Cafe Society

Fall Has Arrived at Local Kitchens -- Including Mine

This year, just as I've done for as long as my kids can remember, I joined a local farm share. Flush with produce for nearly five months, I made zucchini bread, seared green beans, melon aguas frescas, panzanella, turnip puree and fennel-and-orange salads, cooking my way from early summer to fall with whatever the farmer felt like growing. But this week the bag of dirt-covered produce -- the last of the season -- looked different. Instead of tomatoes there were onions, instead of melons there were potatoes and carrots. Despite this streak of warm weather, fall is really here. See also: A Closer Look at To the Wind Bistro Restaurants, too, are making a transition to the season. At Old Major, chef/owner Justin Brunson is saying hello to autumn with several dishes, including his current favorite: pappardelle with rabbit confit, pickled cabbage and roasted chestnuts shaved over the top like truffles. And for everyone who wishes the holidays would just hurry up and get here already, he's offering his version of Thanksgiving dinner, with pheasant, sage stuffing, mashed potatoes, orange-cranberry puree, and a far more sophisticated take on green bean casserole than you ever saw at Grandma's, with haricots verts, mushroom puree and fried shallots. "You get to the end of summer and have all these awesome summer ingredients, but I'm overeating tomatoes," he says. "I'm kind of over that. I'm ready for mushrooms and squash."

Royce Oliveira, who owns To the Wind Bistro along with his wife and pastry chef Leanne Adamson, is also showcasing mushrooms and squash. One fall-inspired entree includes duck confit with braised red cabbage and roasted delicata squash rings filled with lentil salad. Another features sweet-potato gnocchi with caramelized Brussels sprout leaves, oyster mushrooms and a mushroom-based crème-fraiche sauce.

With hearty dishes like these coming out of kitchens around town, I'm not so sad about saying goodbye to summer -- though I'll miss my farmer's heirloom yellow, purple and green tomatoes every day from now until next season.