by Steven Doyle
We as Americans have an odd relationship with the pumpkin. Sure, we stock up on the squash as decor during the Halloween season (which according to retailers begins in August), and adorn our tables as centerpieces with them during the eventide of Thanksgiving, but as far as a true dining offering we fall short.
In the Middle East, pumpkin is used for sweet dishes; a well-known sweet delicacy is called halawa yaqtin. South Asian countries such as India, pumpkin is cooked with butter, sugar, and spices in a dish called kadu ka halwa. In China, the leaves of the pumpkin plant are consumed as a cooked vegetable or in soups.
Japan serves small pumpkins in savory dishes, including tempura. Thailand steams small pumpkins with custard inside and serves as a dessert. The Vietnamese cook pumpkins in soups with pork or shrimp. And Italy they can be used with cheeses as a savory stuffing for ravioli.
There are many other examples of using pumpkins across the globe, but as Americans the pumpkin is relegated to pies. That is until recent times where the pumpkin has had an absurd revitalization; a savior to the marketers on Madison Avenue.
Think of the revent products you have seen on store shelves: Nestle Tollhouse pumpkin flavored chocolate chips, Pumpkin Spice Flavored Jello, Planters Pumpkin Spice Nuts, Kraft Jet Puffed Pumpkin Spiced Marshmallows, Dunkin’ Donuts Pumpkin Spice Coffee, Special K Pumpkin Spice Cereal, Pumpkin Spice Cheerios, Pumpkin Spice Kahlua, Quaker Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal, and the list drones on and on. You simply cannot escape a grocer’s aisle without being deluged with these sad, sad products.
Alas, it is not all bad, and there are actually some very nice pumpkin treats for you to try this season, some sweet, some savory. Let’s have a look at some of our favorites:
Jill Bates, Pastry Chef at Fearing’s at the Ritz-Carlton in Uptown brings us this delightful plate, consider a pumpkin cheesecake with her own version of Cool Whip, a dried fruit chutney with candied cranberries and salted pepitas. This is not your mama’s pumpkin pie. Chef Bate’s creations are always bountiful.
At the Afghan restaurant on Lowest Greenville Avenue you may enjoy Kadu, one of Nora’s signature dishes that is made from sautéed pumpkin, garlic yogurt and an optional meat sauce.
Twisted Root’s Pumpkin Spice Root Beer. There are certain things in this life we simply should not do — keep a home-run ball hit by the opposing team, give ourselves a haircut or wear a green jacket unless we have won the Masters. Until today we also felt that it was unholy to tamper with root beer, but Twisted’s annual Pumpkin Spice is the bomb. Enjoy this one when in rotation in flat form for maximum enjoyment.
The Original Pancake House (multiple locations) has their answer to this pumpkin dilemma with their annual serving of their light and airy and ever-so-pumpkiny pancakes.
Get down on some of Penne Pomodor’s pumpkin ravioli. There are several locations in Dallas.
Rise No 1 is one of our favorite places in Dallas, and who doesn’t love a good souffle. Try the pumpkin version for a real kick. Bring the kiddos in costume on Halloween and they ‘ll be treated to a free dessert souffle.
Q Bar at Intercontinental: They clue us in on how to make a Pumpkin Martini. It’s 1 ½ ounces of Vanilla Vodka, 2 ounces Pumpkin Liquor, ½ ounce Myers Rum and a ½ ounce agave nectar. Rattle off a good shake and enjoy. Or better yet, stop in and have them make you one. S’wonderful.
Kate Weiser now has locations in Trinity Groves and at NorthPark to serve you delicious chocolaty confections. Try her pumpkin macarons and her Chocolate Pumpkins which are dark chocolate pumpkins are filled with pumpkin pie truffles, chocolate dipped apricots and candied orange peels, chocolate covered toffee bits and chocolate pecans.
We adore the Kabocha Pumpkin Gnocchi at Nonna. And as we always suggest, order a white clam pizza for the table.
La Popular makes their annual pumpkin tamales this time of year and you will certainly not wish to miss out on these babies!
We leave you with yet another dessert offering from Chef Bates at Fearing’s that is not pumpkin, but definitely has a beautiful ring of Fall about the dish. Consider this oatmeal waffle with her cider bear ice cream with bacon/ apple jam/ maple syrup. If you haven’t been to Fearing’s this might be one excellent reason to go. While there say howdy to the pastry chef, we hear she will make you smile.