Roasted Figs and Grape Sauce

It’s late summer, when the intense heat has softened and darkness starts lingering on either side of daylight. It’s when summer reflects on itself before it disappears into the sunsets of autumn, remembering the places it visited, the people it met, the songs it sang.

It’s also late summer in this scene from the 1967 Lebanese film Bint il Haris (The Guard’s Daughter), starring the beyond legendary singer Fairouz.

(Like the song? You can watch the whole film, with English subtitles should you need them, here.)

The lyrics, roughly, say:

Go up, oh, bride, into the vineyard and pick grapes,
[When] the bride left the vineyard, the grapes disappeared.

The bride went up to pick figs,
The vineyard keeper [happily] laughed at [the sight of] her, despite his sad heart.
She sent his eyes a message full of reproach,
[Causing] him to be lost in the wild grasslands, and [his] golden voice became raspy.

The bride went up to pick a groom,
But love overtook her, and the groom picked her.
She put on bracelets and a golden bridal veil,
The bride danced, and he laughed [once again] with a golden resonance.

We may never find out why the bride was admonishing the vineyard keeper (Did he fail her in some way? Did she expect more from him? What shared past did they have?), but we do know one thing: the last days of summer are perfect for the figs and grapes mentioned in the song.

First I roasted figs, which was not only simple to do, but the end result was amazingly delicious. Simply halve or quarter some washed figs. Place a few knobs of good quality butter (I was lucky enough to use pastured butter) in a casserole or glass pan, add the figs, and sprinkle some coarse salt and freshly cracked pepper. Then throw in some sprigs of rosemary and thyme. Cook in an oven that has been preheated to 400 degrees until the figs are cooked through and caramelized. (I’m going to label this post “dairy-free,” because you can easily use some olive oil instead of butter.)

These figs are wonderful on their own, but I this time I paired them with some roasted chicken, as seen in these photos.

Knowing I was going to serve them with chicken, I decided to make a light sauce to go with the dish. I simply boiled some (washed, of course) grapes in some water, also with rosemary and thyme. When the grapes cooked down, I removed the grape skins, sprigs of herbs, and other sundry remnants. Then, I let the sauce reduce to a tangy, light sweetness, added a little butter, and seasoned with pepper and salt.

Finally, I added a few fresh figs and grapes to the roasted figs, as well as a little of the grape sauce, and paired them with the roasted chicken.

Go roast some figs! And watch Bint il Haris while enjoying them!

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