Easy as Pie

Those eagerly awaiting the release of pumpkin items at Trader Joe’s or Jamba Juice, might want to add variety to their yearly pumpkin pig out. 

The passion for pumpkins began in the Americas. Seeds from related species have been found in archeological digs in Mexico, dating back to 7000 to 5500 B.C. The name actually comes from the Greek word, “peon,” meaning large melon. Native Americans used pumpkins and related fruit as part of their diet before the pilgrims arrived. The marriage of cinnamon and pumpkin came later. Cinnamon is native to Sri Lanka and was used in China and ancient Egypt.

Ginger originated in Southeast Asia and nutmeg was from Indonesia. The trade along the silk roads brought these spices to Europe. Without such trade and culinary experimentations between the continents, we wouldn’t have pumpkin spice for November.

Jamba Juice made its fans wait until October 20. Trader Joe’s opened the orange winter squash season on October 1, offering pumpkin bisque, pumpkin bars, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin spice bagels, pumpkin waffles, pumpkin cereal, pumpkin spice coffee, pumpkin biscotti, pumpkin cranberry crisp, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin spice almond beverage, pumpkin pie spiced ginger brew, spiced pumpkin madeleines, pumpkin bread mix, pumpkin chocolate chunk oatmeal cookie mix, pumpkin ice cream, pepita salsa and pumpkin cream cheese spread.

Another, and perhaps healthier, choice to fulfill your pumpkin spice needs is a seasonal bagel from Einstein Bagels. You can add pumpkin shmear or splurge on the calories with a pumpkin bagel with a sweet crunchy topping of walnuts and cinnamon.

Of course, you can get pumpkin pie at local pie shops. Moe’s pumpkin pie is $6.50 a slice at the Pie Hole and pecan is also on the fall menu ($7). The Cheesecake Factory has pumpkin cheesecake ($57.95 for a whole 10-inch pie or $8.50 a slice) and pumpkin pecan cheesecake ($58.95 or $8.95 per slice). Pie ‘N Burger has pumpkin and pecan pie, too.

Thinking of trying something savory? Then Suriya Thai has pumpkin curry served with shrimp, white rice, spicy red curry and coconut milk ($11.95). Kabuki Japanese Restaurants are offering a winter special: kabocha squash soup ($3.50 a bowl) while supplies last.

Lêberry Bakery on Colorado has gluten-free pumpkin scones with a pumpkin glaze, pumpkin muffins with a light sprinkle of sugar on top and a danish with pumpkin spread in the center. All are priced at $3, but guests will have to hurry because these goodies will only be offered until the second weekend of November.

Another hurry up and don’t be late pumpkin date is at Alexander’s Steakhouse. The executive pastry chef Gabriela Martinez will be serving pumpkin ice cream with dry ice to make it mysteriously smoky. As part of the complimentary mignardises (mini-bite desserts pronounced min-yar-DEEZ), pumpkin bonbons, pumpkin macaroons and pumpkin tarts are among the selections. Everything is made in-house, including the ice cream, and will only be available until November 15.

The Vanilla Bake Shop has gone wild with pumpkin pie shortbread bars, pumpkin streusel pecan pies, the classic pumpkin pie, pumpkin spice cupcakes and a pumpkin spice cake. The cake comes in two sizes, 6 inch or 9 inch. The pies come as small as a 2-inch round to the regular 9 inch. So go ahead and satisfy your pumpkin passion for as little as $2.50. These pumpkin delights will be available until the end of December.

Sunmerry Bakery in Temple City has pumpkin brownies, matcha-pumpkin danishes and whole wheat pumpkin buns into November. Sunmerry is also offering multigrain cranberry bread to go with turkey.

PattiCakes in Altadena has pumpkin cheesecake in five sizes. Two people can feed off a 3-inch pie, or parties of 50 or 60 can get a 16-inch pie. Pumpkin muffins are also available. The pumpkin party continues at PattiCakes until May.

Where to go

Alexander’s Steakhouse, 111 N. Los Robles Avenue, Pasadena, 626-486-1111, alexanderssteakhouse.com

The Cheesecake Factory, 2 W. Colorado Boulevard,
Pasadena, 626-584-6000

Einstein Bros. Bagels, 605 S. Lake Avenue, Pasadena,
626-449-6415, einsteinbros.com

Kabuki Restaurants, 88 W. Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena,
626-568-9310; 3539 E. Foothill Boulevard, Pasadena,
626-351-8963, kabukirestaurants.com

Lêberry Bakery, 445 E. Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena,
626-993-9898, leberrybakery.com

PattiCakes, 1900 Allen Avenue, Altadena, 626-794-1128, patticakesbakery.com

The Pie Hole, 59 E. Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena,
626-765-6315, thepieholela.com

Pie ‘N Burger, 913 E. California Boulevard, Pasadena,
626-795-1123, pienburger.com

Sunmerry Bakery Café, 5728 Rosemead Boulevard, Temple City,
626-656-6336 , summerryus.com

Suriya Thai, 123 W. California Boulevard, Pasadena,
626-577-7273, suriyathairestaurant.com

Vanilla Bake Shop, 88 E. Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena,
323-204-4075, vanillabakeshop.com