Culinary Vocab Word of the Week: Terrine

photo 2This week’s word is…

terrine  A cooking container made of glazed earthenware, ceramic or enameled cast iron with vertical sides and a lid. Terrines come in various sizes and shapes including round and rectangular. Pâté cooked in them is called pâté en terrine.

The New Food Lover’s Companion, page 767

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Technically “terrine” refers to the actual dish, but it commonly refers to the pâté itself. And while the terms terrine and pâté are used somewhat interchangeably, the most notable difference is that terrines typically use courser meat, while pâtés have a smooth consistency.

In researching terrine, I came across this awesome original video where Julia Child demonstrates how to make your own terrine and pâté.

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Julia Child The French Chef – Terrines and Pâtés (click to watch)

This week at the girl & the fig we made our own pork terrine. These shots are from our kitchen, straight from the camera of Chef Jeremy Zimmerman.


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And if you thought it couldn’t get any better, Chef Zimmerman finishes by lightly breading the terrine using panko bread crumbs, and fries it.

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The final dish: crispy pork terrine with white bean purée and pickled vegetables. Is your mouth watering yet?! You will find this as the appetizer in our bistro three-course menu. And I can tell you first hand that this week’s Plat du Jour menu is amazingly delicious (especially the crispy pork terrine)!

Each week we add a new word to our culinary vocabulary. Interested in reading about other words? Last week’s word was “muffaletta,” click here, the week before it was “shrub,” click here.

Bon appétit and have a wonderful weekend!

Vendredi Vocab: Muffaletta



I chose this week’s word because we added it as a new sandwich to our menu last week. I had never heard of a “muffaletta” (also spelled muffuletta) sandwich before it popped up on our menu. Once I started looking into it, I realized this lunch staple that originated in early 20th-century New Orleans has an interesting history behind it.

muffuletta; muffaletta [moof-fuh-LEHT-tuh] A specialty of New Orleans, this hero-style sandwich originated in 1906 at the Central Grocery, which many think still makes the best muffuletta in Louisiana. The sandwich consists of a round loaf of crusty Italian bread, split and filled with layers of sliced provolone, genoa salami and ham topped with “olive salad,” a chopped mixture of green, unstuffed olives, pimientos, celery, garlic, cocktail onions, capers, oregano, parsley, olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper.

The New Food Lover’s Companion, page 500


Salvatore Lupo stands behind the counter of his store, Central Grocery, in 1906. Lupo invented the muffuletta the year this photo was taken, at his Decatur Street grocery store. [Source]

The Muffaletta gets it’s name from the bread that it was classically served on – an italian bread similar to focaccia in that it is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, but muffaletta bread is lighter than focaccia. And while the sandwich came to be in the French Quarter of New Orleans, it is actually Sicilian immigrants who can be credited for the delicious combo of ingredients.

Per the History of the Muffletta Sandwich site:

Italian immigrant, Signor Lupo Salvatore, owner of the Central Grocery, started making the sandwiches for the men who worked the nearby wharves and produce stalls of the French Market.

Marie Lupo Tusa, daughter of The Central Grocery’s founder, tells the story of the sandwich’s origin in her 1980 cookbook, Marie’s Melting Pot:

One of the most interesting aspects of my father’s grocery is his unique creation, the muffuletta sandwich. The muffuletta was created in the early 1900’s when the Farmers’ Market was in the same area as the grocery. Most of the farmers who sold their produce there were Sicilian. Every day they used to come to my father’s grocery for lunch. They would order some salami, some ham, a piece of cheese, a little olive salad, and either a long braided Italian bread or round muffuletta bread. In a typical Sicilian fashion they ate everything separately. The farmers used to sit on crates or barrels and try to eat while precariously balancing their small trays covered with food on their knees. My father suggested that it would be easier for the farmers if he cut the bread and put everything on it like a sandwich; even if it was not typical Sicilian fashion. He experimented and found that the thicker, braided Italian bread was too hard to bite, but the softer, round muffuletta was idea for his sandwich. In very little time, the farmers came to merely ask for a “muffuletta” for their lunch.


Muffaletta Sandwich, the girl & the fig-style, with house-cured mortadella, coppa, coppa cotto, dijon, and house pickled peppers, on a french baguette. We switched it up by trading in the classic olive salad spread for delicious house-pickled peppers.


Make your own classic Muffuletta Sandwich, recipe & source here


Looking to take a vegetarian spin on the classic? Try this delicious looking eggplant muffaletta, recipe & source here

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

Happy Vendredi, everyone!

Vendredi Vocab: Shrubs!


Apricot shrub garnished with fresh thyme

This Friday’s word is shrub. And no, we’re not referring to shrub, as in the kind of plant. We’re talking shrub as in the vinegary, berry or fruit drinks, usually served with soda water over ice. I had never heard of a shrub until I started working at the girl & the fig, but I quickly came to love these flavorful concoctions.

shrub Colonial-day shrubs were spiked with liquor (usually brandy or rum) but today these fruit juice, sugar and vinegar drinks are usually non-alcoholic. Shrubs are served over ice, with or without soda water.

