Avocado with Proscuitto and Olive Tapenade

After nearly a month of eating on the cheap in Southeast Asia, Eric and I decided we’d treat ourselves to a nice dinner in Bali. Granted, eating on the cheap was often the best way to dine in the countries we visited – it’s hard to imagine a big bowl of pho tasting so good in any other setting besides a street corner – but Bali certainly had fine dining options, and we wanted to see what they were like. Actually, in Ubud, nearly every restaurant looked nice – that city is full of trendy street-side cafes and posh eateries. So when we set out on this fine-dining mission, we basically just walked into one random restaurant on the street, unsure of how good it actually would be.

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As it happened, we walked into Cafe Lotus. We walked back through an expansive restaurant, took off our shoes, then stepped up onto a long terrace that overlooked a lotus pond and Hindu temple. We sat cross-legged at the short tables while watching a traditional Balinese dance at the temple. Ambiance alone was worth the price of admission. The food, by the way, was great too.

Among other things, I ordered this dish:
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It was simple – avocados, proscuitto, and olive tapenade. I knew it would be something I could easily recreate at home, which is what I finally did this week. I modified it slightly by adding artichoke hearts to the tapenade, but otherwise it is pretty much what I ate in Bali. By the way, what does a splurge for dinner cost in Bali? A whopping $30USD plus the cost of wine (which, frankly, is not a steal). Not too bad.

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Avocado with Proscuitto and Olive Tapenade

2 ripe avocados
1/4 pound thinly sliced proscuitto
1 cup mixed olives – I used several random varieties from the olive bar at the grocery store
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 anchovy fillets packed in oil
1 can artichoke hearts

1 clove garlic

Make the tapenade by combining the olives, lemon juice, anchovies, garlic, and artichoke hearts in a food processor. Process until it is just slightly chunky.

Slice the avocado in half, scoop out the pit, then carefully scoop out each half of the avocado so it remains in tact. Cut into 1/4 inch strips. Wrap the slices in proscuitto and top with the olive tapenade.

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Figs with Blue Cheese and Proscuitto

Sorry about the timing on this. I wasn’t really sure if I should post this tonight – after all, fig season is long gone – but I found dried figs at the store last night and it reminded me that I forgot to share one of the prettiest, easiest things I’ve ever made. This dish was inspired by an appetizer we ordered at Cafe Spiaggia – the restaurant whose more sophisticated sibling is a famous favorite of the Obama’s. It was a wonderful, simple dish composed of fresh figs, proscuitto, and shaved parmesano. When I found figs in my market not long after, I instantly snatched them up. The mild taste of fresh figs is really beautiful and they pair perfectly with the salty of the proscuitto and tangy of the blue cheese.

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So anyway, bookmark this recipe and wait until next year. It’s worth it.

Figs with Blue Cheese and Proscuitto

inspired by a dish at Cafe Spiaggia

I’m finding it very difficult to list measurements for this recipe, so I’ll just list the ingredients and you can estimate the amounts on your own.

Fresh Mission figs
Good quality blue cheese (I happened to have Maytag, but others will work well also)
Thin cut slices of proscuitto
Extra virgin olive oil
Agave nectar or honey
Salt and pepper

To assemble, cut the blue cheese into small chunks and the proscuitto into strips about an inch wide. Cut the figs into quarters, then wrap each segment with proscuitto, enclosing the blue cheese. The proscuitto will stick together pretty well on its own, so wrap it tightly to hold in the cheese. Drizzle with olive oil and just a drop of agave nectar. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.

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