A recent article in the New York Times about the legacy of fig trees planted by Italian immigrants in Brooklyn made me think of my friend Pete's backyard. When he bought his house eight years ago, it came with a small fig tree that has since turned into a monster -- it's about 20 feet tall and spreads out like a vine around the holly and willow. So on Labor Day I invited myself over to pick the ripe fruit, the tradeoff being that I'd furnish Pete with a six-pack of Negra Modelo and make him something figgy with the harvest. With my sweet tooth and baking skills I chose to make an easy Fresh Fig and Almond Crostata from the Everyday Food archives.
Pete's tree produces purple figs, and on the way from our house to his we passed a different variety of fig tree -- it had fat green ones. We picked fruit hanging over the sidewalk to buffer our supply.
At Pete's, my boyfriend, Jonathan, got on a ladder the dangerous way to get to the figs that hadn't been eaten by birds and raccoons. (Yes, we have raccoons in Brooklyn! And possums, too.)
The almond paste was easy to spread on the thinly rolled dough.
This type of pastry is so forgiving -- if you mess up, you can exclaim, “Whatever, it's RUSTIC.”
There was a slight breach of the almond paste over the crust, but it didn’t affect the taste. I mean, who's going to argue with sweet molten almond lava? And the almond paste was super bubbly when it came out of the oven.
On my mind all day was my friend Zora -- she lives just a few miles away, in Queens, but her tree has produced exactly one fig this year. Not to gloat about Brooklyn, but that’s some tiny crostata you got there, Queens!
Do you have a fig tree? What do you make with its bounty?