By Guest Contributor Lani Furbank
It might not feel like it today (80 degrees in November?!), but you can tellÂ weâ€™re well into fall by the barrage of Instagram photos of burnt orange trees, pumpkin patches, and, of course, PSLs (even though Starbucks is trying to convince us itâ€™s Christmas already with their premature red cups).
Itâ€™s tough to choose my favorite part of this season, but the bountyÂ of hearty vegetables isÂ at the top of the list. Itâ€™s apparently at the top ofÂ Chef Amy Brandweinâ€˜s list, too, because herÂ recent Fall Harvest Dinner atÂ CentrolinaÂ was a beautiful tribute to autumn in the mid-Atlantic.
Centrolina is a synergistic concept â€“ the restaurantÂ serves seasonal, authentic Italian cuisine that rotates weekly, and the menu isÂ heavily based on what is available at the market, which Chef Brandwein curates. Most of the fresh produce comes fromÂ Path Valley Farms, an Amish collective in Pennsylvania thatÂ adheres toÂ organicÂ growing practices. Local sourcing is the focus of the market, with a few imported Italian specialty items available as well.
The Fall Harvest Dinner is the first of what Chef Brandwein hopes will be many more seasonal harvest dinners. This four-course feast showcased greens, sweet potatoes, squash, and more. A Virginia wine pairing rounded out the meal with wines fromÂ Thibaut-Janisson Winery,Â Barboursville Vineyards, andÂ RdV Vineyards.
The first courseÂ was a pan-fried Mortadella served over a bed of fried flower sprouts, onions, and pistachios.
The delicate and flavorful Sweet Potato Rosetta with Collard Green Pesto stole the show for me â€“ and lucky for us, Chef Brandwein shared her recipe! The pasta shell exterior is filledÂ ricotta and sweet potato, rolled up like a jelly roll, and then cut into segments. Before it goes in the oven, you cut slivers around the edge of the roll. As itÂ bakes, the pasta flakes out and forms a beautiful rosette!Â Looks good enough to eat.
The duck for the main course came fromÂ La Belle FarmsÂ in New York, which raises hormone- and antibiotic-free ducks. It was wood-roasted and served with fresh Tuscan kale, pancetta-wrapped fingerling potatoes, and fig mustard. Deeply flavorful, hearty, and filling. Just right for the brisk autumn weather.
Lani Furbank is a freelance writer and photographer who covers the intersection of food, farming and the environment. She is based in the DC area and loves cooking, hiking and crafting. Read about her adventures atÂ www.LanisCupOfTea.com.