Continuing my mini-series on the sensory experiences of the changing seasons in Vermont, this chapter meanders through the flavors of Fall.
Waning days and cooling nights of October herald the apple harvest. With apples comes the sweet ambrosia of freshly pressed apple cider, as well as the unparalleled pleasure of a warm apple cider donut that blends saccharine and savory in every bite.
It lies within the piquant spices, warm and aromatic, that we fold into our beloved autumnal recipes. Ground ginger with its peppery verve; the harmonies of nutmeg and allspice; a punctuation of cinnamon fragrance that permeates the air and lingers like a lonesome houseguest.
Creamy, buttery squashes melt into soups and stews. Sugary pumpkins are distilled into pie. Great green fronds of kale and sleigh bells of brussels sprouts grow sweeter with each light frost. Fall is the taste of pizza topped with sweet slices of pear, tangy blue cheese crumbles and a drizzle of earthen maple syrup.
It’s the parade of pumpkin beers with flavors that range from robust imperial stouts, dark as night, to golden ales redolent of pumpkin, molasses and spice.
In my own kitchen, the flavors of fall are nostalgic. Some of my favorites include the first “Adult” recipe that I tackled all on my own: Bon Apetit’s Cheese Tortellini Soup with Cannellini, Keilbasa and Kale. I was 14 and it was my first acquaintance with a fennel bulb. My family was so proud of me for making that soup, and even though it was a winter recipe it’s always reminded me of the Fall season.
Another all-time favorite Fall recipe is Rachel Ray’s Penne Pasta with Pumpkin and Sausage. The sweet lusciousness of pumpkin and cream, fragrant with the scents of cinnamon, nutmeg and sage feels like a warm shawl wrapped around my soul.
And then, of course, there’s our beloved Fall soups and chili, their recipes speckled and spotted with dinners of days gone by: Barefoot Contessa’s butternut squash and apple; Inyo Country Store’s Lentil Soup; meatball soup with winter vegetables; my Mom’s hearty white chicken chili. Every bowl evokes memories of sweaters and swirling leaves.
In this gustatory narrative, I would be remiss to leave out the flavors of Vermont’s hard ciders, which we’ve discovered are quite exquisite. Our favorite thus far is the ethereal flavor of Citizen Cider’s Unified Press, an effervescent libation with nuances of apple, honey and sunshine.
The flavors of Fall in Vermont are romantic and intimate; rich with the fruits of harvest, laden with warmth, and fragrant with spices and herbs. Yum.