I just read in New York magazine that pumpkin is the new bacon. They may be on to something. Listen to this shopping list a friend just posted on Facebook: pumpkin coffee, pumpkin oatmeal, pumpkin cream cheese, pumpkin butter, pumpkin cider and pumpkin-chip biscotti. Eat that and you’re likely to start glowing all orangey.
It’s kind of crazy since, as the article points out, pumpkin on its own is not singularly yummy. It’s a stringy old vegetable in a tough rind and takes some work to get to a useable state. But that didn’t stop bacon, either — it was pinky fatty goo until it got cooked into the Best Things Ever. So let’s roll with the pumpkin! We’ve got pumpkin dishes all over town — in entrees as well as baked goods — and I even found some pumpkin cocktails!
Chef Julie Francis of Nectar (1000 Delta Ave., Mount Lookout) is hosting a pumpkin event for October’s dinner club. It may be too late to attend by the time this article comes out in print, but some of the dishes will be featured on Nectar’s seasonal menu for fall. Look for roasted pumpkin soup with curry, star anise, chipotle spiced shrimp and pumpkin seeds and pumpkin flan with caramel bacon popcorn for dessert. Pumpkin and bacon together, oh my!
Down at the Banks, Crave (175 Joe Nuxhall Way, Downtown) also has the dynamic duo — pumpkin ravioli with crisp bacon, caramelized onions, bourbon apple cream and butternut relish.
Taste of Belgium (1133 Vine St. and Findlay Market) will start serving their pumpkin waffles on Halloween. At Cumin (3520 Erie Ave., Hyde Park), Chef Owen Maass is featuring heirloom grits with sugar pie pumpkin. Jean-Robert’s Table (713 Vine St., Downtown) has pumpkin on the lunch and dinner menus now, with an autumn romaine salad with local apples, pumpkin, red grapes, pumpkin seeds and house dijonnaise and beef short ribs, onion compote, creamy spinach, portobello mushroom and pumpkin rice flan for dinner.
In Covington at Otto’s (521 Main St., Covington), the fall menu is almost pumpkin-free, but Chef Molly Thompson is squashing instead.
She’s toasting pumpkin seeds to garnish her curried cream of fall squash soup, and is serving seared duck breast with a butternut squash and prosciutto risotto as well as a mascarpone and butternut squash lasagna.
Next door at Bouquet (519 Main St., Covington), Chef Stephen Williams has deconstructed pumpkin pie in a jar — which sounds incredible. It stars pumpkin mousse and five-spice ice cream with a browned butter crust, crumbled rum cake and a big dollop of whipped cream. I’d like a snifter of brandy with that, please!
And speaking of beverages, Tavern Restaurant Group is going to be featuring a fall “comfort cocktail” made with pumpkin at Nicholson’s (625 Walnut St., Downtown), deSha’s (11320 Montgomery Road, Montgomery), The Polo Grille (5035 Deerfield, Mason) and The Pub (2692 Madison Ave., Hyde Park). It’s actually served hot. Pumpkin Buttered Rum starts with Sailor Jerry rum, pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, allspice, brown sugar, and whipped cream.
Or you can make your own pumpkin cocktail with this recipe from my friends Alie Ward and Georgia Hardstark of Drinks With Alie & Georgia on the Cooking Channel:
2 ounces Wild Turkey
1 ounce butterscotch schnapps
1/2 cup canned sweet potatoes with their syrup
1 teaspoon nutmeg
Crème brûlée torch
Add whiskey, schnapps, canned sweet potatoes and nutmeg to a blender and whir until smooth. Pour into two heat-proof glasses and top with mini marshmallows. Brown the marshmallows with the crème brûlée torch until golden brown. Cheers to the Great Pumpkin!
According to The Awl, this month’s Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer is almost 28 percent pumpkin. If you can get to the checkout without a pumpkin product, well, your cart must be empty. They’ve got honey roasted pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin cream cheese, pumpkin spice granola, pumpkin pancake mix, pumpkin chocolate mousse cake, pumpkin flavored Greek yogurt and pumpkin spice rooibos tea. Definitely pick up a couple cans of organic canned pumpkin so that you can add pumpkin to anything that doesn’t already have it. And don’t forget Fido, who might (or might not!) dig some pumpkin flavored dog treats.
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