Battle of the Pecan Pie

In honor of the season, we figured this week's Battle of the Dishes should spotlight a treat we find on our own holiday dinner table every year.

Pecan pie is a guilty pleasure -- thick, rich and chock full of enough calories to bust any "this year I'll stick to my diet over the holidays" promises in just a few bites. Oh, well. That's what New Year's resolutions are for, right?

We compared the homemade pies at two local eateries to see if we'd go nuts for their versions of this holiday dessert staple. 

In One Corner: The Farm Kitchen at South Mountain
6106 S. 32nd St. in Phoenix
602-276-6360

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The Farm's pie was light and summery.
   

Phoenix may be the land of strip malls and urban sprawl, but that only makes us appreciate places like The Farm more. Set on a 12-acre working farm which boasts 2 other restaurants, a wellness center and an art studio, The Farm Kitchen is a cozy little getaway from city life.

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​It's basically a little wooden cottage with a kitchen. There's barely enough space inside the screen door to squeeze a dozen or so people in. The formula here is "order inside, eat outside." Guests order drinks, select any pre-made salads from the ice cooler, choose a fresh baked dessert from the counter and place their order at the register. Then it's time to head outdoors.

The Farm is lovely this time of year. We sat at a picnic table shaded by giant pecan trees as the yellow and orange leaves fell around us. We didn't have to wait for our pie, which was pre-packed by the slice in a little paper deli tray. The slice was huge, with a layer of whole pecans (gathered from the trees above us) atop a light toffee-colored filling. It looked oddly summery for being a traditional fall dessert.

"This is candy-sweet," commented our dining companion, a Southerner who's picky about pecan pie. "The filling doesn't really have any weight or flavor to it."  

The pecans were the best part of the pie -- naturally crunchy, with just a hint of sugary caramel coating. The filling was almost too sweet in contrast, with a slight lemony undertone offset by a hint of nutmeg and other traditional pie spices. The crust was heavier and less cloying than the other components. If you could order pecan pie in the same way you order coffee, this one would be "light and extra sweet."

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