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Jennifer Biesty on Figs

Kang Kim

Figs photo by Kang Kim

After a star turn on Top Chef season 4, Brooklyn-born Jennifer Biesty landed at Scala’s Bistro at the Sir Francis Drake hotel in San Francisco. As executive chef, Biesty crafts traditional Italian dishes with a modern twist.

This month Biesty has a thing for black mission figs.

“Figs perfectly illustrate the idea of eating with the season,” she notes.

“They are only available at the beginning of the summer and the start of the fall. I love to incorporate them on a pizza with Gorgonzola, wild arugula and rosemary or perhaps in a sweet tart with crème fraîche and drizzled with honey.”

Fig Fun Facts
The fig is not a fruit, but rather a flower inverted into itself.

The fig traveled from the West Indies to Mexico and later to California with Franciscan missionaries who planted them up and down the coast. Hence, dark purple California figs are called “mission” figs.

The common fig tree is native to the Middle East.

Where to Get It
Mission figs appear on menus from coast to coast come fall.

Chef Jenn Louis of Lincoln Restaurant and Sunshine Tavern in Portland, Oregon, uses mission figs in braised rabbit.     At TAG in Denver, chef Troy Guard creates a fig carpaccio with Humboldt Fog blue cheese and mizuna.    

Huntsville, Alabama, chef James Boyce of Cotton Row favors roasted mission figs with seared diver scallops.

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