2011 - Pumpkin please
Here's what I've had to date
Arizmendi, San Rafael
Pumpkin bread. The best pumpkin tea bread I've ever had. Nicely spiced, it is moist, yet fluffy with good pumpkin flavor.
Bette's Oceanview, Berkeley
Pumpkin pie. Didn't like it. There was too much clove (or that type of cinnamon that tastes like clove). The butter crust was too tough.
Liled's Candy Kitchen, Vallejo
Pumpkin ice cream. Just swell with nice pumpkin flavor and spicing
Pumpkin pancakes. These were so good that I went to Bette's to compare pancakes (not pumpkin though). IHOP can hold its head high pancake-wise ... especially the pumpkn. Better syrup would be nice, but for the pumpkin pancakes they bring out heated original syrup instead of the dreck on the table.
Sonic, American Canyon
Pumpkin Shake. One of the best I've ever had, super thick with good pumpkin flavor and subdued spice. It wasn't too sweet. The nice touch was the sprinkling of pumpkin pie crumbs on the thick whipped cream.
Indian Wells Brewing Company Spicy pumpkin ale. I did what I rarely do with pumpkin beers ... bought another bottle and it might be the novelty beer for Thanksgiving dinner. Good spicing and some pumpkin flavors. Not so impressed with Blue Moon, or TJ's. Here's the 2011 pumpkin beer thread on the beer board. Someone liked HMB brewery's pumpkin beer.
Pumpkin latte, pumpkin scone - No. The latte was just sweet and discusting. The scone was dry and lacked flavor.
Harvest shake. Ick. They don't actually call it pumpkin. They call it a harvest shake. It is orange and icky.
Last weekend I had a little taste of the seasonal pumpkin ice cream at La Real Michoacana in Santa Rosa. Very different than anyone else's pumpkin ice cream, unspiced with a palish golden-orange color rather than rust hues. It tastes like what the result would be if you baked acorn squash in some heavy cream with a pat of butter and not much sugar. The vegetable side of the pumpkin shows through rather than a confection or pie filling look-alike.
La Real Michoacana
500 Sebastopol Rd, Santa Rosa, CA 95407
The pumpkin blossom honey is my favorite honey in the world. I can, and have, eaten it straight from the spoon.
Berkeley Bowl sells a pumpkn blossom honey from another company and it was awful.
Yesterday I was planning to throw $$$ to buy some Marshall's honey at the San Rafael farmers market but the guy manning the stand was such a twit, made zero effort to answer question and wanted to chat it up with someone who bought exactly one straw of honey, so they lost my business. They need to do some training of the people at the other markets as I've had that problem at other markets in the past.
Anyway, on the positive side, my Thanksgiving pumpkin pie was from Bear Claw Bakery in Pinole. It was just as great as i remembered ... nice crust, perfect balance of spice and pumpkin.
Maybe one of these years I'll do a side by side comparison to see if I like Beckmann's or Bear Claw the best. The fact that a large pie at Bear Claw is $9 might give it the edge.
Nice people too. I got stuck in traffic and wasn't going to make it before they closed. Not only did they wait for me, they did so cheerfully and even helped me to my car with the pie.
Bear Claw Bakery
2340 San Pablo Ave, Pinole, CA
My stash from last weekend's heirloom pumpkin and squash give-away at Dehlinger Winery, an annual tradition at the fall open house. A sign posted said that the pumpkins were free, limit 100 pounds per person. I didn't hit my quota though I tried to. Carol Dehlinger has 1+ acres planted to old varieties, both ornamental and edible.
4101 Vine Hill Rd, Sebastopol, CA
Saw a sign at Screamin' Mimi's for pumpkin ice cream when I drove by, didn't stop in.
Moustache Baked Goods is making pumpkin whoopie pies. They're terrific.
Bought a mini pumpkin pie ($6, marked down to $3 after 4:30pm) at Downtown Bakery. Made with sugar pie pumpkin, seasoned judiciously, with a lusciously rich custard and buttery crust with crust cut outs on top.
Downtown Bakery & Creamery
308 Center St, Healdsburg, CA 95448
6902 Sebastopol Ave, Sebastopol, CA 95472
381 Healdsburg Ave, Healdsburg, CA 95448
Pumpkin ice cream at Tara's - very good.
Pumpkin gnocchi from the Pasta Shop - excellent. Had with a bunch of crisply fried home grown sage leaves.
Also obtained a slice of pumpkin cheesecake from the bakery next to Pasta Shop on College. Haven't tasted it yet.
Fondly remember making pumpkin malts when I worked at Vivoli's - early Berkeley gelato - early 80's
Ponsford's Place Bakery - San Rafael
The best pumpkin cookie I have ever had. The soft cake like round nugget was chock full of nuts and currents soaked in rose water (couldn't taste the rose water). It was topped with a lovely thick icing which seemed to have a little pumpkin in it.
Didn't like the pumpkin bread at all which was a savory whole graiin bread, but really dry.
I wasn't clear and they didn't include the pumpkin apple turnover with rose water infused currents ... sob. Their turnovers are fab-u-lous.
Model Bakery, Napa
They have a great classic pumpkin pie. The pumpkin stars here and isn't overwhelmed by assertive spicing like so many I've tried. There is a little fresh ginger in it which is a nice touch.It isn't overly sweet either, just a beautiful balance that bows to the pumpkin. Great buttery, soft crust.
Studebaker cheesecake, Sonoma
Has anyone tried these? The owner says he's been in business 30 years and sold all over the Bay Area. He didn't have any personal-sized cheesecakes so I passed. He has two pumpkin versions ... plain pumpkin and "Elvira" ... chocolaate pumpkin cheesecake.
610 First Street, Napa, CA 94559
Ponsford's Place Bakery
117 Shaver St, San Rafael, CA 94901
The Pumpkin 5 Spice from Humphry Slocombe tastes like they're missing a few spices, and rationed the pumpkin.
Starbuck's syrup for their Pumpkin Lattes might as well be gingerbead. Doesn't taste like pumpin.
Smitten Ice Cream's pumpkin was exceptionally creamy, and interesting tasting. Still a little delicate on the pumpkin, but I think they're making the best ice cream in the city, and it's all from scratch. No prefab Straus base.
Smitten Ice Cream
Octavia Blvd Linden St, San Francisco, CA 94102
I love all things pumpkin, and have been making various items at home.
I had a slice of pumpkin pie from Crixa the other day - it was really delicious. They make deep dish pies, full of pumpkin flavor, lightly spiced, custardy, with very good buttery crust. Sadly, there were eggshells in my slice which messed up the experience, but the flavor was great.