Sunday, March 20, 2011

Foreign Correspondent: Urban Gastronomy

As 2011 has been declared "the year of the pie" Jersey Pie has expanded operations. In addition to seeking out the best pie available to us in our home environs and posting our observations we will, whenever possible, submit reports on all things pie from correspondents outside of Jersey for your amusement and edification. First up, The Big Apple.

Urban Gastronomy for Jersey Pie

It was a cold February night, the type where most people cozy up next to a fire with a well made Manhattan or a neat pour of fine Scotch. All right, okay. I see what you might be thinking. Maybe most people don’t do that, but if I had a fireplace I surely would. But, I don’t. And I had a mission.

My mission was to eat pie at one of two places recently raved about in "Move over, cupcakes: Pie is the hot new dessert trend"--the very same article in the New Jersey Record that featured Jersey Pie. This was a most delicious mission indeed.

I should be honest about something before we go any further. Until recently, I wasn’t really that into pie. And still, given a choice, I’ll go for the molten chocolate cake or an after-dinner cocktail instead. So, I don’t have the connoisseur qualifications of our friends at Jersey Pie. But, that said, I do enjoy a good dessert.

So, on that frigid eve, I stood ogling the menu at momofuku milk bar with LP. We had decided to have pie before we had dinner at ssäm bar. Why not? We were celebrating LP’s birthday, and if you can’t have dessert before birthday dinner when can you?

The menu did not offer a traditional selection—no apple, cherry or lemon custard to behold. But, there was a slice that I suspected would satisfy even a staunch chocolateer like myself--candy bar pie! Chocolate crust, caramel, peanut butter nougat, pretzels--the words called to me like sirens on dessert seas!

I took a moment to quiz the gentleman at the counter. There are no actual store-bought candy bars in that pie, are there? I’m sure my question was annoying, but I’m that kind of girl. Food merchants all over town find me slightly exasperating because of my questions (e.g., Does that oat scone contain any whole grain flour? Is the chai latte made with a pre-sweetened mix or is it real tea with steamed milk and honey?) No apologies! An urban gastronomer has to have her standards.

The counter man at momofuku milk bar assured me that all parts of the candy bar pie were house made. So, I ordered it with glee (which is not to say that I sang about it, but rather that I ordered with a joyful heart--candy bar pie!).

LP chose their trademarked crack pie with a ‘toasted oat crust’ and ‘gooey butter filling’ because who, really, can refuse trademarked crack? Who?

We awaited pie with great anticipation. I envisioned a radically decadent yet elegant slice, carefully lifted from the pie plate and artfully arranged so its buttery insides ooze here and there over that dark chocolaty crust. What a surprise it was when the counter man deftly handed me a little cardboard envelope.

Momofuko pie is not your traditional fruit slice. It has a modern sensibility about it--portable pie for an on-the-go world. This is pie you can eat walking down the street while updating your FB status on your smart phone. I sighed. The part of me that likes pie is nostalgic. I wanted that fresh out-of-the-oven feeling. But, I put it aside. Pie can come in all kinds of packages and still be delicious, right?

Well, maybe... The crack pie was reminiscent of dulche de leche, but unlike its name suggested, we were neither high nor crazy about getting the next slice. If you'd like to try making it at home, the recipe is available on Epicurious.

The candy bar pie was achingly sweet. Three small bites, and I was done, but I do have a low sugar tolerance. A study of the label revealed a long complicated list of ingredients... way too many for pie! But I did finish the slice, bite by bite over the next four days…

Whether you venture to momofuko milk bar should depend upon your taste. If you are a die-hard pie traditionalist, then my friend, it is not for you. If you like your desserts super sweet and also want the flexibility to eat pie on the go, well this is your spot!


Mia said...

I totally would have gotten the franken pie because I like a bite of everything.

(Of course, I notice that they have their amazing pork buns on the menu. I've loved them ever since I first tasted them at Momofuku Ssäm when it was still cafeteria style. Mmmmmm. But this isn't jerseyporkbun.)

Christina Saylor said...

Aah, but pork bun is kind of like pie... We did indeed start with pork buns at ssam bar, and they were mighty good.