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.

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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.

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Vendredi vocab: Broccoli Rabe

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

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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).

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Negroni Cocktails for Summer

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

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Chartreuse, Carthusian Monks, and “the fig”

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

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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.

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from the farm: the color purple

Best of LIFE IN SONOMA

What to do on a beautiful Sunday in Sonoma?

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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!

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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

Best of RECIPES

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…

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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!

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from the kitchen: Chocolate & Salted Fig Caramel Trifle Recipe

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

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Pan-Seared Calves Liver 

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


from the kitchen: cauliflower and gruyere soup

Best of CELEBRATIONS

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

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Planning a Wine Country Wedding: Setting a Timeline

For the hostess in your life….  

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People magazine and us!

Best of FIG-STORY

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.

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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.

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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!

from the farm: gearing up to go!

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It’s been a quiet winter at the farm, but if you look closely, the dormant part of the season is behind us and there are signs of early spring all around.  You’ve probably noticed that it’s pruning time in the valley – the vines are being limbed for the coming season’s growth.  This is always my cue to get out in my own garden and do the same!  At the fig farm, we’ll wait for these rainy days to pass and get busy in the orchard.  (More on proper tree pruning here.)

203Winter garden, tucked in under a blanket of rye grass.

We’re still enjoying the few remaining winter crops that were sown back in late September.  (Bonus: winter vegetables become extra-sweet from cold and frost!)

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If your spring fever is kicking in, check out igrowsonoma for suggestions on early spring plantings.  In February, direct-seedings of spinach, radishes, turnips, peas, beets, & Asian greens can be set out.  However, to be sure you’re soil isn’t too waterlogged to house seedlings, follow this guide: “To see if your soil is dry enough, pick up a handful and squeeze it. If the ball of soil in your hand falls apart when poked, the soil is dry enough. If it stays together in a ball, the soil is too wet…”

In the kitchens of the girl & the fig, the fig cafe, and fig CATERS!, our chefs have enjoyed the winter garden lull and have used to time to trial and perfect a few incredible fermented recipes that we’ll all be enjoying this year!  Currently, lacto-fermented dill pickles, County Line Harvest chicory-chi, Brussels kimchi, marinated turnips (to garnish Ramen bowls at Suite D!), and homemade soy sauce are bubbling and brewing away.

Stay tuned for those!


 

Next time: growing tips for vigorous seedlings…

from the farm: what’s in season now?

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It’s been glorious to finally get a bit of a real Northern California winter – cool, misty mornings and soaking rains, interspersed with enough sunny days to turn the hillsides and mosses a bright, fresh green.

the girl & the fig‘s farm project has closed up shop for the winter, cover crops and compost piles are working their off-season magic, rejuvenating the soil for the coming season’s crops.  We do keep a few cool-season rows planted, brassicas and carrots in particular thrive this time of year, and there are always fresh perennial herbs in the beds just behind the restaurant.

We rely on our local farmers this time of year for the greater bulk of our produce needs.  And fortunately there is still a plethora of seasonal fruits and vegetables available during the winter months.

Here’s what you can expect to find from your local growers this time of year:

December & January Produce Sonoma County

  • Arugula
  • Asian Greens
  • Beets
  • Bok Choy
  • Broccoli
  • Broccolini
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Chard
  • Chervil
  • Chesnuts
  • Chicories
  • Chives
  • Cilantro
  • Escarole
  • Endive
  • Fennel
  • Kale
  • Leeks
  • Lemons
  • Lettuces
  • Mushrooms
  • Mustard
  • Oranges
  • Onions
  • Parsley
  • Pomegranates
  • Potatoes
  • Quince
  • Radicchio
  • Radish
  • Rosemary
  • Spinach
  • Thyme
  • Turnips
  • Watercress

What a bounty!

This week, Chef John is turning gorgeous winter vegetables into batches of Kimchi – a chicory kimchi (with chicory from County Line Harvest), a European-style, kimchi-inspired kraut,  one traditional kimchi recipe, and one experimental creation made from shredded Brussels sprouts.  Look for those on our menus in the coming weeks!

Happy winter from the farm!!

from the farm: winter treats and a time to rest

Over the last two weeks, we have officially put the farm project to bed for winter.

What remained in the rows was harvested and hauled in to add to the compost heap, cover crops have been sown, and, with the passing rain this week, will be popping up in no time.

