Figs are around for only a short time of the year and when they appear in the supermarket, I have to restrain myself from buying up the whole lot. I do try to make plenty of fig jam to serve with pates during the year; but nothing compares to fresh figs accompanied with prosciutto and a triple cream. Add to that a crusty baguette and a glass of Sauternes or Muscat the Beaumes de Venise and you might as well be having lunch in the South of France.
Figs were brought to North America by the Spanish missionaries who came to California to build a network of Catholic missions. They found the climate particularly favorable to growing figs, which resulted in the naming of the purple-black variety known as the Black Mission. Other figs can be used for this recipe, including the large, fat, white-fleshed, green-skinned Calimyrna, and the small, thick-skinned, green Kadota. Or consider an assortment of all three. Me? The Black Missions are my favorite, but I'll take anything with the word fig, before or after.
This makes for a wonderful light lunch or first course.
1/3 cup crème fraîche
2 tsp. chopped fresh mint, plus mint sprigs for garnish
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
2 to 3 tsp. milk
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
12 ripe figs, a single variety or a mixture
6 oz. St.-André or other triple-cream cheese, such as Explorateur, cut into 12 wedges
3 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto
In a small bowl, whisk together the crème fraîche, chopped mint, lemon juice and as much of the milk as needed to form a thick, creamy consistency. Season with salt and pepper. Halve the figs and arrange them on individual plates or a platter. Intersperse the wedges of cheese among the figs. Drape the prosciutto around the figs and drizzle with the crème fraîche mixture. Garnish with mint sprigs and serve. Serves 6.