Best or Favorite Pies?
- Will Owen Feb 9, 2011 12:51 PM
Just saw an item on Yahoo! about America's Best Pies, which somehow managed to avoid a lot of my favorites. I've sorta got pie on my mind after having spent a weekend up in Cambria, on California's Central Coast. That's wine country, of course, and there are plenty of fine restaurants as well, but there's one place that in addition to decent sandwiches and the like offers some of the best pies on the planet. This is Linn's, with a restaurant on Main Street, plus a gourmet-foods shop and a pie-and-sandwich shop on the side street behind it. We weren't able to fit pie consumption into our busy time there, but we bought two slices to go and had them that night, after we'd gotten home to Pasadena. Mrs. O had to try the olallaberry and I got the raspberry-rhubarb, and I must say that even after a day in the ice chest these were as flawless as a pie can get. Perfect crust, not soggy but just moistened enough under the fruit, which was itself clear and clean of flavor, not gone to mush at all, tangy and bright. I'm glad I was eating it at home so I could go ahead and lick the container …
With the exception of plain custard, which I've only recently come to tolerate, I can't think of a pie I've ever hated, but there are lots of favorites. Mincemeat and pecan were my most favorite from childhood; lemon, butterscotch and chocolate I liked, but not the meringue Mom covered them with. The pinnacle of piedom for me, though, is the lilikoi pie I've had on Kauai, a passion-fruit custard in a crisp shortbread crust. A close second would be the chocolate pie in the coffee shop of the Anchorage Westward Hotel (ca. 1965), with a perfect crust, semi-sweet chocolate filling, topped with unsweetened whipped cream and shaved bittersweet dark chocolate.
What are your favorites, old or recent, and where did you find them?
Delicious topic! My all-time favourites are Classic Sour Cherry, Blood Red Orange Meringue and Key Lime. Not a fan of graham wafer crusts but prefer shortbread, crushed sugar cookie and so on. Glazed Strawberry and Brown Sugar pies are other favourites. I've made them all as I rarely eat pie in restaurants (no good restaurants in our area). My husband's very favourite is Pecan Pie. Flapper Pie is very good (with something other than graham wafer crust). He also loves Apple Caramel. We both are smitten with Blackberry.
Of course I love all kinds of savoury pies but will keep my post to sweet versions. ;-)
If I had one pie to eat for the rest of my life it would be Key Lime. When done right there is nothing better.
My second pie would be variations of Pecan Pie. I love every variation I have ever tasted. Walnut pies are also very good but they are kind of the same thing. Chocolate Walnut pie ... it's like being in heaven.
Maybe it's overplayed already, but I really like the Crack Pie at Momofuku Milk Bar.
I've yet to meet an apple pie that I don't like (McDonald's included), but I think the best I've ever had was the one at Mission Pie up in San Francisco.
The Butter Pie at Butter Love Bakeshop in San Francisco might rival Momofuku's Crack Pie as one of my all-time favorites, and I don't even necessarily like the taste of butter. A close second to this Butter Pie is the Hoosier Sugar Cream Pie from Hoosier Mama in Chicago. The Butter Pie is better, only slightly though, but I would be happy to be buried alive in either concotion.
4-Berry pie with nut/crumble topping (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and Himalayas)
Lemon meringue on gingersnap crust
Coconut cream pie - classic
Chocolate rum pie w/ pecan topping
Cream pie on chocolate/nut crust; Frangelico whipped cream
Roasted apricot pie w/ almond cream, classic crust.
Nope, not regional at all. Born of desperation, actually. I had a large can of apricots left over from some random thing, and I oven-roasted them at 400 for about an hour. I made a regular one-crust shell, and baked it blind. Made a vanilla-bean cream that I stiffened with a little folded-in stiffly whipped cream and a few dashes of almond extract, and used that as the pie's base, then submerged the apricots in it, chilled it, and served it with amaretto coffee for dessert. And I'd do it again, a million times over; one of the best seat-of-the-pants desserts I ever came up with!