As the nights draw in and the leaves start to fall everyone, certainly within the events industry, is focusing on Christmas. On my way in to work every morning I pass a pub which has already started the countdown to Christmas. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of Christmas and am quite happy knowing how many days are left until Father Christmas arrives!
However, I am also extremely aware that we have lots of great events before then, which we all seem to gloss over – Halloween for starters and then Bonfire Night.
Halloween is a brilliant evening, providing adults and children alike the opportunity to dress up and generally have fun. However, hardly anyone I know in London actually celebrates it (in fact, I know several people who have confessed to turning out the lights and pretending they are not in, to avoid having to answer the door to trick-or-treaters!)
Obviously it is more of an event for families, but I don’t think that should stop anyone! Pumpkins are pure brilliance. All shapes and sizes, with endless possibilities. When you walk down the street and see houses decorated and pumpkins carved out, it can only make you smile.
This year, I am going to celebrate with my two young nephews in Kent. Obviously I will have to dress up but purely to keep them happy and not at all to satisfy the inner child within. There will be trick-or-treating, pumpkin pie, spooky food, carved out pumpkins and much, much more. Driving around Kent you also are treated with the endless farm shops and stalls, selling every variety of pumpkin you could possibly imagine! If based in London, then you would be excused of thinking that you could only buy bright orange pumpkins which the supermarkets all sell. However, that is just the beginning.
The list of pumpkins could go on forever, but here are a few of my favourites:
A sliver-blue skinned pumpkin with incredible golden-orange flesh which is sweet and nutty in flavour – perfect for cooking with in either pies, scones, soups or stews.
Bright orange skinned pumpkin which lives up to its name and is enormous – mainly grown for competitions, due to its potential size.
Jack of all trades
The perfect carving pumpkin – bright orange skinned pumpkin with a flat base and a deep, rounded shape. The flesh is also delicious and can be used for pies and soups.
As its name implies, this is often considered to be the cutest pumpkin. Small, with bright orange skin and with the most perfectly shaped stalk. The seeds are great for roasting and eating and the flesh is also great for pumpkin pies (albeit a small one!)
Cinderella(‘Rouge Vif D'Estampes’)
Earned its name by being the most perfectly shaped pumpkin to have inspired the design for Cinderella’s carriage in the classic fairy tale. With a strong, ornamental shape, red-ribbed skin and moist orange flesh which is great in pies.
Mini fairy tale
This is the baby version of the Cinderella pumpkin – a small pumpkin with orange-tan skin. The flesh is edible, but not the tastiest, but hollowed out this pumpkin makes a brilliant serving bowl for your Halloween dinner party.
An heirloom from Chioggia in Italy, also known as the ‘sea pumpkin’ due to its barnacle like skin. Not a pumpkin for carving, due to its knobby blue-green skin, but delicious cut into wedges and roasted with olive oil, herbs and salt.
Carving or ‘American’ pumpkin
This is the bright orange pumpkin which supermarkets all across the country sell in the lead up to Halloween. Great for carving but not very tasty, so best to buy another one for flavour.
Mini, climbing pumpkin which is grown for ornamental purposes and therefore is great for decoration. Also great for eating – roast whole on a bed of rosemary, slice the top off, scoop the seeds out and eat the flesh with a teaspoon.
The unique pumpkin. Beautifully sweet and will caramelise wonderfully with time in the oven. Less watery than other varieties and its extremely tasty flesh will hold together well when cooking and can be used for both sweet and savoury dishes.
Ornamental pumpkins Are generally available from most farm shops and are great for creating a table-centre piece for your Halloween dinner party. Mix with a black table runner, Chinese lantern flowers, a couple of black or church candles, willow branches covered in fake cobwebs, autumnal leaves, roses and orange napkins.
If you fancy picking your own pumpkin then why not head to a pick-your-own farm such as Garsons in Esher (http://www.garsons.co.uk/c/pyo-farm/)
It's great for all the family, with a whole range of vegetables to be picked, plus a very tempting farm shop!
And if you are around the Westminster area this week, why don't you pop along to Reels Millbank for a PUMPKIN CARVING COMPETITION on Friday 30th October. A bottle of Champagne is up for grabs so definitely worth it!