Orange is a powerful color. It’s the color of flames, of danger zones and of tropical sunsets. It’s the symbolic hue of the Ukrainian revolution and the color of the chakra that governs joy and creativity. Frank Sinatra himself said that “orange is the happiest color,” and we’ll go along with that. It’s also the color of our favorite seasonal trappings—think foliage, pumpkins, gourds and candy corn. Before we hunker down for the onslaught of winter, let’s revel in the zingy side of autumn with exuberant orange eats; we in Plymouth are blessed with a glorious array to choose from. Here are some favorites.
Popularized by a certain 1990s TV show aimed at fashionable urban women, a cosmopolitan is a sophisticated makeover of what used to be referred to as “girly drink” (something sugary and pretty that didn’t taste like alcohol). A good cosmo is not-too-sweet, tart with citrus and stunningly gorgeous in the glass; bartenders at Sunshine Factory mix up a perfect one using Absolut citron vodka, orange-flavored triple sec, cranberry juice and a lemon twist. This brilliant sipper is refreshing, easy to drink and packs a wallop that might just sneak up on you—drink responsibly. $7.99. 4100 Vinewood Lane.763.535.7000
Ikura—that’s salmon roe to you and me—is a translucent reddish orange color, all the more striking when piled in a black cone of nori (seaweed), spilling over like a bubbling witch’s cauldron. It’s a vision of Halloween colors, but the taste is as far from candy as it gets: each salty little bubble of caviar pops in the mouth with the rich essence of salmon and ocean. Warm vinagered sushi rice balances the briny pop of the fish eggs; pretty pink gari (pickled ginger) is just the thing to cleanse the palate. $6.75. 15555 34th Ave. N. 763.559.9999
The produce aisle at this popular homegrown market is a kaleidoscope of colors, including many in the hue of orange: cantaloupe, pumpkin, tangerine. There are some exotic orange things, too, like persimmons and the silly-named, olive-shaped kumquats. Asian in origin, a kumquat is sort of a mini-orange that’s meant to be eaten whole—skin, seeds and all. The skin is sweet and the inside is sour. The fruit’s powerful citrus punch almost burns lips and mouth—just imagine the high vitamin C content in these babies! Use them to make an unusual marmalade or as a cute and quirky cocktail garnish, or simply pop ’em into your mouth like you would grapes, though with the kumquat’s intense flavor, you’ll reach your max pretty quickly. Market price. 3455 Vicksburg Lane. 763.268.1624
This classic Indian dish is a dusky shade of burnt orange thanks to turmeric, a ginger-like root known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Chunks of boneless chicken breast are marinated in yogurt and other freshly toasted, ground spices including red chili and cumin. It’s cooked at high heat in a clay pot, an alchemy that creates uncommonly tender, juicy meat. Start your orange-fest with a stack of pappadum, wafer-thin lentil crisps dipped into the restaurant’s sweet, spicy and oh-so-orange mango chutney. Sway along to the Bollywood tunes in the background, and watch as your clean white tablecloth turns orange with splashes and smears of tikka. $7.95. 4190 Vinewood Lane N. 763.383.1880
If you haven’t heard yet, the former Eat Shop has morphed its space into Digby’s, a spunky, casual eatery with a menu packed with colorful dishes. Buffalo chicken wings are an unforgettable, practically radioactive shade of orange: Not many foods can rock such an unearthly hue. It’s all because of the atomic hot sauce made from fiery chili peppers distilled in vinegar—a bit tart and hot, hot, hot. Pickled celery sits on top; you’ll welcome the acidic crunch after the incendiary meat. One order has about eight drummies (no wingtips) and comes with a creamy ranch dressing for a cooling dunk. This is killer happy hour fare to share with friends alongside a frosty pitcher of local tap beer or iced tea. $9.99. 16605 County Road 24. 763.270.5929
Orange-colored food often indicates heat, as in tongue-scorching, eyebrow-searing spice. The chori nachos at El Azteca are a case in point. Chorizo, a crumbly, salty and muy picante Mexican pork sausage, is a deep, rusty orange color; piled on top of golden corn tortilla chips and blanketed in melted orange cheddar cheese, it’s a platter of spicy orange-on-orange yumminess. Add salsa, sour cream and guacamole, as you like. $8.15. 3500 Vicksburg Lane N. 763.550.1570
Fak tong, a.k.a. kabocha squash, is a bit darker than pumpkin-orange with a sweeter, denser flesh. Bright chunks are braised in coconut milk with red and green bell peppers; an infusion of red Thai curry turns the whole thing orange. You can specify your preferred spice level on a scale from one to five—then there is “Thai hot.” The sweet kabocha squash can pull off the maximum heat level; just remember that drinking water only spreads the fire, while absorbent grains of rice help tone it down. $10.99. 10100 Sixth Ave. N.763.591.6085.
Salmon is one of our favorite orangey foods; its particular pinkish-orange hue is so distinctive that it has its own Crayola crayon color. Mort’s Deli, as expected, offers glistening orange lox that’s to die for, on a bagel with cream cheese, no less. We also fell in love with the fresh salmon cakes, which are simply and loosely mixed with some chopped bell pepper, a sprinkling of herbs and a scant amount of panko crumbs to bind it all together. There are three plump patties per plate, baked first then fried to a crispy golden hue. The dressing, an Asian-inflected sesame-ginger, is also on the orange side. One word: vibrant. $9.99. 525 Winnetka Ave., Golden Valley. 763.544.2900