The light outside changes, becomes softer, less harsh; the temperature falls and the humidity grows friendlier; and spending more time outdoors becomes a pleasant reality. It’s autumn, the best time, in my opinion, to enjoy what’s on offer in the world. The new season brings new art exhibits, theatre performances, fashion, and, thank goodness, wines and food. New dishes, menus, ingredients, and pairings await in restaurants everywhere. It’s a good time to taste.

Want some good tastes? Have you experienced duck heart bolognese? If not, pay a visit to One Fifth/Romance Languages in Houston and embrace the new. It’s rich and hearty and comforting, and my pasta (casarecce) was just as I like it … one small second past al dente. In addition, I offer you a fine ribeye from Del Frisco’s and an impressive foie gras concoction that’s on the menu at Tony’s. You can read more about these three dishes here. Book a table (or sit at the bar), order some wine, relax a little, and live.

Order this as an opener, or at the end of your evening.

If you cook at home — and if you don’t, you’re missing out on a meditative ritual — here’s a great recipe for salmon that’s warming on an autumn evening. It’s easy to make, and it pairs perfectly with that bottle of Lambrusco you’ve been wanting to open. Want more fun? Cook with someone who excites you. It’ll make the food that much more satisfying.

It was a tough summer … hurricanes and earthquakes and fires (I’m working on a piece about the disaster in Napa and Sonoma, so look for it here) affected millions, bringing despair, heartache, and death. Let’s hope that fall brings, along with the new, a touch of solace and rejuvenation. We could all use some of that.