Being an adult has its pitfalls. Holidays, for one, have lost much of their magic and seem to be one big to-do list after another. I look back longingly on the days when I was called down to Thanksgiving dinner and there it was in all of its golden, burnished glory, the specter of getting up at 6 a.m. to start cooking still in the distant future. And the Christmas shopping! No wonder Christmas decorations come out right around Halloween — soon, zombies will be walking those aisles.
Halloween marks the onset of celebration and I like to think of it as the energetic start to a winter marathon, fueled by sugar, naturally. For me, Halloween has actually improved with age. No longer am I forced into an ill-fitting costume and marched around in the dark for paltry handfuls of waxen Tootsie Rolls and "fun-size" candy bars.
Join me while I reap the benefits of adult Halloween; the only costume you'll need will be elasticized pants.
French pastries at Paris Bakery
The display case is full to bursting with gorgeous, sophisticated jewels of dessert, a far cry from the peanut-butter eyeballs of yore. Each dessert is a perfect single serving but I would recommend bringing friends to up the sharing ante. For the fruit-forward, the delicate tarte au citron ($5.45) is fresh lemon mousse with Italian meringue, and the peach tart ($5.45) envelops the sweet slices with almond cream and buttery dough. Chocolate fanatics will have a hard time deciding between the chocolate ganache tart ($5.95), chocolate eclair ($3.95) and the Opera ($5.95), a trifecta of chocolate, coffee buttercream and almond cake.
500 Muldoon Road; 337-2575
The great wall of chocolate at Natural Pantry
You'll probably be slavering for more chocolate once that sweet, sweet buzz hits your brain, so head on over to Natural Pantry for a killer selection of confections. It might seem strange to go to a health foods store to get your fix, but we now know that dark chocolate is good for you! Not only is it full of delicious antioxidants, most of the chocolate at Natural Pantry is fairly traded and organic. Only the refined palate of an adult could appreciate the following combinations: Vosges' red fire caramel bar with African red tea and tart cherry, Chuao's potato chip and milk chocolate, Alter Eco's dark quinoa and almond bar and for the kid at heart, Seattle Chocolate's peanut butter and jelly and dark chocolate truffle bar.
3680 Barrow St.; 770-1444
Alaskan-made ice cream at Wild Scoops
Elissa Brown's locally sourced ice cream is handcrafted using local milk from Havemeister Dairy in the Mat-Su Valley and features Alaska ingredients when possible. Autumn specials include Pumpkin Gingerbread, made with local pumpkins from VanderWeele Farm; dairy-free Spiced Pumpkin; Trick or Treat, made with Midnight Sun Brewing Co.'s Imperial Chocolate Pumpkin Porter and cocoa nibs; and Ghostbusters, a riff on toasted marshmallows. Check out her website for pick-up locations and pre-ordering (pints are $9 each).
Trickster beer from Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
Midnight Sun's other homage to Halloween is Trickster, a pumpkin Belgian with allspice, black pepper and ginger. Peter Hall, president of the Great Northern Brewers Club, weighs in: "Trickster has been around longer than your average pumpkin beer and easily still stands out as one of the better pumpkin beers available. I appreciate those that walk the line of assertive but not aggressive. The smooth caramel and light pumpkin sweetness will comfort you. It is still bright enough with a Belgian tang and well-rounded spices to keep the flavors in balance." To sweeten the pot, Midnight Sun also has great food to go with its beer. Head over for brunch and a brewski post-Halloween bash.
8111 Dimond Hook Drive; 344-1179
Chicken mole from Mexico in Alaska
Savory chocolate sauce? Chocolate gravy? With chicken? This sounds like a trick, but it is most definitely a treat. Owner Maria-Elena Ball uses five peppers, a variety of warm spices and just enough chocolate for a hint of sweetness. Throw in some sangria and Mexico in Alaska's famous salsa and it's a party. Molé!
7305 Old Seward Highway; 349-1528
Alaska Dispatch Publishing