Celebrate, fall is here! Lovely fall, my favorite season, filled with orangey red leaves and clear, cold days, the perfect antidote to steamy, sweaty summer. I trade in flip flops for my beloved collection of knee-high boots and pull out my favorite sweaters. I turn off the eternal humming of the air conditioner and get my blankets out of storage. I buy hot cider instead of iced tea and start planning my Halloween costume. But most importantly, I eat. Fall foods bring back a richness of flavor that is sometimes missing from the lightness that is demanded of delicious, refreshing summer dishes. Osso Bucco doesn't taste quite right when you're wearing shorts and sandals in 95° heat. With fall comes the return of so many favorite tastes, and customers are already requesting the top fall food favorites.
- Comfort Food: Our Prepared Foods teams feature a variety of delicious comfort foods: macaroni and cheese, eggplant parmesan, stuffed pork loin and more. During the summer our customers' attentions shift toward the salad bar and cut fruit selections, but come fall, the seductive power of cheese and gravy draws them back. Lasagna and meatloaf have already resumed their popularity. Also, ingredients for dishes that can be made in a crock pot have gained wide popularity in the last few months (I should have purchased stock in slow cookers!). Pulled pork, braised beef, veal stew, and who could forget chili? Throw the ingredients in the pot, turn on the TV, and root for your favorite football team until your dinner is ready. Last but not least, my personal favorite: spaghetti and meatballs. It's only the beginning of September and I've already made this dish twice.
- Seasonal Produce: While buying seasonal is a good idea all year round (you'll get the best tasting fruits and vegetables for the best price), they don't call autumn the "harvest" season for nothing. In particular, beets, field peppers, parsnips, sweet potatoes, Swiss chard, pears and, of course, apples are particularly good this time of year. And don't get me started on squash. Acorn, Hubbard, butternut - the varieties are bountiful and these vegetables are versatile, inexpensive, and a great source of vitamin A and fiber. If you bake and then top them with brown sugar and butter, they are slightly less nutritious but slightly more delicious, in my opinion.
- Root Beer: About a week ago, a lot of my customers started to ask for recommendations on a good root beer, and I remembered why this beverage has such appeal for fall. The earthiness of its flavor goes perfectly with a sweatshirt and a burger, and the licorice sweetness makes even vanilla ice cream (root beer floats anyone?) taste better. We sell several different root beers, all with slightly different flavor notes - anise, cinnamon, mint, vanilla - that complement different foods. Plus, root beer is naturally caffeine-free - who needs an extra pick-me-up on an inspiring fall day?
- The perfect roast chicken: There is something about roasting a chicken during the fall that makes it so much more appealing than in any other season. Maybe it's because roasting, in my opinion, is the best way to cook chicken and roasting is not a preferred summer cooking method. Roasting is also uncomplicated and requires only a few ingredients. Pick up some rosemary, sea salt and butter and you are on your way to creating an air of homey goodness. The perfect roast chicken is a reminder that Thanksgiving turkey is around the corner.