Date: Sunday, August 1st, 2010
Time: 3pm till…
What: The 32nd annual Pie Championship & Symposium
Where: Vancouver, BC at what was described as the ‘big yellow house’ in East Van
Who: Any food enthusiast with $5 to spare or who can make a pie for the competition
Organized by the Association of Very Good Ideas, this pie championship brought out some of the more creative bakers in the city. Judged by a panel of 5 expert (pastry chefs, etc) and non-expert judges (a 9 year old boy, etc), the pies on display looked delectable, smelled wonderful and tasted… well, you’ll see…
I was excited from the moment I passed by the flyer on the street. They grabbed my attention with ‘pie’, sweetened the deal with ‘tasting’ and won me over with ‘$5’. With no obligation to consume as much pie as possible, but with plans to do exactly that, I followed the online link and excitedly RSVP’d yes.
Eclectic and artistic types populated this event so the competition was fierce and there were no lame ‘apple’ pies (so last season!) polluting the creative concoctions laid before us.
The contenders please:
1. Rhubarb strawberry crumble pie –Yum! ©
2. Blackberry half-rent pie
3. Chardakopita (Savory ) -Yum! ©
4. Deep midnight chocolate truffle pie (Vegan ) – Yum! ©
5. Perfectly peachy best blueberry with spicy ginger chunks
6. Key Lime pie – Yum! ©
7. Pineapple & pine nut pie – Yum! ©
8. Provencale (Savory )
9. Wild Blackberry blueberry banana pie
10. Black bottom strawberry sateen pie – (Vegan)
11. Raspberry crust pie – Yum! ©
12. Rhubarb meringue pie – Yum! ©
13. Blueberry coconut cream – Vegan – Yum! ©
14. Blackberry mud pie – Yum! ©
15. Strawberry rhubarb pie – Yum! ©
16. Salsa ‘ouch my face’ pie – Yum! ©
17. Kabuki coconut banana cocoa bliss cream pie
18. Decadent chocolate pie
19. Peach walnut brandy pie with lemon ginger crust
20. Pecan Brûlée – Yum! ©
21. No name, “Awesome” pie
22. Tourtière (savory)– Yum! ©
The event was set to start at 3pm. Arriving promptly at 3:45, I was handed a fork and a voting slip and was ready to taste some pies. I brought cash for cover, my appetite and a wheel barrel (to be carried home in, of course). Unfortunately at that time, only 7 (of 22) pies had arrived, with others still on the way and a few others baking away in a nearby oven. For over an hour we milled around temptation, only allowed to look at the untouchable pies as more arrived and even more still baked away in the ovens, their delicious aromas wafting over the crowd and adding to our ravenous hunger. Later, as I wandered wistfully past the pies once more, a beautiful and wonderful saint of a woman in front of the pie I was admiring, loudly asked the very obvious question:
Who wants to try my pie?
Without hesitation, I stepped up and accepted her challenge: I will try your pie.
At long last, the life-long pie related dream I didn’t know I had until today was about to be fulfilled. Unlimited pie tasting with no guilt (unlike at the grocery store with their “Miss you can’t do that here, we’re going to have to ask you to leave.” Humph.)
The best of the best
Pineapple & pine nut pie
Still warm from the oven (or maybe just the beating sun), this pie tasted heavenly. Tangy but still sweet, the filling was creamy and smooth with pops of pineapple and the crunch of pine nuts and the crust was buttery crisp.
A savory pie made with crisp phyllo pastry filled with a mixture of swiss chard, feta, caramelized onion, dill, cream, garlic & various spices. Wow. It fell apart on my plate but was well worth the mess. Wonderful flavour and a recipe I will emulate when I have the need to eat a high calorie pie (perhaps prior to running a marathon…or 2)
Key Lime pie
Blueberry coconut cream – Vegan
Beautiful presentation and a light, fresh tasting pie. The kind of pie you can eat a lot of and not realize how many calories you’re consuming (hint: vegan does not equal low calorie).
This pie has a delicious crust and a thick, creamy, whipped cream tasting filling.
Deep midnight chocolate truffle pie -Vegan
Never really a chocolate fan when it comes to dessert, this pie was one of my favourites of the competition. A smooth, velvety rich chocolate taste, great presentation and bonus points for being a vegan pie and still being delicious. (sorry vegans but it’s true – vegan items have a tendency to taste…unique.)
Pies made with meat? This is always a must do. I tried this delicious,late entry, meat filled pie after I had already handed in my ballot. Phyllo pastry filled with free-range bison and seasonings, this delectable tourtière had a wonderful flavour and even though I was already stuffed, I still wanted more. Mmmm
Blackberry mud pie
Ingredients: dirt, blackberries, mud, sea shells, leafs and tree bark (wink, wink).
