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Aug 28, 2011 12:58 PM

Gizdich vs Duarte's Ollalieberry pie taste off

Last night we had a taste off between Gizdich Ranch and Duarte's ollalieberry pies. The general consensus was that both pies were good (no surprise there), but there was a slight preference for Gizdich (7 vs 5 votes).

The Duarte's pie was bought frozen at Piazza's in Mountain View, baked, and cooled. The Gizdich pie was bought ready to eat at Zanatto's in San Jose.

My tasting notes:

Duarte's: Juicy pie with whole berries evident. The juice was sweeter than the berries. Crust was thick and tough.

Gizdich: Filling was firm, individual berries not evident. Intense berry flavor, not over sweetened. Crust was crisp and somewhat flaky.

So my bottom line was that I much preferred the Gizdich pie -- I loved that filling! Neither crust was great, but Gizdich's was okay.

But people's perceptions differed. Several people said they liked the Gizdich filling but the Duarte's crust. Some people felt Duarte's filling was tarter than Gizdich, but I think that's because some of the intact berries were tarter than the surrounding juice, so the perception would change, whereas the more uniform Gizdich filling delivered the same intense berry flavor with every bite. One person complained that Duarte's filling tasted musty to her, so I'm guessing she got a bad berry. I didn't hear anyone say this, but to be fair, I could imagine some people would dislike the Gizdich filling because the cornstarch and the mashed together berries make it more jam-like, with no oozing juices. But the intense flavor won me over, despite the texture.

Curiously, those of us who have eaten the pies at the restaurant or ranch thought that both of the crusts were different from these versions. Personally, I didn't like the Duarte's crust in either case, and actually preferred this Gizdich crust.

So there you have it. Go forth and do your own pie tastings!

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  1. Duarte's crust, as served at the restaurant, is crap. It's hard to believe that anyone who's ever had good homemade pie crust would like it.

      1. re: wolfe

        Had a Beckmanns Ollieberry yesterday from Los Gatos Farmers market and boy was that tart! The crust was flaky and good but the filling needed help with whipped cream. A bit too "puckerish" on its own.

        1. re: budnball

          I guess the solution is to have the bakers taste each berry before making the pie. I notice at the Marin Farmers Market a blackberry booth had sweets and tarts at different prices. Some of the sweet still had a little bite but most were very sweet. They all looked the same to me.

          1. re: wolfe

            Just wasn't ready for it. Seemed like no sugar at all went into the filling which I have had before From Beckmanns. It has never been a overly sweet pie but this one.....

      2. Gizdich is the best, hands down, and I'm not saying that because I live 8 miles away from the ranch. All the Gizdich pies are superb: the berry pies, the Dutch apple, the apple, pumpkin, apple/ollalieberry, etc.

        It's because—gasp—they use lard in the crust and pounds of fresh fruit in each pie.

        When I lived in SF, Duarte's was our monthly outing (after a hike in Butano State Park) and we loved it. But I recently took a visiting Midwesterner there and was appalled at the stuff now being served. The green chili soup was awful and the pie was depressing.

        Gizdich Ranch is a great field trip even if you're not a local. My kids grew up with annual berry picking at the Ranch, visiting the pumpkin patch, drinking the fantastic apple cider, and eating the delicious varieties of apples grown there. I attribute my now-adult and now-urbanite daughter's addiction to apples (pounds of them a week) to her early Gizdich exposure.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Discerning1

          You are supposed to order the chile/artichoke mix. One, because it looks good and two, because when you mix it the synergism makes it better.

          1. re: wolfe

            Thanks for the advice, Wolfe, but I can't imagine ever going back. Yes, it was THAT bad. Prices are way high and quality was awful.

            I used to love Duarte's...the artichoke soup, the fresh baked bread, the pies. Even though I suspected in the 80's that the soups were just Campbell's cream of something with add-ins, I enjoyed them.

            No more.

            1. re: Discerning1

              Yeah, I think Duarte's is more about nostalgia than quality. I've been there three times and was unimpressed every time. Had an apricot pie one time that was just appalling -- scant, gluey filling with a thick, dry crust. At least the ollalieberry pie was better than that.