Tasting Table's Last Chance 2012 Menu

Summer's Last Hurrah

It's October and, in many parts of the country, there are leaves changing and sweaters being unpacked.

But before the chill of the season fully swoops in, now is the time to leverage the last of summer's bounty. This month's dinner party embraces the shoulder season, weaving together ripe, end-of-summer zucchini, eggplants, tomatoes and peppers, with the first of autumn's ingredients.

Gather friends to toast the change of season with a bourbon-fig cocktail before setting the table with vibrant shades of green, blue and brown. The plentiful meal, served family-style, starts with cornbread strewn with grated zucchini and a rich spread of olive oil whipped ricotta. The hearty kale salad features pan-fried grapes and frizzled onions, and an acidic, mint-laced eggplant relish tempers the richness of breaded pork cutlets.

Dessert swaps a cake server for cheese knives and an easy-to-assemble cheese plate. Turn up the custom playlist, an upbeat, slightly wistful mix. Then snag a few quick-pickled red peppers while you savor summer's last hurrah and usher in the new season.