Sweet and Savory Snacks: Our Fave Fall Flavors
Fall flavors are as warm and rich as the changing leaves on the trees along the city lakefront. Fall food is the perfect in-between cuisine, combining the lingering sweetness of fresh summer produce and the warmth and familiarity of winter comfort foods. The sticky-sweet fruit of autumn—apples, grapes, pomegranates—balanced by smokey, savory spices reminiscent of the fires we build in the backyard to keep us warm as that first October chill settles over us. These sweet and savory snacks, dishes, accompaniments and cocktails represent what we love most about the complex coalescence of the flavor palate.
Autumn Appetizers and Hors D'oeuvres
Nothing sets the mood like an antipasti board overflowing with abundance. Here at EC, we like our house-made dips and chutneys, as well as the cheese and crudite, the stars of the display. Peppering in both fresh and dried fruits, olives and cornichons, marcona almonds and candied nuts adds a range of textures and ensures the board encompasses all the tastes on our palates. To amp up the fall flavors, a small stack of crunchy caramelized almonds completes the board. For business meetings, casual office snacks or snacks to adorn small highboy party tables, we can serve the sweet and savory nuts, pickles, fruits and crackers in caddies.
Another seasonal appetizer idea (that’s kid-friendly!) is a self-season popcorn bar. The subtle, slightly sweet flavor of popped corn is the perfect palette for all kinds of flavor combinations. Whether it’s lemon pepper and brown sugar or sesame seeds and truffle salt, each individual bag of popcorn will have its own unique tang.
Candied food isn’t just for snacks, apps and desserts—the rich caramel flavor softens bitter greens and adds crunch dishes paired with soft cheeses. Our Grilled Peach & Fig Salad, a fresh favorite for wedding dinner courses, comprises of wild field greens, freshly grilled peaches, sliced figs, pickled shallots, chive goat cheese and a champagne vinaigrette. And to finish the salad, we sprinkle a handful of candied pistachios on top. The glazed, sugar-coated nuts elevate the dish, adding a warm, comforting element to an otherwise summer-leaning salad.
For our new fall/winter menus, we wanted to feature a range of “plant-forward” entrees—that is to say, “sans meat.” Our grilled eggplant steak was a hit during Rosh Hashanah this year. Plating included warmed kale for the base, and chopped roasted orange and yellow bell peppers, capers and fresh herbs for the garnish. The sunny swipe on the plate is a tangy yellow tomato coulis for dipping. And for a final touch of fall flavor, we added a couple shards of sweet and crunchy quinoa brittle to contrast with the soft veggies and creamy sauce. On our more traditional kobe beef sliders, we’ll often add caramelized onions to the bun for a similarly scrumptious effect.
Candied nuts and caramelized foods aren’t the only autumnal accompaniments to a dish. Sweet, pure maple, when used in a savory meal, feels quintessentially seasonal. Our chicken and waffle sliders are a cocktail hour classic, but work as a main dish as well. Seasoned with ground cinnamon, ginger and cardamom, the sandwich is lightly coated with maple syrup to round out the profile. Especially when it’s served as a late night snack, a sprinkle of powdered sugar on top doesn’t hurt. Maple-glazed pork belly sliders offer a slightly less syrupy maple flavor. We add a sharp apple slaw to the buttered bun to cut through the sweet, melt-in-your-mouth meat.
Sips of the Season
For our liquid refreshments, we have an option for early fall and a concoction suited best for mid- to late-fall. First is the Mangolicious. A custom-made mocktail (we add liquor for clients who want it served that way!) of bright mango puree, fresh lemon juice, honey and greek yogurt, it’s a play on the traditional South Asian mango lassi. While we finish this refreshing summer drink with a variety of garnishes, one of our favorites is a caramelized sugar stick. The crystalized sugar makes the mocktail more indulgent and gently nudges us into the cold weather months. Once the mid-fall chill has settled over us, we up the ante with a bacon-garnished cocktail. The salty, caramelized strip is the perfect segue into those rich fall flavors.