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When I was growing up, fresh asparagus was a special treat whose spring arrival was much anticipated. We only were able to eat asparagus a couple of times a year. The rareness of asparagus was part of its allure. I once hosted an all-asparagus dinner party, featuring that delicious vegetable in every course.

Then asparagus became ubiquitous and I stopped eating it. There is no seasonality to asparagus, no anticipation. Asparagus seems boring. Asparagus is now the “green vegetable” on every rubber-chicken menu. I like having the choice of lots of fresh vegetables in the market, but I never choose asparagus. I eat less asparagus now than when I was growing up.

I get excited over the fruits and vegetables that are only available sometimes. Fresh produce that is not available every day seem more desirable when they are available. I have created dinner party menus around morel mushrooms, chanterelle mushrooms, artichokes, zucchini blossoms, green tomatoes, unusual winter squash, fresh peaches and apricots, tart cherries. Right now, I am eating fresh figs every day. One day, figs will be available year-round, like asparagus, and I’ll love seeing fresh figs in the market. But I probably won’t eat as many figs as I am eating now. I will be tempted by some other rare fruit.

Here is a fall dish that celebrates my current obsession:

Roasted Pork with Fresh Figs

  • 1 four-rib rack of pork
  • Salt and pepper

For the herb butter:

  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Season the pork with salt and pepper. Mix the butter with the shallots, garlic, mustard, and herbs to make a paste. Spread on top of the pork. Roast at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, then lower the temperature to 275 degrees and continue baking for about 1 ½ hours or until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 140 degrees. Remove from the oven and let the meat rest for 15 minutes before carving into chops.

 

For the figs:

  • 3 tablespoons minced shallots
  • ½ cup port wine
  • 12 fresh figs

Combine the shallots, port, and figs in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer until reduced and tender, about 15 minutes.