Gayle's pumpkin pie
Dining Reviews

Who Serves Santa Cruz’s Best Pumpkin Pie?

Plus a dining guide for a day trip in Davenport

Gayle's serves up a classic Pumpkin pie with tender crust and silky, firm texture. PHOTO: JULES HOLDSWORTH

No one needs an excuse to take the short drive north to Davenport. Matchless ocean views, sweeping fields of strawberries and artichokes dotted with old ranch houses.

Like many of you, we were fond of visits past to the fabled Cash Store, emporium of world textiles, jewelry and artifacts that formerly adjoined the rambling dining room. Now in its incarnation as the Davenport Roadhouse, the restaurant sports a full bar, live music on weekends, and a kitchen offering comforting California cuisine with tourist-worthy views of the blue Pacific.

My companion has developed a fondness for one particular lunch item—the fish tacos—and last week on a seriously gorgeous October day we headed for Davenport. Our destination was two-fold: wine from the Bonny Doon Tasting Room, followed by lunch at the Roadhouse next door.

Yes, we did have those tacos! (full disclosure: my companion uses this lunch dish as an excuse to indulge in a Diet Coke). For a mere $12 dollars the dish involves a huge platter—half tacos, half delicious black beans. On the side arrived two little bowls, one of queso fresco the other of chipotle aioli. These were applied liberally to the main attraction, soft corn tortillas filled with layers of marinated purple cabbage and nuggets of flash-fried fresh cod. On top of the brilliant purple cabbage lay a creamy avocado guacamole and ribbons of cilantro.

Bite, sip, enjoy the view of sunlight glinting off the waves, repeat. Of course you don’t need an excuse to head north for some time in Davenport. But I’ve just given you one anyway. davenportroadhouse.com.

Pumpkin Pie Trials: Part 1

Early returns from our pumpkin pie fieldwork yield the following observations.

From Gayle’s comes a fully classic pumpkin pie: delicious, tender crust; silky, firm texture; great spice balance. The Buttery’s version offers a thinner crust and more custardy filling. Also good spice balance, but a lighter, more moist interior. Both pies satisfied our desire for a classic Thanksgiving flavor, and both are priced at around $3 a slice. A decently sized, not overwhelming, yet not stingy slice.

But there’s more research to be done. My waistline is expanding as I write this, but I am dedicated to discovering the top pumpkin pie in our area. Somebody’s gotta do it.

Doon’s Day

Winemaker Randall Grahm provided me with follow-up thoughts on Bonny Doon Vineyard’s pivot toward a Cigare alternative, which he calls “the end of an era as well as a change of focus.”

“Le Cigare Volant does have some very ardent followers but the way the wine is produced—i.e. long macerations, a higher acid style, coupled with the decision to use screw caps (which pushes wine back into a slightly reductive state), and you have a wine that really needs a few years in the bottle before release to be presentable,” he said. “The reality is, however, my real passion at this point is to produce a true vin de terroir, not a vin d’effort, such as is the current Le Cigare Volant. A composed wine, produced from sundry terroir, while capable of deliciousness and balance, and even complexity, can never reveal the same degree of soulfulness as a wine of place, such as I aspire to produce at my San Juan Bautista vineyard Popelouchum. The new style of Cigare Volant (or whatever it is we end up calling it) will be utterly delicious, drinkable, substantially less expensive than the current Cigare Volant, accessible to a younger audience, and above all, financially viable for us. Le Cigare est mort; vive Le Cigare.”

FYI

November is World Vegan Month. Plan accordingly.

Christina Waters was born in Santa Cruz and raised all over the world (thanks to an Air Force dad), with real-world training in painting, music, winetasting, trail running, organic gardening, and teaching. She has a PhD in Philosophy, teaches in the Arts at UCSC and sings with the UCSC Concert Choir. Look for her recent memoir “Inside the Flame” at bookstores everywhere.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Sam

    November 11, 2018 at 1:10 pm

    Pacific elementary Food Lab sells pumpkin pies as a fundraiser for field trips. Pick up on Monday or Tuesday before Thanksgiving. $15 regular or gluten free crust. Made with organic pumpkin from Fambrinis (I think) and

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