Pie Drunk Days

This past
Saturday as a fateful event for me—it was the first time I have ever reached my
fill of my much-loved dessert of choice.

The
Cvillepiefest (http://www.cvillepiefest.com) took place on Saturday, Oct. 3, at the Mudhouse in Crozet, Va.
The “piebrainchild” of 

Steve Whitaker, Brian
Geiger, and Marijean Jaggers,

Cvillepiefest, the
grassroots fundraising event was a great success, with well over 100 people
attending and countless pie
competitors. The count was more than any of us expected—there
were many, many last minute entrants.

I lost trck of
the number of cream pies I tasted. There were three categories: fruit, cream,
and nut and other. I volunteered with six other pie lovers to judge the cream
pies. The pies I tasted were pretty good—even the one that I think sent
me over the edge, which was the Turkish Mocha Delight. Any other time, I could
sit alone with that pie and really get to know it intimately. But it was
probably pie number 10 for me and one of the richest, deepest-flavored pies
I’ve ever eaten. I think it had coffee in it—as well as
plenty of cardamom and dark chocolate. 
About 10 minutes after eating it, I was peeling off my sweater and holding on to the table because the
room was spinning. Someone said I looked green. For the rest of the day, I was completely, well, pie drunk.

But, as all good
pie people must, I kept going. Eventually, I had to break away to sign some
books. I understand that I missed the last eight pies. Did you read that? The
last EIGHT pies. I am grateful for it. I don’t think I could have eaten another
bite. Thank goodness for my book signing duties.

The
most important part of the event was that we raised money for PACEM, which is
an interfaith, community-based, grassroots organization that helps to house the
homeless in Charlottesville. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to chat with
them, but what an awesome, inspiring group.

I
also didn’t get a chance to chat with many of my pie comrades who organized the
event. It really was jam-packed and difficult to have meaningful conversations.
I really have to mention three of them here. Brian Geiger, (aka The Food Geek)

(http:www.//thefoodgeek.com)
who was the previous Charlottesville pie champ, stepped up and assumed the role
of head judge. He wrote a beautiful piece on what to look for in a pie when
you’re judging it. (His wife Melanie graciously accepted the role of money-taker and organizer.) Elizabeth McCullough (another judge and pie-loving writer) helped him out on his
tallying duties. Marijean Jaggers, to me, represents the spirit behind the
whole piefest.

(http://www.stlworkingmom.com
She probably baked more pies than anyone for the charity and is
an incredible pie baker. (I am still wanting that butterscotch pecan pie recipe
of hers.) She and Brian were the original pie competitors that got the ball
rolling. And then there’s Steve Whitaker

(http://wordishness.com)
—an endearing, personable young man who
organized the event, taking care of countless details, and of course, getting
his share of pie.

We all love our pie.

A
few words about the winning pie—a lemon chiffon that was like a fresh breeze in
my mouth. Simple in it’s elegance. It says a lot that the pie that won out of A
LOT of other pies was this basic. Yet, to make a lemon chiffon is easy, but to
master it? Hmm. Well, that’s another matter. The graham cracker crust was
perfect in texture and flavor against the smooth, silky lemon chiffon. As the
pie cutter, I noted how it sliced easily and came out of the plate perfectly.
The baker also placed raspberries around the edges. I was lucky enough to get one
bite of it all—raspberry, lemon chiffon, and graham cracker.

There
were some other notable pies for me. If I had to pick the winner myself, it
would have been the coconut cream, which to my taste, surpassed the lemon
chiffon. I also really loved one of the pumpkin pies—I’m sure it was made with
fresh pumpkin and wow, what a difference it makes. The other pie that stands
out, of course, it Marijean’s butterscotch pecan. I didn’t judge the nut pie
category, but I did get a bite of this incredible pie. The butterscotch added a
really deep flavor. The drunken nut pie that won that category must have been
fabulous. The fruit pie winner was “roadhouse” apple, which I didn’t get a
chance to sample.

I
think it’s worth noting that the winning pies were not pies with countless complicated
flavors and ingredients. Mike DiGrassie, owner of Mrs. Rowe’s often tells me
that, that the best Southern cooking is always kept simple—and that holds true
for pies, Southern or not.

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