Every year in late summer, I wait for the season’s first Black Missions and Kadotas to arrive at the market. When I was a kid, I used to watch the figs ripen on our neighbor’s tree so I could steal them the moment they reached perfection (I think she knew but never told my parents). Now I use the luscious fruits in many dishes, usually in supporting roles. This simple little bocadillo—sherry-marinated fig slices paired with aged goat cheese on toasted bread—is my favorite way of letting the fresh flavor of figs dominate. Monte Enebro, an excellent salty, tangy, aged Spanish goat cheese from an artisanal producer in Avila, is the best choice, but Humboldt Fog, an aged goat cheese from Cypress Grove, California, sold throughout the United States, is an excellent stand-in.

Makes 4 open-faced sandwiches

4 ripe but firm Black Mission or Kadota figs
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon Pedro Ximénez sweet sherry
Freshly ground black pepper
4 slices rustic whole-wheat bread
2 to 4 ounces aged goat cheese (see headnote), softened at room temperature
1 tablespoon fresh basil leaf chiffonade

Cut off the stem from each fig, and slice the figs lengthwise. Lay the slices in a single layer on a plate. In a small bowl, stir together the sherry vinegar and sherry, and brush or spoon onto the figs. Sprinkle with pepper. Let marinate at room temperature for 1 hour.
To serve, lightly toast the bread. Spread one side of each slice generously with the goat cheese. Divide the fig slices evenly among the bread slices, arranging them on top of the goat cheese. Sprinkle with the basil.

Reprinted with permission from Pintxos: Small Plates in the Basque Tradition by Gerald Hirigoyen with Lisa Weiss, copyright © 2009. Published by Ten Speed Press. Buy the book.