Sunday, June 20, 2010

Pie Frenzy

Last weekend, Stacey of BKFarmyards, a "decentralized urban farming network" that I've done some data entry for, invited me to represent Lily & Fig at a pie bake-off fundraiser at Jimmy's No. 43. Jimmy's is a basement bar, though a well-lit one, and the pie-off was in a back room, giving the whole affair an interestingly ilicit aura.
Pssst...back want some pie, little girl...?

In fact, there was even a little girl, Jimmy's outgoing daughter Georgia, who, despite proclaiming her general indifference to pie, fell in love with the kosher salt garnishing Four & Twenty Blackbirds' 'Salty Honey' version, so I guess we did some mild dealing and corrupting of youth.

The event was one of my first forays into the wider world of Brooklyn foodie-ism, and my pie was in some very good company.  I didn't get to taste everything, but I did get to meet some seriously accomplished pie bakers and urban gardeners, including, in addition to Emily and Melissa of the aforementioned Four & Twenty Blackbirds, Allison Kave of First Prize Pies, Betty Brooklyn (whose individual Short Rib and Stout pies carried off the People's Choice Award), Kat of Piety Bakery, Brooklyn Honey, Rooftop Farms (winner of the Best Savory), the SCRATCHBread team (who filled hollowed out bread with an incredible combination of orange cauliflower puree, mushrooms, greens, and grapes), Lauren of Pie in the Park, and many more, including the makers of some truly unforgettable goat meat pies dribbled with savory jus.
And my pie? Well, it was good. Knowing what I know now, I might have gone in a different direction, but for my rookie bake-off, it was a good effort. I went savory, and created a new recipe that I'd never tried before.
Over a bed of roasted Vidalia onions, I layered red and Chioggia beets in a concentric pattern. A savory custard filled out the pie, and I scattered toasted pine nuts and goat cheese on the top.
 In retrospect, I would have mixed the goat cheese right into the custard, but all in all, it was a success. I think, though, that things would have gone even better if I had played to my strengths, made a custardy or fruity pie that I could love to pieces, rather than a very pretty beet pie that I couldn't be totally sure of (and I am kind of indifferent to beets, except that I do like cooking them). Still, this is all hindsight. I was proud of my pie, though it won no awards.
The bake-off did bring out my latent competive pie streak though--now I just can't wait to enter MORE BAKE-OFFS. And WIN. Or, you know, bake some more pies. Like I did this week. Seeing all those beautiful pies filled me with so many ideas, and so much desire to perfect my crust and crimping technique. Tough to do on such a hot an humid week, but I did manage two more pies, a double crust rhubarb pie and an old fashioned custard pie from the Joy of Cooking.
 The rhubarb pie was good, but the custard pie was the real star. I cannot stop eating it. It is like those little egg tarts from Chinatown bakeries except better because I put cherries in. It is really irresistable. Matt, for some unaccountable reason, has been very able to resist both of these perfect pies. More for me.

1 comment:

Vicki said...

Dang I wished I lived in your town! I'd be one of your biggest customers.