Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Photographic Success and Culinary Failure

Also known as: how can it look so pretty, and taste so disappointing?

Let me provide some background here. For my birthday a while back Ash took me out for dinner at Jarnac, a little French restaurant in the West Village. We shared a salad. Fresh figs stuffed with robiola cheese wrapped in prosciutto on a bed of arugula with a balsamic reduction. Suffice it to say that it was one of our food highlights of the year. Since then I've been calculating how to recreate it. Pretty simple ingredients, after all. And I had downloaded recipes from The Food Network and Epicurious for figs wrapped in prociutto with this filling or that filling, and it seemed reasonably intuitive. How hard could it be?

Harder that it looks, is the answer. Perhaps my confidence way buoyed by some surprising successes I've had this week in trying out some new dishes. Perhaps I was feeling . . . cocky?

As soon as I cut open the figs last night and saw how pretty they looked inside, I decided I needed to photograph the salad-making process. I scooped out a tiny bit of each fig half and filled it with robiola--a cheese I expected to be very mild, but was in fact extremely pungent. I was a little apprehensive about that, but plunged onwards. Each fig half was wrapped in a 1 inch wide slice of prosciutto. Then into the oven for 10-12 minutes.

Although the final product looked pleasant enough, I couldn't eat more than a few bites. The cheese was just too strong for me! Did I use too much? Poor Ash polished off the dish and insisted it wasn't bad. Either he was just being nice, or living in France increases a person's cheese tolerance. Maybe both.

So, it turned out this wasn't a dish that needed documenting after all, but I was so pleased with how the photos captured each stage of the process, that I felt I should post them anyway, with a warning to readers that if you are going to try this dish--do something different! I don't know what, but something.

Key lessons learned here:
1. A little humility in the kitchen is a positive thing.
2. When it comes to stinky cheeses, go with your gut.


amy said...

that looks fabulous!!!
Figs and prosciutto are one my absolute favorite combos. I have a few suggestions that might help with the dish....
If you really didn't like robiola (sacrilege! it's a fabulous cheese) because it was too strong, baking it might have made it worse. Try something milder but of a similar consistency, like "stracchino" (oh i love that cheese!)
Although it's delicious all melty and gooey, try it without baking it. The prosciutto gets so salty when cooked/baked that it will pretty much kill the other flavors. Oh, and make sure the prosciutto is sliced really really really really really thin - and that the figs are so ripe they are nearly ready to be thrown out!
sorry, i sure rambled on... hope it helps! and don't give up! I am ready and willing to test batch no.2.

ews said...

Thanks Amy, these are fabulous tips. Trust an Italian to know what to do! I'll keep you posted on my next try.

CresceNet said...

Gostei muito desse post e seu blog é muito interessante, vou passar por aqui sempre =) Depois dá uma passada lá no meu site, que é sobre o CresceNet, espero que goste. O endereço dele é . Um abraço.

Shingo said...

I love Figs as you know.. but never tried this combination before. Figs and prosciutto.. and cheese? I would like to try it oneday..

thanx for checking our blog btw, I've been enjoying yours also... specially all the food items :)