What used to be one of the highlights of the year for every child under the age of 14 has now become one of the most celebrated “not-quite-a-holiday” by adults in America.
Halloween has come a long way since those vintage costumed trick-or-treat outings that many of us remember as kids.
In fact, it’s been estimated by one source that in 2022, 78 percent of Americans plan to celebrate Halloween, while another survey showed that 93 percent of Americans intend to celebrate. However, what is really spooky is that last year, 55 percent of US households without children planned to celebrate Halloween!
This trend of Halloween hijinks without kids has grown inexorably year after year for the last few decades. And it shows no signs of a demise any time soon.
Aside from the apparent fact that grown-ups in the U.S. no longer want to be “grown up” all year long, this trend also means more parties, fun, and food. That’s because the biggest difference between the youngsters and adults when it comes to celebrating Halloween is more than the size of their costumes: it’s also in their choice of “treats”.
Halloween in the United States – and Napa Valley – Means Serious Fun!
Consider that, according to Uken Report, the total Halloween 2022 spending is expected to reach a record $10.6 billion, exceeding last year’s record of $10.1 billion. That’s serious spending!
And, while some of this will naturally be spent on costumes, decorations, activities such as haunted houses and corn mazes, a large amount of this spending will go to food and drink. That’s because most adults do their “trick or treating” at Halloween parties, and the food and beverages are hugely important for those get-togethers.
With the exception of designated drivers (or broom fliers!) most partygoers and Halloween celebrants will be partaking of adult beverages. In addition, there will be multiple tons of fun foods as well as healthy treats being served up.
For example, according to an article from last year at Morning Consult,
“Of the 68 percent of millennials who are planning to participate, most will spend more than $20 on food — not including candy — for Halloween, with one-quarter saying they’ll spend more than $40. They’re also more likely to spend more on alcohol this Halloween season than their counterparts from other generations.”
And, like most folks living in Napa Valley, millennials tend to be more health-conscious than their older adult counterparts. Which is why 43 percent of millennials are not planning to hand out candy this year and say their decision is based on health-related reasons.
The good news is that there’s plenty of great ideas lurking about for some scary good dishes and holiday spirits that don’t rise from the grave.
Hair-Raisingly Tasty Halloween Food and Drink Ideas
Now for some hauntingly good culinary delights for your Halloween “Monster Mash” this All Hallows Eve.
Every get-together deserves great hors d’oeuvres and, if a meal is part of the festivities, then appetizers, too. And Halloween parties are no exception. So, for some exceptionally tasty starters, try these on for size:
Pub Beer Cheese
As the authors at Delish point out,
“This recipe couldn’t be more party-friendly. It whips up in minutes and you only have to dirty one bowl. How’s that for easy? It starts the way any good dip does, with lots of cream cheese. Next comes cheddar and garlic powder—all essentials. What really makes this dip great, though, is the caraway seeds. They add an herby, savory flavor that adds intrigue without being overpowering. If you do want more of a flavor wallop, try adding horseradish or strong mustard too.”
- Yields: 8 – 10 servings
- Prep time: 15 minutes
- Total time: 15 minutes
- 2 blocks cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 2 c. shredded Cheddar
- 1/4 c. beer
- 1 tbsp. chives
- 1 tsp. caraway seeds
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients. Season with salt and pepper.
- Garnish with chives and serve with dippers of your choice.
Pumpkin Cacio e Pepe
Here is a Halloween twist on a classic pasta dish that adds a dash of pumpkin for that holiday flair, courtesy of My Diary of Us.
- 1 Lb. Ziti Pasta (or pasta shape of choice)
- 2 Finely Minced Garlic Cloves
- 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
- 1 Cup Pumpkin Puree
- 1 Cup Pasta Water (reserved water from boiling pasta)
- 1 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese + more for garnish
- 1 Tsp. Salt
- 1 Tbsp. Cracked Black Pepper
- Boil pasta until al dente, and then reserve the required pasta water before draining the pasta. (I like to reserve more than I need just in case I want to thin out my sauce a little more.)
