mission figs
Dining Reviews

Bountiful Harvest for Mission Figs

Local figs, a sensory class at New Leaf and O’Mei reopens.

Mission figs, the ultimate erotic delicacy, are at their peak harvest right now. PHOTO: CHRISTINA WATERS

After what I’ve tasted this season, I think it just might be true that the fig was the fruit Eve gave to Adam. Seriously. This year’s produce was astonishing in its flavor depth and abundance, and nowhere more so than with the Mission fig. I tasted them at farmers markets, I bought them at all of my favorite groceries, and I was especially lucky to have friends who gifted me with baskets and baskets of their tree-ripened figs. All of them were sensational! Full flavor development, gorgeous, rosy interiors, and even a subtle perfume that enhanced every one of those experiences. We enjoyed them at breakfast and with cheeses after dinner. Glorious figs this year, and with any luck there will be a few more weeks of these spectacular, ancient and yes, erotic, delicacies. Don’t miss the figs this autumn—they’re at their very best right this minute.

 

Sensory Workshop at New Leaf

As the seasons change so does our sensory palate, and in autumn we crave the flavors of the cooler weather. You know the ones I mean—pumpkins, polenta, root crops, dark earth-hued vegetables, slow-cooked stews, and soups. I have a few ideas about why we enjoy returning to certain foods and certain meals this time of year, and I’m prepared to explore some of them with you this week, on Thursday, Oct. 19, at the Westside New Leaf Community Market. [There will be another encounter around this topic, next month, on Wednesday, Nov. 15.]

Life’s too short to eat boring food, and I have strategies for ensuring that you’re getting the very most out of every flavor encounter. Seasonal foods, farmers markets, focusing on what you’re eating, maximizing textures, colors and dining companions. The event will begin with a brief overview of my own travel and food biography, and I’ll regale participants with how I got involved with food and wine reviewing. Then we’ll have some Q&A about your own favorite meals, and why you remember them so vividly. What foods do you love? What meals have you regretted—and why? Here are the keys to your own food pleasure and how to heighten it from now on. Make plans to join me for some lively conversation and a few surprising confessions about food rituals and flavor discoveries. Bring your inquiring foodie friends. It’s free and it’s bound to engage you on a variety of levels. Food isn’t just fuel. It’s one of the great pleasures of being human. Hope to see you there. Heightening Your Food Pleasure! with Christina Waters, 6-7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 19. Reserve your place on eventbrite.com.

 

O’mei Re-Opens

What you’ve heard is (mostly) true: the Westside restaurant is moving ahead toward new ownership by chef/manager Karl Cook, who has been running the restaurant and finessing the cooking for the past 15 years. But let me dispel any confusion here. Cook has been nursing his staff along ever since the Roger Grigsby affair shut down O’mei. Ideally, he told me several weeks ago, Cook had wanted to compensate, feed, and maintain his skilled kitchen staff until the change-of-ownership paperwork was in place, and then re-open. But the death of the original landlord the very week that the restaurant closed complicated everything, and the kitchen team needed to support their families. “I want to keep it open for them, for the staff,” says Cook. “It’s about keeping the cooks employed,” he admits. “And I certainly didn’t want to lose them.” So while the legal details that will put O’mei fully into Cook’s hands are being finalized, the restaurant is open for dinner every day except Monday. Next week, I’ll give you the longer back story. Having this restaurant re-opened and under new ownership is a huge relief to Karl Cook’s many fans.

Christina Waters was born in Santa Cruz and raised all over the world (thanks to an Air Force dad), with real-world training in painting, music, winetasting, trail running, organic gardening, and teaching. She has a PhD in Philosophy, teaches in the Arts at UCSC and sings with the UCSC Concert Choir. Her new book 'Inside the Flame'

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