Summer produce tends to steal the spotlight in Fresno, and with Fresno State corn, giant strawberries, and juicy, perfect stone fruit available, it’s no wonder.
However, fall brings forth seasonal treasures in its own way. With crisp, deep, and complex flavors, there are several late-year crops that become stars of the show in many great dishes, too.
For you this week, I’ve rounded up five great fall crops and researched restaurants serving up these great foods so you can enjoy them during their peak season. If you don’t typically enjoy all of them, I encourage you to branch out and try them from one of the locations below soon, as each crop will be at its best, giving you the best opportunity to enjoy its flavor and learn to love it!
I’d never eaten a Brussels sprout until I was several years into my thirties. One day, I stumbled across them on a menu while visiting the coast and they were described as being roasted, caramelized, and crispy and served with crumbled bacon and a balsamic reduction. I was intrigued, so I ordered them, and have never looked back.
Brussels sprouts are the vegetable everyone loves to hate, seared into many childhood memories as being bland, boring, boiled, and smelling less than pleasant. But trust me, you HAVE to try them again. The way restaurants (and nuanced home chefs) are preparing and seasoning Brussels sprouts these days, they are so good. In fact, they’ve become my family’s favorite vegetable—one we fight for seconds of!
Ready to try some “new age” delicious sprouts? Check them out at one of these local restaurants:
• Hyde & Vine: Try their oven-roasted Brussels with pancetta and parmesan cheese.
• Colton’s Social House: You’ll go nuts for their caramelized Brussels sprouts served with applewood smoked bacon, gorgonzola cheese, medjool dates, and honey butter (sounds like a lot, tastes like AMAZING).
• Piazza del Pane: Enjoy their crispy, lightly breaded Brussels served with crisp pork belly, and ask for some of their sweet potato fry dipping sauce (trust me on this one).
Broccoli and I, thankfully, have always gotten along just fine. In fact, my first cooking memory was my mom allowing me to “cook” (read: invent) a sauce I’d dreamed up in my 6-year-old mind specifically for broccoli. It consisted of melting butter along with a little lemon juice, then throwing a dash of pretty much every seasoning we owned in a small pot, stirring, then pouring this concoction over cooked broccoli. Result: not horrible! (Not great, either… but not horrible.)
Here are two great local places to enjoy broccoli prepared in a way that’s much better than how I made it at the age of six:
• The Annex Kitchen serves tender, grilled broccolini perfectly seasoned with sea salt and lemon.
• Hyde & Vine serves grilled broccoli with a light balsamic glaze.
Do you like beets? I grew up watching my Italian grandmother (“Noni”) put beets in salads, and later drink the remaining purple juice and residual dressing from the bottom of the salad bowl. She really likes beets.
I’m still learning to like beets, but if beets are your thing, I bet you’ll really like them if you order them from these hot spots:
• The Lime Lite offers their Beet and Burrata Salad with slow roasted beets, arugula, candied walnuts, and pomegranate vinaigrette.
• The Point has its own Beet Salad, comprised of roasted beets, baby kale, arugula, goat cheese, candied walnuts, and a balsamic vinaigrette.
I’m not going to lie: though I did try to find sweet potatoes prepared in creative ways, I came up with only fry forms. However, sweet potato fries are absurdly delicious, and I see nothing wrong with a person enjoying a sweet potato fry tasting tour of Fresno. In fact, I heartily endorse it! Here are my top places to stop for them:
• Piazza del Pane: lightly tempura-battered and served with a garlic aioli.
• Max’s Bistro: tempura-battered and served with jalapeño arugula aioli.
• The Lime Lite: lightly battered and served with cilantro jalapeño aioli.
• Starving Artists Bistro: served with chipotle aioli.
• Eureka Burger: tossed with honey and cinnamon.
Is it just me, or did the Honeycrisp apple variety sneak out of nowhere in the past few years, causing us to obsess over how perfectly crisp and sweet it is to the point that many of us part all too easily with a sum of money seemingly high for apples, yet none of us are sad about it?
I love apples in the fall—they are so fresh, so fragrant, and awesome to enjoy both raw or baked into a delicious, comforting fall dessert.
Two great places to enjoy apples this season include:
•Colton’s Social House: In Colton’s Apple Salad, a seasonal special consisting of baby green lettuce, grilled chicken, sliced red apple, Craisins, candied walnuts, red onion, blue cheese crumbles, cucumber and bacon bits is served with a mandarin orange dressing.
•The Manhattan: The King Apple Mardi Gras dessert consists of a tasty, warm cinnamon apple danish cake topped with ice cream.
So, now that I’m absolutely starving after writing this, I’d love to live vicariously through you as you comment below with which dishes you end up trying! (No apologies will be issued to my keyboard for drooling on it while writing this post. None at all.)