A day late but not in any way short, the Pie Off at J’s place (If you’re trying to keep track, this is a totally different J than previous J’s mentioned here, so give up.) was an orgy of pie-hole-stuffing. The invite was aptly titled, “screw dinner, let’s have pie” and that’s what we did. Due to some horrid rumor about being incorruptible, I was appointed to one of the judgeships. I will attempt to set down my impressions before the food coma takes hold.
Category One: Savory Pies. Arguably, these were or could have been dinner.
The BLT Pie, The Corned Beef & Cabbage Pie, The Macaroni & Cheese Pie, The Quiche (photo unavailable at press time)
The Runners Up:
- Queen of the classics, hottest pie of the night: The Quiche. You just can’t beat a classic. Plus, there had to be something savory for the vegetarians to eat.
- Most innovative, also least manageable: The BLT. As an exercise in bacon engineering, this could not be beat. The bottom “crust” was also woven bacon, but the inclusion of avocado, garlic mayo and red onion took this pie to a higher place.
- Best use of processed materials: The Mac’n’cheese. From the store-bought crust to the macaroni and cheese to the garlicky croûtons on top to the chopped hot dogs hiding inside, this pie was a work of readymade art.
- Best Savory Pie: The Corned Beef & Cabbage aka The St. Patrick’s Day Massacre. What might have begun as a joke could easily have been served as a very respectable main. The mashed potatoes were a complement to the crust, and the corned beef was tender. The chef tried to downplay the cabbage in favor of some carrots and turnips, but the slavonic contingent in the audience demanded even more cabbage next time out.
Category Two: Apple Pies
The Low-Sugar Ohio Apple Crumble and Mom’s Apple Pie.
The Runner Up:
- Most Authentic Apple Pie: Mom’s. From the mountainous center to the vents to the skin-on chunks of apple, this was the real thing. Love it or leave it.
- Best Apple Pie: The Ohio Crumble. With a top crust that was actually crunchy to a bottom crust that was cooked just right, we knew we had something special on our hands even before we tasted the apples, which put us over the edge. I don’t know what goes on in Ohio or what they do with the extra sugar, but they should keep doing it.
Category Three: Fruity Pies, Non-Apple
Berrylicious Cheese Pie, Rustic Russian Fruit Pie, Strawberry Fubar Pie
The Runner Up:
- Best Free-Form Pie: The Russian Pie. Bravely constructed in a Malevich square without a pie pan, this hearty wholemeal pie contained an assortment of fruits that made it redolent of sangria. Some pi are squared.
The Winners (a tie!)
- Best Non-Apple Fruit Pie: The Strawberry Fubar Pie. So named because of a winter lack of Rhubarb, this pie has nothing at all beyond recognition. The berries and other fruit were melty, and the homespun crust and slightly bloody appearance earned extra points.
- Best Non-Apple Fruit Pie: The Berrylicious Cheese Pie. With a creamy cheeescake base, this one might skirt definitions, but it hooped our skirts with fresh berries and crisp crust. The blueberries were exceptional.
Category Four: Chocolate Pies
Photos unavailable. We ate them too quickly. Sorry.
The Runner Up:
- Most Bavarian Pie: The German Chocolate Pie. Totally teutonic with a healthy helping of schlagg, this one drags you into the black forest by the hair and has its way with you.
- Best Chocolate Pie: The Winter Spice Chocolate Pie. Dark and a little bit mysterious, this pudding style pie was for grown-ups only with notes of clove, cardamom and cinnamon. The ginger ice cream was nice, but a needless distraction when you’ve got dark chocolate pie on your plate.
Category Five: Other Sweet Pies Not Otherwise Classified
The Calming Pie, Junk In The Trunk, The Peanut Butter Pie
The Runners Up:
- Best Pie Based on a Comic Strip: The Calming Pie. A custard pie with not enough vodka and a cinnamon cream top, this pie was also assessed as most throwable, but fortunately things didn’t come to that. Comic Strip? Girl Genius.
- Most Audacious: Junk In The Trunk. Hey, I didn’t name it that, but this ice cream pie had more hidden candies than Willy Wonka. Add berries and marshmallows both raw and roasted, and you’ve got somethig going on, and I don’t just mean in the trunk.
- Best Sweet Pie, NOC: The Peanut Butter Pie. It’s a classic, sure. The light and fluffy creamy filling was offset by a nice oreo crust and lots of peanut butter cup chunks. What could be finer?
A grand time was had by all. Thanks and kudos to the hostess and all the beautiful and talented guest chefs. Perhaps I’ll be ready to eat again in time for next year’s event.