Figs are unique and versatile, with a flavor that differs widely depending on the variety. They are grown in the hot and dry climate of the Central Valley of California, and unlike most fruits and vegetables, have a small seasonal window and a very short shelf life.
As for flavor, John Gurnee, executive chef at Drake, says: “I strongly agree with the West Coast ethos that figs are best eaten out of hand, however when pair up with and juxtaposed with other ingredients, they provide a remarkable experience.”
Figs can be paired with both sweet and savory ingredients, which is why they are often found on both the appetizer/entree and the dessert sections of the menu. They stand up well with rich foods, such as game meats and cheeses, and their soft texture pairs well with firm or crunchy foods like celery, almonds, and cheeses.
At Drake, figs are most notably used to make a mean Manhattan with fig-infused bourbon during late summer and fall. In the kitchen, figs are incorporated into purées and jams, served raw or lightly macerated in salads. Figs are also added to sauces and relishes to garnish game meats and fish dishes.