The pumpkin spice wars are back again in full force, the calendar page has turned to September, and harvest has begun. As much as I like to keep seasons in their place, it's hard not to jump the gun just a bit, anticipating the foods and wines of the next season, my personal favorite. There's a quickening in fall which brings me back to life.
This week I let myself indulge in just two autumn recipes, needing to taste more than pure anticipation. The first was a large pot full of Butternut Soup. This version has curry powder, cumin, and a kick of cayenne. It's creamy and golden and perfect as an easy autumn lunch. I haven't yet found its perfect wine partner, but I'm open for suggestions.
The second indulgence was sparked by the season's first apples, a Minnesota-born variety called Zestar! (Yes--the exclamation point is part of its trademarked name.) These cold-hardy apples are really pretty and very tasty, light and flavorful and crisp. Because they are known for having a bit of brown sugar quality, I knew exactly which recipe would fit them: an Apple Crisp recipe which begins by making a bit of homemade caramel sauce, which is tossed with the apples before being put into the baking dish. The caramel flavors make this a notably delicious fall breakfast or dessert.
I had two of Allegro's fruit wines in mind to pair with this dessert, but the first choice was so successful that I never even opened the second bottle. The winner accompaniment is Allegro's Funk: a sweet-tart cranberry and grape blend. Honestly, it's been a while since I have come up with a food and wine pairing which is this successful. Each sip complements each bite; each bite enhances the next sip. The cranberry and apple and caramel and cinnamon...all of it just works. Almost-autumn has never tasted so good.