My Thanksgiving Gougères
(recipe from Canal House cookbook, volume 2)
Fall is, has been, and will always be my favorite season. Growing up in Miami, fall meant that the temperature dropped from 87° to 75°. Winter parkas were anxiously dragged out of the closet when it hit a frigid 65° and many, many Christmases were spent in shorts, on the couch with the air conditioning on, watching holiday movies featuring snow and people in snow. After which, I would walk outside to 90 percent humidity and my hair would immediately take on the shape of the Goodyear blimp. So naturally, I am thrilled to have some sort of seasonal weather here in Southern California. It does get cold, not east coast cold, but good enough. And my hair looks better.
I love love love the the pale yellow light that marks the beginning of the season's change and the smell of burning wood in the air. I am excited for the holidays, for Thanksgiving, our first fondue. I am excited to watch holiday movies, wear my boots, roast a duck.
Summer tanks and jean shorts are stowed away and sweaters make their triumphant return to my dresser drawers. I oogle my winter coat collection awaiting winter. I say goodbye to my favorite summer cocktails: the Negroni, Aperol Spritz and the lovely, elegant glass of cold Rosé (oh, I'll miss you) - and stick to wines, red and white, and a nip of my husband's favorite brandy, Asbach Uralt, a German brand that is readily available here in the US and goes down way too easy.
One day soon, Peter will say "let's put on the flannel sheets" and that is that: welcome fall.
Photos clockwise from top left:
1. Authentic Swiss Fondue. As soon as we feel the first nip of cool weather, we pull out our Swiss caquelon aka fondue pot and get to cheese melting. (Very random side note: my french ancestral name is the similar sounding Caquelin. My mother, an actress, actually changed her stage name to Cynthia Caquelin when I was a teenager and my sisters and I had to have lessons on how to properly pronounce it!). We have three caqualons, the one above was owned by my best friend's Swiss grandmother and given to me as a gift. So, it has seen some cheese in its lifetime.
There is an art to the Swiss way of making fondue, which my husband, Peter, has been perfecting for the past 15 years. A classic Swiss fondue is made with 1/2 Gruyere cheese and 1/2 Fribourg Vacherin (Fribourg being a region of Switzerland).
2.Wild turkeys, Big Sur, CA. Fall is the time to visit Big Sur. The summer tourists have gone. There's less marine layer, so the views of the pacific are clear and the temperatures are still warm.
3. Sundown at Sierra Mar Restaurant, Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur. One of the most stunning views from a restaurant on the planet. Reservations are required and if you have some extra cash burning a hole in your pocket, book one of their 39 über chic cabins.
4. The Branding Iron, a historic beer cocktail, full of fall flavors, from the restaurant Fishing With Dynamite in Manhattan Beach, CA. Made of macchu pisco, egg, vanilla, nutmeg and wheat beer.
5. Truffle Season - Hello people! November - March. There will never be a fall in which I don't have a dish with truffles. This one is from my favorite truffled pasta place: Ristorante Bindella, Zürich, Switzerland.
6. Fall inspired colors: Victor Simoni Mumu Mix: Burnt Amber/Dark Teal wallet.
7. Wine tasting party. Simona taking notes at our Spanish themed tasting. You can download tasting mats here at Wine Folly.com. Also a great informational resource for both beginners and more advanced wine peeps.
8. Local Cider pressing, Zollikon, Switzerland.
9. Off Season Travel: Me, chilling in London, Fall of 2011. I prefer traveling off season, even in the winter. Yes, you may freeze your ass off and yes, some smaller villages may be a little sleepy, but you really get a sense of a place when tourists are at a minimum.