If Simon Wright, the owner and founder of Auckland’s The French Cafe, could pick one autumn ingredient above anything else, it would be figs.
Wright, who was part of a Mercedes-Benz Masterclass event with fashion designer Kate Sylvester at The French Cafe recently, said the rich, sweet flavour of figs made them a versatile ingredient.
“Unfortunately for me it’s an ingredient that I find I have to be patient with as I only like the varieties with the deep red centres and they generally are not available until the season is in full flow.”
Wright says there are multiple uses for figs, even as the season draws to a close.
“At the restaurant we cut the figs in half, brush them with olive oil, sprinkle with sugar and roast them gently in the oven just to bring out their natural sweetness and break the texture down slightly so they go a little bit jammy in the middle.
“We serve them with roast duck breast that’s been lightly smoked, a potato puree enriched with goats cheese, parsnips, kale and black olives that have been dehydrated so the flavour is more reminiscent of liquorice than black olive.
“We also turn figs into relish for cheese, poach them in red wine and sugar to make a syrup that we serve with ice cream and we also slice them thinly, brush them with sugar syrup and dehydrate them so there texture becomes slightly chewy and they can be stored to use for a later date.”