Pumpkin Season Guide.

nos·tal·gia

[no-STAL-juh]  noun

1. A bittersweet longing for things, persons, or situations of the past.

2. A sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former place or time.

e.g. A nostalgia for pumpkin season.

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I’m not sure what I’ve been brewing in my chai, but these days, I am getting a dose of pumpkin season nostalgia. And the loads of pumpkin recipes overflowing my inbox from the food blogs I follow are not helping. Not to mention, all forty-five Facebook posts of my friends enjoying Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice lattes. Hmmph.

Can you believe that just one lovely short year ago, I was packing up my apartment in New York and deciding to leave the country I had spent my entire life living in? Emotions were high, and so were the tides. I will never forget how on the very week I decided to move, Hurricane Sandy flooded my apartment. Yeesh. Let’s go back to better memories.

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MID-OCTOBER marks the end of limbo – that weird time between warm beachy summer and holiday season.  Hallelujah! The hot winds are blowing into chilly breezes carrying excitement in their small gusts. Shops are decked in orange and black, spooky cobwebs, and hanging ghosts that sing.

Mom used to take us to Michael’s to buy costumes and decorations. Does anyone remember that stuffed toy that would start singing “The Monster Mash!” when you pressed his tummy? Why it was a Graveyard Smash! I loved that guy. Kunal and Jonathan would buy hideous masks that smelled of rubber and we would chase each other. Once I was even Queen Amidala from Star Wars. (Now you know why Luke is named Luke).51UsBIHtLzL._SY300_

Then we would bring home BIG pumpkins from Costco and Kunal would very officially take out his pumpkin carving tools. No one was allowed to touch the pumpkins without his permission and guidance. Good thing I found pumpkin carving hard and boring. To me, the best part was scooping out the pumpkin seeds and goopy thready insides, letting the cool slippery squash slide through my fingers. Oh the joy, I can feel it now…

Our family would get quite silly on Halloween. I remember once, Kunal built a candy dispensing pipe from the top floor of our house, all the way down to the front door. Jonathan would give the signal to drop the candy. Luke would be racing from one place to the next, as the doorbell kept ringing, trying to tear off the silly foreign costume I had lovingly stuffed over his head. He always found this holiday most excitingly painful.

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I can’t help but share the good times that I’ve had with you all.  Here’s my PUMPKIN SEASON travel guide of to-eats and to-dos! I hope you enjoy it.

IF you are in MANHATTAN, NY…
  • Please enjoy the apples. They are perhaps the best I have tasted, fresh from the apple orchards. You can even take a drive and go apple picking! I remember all the grocery stores selling big bags of apples. Pick some up and try out Jonathan’s Apple Pie.2011-11-24-19.08.41
  • Walk through the farmer’s market sipping on fresh apple cider. It is perfect when the air gets a little nippy.
  • Battle the lines at Trader Joes to get that delicious Pilgrim Joe’s Pumpkin Ice Cream. It’s good. Really good.PumpkinIceCream1
  • Stay away from those terrifying Halloween shops. People actually wait in line to go into these awfully scary places…I don’t understand. Just turn your face away and walk by as-quick-as-possible so you don’t accidentally see something that will haunt you for days.
  • Find the MUD truck on St. Mark’s. My favorite beverage was always a Yerba Matte with soymilk and honey. Mmm. The coffee is also excellent. You can read my yelp review here.

 

IF you are in BERKELEY, CA…
  • Take a run, walk, stroll over to the secret pumpkin house. I discovered this on a run while training for one of my races. You may have to do a little detective work, as I have forgotten the exact location…I believe it is on Ashby or Russell street, just above College Ave. Two days before Halloween, it is a MUST-SEE. Tons and tons and tons of pumpkins of all shapes and sizes. Mini pumpkins to life-size pumpkins. Green ones, yellow ones, orange ones, all carved in the most exquisite designs. It will take your breath away. Hats off to them.
  • Try the layered apple pie from Strada and let me know how it is. I always wanted to try it, but somehow never got the chance. It looks amazing, each slice stuffed with layered apples.
  • Walk down College Ave with a holiday beverage in hand. Apple cider, hot chocolate, Pumpkin Spice latte. They light up that street so beautifully.
  • Go to Fentons for homemade Apple Pie ice cream! Better yet, you could get it on top of a fresh piece of pie. Fun fact: every Thursday, I used to make all the pie crusts in the bakery there.fentons
  • Cheeseboards Ginger Cookie. Two dollars. This is one of my favorite things in the world to eat. You can read my yelp review here.
IF you are in CAMARILLO, CA…
  • Go to Costco, buy some big pumpkins and scoop out their gooey guts. Find a boy to carve it. They will be engrossed for hours.
  • Watch Home Alone 1,2,3. It’s never to early for holiday movies.

Writing this post makes me so happy and yet so homesick at the same time. Nostalgia indeed. I miss the PUMPKINS!! But, I trust you will do them justice on my behalf.

Cheers to Pumpkin Season!

Much love,

More later,

SONIA

 

 

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