Food for Thought
Cupcakes are so 2010: Get ready for the great pie foodie craze
Well, damn. It’s official now. Rachel Ray says pie is the new cupcake. Yep, that’s right, the folks at Every Day with Rachel Ray have come out with the 2011 food trend list declaring cupcakes are out for next year and pies are in.
Fancy, hi-priced, girly little cakes are out and all-American, grandma-used-to-cool-them-on-the-window-sill pies are in.
Yes, yes you are Randy, but then so are most real Texans.
While the specialty cupcake craze did make its way to Houston, it certainly never meant that Texans stopped eating pie. Pie in Texas is as traditional as rodeo and Lone Star beer. Heck, we even call one of national dishes Frito chili pie. Which I love since I prefer savory over sweet and while I’m thinking of it, yo, Revival Meat guys, can you make a bacon pie? That would be awesome. But I digress.
No, we’re talking about real dessert pies here. You know, the kind of pies Andie MacDowell sang about in that 1996 John Travolta-angel flick Michael.
Pie, pie, me oh my, nothing tastes better, wet, salty and dry, all at once — oh, well it’s pie. Apple and pumpkin and mince and black bottom, I’ll come to your place every day if you’ve got ‘em. Pie, me oh my, I love piiiiieeeeeee!
Yeah, I’ve been known to sing that ditty when I tuck into a slice of pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving time. Nothing tastes better the morning after than a cold slice of leftover pie and a cup of coffee.
And then there’s apple pie, hot with a slice of yellow cheese slowly melting on top.
Ah, but in Texas, it’s really pecan pie (and yes, you should say it peeeecan pie) that reigns supreme.
I bought some of Goode Company's Brazos Bottom Pecan Pies for Christmas gifts this year, and apparently I wasn’t alone. These Texas pecan pies were featured last week on the Today Show on a segment about holiday gifts. It’s a darn good pie.
Haven’s Evans has his own version of the Texas dessert on his menu. It’s a buttermilk pecan pie, but it’s not made with just any buttermilk.
“We make our own goat’s buttermilk,” he says. “It really makes a difference, as does baking them in glass pie pans. It really makes the crust taste better.”
But even Evans bows down to My Dee Dee’s Pie Shoppe and Deli on West Gulf Bank Road.
“Her pies are just awesome and they’ve done so much, they fed the community after the hurricane,” chef says.
But perhaps the most legendary pie in Texas comes from Royer’s Round Top Cafe. Bud “The Pie Man” Royer was featured last month on CBS Sunday Morning News’ annual foodie show. He ships his famous pies around the world. Big sellers are the buttermilk pie (cow, not goat) and Ann’s Pecan Pie. He sells a couple of hundred pies at the restaurant every week and thousands more online. The guy’s a pie maniac.
Of course a lot of Houstonian’s are partial to House of Pies, a longtime local hangout known for some darn good coconut cream and French silk pies. They also have a Bayou Goo, a pecan crust with vanilla custard, sweet cream, chocolate chunks, whipped cream and chocolate shavings. A bit of an overkill actually, but folks with real sweet cravings seem to like it.
And, yes, Evans has his own chocolate pie on his menu. It’s a chocolate ice box pie made with French coco powder, a chocolate cookie crust and mocha cream on top sprinkled with chocolate nibs. “It’s a pretty good pie,” he says.
I agree, but personally, I like a key lime pie, of course it has to be made with real key limes and condensed milk. I’m still looking for one in Houston that stands up to those I’ve had in Florida. In the meantime I’ll stick with Texas pecan and buttermilk pies. And of course, pumpkin pies.
Yes, pies abound, especially at this time of year. And Texans are more likely to imbibe pie than a flaming figgy pudding at Christmas. So let’s hear it for pie, the new cupcake.
Because no matter what gourmet ingredients you put in pie, it’s still just like the comfort food grandma used to make. Pie is the all-American sweet treat and it’s time foodies embraced it.
And if there’s no Christmas carol celebrating pie, and there should be, just hum along to the “The Pie Song” (see above).
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I need a stiff bourbon and some bacon before I lapse into a sugar-induced coma.
Man cannot live by pie alone.
But pie is pretty good.