By Laurie Jo Miller Farr
Will this be a record breaking year for the world’s biggest pumpkin? Everybody gets in the pumpkin swing of things in mid-October when the Bay Area hosts the giant pumpkin weigh off.
47th Annual Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival
Half Moon Bay, CA 94019
Draw an orange ring around the dates Oct. 14-15, 2017 on your calendar (admission is free!) if you’re in the mood to dress the kids up like pumpkins for the contest parade and enter an age appropriate pie eating contest. Work off the calories in a 5K or 10K family fun run and set your carving skills to the test, too. As usual, there’s live music and an eye-catching demo by expert carver, Farmer Mike.
Come in a great gourd eating mood for a long list of harvest-inspired food and drink: Pumpkin pancakes to start the day followed by pumpkin flavor mac n ‘ cheese, warm cinnamon, pumpkin-spice churros, chicken pumpkin sausage, pumpkin bread and melt-in-your-mouth pumpkin rolls. Save room for sinfully rich pumpkin cheesecake, monster 8” pumpkin cookies, pumpkin ice cream atop your pumpkin pie.
Wash it down with a pumpkin smoothie or Half Moon Bay brewing Company’s Mavericks Pumpkin Harvest Ale or a Jack-o-Tini pumpkin cocktail from the Half Moon Bay Distillery.
Related: Ask A San Francisco Chef: Top Tasty Pumpkin Dishes
Ferry Plaza Farmers Market
1 Ferry Building
San Francisco, CA 94111
Three times a week during harvest (and all year-round), this is the place to be for whatever’s in season. The nonprofit, lively, open air market holds their Harvest Festival on Saturday, October 7, 2017. Allstar Organics always has a nice variety of local pumpkins and squash.
Pick up some tips for the kitchen as well as recipe ideas from the CUESA Classroom. At 10:30 a.m. there’s a Market to Table Demo with Karen Solomon, author of “Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It.” At noon, Chef Sharon Nahm of Union Square’s E&O Kitchen and Bar will hold a demo. All demos take place in the CUESA Classroom (under the white tents in front of the Ferry Building) and are free to the public, with recipes and samples for all.
In case you miss Harvest Festival and Bay Day, the Ferry Plaza Farmers market is open three times a week during harvest (and all year-round). This is the place to be for whatever’s in season on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. A second location at Jack London Square in Oakland is open on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
E&O Kitchen and Bar
314 Sutter St.
San Francisco, CA 94108
When Chef Sharon Nahm isn’t putting on a demo at CUESA, she’s creating and cooking at E&O. Although not your traditional pumpkin, this harvest treat is still part of the same squash family of winter pumpkins. E&O’s Butternut Squash Dumplings are accompanied by a warm Thai red curry lemongrass sauce with basil oil. They’re a popular staple during the restaurant’s happy hour (at just $1 a dumpling) as well as a top choice as a starter for lunch or dinner. A longtime favorite going stronger than ever, E&O is a five minute walk from Union Square and just celebrated their 20th anniversary.
The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards
5050 Arroyo Road
Livermore, CA 94550
They’ve got more than wine in the lineup at Wente. The highly acclaimed and very pretty restaurant with its own organic garden on the premises is the perfect backdrop to enjoy not only wine but also some delicious cocktails. The bar team and General Manager Caitlin Mackey has created a cocktail that the Bay Area’s own “Peanuts” creator Charles Schultz would approve of. “The Great Pumpkin” incorporates the star ingredient of the season.
The Great Pumpkin Cocktail
- 1.5 oz garden pumpkin/red kuri squash puree
- 1.5 oz bourbon
- Sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice
- ¼ lemon
- Shake all and strain garnish with micro greens
Salt & Straw
2201 Fillmore St.
San Francisco, CA 94115
If you know Salt & Straw, you just know they’re going to come up with some ultra inventive flavors for harvest. Since their San Francisco debut earlier this year, they’ve had lines out the door and around the block for seasonal offerings in a cone. The Portland shop has loved spiced goat cheese and pumpkin pie ice cream, spiced chevre and pumpkin pie with pumpkin cheesecake ice cream as well as Thanksgiving turkey ice cream that involved…pumpkin, of course. So, visit the scoop shop or the website to see what October flavors have been dreamt up.
Related: Best Places To Buy A Thanksgiving Turkey In San Francisco
Mr. Espresso at Coffee Bar
1890 Bryant St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
When you’re craving a pumpkin spice latte of the season but don’t fancy Starbucks, there’s a solution. Mr. Espresso is the Bay Area’s own coffee roaster, born in Oakland in 1978. Fair trade/organic beans go into the oak wood fire roaster and, in season, out pops pumpkin spice latte — with a few more important steps (like their exclusive Faema top-end coffee machines) in-between, for sure. Visit the SoMa location or one of the other two locations in downtown San Francisco at 101 Montgomery St. and 433 Kearny St. to get your steaming pumpkin fix in a coffee mug.