Pumpkin Bucket List
It's in the latte. It's on your neighbor's stoop. It's scattered throughout the generic canned food aisle. Pumpkins are back and they are everywhere. Before you spin off into a dizzied pumpkin frenzy, you need a handy guide for how to navigate the pumpkin waters. Herewith, your pumpkin dining guide for fall 2014:
(How FIG + OLIVE does fall ravioli)
495,000 Chicagoans are suffering from food insecurity
Floriole Cafe & Bakery: Pumpkin desserts and pastries reach a fever pitch at Floriole Cafe & Bakery in the form of pumpkin sticky buns, pumpkin bread, and pumpkin clafoutis.
DMK Burger Bar: Pumpkin pie shakes are the shake of the month at DMK Burger Bar, made by mixing vanilla ice cream with fresh pumpkin puree, malt, milk, whipped cream, and sugared pumpkin seeds.
Cactus Bar and Grill: It doesn't get much more autumnal than pumpkin cider, a beverage that seamlessly blends two of the most distinctive fall ingredients in one handy, heady brew. It's on hand at Cactus Bar and Grill, where Ace Pumpkin Cider is a seasonal sensation. It's made with fermented apple juice, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice, carbonated and kegged, marking the first of its kind in the Midwest.
North Pond: Pastry chef Greg Mosko further proves his impeccable creativity and finesse with one of his latest desserts. Taking on pumpkins for the new tasting menu dessert, he's whipping up pumpkin-spiced cheesecake mousse with maple-poached cranberries, maple cranberry pearls, candied pecans, pecan streusel, cranberry sorbet, stout ale cake, and fried sage.
Chop Shop: Vanilla vodka, Frangelico, Bols yogurt, housemade pumpkin syrup, half and half, and pumpkin puree join forces to make for one seriously rich and decadent pumpkin libation at Chop Shop. It's all finished with a toasted marshmallow because why not.
(Pumpkin pancake time at Tavern on Rush)
FIG + OLIVE: Pumpkin-sage ravioli is a pasta combo as old as time iteself. Or something along those lines. The one-two punch is on the menu at FIG + OLIVE, and true to form the restaurant is upping the ante on traditional templates by incorporating chicken, ricotta, charmoula, and pumpkin olive oil into the mix.
Tavern on Rush: Pumpkin pancakes are a requisite fall breakfast. Get your fix at Tavern on Rush, where the seasonal sensations are back on the menu through December. Executive chef John Gatsos makes his version by supplementing the classic flour-eggs-milk-sugar formula with pumpkin puree, maple syrup, and cinnamon-brown sugar butter.
312 Chicago: Pumpkin and chocolate are not frequent bedfellows, but when they do team up they work magic together. Case in point, the new budino di pane (bread pudding) at 312 Chicago. Courtesy of sous chef Luis Silva, the salacious new dessert features custard-soaked brioche bedecked with pumpkin, chocolate chips, burnt caramel gelato, and pumpkin seed brittle.
(Dessert is served at 312 Chicago)
State and Lake Chicago Tavern: It's pumpkin spice like you've never tasted before at State and Lake Chicago Tavern, where pastry chef Toni Roberts raises the bar with pumpkin spice ice cream and pumpkin cheesecake with honey wheat beignets, Valhrona dulcet whip, and salted pepita crunch.
Eataly: Eataly runneth over with fresh pumpkin provisions. The produce department is brimming with local and organic varieties of pumpkins, while the bakery contains pumpkin cookies and the marketplace is stocked with Dogfish Head Punkin Ale.
- Matt Kirouac