PIE

So. I’m currently in San Francisco, where I’ve been for the past 10 days–with the exception of a brief jaunt into Reno, NV–and I have fallen in love with Mission Pie. Mission Pie is, as the name implies, located on Mission Street and a hawker of pies. But Dear Reader, it goes so much further than that. Their pies are really, really good. Like, better than your grandmother’s pies, but also slightly misshapen and imperfect in appearance, in the way that a really good homemade pie often is. So far I’ve had mixed berry with a butter/oatmeal crumble topping and banana cream with a whipped cream topping. And quiche. And get this: all of their ingredients are locally sourced AND the pies do not cost an arm and a leg. That’s one of the issues with the local food movement, right? That there’s this whole ethic behind eating produce from nearby small farms (which I am a big advocate of) but that sometimes the restaurants that abide by this ethic are so expensive that not very many people can afford to make the sustainable, good-for-you choice. But Mission Pie? You can have a huge slice of pie plus a bottomless cup of coffee for five bucks. Okay, it’s not the dollar menu, but it’s not big money, either.

So. I’ve become so obsessed with Mission Pie that I committed a grand act of insanity and possible hubris. Even though I am staying in a sublet with a tiny kitchen and an oven I am not yet accustomed to, I entered their Pie Contest. Yes, the Mission Pie is having a contest to see which customer can bake the best pie, and I am one of 30 contestants. Dear Reader, what was I thinking? Why did I hijack my vacation with this task? This means of course that tomorrow will be spent indoors–instead of walking along Crissy Field or going to the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market–as I experiment with crusts, figuring out the exact balance between lard and butter. And, I have to decide what kind of pie to make. I need to use local ingredients. In California, they are still getting strawberries, so I could make a strawberry pie, an old favorite of my family’s. But is it too summery? Basically you make a butter crust, cook it, and then make a strawberry jam with crushed berries, sugar, and cornstarch. Heat it til it turns translucent, then pour it over the crust, which you have lined with perfect whole berries. Serve with fresh whipped cream. But. I’m thinking I might need to sex this recipe up for the contest. Like paint the crust with melted chocolate so it’s a strawberry/chocolate pie, or add some balsamic vinegar to the jam…

srw_27The other thought is to make a sweet potato cardamom pie with candied walnuts as a topping. Very autumnal, and southern. But will sweet potatoes woo the Mission people??? More to come…

One Response to PIE

  1. Anonymous October 18, 2010 at 1:21 pm #

    sweet potato cardamom pie with candied walnuts!!!

    They will like it and it is a good fall pie. Or did you sex up the strawberry? I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED.