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Dining Guide for Families in Orange County

Tasting Fall at Fig & Olive

We dined as a guest of Fig & Olive

Don’t you just love the change of the seasons…especially from summer to fall? For me as much as I love the summer, I’m always excited to bust out my boots, add in a cozy sweater, and layer with a scarf. It’s a welcome change not just in fashion but in menus and I look forward to that change to Fall Menus at my favorite restaurants with their warm, earthy, spicy, comfortable dishes that are so appealing as the weather cools down. Needless to say, I was thrilled to get an invitation to dine at Fig & Olive in Newport Beach and try several of their newly added seasonal creations.

We started by ordering cocktails. And with so many creative, wonderful sounding options, selecting just one wasn’t easy. After talking with our server, I decided on Summer in Provence made with gin, house made rosemary thyme syrup, muddled blackberries and fresh lime juice. The drink was herby and surprisingly light for a gin based cocktail.

While we sipped our cocktails we were served freshly made rosemary olive oil fougasse bread with three olive oils for dipping. Fig & Olive is known for their high-end specialty olive oils, which are a central ingredient throughout the menu. In fact, no butter is used in any of their dishes. In addition to the variety of olive oils featured in the Fall Menu, charmoula, a North African sauce typically made with herbs, chili’s, garlic, lemon juice, and spices like coriander and cumin makes an appearance in several of the new dishes.

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So what was on the menu? Our server presented us with an assortment of crostini including: Grilled Vegetables with ricotta olive tapenade; Heirloom Carrot with charmoula, and carrot tapenade; and Pata Negra (Iberian ham) with tomato, peach, parmesan and ricotta. I would like to say I had a clear favorite but they were all so different and all so delicious. I could seriously make a meal out of their crostini alone.

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For appetizers, we were offered a choice of: Heirloom Baby Beet and Burrata and Crab Cake. I chose the crab cake with bell pepper, shallot, horseradish, lemon, cilantro, and sweet pimento aioli. They were more bready than I anticipated and while I enjoyed them I wanted more crab. When I saw the roasted gold and red baby beets with burrata, kumato tomato, orange segments, micro arugula, chive raspberry balsamic dressing and basil lemon olive oil emulsion arrive at our table, I was completely envious. I am going back for that salad.

For our main course we selected between Branzino a la Plancha, Pumpkin Sage Ravioli, and Côte de Boeuf (for two). The branzino is marinated with the chef’s special l’orange spice (Chef Pascal Lorange’s own blend) and comes with olive oil chive mashed potato, carrot, charmoula, red micro basil, sauce vierge (olive oil, lemon juice, chopped tomato and basil) and Cabrancosa Olive Oil. The pumpkin sage ravioli is made with chicken, ricotta and charmoula, pumpkin olive oil emulsion, toasted pumpkin seeds, parmesan, aged balsamic and Frantoio Olive Oil. Finally the Côte de Bouef, is a 36 oz Creekstone Farm bone-in Ribeye served with marble heirloom potatos, short ribs jus reduction béarnaise with choice of two sides served table side and Arbequina Olive Oil Béarnaise. What to do?

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Thankfully our hosts ordered the Côte de Boeuf for two for the table so it came down to choosing between the branzino and the ravioli. While the pumpkin ravioli was really tempting, I went with the branzino. There were so many flavors going on and one of my favorites, was the surprise of apricots with cumin in the dish. The dish was gorgeous and the warmth and depth of the spices in this dish are perfect for fall. I ordered well.

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We lightened things up a bit with a Green Apple Sorbet served with citrus segments, fresh mint and Picholine olive oil syrup for dessert. Olive oil syrup on sorbet may sound a bit strange, but it added a really nice note of decadence to the refreshing sorbet… the perfect ending to our meal.

Now to head back and try the Heirloom Beet Burrata and Pumpkin Sage Ravioli.

Fig & Olive is located at 151 Newport Center Drive at Fashion Island in Newport Beach.

Dana Wilde grew up playing “sous chef” for her father as he churned out one amazing meal after the next for family and friends. She inherited her father’s life long passion for cooking and has spent the past two decades studying, reading, practicing, experimenting, and creating in the kitchen. Together, she and her sister, Shan are Simply Wilde, a small boutique catering business focusing on in-home entertaining.

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