Autumn is here

Until now, I have never fully appreciated the turning of the seasons, from summer to autumn. September always signified ‘back to school’ – back to the nine to five, the school run and homework. Summer was officially over. Then, when the clocks went back in October, it was time to get used to waking up in the dark and coming home in the dark.

When you start working, these seasonal changes become less momentous. With 25 days holiday under your belt, months, weeks and days just merge into one continuous cycle of getting up, going to work and coming home. Yet for the first time, I have suddenly become much more aware of the descent into autumn – and I really like it.

‘I have suddenly become much more aware of the descent into autumn – and I really like it’.

In late September, the air was suddenly damp. Stepping outside was like stepping out of a cold shower; you felt awake and refreshed in an instant. All of a sudden, I noticed scarves; people were wearing scarves, woolly jumpers and thick coats. The pavements were scattered with leaves the colours of orange and burnt umber. Aside from the occasional gust of wind, there was a stillness; the vibrancy of summer, with its lively greenness, dazzling blues and sunny yellows, had disappeared. It felt quiet.

I bought a mustard yellow woollen jumper. I used a birthday voucher to purchase a bonfire orange leather bound notebook. I even stopped ordering lattes and started choosing cappuccinos. I had somehow decided to recreate my own ‘back to school’ fresh start with my new autumnal persona.

‘I had somehow decided to recreate my own ‘back to school’ fresh start with my new autumnal persona’.

With this, came a new-found appreciation for seasonal produce. Red and green crunchy apples (the sweetness that summer left behind) come into their own in the autumn months and as well as choosing them as a healthy snack, I enjoyed a slice of apple and olive oil cake with a maple frosting from Café 164 in Leeds. After watching Jamie Oliver demonstrate how easy it is to make an orange polenta cake using olive oil (from his new recipe book 5 Ingredients – Quick and Easy Food) coupled with my new love of olive oil after visiting Uje Oil Bar in the Adriatic coastal town of Split in Croatia, I knew I had to try this cake I spotted. It was light and sweet, with a hint of cinnamon spice, and somehow made me nostalgic for summer but excited for Christmas all at the same time. Plus, that maple frosting – I would spread that on my morning toast if I could.

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‘Red and green crunchy apples – the sweetness that summer left behind’.

The new autumnal me even began ordering from menus in a new way. When it comes to pizza, just give me a lots of San Marzano tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella and fresh basil on a sourdough base and I’m in heaven, however, on a visit to Homeslice in London’s Neal’s Yard my new autumnal self decided it was time for a change. As I scoured the chalkboard, I noticed a mushroom and ricotta pizza with pumpkin seeds, chilli and sprinkle of chives. I quickly ordered it (as one half of a 20 inch sharing pizza), so I wouldn’t second-guess my decision. It was a flavour that was slightly out of my comfort zone but that made it even more enjoyable when it arrived; the mushroom brought a nutty, earthy meatiness to the pizza that could have equalled that of any kind of ham. The pumpkin seeds added a tinge of sweetness, along with a crunch, and the chilli oil supplied the subtle heat. I’m not talking a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds either; this pizza was covered in them. Essentially, it was a very brown coloured pizza but up close, the colours and textures were gorgeous and reminded me of a forest floor.

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‘Essentially, it was a very brown coloured pizza but the colours and textures reminded me of a forest floor’.

I was also very excited when I had the opportunity to visit Dominique Ansel’s London bakery for the first time and the autumn Cronut™ did not disappoint; pear caramelia with pear jam and Valrhona caramélia ganache. The sharpness of the pear jam filling was balanced out by the mousse-like, light and creamy caramelised milk chocolate ganache. I’m already eyeing up the chocolate chip cookie shot filled with their homemade cold-infused Tahitian vanilla milk and their beautiful blossoming hot chocolate for my next visit.

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Of course, October also signifies Halloween which means one thing – pumpkins. Next week I will be visiting Farmer Copleys (just outside of Leeds) to embark on another personal first: pumpkin picking. More importantly, can I bring myself to order a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks? With #PSL being an actual thing, I don’t think I will be joining the hype – but I’ll let you know what my mustard jumper self decides.

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