Pumpkin spice invaded everything from kitty litter to Kraft macaroni and cheese this year. Has this trend finally gone too far? Is this the beginning of the end of its cloying sugary, cinnamon and nutmeg reign? Probably not, but local restaurants are offering some other flavors that may make you reconsider how fall should taste.
Autumn harvest in its purest form appears on the seasonal vegetable platter at Rally Pizza (8070 E. Mill Plain Blvd.). The unsung hero of Rally’s menu, this ever changing combination of locally grown vegetables and fresh sauces, gives eaters a good sense of crops growing on nearby farms. Owner Shan Wickham predicts carrots, sweet onions and Delicata squash from Wobbly Cart Farm will show up this fall. Shishito peppers may stick around for the next couple of weeks followed by potatoes, brassicas like bright Romanesco cauliflower or broccoli, then root vegetables such as parsnip and celeriac drizzled with complementary condiments including Rally’s smoky, nutty, tomato-based romesco sauce.
Wild mushrooms foraged from nearby forests fill the fall menu at La Sorrentina (3000 S.E. 164th Ave.). Chef Daisuke Matsumoto folds chanterelles into his homemade tagliatelle along with crispy prosciutto and cherry tomatoes. Lobster mushrooms and pancetta top a seasonal pizza. And a pumpkin cream base covers another specialty pizza.
“No pumpkin spice lattes here,” said Matsumoto’s wife and co-owner, Amy Hernandez Matsumoto. “But don’t be surprised if he makes pumpkin New York cheesecake.”
Pumpkin spice reached its peak popularity through lattes. Why not explore other cold weather combinations that include stronger beverages? Keri Buhman, owner of C’est La Vie Bistro (1307 N.E. 78th St.), recommends pairing brie and Champagne with a variety of apples — locally picked honey sweet Abrosias, sweet but tart Lady Alices and tangy, mouth-puckering Braeburns. For another classic pairing, she recommends trying a cabernet sauvignon from Burnt Bridge Cellars or Koi Pond Cellars with a sharp cheddar like Washington State University’s Cougar Gold or Beecher’s Flagship.