from the heat and add the lemon juice and zest. Put the pan back over very low heat and while whisking, slowly add a few squares of cold butter one at a time, making sure all of the butter is emulsified before adding more butter. Repeat until all the butter has been absorbed into the sauce. Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve. Season with salt and white pepper to taste. Keep warm

To prepare the snapper:

Season the snapper filets with salt and white pepper. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the blended oil to the hot pan and place the filets skin-side down in the oil. (Be careful when placing the fish in the hot pan, as the oil can splash.) Sauté the filets until the skin is well browned, about 3 to 5 minutes. Turn the fish over and continue to sauté the flesh side until browned. (The fish should be cooked through at this point.) Remove the fish from the pan and set aside on paper towels.

To serve:

Warm the plates. Carefully remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon and place them in the center of each plate. Drizzle the beurre blanc around the vegetables and place a piece of snapper on top. Garnish with the lemon segments.


Spring Lamb Leg, Chickpea, Cucumber & Feta Salad


Spring Lamb Leg, Chickpea, Cucumber & Feta Salad
Serves 6

The sheep at Benziger Winery are raised to become eco-friendly weed-whackers for the vineyards. If you have the opportunity to buy lamb from a local source, give it a try; you’ll notice a textural and flavor difference from the lamb found in a supermarket. Here, the flavors of spring highlight the earthy, flavorful leg meat.

For the marinade:

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 bay leaves
10 whole black peppercorns, crushed
6 top round lamb steaks (7 ounces each)

For the vinaigrette:

¼ cup champagne vinegar
¾ cup blended oil
½ cup fresh lemon juice (from about 4 lemons)
Salt and white pepper to taste

For the vegetables:

2 cups chickpeas, cooked (see Food for Thought)
1 small red onion, julienned
2 English cucumbers, seeded and sliced into ¼-inch half moons
1 cup fresh mint leaves, chiffonade
8 ounces feta cheese (preferably French sheep’s milk feta)
½ cup Lemon Vinaigrette (see above) Extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup Balsamic Reduction
Salt and pepper to taste

⅓ cup blended oil

To prepare the marinade:

Combine the olive oil, herbs, garlic, and peppercorns in a bowl. Pour the marinade over the lamb steaks and refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to 3 days.

To prepare the vinaigrette:

Whisk the vinegar, oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper together. Refrigerate for up to 1 day ahead.

To prepare the vegetables:

Combine the chickpeas, onion, cucumbers, mint, and feta with the vinaigrette. Toss gently, season with salt and pepper, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Remove the vegetables from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Remove the lamb from the marinade and discard any excess marinade. Season the lamb with salt and black pepper.

In an ovenproof pan over medium-high heat, heat the blended oil and sear the lamb on all sides. Place the pan in the oven and roast until the desired temperature is reached, about 7 minutes for medium-rare. Let the lamb rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.

To serve:
Divide the chickpea salad among 6 plates. Slice the lamb steak into 4 pieces and fan them out next to the salad. Garnish each plate with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and Balsamic Reduction. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Food for Thought:
If possible, use fresh garbanzo beans. They are in season from approximately June to September in Northern California. If you can’t find fresh garbanzos, try Rancho Gordo classic garbanzo beans.  Both of these options will have a much brighter, earthier flavor than canned beans

from the kitchen: croque monsieur



Our Croque Monsieur has been on the menu since the day we opened. A few years ago, we started making bite-sized versions for our catering events. Who doesn’t like a combination of French Toast and the best grilled cheese and ham sandwich ever? Experiment with differentcheeses or add mustard or a dipping sauce for variety.


8 slices brioche (1⁄2-inch thick slices)
8 ounces Joe Matos St. George cheese,thinly sliced (see Sources, page 318, cheddar cheese can be substituted)
8 ounces thinly sliced jambon ham (country ham can be substituted)
3 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of salt and white pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Chopped chives, for garnish
Pickled Shallots (see below), for garnish


Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Assemble 4 sandwiches with the brioche, cheese, and ham. Beat the eggs, cream, nutmeg, salt, and pepper together in a bowl. Heat a large ovenproof sauté pan over medium heat. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in the pan.

Soak the sandwiches in the egg mixture.  Place the sandwiches face down and cook them on one side until well browned, about 4 minutes. Add the remaining butter to the pan, turn the sandwiches over, and place the pan in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until the cheese has melted completely and the sandwiches are well browned on both sides. Remove the sandwiches from the oven and cut each sandwich into 4 to 6 pieces (or enjoy as-is!).

To serve, garnish each sandwich with a sprinkling of chives and a spoonful of Pickled Shallots.

from the kitchen: Salt Cod & Potato Croquettes, Red Pepper Coulis


Salt Cod & Potato Croquettes, Red Pepper Coulis (Originally published in Plats du Jour; the girl & the fig’s Journey Through the Seasons in Wine Country.)

Croquettes are nice option for a bite that will retain both its texture and temperature at a party.  When using salt cod, make sure ou rinse it very well to get rid of some of the excess salt.  Be cautious when seasoning the mixture, as the salt cod will have enough salt to balance the potato.  Keep in mind this is a 2-day recipe.  It’s not complicated but you will need time to soak the salt cod.

(Note: this is published in Plats du Jour as a recipe for party bites, but I’d have no guilt at all eating this for supper on a winter evening!)

For the salt cod:

8 ounces boneless salt cod
3 cups whole milk
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
5 garlic cloves
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups panko
2 cups blended oil

For the coulis:

2 red peppers
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 shallot
1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

To prepare the cod:

Submerge the salt cod in a large container of cold water and refrigerate for at least 24 hours, changing the water every 8 hours.

Drain the cod and place it in a medium saucepan with the milk, thyme, bay leaf, and garlic.  Simmer the cod on medium heat for 25 minutes or until the fish flakes.

Remove the fish, reserving the poaching liquid, and add the potatoes to the pan.  Discard the thyme and bay leaf.  Add a touch more milk to cover the potatoes if needed.  Simmer for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.  Place the cooked potatoes in a bowl and add the flaked fish, egg yolk, parsley, and a little bit of the reserved poaching liquid to soften the mixture.  Mix well and let the mixture cool for at least one hour.

Whisk the eggs in a bowl until they become light and pale.

Form the salt cod mixture into 30 equal sized balls (about the size of a ping pong ball).

Place the flour, egg mixture, and panic in three separate shallow bowls.  Dip each ball in the flour, then the egg mixture, and the the panic.

Set a deep fryer to 375 degrees (a deep saucepan filled with blended oil will work as well as a deep fryer) and fry the croquettes golden brown, about 3-5 minutes.  Transfer them to a paper towel to drain the excess oil and season with salt.  Set aside.

To prepare the coulis:

Heat a broiler to high.  Lightly coat the red peppers with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil and season them with salt and pepper.  Place them under the broiler turning them occasionally until blackened on all sides.  Place them in a bowl and cover them with plastic wrap until cool enough to handle but not cold.  Peel the peppers, discarding the skins and seeds, but reserving the pepper “liquor.”

In a food processor, puree the peppers with the remaining olive oil, shallot, garlic, vinegar, and butter.  Puree until smooth and season carefully with salt and pepper to taste (you don’t want too much salt).

To serve

Place a small dollop of the coulis on each plate and top with the croquettes.