This article comes better late than never! (or December…wink, wink)
I think the one thing synonymous with Fall is pumpkin. Correction, Pumpkin pie. I’m a big fan of a good spicy pumpkin pie. Lots of pumpkin pie spice containing cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, etc. There is something just so undoubtably “Autumn” about it all that I thought it was only fitting to do an article on my delicious favourites around the city of Ottawa that especially pique my interests this time of year.
First and foremost, the Pumpkin Spice Latte. (Starbucks does it best, but I would definitely be open to trying any other forms of the favourite should they be recommended to me!) A little whipped cream and sprinkled with pumpkin pie spice is just lovely (especially served extra hot on a chilly day). However, drinking more than my fair share of these this month is not the best for anyone, so I usually opt for the non-fat no-whip version unless on a special occasion.
(On a side note I did find a healthier alternative recipe for a home-made pumpkin spice latte, once I have a chance to try it myself I will review it!)
Now onto what originally sparked my idea for this review; The Pumpkin Spice Muffin.
There are two mainstream options to choose from in Canada. One being the pumpkin spice muffin from Tim Horton’s or the Pumpkin Cream Cheese muffin from Starbucks. My opinion is that there should actually be a hybrid between the two.
The Pumpkin Spice Muffin from Tim Horton’s is a spicy pumpkin muffin with crispy, spicy toasted pumpkin seeds on the top with a “icing glaze” injected in the middle. The Starbucks Pumpkin Cream Cheese muffin is more a demure pumpkin flavour, however very moist and with a very delectable cream cheese dollop inside.
For my own personal preference, I wish I could combine the two! I find the Starbucks muffin to be lacking that flavour I love so much, however the Tim Horton’s icing choice is cheap and unfavourable.
What is a girl to do?!
Why, head to The Cupcake Lounge of course! My favourite cupcakery in the city so far was offering a seasonal treat, the Pumpkin Spice Cupcake. With a pumpkin pie spice flavoured cake and cream cheese icing this cupcake was everything I wanted the muffin to be and more!
As I set out to write this article, I became more diligent in my quest for fall-fueled eats! Breaks at work were spent running out to different shops to sample what they had in their stores special for the season; all for the sake of research, of course.
I went back to Starbucks to try their Pumpkin Loaf. Meh. There are a lot better (and tastier) things to spend your money on than this. I will not be purchasing again and I wouldn’t recommend it.
On one day I thought it would be a great idea to try the Pear Caramel Black Tea from Sushi Go and a Pumpkin Spice donut from Tim Horton’s. What a lovely mid-morning fall day treat, I thought to myself. Wrong.
Sushi Go did not even have milk or sugar to go with their black tea, so I had to stealthily “borrow” some from the Starbucks down the street (not that I can’t drink black tea without milk, but I thought it would be more complimentary with the flavours at the time).
The pumpkin spice donut was not bad, but not something I’d try again.
The tea was disgusting! I really thought I’d love it, but to my chagrin I begrudgingly had to drink down the rest of the cup. Maybe it was the milk and sugar? Who knows, but I will not be trying that tea again! Yuck.
Thankfully I have found a good tea that’s absolutely perfect for the Fall season. Celestial Seasonings – Cranberry Apple Zinger tea has been one of my favourites for years now. Why I find it so perfect it’s that it’s more reminiscent of a autumn apple orchard. As opposed to the millions of apple cinnamon teas, this tea combines apple flavour with the tart crispness of cranberries (and of course the hibiscus leaves which adds to the tart flavour). So fresh and undoubtably fall! Mmm!
On the subject of apples, Alex and I went on a lovely romantic fall evening walk through the Byward Market and up Sussex Drive. We stopped at the Beavertails canteen and ordered hot apple cider to take on our walk and we split a cinnamon and sugar beavertail, delish! That taste of apple cider made me curious to see how the other ciders fare in comparison.
First I went to try Starbucks’s Caramel Apple Spice. I have actually never had this before! I ordered it and they asked if I wanted whipped cream, which seemed weird to me but I figured if that’s how the drink is prepared then I should review it as such! Well..it was alright. It was quite rich and tasted like something I just couldn’t put my finger on. It was when I got back to my office I realized it tasted like I was drinking an apple pie with melted vanilla ice cream. At that point it just became too rich and I tried to scoop out as much whipped cream as I could but the damage was already done. I’d like to try it again next time without the whipped cream.
The next I tried was from Second Cup. Oh my goodness, we have a winner! How absolutely delicious! I ordered a small sweet apple cider and they serve them with cinnamon sticks. This is a lovely warming drink that has a full bodied apple flavour but with a sweet light finish. Talk about amazing, I went back today to order another!
* I happend to notice they also have a Mulled Cranberry Cider, but when I went to order it they said they only have it for sale in the tin, not for preparation sale. How sad! If anyone has tried it, let me know if it’s good enough to purchase!
Something I haven’t had this season yet, but is a favourite of Alex and I’s is the Inniskillin Late Autumn Riesling. If you can get your hands on a bottle, we highly recommend it!
Last but not least on my list of Fall favourites, is Pumpkin Beer. Last year was actually my first time trying it and Alex and I had picked up a few bottles from the LCBO here. This Pumpkin Beer is brewed by Great Lakes brewery and is one of their many seasonal brews. This beer is brewed with pumpkin and also the same spices featured in pumpkin pie spice. It has a subtle flavour of pumpkin, but not enough to overtake the beer. I really enjoy it but I know a few people who do not. I think it’s one of those beers you have to try for yourself and see if you love it!
This year, Alex and I headed to the Clocktower Pub as one of their seasonal brews this year is the Pumpkin Beer. Wow! If I had to choose between the two this would be the winner. I think it’s just a better, fresher beer and when I commented that it was spicier than the Great Lakes, the waitress explained they add a dash of pumpkin pie spice to the beer before serving. Perfection!
There are so many amazing things to eat and drink especially during this time of year and it only gets better leading into the holiday season. Perhaps I’ll have to start a new review of all things Christmas!