(Pumpkin) Spice It Up!

Life is Gourd Thanks to the Return of Fall’s Favorite Flavor Profile

While it may be tough to tell based on the temperature outside, it is finally fall in Arizona. How can we tell? Seasonal pumpkin-themed drinks and dishes—both sweet and savory— are showing up on menus across the Valley.  

Some are daring, like the new seasonal Pumpkin Pad Thai ($34) at elements at Sanctuary Camelback Mountain, A Gurney's Resort & Spa (GurneysResorts.com/scottsdale). To make this ultra-fragrant dish, award-winning chef Samantha Sanz begins by blending butternut squash, tamarind, dried chilies, and brown sugar together until it is a smooth and velvety sauce. She then roasts delicata squash with Korean chili powder and lime zest before tossing it in a pan with the sauce, sauteed onions, and sugar snap peas. Once to temperature, Thai rice noodles are added and it is finished with scallion and peanut sauce, crispy onions, pickled Fresno peppers, and Thai basil.

Toca Madera (TocaMadera.com) similarly pushes the culinary envelope when it comes to everything diners think they know about pumpkin with its Scallops Amarillo ($46). In it, diver scallops are paired with both chimichurri and aji amarillo sauce before being finished with toasted pumpkin seeds that provide a rustic crunch in every bite.

In recent weeks, La Hacienda at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess (ScottsdalePrincess.com) also unveiled an out-of-the-box take on pumpkin with its Tortilla Talavera ($20). An edible tribute to the ofrenda—or altar—set out during Día de los Muertos, this handcrafted tortilla is pressed with pumpkin seeds and complementing fall grains and seeds—including sesame, amaranth, almond, marigold, and quinoa—to create a pattern that mimics Talavera pottery. The tortillas are paired with green pumpkin seed-infused mole, as well as white mole, grilled cheeses, shimeji mushroom al ajillo, and a cherry tomato salad.

Other selections celebrate the sugar, spice, and all things nice we think of when we think “pumpkin” in a more traditional way—dessert!

One of the most popular such desserts is the Pumpkin Bread Pudding ($9) at The Mission (TheMissionAZ.com). Here, the standard recipe starts simply enough with eggs, milk, and sugar. Once blended, a healthy pour of scotch is added, and fresh-baked pumpkin-spice bread is soaked in the spirited mixture. After baking, the bread pudding is topped with toasted pumpkin seeds, fresh pomegranates, and Villa Dolce vanilla ice cream.

Like The Mission, The Sicilian Baker (TheSicilianBaker.com) has also embraced the popular fall flavor with its Pumpkin Spice Cannoli ($6). The key ingredient here is the creamy ricotta filling, which has been infused with actual pumpkin pie. Guests may get the filling, which also includes a pumpkin-shaped candy as a garnish, in any of Sicilian Baker’s cannoli shells—traditional, white chocolate, chocolate, or pistachio—and opt for a mini version or supersized cannoli for a separate fee.

Each of Grimaldi’s Pizzeria (GrimaldisPizzeria.com) locations in the Valley also has a seasonal sweet via its Pumpkin Cheesecake ($6). A whipped twist on a traditional cheesecake, it features pumpkin spice, white sugar, and hints of vanilla. A bonus—the crust is made of cinnamon sugar cookie dough, and it is topped with caramel and whipped cream.

Geordie’s Restaurant at the Wrigley Mansion (WrigleyMansion.com) is getting in on the festive fun, too. For a limited time this season, it will offer a Pumpkin Torte ($16). Artfully and whimsically plated to look like an actual pumpkin, the base is a combination of a pumpkin cake and a chewy chocolate brownie. It is topped with a Zephyr Caramel chocolate mousse, Chantilly-pumpkin foam, carrot jelly, and candied orange.  

There is one other way restaurants are serving up the fall flavor this season. That would be in cocktails, of course.

Crust Simply Italian (CrustRestaurants.com) has a heavenly Nutty Pumpkin ($12) now through November. It boasts Tito’s Vodka infused with pumpkin spice, Irish cream, vanilla maple syrup, Frangelico, Kahlua, and espresso, and is topped with vanilla whipped cream and nutmeg.

And, now through at least Thanksgiving, The Wine Bar (Tarbells.com) features a Pumpkin Spiced Latte Martini ($16) made with Captain Morgan Spiced Rum, coffee liquor, Buffalo Trace Bourbon, egg white, cream, and pumpkin spice simple syrup. It is then topped with foam and ground cinnamon.

Mowry & Cotton at The Phoenician (ThePhoenician.com) features a Spice Cake Martini ($18, see recipe on next page) made with Tito’s Vodka, vanilla bean syrup, pumpkin spice, and cinnamon, which is topped with specialty chocolate whipped cream.

And finally, Jade Bar at Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain (GurneysResorts.com/Scottsdale) plays on all pumpkin spice flavors with its distinctly different Purple Dawn ($17) by using sweet potato in place of pumpkin and combining it with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and vodka.

Spice Cake Martini at Mowry & Cotton

2 oz. Tito’s Vodka

¾ oz. cream

1 oz. pumpkin syrup

¼ oz. vanilla bean syrup

Dash of cinnamon powder (or stick)

1 oz. White Chocolate Godiva Liqueur

1 oz. Kahlua

Combine Tito’s Vodka, pumpkin syrup, vanilla bean syrup, and a dash of cinnamon. Shake vigorously with ice and strain into a martini glass. Separately, combine one ounce of White Chocolate Godiva liqueur and one ounce of Kahlua into a whipping canister. Fill to the line with the ¾ oz. of cream. Whip in the canister using the whippet cartridge. Top the martini glass with the White Chocolate Godiva Liqueur and Kahlua whipped cream. Garnish with cinnamon powder or a cinnamon stick.

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