If you follow the pie press or the more important pie blogs or you read Elizabeth’s earlier post, you know that Elizabeth won the Enid’s Apple Pie Contest last year, entitling her to be a judge for this year’s face-off. However, as she mentioned, she can’t eat nuts or eggplant and therefore can’t eat forty random pies that strangers may have put nuts and eggplant into. But I can eat forty weird pies with nuts and eggplant (although I’m not especially fond of eggplant), so I filled in. And I thought I would like eating forty weird pies, but in the end I realized two things:
1. Living with Elizabeth has really skewed my idea of what your average apple pie tastes like. When I went to my ten-year high school reunion, I went to the bar and I ordered a Stella because I was like that’s a beer that every bar has that I don’t mind. But the bartender looked at me like I’d just ordered a cup of pink diamonds or a bust of Louis XIV. And I wasn’t even trying to be a snob (in which case I actually would have ordered a cup of pink diamonds and then gone over and told the band to please stop playing “Life in the Fast Lane.”) I’d just grown accustomed to Stella being my minimum acceptable beer living NYC. Well, that’s how I am with apple pie now. I just walk up to the bar and ask for a pie with a flaky crust, apples that are soft but not mushy, and a good balance of flavors and the pie bartender is all “We’ve just got this grocery store pie” and the jukebox is playing “Riders on the Storm.”
2. That’s a lot of pie.
As it turns out, there weren’t a lot of pies with nuts in them and everyone had the good sense to avoid eggplant, but there was a lot of bacon and cheese. Pork is really big these days, because it’s like eating a person who is a jerk and has bad table manners, but legal. And I’m not a contrarian- I like pork chops and pork belly and pork shoulder and ham and bacon. One of my favorite winter dinners is a pork shoulder and apple stew. However, I thought most of the bacon-cheese apple pies were pretty f’n gross. The bacon in a lot of them was chewy and the cheeses tended to be really sharp or really pungent cheeses that totally overpowered the apples.
I would say of the other losing pies, the biggest problem was that the apples were too mushy. Like apple sauce or a McDonald’s apple pie, but without the crust that I remember as being pretty good. I haven’t had a McDonald’s apple pie since I was a kid, so who knows how good they are? Do they even still have them?
The winners were really good though. You could tell right away that they were winners. The first prize winner was so good that I actually ate a whole piece of it even though I got to it pretty well into the contest. It had a really flaky crust, it was a little savory and a little sweet. There was some rosemary involved. It was delicious and it was almost a unanimous first place. I didn’t think I was going to like the second place pie because it had a lattice top and I don’t rally like a lattice top on an apple pie. I’m sorry, that’s just how I am. But it proved me wrong, the filling was fantastic and the crust was good. It was a really tight lattice, so that’s practically not a lattice is how I justify it to myself. The third place had sage and brown butter and had a very savory crust.
At the end of the night, I ate so much pie that even now- two weeks later- my stomach turns a little at the thought of apple pie. But you don’t want to hear about my problems, you’ve got problems of your own. What problems, you ask? Well, turn around, there’s a some weirdo with a crazed look in his eyes peering in your window. Well, I’ll leave you two to it.