Monday, January 28, 2008

Fig frenzied filcher

Yesterday, I have to admit it, I was a very bad, bad person.

It all started whilst having a coffee at a little country cafe, under the shade of a massive fig tree. The figs were fresh, abundant and sadly just outer skins as the birds love them so much. I had a sudden craving for fresh figs. Sadly the owner of the cafe didn't offer me any, and the coffee was only so so. On leaving though, there was a yellow plum tree, groaning with ripe juicy plums, and just at the right height for me to sneakily pick one. That'll teach the cafe owner a lesson for not offering me some figs. I'll just nick a plum instead to make up for it. Trying to be discrete as possible, I quickly picked a plum, and bit into it nonchalantly, only to have another plum fall onto my head. So much for being discrete and unnoticeable. Unfortunately my husband noticed, and said it served me right for stealing.

Those figs were the foremost thing in my mind. Meanwhile, we came upon Harry's Vege Patch. I met Harry three years ago on a flight home from Athens to Melbourne. Harry is Italian, and even though he lives in Melbourne, he has a patch of ground "up the bush", as we call it, to plant his veges, escape from the city, and make a couple of dollars on the side as well. It was a nice opportunity to catch up with Harry again and buy some of his potatoes ("good for gnocchi" he informed me), some peaches and some nectarines. Then onto a berry farm where I purchased 2 kgs of frozen raspberries. I was about 3 weeks too early for the Autumn crop, but I can still put the frozen berries to good use. Ice cream comes to mind.

Heading closer to home, I couldn't get off the subject of figs. I was obsessed with the fact that amongst my booty of fruit and veg, there was not one fig. That is, until my husband took a slight detour, pulled the car into what looked like a bus depot (being Sunday luckily it was closed) and said "There". I couldn't believe my eyes. A massive fig tree groaning under the weight of ripe figs. I was out of that car in half a second returning back only to scrounge for a bag or receptacle of some sort, and proceeded to behave like a frenzied female fig filcher.

Now you're probably thinking this woman is a total thief, as well as a lunatic. I must defend myself here, Your Honour, and state that I never had to climb a fence, use bolt cutters or force entry of any sort. It was broad daylight, I wasn't wearing a balaclava and the tree was just there. I did however attract a toot from a passerby; I'm not sure if it was a gesture of country friendliness or he was tooting because I was stealing. And I did feel quite guilty, but not for long.

Especially when the figs were served with prosciutto, Parmigiano Reggiano, fresh rocket (aragula) from the garden, and drizzled with a balsamic vinaigrette. Teamed with dukhah crusted BBQ lamb and a glass of prosecco, that guilt I was feeling earlier went straight out of the window.

Fresh Fig and Prosciutto Salad

8 ripe figs (don't refrigerate them)
1 bunch of rocket
Extra virgin olive oil to taste
Balsamic vinegar
Squeeze of lemon juice
8 slices of prosciutto
freshly shaved Parmigiano Reggiano, to serve

Cut the figs in half and then toss with rocket in a bowl. Dress with a vinaigrette of 3-4 parts olive oil to 1 part balsamic vinegar. Add lemon juice to taste. Divide evenly among 4 plates, then drape over two slices of prosciutto. Top with shaved Parmigiano Reggiano and serve immediately.

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