No tricks, only Halloween treats from Waterloo region restaurants, bakeries

Food columnist Andrew Coppolino takes a look at the various Halloween treats that are available through local restaurants, bakeries and other businesses.

Many Halloween specials have been announced by local food operators, Andrew Coppolino writes

From cupcakes to ice cream to savoury dishes like tacos, there are plenty of treats this Halloween at local businesses in Waterloo region. (Mark Cumby/CBC)

The pandemic has curtailed the usual Halloween festivities — and on an October 31 that's both a Saturday night and a full moon.

Restaurants usually have fun on a Halloween night, but this year all food businesses have been adjusting to the new circumstances. This past week has seen many Halloween specials announced by food operators on social media. Here are just a few examples of sweet and savoury options (quantities may be limited).

Waterloo's Crumby Cookie Company says, "It's a Celebration, Witches!" riffing on a meme. The store on Regina Street N., will feature eerie black and purple swirled cookie dough — no fear: they're naturally coloured, according to Jennifer Appleby Vines.

"We are also constructing a trick-or-treat tunnel of terror with which to deliver old-fashioned treat bags to anybody who comes by trick-or-treating," said Appleby Vines.

Popular Waterloo bakery CE Food Experience has a three layer ghost cake with purple inside and chocolate fudge that's striped in orange and white with ghosts on top. Today, as quantities last, there is a cookies and costumes special until 3 p.m.: kids in costume get a chocolate chip cookie.

Ice cream, cookies and donuts

Ajoa Mintah at Four All Ice Cream in Waterloo calls this year's October 31 "Four All-Oween" (that's pretty dope).

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"It's our version of Halloween where we've been working on four new ice cream flavours that we named by the community and based on monsters and Halloween themes. In addition, anyone in a costume will get a treat from us," Mintah said.

The ice creams are vegan Cherry Chocula, Caramummy Honey Crunch, Howling Blue Moon and Almond butter bones. There's also a vegan Vampiric Vanilla and Ominous Orange.

Sweet Lou's Cookies on Weber Street Waterloo at Columbia is a popular late-night cookie factory and retail shop that churns out "Funetti" soft sugar cookies with sprinkles.

"For Halloween, we turn the icing into a mummy wrap, and we add spooky eyes," said Lou Gazzola.

Mamma D's Delicious Eats, near downtown Kitchener, has lemon-lime Frankenstein doughnuts, candy corn-coconut doughnuts and Halloween cookie sandwiches.

Ambrosia Corner Bakery will have Halloween cupcakes and also sells Halloween cookies and Halloween kits from Cambridge's Little Mushroom Catering.

Savoury treats

That takes care of the sweet dark-side. The savoury dark-side has a number of notable food preparations — and ones that lead us to days of saints in early November.

Greg Dove of Elora Bread Trading Co. provides the season's best "worst pun": riffing on squash soup with Gorgonzola cheese, Dove is baking a pumpkin loaf with Stilton — so that makes it bread with "BOO cheese," he pointed out.

With vampires eyeing your shirt collar tonight, Jared Ferrall of Crafty Ramen, in both Kitchener and Guelph,  says protect yourself from the nasty Count with Crafty's "Vampire Slayer 3.0" ramen.

"It's garlic chicken shio broth with braised pork chashu, bean sprouts, wood ear mushrooms, garlic chives and sunchoke chips. It's a real garlic bomb," Ferrall said.

Gayuma Catering, located on Weber Street N. near King Street is preparing a family pack of pho, which, they say, includes "skeleton bones" and banh mi sandwiches with "zombie guts" (braised pork). Take-away boxes will be decorated in Halloween themes and treat bags are included while supplies last. There are gluten-free, dairy-free, keto and vegan options.

You can wash these choices down with a visit to St. Jacobs' Block Three Brewing and their Frankenstout dark, but not too heavy, session stout.

Calling all saints and souls

All of which brings us to the other days of the holiday and their importance to many people around the world. We have All Hallows Eve, All Saints Day (November 1) and All Souls Day (November 2) which in Mexico is called the Day of the Dead (Dia de Muertos).

At new weekend pop-up Syd and Hilda's Cocina in Taco Farm, chefs Sydney Keedwell and Hilda Arroyo will feature a menu that includes "pan de muerto," a sweet bread traditionally made with bone shapes and a small tear-drop decoration.

"We're also serving chicken enmoladas, a type of enchilada with a rich, dark mole sauce on top. It's topped with queso duro blando and avocado," said Keedwell. "We will also have Mexican hot chocolate and Calabaza en Tacha which is sweet roasted pumpkin and a traditional treat for Dia de Muertos."

Paul Masbad at Nuestro 88, a Filipino-Central American restaurant in Deer Ridge, notes that in the days that follow Halloween relatives visit the graves of their loved ones while they might nibble on chocolate or sugar "skulls."

"In the Philippines, people will go to the cemetery to pay their respects to those have passed. It's the same in Central America," said Masbad.

Accordingly, the restaurant is baking their version of a "brazo de Mercedes," a rolled cake that translates to, basically, "the arm" of Mary, the Mother of Jesus.

"It's basically our take on a jelly roll for Halloween, but we make a meringue and a crème caramel filling," he said. "It's rolled like a Swiss roll. The cakes can be covered with patterns of spiders and skulls using black and orange colours."