The Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival is no joke. Hundreds of thousands of people flock to the quaint, picturesque Northern California peninsula town every year to celebrate all that is pumpkin. In Half Moon Bay, known by locals as the "Pumpkin Capital of the World," pumpkin is taken very, very seriously. Pumpkin pie eating contest, pumpkin weigh-off, pumpkin costume competition, a pumpkin parade... pumpkin, pumpkin, pumpkin. I love pumpkin, so attending was a must. A dizzying array of pumpkin stuffs were on offer -- both at the actual Fest via various non-profit groups and also at the neighborhood restaurants -- and in the mere 48 hours spent in HMB, I consumed 11 different pumpkin items. That's a lot - and my stomach isn't too pleased with me this morning, but I felt as a "journalist" it was my civic duty to try as many pumpkin items as possible.
Here are the notorious 11 foodstuffs and beverages...
Pumpkin Roll (at HMBPF) - This actually was my first pumpkin flirtation of the weekend - and my least favorite item. The cream cheese "frosting"tasted more of just cream cheese mixed with pure sugar.
Half Moon Bay Brewing Company's Mavericks Pumpkin Harvest Ale (at HMBPF) - This seasonal brew from the highly-lauded local brewery served as the feature alcoholic beverage of the Festival and it certainly did not disappoint. I miss it already.
Eda's Pumpkin Cookies (at Moonside Bakery) - This pumpkin cookie (with craisins and nuts and a slight maple-tasting frosting top) perfectly defies autumn. I recommend it to truly indulge in the season, but I recommend Moonside's non-pumpkin housemade sourdough pretzels even more.
Tempura-Battered Pumpkin (at Pasta Moon) - Pasta Moon is a HMB institution known for their fresh and exciting farm-to-table Italian menu. This dish exemplifies that creativeness. Certainly an enjoyable first deep-fried pumpkin experience, the vegetable comes with an apple chutney and a pumpkin pesto for dipping.
Butternut Squash and Mascarpone Ravioli (at Pasta Moon) - Sure, butternut squash isn't exactly pumpkin, but it's too freaking close for me to not include on this list. And the Pasta Moon rendition of what has now become a rather ubiquitous dish (I'm almost positive Olive Garden has it now) rises above the rest with the not-too-sweet, flavor-packed filling.
Zaballa House) - The innkeeper at our bed and breakfast put out this insanely delicious pumpkin pie as part of our last breakfast. She had baked it the night before - and I dare anyone's mother or grandmother to put forth a better version come Thanksgiving.
Half Moon Bay Coffee Company) - If such a category existed, I'm pretty sure I'd hold the Guinness World Record for pumpkin muffin consumption. This sort of pumpkin pie/pumpkin bread/pumpkin muffin amalgam did not disappoint.
Flavor) - Flavor's a kick ass spot right across from the water serving "California comfort food." Although their brisket blend burgers get most in the door, make sure you save room for dessert because this brownie sundae (chocolate brownie with hints of pumpkin flavor, a rich pumpkin spiced ice cream, candied walnuts, chocolate and caramel sauce) is worth the visit alone.
And finally the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Fest's view...