Just saw an item on Yahoo! about America's Best Pies, which somehow managed to avoid a lot of my favorites. I've sorta got pie on my mind after having spent a weekend up in Cambria, on California's Central Coast. That's wine country, of course, and there are plenty of fine restaurants as well, but there's one place that in addition to decent sandwiches and the like offers some of the best pies on the planet. This is Linn's, with a restaurant on Main Street, plus a gourmet-foods shop and a pie-and-sandwich shop on the side street behind it. We weren't able to fit pie consumption into our busy time there, but we bought two slices to go and had them that night, after we'd gotten home to Pasadena. Mrs. O had to try the olallaberry and I got the raspberry-rhubarb, and I must say that even after a day in the ice chest these were as flawless as a pie can get. Perfect crust, not soggy but just moistened enough under the fruit, which was itself clear and clean of flavor, not gone to mush at all, tangy and bright. I'm glad I was eating it at home so I could go ahead and lick the container …
With the exception of plain custard, which I've only recently come to tolerate, I can't think of a pie I've ever hated, but there are lots of favorites. Mincemeat and pecan were my most favorite from childhood; lemon, butterscotch and chocolate I liked, but not the meringue Mom covered them with. The pinnacle of piedom for me, though, is the lilikoi pie I've had on Kauai, a passion-fruit custard in a crisp shortbread crust. A close second would be the chocolate pie in the coffee shop of the Anchorage Westward Hotel (ca. 1965), with a perfect crust, semi-sweet chocolate filling, topped with unsweetened whipped cream and shaved bittersweet dark chocolate.
What are your favorites, old or recent, and where did you find them?
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