077 221Top: after late season harvest, Bottom: cover crops sown and waiting for the rain!

There were still SO many green tomatoes to be picked before frosty mornings claimed them.  What weren’t used for fried green tomatoes, fresh salads, and pickles have been set aside for preserves.  So look forward to some creative green tomato recipes sometime soon!

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There are a few vegetables remaining that lend themselves well to wintery weather.  Carrots are one of the best because they develop a sweeter flavor after a frost.  In Sonoma County, carrot seeds can be sown up to 3 weeks before the frost, and mulched to grow through the cool season (typical days-to-harvest is 50-80, depending on the varietal, but tender baby carrots can be brought in sooner).  I highly recommend planting fall carrots – it’s an amazing treat to walk into a bare winter garden and pull up those bright, sweet roots.

These will be ready in just a few short weeks, and will be all the more delicious for the cold nights we’ve had:

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Another veggie from the spring garden that’s thrived into the cooler temperatures is the Dino Kale.  Even thought it’s typically grown as an annual, kale is actually a bi-annual (it will complete it’s life cycle in two years), so it’s still going strong well into fall.  We harvest our kale plants for continuous production all year.  This is very simple – just snap the leaves from the lower growth of the plant, and leave the inner bud to continue producing.

This is how they look after almost one year:

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For the past few winters, we’ve opted to use the season to replenish and renew the soil instead of farming through the cold season.  This is the time of year when we rely more heavily on our local farmers, and are very grateful to them!  It’s also a wonderful opportunity to focus on fermenting, preserving, and planning the garden for the coming season.

What’s your favorite winter vegetable?  Leave us a note!

 

 

 

from the farm: winter prep in the garden

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It finally feels like fall is here!  There’s still lots growing in the garden (and appearing on our menus at the girl & the fig and the fig cafe), including summer squash and zucchini (they just don’t stop!), peppers and herbs, tomatoes, beans, and leafy greens.

And while we’re pulling in many of the final harvests of the year, transitioning some rows over to cool season crops, and compiling the ingredients for our winter composting, we’re also keeping an eye to the coming winter season, and getting ready to put some of the rows “to bed” for winter.

There are a few important steps to take in winter prep that will preserve and improve your soil, even when if you take the winter off of farming.

Clean Up

It might be tempting after a strenuous growing season to let plants fall where they stand.  That is, to continue harvesting as the plants wither, and then leave them in the rows until spring.  This isn’t advisable because pests, fungi, and other plant-borne maladies can be harbored over winter and potentially contaminate your fragile spring seedlings.

Best to clear the rows as you go – pull weeds and spent plants, fallen fruit and leaves (much of this can go right to the compost pile).

 

 

Cover Up

The next step is to protect your valuable top soil from exposure to the elements.  Depending on the size of the area you are working with, this might be as simple as raking a layer of brown leaves over the garden bed or laying a thick blanket of straw.  This will also help to encourage worms and other beneficial organisms in your soil over winter.

Cover crops are a great 2-for-1 boost to your garden in the off season.  They provide a dense network of roots that will hold on to your top soil and prevent erosion, as well as drawing in nitrogen and other soil-feeding nutrients from the air.  Many of them can be used as “green manure” when the planting season rolls around again, by tilling them into the soil to add new organic matter.

Also, remember to mulch your perennials this month to keep their roots warm and protected over winter!

New Plants

If you were a timely gardener and sowed your winter crops in September and October, you might already be harvesting carrots, radishes, and leafy greens.  Lucky for us in Sonoma Valley, hard freezes are infrequent, and many crops will over-winter and provide us with crunchy, delicious cool-season crops for many of the coming months.  (See our “purple” post on beautiful cold weather veggies.)

If you weren’t, there’s still time to plant alliums such as garlic and shallots (and, of course, cover crops.)  Many winter vegetables will develop a sweeter flavor and crisp texture in cold months that are so enjoyable on a hearty winter plate!

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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.

Case in point – on this week’s Plat du Jour, roasted persimmons, a peculiar cold-weather treat, were the star of the show.  Other winter delicacies that I always look forward to – quince (often used as quince mostarda or quince butter in our restaurants), charred Brussels sprouts (I wait for these all year!), and local cauliflower (such as in our cauliflower gratin recipe).

How’s your winter garden growing?  What winter foods do you look forward to most in Sonoma or elsewhere?

Leave us a note!