Ten Best: Pumpkin-flavored things that are not pie
It’s officially fall, and that means it’s time for one of the world’s most common crops to rear it’s bulbous, orange head. It seems anything can be flavored like pumpkin — a semi sweet flavor usually jacked up with sugar, cinnamon and other spices. As a Halloween devotee, the taste of pumpkin holds special meaning for me: For instance, my soon-to-be-wife and I ate IHOP’s delicious seasonal pumpkin pancakes the morning after our engagement. They’re back in, so get them while they’re hot.
Once upon a time there was a great pub on Tate Street called Lager Haus. There are three things you need to know about the short-lived booze pitcher: They had incredible fries, the worst bartender on planet Earth and a pumpkin-flavored beer that is now mythical among my friends. It was like pie in a glass. Unfortunately, we all got very drunk that night, and no one remembered the brand. My fiance and I have tried many a bottled pumpkin ale since, but each has left us with a bitter taste in our mouth — literally. This entry goes out to that magical Shangria-La of autumnal alcoholism, a decent pumpkin ale. I will never stop seeking you.
Pumpkin ice cream
Another entry in lost chances and bitter memories: Edy’s Pumpkin Ice Cream. We spotted it in the store once, choose not to buy it and next shopping trip? It was gone. We checked almost every story in Greensboro. Damn you, Edy. Coldstone Creamery’s seasonal pumpkin ice cream is probably better, anyway. And I’m sure many of the Triad’s numerous independently owned scoop-flingers will have their own frozen take on the big squash.
Of course, there are other ways to enjoy Linus van Pelt’s bane as a frozen treat. Steak n Shake’s pumpkin shakes should be out soon, but why buy corporate? Maxie B’s (2403 Battleground Ave., Greensboro), while best at cakes and cupcakes, has an interesting and intensely pumpkin-y milkshake. If it’s a little more of the orange stuff that you’d like, experiment for yourself with a blender, ice cream and pumpkin puree. It’s hard to go wrong.
Any self-respecting coffee joint has a pumpkin latte of some kind. Unlike pumpkin beer, it’s easy to find a coffee with a noticeable pumpkin taste. Source-of-all-evil Starbucks has a pumpkin spice latte which is, admittedly, very good. I’ve also found pre-ground pumpkin-flavored coffee at Target, under the Archer Farms label. It’s good stuff, if a bit on the weak side caffeine-wise.
Ah, the mellowcreme pumpkin. Made of corn syrup and honey, this seasonal product of Brach’s Confections tastes nothing like pumpkin. Not in the slightest. They barely even look like pumpkins, with the bottom half all flat and the little smear of green around the stem usually misaligned. Still, they belong on the list for tradition’s sake, and because the people who run the mellowcreme pumpkin fan site www. icravepumpkins.wordpress.com will probably stuff my mouth full of them until I go into diabetic shock if I fail to mention them.
Pumpkin Hershey’s Kiss
Speaking of products that will have you bleeding onto testing strips, Hershey’s has debuted a new Limited Edition (ha) Pumpkin Spice flavor of Kiss. Now the world’s laziest candy (seriously, it’s just a dollop of chocolate) is Halloween appropriate. These things aren’t kidding, either — you can smell the pumpkin pie spice before you unwrap them. They also have the texture of melted chocolate, due to a bizarre white filling. Tastes great, though.
I’ll confess: I couldn’t find a restaurant serving pumpkin soup before deadline. I’ve never even had it. But it not only exists, it’s a pretty common delicacy — the
web is full of recipes. I have had various types of squash soup, both hot and cold, and the flavor is both slightly sweet and savory. Can pumpkin soup be much different?
Besides pie, there’s no limit to the baked goods you can make with pumpkin. Why did I pick bread over cake, cookies or muffins? Because “bread” sounds healthy. Don’t be fooled: Our recipe is just as sweet, moist and glycemic as any confection.
While pumpkins originated in the Americas (Mexico, actually), they’re so easy to grow that every continent but Antarctica has them. As a result many cultures have their own take on the fruit — yes, fruit — such as Italian pumpkin ravioli, Chinese pumpkin congee, or Irish baked pumpkin. Since the previous owners of my new house left behind about fifty cans of pumpkin puree, I’ll be trying them all. Here’s hoping I don’t turn orange from all the beta-carotene.