Sunday, November 15, 2015

Day 319 - Pumpkin Panettone (and Paris)

So, Paris was attacked.  I am sad.  Events like this make me feel so desolate – like all of the good has been sucked out of the world. 

I can’t claim any real connection to Paris.  I lived there twice for short periods (around a year total) and can understand some basic French but am too timid to open my mouth and try to speak any.  David did his graduate work in Paris and is fluent – later went back to teach at the theatre school he had attended (Ecole Lecoq).  He lived there four years in all.  We have visited Paris for vacations.  But Paris is not MINE, so in a way it doesn’t seem like I have the “right” to be so upset about the attacks that went down.

David by the door of his theatre school, Ecole Lecoq, in Paris, on a visit June 2007.
This place pretty much changed his life.  
But even though I don’t have roots in that city, the attack made me feel so blue.  These types of things just happen WAY TOO OFTEN now – shootings, bombings, murders…  Sometimes it seems like we are immune to hearing about them until some “really big” one happens like Paris.

To combat my sadness, I decided to finally set up the Pumpkin Panettone tasting event I have been thinking about.  We live on a busy corner – perfect for setting up projects and events for passersby to join in on.  So I brewed coffee, made hot tea, printed a couple of signs, and moved a table and chairs out to the front sidewalk area.  Oh, and I posted on a couple of neighborhood Facebook groups to let people know to stop by.

Getting ready...

Come on neighbors and passersby - come share!
IT WORKED!  One woman happened by before the coffee was even done brewing!  I told her to walk her dog a few more minutes and come back, which she did.  J  I met a neighbor who lives only 3 doors down but I had never known.  I met the recently resigned (term over) president of our neighborhood association and his 2 kids.  I met a nice guy passing by.  I fed the mail carrier J.  Just being outside in the crisp sunshine, talking to people, and eating panettone made my spirits lighter and more appreciative of life. 

This review contains opinions of several people who stopped by to interact and taste.  It was fun to share the responsibility of reviewing with people I had just met.  All review scores will be averaged together to get one final score.

·         Tim  (the first man who walked by after I had the panettone, coffee, and tea table all set up.  I had never met him before.):  I would give this a 4.  I have not had panettone before.  It has a good texture.  It is nice and squishy.  The little chunks of pumpkin are great.  It is not too sweet.  My favorite part is the little chunks of pumpkin, they are like candied pumpkin or something.  (Editor – Tim doesn’t normally shop at Trader Joe’s.)

Tim stopping for a taste
·         David:  Not bad.  The bready-y part is worryingly dry, but periodically you come across a patch of creamy, pumpkin-y buttery stuff that makes it alright in the end.  I give it a 3.25.
Nice day to eat outdoors.
  • Joyce (woman walking by with cute dog named Aidan (who does not like strangers but for some reason did like David) that we had just met once a couple weeks ago when we were outside working on our Halloween costume):   Hi!  I am out here with Susan and David while on my walk with Aidan and she has invited me to try this Pumpkin Panettone from Trader Joe’s.  it is awesome.  I give it a 5.  I think they should sell it throughout the whole holiday season.  It is quite different in terms of being able to serve it even during the holiday seasons.  I absolutely love it and she has offered black coffee for me so I am great!  (Editor’s note:  Joyce and I discussed TJ’s coffee and we sadly agree that we have not found the perfect tasting TJ’s blend yet.  I was serving Starbucks’s at this event so she was happy J .)  This would be great toasted, almost even as a FRENCH TOAST!!  Something realllllly decadent would be cream cheese, melted cream cheese on it, after you toast it like a French toast.  (Oh my!  We stood and talked with Joyce a long time and had a blast.  She is a real sweetheart and I am glad we met her.  She told us about a way to cook squash (which includes SAUSAGE) and we are going to make that tonight!)

You can't see it here, but Aidan was shaking!  He is tiny and was chilly.  It is almost doggy sweater weather!
·         Mail Carrier:  I didn’t ask him to review it, because he was working and people were waiting for their mail!  But he did take some panettone and coffee with him for the road J.

·         Jenny (neighbor who lives only 3 doors down that I had not met, how embarrassing…):  I am trying this Pumpkin Panettone the first time.  I LIKE it, I don’t LOVE it.  It is okay.  It is a little bit dry.  I like the creaminess of the pumpkin, but I think I would enjoy just a normal panettone better.  I don’t think this is pumpkin special.  I would give it a solid 3 rating. (Oops, I forgot to take Jenny's photo!)

·         Me:  I am not a huge panettone fan.  Someone told us we really should try the pumpkin one, so we bought it, then I set about fretting how in the world we would ever EAT a whole panettone.  I am super glad a sunny weekend day came around and I had a clear enough “to do” list that I could spend a couple of hours outside with strangers and neighbors tasting this.  It really did make me feel better about the world (my little local world, anyway) and brought many smiles to face.  As for the panettone, it is not my favorite.  The creamy bits were a little yucky to me, but the candied pumpkin was interesting.  The panettone is a good accompaniment to hot tea or coffee, and as we discussed with Joyce, it would be nice with a red wine after dinner, too.  One or two slices of the whole cake are plenty for me.  I give it a 3.25

·         Chris (former neighborhood association president, saw one of the Facebook group posts about the tasting and went out of his way on his bike ride to the grocery store to come by):  I like it a lot.  I like that the cake is soft and fluffy, not heavy or dense.  And whatever that creamy stuff is in it is delicious!  (I explained that was the infamous “decadent pumpkin cream”).  I give it a 4.5.   

