Figue Mediterranean restaurant at 47474 Washington Street in La Quinta continues its joyous mission of bringing the colorful and vibrant food of the Mediterranean region to the Coachella Valley. “The people of the area have been more than enthusiastic about Figue’s cuisine and they have enjoyed learning about the many variations food that emanate from this region of the world,” said owner Lee Morcus. “We are continuing our culinary journey by offering special pasta menus centered on the regional cuisines of Italy fused with the bounty of American products.”
In Italy, the food is all about the freshest, most flavorful ingredients prepared simply yet exquisitely, emphasis on regional specialties and artisanal products. SincePasta-con-la-Bottarga-etlr pasta is a staple and is made in innumerable shapes and sizes, each week in addition to its regular menu, Figue will feature five different pasta preparations popular in various regions. The program kicked off Thursday, April 10 featuring the cuisine of Sicily, with five Sicilian pasta dishes: Pasta con la Bottarga, Pasta con il Cavolfiore e la Ricotta, Anelletti al Forno, Pasta alla Norma and Pasta con Vongole Fresche. The second week beginning April 17 will feature pastas of Tuscany; the third week, Piedmont beginning April 24 and during the fourth week, Lazio, beginning May 1.
“We want our guests to really appreciate the diversity of true Italian pasta,” said Chef François de Mélogue, executive chef and culinary historian. “Regional cuisine varies greatly depending on what’s in season and local to each specific area. We are bringing an authentic Italian culinary experience to the Valley.”
Pasta con la Bottarga: a typical, simple and delicious Sicilian dish using dried Yellow Mullet roe, also known as Mediterranean Caviar, which gives the pasta a mildly salty ocean taste. We are adding fresh Halibut Cheeks from day boat Alaskan Halibuts, California orchard mushrooms and Oregon fiddlehead ferns to give it our own unique twist. The reality is that most of the pasta sauces are pretty simple, and this recipe is no exception. In Italy, it is more about the quality and fresh flavor of the ingredients. If you start with the right ingredients, the outcome will be great. “Mullets are caught in hand thrown nets in Florida and hand salted and it is better than Italian Bottarga as it is less salty and packs a wonderful umami,” said de Mélogue.
Pasta con il Cavolfiore e la Ricotta: Pasta and ricotta make for a perfect impromptu meal or weekend dinner. The mellow flavor combination of organically grown cauliflower, which is locally sourced from Bautista Creek Farm, with ricotta, eggs and parmesan.
Anelletti al Forno: known as the “Sicilian Lasagna, it is an explosion of flavors and a favorite dish on Sundays or special occasions. There are two things that the people from Palermo worship: Saint Rosalie and the “Pasta a Forno” (Baked Anelletti). It is tradition on the day after Easter to prepare the pasta and take it to the “Pasquetta” picnic. Figue uses organic, all natural hormone and antibiotic free ground meat, spring sweet peas, pecorino, tomatoes, sweet onions and basil.
Pasta alla Norma: originally from Catania, the second largest city in Sicily, this dish is dedicated, just as the name suggests, to the famous opera lirica LA NORMA composed in 1831 by Vincenzo Bellini, a musician from Catania. There are two different stories about this dish. The first one says that the name of the dish was given by playwright Nino Martoglio, also from Catania. He was comparing the goodness of the pasta with the opera lirica and exclaimed: This is a Norma (meaning as good as LA NORMA)!
The second story is that while writing this masterpiece, Vincenzo Bellini used to go to a restaurant and ordered always this dish of pasta. The restaurant owner finally named it after his opera to pay homage to Bellini.
It is said that the dish had a very special presentation, like a mountain-shaped plate of pasta with sliced eggplants at the bottom, covered with grated salted ricotta. It was a very creative representation of the Mount Etna with its land, lava and snow. Any way you look at it, this pasta dish with eggplant and spicy marinara sauce is a delicious addition to the Figue menu.
Pasta con Vongole Fresche (Italian for spaghetti with clams) is a dish that is very popular throughout Italy, especially its central regions, including Rome and further south in Campania (where it is part of traditional Neapolitan cuisine). Figue’s rendition is with clams, red chili flakes, oil, garlic, parsley, and sometimes a splash of white wine.
