Hands down, fall is my favorite time of year. The trees are covered in green, gold, and red leaves (yes, even in Santa Barbara); there is a chill in the air; and with every breath I am greeted with scents of cinnamon, pumpkin, and apples that permeate every store. What’s even better than the fall atmosphere? Food! Pots of steaming stew, roasted meats, and, of course, warm desserts! These are some of my favorite dishes that bring to life the flavors of fall and the wines that will make them unforgettable. Enjoy!
Appetizer: Sliced apple and fig stacks
I love this appetizer. It is perfect for snacking while cooking the rest of the meal (while sipping some wine of course), but is also works well as a make ahead appetizer for parties. I serve it on apples for an added fall flare, but you can easily serve it over crostini or crackers as well. This is serious flavor packed in a little bite.
Core and slice one or two apples (Fuji, Gala, or Pink Lady work well) about ¼ inch thick and drizzle with lemon juice to prevent browning. Slice some fresh figs into ¼ in slices. Fresh figs are everywhere now, but if you cannot find them, then dried figs will also work. Slice some thin sheets of prosciutto into 1 in strips, lengthwise. Time to assemble! Top each apple slice with a slice of fig, and then layer the stack with a slice of prosciutto. Drizzle a few drops of extra virgin olive oil over the top and serve.
Perfect Pairing: Chateau St. Michelle Dry Riesling
I recently discovered this Riesling and it is divine. If you have stayed away from Rieslings in the past, thinking they were too sweet, then this is the one for you. It is crisp, fruity, slightly bubbly, and full of fall flavors of pear and citrus, with just a hint of sweetness. It is the perfect wine to complement the sweet, tart, and savory flavors of the Apple and Fig Stacks. Yum!
Entrée: Bacon-wrapped roasted pork tenderloin with roasted brussel sprouts and apples
Ahhhh. A glass of wine, a warm fire, and a simple roasted meal is my idea of the perfect fall night. And, this roasted menu is so easy that it is perfect for a weekday, but elegant enough to have in your bag of tricks for last-minute visitors. Plus, seriously, you cannot go wrong with bacon…on anything!
To make the marinade for the roast, mix together ½ cup dry white wine (such as a sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio), juice of ½ a lemon, 1 clove garlic, crushed, ½ cup chopped fennel, 1/8 tsp. sea salt, ¼ tsp. black pepper, ½ cup chopped fresh herbs (combo of tarragon, Italian parsley and thyme). Pour over a two to three pound pork tenderloin roast. Cover and refrigerate for one to two hours (this is also great to make ahead of time…start before work, and then cook it when you get home).
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Remove the pork from the marinade and wrap bacon slices the full length of the tenderloin (takes about 12 slices). Tie with kitchen string along the length of the pork to hold it together. Heat a large, oven-proof, skillet with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sear all sides of the pork to get the bacon crispy. Once all sides are browned, toss the whole pan in the oven to finish cooking. Depending on the thickness, the pork should be finished in 30 to 40 minutes. Slice along each bacon line for nice thick “baconny” goodness!
Continue the bacon theme with some roasted brussel sprouts with bacon and sautéed cinnamon apples with walnuts.
Perfect Pairing: White wine – Zaza Mesa Roussanne, or Red wine – Curtis Mourvedre
This Roussanne is complex, creamy, full of fruit, but not heavy. It is robust enough to stand up to the salty bacon and flavorful pork, but without the heaviness of an oaky chardonnay. With pork, both white and red wines work, so my favorite red for this one is a great the Mourvedre from Curtis. Full of blackberry, chocolate, and spice it adds heartiness to the meal. The Pinot Noir from Concannon is a great alternative as well ($12).
Dessert: Frutta Marsala
Friends almost always request this dessert for potlucks, but note, it is for adults only! The alcohol is not cooked off in this dish. For a kid’s version, just layer the berries over the ice cream and drizzle with dark chocolate sauce. The berries and marsala become one the longer it sits, so it’s another great make ahead dessert.
Add 1 cup each fresh strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries to a large glass bowl. Add 1 cup dry Marsala wine and ½ cup fine sugar to the berries and mix well. Cover and marinate for 4 hours or overnight. Serve with good Vanilla Ice Cream (such as Bryers Vanilla Bean or Trader Joes Vanilla). This also works well over angel food or pound cake. Top with some dark chocolate shavings!
Perfect Pairing: Mosby Winery Sophia
This wine is dessert in a glass for sure. Sophia is a delectable dessert wine from the Mosby vineyard (Italian varietals) in Buelton, CA. It is made with fresh raspberries and is bright, sweet, but with enough acid to not be sticky sweet and is a burst of berry with each sip. This enhances the fruitta marsala, but it is also amazing with, you guessed it, a slice of dark chocolate cake.
Embrace and enjoy the fall scenery with these dishes. I will.