Chris, Benjamin, and Abigail.  They have a special bike that let's the kids sit in this box!  It is really cool.  Also allows the kids to bring along whatever they want in the box and to pick up groceries and ride home easily, too.
·         Benjamin (age 5, Chris’ son, who tasted and reviewed while sitting in his awesome bike box):  I like it.  I like the pumpkin part.  (Benjamin had a second serving.)

·         Abigail (age 2, almost 3, little sister of Benjamin, also reviewed panettone while sitting in the bike box):  I like it.  I like the pumpkin part, too.  (Abigail had a second serving, too, while we chatted with her dad.)

·         Karin (neighbor across the street.  I ran over and knocked on their door and asked them to come over just before I packed everything up):  I think this is delicious.  I like regular panettone, but I like the PUMPKIN part on this one.  I don’t know if I would want pumpkin every day, but this is pretty good.  (Editor – we discussed how this really would only taste “right” this time of year.) This is not a July food J .  So seasonally, I would give it a 4.25.  (I forgot to snap Karin's photo)

·         Nola (age 8, Karin’s daughter):  I think this is a 5 star rating.  It is so pumpkin-y and I love everything pumpkin.  (Editor – so which is your favorite bit in it??) THE PUMPKIN! 

Nola, fan of all things pumpkin.  She is going to be in THE NUTCRACKER soon!
·         Lucy (Nola’s Barbie):  I think it is a 5 star rating.  It is so MOIST and PUMKIN-Y.  I love pumpkins pretty much on everything.  (Editor – Lucy your hair is lovely, where do you get it done?)  The hair salon.  (Editor’s note:  Lucy’s review is remarkably similar to Nola’s, who was her voice for the review…
Even LUCY was a fan of TJ's Pumpkin Panettone
So here’s the deal.  After packing up and coming inside, I realized that this tasting wasn’t really about the panettone after all.  It wasn’t about preparing another review for this blog.  It was about sunshine, and interaction, and being reminded that there is still good in the world.  The panettone and hot drinks were really just a vehicle to get to that lesson. 

After we put everything from the tasting away and did some Christmas shopping, we stopped by the French Embassy in DC.  In the midst of the flowers and candles and wine bottles and balloons and hand written messages, I cried again.  Yes, the world seems totally messed up.  Solutions at this point seem impossible to fathom.  But I am grateful for the couple of hours I got to spend eating and chatting with strangers that put a smile on my face.

French Embassy, Washington DC, November 14, 2015
Price – $4.99
Rating (average of 9 raters’ scores) – 4.25
Rating of sitting outdoors & talking with strangers on an autumn day while sharing food & drink–SOLID 5

Note – if you want this pumpkin version, get to Trader Joe’s soon.  Pumpkin is being phased out for the more Christmas-y flavors, but at least at our TJ’s there are still some pumpkin ones left.)

Pumpkin Panettone, bringing the world together one bite at a time...


  1. That was a really fun idea for your review--I laughed when you included the Barbie's perspective, although her shirt is a little risqué. I am so glad that you brought joy and yumminess to many people in your neighborhood. On a side-note, I've been reading your blog for a while now, and I live alone on a grad-student budget (meaning: I'm almost to the point of going on food-stamps), and it really helps to read your reviews so that I don't waste money. Thanks for all that you do--especially because you don't get paid to do this, but I wanted you to know that you help more people that you know.
    Best, L

    1. Thanks for commenting and letting me know you are out there reading :). Are you anywhere near Washington DC our Daytona Beach?
      (And I didn't even notice how slinky Barbie s shirt was!!)

    2. When I started reading, I was in Chicago; I have since moved to the state of Washington. Regardless of city, your blog is still helpful, and if they ever get the cocoa-drizzle popcorn (my one dessert-spluge/treat for the season!) in for the holidays, then make sure that you try it too because it's a cheaper version of Angie's Holidrizzle.

    3. That sounds like something we NEED to eat. :) Well if you were in our area I was going to invite you over for a TJs dinner, but from WASHINGTON STATE the commute would be a bit much.

    4. That sounds like something we NEED to eat. :) Well if you were in our area I was going to invite you over for a TJs dinner, but from WASHINGTON STATE the commute would be a bit much.

  2. The blog posts in which your personality shines through are the best ones, and this is one of the best. Anybody can write a review of a pumpkin panettone. Only you can write a review like this one.

    A thousand kudos.

    1. THANK YOU. That is so kind of you to say. I really appreciate it and you made me smile super big.

  3. On the recommendation of a member in a TJ's facebook group, I clicked on the link for your blog - and I am so happy I did! What a great post! Thank you so much for sharing, it brought a much needed boost to my faith in humans. :)

    1. Thanks. I am glad you found your way over here and that I could give you a bit of a boost. I have been needing boosts lately so I totally understand the feeling. :)

    2. Would you like to guess who posted that glowing Facebook-group recommendation that they should all be reading your blog, especially posts like this one? Sorry, no hints! :-)

    3. I think I have a pretty good guess about who mentioned it... ::) THANK YOU.

  4. Excellent review. Reviews like this remind me of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s quote: "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." This review was "light". Keep up the great work! Hugs P.S. I never knew what Panettone was..until I saw this review. Walgreen's has big boxes of it and it looked SCARY!

    1. Thanks Ken. :) I shall try to keep up the LIGHT.
      It is funny that you think Panettone looks scary, I AGREE. The boxes are huge. TJ's has some tiny ones I think, those would be more "manageable".