We promise we’re not obsessed with pumpkins, but you surely will be after reading about the gourd overload we experienced this weekend.
If you’ve been reading Bwog long enough, you’ll know that one of the first 2Girls1Snack was nearly a lifetime ago—11 years to be exact! Two writers took on the hefty task of journeying to prime Columbia locations, including Hungarian and Westside, to give you an insight into the best pumpkin treats on campus. Inspired by their predecessors, Daily Editors Claire and Meeral decided to follow in their footsteps and give you an updated critique on Morningside’s prime fall favorites. In the words of 2011 Bwog: sit back, dim your computer screen in case your roommate walks in, and enjoy 2Girls1Snack.
Westside Market, Broadway between 110th and 111th
A Westside Market pumpkin pie was quite hard to find, hidden amongst rows and rows of other supermarket baked goods. We found it sitting unsuspectingly on a middle shelf, nestled in a plastic box behind a layer of refrigerator-induced condensation. At $3.99 for a half pie, we decided to give it a try, though expectations were not particularly high given the filling’s pale orange appearance and a crust hanging on for dear life. Indeed, our intuition about this store-bought pie proved correct: the crust was rather flavorless, with a dry and sandy texture that left much to be desired. Unfortunately, the filling could not redeem the already bland taste, falling apart easily under the weight of our forks and frankly felt like eating cold, watery mashed sweet potato. At this point, we’re not even sure whether this… thing can be called a pie, or whether that would be a violation of the unwritten rules of food. Despite its shortcomings, it appears that Westside’s pumpkin “pie” is unfortunately here to stay, though not much has changed about it since over a decade ago. 3/10.
Silver Moon Bakery, corner of 105th and Broadway
Ah, Silver Moon pumpkin tart. We wanted to love this pastry: its alluring pecan-garnished center eyed us with bated breath behind the frosted glass counter. Priced at a whopping $8, expectations were high prior to digging into this seemingly delectable pumpkin disc. Upon first bite, we noted its light, flaky crust, a much-needed relief after the denseness of the other pastry crusts we consumed that night. However, the filling fell short of the main event it should have been, with hints of clove and other flavors that barely peeked through and left the overall impression of an under spiced pastry. At the same time, it was unclear where the flavor of pumpkin was hidden in this tart, or whether the name was simply slapped onto the label to attract people toward this supposed fall treat. Extra points will be docked for the fact that Claire had to hike eight blocks to collect this merely mid pastry. A solid 6.5/10.
Wu & Nussbaum, corner of 113th and Broadway
You might know Wu & Nuss as the home of everything bagels and noodle dishes, packed under one roof. Though these items are their main drawing point, you shouldn’t pass on their equally delectable (and somewhat more affordable) selection of baked goods! Out of all the pumpkin-flavored morsels we sampled, their danish was a highlight of our evening—a pumpkinified spin on the classic cheese danish. While looks aren’t everything, it was still by far the most presentable of the bunch, garnished with pumpkin seeds and a crust tinged dark caramel. Tastewise, the flaky butteriness of the crust complemented the nuttiness of the pumpkin filling, working together to form the perfect pumpkin-to-dough ratio. Admittedly, the crust felt a little dense in some sections and could have been made more light and airy between layers. For $3.95, this pumpkin danish won’t break the bank while working to satisfy your pumpkin-related cravings. Though nothing to write home about, it’s more than enough to enjoy while taking in a brisk November morning. 7/10.
Meredith’s Bread, farmer’s market table on 114th and Broadway
Meredith’s Bread has been a staple at the farmer’s market in Morningside Heights for more than a decade, and with good reason—their variety of goods do not disappoint. However, their pumpkin muffins were a culinary crusade into untasted territory. In a nutshell: they were good, but a little on the dry side and sandy textured. With a choice between Meredith’s pumpkin muffins and ones you can make from scratch, we’d gladly take the latter, an arm workout-inducing option any day. Still, these pumpkin muffins were without a doubt more satisfying than some of the other things we had sampled (Westside pumpkin pie, we’re looking at you). If you’re searching for a treat that hinges between sweet and savory, this pumpkin muffin is for you. With hints of cinnamon and nutmeg, it melds classic fall flavors into an easily portable breakfast treat, and at $3.75 it’s a worthy good to add to the bag while making your way through the farmers market. 7/10.
Hungarian Pastry Shop, 111th Street and Amsterdam Avenue
We made our way to Hungarian on a rainy Saturday afternoon, remaining committed to the cause of providing our dear readers with the best pumpkin treats in the neighborhood. Hungarian had a pumpkin cheesecake for $3.75 that was truly standout, with a smooth creaminess and subtle but satisfying pumpkin flavor that had us savoring each bite. Filling aside, the crust unfortunately missed the mark, with a graham cracker base that had us sawing with our knives to cut through and a dryness that had us reaching for a drink. While a tasty crust is a welcome addition to any cheesecake, the star of the show ultimately was the filling. It contained notes of pumpkin that didn’t overpower the overall taste, yet still created a distinctive flavoring we certainly enjoyed. Balance out the sweetness and warm up while doing so with a cup of earl gray on the side. 8/10.
Pumpkin Ginger Spice Bread
Levain Bakery, 116th Street along Frederick Douglass Boulevard
Just because Levain is known for their chocolate-chip cookies doesn’t mean you should ignore their other baked goods, particularly this heavenly slice of pumpkin ginger bread. While this bakery was a little off the beaten path compared to the other spots we visited, we both agreed it was well worth the mini-trek. Bask in moments of quiet contemplation watching the leaves fall as you walk through Morningside Park and get your steps in before enjoying this treat. As with all the offerings on their menu, Levain is generous with their portions, offering a thick, ample slice of pumpkiny spiced goodness for $4.75 that they’ll warm up for you and package neatly in one of their signature blue paper bags. Levain’s pumpkin bread surpassed all expectations: its moist, cake-like quality could only be made better by a richly spiced pumpkin flavor we’d been searching for all along. We rightly saved this show-stopper as the best for last, containing a balance of pumpkin and ginger that blended together in perfect harmony. Be sure to share with a friend and find yourselves devouring it in one sitting despite both being stuffed by all the other pumpkin things you’ve tried that day and 10-feet-deep in your pumpkin-induced food coma. For excellent service and proving by far the best tasting pumpkin treat, we could only bestow this slice with the highest rating to rule them all: 9.5/10.
The pumpkin of my eye via Wikimedia Commons
Insta-worthy culinary masterpieces via Claire De La Roche and Meeral Tashfeen