Saturday, September 24, 2011
Feasting on Figs!
Figs are a magical and elusive fruit that I had no interest in until a few years ago. I had only know Fig Newtons, until my husband introduced me to the real thing. He loves figs fresh and cannot tolerate them in any other form. He thinks Fig Newtons are sacrilege and prefers to eat figs au natural. However, he did love the fig ice cream I made a few years ago. He was a bit skeptical before I made the ice cream that I was wasting some very yummy figs but I successfully elevated their deliciousness.
Figs are a perfect example of seasonal eating. We wait all year for fig season and then we can't get enough of them. Because they do not ripen after they are picked, it is important that you get your hands on nice ripe figs. An under ripe fig is so sad because its life was cut short and it will never reach its full flavor potential. They also do not travel well as they bruise easily which is a major hurdle for fig growers and why they are often dried. I have gotten fresh figs from the supermarket but they were a shadow of the real thing. Want delicious fresh figs? Now thanks to Ticonderoga Farms you can go to the source for figs.
Ticonderoga farms began their first foray into growing figs in 1988, when I was 8 years old and a fan of the Fig Newton. It started as a hobby on their family farm where they grow apples, pumpkins, bamboo, and Christmas trees to name a few of their crops. Growing figs involved a lot of trial and error as their are not many figs being grown east of the Mississippi. It wasn't until about 8 years ago that they really got it down and another 4 before they had fruit to harvest. Thank you Ticonderoga farms for sticking with it! Today at the Fig Lovers Feast, we enjoyed all their years of hard work and perseverance.
It was my first time at Ticonderoga farms and I was immediately impressed. They have fun for the whole family and the kid at heart. There is a giant balloon trampoline which can be bounced on by young and old alike as well as slides, goats, chickens, a suspension bridge, playgrounds, and much more. I look forward to taking my son there when he is older and maybe even having his birthday party there.
The Fig Lovers Feast festivities were held in the blue barn. I was very impressed with the set up! Their were lovely tables and chairs which made me feel under dressed at fig prom. Not sure what I was expecting but it was lovely and quite comfortable. I had not left the house for about a week so it was a great outing for mom, dad, and baby.
Everyone working the event was friendly and we never went thirsty or hungry. This event had been scheduled to take place on September 10th but it was postponed on account of rain. I am so glad they did not cancel the event all together. It was not all smooth sailing as their Chef informed them at the last minute that he would be unable to cook for the event. Even so, the event went off without a hitch. I am curious how the food would have been had the chef actually been on hand.
Now on to the food! There was home made fig conserve on the table with bread and home made salsa with chips. The conserve was very sweet and I really wanted a nice chunk of blue cheese to go with it. We had a salad of arugula and spinach with orange, walnut, red onion, and fig. The salad greens were very under dressed, actually they did not seem to be dressed at all. Everything else seemed to be dressed then put on to dry greens but it was still tasty.
We also enjoyed baguette with fig, feta from Cherry Glen goat cheese in Maryland, honey, and walnut. This was tasty but the bread did get a bit soggy and once again I found myself wanting blue cheese but hey I am a cheese freak and I do like my blues.
The pizza was made by Fireworks in Leesburg and was delicious. I loved the bacon fig pizza and lucky me there were a few no shows which gave me seconds!
The biggest disappointment was the wine. I tried the white and it was awful and I heard the red was just as bad. No clue where the wine was from but maybe next year they can team up with a local vineyard to provide libations. But I was not there for the wine, I am all about the fig.
After some time digesting, we took a hayride out to the fig grove. I was able to enjoy Donna's company during the hayride. She works on the farm and was extremely knowledgeable and answered my many questions. They grow different varieties of figs including but not limited to mission, brown turkey, champagne, verte, and green delicious. We picked, which is not easy work up a steep hillside. You have to watch out for bees and wasps which are naturally attracted to the juicy fruit. I was determined to get some mission figs but they were not easy and managed to only get two.
I would have loved a simple tasting of the different types of figs available. How fun, a flight of figs! Once they were picked and in my "bucket" I had an impossible time telling which was which variety. I did not eat any figs while we were in the groves because I wanted to wash them as my almost 5 month old baby would be eating them in a few hours when I nursed him. Donna did explain that they do not use any herbicides or pesticides on their figs. This was great to hear but I was sad to learn how little control they have over what utility companies do around their farm.
When we got back to the barn we enjoyed some Moorenkos vanilla ice cream with fig, honey (also from the farm!) and walnuts. This was wonderful because I had gotten a bit sweaty while picking figs in the heat and humidity. There was also a cooking demonstration of the baguette with fig that we enjoyed as an appetizer. This was a wonderful event, $30 (a $5 discount for being a member of Slow Food DC) and you got all the food you could eat, all the wine you could choke down, a pound of fresh figs and a cool bamboo Ticonderoga Farm bag. I look forward to attending this event every year and think it will only get better!