Where to Taste Fall in L.A. (Even if Doesn’t Feel Like It)

How local chefs are incorporating their favorite fall ingredients
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While October continues to surprise us with spurts of hot weather, our farmers’ markets and restaurants are doing their very best to showcase the bounty of autumn produce. We checked in with several chefs around town to see what’s on their radar (get ready for lots of squash and pumpkin!) regarding fall-inspired dishes.

Providence: Matsutake Mushrooms with Striped Bass
“At farmers’ markets you’re beginning to see signs of the new season,” says chef Michael Cimarusti. “There’s winter squashes, stone fruits, white truffles and, one of my favorite ingredients, Matsutake mushrooms.” At Providence, Cimarusti braises the mushrooms to pair with striped bass or John Dory. “Matsutakes have a flavor that’s reminiscent of a pine forest, and they typically come from Oregon, Washington, or even Northern California. They’re one of the most highly prized mushrooms in the world.”

Badmaash: Sweet and Sour Spiced Pumpkin
The swagged-out Indian gastropub–best known for its bold creations like chicken tikka poutine and punjabi pork confit–has a more traditional dish suited for fall: sweet and sour spiced pumpkin, braised with fennel and mustard seeds, red chili pepper, and mango dust. “It’s a traditional Punjabi preparation,” says chef Nakul Mahendro, who notes that the recipe has been passed down through six generations. “North India is covered in snow and mountains, so it’s not in line with the typical image people have of India.”

Pine & Crane: Kabocha Pumpkin Potstickers
For summer, chef Vivian Ku delighted customers with crisp Taiwanese yellow watermelons sourced from her family farm. Now the seasonal noodle house and tea shop is introducing a new fall-inspired menu item: pan-fried Kabocha pumpkin potstickers, filled with Shiitake mushrooms, bean curd, eggs, and vermicelli.

Corazon y Miel: Beer-Battered Delicata Squash Salad
Leave it to Eddie Ruiz to expand your scope of Latin flavors. To kick off his autumn, the chef is offering a beer-battered Delicata squash salad with watercress, serranos, candied pecans, and sesame. “It’s basically our take on a crispy fish beer batter,” says Ruiz. “We use a stout so that the flavor of the brew stands out. This time of year the palette changes, and you start moving away from IPAs to drink darker beers.”

Superba Food + Bread:  Squash Hummus Toast
The name of the game here is fresh toast with homemade jams. Recently chef Jason Travi has added a heartier toast made with squash “hummus,” dukkah (a Middle Eastern/North African spice blend made of toasted nuts and seeds), Marcona almonds, and Belgian endive and Treviso radicchio tossed in a lemon vinaigrette.

El Condor: Roasted Pumpkin Mulita
Chez Spencer Bezaire is offering an updated version of an Echo Park taco truck classic, the mulita, by stuffing it with roasted pumpkins, queso Oaxaca, cotija, squash flowers, and adding spicy pumpkin seeds and chile arbol salsa. “We have a great little farmers market that goes on outside our restaurant every Tuesday and Saturday,” says Bezaire. “Rick from Rick’s Seasonal Produce always has amazing squash and pumpkins this time of year, along with squash vines and leaves.”

Petty Cash Taqueria: Cheesey Churros with Butternut Squash Mole Dip
Walter Manzke’s bomb.com guacamole–topped with sea urchin and chicharrones–is already a local legend, but his fall item may give it a run for its money: cheesy churros with butternut squash mole dip. “The churros are just a traditional deep-fried pate a choux covered with cheese instead of cinnamon and sugar,” says Manzke. “Instinctually with a churro you want to dip it in something, so the squash mole is a sweet but also savory alternative.”

Bucato: Chestnut Pappardelle with Venison Ragu
While the word “perfection” is a slippery one, we think Evan Funke comes relatively close to it with his cacio e pepe pasta. We have high hopes for another hearty handmade pasta dish: chestnut pappardelle with venison ragu. It’s topped with shaved Castelmagno–a semi-hard cheese from Piedmont. Be on the lookout for this rib-sticking pasta when it gets colder, says Funke.

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