From Amsterdam to L.A. to Davis, CA in less than a week. I've been up here in northernish California since last Monday visiting some good friends. I have forgotten how incredibly hot it can get up here in Davis, and while the heat of the mid-afternoon sun leaves me heading for the nearest air-conditioned spot, it's apparently very good for the produce around here. Notice our crazy adventures in my friend's dad's garden. Her parents had been on vacation for a few weeks, and we volunteered to go over and do a little gardening only to be attacked by the largest zucchinis in the world. They were everywhere and they were gigantic. You can see in the picture below that I was nearly swallowed whole while picking them. Thank goodness we had some zucchini bread recipes. I also made one of my favorite soups all with ingredients from the garden. It's during moments like those that I am a little sad that all I have is a balcony with a herb pots, but after an hour trimming the blossoms off of chard plants in 95 degree heat, I wasn't so sad about not having my own garden.
Outdoor markets in California, for all their beauty and variety, always have an air of unattainability and superiority to me. Going to a farmers' market is a little bit like how I browse through designer boutiques; I might get a few small items here and there, but I'm not going to buy a new wardrobe in one afternoon. It must be the artisnal cheeses and the twenty varieties of baby beets for sale that give off the slightly elitist vibe, although I readily admit that I love the market just the same. After all, I was the one standing there plotting ways I could hide 8 oz. jars of lavender honey in my carry-on luggage. California markets are just a fun diversion that present you with a bunch of inspiration for cooking and living. If I hadn't seen all those stalls selling crate after crate of gorgeous figs, I probably wouldn't have felt this insatiable need to make something right this second with figs.
Lucky for me my friend's brother had a fig tree bursting with fruit. I can eat a lot of figs on my own, but even after living without them since my move to Amsterdam, I couldn't finish a few pounds before they went bad. A few minutes of searching online coupled with a need to cool down led me to a fig ice cream recipe and a really nice food blog. Locally grown tastes really good covered in sugar and heavy cream.