Cafe Society

Panzano's Elise Wiggins: Fall Is a "Romantic and Sexy Time for Food!"

Menus are changing faster than the leaves, as chefs update their offerings to reflect the season. But at Panzano, executive chef Elise Wiggins approaches her menu with more than just fall produce in mind. She's also aware of the way autumn makes us feel. See also: Fall Has Arrived at Local Kitchens -- Including Mine

"I love the season," she shares by e-mail. "To me, it's a romantic and sexy time for food!"

One dish that epitomizes what Wiggins loves about fall -- with its "warmer flavors...slow braises...deep reduction sauces...and umami flavors" -- is braised lamb neck ragu, served with housemade Mafaldine pasta (ribbon pappardelle named for an Italian princess) and pecorino tartufo cheese. And while she wants the dish to taste good, she has higher aspirations for it than that.

"There is nothing like a hot, satisfying meal with a bottle of wine with your loved one to make a romantic night," she adds. "This time of the year is cold, so people are layering up in their clothes. My goal is that they want to take them off after they've had a romantic meal at Panzano."

Forget about fall; who's ready for Valentine's Day?

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Gretchen Kurtz has worked as a writer for 25 years; during that time she's stomped grapes in Napa, eaten b'stilla in Fez, and baked with Buddy Valastro, aka the Cake Boss. Her work has appeared in publications including Boulevard (Paris), Diversion, the New York Times and Westword. Our restaurant critic since 2012, she loves helping you decide where to eat and drink tonight.
Contact: Gretchen Kurtz