America has a pie fetish. Not only do we bask in its supreme glory at summer cookouts, but we personify its virtues – deeming our most beloved people, places and things “American as pie.” But Slate.com‘s June editorial deriding the centuries-old reign of pie attempted to rouse us from our food comas.
Nathan Heller likened the sticky-sweet, sinfully delicious summer treat to “a miniature apocalypse of broken pastry parts and heat-blitzed fruit.” Pie, he argues, is sloppy, inconsistent, and hurting America. Shall we bring Mr. Heller down to the River City to eat his words? While I personally disagree with his aversion to homemade creations at backyard bashes – there’s pretty much nothing better than a warm heap of apple, cinnamon, and pastry, topped with vanilla ice cream – I don’t think he could deny the skills of RVA’s beloved pie-slinging establishments.
To reaffirm our faith in this controversial culinary art, my boyfriend and I sampled slices from two of the city’s most revered pie houses: Joe’s Inn and Garnett’s Cafe, both highly recommended by my ultra-scientific Twitter poll.
At Joe’s Inn, we opted for Peanut Butter Pie with Oreo Crust. Next time you stop in, I suggest you do the same. A fair weather friend of peanut butter, even I loved this one. A smooth and delicate balance of peanut butter and cream evidenced homemade preparation, while Oreo crust and mini chocolate chips sealed the deal with a satisfying crunch and pleasing color contrast to the peanut butter mousse.
Strawberry Apple Pie awaited us at Garnett’s Cafe (pictured). I love their pairing of two common pie fruits, whose combination is rather uncommon. More should try it – the result was fantastic. I find strawberry pies can be overly sweet, particularly in the sweltering summer months. Apples kept the flavor profile a bit mellower, allowing the pie’s buttery, dense crust to shine through. My only unfulfilled wish? To have tried it straight out of the oven. Our room-temp serving was tasty, but there’s no comparison to freshly baked pie, all cool crust and warm, hidden filling.
Conducting this research confirmed my hypothesis: Mr. Heller is deranged. Pie is pretty much the best thing ever. So, Mr. Heller – care to join us in the Fan for a slice? If Richmond’s bakers can’t save him from a life sans pie, no one can.
An RVA newbie, but no stranger to the comforts of Southern cuisine, Diana spent her formative years picking crabs in Baltimore. W&M drew her to Virginia and she’s never looked back. Check her out on Tumblr and Twitter.