By Gail Johnson
With pumpkin season upon us, you’ll find the bright-orange orbs everywhere these days—from patches to farmers markets to front steps. Most often, they’re used for harvest and Halloween décor, placed beside hay bales and dried corn husks or carved with all sorts of grimaces.
For chefs, however, the fruit are a flavourful ingredient and seasonal favourite.
Here are a few spots serving up delectable pumpkin dishes this fall.
112 – 810 Quayside Drive, New Westminster
The plant-forward eatery in the River Market has cooked up a pumpkin risotto made with butternut squash, a cool-weather comfort dish. Garnished with fried sage for an earthy, herbal tone it comes topped with shaved Grana Padano or can be made vegan with a house-infused charred onion oil.
4120 Hastings Street, Burnaby
Headed by husband-and-wife duo Scott and Stephanie Jaeger, the Pear Tree is a B.C. gem, having earned numerous awards and accolades over the years for its premium local cuisine and topnotch service.
Chef Scott turned to Pemberton’s organic North Arm Farm for this autumn’s sugar pumpkin tart. Sugar pumpkins are smaller than those used for jack-o-lanterns and have sweet, firm flesh. Topped with caramel mousse, the dessert has a pumpkin seed crust.
900 Seymour Street, Vancouver
Tucked in the Moda Hotel, the cozy trattoria serves authentic Italian fare made with ethically sourced, local ingredients. Budino is an Italian custard, and chef Curtis Luk has created one with pumpkin. With a taste resembling pumpkin pie, the dessert has a modern twist with sponge toffee, sponge cake, and caramel made with pumpkin puree.
415 Powell Street, Vancouver
The rustic farm-to-table restaurant helmed by chef Sean Reeve is all about the best B.C. ingredients. His prosciutto e zucca (pumpkin) dish features roasted futsu squash from Cawston’s Klippers Organics and mutsu apples, all drizzled with rutabaga molasses and topped with a crumble made of Alpindon cheese and squash seed pesto. The dish eats like a winter version of the Italian classic pairing of Parma ham and melon.
2409 Marine Drive, Vancouver’s North Shore
Trained at the California School of Culinary Arts, chef and chocolatier Steven Hodge has whipped up a pumpkin cheesecake this fall (along with other gourd-centred goodies, pumpkin scones). Made with freshly roasted pumpkin, the cake has a French twist: it contains Pineau des Charentes, an aperitif and distant cousin of Cognac.
Temper’s pumpkin cheesecake is also available in the Thanksgiving dinner package at North Vancouver’s Two Rivers Specialty Meats.
151 East Broadway, Vancouver
Pumpkin pie milkshake. Need we say more? Okay: this decadent Thanksgiving treat has house-made pumpkin-spice syrup, Beechwood Dairies vanilla ice cream, pumpkin- spiced whipped cream, and a pumpkin spiced macaron by Kizzy’s Macarons. So there.