Just over a week ago, I was swimming in Lake Washington and eating Ezell's fried chicken and potato salad at the beach. Yesterday, I wore a turtleneck and made a mental note to get my wool coat cleaned. Late September is always a difficult time of year for me. I see the light slipping away earlier and can physically feel the days getting shorter. While I love fall, I hate letting go of summer. With each unexpected chill I catch and window I shut to keep out the cold, I've been bitterly decrying the onset of autumn.

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But this week something magical happened: I went to Crémant for dinner and had the pork belly—and suddenly my dread has turned to anticipation. This phenomenal pork belly, which I believe was at least seven inches long and two inches (at least three quarters of which was pure, beautiful fat) wide, has single-handedly prepared me for the fall. It was not at all crispy—just soft, melty richness on a generous bed of dark lentils spiked with a bright vinegary tang and fresh parsley. Eating it was a pleasure that felt like lying in bed under blankets and a down comforter, warm, with the occasional icy breeze coming in through a cracked window.

I won't resist it any longer—I was made for hibernation season, getting cozy, sleeping, eating rich foods. Bring on the cover of darkness and soups and braised meats. I am ready. recommended