Pairing: Pinot Noir


Fig Paté and a Story


By Marilyn Webb, June 2001

Our friend, Joanie Drabkin, had a treeload of figs one late summer, and I happened to get a piece of the action. Very ripe. Almost dead ripe. (I begin to understand the meaning of that phrase, in retrospect.)

Anyway, I had to make an appetizer for Pinot Noir for some event long forgotten, and I began a search for a recipe with very ripe figs. I came upon one from an Oregon restaurant, Cafe des Amis, in Portland, and, with a few changes, it has become a vineyard favorite for events. We were delighted when, after serving this to many guests over the years, it came back to Bethel Heights last summer with a caterer, who had long ago gotten the recipe from us. Good food travels.

The beauty of this is that it freezes nicely for up to six months.

Tip: If you only have grocery store common dried figs at your disposal, don’t do this one. It really needs top quality dried figs to work, preferably right from Joanie Drabkins’s tree into your food dryer.


  • 6 dried figs, stemmed and sliced (when I dried my own, using them right away, I left them relatively moist (yes, I ran out of time).
  • 1/8 cup pear brandy
  • 1/8 cup creme de cassis (raspberry or blackberry liqueur)
  • You can use all pear brandy, but I like the added richness of berries. 1/4 cup all together.
  • 3/4 cup butter, room temp
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 pound chicken livers, trimmed of fat
  • 1/2 ts. dried thyme (or 1 ts. fresh, snipped)
  • 1/4 ts. ground mace
  • 1/2 ts. ground pepper
  • 1/4 ts. salt

In a small bowl, combine the dried fig slices and brandy, and let it for several hours or preferably over night.  Drain, and reserve liquid.

Melt 2 T. of the butter in a heavy skillet. Add onion and saute until tender, 8 – 10 minutes. Add garlic and livers and saute until livers are pink in the center (5 minutes tops). Remove. Cool slightly.

Transfer liver mixture to food processor.  Add figs, thyme, mace, salt and pepper. Process until smooth. Taste for seasoning.

Place skillet over medium heat. Pour in reserved brandy. Stir and capture any bits left from sauteing the livers – a deglaze. Add these juices to food processor and mix with brief pulses.

Cut remaining butter into slices and add gradually, processing after each addition.  Taste again for salt, but don’t overdo. Flavors will intensify.

Place pate in an attractive dish, garnish with thyme branches and a fresh fig, if you like, cover, and refrigerate until you are ready to use.

Serve with toasted french bread. Outstanding with Pinot noir.


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