poetry contest

Haiku Contest Finalists | September 2016

FIGS

Fig season is fleeting, and I consider the fruit sort of an emblem of transition. They arrive at the market in the last days of summer with matte, slightly shriveled skin, and a tender interior well suited to pair with honey or cheese. The days are not quite blustery, but no longer scorching hot. Fall is imminent, yet restrained. We are waiting for the inevitable, seasonal shift, which is the exact moment plump figs appear.

When it comes to matters of the seasons, and what to do about it, recipe-wise, I'm fond of thumbing through The Kitchen Diaries by Nigel Slater. The entry from October 26 is especially poignant. 

 
The last fat, yellow leaves fell off the fig tree this morning, leaving next year’s buds at the tip of each gray branch and forty green fruits that will never ripen.

You approach the tree with caution, each piece of stone around its base splattered with potentially lethal squashed figs, hoping for just one edible fruit. But there is no such thing, and the tree that promised so much in May has failed to deliver.
— Nigel Slater
 

The moral of this story is to find a few figs and eat them before they disappear, and in an effort to encourage you, three poetic offerings are below. Choose your favorite food haiku before September 16th!

Food Haiku Contest September 2016

VOTE FOR YOUR FAVORITE FIG HAIKU

Choose your favorite haiku from the list below.
Communication Preferences

August Food Haiku Winner + Heirloom Tartine with Garlic Creme Fraiche

There are many ways to use a tomato. All summer long I eat them in pasta, toss them on pizza, make soup and even squish them whole between my teeth. Almost always, the simplest preparation is the best one, especially in these hot summer months. (The simplest recipe of all might be to grate a tomato over grilled bread, something I read in Saveur many years ago.) 

Now, I happen to live in a town that knows a thing or two about toast. Avocado toast, in particular, might as well be a prerequisite for brunch menu's in Los Angeles. It's everywhere, and I love it. Sqirl has a particularly good one. On the bottom is a thick slathering of creme fraiche spiked with garlic, which is where I got the idea. I actually licked my fingers the first time I had it. And when you find something that striking, It's especially nice to make in your own kitchen, especially if the restaurant is clear across town, and you can't just drive 45 minutes in one direction to get garlic creme fraiche whenever you very well want to.

So. On top of this slightly spicy and effortlessly creamy spread are slices of ripe heirloom tomatoes sprinkled with pepper and flaky salt. That's it. It's all you need, really. And this month's winning food haiku pairs so nicely.

Sarah's poem perfectly captures the allure of an August tomato, and the voters agreed. My favorite phrase is "grew sunlight." It's such a lovely description, don't you think?

Eat This Poem August Haiku Winner

HEIRLOOM TOMATO TARTINE WITH GARLIC CREME FRAICHE

This is one of those summer-on-a-plate types of things. Juicy, plump tomatoes, bread, and a bit of this assertive spread. I can eat it all afternoon. 

Serves 2

1/4 cup creme fraiche
1 plump garlic clove, grated (about 1/2 teaspoon)
Kosher salt
Freshly cracked pepper
2 slices rustic bread, cut 1/2-inch thick
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 large heirloom tomato, sliced
Flaky salt, for finishing

Stir the creme fraiche, garlic, a pinch of salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Heat a grill pan over medium heat and drizzle the bread slices with oil, spreading it around with your hands, covering both sides. Grill the bread for 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until sufficiently golden. Slather a layer of creme fraiche over the hot bread, and as it begins to melt and the scent of garlic plumes, cover with a few tomato slices. Finish with a pinch of flaky salt and serve.

June's Haiku Winner + Grilled Guacamole

I could eat an avocado every day. Some weeks, I come close. There's something positively perfect about a creamy avocado, and I'm always inspired by its ability to enhance almost every meal. Although it's an ideal addition to grain bowls, toast, salads, and the like, it stands alone so well in guacamole.

But first, let's get to this month's winning haiku! As a new mother, this sweet little poem is even more meaningful, and clearly our voting community thought so, too! 

Guacamole, of course, has its own heritage, along the lines of the "this is just how we do it" philosophies. Some like it plain, just with salt. Some like it studded with onions or whipped with tomatoes. Some people add sweet fruit, like mango and pineapple. There are very, very strong opinions about this, online and elsewhere.

I fall somewhere in the middle. I lean more towards the purist bent. I don't believe avocado needs much in the way of accompaniments to be a stellar side dish. Although, I do like to add a couple of things, namely lime juice, a hint of cilantro, and today, spicy jalapeno.

How do you like to eat guacamole? Let me know in the comments! 


GRILLED GUACAMOLE

Since summer is upon is and grilling is in the air, this is a perfect seasonal side, although feel free to do this indoors or out. 

Makes 1 to 2 servings

1 large, ripe avocado
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 small jalapeno
2 teaspoons chopped cilantro
Sea salt
queeze of lime

Heat a grill to medium high. Slice the avocado and remove the pit; drizzle with a bit of oil. Halve the jalapeno lengthwise and drizzle with oil. Place the avocado and jalapeno halves on the grill, cut side down. Char for 2 to 3 minutes total. 

When cool enough to handle, score the avocado flesh and scoop it into a bowl. Mince the jalapeno; use as much as you'd like here. I like about a half a teaspoon or so. (Include the seeds for more heat.) Add the cilantro, and season with a pinch of salt and squeeze of lime. Stir to combine. Serve immediately with tortilla chips.