Creative presentation and accompanied by a cute back story (about being a kid on the beach and ‘baking’ with rocks and sea water and sand). This chocolate oreo crumble, dried mango bits, mint leaves, blackberries and more chocolate was a wonderful mix that evoked images of the beach without all that sand-in-my-food taste.
The rest of the rest
Coconut banana cocoa bliss cream pie
While contestant # 14 jokingly listed mud as an ingredient, ‘baker’ #17 may have actually included it. Yack! The consistency was similar to runny jello pudding with floating coconut, banana and blueberry chunks. Not to my liking at all but bonus points for creativity – pie soup (slop?).
Peach walnut brandy pie with lemon ginger crust vs. Perfectly peachy best blueberry with spicy ginger chunks
Ginger? Mmmm. These pies sounded so promising but where I felt they should have been sweet or at least spicy from the ginger, they both tasted bland (needed more sugar or perhaps a listing in the savory category…). Where the Perfectly Peachy wins points for presentation and a delicious crust, the Peach Walnut Pie had an unappealing heavy, doughy crust. On their own, they would be heaven a la mode, but sitting amongst several better tasting pies, any and all flaws were easy to taste.
Wild Blackberry blueberry banana pie
I hate blackberries. In fact I hate any berry with hard seeds that get stuck in your teeth (yah raspberries, I’m looking at you). With this bias in place, any pie that includes any of these offending fruits gets an automatic Nelleytimes ‘heck no!’ (#14 being the only and surprising exception to this rule). However this pie was a bigger offender than others. Even without blackberries, I thought the flavour was lacking and I didn’t bother to finish my sample.
It might have been a raw pie, which made it worse as heating/baking brings out the sweetness in all fruits and blends the ingredients together harmoniously. Unfortunately, this discord pie was in the listing for my choice for ‘worst pie’.
Salsa ‘ouch my face’ pie
Self explanatory. This type of pie won’t be in any pie eating contests any time soon. The homemade salsa looked and tasted great and fresh. However, I cannot in good conscious vote this as a best pie. Best salsa – yes! Best pie – not on my watch.
After tasting 21 different pies (#1-20, & #22), contestant #21 finally appeared with their unique interpretation of a pie. When I asked them the name of it, they paused and said “awesome pie”?
Contestant #21: No name, “Awesome” pie
They had pre-made little sample size pie cups and at the tasting competition, filled them up with a creamy concoction and served it to you so:
Yes. Shoved right into your face whilst accidentally getting some in your mouth. People were signing up for this. Willingly too. I told you it was an eclectic crowd. Having already stuffed my own face with pie 21 times, I didn’t feel the need to get someone else to do it for me (where were you 21 pie samples ago??). Kudos to all those who liked getting pie smashed into their mouths. You only live once!
And the winner is….
At blog posting time, the official winners weren’t posted yet. I’ll update the blog with the official winners once available but for now:
Nelleytimes’ Pie Tasting Selections:
Best Savory pie: # 3 – Chardakopita (I actually liked the Tourtière- #22- best but it arrived after I had already cast my vote. Sigh.)
Best Vegan pie: #4 – Deep midnight chocolate truffle pie
Best overall: #6 – key lime pie
Worst overall (sorry but better luck next time…but hopefully you never make this ‘pie’ again): #17 – coconut banana cocoa bliss cream pie
*UPDATE (AUG 3)- the Official Results are in:
BEST SWEET PIE –> Key Lime Pie with Vanilla Whip
BEST SAVORY PIE –> Bison Tourtière
BEST VEGAN PIE –> Vegan Black Bottom Strawberry Sateen Pie
BEST OVERALL –> Pecan Brûlée
WORST OVERALL BEST ALMOST CONTENDER (they renamed it to protect the sensitive creative types) –> the ‘awesome’ pie which was also renamed later to ‘Pie Smoothies’
Out of 22 pies, 13 got my Nelleytimes patented ‘Yum!’ © seal of approval. These are pies I would happily serve to my family and friends and would willingly marry and/or make love to – in a pinch. As I waddled home to a more than likely water and garden salad filled evening, I decided that it must have been glorious fate that led me to the flyer that led me to the facebook page which, in turn, led me to the blog (that I immediately bookmarked) which will keep me updated on any upcoming food related events in the near future.
The organizers host events like this all the time, using the proceeds towards rent and funding for other fun and original events. Hot sun, cool drinks (beer – yuck, and lemonade – yum!©), friendly people and all the yummy pie you could stuff down your gullet. All in all…
A very good idea.
Homage to the snubbed apple pie:
Want to make it unique? Bake it in a paper bag!
Also, wow – only 145 minutes to make, woo. Anyone have 2.5 hours to spare tonight that you’ll never get back? 😉