Reality Bites: Pumpkin Whatever

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Published  November 2015

antigravity_vol13_issue11_Page_06_Image_0001Novembers in New Orleans can be muggy and 80 degrees, so sometimes you just have to create your own autumnal mood. For me, this means wearing sweaters and tights no matter what, and consuming as many pumpkin-filled items as possible. Here’s a brief tour of our local pumpkin (and pumpkin spice!) offerings.


 

Biscuits & Buns on Banks (4337 Banks St.)
Biscuits & Buns doesn’t offer a chicken and pumpkin waffles entrée per se, but they do have pumpkin pancakes and pumpkin waffles as a special, occasionally. Seeing as I’m a genius (at least when it comes to fried chicken), I asked them to make me their signature chicken and waffles using pumpkin waffles instead of the regular ones! I’m so smart. The spiciness of the pumpkin waffles is a nice foil for the chicken; the dish is sweet, spicy, and salty. I especially recommend the pumpkin waffles with the Sriracha syrup that they serve with their regular chicken and waffles dish. Ask for it even if you aren’t brave enough to request that they make a special dish just for you. 8/10 Genius Ideas

 

Angelo Brocato’s (214 N. Carrollton Ave.)
As part of their ceaseless effort to win my heart, Angelo Brocato’s has two pumpkin offerings: pumpkin gelato and pumpkin cheesecake. The pumpkin gelato is a dream—creamy, smooth—and it tastes like pumpkin without tasting like pumpkin pie filling. It also doesn’t have that stereotypical pumpkin spice flavor. Sure, there’s a hint of cinnamon, but it isn’t overwhelming, and it doesn’t taste fake. The pumpkin cheesecake is just a pumpkin pie with a layer of regular cheesecake on top. I’m not complaining, but this isn’t a pumpkin cheesecake! It’s still pretty good, though. 9/10 Ceaseless Efforts

 

Willa Jean  (611 O’Keefe Ave.)
The pumpkin bread is dry, dry, dry, and while it definitely tastes like cinnamon and nutmeg (a.k.a. generic pumpkin spice), it absolutely does not taste like pumpkin. Although, as I’ve recently discovered, adding pumpkin spice to anything fools your brain into thinking you’re eating pumpkin. I made pancakes the other morning and snuck some pumpkin spice into the batter, which successfully tricked someone into thinking she was eating actual pumpkin pancakes! Anyway, maybe you’re supposed to eat this bread with butter? 2/10 Ways To Trick Someone Into Thinking You’ve Made Something More Exciting Than You Actually Have

 

Avo (5908 Magazine St.)
This was the meal I was most excited about; I like an excuse to put on a cute (and possibly harvest-inspired) outfit, go somewhere minimally fancy, and eat expensive little plates of food that I could never make myself. Avo certainly seemed like it would fit the bill: it’s located inside the incredibly aesthetically appealing old Martinique Bistro location, their menu is small but impressive sounding, and they have a bunch of fun-sounding cocktails. Unfortunately, their pumpkin ravioli is dry and boring. While the insides of the ravioli are definitely orange, suggesting that there must be pumpkin somewhere in there, it’s completely indiscernible. The dish is floating in a sage butter sauce that is pretty tasty, in the way one would expect melted butter spiced with sage to be. However, the supposed star of the show, the pumpkin, is a sad afterthought. 2.5/10 Sad Afterthoughts

 

Bangkok Thai (513 S Carrollton Ave.)
The pumpkin curry at Bangkok Thai was such a nice surprise to see on the specials menu. I don’t know why it’s never occurred to me before to make a pumpkin curry, because the flavors of a traditional Thai curry, coconut milk, and pumpkin meld perfectly together. I think they even add cinnamon to this curry, which is likewise inspired. Why haven’t I ever added cinnamon to a curry? This dish features chunks of pumpkin and various vegetables floating in a thick orange curry sauce. I added shrimp to mine, but I think this would be amazing with chicken (or just vegetable style for all you who prefer meatless dishes). The whole thing is just delicious! Seriously, I cannot wait to try to make this at home (even if it’s not as good as Bangkok Thai’s version). This is the perfect pumpkin meal. 10/10 Nice Surprises

