Happy Pi(e) Day!! I had originally intended to make pie but discouraged by not finding an ingredient and not willing to make sub-par substitutes, I didn't. Ha, great story! No, wait, that's not it! I'll tell you where to find the best pie. I eat a lot and I've had a lot of pie over the years. The best pie has always been in...
Or drool roll!
"Is this heaven?"
"No, it's Iowa!"
Yes, the best pies I've ever had have been in Iowa. The first picture is of pies entered in the 2009 Iowa State Fair, the best state fair where "Nothing Compares" and everything is deep-fried and on-a-stick. Also the only state fair I've ever been to despite growing up only an hour from the California State Fairgrounds, so it's not quite fair (ha!) to say it's the best. I hear that the Minnesota State Fair is pretty darn good too... Anyway, these pies look gorgeous, alas, I didn't have the privilege of tasting the pies. I wonder what it takes to become a judge at a state fair? Wouldn't I like to know!!? (The answer is YES, I would and probably should proceed any further)
This pie was made today in honor of 3.14 by my college buddy, Sara Woolery, who now bakes for Saints Rest Coffee House in Grinnell, Iowa. This strawberry pie is amazing. One of my favorite college memories was a warm spring afternoon (which is a HUGE deal in a place of long winters) where she invited a bunch of us over to "help her" make pie. You didn't have to ask us twice or remind us, we were there. We had so much fun catching up with each other and just hanging out. As we were rolling out pie crust dough, one of my friends said, "You guys, this is like a staple of India and I don't even know how to make it!"
...Maybe you had to be there. We were all confused. She meant the kneading and rolling process for making staples like roti and naan.
These perfectly whipped mini lemon meringue pies were made by another good friend who I also met while in college, Simone Bates. She moved from the bustling Melbourne (Australia, not Florida) to small town Iowa. As I've been learning, there is a strong coffee culture in Melbourne so when she moved to a town with no coffee shops, she opened one herself! While she is from Melbourne, her coffee shop, Simone's Cuppa features Iowan, Australian and German baked goods (double emphasis on the goods). Either way, her recently remodeled bank-turned-insurance-office-turned-coffee-shop is in Montezuma, Iowa so it totally counts as a Iowa.
Oh and another wonderful pie memory. Also in Iowa, what can I say? My friend was on the committee that planned events on the behalf of the College. I was part of the Christian fellowship and so she asked if our organization was interested in hosting a game night. By hosting an event with her committee, we had a hefty budget to work with and since they had the board games already, she asked what I wanted to do with the money and I suggested... as many pies as the budget would allow. I was a happy, troopin' camper. I think we got 10 or 12 or 14 pies? Of course they were all different flavors, of course!
I don't know why Iowa baked goods are so good. I think it's because food is the perfect pick-me-up and Iowa on a freezing, windy day really requires good Iowan food to warm the bones and heart. So next time you drive through Iowa, remember to stop at a bakery. Where was the best pie you've ever had?
Happy Pi(e) day!