Passing on the Pumpkin

What really marks the beginning of fall? Is it the kickoff of fall football games, the changing of leaves or cool weather that seems to never make its way to Texas? In this day and age, there is one key indicator that tells people it is time to start planning for the holidays: the pumpkin.

Story by Elise Horsak

Illustration by Esther Shin

The thought of pumpkin spice lattes just flashed across your mind, but it does not stop there. There is something for everyone, including pumpkin baked goods, candles, beers and even dog treats. While pumpkin is in season and it is a classic craving for this time of year, many people forget what other flavors fall has to offer.

Fear not, you do not have to completely abandon your devotion to pumpkin. However, before it steals the spotlight, here are some other fall flavors that are not only delicious and unique, but are also inspiring restaurants all over Austin to get into the spirit and spices of the season.

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Winter Squash - Vox Table

Get ready for the perfect example of the forgotten sibling. While pumpkin has been taking all of the attention, many have overlooked the other members of the winter squash family. Acorn, butternut, spaghetti, you name it. There are a plethora of members of this family.

These squashes can be roasted, stuffed or served as a sweet dish. If you cannot decide, why not have both? Vox Table has done just that with their charred butternut squash, which they have paired with pomegranate molasses, utilizing another seasonal ingredient to compliment each other. In addition, they can be used as healthier substitutes for carbs or meats. Bullfight offers their Fall Paella, which includes eggplant and acorn squash to put a seasonal spin on a Spanish classic.

 

Pear - Launderette

Believe it or not, pear trees offer more than just a perch for partridges in Christmas songs. Pears start coming in season in late summer and follow through into the winter depending on the type. This is a versatile fruit because it can be paired with some of the most diverse foods. Ricotta cheese, balsamic, pancetta and lamb are a few to name off, but pear is especially decadent when it is tossed in with a salad or used in desserts to add a low-key sweet tone.  

To touch on their sweet side, swing by Launderette this season to taste their pear tart with black mission fig jam, thyme, almond cream and Tahitian vanilla ice cream. You just may be opting to swap out your apple pie after experiencing this gem.

 

Apples - Blenders and Bowls

Speaking of apples! Don’t worry, this fruit will never be completely absent from the table. The beauty about this fruit is that it is the perfect accessory. You can add it to desserts, savory dishes or eat it by itself but it still offers that sweet hint that goes with just about anything. To enjoy this staple fruit with a blend of fall flavors, head on over to Blenders and Bowls and grab their seasonal bowl! With a blend of pumpkin, cinnamon, vanilla, banana and açaí and topped with apples, dates, walnuts and various other fruits, this bowl adds together all the sweet and spicy goodness.

While everyone says that fall is the time of year when the waistbands get a little tighter, this is a fall treat that you can indulge in guilt-free.

 

Beets - Black Star Co-Op

The colors of fall are the best part of the season and there is nothing more beautiful than the color of beets. Their reddish hue brightens up any dish and their flavor only makes it better. You can roast these bad boys with potatoes or add them to a salad for an antioxidant boost like at Black Star Co-Op! Their beet salad is paired with local greens, chevre, candied pecans and red wine vinaigrette. With the sweetness of the pecans and the smooth red wine taste mingling with those roasted beets, this is a salad that could challenge the delight of a steak any day.

 

Pomegranate - Pitchfork Pretty

Despite their sweet tastes, pomegranates come into season around October and are ready to pucker your lips from their sweetness. Not to mention, just like our previously mentioned beets, they add a beautiful pop of color to any dish. For those that love a fruity taste in the wintertime, go check out the ceviche appetizer at Pitchfork Pretty. When paired with tangerine and mingled with persimmons and dill, this snapper ceviche will transport you back to sunny days, which in Austin, was probably just yesterday.

 

Maple - Salty Sow

In terms of coffee and the many attempts to challenge pumpkin spice lattes, maple has had the most success this season. While it does a superb job on top of a stack of flapjacks, maple has made quite a name for itself in several recipes during the fall season. Whether it is used as a glaze on ham or added to sweeten a cup of coffee, we can all agree with Buddy the Elf and say that maple syrup can go with just about anything.

This includes cocktails too! Salty Sow in east Austin incorporates maple into their Old Fashioned. They took their Maker’s Mark and mixed it with maple syrup, blood orange bitters, amarena cherry and pomegranates to give this classic a touch of holiday cheer. Feel free to add this drink to the list of essential food groups, right there with candy, candy canes and candy corn.