Get 'em while you can!

Every year around this time, French prune plums 
make a brief and glorious return to Farmers Markets but only for a limited time. 
With their concentrated sweetness and easy perishability 
they are usually only sold in their dried and preserved states. 
But now for a brief time, you may see them at the Farmers Market. 
And we are especially lucky that we can pick some 
from our French Plum tree in the Orchard!
our French plums ripe on the tree
You might also know these gems as Sugar Plums. 
"These plums are variously called French Prunes, French Plums, 
Sugar Plums, and the odd but apt, Undried Prunes.
(because these plums are the ones most often used to make prunes).
Whatever you call them, get them. These sweet stone fruits are not to be missed.  
They're smaller than typical plums, maybe the size of an elongated ping-pong ball, 
with a dusky skin of mottled purple and yellow. 
The flesh itself is a deep autumn gold." 
The are incredibly sweet and can have a brown sugar flavor,
not too sweet but certainly not tart. 
They also have a surprisingly firm texture. 
They're juicy, but not to the point that you have to eat them hovered over the sink.
photo by Steven Krause page 308 in
Plats du Jour: the girl & the fig's Journey Through the Seasons in Wine Country
Their texture makes them wonderful to eat
but also perfect to cook (hence the drying for prunes).
Our chefs like to use our French plums in a clafouti. 
These plums are frequently used for this—a baked French dessert 
using fruit arranged in a buttered dish and covered with a thick flan-like batter. 
Did you know that the clafoutis comes from the Limousin region of France 
and while black cherries were the traditional fruit used, 
there are numerous variations using other fruits including red cherries, 
plums, prunes, apples, cranberries or blackberries. 
Our specialty at the girl & the fig stars our French plums. 

Or, you could just cook these plums down and serve them over ice cream.

Just remember to enjoy them soon. And to extend your enjoyment of French plums, 

The short season for French plums reminds us that we are at the end of summer. 
Of course there is still time to enjoy the bounty of that season
even as we look ahead to the Autumn stars we will soon harvest. 
The beds planted with all the many Winter squash will soon take center stage 
on the table, replacing zucchini and lemon squash as inspiration in the kitchen.
Fall squash last year at the farm
But before that, while we are still picking summer fruit from the farm, 
it's great to know how we can extend our experience. Besides drying fruit like the plums, there other ways to preserve the bounty from the farm. 
Some of our recipes were recently featured in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat

And the Huffington Post featured an interview with 
Executive Chef John Toulze talking about how easy it is to pickle vegetables. 

What summer fruit or vegetable are you still savoring these days?
And is there a favorite "end of summer" recipe you want to share?

Now is the "IT" time at the farm

Now is the "it" time at the farm: 
When everything is in bloom, plants are growing like crazy 
and there is almost too much there to know what to do with. 
But we are not complaining and our chefs enjoy 
the creative challenge of what to do with all this bounty.
Chef Jeremy at the girl & the fig
During the hard work of prepping the land and the painstaking labor of planting,
 these are the days we dreamt about.

Chefs Seth (left) and Uriel (right) working the land.
And now they are cooking with the fruits of their labors
As spring turned to summer we went from
 the encouraging signs of taller plants to blossoms to fruit.
All along we knew it would be worth it when we got to the days 
of arriving at the farm ready to collect the treasures.

Asian pears just picked off the tree
photo by Matthew Ruff
Atomic red carrots ready for the kitchen
photo by Matthew Ruff  
And these August days, tomatoes
are the "IT" girls at the girl & the fig.
We are now in the bounty time, picking these beauties daily
 from our farm at Imagery Estate Winery.

mixed heirloom tomatoes are finally ripe and ready
here's how they began: tomato starts May 12 at the farm
July the plants began teasing us
We've been waiting and watching the tomato plants since May, 
anticipating one of the house favorite's at the girl & the fig restaurant
the heirloom tomato and watermelon salad, now on the menu
photo by Steven Krause for
Plats du Jour: the girl & the fig's Journey Through the Seasons in Wine Country

While we are thrilled to have this popular salad
back on the menu during "tomato time,"
what's especially exciting is what new dishes
have been inspired this summer.
The chefs at the girl & the fig created a special that is only available this week:
Albacore tartare(chives, roasted garlic, lemon zest, basil) 
and served with a garden tomato & chili sorbet.

Also, this week's bistro plats du jour features 
our heirloom tomatoes in the ENTRÉE of herb grilled albacore 
with garden tomatoes, leeks, french bread crumbs.

And, our tomatoes share billing with beans from the farm 
in a new addition to the regular menu: crispy Rocky Jr chicken thighs 
and a summer succotash of fresh beans, corn, bacon and heirloom tomatoes.