Why Begin with Pasta of Sicily?
The traditions of antipasti, which translates to “before the meal’, and primi piatti have its origins in Italy’s history of invasion. Waves of invasion occurred more than 3,000 years and the Greeks, Etruscans and Arabs all left their indelible mark. The Greeks brought wheat and olive trees. They showed Italians how to make wine and honey and introduced spit roasting. The Etruscans brought early forms of polenta and the Arab Moors brought rice, nuts, saffron, flaky pastries, couscous and citrus. In the 16th century, exploration brought tomatoes, coffee, peppers, squashes and beans from the New World.
Northern Italy is well irrigated, lush and fairly prosperous. Creams, eggs, butter, prosciutto, Parmesan, pancetta, balsamic, gorgonzola, basil, Umbrian olive oil, beef, truffles and other ingredients abound. Southern Italy is more rugged and poor. Crushed red pepper appears in the food because in former times the price of black pepper skyrocketed and the industrious Southerners substituted red pepper flakes. Pasta, buffalo mozzarella and tomatoes reign.
It’s also important to note that pasta is not an Italian invention. The first pasta makers in southern Europe were the Greeks. The Greek word itria is the oldest recorded word for pasta in the Mediterranean and was quickly adopted by Arabs (as itriyah) and then appeared in Spain in the 8th or 9th century known as alatria. It appeared in the very first known Catalan cookbook written in 1324.
April promises to be an exquisitely delicious month at Figue, so make your reservations early. Reservations can be made online at www.eatfigue.com or by calling the restaurant at 760-698-9040.
Figue’s Italian Festival schedule is:
- April 10 – 16 – Sicily
- April 17 – 23 – Tuscany
- April 24 – 30 – Piedmont
- May 1 – 7 – Lazio
About Figue Mediterranean
Figue Mediterranean is located at 47474 Washington Street in La Quinta, CA 92253 (telephone: 760.698.9040). From the gracious reception welcoming guests through the last, lingering bit of a seductive dessert, “sharing” is the thread that unites the Figue experience. Enjoy Figue’s progressive Mediterranean menu embodying the heart and soul of the region’s cuisine-a unique melting pot of flavors and cooking preparations from the world’s hub of many cultures. With strong influences from the Riviera, France, Italy and Spain, Figue’s food is fresh, authentic, bright, clean and simple.
Savor the seductive flavors of the Mediterranean with inspired, delicious culinary creations of Relais & Châteaux honored Executive Chef François de Mélogue while enjoying beverages from the extensive list of wines and premium specialty cocktails with an Old World and New World concept.
Figue Mediterranean is committed to the highest standards of food and product integrity. We procure, produce and serve the highest quality food possible; food that is at its peak of ripeness, freshness and flavor, and therefore at its nutritional peak. We use ingredients that are organic, farm to table, hormone and antibiotic free, wild and sustainable.
The restaurant seats dinner from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday through Thursday and from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The Bar at Figue opens at 4 p.m. and remains open until midnight on Thursday, Friday and Saturday night for cocktails and light food. Brunch is served on all major weekend holidays. Figue also is available for private events or celebrations, and for onâ€� and offâ€�site catering.
Complimentary valet parking is available. All major cards accepted. For more information or to make reservations, please call Figue at 760.698.9040 or visit their website at EatFigue.com. “Like” Figue on Facebook and follow them on Twitter. Figue is owned by Lee Morcus.
About The Bar at Figue
Guests of The Bar at Figue can enjoy a colorful and delectable collection of artisan Mediterranean foods complemented by the Bar’s handcrafted premium specialty cocktails, craft beers and world-class wines. The prices are surprisingly low: well drinks with brand name liquors (Tanqueray, Smirnoff, J&B, and more) are only $5; specialty cocktails are only $7; craft beers are only $5; premium wines by the glass are only $6.
Bar service begins at 4 p.m. and continues until 10 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and until midnight Thursday through Saturday. There are several comfortable seating options including high top tables, sofas and community tables as well as seating at the bar, which is roomy enough to accommodate both eating and drinking.