There’s a lot to love about fall. There’s a crispness in the air, the leaves turn brilliant shades of red, orange and gold, and it’s the start of cozy season. Sweater weather, if you will.
But what makes autumn so sweet can quickly turn sour once winter fully takes hold. Those crisp days can turn nasty pretty quickly, where the coziest sweater in the world won’t hold up. The sun sets earlier, there’s ice and snow where those colorful leaves used to be, and you stopped feeling your fingers 10 minutes ago.
That’s why it’s important to get out and appreciate the best of fall while you can. And the absolute best thing about autumn? Food, obviously. Before the season’s over, hit these food trails and enjoy even more of it.
Photo by Brent Hofacker, Shutterstock.
Let’s start this off with the best of the best. After all, what would Thanksgiving be without a pie? On this trail, you can taste different fillings, crusts and debate toppings all day long. Start at Ms. Lena’s Pies, an institution about an hour outside of Little Rock that’s been serving pies for years. Try the lemon ice box pie or a slice of the coconut cream for a classic flavor before getting back on the road and heading west. You’ll detour around Little Rock, hitting Cafe 1217 in Hot Springs (for a seasonal hit, try the butterscotch chocolate chip pecan pie) before heading north through the Ozark National Forest and ending at the Cliff House Inn near Jasper. Its house special is the Company’s Coming Pie, with a meringue crust, pineapple and whipped cream. Enjoy a slice while taking in the view of the trees’ foliage, knowing you’re doing fall right.
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Put together by the Vermont Cheese Council, there are more than 50 stops you can make along this trail. The Vermont Cheese Trail will take you all over the state to taste various cheeses made from cow, sheep and goat milk. At Barn First Creamery in Westfield, you’ll find varieties of goat cheese, including the Quinby, a brie-style cheese, and the Cowles, an ash-ripened chevre. Fairy Tale Farm Cheeses in Bridport offers up sheep’s milk cheese, including one spiced with saffron and pepper for a savoury hit. Nothin’ But Curd in Troy has, of course, cheese curds of all kinds if you’re looking for a squeaky fresh batch. It’s always a good idea to call ahead before visiting locations as some of the farm tours are by appointment only.
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When apples are in season, there’s nothing like them. Crisp, sweet and tart, they are a delicious fall snack. And what better way to celebrate the humble apple than by juicing it, making dough with it and frying it into a perfect golden brown doughnut? This trail will take you from central Virginia up to the northern border, with fried treats waiting for you at every stop. Start at Mama Crockett’s Cider Donuts in Lynchburg. From there head north, stopping at farmstands along the way until you reach the Apple House in Linden, where you’ll want to try the apple butter cinnamon doughnuts. Finally, you’ll follow the trail north again, ending at the Mackintosh Fruit Farm near Winchester. Pick some apples of your own, and enjoy a fresh glass of cider (or an apple cider float) to celebrate a hard day’s travel.
Photo by Brent Hofacker, Shutterstock.
If you prefer your apples fermented, we’ve got you covered. The Cider Loop in Washington State takes you to three cideries where you can taste hard ciders while relaxing on farms and orchards, taking in the sights of the Pacific Northwest. Starting at Finnriver, you’ll be able to try both contemporary and heritage ciders that celebrate traditional brewing methods and ingredients. From there, Alpenfire makes cider using apples grown in its organic orchard, offering different styles and special seasonal releases. End the journey at Eaglemount Winery, which serves not just ciders but also wine and mead.
When aren’t pickles in season? Fall is an especially good time for fermented foods, as pickling is a great way to preserve a bumper crop for the winter months ahead. So bring out the brine and head down this pickle trail for some delicious delights. You can customize your own itinerary to travel around the state, but there are a few highlights worth stopping at. Butcher’s Farm Market in Newport has local pickled veggies, including pickled beets and a classic sauerkraut. B’s Pickles at the Quakertown Farm and Flea Market have been a local institution since the 1930s. And you can’t miss Martha in Philadelphia, a restaurant that specializes in vegetables, natural wine, draft cocktails, sour beer, cheese and—of course—pickles.