For dedicated foodies in southwest Florida, Fall arrives in subtle ways that influence the pleasures of the table.
For one thing, we open the windows and sliding glass doors and we eat on the lanai or pool patio enjoy evening breezes that dip below 70-degrees. And our food cravings shift to seasonal aromatic fruits and vegetables – pears and apples, squash, pumpkin – and stronger and bolder flavors like bleu cheese or flatbreads with full-flavored, imaginative toppings and we want desserts that are richer than what we’d normally order in a restaurant in the summer.
I have to say my new favorite casual eating destination, Carmel Cafe & Wine Bar, anticipated my Fall frame of mind and palette cravings. The chef, Steve Cook, has come up with eight new autumn menu specialties just right for the season. The other night for dessert I ordered a warm poached pear served with vanilla ice-cream topped salted caramel. It all kind of gently melted together on the plate and the contrast between the salty and sweet and the cold soft ice cream the warm texture of the pear was altogether lovely on the tongue. And the aroma was as delicious as the flavors. It seemed to capture Fall for me. That’s what I love about good food, one bite conjures up holiday memories, seasons of the year, friends and family I’ve shared memorable times with.
Because I’m a fool for pears this time of year, I’ve also tried Carmel Cafe’s the new savory flatbread topped with caramelized pear, roasted red peppers and bleu cheese. Strong flavors, nicely harmonized. Great with a glass of red wine, a Cabernet I think. I’ve eaten every flatbread on the Carmel menu, but this one is my favorite. At least until the next creative one comes along. I love Mediterranean food and Carmel Cafe’s menu, which they call Mod Med, consists of contemporary interpretations of classic dishes famous in Mediterranean countries. Works for me. From the new menu items, I also tried the butternut squash soup (such comfort food) and the Seafood Medley that tasted quite Spanish and was full of shellfish, olives and couscous and those unmistakable Mediterranean seasonings.
I started out as a regular at Carmel Cafe using the iPAD menu. I took to it right away and I have to say it’s one of the things I love about eating at this place. I can control the timing of my meal (I place the order for what I want to tuck into within five minutes) and I use the device to see photos and descriptions of each dish. I can even pay for my meal on the iPAD which is a convenience I appreciate every time I use the iPAD menu. I feel like a smart eater as well as a contented one.