We all know the feeling.
You’re rolling along, enjoying a perfectly nice early autumn day when out of nowhere, you’re slapped across the face with a sign for “pumpkin spice” something or another.
All of a sudden, it’s everywhere. Pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin spice bagels, pumpkin spice Jell-O. Where does it end? Pumpkin spice dog treats? (Nope, those are real.) It’s enough to make you want to skip the months of October and November altogether.
But there are other flavors of fall, too. Autumn also means that pucker-worthy cranberries and pomegranates are cropping up in grocery stores. Cooler nights call for whiskey, red wine and hearty dishes as farmers markets — now stocked with butternut squashes and sturdy greens — are singing their annual swan song.
Fall also ushers in the season for foods you might not have considered — the oyster, for instance — that the notorious nutmeg-and-cinnamon blend never touches.
It’s almost enough to believe you can get through the season without so much as a pumpkin-spice whiff. Well, almost. Even on our list, the orange gourd sneaks in — but it’s tasteful, really. Start here and you’ll soon forget all about the p-word and be well on your way to falling in love with fall.
Indulge in bivalves
Yep, that right, it’s the start of oyster season, the time when those little gems are at their freshest in cold waters. You can find them in Minnesota, fresh-shucked, at Meritage’s annual Oysterfest (410 St. Peter St., St. Paul; Oct. 16, noon-6 p.m., $25 for general entry, more info at meritage-stp.com/oysterfest), complete with a New Orleans jazz-style band and plenty to wash the shellfish down.
Make a remix
Many local farmers markets have less than a month left of regular hours, so use the opportunity to go crop-crazy. Fall produce all goes wonderfully in a hash: Just chop everything into inch-sized cubes, grab a cast-iron pan, heat up a little oil and go to town. Sweet potatoes and turnips make for a great base. Leeks, Brussels sprouts, beets and fennel add flavor and earthiness. Apple brings a sweet-savory balance. Fold in kale or Swiss chard for the vitamins, then maybe some pomegranate seeds for color and crunch. There are no rules, but the ultimate finale is a poached egg on top.
Stay outside as long as possible
A chill in the air doesn’t always necessitate shelter. At Italian Eatery (4724 Cedar Av. S., Mpls., italianeatery.com), the four best seats in the house are perched outside the bar, with a nearby small heater to keep you toasty. Throw on a sweater, grab a bowl of pasta and protest all the snow that’s on its way.
Sip a tart libation
Why have an Old Fashioned when you can have a Cranberry Old Fashioned? That’s a question Tattersall Distilling (1620 Central Av. NE., Suite 150; Mpls., tattersalldistilling.com) asks with its newly introduced riff on the whiskey classic ($9). See recipe below.
Binge on fall flavors
OK, there’s pumpkin involved. But Birchwood Cafe’s fall savory waffle (3311 E. 25th St., Mpls., birchwoodcafe.com, $14) brings so much more to the table that you’ll forget all about it. (Or, dare we say, enjoy it?) With red currants folded into the batter, red onion jam and pear butter slathered on top, and knuckle-thick bacon chunks and a fried egg as garnishes, there’s a lot to like here.
Note: From Tattersall Distilling in Minneapolis, which sells a cranberry liqueur. To make simple syrup, dissolve equal parts sugar and water together over low heat; cool before use.
• 2 oz. bourbon
• 1/2 oz. cranberry liqueur (see Note)
• 1/4 oz. simple syrup (see Note)
• 4 dashes of Angostura bitters
• Strip of orange rind, for garnish
Combine bourbon, liqueur and simple syrup over ice and stir. Strain into a low-ball glass over a large ice cube, top with bitters and orange rind and serve.
Nutrition information per serving:
Calories 190 Fat 0 g Sodium 0 mg
Carbohydrates 9 g Saturated fat 0 g Total sugars 8 g
Protein 0 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 0 g