What will inspire the chefs next week?
And what are you creating in your kitchen with goodies from your farm 
or what you discover at your local Farmers Market?

two of our busy chefs at the girl & the fig


Orchard Gems

There is more growing in our Orchard at the farm than just fruit.
We've had great luck this summer with beans here. 
We are growing royal burgundy and blue lake beans. 

Royal Burgundy Beans have beautiful purple blossom 
These striking purple blossoms turn into dramatic looking beans 
providing a different flavor and color combination
to inspire our chefs as they get creative with summer beans. 
photo courtesy of Territorial Seed Company
At the girl & the fig right now, we are featuring a delicious entree: 
tomales bay king salmon with salt-roasted yukon potatoes,
summer beans, arugula, smoked paprika beurre blanc.  

As you may recall, we are also growing beans along the fence behind ESTATE
Beans are easy to grow and here are some great tips for growing beans

Beans along the fence at ESTATE in July and then a month later

beans going crazy at ESTATE
If you are lucky enough to have
beans growing out your back door,  
you might try grilling them

These are not weeds in this orchard bed, it is purslane.
Chef John particularly likes using purslane to enhance a salad.
And according to Cook Local food blog: "Purslane has long been considered a weed,
but you can eat it just like you eat a leafy vegetable.
The flavor is sweet, salty, and sour all at the same time.
It tastes like a succulent bit of romaine lettuce and
has more Omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy green.
It is also high in Vitamins A, C, and B."
There are a lot of ways to enjoy purslane and our chefs continue to be inspired.
you could almost bite right into this cluster of apricots
We work hard to use all the fertile beds in the Orchard, 
but the real treasures there, of course are on the trees.
We have 49 trees in the Orchard including multiple varieties 
of peach, nectarine, persimmon, mulberry, plum, pluot, apricot, 
fig, pear and apple trees and one jujube tree! 

we won't be seeing these jujube fruits until the fall 
A pluot is a hybrid plant grown from a plum and an apricot.
They are about 70% plum and 30% apricot and look more like plums than apricots.
They are very sweet!

In our orchard, we have Flavor Queen Pluots, Dapple Dandy, 
Emerald Beauty and Flavor Grenade varieties.  
Pluots are sometimes also referred to as "Dinosaur Eggs" due to the strange dappled coloring on some types of the fruit.

Nearby the pluots and the apricots in the Orchard are our plum trees. 
We have Brooks, Green Sage, Late Santa Rosa, and Tom Cot plum trees. 
Did you know the history of plums dates back to the Roman Empire 
when more than 300 varieties were grown?
Late Santa Rosa plums
While we are enjoying all the summer fruit ripening now in the Orchard, 
we know there are still some gems to come, especially our signature fruit!
the Orchard figs are not quite there yet, but we are patient.
You can always enjoy the popular fig salad at the girl & the fig
but soon we will be making it with the fig "jewels" we harvest at our farm.

photo by Steven Krause for
Plats du Jour: the girl & the fig's Journey Through the Seasons in Wine Country

What are you doing with the summer fruit you are either growing 
or finding at Farmers Markets these days?


Gold in the Garden

They call them summer squash 
and indeed that is the bounty of the summer!
Like most of you, our squash plants are blooming in abundance.
We have many varieties of this "yellow gold" growing at the farm.

In fact, we even have this one very hearty squash volunteer 
that's popped up amidst the padron peppers!

between the many varieties of squash!

crookneck squash grows at our farm
and lemon squash
 and also Goldenbar zucchini

Goldenbar zucchini are the yellow squash 
that are shaped just like the more standard green zucchini. 
Goldenbars are a little creamier and better for slicing and dicing 
than for grating to use in zucchini bread.
The Goldenbar zucchini can also be shaved with a peeler or sliced thinly for salads. 
The chefs at the girl & the fig, ESTATE and 
the fig café and winebar continue to get creative 
with the bounty from the farm.

Here are some great tips on growing and harvesting squash 
from Smart Gardner's new "Ask a Gardener" series. 

The other "yellow gold" we have at the farm is the lemon verbena.
The plants act as a wind barrier protecting other things growing in the beds 
and of course lemon verbena has a beautiful scent, 
making it a welcome addition to any garden.

But of course, what is best about the lemon verbena 
is what our chefs create with this herb!
A favorite at the girl & the fig is lemon verbena custard.

photo by Steven Krause from
Plats du Jour: the girl & the fig's Journey Through the Seasons in Wine Country

Lemon verbena is a very fragrant and versatile herb, 
often used as a scent in soaps and perfumes. 
But there are many ways to use it in the kitchen—brew it in tea
or mix it with other herbs for more layered flavors.

Do you have a favorite way to use lemon verbena?
And what are you doing with all the golden bounty
of squash your garden is giving you now?