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Chef Talk: Savor Florida's Fall

November 8, 2017 // by Kathy Collins

I love fall.  It's my favorite time of year.  Football, fire pits, smoked meats, Halloween, bourbon, butternut squash ... these are some of my favorite things. As soon as Labor Day hits, I start daydreaming about my fall favorites. I grew up in Chicago, and for most of my life, I could count on that cooler weather arriving around September 22, the official “first day of fall.” In Florida, that cool, crisp weather may or may not roll in until in late October or November.  Regardless of our mild fall, I still roll out the NOLA MOCA fall menu to celebrate the season.  I thought I would share the story of what inspired some of our new dishes. We hope you join us soon to taste them!

2017 Fall Menu- Butternut Squash Salad
Photo by Nan Kavanaugh

Acorn Squash Salad

 

I originally created this fall salad as a first course for a 100 guest autumn wedding dinner that was held here at MOCA.  I remember creating the menu in the summer, and I started getting really excited about fall while I worked on the recipes.  I tailor catering menus to each client's unique taste, and the challenge really sparks creativity in the kitchen.   There are many dishes that turn out so beautifully, that they transition from the catering menu to the dining room at NOLA.  This is salad was a fall favorite last year, and is making an encore appearance on this year's fall menu.  The squash is warm, and the greens are chilled. It's sweet and savory, peppery and tangy, with a little crunch.  This salad hits all the notes.  

2017 Fall Menu - Scallops
Photo by Nan Kavanaugh

Seared Sea Scallops

 

I have been playing around with this dish since late summer. This dish is pure fall to me and has a wonderful balance of flavors.  The earthy kale & nutty quinoa are tossed in a little bit of a citrus vinaigrette after being cooked. It sits over a sweet butternut puree and is topped with crispy, tangy pickled apples and a little spicy micro-arugula.  The scallops are buttery and sweet.  I love the look of this dish. The purple, green and brown shades are striking against the orange butternut squash background.  It's pretty much a work of art. The inspiration for this one is simple . I wanted to add scallops back to the menu, because they are so deliciously popular and they cook quickly, which is great for our busy lunch crowd. Butternut squash, apples and kale are in season and combined with fresh scallops, it is a perfect coastal dish to celebrate fall … even if it still feels like summer.

NOLA MOCA is open for dinner on Thursday nights. Next Thursday, is the Holiday Cocktail Tasting. For more information on that event visit us on Facebook.  Come dine al fresco and enjoy this beautiful Florida Fall weather at NOLA!

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