Spice up your Fall Feast

Add some summer nostalgia to your cold-season dinner party

By Sabrina Carr

No matter how deep your love for the summer, there’s something amazing about the change in the air after Fall’s colourful arrival. Friends and family are all around after many months of sun-kissed holidays, and your calendars fill up with invitations for fireside wine-fuelled dinner parties. These first months of dipping temperatures are among my favourite of the whole year.

Fall feasts have many mainstay dishes, often born from years of family traditions at Thanksgiving—Nanna’s orange-glazed root vegetables, chestnut stuffing, and pumpkin pie. But to give your dinner party that extra spice your guests will remember, try planning a menu of bridge dishes—ones which marry summer flavours and fall harvest produce. 

To do this, think of slightly unconventional pairings like Brussels sprouts with sesame spice, or dishes like lobster ravioli that marry summer fresh flavours with heartier components. Dessert, too, should incorporate both lighter and more substantial elements: a dessert pizza of barbecued pineapple rounds served atop sugar crusted puff pastry with mint is the perfect mid-seasonal marriage.

Instead of cellaring away your crisp summer whites at the onset of sweater season, look to fuller bodied whites that mirror your transition dishes. An aromatic white made from a Pinot Bianco grape could make for a perfect accompaniment to dishes with spice and warmth. This slightly non traditional approach to pairing will treat your guests to a whole new range of flavour pairings.

Apply the same logic to your decor. Abandon the tiny gourds and oak leaves that riddle restaurants and family dinners during fall months. Instead, pair pieces of neutral cottage driftwood and white candles with small aromatic herb pots, creating both a visual and olfactory feast for your guests. Elements of gold throughout help evoke the warmth of the fall, while lighter wood pieces are reminiscent of beachside summer sunsets. If your tendencies are more modern, adding neon stripes and accents to these simple pieces of light wood can make for a truly unique and clean table setting.

These subtle tweaks to both a meal and its setting can spice up a traditional fall feast and elevate a Thursday evening dinner into something truly memorable.


Sabrina Carr is one half of The Spread , a spicy, spreadable condiment that adds that something extra to your meal. Sabrina, who is also a veteran of the Toronto events industry, contributes this regular column about adding a spicy something to your dinner party.