A Humbling (Pie) Experience: Judging the Third Annual Pie Social
Eating pie is pretty much the best way to spend a Saturday afternoon, and at Saturday's Pie Social, there were plenty of celebrity pies to enjoy -- 14, to be exact. At first, as we judges waited around for a seemingly endless procession of pies to be brought to the table, it seemed a bit daunting to have to taste them all. Luckily, I started my day with a five-mile hike to get nice and hungry, and it turns out that I never tire of eating pie.
Lauren Saria The judges, hungry for pie
The Best of the Best
Proof? I went back for seconds of the pie presented by Jeff Kraus of Crepe Bar, one of my three favorites. And I wasn't the only one; fellow judge Vermon Pierre also went back for more after turning in his scores.
Kraus' roasted cherry chocolate espresso pie was technically a tart (the pie's close cousin), but after one bite, I didn't care about definitions. It had a thick filling that was a marriage of custard and ganache, and between that and the crust was a thin layer of gooey dark cherry filling. Not only was it beautiful, but with well-balanced flavors, it tasted every bit as good as it looked. Fans of dark chocolate and espresso, or dark chocolate-covered cherries, will be in heaven if Crepe Bar adds this to the regular menu (please do!).
Lauren Saria Roasted cherry dark chocolate espresso pie
The two other standouts for me were the Pink Diablo by Virginia Senior of Urban Beans and the blackberry pie with blue cheese crumble by Brady Breese of Urban Cookies Bakeshop. The former was so good that all I wrote down was "wow!" An adventurous feat, Senior's pie combined a walnut crust, prickly pear cheesecake, lime curd, meringue, mint, and agave habanero sauce. The result was a semi-savory Southwestern pie just sweet enough to call dessert. The complex taste was like washing down spicy food with a prickly pear mojito. The mint was the perfect finishing touch, and all in all, this was the one I continued dreaming about all afternoon and evening. This pie was truly a strike of culinary genius.
Lauren Saria Surprisingly addictive Pink Diablo Pie
For someone who taught himself how to make pie just in time for this contest, Brady Breese certainly fooled us with his unique creation and near-perfect crust. The blackberries were juicy and made up most of the flavor profile, and the blue cheese baked into the crumble on top added the right touch to make the pie a special twist on a classic. Blue cheese and blackberries belong together in a fruit and cheese course, so why not combine them in a pie? This isn't one that everyone will love, but anyone who likes the two main ingredients will want to make this at home. On that note, can we have the recipe, pretty please?
Lauren Saria Blackberry pie with blue cheese crumble
7520 S. Rural Road, Tempe, AZ