Halloween has come and gone. Our costumes are once again being put away, packed in boxes or hung in closets, pushed to the corners of our minds until next year. But one culinary theme remains throughout the rest of autumn: pumpkins. While your squash-based sculptures won't keep through November, pumpkin flavors are practically a constant through the Thanksgiving holiday. (Where would we be without pumpkin pie?)
For those of you unwilling to let everyone's favorite orange squash fade into memories of October, here are five amazing pumpkin treats in Orange County that'll keep you in the spirit until winter.
5. Pumpkin Spice Latte at Kéan Coffee in Newport
Forget what Starbucks has taught you about the pumpkin spice latte and trek over to Kéan. This more perfect realization of the pumpkin is perfect for those few nights in Southern California when scarves replace shorts in our vocabularies; here, the latte art holds beneath it a treasure trove of mellow pumpkin and even mellower coffee flavors. Sweet, but not overbearing, the warm flavor from this latte goes straight from the middle of your pallate down to your chest to reheat your entire body. Add a good book, and that's a pretty good night, if you ask me.
2043 Westcliff Dr., Ste. 100, Newport Beach, (949) 642-5326; www.keancoffee.com.
4. Pumpkin Ginger Cake and Honey Pumpkin Tart from Blackmarket Bakery
The title should really read "Anything from Blackmarket Bakery," but keeping it strictly pumpkin gives these two treats the titular edge. The Honey Pumpkin Tarts are as tasty as they are stunningly beautiful, with bits of torched meringue that will oust spray-can topping any day of the week. Though not as pretty as its petite cousin, the Pumpkin Ginger Cake is moist and flavorful. Candied ginger lace the inside and top of the cake where one might have expected chopped walnuts in a lesser loaf; the ginger is a subtle and unexpected surprise, but one that is ultimately very well-received on the tongue.
17941 Sky Park Circle, Irvine, (949) 852-4609; www.blackmarketbakery.com.
3. Pumpkin Hummus at Rutabegorz in Orange or Fullerton
Mad props to whoever decided to put this together; pumpkin isn't seen in savory applications nearly enough. At Rutabegorz, the "41¢ Anniversary Dip" is pumpkin hummus served with tortilla chips. Here, the pumpkin flavors are a subtle addition, but one definitely worth checking out. You might have to dig a bit to really taste the pumpkin, but it's there lying underneath the hummus. (Note: This is only the special at the Rutabegorz in Orange or Fullerton, not in Tustin.)
264 N. Glassell St., Orange, (714) 633-3260; also at 211 N. Pomona Ave., Fullerton, (714) 738-9339; www.rutabegorz.com.
2. Bootlegger's Pumpkin Ale from Bootlegger's Brewery in Fullerton
Even though the fine folks at Bootlegger's Brewery managed to cram more than 300 pounds of baked pumpkin into this brew, the pumpkin flavor in this beer remains light and airy through its (very) smooth finish. Drinking this Pumpkin Ale is more reminiscent of the turning, windy weather than an earthen squash, but the flavors are still upfront. Molasses and spices are present without being unpleasantly sweet.
401 S. Richman Ave., Fullerton, (714) 871-2337; www.bootleggersbrewery.com.
1. Pumpkin Shake at Bruxie
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The main focus at Bruxie, of course, is its waffles. These bits of delicious, fluffy, yeast-risen Belgian textured goodness get a makeover at Bruxie and are suited to either savory or sweet applications. But tucked just above the order window, a chalkboard menu spotlights something any autumn aficionado will delight in -- The Pumpkin Milkshake. See, this is why California is so great: we can have all of the fall flavors without becoming hypothermic before the end of the shake. Bruxie's would be especially good on one of the sporadically warm days we have left before winter, but these can still be enjoyed at night. Underneath a pillow of whipped cream, this shake both looks and tastes like pumpkin pie in a cup. Delicious. (Tip: Get a Brussels waffle and dip it in the shake.)