Don’t Pigeonhole Pumpkin

Come autumn, the mighty and annually-anticipated pumpkin—great golden gourd of fairy tale, Charlie Brown, and state fair lore—can sometimes fall victim to the indignity of epicurean profiling. Pumpkin ‘pie, pie, pie, soup!’ is the repetitive rumble heard round the patch, er, kitchen. But our favorite fall fruit has so much more going for it than being smashed, mashed, mixed with cream and warming spices and baked in a flaky shell, although that sounds quite nice.
Pumpkin crosses all manner of cultural and culinary boundaries, as it’s roasted, stewed, boiled, fried, whipped, baked, piped, frozen, folded into crispy waffles, and incorporated into creamy curries, hot fried pies, dreamy cupcakes, and the iconic Whoopie Pie. If rich, meaty orange pumpkin is what you crave, here are a few places around town where you’ll find it front and center.

1. whiffiespumpkincurryTrue to the season, Whiffies Fried Pies food cart is pushing pumpkin in a big way. Take a late-night snack break and order a piping hot moon-shaped pie that will satisfy your pumpkin tooth whether you’re craving sweet, savory, or both–spicy smooth Pumpkin Curry, sweet milky Pumpkin Creme, or rich Pumpkin Chocolate Chip. Just take it from me–don’t walk home with the Pumpkin Creme fried pie in your pants pocket, or you might find yourself licking the creamy filling out of said pocket while trying to watch True Blood.

SE 12th & Hawthorne * Tue-Sat 8am-3pm * 503.946.6544 *


2. Back to Eden Bakery has been a favorite on the Portland baking scene for quite a while now, but they just opened their beautiful little NE Alberta Street bakery last month. And what luck, because now you can just walk on in and have a sweetly squishy Pumpkin Whoopie Pie or chocolate chip studded pumpkin muffin in your mouth in mere moments. Plus, you get to say “Whoopie Pie” a lot while you’re there, an opportunity that simply doesn’t arise nearly often enough.

2217 NE Alberta St. Portland * Tue-Sun 9am-6pm * 503.477.5022 *


vindalhosamosa3. Dim lights, airy ceilings, cushy booths, a lively buzz of conversation and Roasted Pumpkin Samosas–trendy SE Clinton Street’s Vindahlo envelops a savory mixture of roasted pumpkin, onion, cilantro, cumin and caraway seeds in a light flaky crust and serves them with a sweet and tangy mint chutney. I could eat a dozen in a sitting, but then I’d blow up like a…well, like a pumpkin, I guess.

2038 SE Clinton St. Portland * Sun-Thu 5-9pm, Fri-Sat 5-10pm * 503-467-4550 *



4. Scott Trimble of Parker’s Waffles and Coffee at SW 4th & College is passionate about his crosshatched creations, even claiming them to be the best waffles this side of the equator, and that the “taste will set you free.” Those are some big promises from one little waffle cart, but you might very well agree when you get a mouthful of his Pumpkin Pie waffle–housemade pumpkin butter slathered on a golden crispy waffle, sprinkled with candied pecans, kissed with a dollop of sweet whipped cream and dusted with cinnamon. It’

s autumn in a waffle, for the bargain price of $4.

SW 4th & College * Mon-Fri 7am-2pm * 503.780.5363 *

portlandsoupcopumpkin5. Leave it to The Portland Soup Company soup wizard Jeremy Davidson to come up with a perfect pumpkin soup. Light, tangy and creamy, this soup is made with organic pie pumpkins from Sauvie Island blended with a bit of onion, apple and pear, accented with white wine and cider to make the flavor pop, and topped with a pinch of diced Bartlett pears, chives, and brown sugar. Who knows what you’d pay for this molten gourd gold at a fancy restaurant, but it’s $4 for a generous cupful at the window of the homiest little food cart in town, tucked into the PSU cart cluster at SW 4th & College, just down the row from Parker’s. (Okay, so I know I said soup was part of the pumpkin pigeonholing problem in the intro to the article, but this soup is so good, I had to highlight it!) 

S.W. Fourth and College * Mon-Fri 11am to 3pm * 541.968.1230 *


pumpkintassie6. Two Tarts Bakery set my pumpkin-loving heart a’twitter with this tweet: “A rich roasted pumpkin aroma is wafting through the bakery, pumpkin tassies are here…” If that didn’t send you running to NW 23rd and Johnson for one of these tiny ginger pumpkin tartlets with a tender cream cheese crust, I don’t know what would. Ice cream sandwiches made with Two Tarts’ own housemade Pumpkin Pie ice cream gently smushed between two tiny candied ginger-flecked ginger molasses cookies maybe? They’ve got those too.

2309 NW Kearney St. Portland * Tue-Sat 10:30am-6pm, Sun 12-5pm * 503.312.9522 *

 blueplatebar7. Just because summer has sung its swan song doesn’t mean thoughts of cold creamy milkshakes should be boxed and shelved along with your cotton frocks and badminton racket. Our favorite downtown lunch spot, Blueplate Lunch Counter and Soda Fountain, informed me this week that come Monday, their Pumpkin Pie milkshake will be on the menu. Accented with cinnamon, clove, allspice and everything nice, this dreamy creamy treat won’t so much leave you longing for summer as it will have you running home to make, yes, pie

308 SW Washington St. Portland * Mon-Fri 11am-5pm * 503.295.2583 *


8. There is a reason Red Onion Thai has been raking in the rave reviews since it opened earlier this year in the old Misohapi space on NW 23rd Avenue. The food is divine, the serene ambiance is conducive to good conversation, the service is impeccably gracious. You’ll be tempted to order one of everything, but in the interest of economy and keeping with the pumpkin theme I’ve got going here, might I suggest the Beef and Pumpkin in Massaman Curry ($12). A Southern Thai dish with Muslim origins, Massaman curry pulls has Southeast Asian, Indian, and Middle Eastern influences, layering autumn spices like cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg on top of the typical curry flavors of ground red chilies, coriander and cumin. In Red Onion’s version, sizeable chunks of beef sirloin so tender you can cut them with your fork swim with red potatoes, carrots, onion, red, green and gold bell peppers and decoratively raked pieces of bright orange pumpkin in a sauce rich with coconut milk and tamarind. This incredibly aromatic dish is topped with fat whole crunchy roasted peanuts and fried garlic and served with a carefully molded cylinder of white or brown rice.

1123 NW 23rd Ave. Portland * Mon–Fri 11am-3pm & 5– 9pm; Sat-Sun 12–9pm * 503.208.2634

cupcakejones9. Since all endings should be sweet, I’ll conclude this article with Pearl District darling Cupcake Jones’ pumpkin-plaudatory sweet treat trio, which spreads the pumpkin love out over the entire week with strategically offered specials. On Monday, stop in for a Pumpkin Chocolate Chip cupcake filled with chocolate pastry cream and crowned with a swirl of spiced buttercream and a drizzle of chocolate. On Tuesday, you’ll find the Pumpkin Pie cupcake, pumpkin spice cake filled with pumpkin pie pastry cream, frosted with whipped cream, and accessorized with a cinnamon sugar pie crust cookie. As if that weren’t enough to give you the best week ever, plan a Cupcake Jones stop on your leisurely weekend walk Saturday, when you can get your mits on the Pumpkin Cheesecake–white velvet cake stuffed with a creamy tangy multipurpose pumpkin cheesecake center that also serves as icing. Sacrilegious as this sounds, it’s enough to make one think that maybe, just maybe, cupcakes could be the new pumpkin pie…

307 NW 10th Ave. Portland * Mon-Sat 10am-8pm, Sun 12-6pm * 503.222.4404 *