From my back window I can admire my neighbor’s enormous ficus carica, one of the loveliest and hardiest trees found in the Mediterranean. Unlike the common fig tree, the ficus carica, known in Spanish as the “higuera breval”, yields two crops each year. The fruit of the first crop, which ripens from mid-June through mid-July, is known as a “breva” and the fruit of the second crop, which is harvestable in September, simply as a “higo” (fig). The flesh of the spring breva is a lovely garnet color and the fruit has a lighter, fresher flavor than the fig that the same tree produces in the fall. After the fall harvest, another eight months will pass before the tree once again produces a crop of brevas.
There is a Spanish expression “de higos a brevas” that can be translated as “once in a blue moon”. It’s often used as a greeting when two people haven’t seen each other for a long time, something akin to saying “long time no see” or “It’s been donkey’s years (or ages) since the last time we bumped into each other.”
The arrival of spring brevas is the perfect opportunity to prepare the following wonderful recipe that was given to me by a client of a wine and gourmet food shop I owned in Virginia many years ago and invite friends that I haven’t seen for a long time for a tapas party. If you come across this blog while cruising the Internet George, please let me thank you again for introducing me to this delightful summer snack!
Recipe for “Sex in the Orchard”:
24 fresh figs, preferably Brown Turkey or Mission varieties if you aren’t lucky enough to find brevas
1 three-ounce package or 85 grams of cream cheese
4 ounces or 113 grams of Gorgonzola or other blue cheese (Here in Spain I use Cabrales cheese from Asturias.)
24 thin slices of Prosciutto (Here in Spain I use either Serrano ham or ham from Teruel.)
2 bunches of fresh arugula
a simple vinaigrette, preferably made with raspberry vinegar
Combine the cream cheese and blue cheese in a food processor.
Split each fig lengthwise, from the stem down.
Insert a small amount of the cream cheese mixture inside of each fig half, press the two halves together, wrap the fig with a slice of ham, and secure each one with a toothpick. The prepared figs can be left to chill a few hours in the refrigerator until you are ready for the last step of preparation.
Rinse and drain the arugula. Grill or broil the figs until the cheese melts and the ham begins to crisp. Remove the toothpicks (on advice of legal counsel). Arrange three or four figs on a bed of arugula for each person. This snack pairs well with a wide variety of wines or a good iced tea.