Legends of the Fall

Every year I look forward to fall: pumpkin lattes, falling leaves, sweatshirts and the crisp, clean air. There's just something about autumn in Buffalo that makes you smile. But without question, the absolute best part about this time of year are the warm, home-y harvest dishes. This weekend, I celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving with butternut squash.

Squash Pastries:

I started with a package of Pepperidge Farm puff pastry sheets. Of course, if you're feeling ambitious, you can make your own puff pastry, but seriously, these are great and people always THINK they're homemade, so go ahead and take a shortcut.

For the filling, I blended some Vietnamese chili garlic paste with some butternut squash (for this, you definitely want to take the time to cook down your own squash; the canned stuff- not even close. I like to drizzle some maple syrup across the squash halves as they cook down, for extra flavor) and then topped it with goat cheese mixed with honey. Fill it just as you would a pierogi or ravioli, brush the top with egg and then sprinkle a bit of paprika on top.

Then bake at 400 for about 20-25 minutes.

Pairing:

Because of the heat of the chili paste, you for sure need a wine with a lot of fruit, and not a lot of acidity or tannin. But also, because of the rich flavors, my first instinct is to go red. And budget conscious, I often lean towards Spain.

My pick: Vinos Sin Ley Garnacha

Bold and fruit forward, the lushness stands up to the sweet and savory notes of the pastries, but the smooth, soft mouthfeel doesn't create a bitter contrast with the heat.

If you wanted to go in a totally different direction, I often pair whites from southern Italy with harvest dishes. Many of our Falanghinas or Fianos show pumkin-y tendencies that marry superbly with these types of foods.

And naturally, a good Riesling or Gew├╝rztraminer would never be a bad choice. In fact, the hotter you make these, the better these wines start to look!