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add olive oil and garlic and sauté until the garlic becomes fragrant, about two minutes.
- Add in pumpkin puree and stir to combine and season with 1/2 of the salt and 1/2 of the pepper.
- Thin the sauce out with 1/2 of the pasta water and whisk until smooth.
- Add in drained pasta along with the rest of the pasta water, parmesan cheese, and remaining salt and pepper.
- Stir to combine until pasta is completely coated with sauce.
- Add more parmesan cheese and another crack of pepper before serving.
There’s More to Halloween Drinks than Bloody Mary’s
In addition to more traditional Halloween beverages such as hard cider, Jell-O shots, and assorted punch concoctions, consider some drink ideas that are a bit more… novel and frightfully good.
For example, it’s never too soon in the holiday season to enjoy a mug of delicious mulled wine. And with the spectacular cabernet sauvignons to choose from at Cal Mart, the hardest part will be choosing which bottle to bring home.
This simple recipe is adapted from one shared by CK Mondavi and Family winery, and created by Derek Kwong of Barkeep SF.
Mulled Red Wine
Serves 4 to 5
- 1 bottle Cabernet Sauvignon (e.g., CK Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon or a 2001 Larkmead Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Solari Reserve Napa Valley)
- 5 whole cloves
- 3 star anise, plus more for garnish
- 3 cinnamon sticks, and additional for garnish
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 blood oranges, divided use
- In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, combine the wine, spices and honey.
- Slice 1 blood orange into thin wheels and place in the saucepan. Slice the second blood orange into wheels and set aside.
- Bring the saucepan contents to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently for 10 minutes.
And for a more Halloween-themed trick on a classic rum fizz:
Hocus Pocus Fizz
- 1 cup pineapple juice
- ½ cup rum
- ¼ teaspoon coconut extract
- Red food coloring
- Yellow food coloring
- 1 bottle (750 ml) of your favorite Napa Valley sparkling white wine.
- Coarse sugar
Rim each glass with orange tinted sugar by placing 2 tablespoons of sugar in a small, re-sealable plastic bag. Add 5 drops of red food color and 5 drops of yellow food color. Seal the bag and press or knead the sugar until the color is evenly distributed. Pour the sugar onto a shallow plate. Dip the rims of the glasses in a bowl of water, then into the sugar to coat. Next mix the pineapple juice, rum, coconut extract and food colors in a measuring cup for easy pouring. For each cocktail, pour 2 oz. of this juice mixture into the glasses. Top each glass with 4 oz. of the sparkling white wine.
The Cal Mart: The Best Source for Halloween and Holiday Cheer in Napa Valley
You’ll find us tucked in the heart of charming downtown Calistoga, situated between the scenic Silverado Trail and State Route 128. Cal Mart has been a destination stop for residents and for visitors for over 50 years.
Cal Mart, a family-owned and independent grocery store, has provided a unique and enjoyable shopping experience for customers for more than half a century now. We are understandably proud of our community here and our own reputation and we continue to earn the title of “Napa Valley’s Finest Grocery.”
Our love for what we do and our commitment to service is evident in our exceptional grocery items, wide selections, and the freshest produce and meats. In addition, Cal Mart offers a superb delicatessen, a tantalizing gourmet cheese department, an expansively wide selection of quality wines, and a great variety of craft beers, ales, and ciders.
By the way, are you looking for gift items to go along with your holiday food and wine choices?
We have a fresh and colorful stock of seasonal flowers and plants perfect for any occasion, as well as beautiful gift baskets, and so much more. We invite you to make it a point to stop by and take time to explore all that we have to offer.
And, while you’re here visiting our deli, please feel free to talk with our knowledgeable staff and take a moment to treat yourself to a great fall weather cup of coffee or tea from our Coffee Bar.
Cal Mart: the place where you will always find something that is unexpected, unusual, uncommon, and amazing!