It’s October in Bend, and you know what that means?
Well, besides the fact that it’s time to start planning a Halloween costume you can wear with a winter coat (or while riding your bike during the Halloween Cyclocross Crusades, if you’re really getting into the spirit of BikeTown USA).
But besides all that, October sparks a plethora of pumpkin-flavored goodies popping up in Bend pubs and eateries. Here are ten of my favorites:
Big Ol’ Pumpkin Beer from 10 Barrel Brewing
Let me say right off the bat that pumpkin beer is my favorite pumpkin-flavored treat of all, and the Big Ol’ Pumpkin from 10 Barrel does not disappoint. It’s a 9.3% imperial ale brewed with more than 14 pounds of organic pumpkin per barrel. They finish it off with cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice to give it that tasty pumpkin pie flavor. The spices aren’t as prominent as you’ll find in some pumpkin brews, but the overall flavor profile is quite good (plus it’s an imperial, so how can you go wrong?)
This is a limited-release beer, and you can find it all over the northwest in 22 ounce bottles at grocery stores or at 10 Barrel’s pubs in Bend and Boise. Drink up now while you can!
Bonus: While it’s not done quite yet, Silver Moon Brewing will be releasing their pumpkin brew sometime around mid-October. Twisted Gourd is always a seasonal favorite, so keep your eyes peeled for this one.
Pumpkin cupcakes from Ida’s Cupcake Café
While I’m not usually a fan of most sweet treats, I’ll make the occasional exception for cupcakes from Ida’s Cupcake Café. They have two locations in Bend, and both rolled out their seasonal pumpkin cupcakes the last day of September. They’ll be available through the end of the year, and you can snag a free taste during the first week of October.
The best thing about Ida’s is that you can pick your own frosting combo from their extensive selection. Though many folks choose to pair their buttercream or the cream cheese frosting with the pumpkin, my personal weakness is the salted caramel.
An added bonus here is that Ida’s also makes treats for the gluten-free members of your family. The pumpkin cupcakes are one of several flavors they offer in a gluten-free version, and they also make a chocolate cupcake that’s vegan (perfect for my egg-allergic stepson).
Pumpkin spice gelato from Bontá Natural Artisan Gelato
This Bend-based company routinely makes me swoon with their flavorful concoctions like Tumalo lavender & honey gelato and their divine vanilla porter gelato made with Deschutes Brewery’s Black Butte Porter. When I heard a rumor that Bontá had rolled out a seasonal pumpkin spice gelato, I had to scurry to Newport Avenue Market to find some.
OHMYGOSH, you guys! This is seriously one of the tastiest pumpkin treats I’ve ever sampled. Imagine all the flavor of a slice of pumpkin pie, but in ice cream form. It’s just sweet enough to be perfect without the cloying character of some pumpkin-flavored desserts. They make it from scratch with locally-sourced milk and cream, and you can definitely taste the freshness in every bite. My ice cream loving husband asked if we could skip pumpkin pie entirely this Thanksgiving and just buy a few pints of this to serve with gingersnaps, a proposal I wholeheartedly accepted.
In addition to Newport Market, you can find it at Whole Foods, CE Lovejoys, Devore’s, and Central Oregon Locavore. Snap it up now while you can still find it!
Pumpkin curry from Thai on the Fly or Taste of Thai
Both of these little mobile eateries are favorites among locals. You’ll find the Thai on the Fly food cart near the corner of Bond and Oregon in Downtown Bend around lunchtime. The Taste of Thai trailer is a great spot to hit for either a lunchtime treat or a tasty dinner to take back to your Bend hotel or vacation rental.
Both spots routinely offer a pumpkin curry that’s absolutely divine. It’s packed with hearty chunks of the nutty-tasting squash simmered in a coconut and red curry broth. The curry is delicious over rice, and there’s just enough spice to pep up your taste buds. I prefer mine with chicken, but they also do a vegetarian version that’s equally divine.
If you’re lucky enough to pick some up on a warm fall day, this makes a perfect picnic in the park while you admire the autumn leaves.
Thai curry squash soup from Barrio
Technically, Barrio bills this as a butternut squash soup, but as owner Steven Draheim explained, there’s a whole family of Calabaza squash that encompasses fall favorites like pumpkin and butternut. The flavor is essentially the same, and the dish is too tasty to split hairs.
