Candy Murphy cooked dinner at home on Monday night and tried a new pineapple avocado salsa recipe. “I was going to put it over greens,” she said, “But then I decided, what the heck -- I’m going to do it straight-up.”
She served the salsa with pork tenderloin and smiled as she remembered the meal with her husband. “You might find that making an appearance in my summer menu,” she added. “We will probably do a slow-roasted pork sandwich with some kind of fruit salsa and a spicy kick to it.”
Candy is the chef at Figs & Pigs Kitchen + Pantry, located at the corner of Foster and Commercial Street. The fast-casual restaurant’s menu is based on the seasons, working with the freshest, in-season produce to cook tasty, unique gourmet sandwiches, salads, and soups from scratch (not to mention the fresh-brewed coffee and pastries).
“Summer speaks to fresh vegetables, eating lighter, lots of seafood, fruit, salsas,” Candy said. “As I am creating the menu, I am thinking about home gardening, the beach, what people like.” She grows fresh herbs, onions, garlic, tomatoes, zucchini, and other summer staples at home, bringing inspiration from the backyard to the kitchen.
“You won’t find tomatoes on the menu until they are good and fresh,” she promised.
Planning the menu is not just about experimenting with new recipes at home and gathering ideas from summer classics. “I do a lot of research into food trends, what other chefs are doing,” Candy said. “This concept -- fast-casual, chef-driven, inspired food -- it’s taking off like crazy across the country. It’s what people want.”
She also considers what her customers value in their meals. “We appeal to a lot of different people. People who are thinking about their health, and they want to eat better, and so they look at my menu and they’re like ‘Wow, I can actually eat here every day and not feel guilty! And then you have those who really care about where their food comes from and they want things that are freshly-prepared.”
So what will the summer menu at Figs & Pigs look like? A juicy burger is a given. A vegetarian sandwich option will be making a debut soon (something similar to Mushroom Madness, but with a seasonal twist). “I’m going to do a taco bar with chicken, mahi, pork, and shrimp. They can order one, two, three, one of each -- whatever they want,” Candy said. There will also be mini baguettes and a choice of chicken salad, egg salad, or tuna salad.
Her new idea for the drink menu is customizable, refreshing iced tea, coffee, or lemonade (all fresh-brewed) with “wow” fruity flavors. “I’m addicted to the peach green tea lemonade,” Candy said with a grin.
When she isn’t in the kitchen, Candy enjoys the simplicity of the season, and remembers time spent in her home in Northborough.
“Sitting on my back patio in Northborough, with a very simple tomato salad, fresh herbs, a nice piece of grilled meat, and a beverage. Preferably an adult beverage," she said. "That’s, to me, summer.”