Fall is the time to experience Tuscany, especially if you have a true sense of romance, an appreciation of history, tradition, and a soul that is attracted to the poetic.
When I think of Tuscany at this time of year, I envision an early morning fog in late September, rolling in over the hills, providing a dramatic backdrop for the farmers as they pick grapes and turn soil for the harvest, just as their parents and grandparents did before them.
This season is also a time of intense aromas, such as the wet, early morning smell of wood, mushrooms and chestnuts, or the smoke coming off chimneys, which – no matter when I encounter it – puts me in an autumn state of mind.
But, fall is something else as well. It is the time when the shadow of darkness crawls over the land earlier and earlier each day.
There’s an extra layer of mystery in the fall, an air of the unknown and unknowable that seems to live in the shadows of the season and tease us from time to time. It is no accident that Halloween comes in the fall, because this is the time when ghosts would be at home.
The purpose of a fall meal is the opposite of one in the spring or summer. In those seasons, food is just another excuse to go outside. But in the fall, food is a protest against the weather and becomes of the most important parts of daily life. The weather is perfect for more serious food and for drinking great, complex wines.
Cool weather staples such as pears, pumpkins, beets, peppers, chestnuts, mushrooms and my personal favorite, truffles, all contribute to the earthy, richer and heartier recipes of fall.
Whereas in the spring and summer we have food that can be devoured raw or after a quick sauté, now we have ingredients that have to be slow-cooked to soften them or draw out their moisture and concentrate their flavor. Yet I find myself nostalgic for fall vegetables every year. In fact it’s my favorite time in which to cook and eat.
A fall meal is actually a form of entertainment – as a restaurant is more than just its food. It is a stage where we present great seasonal ingredients, skillfully prepared, joyfully served and shared with family and friends.
So I invite you to come by Morso, be entertained and celebrate the season of the harvest with us.
Excerpts from my books Simply Tuscan and La Mia Cucina Toscana