October is my favourite month. It’s the time of year we get to enjoy a slight cooling change to our weather. This time of year, we still get to enjoy tastes from any lingering summer fruits, veggies and herbs while incorporating fall flavours to our dishes.
We soon get to experience all the delicious pumpkins and winter squashes, such as acorn, butternut and spaghetti. It is also the start of the season for wonderful root vegetables like parsnips, turnips and sweet potatoes.
I have great memories of visiting Ontario farms with my dad to hand collect Sicilian zucchini, pumpkins, carrots, plum tomatoes, eggplant and broad beans. When we brought them back home, my mother would cook her famous — at least in our family — minestrone soup.
We would start by cleaning all of the vegetables and then chopping them and adding everything into one large pot with onions and garlic. This would then simmer in liquid for hours before we would add fresh basil, parsley and zucca flowers from our own garden. A drizzle with olive oil would complete the aromatic and delicious soup. There was always enough to enjoy for a couple of days.
One of my father’s signature recipes was zucchini fritters, which included anchovies and scallions.
In preparation for the winter months, my family would also jar and preserve carrots, cauliflower, onions and other vegetables to make pickled giardiniera or sottaceti. This combination of vegetables under vinegar would also include a few jars that were flavoured with spicy Italian olive oil, a combination that was great for dipping bread in.
Here in Cayman, October is also Restaurant Month, during which many restaurants offer set menus at a reduced price to promote dining out. It’s a great opportunity to eat at some of the best restaurants in Cayman. Here at Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa, Ave Restaurant will offer a slightly modified version of its "345" menu for CI$45 during Restaurant Month. I encourage you to try it — and as many other restaurants as possible!
Massimo De Francesca is the executive chef of Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa.
This article originally appeared in the October 2019 print edition of Camana Bay Times with the headline "A delicious culinary month."