If it weren’t for the fact that Winter is around the corner, Autumn would be my favorite season. There’s just a slight chill in the air while still a few gorgeous, sunny days with beach potential. This time of year, my thoughts turn more to cooking and comfort foods. This is probably because each October my husband and I attend the international food show, Anuga. This year, it was in Cologne, Germany. On the way we actually snuck in two beach days in Mallorca, Spain first. After all the stress of opening our new store in Industry City, we were due for a little sunshine and a lot of fresh-caught seafood with local wines. The best thing about the area we stay in in Palma is its delicious local seafood. You just pick from the case and tanks and they cook it for you with extra virgin oil and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. The catch of the day is always amazing and simply prepared. No wonder Spain is famous for their bocarones! The grilled razor clams and the scallops in shell tasted as incredible as they look. And I can’t say enough about the squid in its ink…!
After two days eating like this, it was time to get to Germany. The aisles of Anuga are vast and chock full of products. Everything from wonderful cheeses and gorgeous charcuterie to aisles full of gourmet goods and a whole building devoted to bread and baking. Mushrooms and truffles were everywhere, two of my favorite things for a huge depth of flavor. The pretzel chandelier was a carb lovers dream. Rows and rows of picture perfect desserts and colorful displays of caviar were everywhere. Days of walking 10 miles a day and tasting great foods, plus nights of business dinners with even more terrific meals makes for a magical trip.
All of these smells and scents get me raring to cook when we arrive home! When we left Brooklyn, it still felt like Indian Summer, but when we returned Autumn was in full swing. Pumpkin displays were everywhere and our small produce department was bursting with squash and fall vegetables -- just the sight of them got my creative juices flowing. The Summer is ideal for patio grilling and salads, but Autumn is the time for roasting and slow cooked dishes that perfume the house with their aroma. Soups and stews make the house feel warm and welcoming.
I absolutely love roasted squash. Roasting squash concentrates the flavor and makes them slightly caramelized, leading to a simmering soup flavored with Ros al Hanout spices and enriched with date syrup and full fat yogurt. This simple soup would also be delicious with Pumpkin Pie Spice. Topped with fresh chopped coriander this dish was a delight!
The same base pureed with black sesame & roasted garlic, and then enriched with extra virgin oil and a bit of hot chili made a terrific fall meze plate. To lighten it further, I served it with seasonal vegetable spears. Of course, feel free to scoop it up with our fresh pita too!