Overlooking the shoreline of the seemingly never-ending Lake Superior lies an unassuming cafe that has housed, repeatedly, several of my favorite things I have ever eaten. When the Minnesotan weather permits, flowers guide you to the door of the building. There are M&M’s to greet you upon your arrival and to wish you well as you depart. The place is small, with options for seating to the left and right of the entryway. Go right, and you might note that there is plaque after plaque of reviews raving about New Scenic Cafe. In those humble chairs at those quiet tables, there has been Goat Cheese Cake and Cumin Scented Pork Tenderloin and the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had. Come here often enough and you might find yourself waiting for the end of summer every summer, because that is when they serve you figs.
This sandwich is inspired by my favorite of all dishes I have ever eaten, which was served to me at New Scenic for the first time a few years ago. Jutting from a bowl of molten black mission figs and toasted walnuts that have caramelized in maple syrup and brown butter is a wedge of danish blue cheese; you receive slices of toast to smother every which way as you desire. It is futile to try to recreate a dish like this in all its glamorous perfection, so I decided to at least try my hand at its reinvention. Spreading danish blue cheese on the warm insides of a toasted ciabatta roll, layering spinach leaves, then caramelized figs and walnuts, topping with brown buttery maple goo…and savoring each little, fleeting bite before the weather turns and it’s time once more to wait for next year’s offering.
Maple Brown Butter Black Mission Fig Sandwiches with Spinach, Walnuts and Danish Blue Cheese
Makes 1 sandwich
1 Ciabatta roll, sliced in half
1 tbsp high-quality salted butter (I use Kerrygold religiously)
3 black mission figs, stems removed and sliced into quarters
1 tbsp pure maple syrup
2 tbsp walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
2-3 tbsp danish blue cheese
1/4 cup baby spinach
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place ciabatta roll on baking sheet and toast in oven until lightly crisped and golden on the edges, about 5-8 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt butter on medium heat. Allow it to foam, stirring occasionally, until it begins to pop (this means that the fat in the butter is browning). Add figs and maple syrup, stirring to combine. Saute until the figs have lightly caramelized, about 3-4 minutes. Add walnuts, stirring to combine, then transfer to a small bowl to cool slightly. Spread Danish blue cheese on both Ciabatta roll halves. Top the bottom slice with baby spinach, followed by figs and walnuts, reserving maple brown butter. Pour maple brown butter on inside of top half of ciabatta roll before topping sandwich and serving.