Balsamic fig and whipped goats cheese crostini

Scroll to the bottom for competition details to WIN a heritage set of Alhambra Reserva 1925 beer

A few years ago I had a conversation with Omar Allibhoy which stuck with me. The Spanish chef and founder of Tapas Revolution was, unsurprisingly, talking tapas. Or the lack of.

When he first came to Britain, he was taken aback by the amount of drinking which took place without food. It’s a uniquely British trait. Walk past Leadenhall  Market after work, and you might spot a packet of crisps amongst the pints, but not much else. Or wander down a British high street early on a Friday evening, and you’ll notice that the general migratory route goes from work, to pub, to bar, to club – without a pit stop at a restaurant for some non-liquid sustinance.

I’m not preaching. Crikey – I’m guilty of enough nights where I’ve nipped to the pub for a post-work drink and before I know it, it’s 11pm, and the only thing that’s passed my lips since lunch is red wine. No, I’m certainly not preaching, I’m just fantasising about what it would be like if we could somehow incorporate eating alongside drinking into our night time culture.

It seemed that a good place to start in my experimentations of civilised, post-work drinking was with a nice Spanish beer – Alhambra Reserva 1925. Its name is taken from Alhambra Palace in Granada, Andalusia, and I must admit I was pretty swayed by beautiful bottle which had no label, but embossed green glass. It’s quite different to the pale ale I’d usually pick. The Alhambra Reserva 1925 is a golden amber colour, with quite uniquely sharp bitter notes, and toasted caramel aromas. Really unusual, really nice.

It’s the sort of beer which sipped, not chugged, and a plate of tapas added to the civility of proceedings. Spanish peppery spice would make a great accompaniment to the bitter flavours, but it was too tempting not to plunder the pile of figs which are been outside Aryibi Express on Bethnal Green Road. The bonus with this recipe is that you’re left with a lovely fig syrup – it’s delicious over porridge, which helps guarantee a civilised start to the following day, as well as a more dignified end to the night before.

Balsamic fig and whipped goats cheese  crostini
Makes roughly 20 canapés

140g sugar
250g water
75g balsamic vinegar
400g figs, cut into moon-shaped chunks
200g soft goats cheese
250g cream cheese
1 part-baked baguette, sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
100g Serrano/Ibirico ham (or prosciutto), torn into 20 pieces

  1. First, make the syrup for the figs. Put the sugar, water and balsamic vinegar in a bowl, and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved.
    2. Halve the figs and then cut each half into 3-4 slices, and then submerge the figs into the warm syrup while you prepare the rest of the canapé.
    3. Next, beat the soft goats cheese with the cream cheese until it’s light and fluffy, and then season with pepper.
    4. Cut the baguette on the diagonal, into twenty slices. Pour the olive oil into a saucer and mix with the salt, and then use a brush to lightly coat each side with the seasoned oil.
    5. Lay the slices of baguette on a baking tray, or use a traditional toaster to grill them until both sides are golden. Let the ‘crostini’ cool.
    6. To assemble the canapés, put a teaspoon of the whipped goats cheese on the crostini. Arrange a piece of the ham one side, and then push a piece of fig on top, and garnish with a sprig of thyme.

    ‘What would be your perfect tapas for pairing with Alhambra Reserva 1925?
    Comment below and you could win a heritage set of Alhambra Reserva 1925 beer to enjoy with your own tapas creations!

    Thanks to Alhambra for sending over some beer for me to try.


  1. says

    The classic, the simple, the timeless: Gambas Al Ajillo. No messing about.

    Not only would the ultra-classic dish perfectly reflect the heritage of ’25 Alhambra, but the beer’s distinctive hops would help cut through that garlicky oil, and wash down those beautiful gambas in the process.


  2. Gregory says

    Two stand outs for me would be chorizo braised in cider or garlic stuffed prawns either would be an outstanding match.

  3. says

    Oooh, I would have to go big bold flavours here.
    I love El cazón en adobo, have you tried it? You cut the fish into chunks and marinade overnight in Vinegar, wine, paprika, oregano, garlic, bay leaves, salt and all spice. The next day you toss the fish in flour and fry. It’s super delicious with a wedge of lemon and a cold beer. Perfect pairing, what with the beer and the dish both from Andalusia

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