Monday, May 21, 2012

Notes from a pie crawl

Alright, so it's clear that I'm a pie person. I mean, cake's ok but it's basically a pile of sugar compared to a buttery, flaky pastry stuffed with sweet fruit.

Those in the know have been predicting pie's ascent as the dessert of choice for a while now, even going so far as to pronounce cupcakes dead. Pie shops are rising in fashionable urban neighborhoods throughout the country with dressed up and adult flavors. Bourbon pear crumble, anyone? It actually makes a lot of sense that a traditional dish like pie would be embraced by the stylishly homegrown, handmade and locavore crowd. Pie is easily adaptable - it's been around for centuries, after all - and you can make it using just about anything that's in season. What's more, it's an important part of our food history, which I think makes these new offerings all the more appealing.

I'm curious to see how the pie trend catches on here in Chicago. M. and I decided to scout some pie shops and devised a local "pie crawl." We mapped out a list of five pie shops to try and set out on bike one fine spring Sunday. Here's a few snapshots:

Pie Stop #1 - Bang Bang Pie Company (Logan Square)
We started at Bang Bang Pie Company, which I wrote about back in November. On the menu we found a Blood Orange Shaker Pie, Peanut Butter Creme Pie, homemade biscuits & Bang Bang's original creation, pie fries.

Blood orange shaker pie
Best damn biscuits ever AND peanut butter creme pie
Pie fries!

Pie Stop #2 - Blue Sky Bakery (North Center/Irving Park)
There were many delicious items at Blue Sky Bakery, but sadly no pie. We peddled on to...

Pie Stop #3 - First Slice Pie Cafe (Andersonville)
First Slice Pie Cafe bakes pie for the greater good. For details on their community involvement, read my coverage of it here. First Slice had a lot of pie to choose from - I went for a traditional apple, and M. got what they called "occupie" - a hippie-inspired granola/chocolate concoction.

Traditional apple and "occupie"
First Slice Pie Cafe

Pie Stop #4 - Bleeding Heart Bakery (various, we visited the Ukrainian Village shop)
Bleeding Heart is exactly what is sounds like - rock n' roll pastry. Their shop is loud, bright and boisterous. Our bellies begged for a bit of relief by the time we reached it though, so we snapped a few shots of the individual-sized banana creme pies on their shelves and moved on. Weak, I know.

Banana creme pie 

Pie Stop #5- Hoosier Mama Pie Company (Ukrainian Village)
M. was starting to look a little green, so it was pie to go from Hoosier Mama. We picked up a slice of Passion Fruit pie, and this delightful creation, a cherry pie pop.

Cherry pie pop

I'm still on the hunt for new pie trends and Chicago-area shops, so if you hear of any let me know. I also want to keeping working on my own pie-baking skills, which will include having a little more patience with my sous chef.

M and I make pie (or try to!)

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