There is no doubt that one of the biggest draws of Paris for me was the food. I mean, come on. It’s a food culture practically built on bread and cheese, two of my most favorite food groups.
As I mentioned, I went to Paris with a pretty comprehensive list of places to eat that covered everything from hole-in-the-wall falafel stands to old school French bistros to small plates and wine bars. These are just three of best places I ate during the trip (another post to come shortly with more, but I figured 1,500 words was quite enough to start with): Au Petit Versailles, an amazing cafe; Breizh Cafe for spectacular crepes and cider; and Le Baron Rouge for wine and oysters.
Out of any season, I love, love, love how fall smells the most. I love the cinnamon and warm baking apples, roasting nuts, crisp, bright citrus mingled with cloves, the smokey burning leaves. They are some of the most comforting scents, cozy and homey, and they permeate everything like the best aromatherapy you can imagine.
The two preserves I made recently represent two of the most popular profiles this time of year–warm and spiced, and tart and citrus-y–but each offers a slight twist on the traditional.
The first is a variation on a riff of a traditional Jewish Passover dish called charoset or charoses, normally an uncooked mixture of apples, honey, nuts, cinnamon, and sweet red wine. Conveniently this also happens to taste exactly like all the delicious, warm, spiced flavors of fall, no religious affiliation needed.
I’ve spread this on a piece of whole grain bread instead of jam and stirred it into oatmeal, and imagine a beautiful jar and a bottle of wine would not be unwelcome as a hostess gift (do people still give those?).
On the other end of the spectrum of fall flavors, this cranberry conserve tastes like all the crispness of fall contained in a little jar (given my love of all things tart and sour, say cherries, rhubarb, and plums, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that cranberries are also a favorite).
In this conserve, oranges are used whole–that is, skin and all–for a slightly bitter note under the sweet and sour of simmered cranberries and a bit of texture with the crunch of nuts (any you like–walnuts, almonds, or pecans would be traditional, but pistachios would be colorful and tasty as well). It’s amazing as an accompaniment to any upcoming turkey dinners you might have planned, but also delicious on a cream scone or warmed slightly and spread on a ham sandwich.
Either of these can be canned, but they can also easily be refrigerated if you aren’t comfortable with the process, or just don’t want to spend the time. It is nice to pop open a jar of fall flavors come mid-January though!
I bought an ice cream maker on clearance at the beginning of the summer, and have spent the past few months experimenting with ice cream bases and flavors (observe, the challenges of my life). After a total bust with the standard cooked-egg-custard base, I discovered a process that has yet to fail me. And for that, I have to credit Jeni Briton of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream (Ohio family, she has a shop in Chagrin Falls, please tell me someone has been there! Chicago folks, you can buy some of her ice creams at a few gourmet shops around the city) and her recent cookbook.
So far I’ve made pistachio (hard to go wrong with adding nuts to anything, in my opinion); lemon with raspberry swirl; chocolate with almond, caramel, and marshmallows; and my latest, a mulled-wine-spiced base with roasted grapes.