This scrumptious soup has a vegan base with a creamy blend of squash and coconut milk. My favorite thing about soups at Barrio is the pile of “stir ins” they provide to ensure you’ve got a hearty meal in your bowl. Vegetarians can opt for a hefty helping of avocado, while meat eaters will enjoy swirling a pile of zesty pork carnitas, along with crunchy goodies like radish and cabbage. That’s all included in the price, by the way. For a bonus boost of pumpkin, order it with Sally’s Super Salad, which is sprinkled with pepitas (pumpkin seeds).
Pumpkin spice chai and coffee from Townshend’s Tea or Belatazza
I know most folks get giddy about pumpkin lattes this time of year, so it warms my tea-loving heart to know Townshend’s Tea is there for me year-round with their pumpkin spice chai. They blend all the spices in a typical pumpkin pie to create the same effect in a loose tea form. You’ll detect notes of cinnamon, ginger, vanilla, clove, and nutmeg, along with a full-flavored black tea. You can have them make you a tasty mug of it at their downtown Bend tea shop, or pick up a few ounces of loose tea to take home as a Bend souvenir.
Another tasty option for fans of warm pumpkin-flavored beverages is Belatazza Cofee. More a coffee shop than teahouse, they nevertheless offer a tasty chai that’s crafted locally by the same Bend-based vendor who makes some of their specialty flavored syrups like cardamom and lavender. Their pumpkin spice syrup is a nice addition to the chai, or you can add it to a latte or any other coffee-based beverage for a treat that’s sure to warm your tummy and satisfy your sweet tooth.
Buy a beer, get a pumpkin at Crux Fermentation Project
The folks at Crux are known for their creative approach to beer, so leave it to them to come up with a similarly creative pumpkin promo.
For a limited time, Crux is offering a combo deal that allows you to buy a beer and a pumpkin together for $10. Since this is one of kid-friendliest breweries along the Bend Ale Trail, they’ve even set it up so junior can decorate his gourd while mom and dad sip suds. The farmer who hauls away Crux’s spent grain to feed to livestock grows the pumpkins for this promotion, so it’s a pretty cool example of sustainability.
Besides the beer/pumpkin combo, Crux is rolling out some pumpkin-themed menu items throughout the month, including a candied pumpkin salad and harvest bruschetta with pumpkin crostini. They’ve got some great new seasonal beers I’m dying to try, so you’ll see me out there this weekend with one of their beer samplers, a tasty Grilled Cheesy sandwich, and a big, fat gourd. Guess I should bring the kids, too, huh?
The Pumpkin One O One from Noi Thai Cuisine
Noi has one of my favorite happy hours in town, and I’m especially smitten with their cocktails. This time of year, the one that makes me giddy is a delectable concoction of pumpkin puree, simple syrup, and vanilla vodka known as the Pumpkin One O One.
Enjoy it with an order of their tasty green curry and a side order of fresh rolls, and you’ve got yourself a fabulous meal.
Assorted baked goods from Nancy P’s, Sparrow Bakery, and Sweetheart Donuts
My lack of love for sweets and baked goods made me a poor judge of anything beyond the Ida’s Cupcake stop, so I reached out to my friend Shannon Hinderberger, the marketing manager at the Riverhouse Hotel and Convention Center. She’s a big fan of pumpkin treats and always has the inside scoop on baked goodies, so I asked for her recommendations on Bend’s best pumpkin pastries and pies.
Sparrow Bakery is legendary in Bend for all manner of tasty baked goods, and Shannon spotted an array of fresh homemade pumpkin pies lining their bakery case recently. They guarantee no can openers and only fresh ingredients, so these pies promise fresh-tasting melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness.
Shannon also got the inside scoop that Sweetheart Donuts is rolling out a brand new pumpkin spice cake donut and a pumpkin fritter. Shannon worked in a bakery years ago and is a self-professed fritter fanatic (say that five times fast!) so you know it means something when she says Sweetheart makes the best fritters around.
We also have Shannon’s ringing endorsement that the pumpkin scones at Nancy P’s Café and Bakery are “to die for,” so I’m inclined to take her word for it. These scones are less traditional and are more biscuit-like, flakey with a hint of cinnamon and just enough maple syrup icing.