83 Avenue A
OCTOBER 31, 2013




Fall, fall at last! The air is crisp, you can walk around the city without smelling too much of it, if you’re inclined to go jogging you may, if you would rather wear a form-hiding sweater, that's fine too.  But chef Michael Forth, the owner for Autompne (the old French word for Fall) is crazy about the season in a way that most other people, including myself, are not.

”I mean, Fall is when you’re finally reunited with your favorite flannel. You can roast a chicken all day long, your glass is filled with the reddest of red wines, or maybe a hearty beer,” said Frothman, wearing his signature barn coat, overalls, and drinking from a mug of squash brau. The name may sound disgusting but is most likely the flavoring you would find in a lot of pumpkin flavored ales. “And a fire in the fireplace? There is no finer time!” says Forth, raising his mug to the fireplace of Autompne, which seems like it was built for a family of giants.

Forth has piled his menu with hearty pasta dishes too rich for summer (gnocci and ravioli, the vanguard of the pasta world); roasted root vegetables that have grown all summer; ales, the only beef stew worth eating in the east or west village, salted roasted ginko nuts (this is the only time of year those stinking trees redeem themselves) and of course, pumpkin pie.

Buy sadly, Frothman is known mostly not for his cooking, but for his incredible hatred of Halloween, a holiday he describes as “the worst thing to ever happen to humanity.” And he's taken this hatred to the streets with Halloween protests, consisting mostly of himself and whoever is working the restaurant later that day.

Autompne is decorated with anti-Halloween propoganda: “Trick or Treat Isn’t Fun or Sweet!”, or “BOO to Halloween”. There’s one poster I particularly like that reads:

You Have Made
Our Children

. . . and depicts little shadowy witches and ghosts. It’s very cute, a fine endorsement of Halloween, actually. When I made my reservation at Autompne, I was solidly in Forth’s camp. Walking down a beautiful street in Brookly, I saw a towering inflatable grim reaper in front of a brownstone. That’s too much Halloween. Going to the office as a gun moll who was shot to death by a rival ganster? That’s also too much Halloween. Researching different kinds of fake blood? I mean, I want to hear about your findings, preferably over a mug of squash brau, but maybe that’s too much Halloween.

But while I was seated, I looked out the window, where a few little ghost were being chased by a five-year old Doctor Doom.* It was funny and kind of thrilling. Then a bunch of college students dressed as rare birds ran by, tweeting. You know what? Halloween is kind of great.

“Can't you just let the Halloween thing go?" I asked him after ordering a bowl of beef stew with a side of roasted kabocha with rosemary, "It makes some people very happy.”

Forth didn't seem to hear me. “The trees are turning these beautiful hues, and you have people hanging ghosts off them? What is that? They aren’t even ghosts of people you know, it’s just this theoretical ghost. And if you ask people why they do it, they say kids like it. Let me tell you something; kids are idiots. That’s why they have different menus. Menus that sometimes they can’t even read!”

A child, maybe nine, eating with her family drops her menu on the table to stare, stonefaced, at Forth “Just watch, she'll order a hamburger. That's what they all do.”

Forth had about nine hundred more words to say about children, Halloween and how candy is pointless, but I’m uncomfortable having that amount of sheer misanthropy in my column. I am just so happy to be back in New York City, I will take whatever ghosts it feels compelled to hang off its trees.

*Most readers do not know that at one point in my life I was obsessed with
The Fantastic Four and tried to develop graying temples just like Reed Richards.

I have them now, they're not so exciting without super powers.


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