When folks think of autumn foods it’s usually pumpkins, apples, and warm spices. Of course all of these things are true to the season, but there’s far more to be explored. Historically, autumn and winter are prime time for preserved foods that will keep well for the coming months and provide food when the growing season is over. Cheese, dry cured meats, tree nuts, and honey all represent the bounty that presents itself after the cold has set in and the days have begun to grow short.
Last weekend I decided to go on a mission to create a spread that consisted of these traditional Autumn foods with a focus on fantastic locally produced items. Chester County has a rich agricultural community, and top-notch artisan producers to boot.
Start with Goat Cheese & Herb-Infused Honey
Amazing Acres in Elverson, PA, is a goat dairy and artisan cheese producer, and their goat cheeses are a true treat. Their Baby Bloomer is a bucheron style with a bloomy rind, semi-soft center that is dense and creamy, and a gooey outer circle that is rich and luxurious. I paired this with a homemade herb-infused honey that showcased rosemary and orange thyme.
Select Alpine-Style Cheese with White Wine
Another great locally made cheese is Der Alpen Kase from Goot Essa in Howard, PA. Der Alpen Kase is a delicious alpine-style cheese reminiscent of gruyere or comte. Paired with a crusty French bread, the cheese and honey were natural accompaniments for a great white wine. Penns Wood Winery, located in Chadds Ford, PA, is a celebrated local winemaker, and for good reason. Their 2012 Bancroft Riesling is full of floral notes and has a honeyed quality with a crisp finish. Wine is another quintessential fall treat as it is made from grapes that are harvested at the end of summer.
Add Salami & Apples for a Spread Made in Snacking Heaven
Great wine, bread and cheese just begs for equally great salumi or charcuterie. Maiale Salumeria makes fantastic artisan salame in nearby Wilmington, DE. Their Tuscan Salami is flavored with a blend of garlic, wine, and fennel, and it’s versatile, peppery, and downright yummy. The selection of cheeses, salami, bread and honey welcomed the addition of apples from Rex Farms Orchard in Gardners, PA. Their Stayman Winesap apples are crisp, juicy, and delicious. With balanced sweet-tart flavor this apple has tremendous keeping quality when properly stored.
Final Touch: Local Maple Syrup
To complete the autumn spread I thought it only fitting to make candied cajun hazelnuts. Maple syrup from Sticky Buckets Maple located in Potter County, PA caramelized perfectly with local butter to create a sweet coating to the toasted hazelnuts. Homemade cajun seasoning and sel gris from France provide counterpoint to the glaze on the nuts.
This spread was an absolute treat for my wife and I, and would win over any foodie locavore. We are truly lucky to have such great local farms and artisan producers here in Pennsylvania. Businesses like these help us expand our palates, and have helped me push the conventional boundaries of what it means to taste the season.
Photographs credited to Sarah Hammons.