The New Food Lover’s Companion, page 699

Shrubs are a delicious, refreshing drink and are perfect if your looking for a fun drink, minus the buzz. We have several local Bay Area companies that make the most amazing flavors of shrubs. INNA shrub, over in Emeryville, makes flavors including Black Mission fig, quince, Bearss lime, Santa Rosa plum, and wild elderberry.


 Meyer Lemon Shrubs


Shrub flavors from INNA shrub and Preserve Sonoma

IMG_3497Per Preserve Sonoma: Shrubs originated in Persia and became popular during the colonial era. These concoctions were a delicious way to preserve fruits before refrigeration was an option.

For more on Shrubs: read about the history of the drink, here. Interested in making your own shrubs? Click here for some recipe inspiration.

Vendredi Vocab: Caperberries


This week’s Vendredi Vocab is Caperberries!

At the girl & the fig, we serve caper berries during dinner service with olives right when our guests get to their tables. We constantly get the question – “what are these ones with the stems?!” The answer: caperberries. Not an olive, and not a caper. They have a taste and texture distinctly their own. The first time I tried a caperberry, I was in Cinque Terre, Italy, and I thought it was a giant caper (a common misnomer). The language barrier made it difficult to understand what it really was. I didn’t see another caperberry until I started working at the girl & the fig and I finally learned the true distinction between the two.

The difference is described on

Some confusion exists regarding capers and caperberries. The two are not interchangeable though they both derive from the same plant, Capparis Spinosa, which grows throughout the Mediterranean, and is now being grown in places like California. To clarify, the round, lemony, small capers are not the berries. These tiny pealike bursts of flavor are actually immature buds of the caper bush.

In addition to the tiny buds, caperberries are also harvested, and some may prefer their taste to the stronger caper buds. The berries on the caper plant are oblong, semi-green fruits, about the size of or slightly larger than a table grape. Though they still have some lemon taste, they are much milder than caper buds. You can include sliced caperberries in recipes calling for capers if you want a dish that is a bit less acidic. The substitution doesn’t work well in reverse—generally when a recipe calls for caperberries, using capers instead will provide too much acid in a dish.

There is some argument regarding the taste of caperberries. Some sources refer to them as stronger than capers themselves, while others describe them as milder. Taste may depend upon when the berries are harvested and additionally how they are prepared. The unripe caperberry may be off-putting to some because of its smell. It often exudes a pungent smell due to the high concentration of mustard oil, called methyl isothiocynate. It may be that references calling the caperberry more pungent than the caper are referring to berries harvested before they are fully ripe.

Caperberries are frequently prepared brined and may be eaten very much in the same manner you might eat olives or pickles. They could also be an interesting substitution for olives in dishes like pasta or Greek salad. According to Aryuvedic medical texts, the berries may also be good for you. They can supposedly stimulate the liver, relieve flatulence, and reduce rheumatism.



Happy Vendredi, everyone!


Vendredi Vocab: Gastrique & Spaetzle

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For this week’s Vendredi Vocab (see last week’s here), I picked two words from one new dish on our menu – the local chicken thighs with butternut spaetzle, delicata squash, pomegranate gastrique, and a blue d’auverne cream sauce, garnished with crispy kale. The dish is so delicious. The fall flavors of kale and squash pair with the creaminess of the Blue d’Auverne sauce, and the acidity of the pomegranate gastrique. The set works perfectly to showcase the quality of the local chicken thighs, which are crispy, yet moist.

Gastrique [gah-STREEK] French for “gastric,” referring culinarily to a syrupy reduction of caramelized sugar and vinegar, sometimes with the addition of wine. Gastriques are typically used in savory dishes that include fruit, such as orates and tomatoes.

Source: The New Food Lover’s Companion, page 322

Spaetzle [SHPEHT-sluh; SHPEHT-sehl; SHPEHT-slee] Literally translated from German as “little sparrow,” spaetzle is a dish of tiny noodles or dumplings made with flour, eggs, water or milk, salt and sometimes nutmeg. The spaetzle dough can be firm enough to be rolled and cut into slivers, or soft enough to be forced through a sieve or colander with large holes. The small pieces of dough are usually boiled before being tossed with butter or added to soups or other dishes. In Germany, spaetzle is served as a side dish much like potatoes or rice, and is often accompanied by a sauce or gravy.

Source: The New Food Lover’s Companion, page 720

The first time I had spaetzle was in Munich, Germany. I had never heard of it and was a little turned off, because the kind I first had was in a cheesy cream sauce (and had an orange hue reminiscent of Cheetos), but it was love at first bite. And I soon learned that the dumpling-like side dish is a staple on the tables of, not only, German households, but also Austria, Switzerland, and Hungry. Spaetzle is easy to love because it is so versatile and can be transformed by whatever it’s served with and works in every season. The butternut squash version we are serving now is so perfect for fall. It’s also a component that can be ‘dressed up’ or ‘dressed down’ – it can be upscale cuisine and casual comfort food all at once.

Find more history behind spaetzle, which can also be spelled “spätzle,” here

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Chef Jeremy Zimmerman presents the menu changes for the week, including the plat du jour three-course meal, the persimmon bread pudding, the new set for our beloved duck confit, and the local chicken thigh dish.

Happy Vendredi, everyone!