For many, the changing of the seasons means the landscape is awash in a tapestry of color, pumpkin patches and apple orchards are ripe for the picking, an overabundance of yard work is a given, an increased number of festivals descend upon the Middle Tennessee towns in hopes of one last warm weekend before the winter chill sets in.
For me, it's something entirely different—it's my favorite eating season of the year.
Yes, that's right—you can have your summer corn and heirloom tomatoes; I want all the pumpkin and butternut squash that can fit on my plate (and in my stomach). I like to think, too, that fall is when many Nashville chefs are at their most creative. Maybe it's the time change, maybe it's the fact that SEC football fuels us all, but it's probably due to a new crop of seasonal ingredients inspires them to get creative.
(Credit: Camels and Chocolate)
For example, I had a truly decadent dinner at the Farm House just last weekend. This innovative farm-to-table restaurant always brings its A-game, but much like the foliage, Chef-Owner Trey Cioccia is at his peak in the fall months. To start, there's the gnudi of the day, which might be a walnut gnudi with delicata squash, Tasso, sage, sweet potato and apple. The duck confit is served over spaetzli with spaghetti squash, ricotta, olive and pancetta. The chorizo, pumpkin, apple, cumin, caraway and crème fraiche is not to be missed either, nor is the roasted chicken thigh, collards, white beans, ham, onion and beer. To tie it all together, Cioccia, who also is his own pastry chef, serves a mean skillet pecan pie and a deconstructed vinegar pie in a mason jar as part of a trio of desserts. Lunch, dinner or brunch, you'll experience fall in all her glory with the help of Cioccia and his sous chef Bobby Compton.
(Credit: Michael Sati)
Over in 12South, at (Credit: Michael Sati)
Josephine, Chef-Owner Andy Little keeps the booths and tables packed thanks to his rotating menu of hits such as the seasonal rabbit and apple cider dumpling that recently hit menus. Friday and Saturday are the best nights to nab a spot at this two-year-old eatery, in case you were wondering, as Josephine X|X offers the highlights reel of Little's fare, complete with 10 small dishes served along a community-style table and wine and beer pairings optional. His pastry chef, Kayla May, plays along, too, with her apple cobbler and vanilla bean ice cream—baked to order—selling out nightly and a dark chocolate, salted caramel, gingerbread and toffee concoction joining it on the menu soon.
(Credit: Andrea Behrends)
(Credit: Andrea Behrends)
James Beard-winning chef Tandy Wilson always delights—and surprises—diners with his ever-changing Sunday Supper at City House that might include a sweet potato hash or a white sauce pizza with baked apples, chilis and onions (always opt for the fried egg cracked on top—always). Just be sure and save room for dessert: Pastry chef Rebekah Turshen mixes things up by incorporating dishes like her recent sweet potato skillet cake with salt and pepper meringue, drizzled with butterscotch.
(Credit: Camels & Chocolate)
But what's food without a little beer to wash it all down? One of my favorite local breweries—and female-owned at that—Jackalope ups the ante of craft brews time and time again every season, and this fall is no different. A couple of its many seasonal brews include Das Bij, a honey and thyme saison with honey from Land Trust for TN Glen Leven Farm and thyme grown at Bloomsbury Farm; and the popular Chaiwalker, a variation of Bearwalker Maple Brown infused with local Firepot Chai. And even though it's a bit early to contemplate building a snowman, the fan favorite, the Snowman Stout—a dreamy chocolate mocha stout brewed with Bongo Java Roasting coffee beans and Olive and Sinclair Chocolate Co. cocoa nibs—is out on tap and in cans once more.
Happy fall eating and drinking, y'all—don't forget to wear your fat pants.