 

Johnny Sanchez (930 Poydras St.)
In an effort to broaden my pumpkin horizons outside of dishes containing the meat of the pumpkin, I tried Johnny Sanchez’s local greens salad, which is sprinkled with spiced pumpkin seeds and the wood fire shrimp salad, which features a pumpkin seed and cilantro pesto. The local greens salad is bright and fresh; I love salads that have pickled vegetables on them! I honestly don’t see anything even vaguely Latin- inspired about this dish, but I guess I don’t expect any kind of authenticity from a Mexican restaurant owned by John Besh (and yes, I know Aaron Sanchez is involved, but still. Y’all, this is just a pickled vegetable salad). It’s a good salad but it’s definitely like, just buy a bag of greens from the grocery store, throw a jar of giardiniera on top, and you’ve made this salad. I was super hyped to try the wood fire shrimp salad. The description absolutely sold me: avocado, local greens, roasted squash, pumpkin seed-cilantro pesto, and wood fired shrimp! But man, what a let down! The shrimp’s totally unseasoned and the avocado’s not quite ripe (hard avocado just depresses me). The rest of the salad is okay, I guess, but I feel like they really missed the mark by not having roasted pumpkin as their squash! The pumpkin seed and cilantro pesto tastes nothing like a pesto, but it’s certainly a serviceable dressing. All in all, neither salad is amazing or horrible. I’ll go back, I’ll just order something else. 5/10 OK Salads

 

Olive Garden (various locations)
Y’all can be snooty if you want, but the never-ending pasta bowl at Olive Garden is one of the many reasons I’m proud to be an American. At least I know I’m free, free to eat plate  after plate of mediocre linguine. Yay! Also, Olive Garden is a safe bet for family dinners (unless someone in your family owns a small local Italian restaurant, I guess). In any event, I take my aunt to Olive Garden every year in the fall, solely for the pumpkin cheesecake. One year, she even bought a whole cheesecake, and we ate it on Thanksgiving. Unlike a lot of pumpkin cheesecakes (Ahem, Angelo Brocato’s) this actually tastes like a pumpkin-flavored cheesecake! The cheesecake is smothered in whipped cream (the hard kind you only find at chain restaurants, that I strongly suspect is some type of edible plastic), and then drizzled with caramel. Perfect! 10/10 Neverending Pasta Bowls

 

High Hat (4500 Freret St.)
Shout out to our fearless editor in chief, Dan, who sent me a heads up about the pumpkin fritters at High Hat. They taste like deep-fried pumpkin pancakes, and the sorghum butter is delicious. I didn’t know what sorghum was, so I looked it up, and now I know way too much about the third most important cereal crop in the US (thanks Wikipedia!). Anyway, the butter is sweet without being cloying, and is perfect with the fritters. Its flavor mimics the maple syrup/butter you might put on pancakes. The only weird thing about this dish is that there’s random super dry jalapeno slices, haphazardly tossed on top of the fritters. I don’t think you’re supposed to eat them with the fritters, because I tried, and it was sort of meh. So I guess they’re decorative? Anyway, if you decide to try them, just eschew the jalapenos, and revel in the fried pancakey goodness. 8/10 Apparently Important Crops I Knew Nothing About

 

District Donuts (2209 Magazine St.)
Have you ever made a pumpkin pie using a can of pumpkin filling and then thought, “Oh I should probably rinse out this can before I put it in the recycling bin?” Now imagine drinking that water, and that’s what District’s fresh pumpkin juice tastes like. You’ll have to decide if that sounds delicious or disgusting, because honestly, I can’t figure it out!

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