One can hardly swing a spoon this time of year without hitting something infused with pumpkin spice. While this super-trendy flavor blend has its place, it is by no means the original culinary hallmark of autumn. For centuries, as cooler nights warned of impending frost, the harvest of the year’s crops began. And one of the sweetest, most bountiful foods to fill American pantries? The humble apple.
Sure, you can bake an apple pie; it’s one of the most purely classic ways to celebrate the crisp, tender fruit. No shame in simplicity. But the apple can do a great deal more than team up with cinnamon and nutmeg to make a perfect dessert.
Playing on complementary notes of sweet and salty, the Granary offers a double chop Heluka pork with caramelized Pippin apples and a ponzu cider jus. A tart variety of apple that is deeply associated with colonial times, the Pippin has long been a part of America’s love of the fruit. The combination of pork and apple is hardly revolutionary, but it’s endured for good reason; the sweetness of the caramelized apple balances the savory meat to create an autumn classic.
Gather strikes a similar tone with its Snake River Farms pork shank, served with sweet carrot puree, carrot chips, lentils and finished with apple jalapeño tequila jam. The house-made jam is both sweet and spicy, and adds a fresh, creative flair to the flavor profile. Overall, the dish embodies the warm, inviting colors and flavors of the impending season.
But if you aren’t quite ready to embrace the warm, earthy tones of fall, Rendezvous Bistro will help you hang onto the crisp brightness of summer for a little longer with their Teton Salad. Bursting with fresh flavors, this salad is served on a bed of super-local greens from Vertical Harvest and the Huidekoper Ranch. Alongside red onions and pistachios, the crisp tang of green apples echoes the bright Meyer lemon-prossecco vinaigrette.
But of course, some of the most brilliant ways to showcase apples are on the dessert list. If you’re a purist, or nothing else will do, head to the Bunnery for old fashioned apple pie. Topped with cinnamon pecan crumble and caramel fudge, the longtime local bakery knows how to do this classic right.
If you’re seeking a sweet something that’s a little further afield, head to Sudachi and order up the fried apple cheesecake. Wrapped in flaky pastry and finished with caramel and powdered sugar, this delectable dessert hits both familiar and fresh notes.
So go ahead and go old fashioned this fall; it’s not a challenge to find dishes around town that are showing off the season’s original fruit. Or head to the market and scoop up some varieties to play with in your own kitchen.
Contributor Melissa Thomasma wrote this post.