Santomiele Dried Figs in Departures Magazine

Our friend Paul Greenberg has one fantastic job. He’s a James Beard award-winning food journalist and a regular contributor to the NYTimes and many other publications. This past summer, he visited a few of our producers in Campania including Gustarosso, Maida, and Santomiele. American Express’s Departures Magazine published his account of the visit with Antonio Longo of Santomiele, creator of the cult-favorite DOP White Cilento Fig Fagottini.

His article “Elevating the Art of Italian Ingredients“, will have you booking a flight to the Amalfi Coast before you can say fagottino di fichi. No one could describe better these fabled “fig packets”:

“Unwrapping the coarse, earthy paper, I saw that its reverse side bore a facsimile of an eighteenth-century sketch of the Bay of Naples, suggesting a kind of treasure map. The waft of cinnamon, wildflowers, and tobacco emanating from a folded fig leaf within the map only added to that impression. Finally, I opened the leaf to reveal the buried treasure itself: day-long roasted almonds, candied orange peel, and a delicately marinated white dottato fig that had been cured for over a year.”

If his words don’t have you convinced, then Arianna Lago’s dreamy photos accompanying his article will:

Santomiele fig fagottino Cilento Arianna Lago

Cilento, in the southern part of Campania, is the birthplace of the Mediterranean Diet, and is home to one of the largest populations of centenarians on Earth. DOP White Cilento figs are one of the areas’ most prized specialty products. Paul learned in his visit that, originally, the “fig fagottino” was an energizing packet of figs and nuts that Cilento laborers would carry into the fields. Starting with his grandfather’s fig trees, Antonio Longo and his childhood friend Corrado del Verme elevated this concept into todays’ luxurious fig fagottini.

Santomiele dried figs and almonds Cilento Arianna Lago

These DOP White Cilento figs really couldn’t exist anywhere else. The importance of terroir is built into the walls themselves at Santomiele. Behind the women carefully folding each fig packet into shape, a flysch rock formation overlooks the floor. This rock in the substrate is key to the district flavor of the area’s DOP-protected white dottato figs. Antonio described the moment the fruit begins to ripen each summer:

“If you come back in July, you will see the figs begin to ripen, starting at the coast and then sweeping up the mountains. We call it the green wave.”

Now who’s ready to book that trip? Grazie mille Paul for your exceptional reporting and story telling, you really brought Cilento alive!

Read Paul’s piece for Departures magazine here: Elevating the Art of Italian Ingredients, and check out what he had to say about San Marzano Tomatoes after his visit to Gustarosso.