Columbia Offers Tastes for the Season

With the leaves changing and students returning, autumn is an amazing time to be in Columbia. In addition to festivals and football, Columbia offers a variety of ways to enjoy the harvest season whether you want to eat it up or drink it down.

A great place to start is the Columbia Farmers Market. Providing mid-Missouri with fresh, local products for more than 30 years, the market is the perfect spot to pick up pumpkins and gourds in all shapes and sizes, a range of delicious apples and an array of baked goods, local meats and potatoes grown in Missouri soil. Join the hundreds of shoppers who visit throughout the week to purchase goods from local producers, all within a 55-mile radius of Columbia.

Columbia residents and visitors aren’t the only ones who enjoy shopping at the Columbia Farmer’s Market. Chefs at Columbia’s plethora of locally owned restaurants are committed to using fresh, local ingredients on their menus throughout the year. The warm, inviting menus embrace the flavors of the harvest season.

For lunch, enjoy soups and sandwiches made with ingredients from local farmers at Main Squeeze Natural Café or Uprise Bakery.  Once dinner rolls around, you can start with local pork belly skewers from the Wine Cellar and Bistro, move on to grilled Troutdale Farms trout at Sycamore and finish with a sticky toffee carrot cake with Sparky’s black tea and chai ice cream at Bleu Restaurant and Wine Bar.

Speaking of Sparky’s, there are plenty of fall desserts and drinks to choose from in Columbia. Sparky’s Homemade Ice Cream is Columbia’s only ice cream parlor with a liquor license and has rotating seasonal flavors such as maple bacon and pumpkin pie, as well as standard favorites such as lavender honey. When it’s time to warm up, Lakota Coffee Company is one of only a handful of spots in the country that actually roasts their coffee ‘in-house,’ so you know their pumpkin-spice blend will be fresh and flavorful.

For an adult beverage, you can’t go wrong with locally produced beers and wines. Fill your mug with seasonal beers from two local breweries. Broadway Brewery offers a double IPA, a pumpkin beer and will soon feature a 2010 Vintage Imperial Stout. Flat Branch Pub and Brewing serves up Columbia favorites such as the Katy Trail Pale Ale and the Oil Change Oatmeal Stout, along with seasonal specialties such at the Oktoberfest and the Great Pumpkin Ale, which is tapped annually on Halloween.

A view of the Blufftop Bistro at Les Bourgeois. (Photo courtesy of Les Bourgeois Vineyards)

This time of year also marks harvest time at Les Bourgeois Vineyards , located a quick 15 miles west of Columbia in Rocheport. Their award-winning wines range from best-selling Riverboat Red to its unique Collector’s Series and the bluff top views from their outdoor A-Frame and indoor bistro looking out over the Missouri River are especially stunning with the fall colors.

If it’s the flavors of the harvest you’re seeking, look no further than Columbia. With a love for local ingredients and a taste for the season, you will always find something sure to please your palate.

Written by Megan McConachie, web and communications manager for the Columbia Convention & Visitors Bureau.