In the other gardens
And all up the vale,
From the autumn bonfires
See the smoke trail!
Pleasant summer over
And all the summer flowers,
The red fire blazes,
The grey smoke towers.
Sing a song of seasons!
Something bright in all!
Flowers in the summer,
Fires in the fall!
– Robert Louis Stevenson, Autumn Fires
At my recent A Daily Gathering dinner, a celebration of the changing seasons, I was inspired by this simple poem by Robert Louis Stevenson. There is truly something bright in all of the seasons, and I love finding a way to treasure the best that each season brings. This perfect transition between summer and fall where the flowers are fading and the evenings are in want of a roaring bonfire. Where vegetables are still aplenty but we’ve added in the eggplant and squash and pumpkin. Where golden hour is more like golden 5 minutes, but it’s a simply magical 5 minutes that feel as if you’ve been transported to heaven’s door. Where the fire burns and friends linger and conversation is had and community is made.
The menu was a simple, seasonally inspired display that lined the center of the table, just like last year’s autumn feast. I have a feeling this might be the new A Daily Gathering menu format. Most of the items can be made the day before, which frees up my time in the kitchen on the day of our gathering. And it’s a feast for the eyes, as well as the belly, to see the table adorned with this veritable cornucopia.
When you’re using local ingredients that were harvested or made just a day or two, and sometimes just hours, before you use and consume them, the menu can be kept quite simple. The mere quality and freshness of the ingredients are so incredibly superior to what’s available at the grocery store that it allows for this simpler menu. I love deconstructing the meal and serving it as a many small pieces, lining the table with bowls and piles of ingredients, and allowing for the individual to feel the food and piece together creations as they wish. This requires experimenting, getting the hands dirty, asking your neighbor to pass the garlic confit, and generally, a little exploring. The food is front-and-center and really steals the show, as it should.
Below is the exact menu I used for this rendition of the A Daily Gathering feast board. Items with one asterisk * were local or homemade with local ingredients. Items with two asterisks ** were sourced at Costco or homemade with Costco ingredients (my Costco shopping list is coming soon)! Other items were sourced at various grocery stores. I want to be real, which is why I’m sharing that not everything was local or homemade. I like finding that perfect mixture of making what I can from scratch, using local ingredients (which is why a seasonal menu is best), and then practically supplementing with quality items from the grocery store.
Menu for A Daily Gathering, A Celebration of Early Autumn
*Blue hubbard squash soup “shots” with crouton “soldiers”
*Local concord grapes
*Local Jupiter grapes
Dried pears and peaches
Fresh, sliced apples and pears
*Garlic confit (recipe from Sunday Supper, Fall/Winter)
*Roasted acorn squash with honey and sage butter
*Smokey eggplant dip
*Butternut squash hummus
*Mushroom confit (recipe from Sunday Supper, Fall/Winter)
*Pan-roasted pumpkin seeds
Bowls of flaky salt
*Spiced pear upside down cake
Twenty-five is a reasonable number of images to share from the dinner, right? I wish I wasn’t merely sharing these images with you. I wish YOU had been joined us around the table nestled amongst the chickens and vegetable gardens of this antebellum farmyard, with the Blue Ridge Mountains towering to the west. Make sure you sign up for our mailing list, so you don’t miss the announcement for our next dinner!
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