Summer was still blowing kisses in September when I ordered my first Pumpkin Spice Latte of the season.
I’m one of those junkies at Starbucks who wait all year for fall. But this year, marketers have gone mad with pumpkin. At the grocery stores I’ve seen pumpkin oatmeal, pumpkin yogurt, pumpkin Pop-Tarts. On Twitter, pumpkin Oreos were a big talker.
John Oliver called it the tyranny of pumpkin spice. After tasting the McDonald’s version of a Pumpkin Spice Latte, I agree. HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” host was right when he said pumpkin spice tastes like a candle. Seriously, the golden arches broke the pumpkin spell.
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It’s a good thing, too. Autumn has much more to offer than that big, orange jack-o’-lantern. Apples, cinnamon, pecans — it’s time we expand our seasonal cravings. A few fall finds:
Kansas City chef Shanita McAfee, owner of Magnolia’s restaurant, took the crown on an episode of Food Network’s “Cutthroat Kitchen” last month. If you want a taste of her skills, Magnolia’s French Toast ($8.75) is a good start.
It’s heavy enough for autumn brunching and sweet enough to sing trick-or-treat. It’s indulgent: 7-Up pound cake soaked in a cinnamon wash under a pile of peaches and maple whipped cream. Magnolia’s, 2932 Cherry St., serves brunch 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. magnoliaskc.com
Last week I wrote lovingly about H Bar, the cafe in the new Halls on Grand at Crown Center. I mentioned it’s stocked with cocktails, wines and teas. But on crisp days, we’re all about a latte, made from Roasterie coffee.
My barista, Anthony, told me he had the perfect alternative to pumpkin spice mania. He mixed hazelnut and vanilla with a little almond milk for a fun fall fusion that packed a punch. At H Bar, lattes start at $4.50, and it’s 50 cents for flavored syrup. The cafe, at 2450 Grand Blvd., is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday.
Lunch & dinner
Cooler temperatures and longer nights call for heartier meals. For me, that means a perfect pot pie. What better place to get one than Pot Pie in Westport?
People love the beef and mushroom, but I like the undeniable comfort of chicken and veggies. The crust is so good that even my vegetarian friend had a taste. At lunch, you get one for $8; it’s $12 at dinnertime. Pot Pie, 904 Westport Road, is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and 5 to 11 p.m. Saturday. Closed Sunday and Monday. kcpotpie.com
Babycakes might be known for cupcakes, but the River Market bakery just introduced Pixie Pies. These hand-sized pies might look tiny, but they really are enough to share with a friend. At $5.95, the rotating flavors include pecan, lemon meringue and chocolate creme.
To get us in the mood for fall, we went with the cinnamon spice of the apple crumb pie. But if you’re lucky, you might catch pumpkin pie on the menu. Pixie Pies aren’t an everyday item at Babycakes, 108 E. Missouri Ave. You can get them only 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays. babycakeskc.com