Down-home Appalachia’s finest autumn flavors

In Appalachia, chefs are pulling out those traditional autumn ingredients.

Fresh produce from the farmers market or herbs from the garden help dictate our region’s seasonal menus, whether it’s a newly plucked butternut squash or a foraged mushroom.

dobra2Dobra Zupas, Beckley

Dobra Zupas takes their seasons seriously. When fall rolls around, it’s time for a whole menu upgrade to incorporate those local, seasonal foods that deserve the spotlight.

The Beckley restaurant has a constantly changing craft food menu. Classics like the Black and Bleu Fillet or Crab Risotto are standard, but come fall, newcomers like hearty, rich soups, apple garnishes and flavorful pasta dishes like a bolognese.

Jon Lester, head chef at Dobra Zupas, said all the menu items are prepared using fresh, seasonal ingredients, and fall is the perfect opportunity for something new.

“Every time the season changes, we change our menu, so with fall, we will be looking at heavier, warming dishes like beef stews and mashed potatoes and dishes with apples and squashes,” he said.

Jon plans to create a roasted root vegetable pasta dish with a cream sauce for their weekly pasta special this season: squash, cauliflower, rutabagas are all fair game. Jon’s creativity stretches beyond the pasta, though, and he intends to incorporate some carrots into fall soups and apples with pork dishes.

“A lot of what we do just depends on what’s in season, so with those heartier vegetables in season in the fall, we will make a place for those on the menu because that’s how I like to cook,” he said. “We don’t limit ourselves. Our cuisine features a little bit of everything— just all good food.”

“We don’t limit ourselves. Our cuisine features a little bit of everything— just all good food.”

Dobra Zupas is always sure to include a few items specifically for vegetarians, and more than ever, it focuses on mushrooms as a main component. A grilled portabella sandwich is a classic vegetarian option year-round, but it’s even more of a staple during the fall season. Mushrooms also make another appearance on the menu, stuffed with gouda cheese as an appetizer.

They give pork and other beef dishes also fair amount of attention, too, paired with fall fruits like apples, pumpkin and more. A little sweet and a little savory make for a well-balanced dish, Jon said.

Using the season’s fruits to scribe the menu keeps the offerings fresh and inventive. It focuses on the flavors at the peak freshness, and lets them shine through.

Whether it’s meat or vegetarian, rosemary or thyme, Jon— and other chefs in southern West Virginia— are eagerly anticipating the first bite of that warm, hearty meal.

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