Have you ever tasted a Fig Ice Cream Sandwich? This was one of my very favorite fig treats at the San Diego Fig Fest, and I guess my taste must be good, because the “Frozen Fig Mousse Sandwiches” by Waters Fine Catering won the top prize in the VIP Judging at the festival!
Last Sunday was the day of the long-awaited Fig Fest 2013 in San Diego, showcasing fresh California figs and the best of San Diego’s chefs, wines and brews. Organized by the California Fig Advisory Board, Les Dames d’Escoffier, San Diego, and the San Diego Public Market, this event was a fundraiser to benefit Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center, culinary scholarships and grants, and the San Diego Public Market Kitchen Project. Generous sponsors, volunteers, chefs and vendors came together to present a “Simply Beautiful | Simply Delicious” afternoon of food and fun. Prizes were awarded to the top three dishes chosen by a VIP panel of judges, as well as the top three “Peoples’ Choice” awards.
The festival offered everything imaginable when it came to figs…meet the farmers, learn about different varieties, taste foods made with fresh and dried figs, observe top chefs preparing amazing dishes with unusual ingredients and techniques. Hostesses greeted us at the entrance with gifts: a customized wine glass for tasting, plus a beautiful souvenir booklet including recipes for many of the wonderful chef-prepared dishes we would be tasting. I drove about 50 miles, from northern San Diego county to downtown San Diego for the festival, and was delighted to meet long-time friends Mary and Bob Polito of Polito Family Farms, who are also fig growers from our rural town of Valley Center.
I love good bread, and one of my favorite tastes of the day was this delicious Brioches with Fresh Figs from Cardamom Cafe and Bakery.
Another favorite of mine was Fresh Figs with Bleu Cheese, Bacon, and Honey from Bellamy’s Restaurant, a local eatery not far from our avocado ranch in Escondido, Ca. We haven’t eaten there yet, but will certainly plan to go now!
The People’s Choice award with to Great Maple’s House- Smoked Beef Brisket with Cocoa Nib Braised Brown Turkey Figs and Gorgonzola Cream. I must admit I would have voted for that one too!
I can’t walk past a display of cupcakes without trying one! Fig cupcakes!
It was impossible to try every dish, there were so many! I walked around to see as many as I could, and tried the ones that looked irresistible. I missed some of the award winners…I simply could not eat any more after a while!
I was glad to get out of the sun and into the shady pavilion where the VIP judges were tasting the fig dishes, the sponsors were answering questions about figs, and my friends Laura of Family Spice and Mary of California Greek Girl promoted their new book Cooking Techniques with Olive Oil. (be sure to take a look…it is a gorgeous award-winning book!)
It was a beautiful summer day in San Diego, and where else would you find Lemonade with Fig, spiked with vodka? I’m already looking forward to next year!
Check out these fresh California fig recipes and add your own to the list!
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