WHERE ARE YOU GETTING YOUR THANKSGIVING PIES THIS YEAR?
I once wrote a piece for the New York Observer advocating the nation skip the turkey, stuffing, and sweet potatoes, and opt for an all pie Thanksgiving meal. A meal consisting of, say, half a dozen pies would indeed be one that serious eaters would be thankful for.
To encourage serious eaters everywhere to take up my all pie Thanksgiving cause I am going to try to guide readers and users to the best pies available, both in New York, via mail order, and elsewhere (later this week)...
A list of my preferred pie bakers and purveyors in and around New York, along with a not entirely positive assessment of one of New York's best-known pie bakeries. Also, a word about pie prices in New York. Pies have become ridiculously expensive in this town. I had a $27 pumpkin pie from a branch of Kitchenette called Homemade on the upper west side that was boring, flavorless, and downright awful.
Yura & Co. 1650 Third Ave. (92nd St.) 212-860-8060.:Yura's ready to bake apple cider pie can (if you choose to) convince your guests that you baked the Yura pie yourself. This is the only pie you can buy that will fill your house with that irresistable just baked apple pie perfume.
Other pies available: Pumpkin, Sweet Potato-Pecan. Serious Eats Pie Ranking: #2
Two Little Red Hens, 1112 8th Ave. (11th St.) 718-499-8108, 1652 Second Ave. (85th St.) 212-452-0476: Christina Winkler worked long and hard on getting her crust right, and she succeeded. Her shortening and butter crust is spot on, flaky, moist and irresistable.
Pies available: Apple, Apple Crumb, Apple-Cranberry, Fall Medley, Pumpkin, Sweet-Potato Pecan, Chocolate-Pecan Pie, Buttermilk Chess
I think that Two Little Red Hens may be the best all-around pie shop in New York. Serious Eats Ranking: #1
Eli's Manhattan, 1411 Third Avenue (81st St.),212-717-8100 ,Eli's Vinegar Factory, 431 E. 91st St (bet. First and York) 212-987-0885.: Eli Zabar's apple pie is more like a cross between a traditional apple pie and a tarte tatin. The apples are cooked before they go into the pie, and have that delicious caramelized taste the apples have in a tarte tatin. The reasonably delicate lattice crust is a nice little bonus. Other pies sold here: Pecan, Pumpkin
Fairway, 2127 Broadway (74th St.) 212-595-1888: The irascible, idiosyncratic Mitchel London is back at the culinary helm at Fairway, and serious eaters everywhere should rejoice. Mitchel's apple pie is a mile high and filled with just firm enough, cooked apples. I wish his crust was flakier, though. Fairway carries many kinds of pies at Thanksgiving. You have to ask for Mitchel's pies to make sure you're getting the right ones. Other Mitchel London pies available: Pecan, Pumpkin
Soutine, 104 W. 70th St. (just west of Columbus Ave.) 212-496-1450: Madge Rosenberg is a first-rate pie baker and human being. In her postage stamp-sized bakery she turns out very good pies. What's available: Apple, Pumpkin, Cranberry-Cherry, Key Lime. Serious Eats Pie Ranking: #5
Little Pie Company The pies at LPC are decent, don't get me wrong. The sour cream apple walnut is often imitated AND duplicated,. The last double-crusted apple pie I bought at the LPC in Grand Central was ice cold, had a truly awful crust that was stiff as a board( perhaps because it was covered in plastic wrap). I wouldn't wait on line for these pies. You shouldn't, either.
Clinton Street Baking Company, 4 Clinton St. (bet. E. Houston and Stanton Sts.) 646-602-6263: Neil Kleinberg quietly turns out some of the best comfort food and baked goods in the city. Pies available:
Organic Apple Crumb, Maple Bourbon Pecan
Wimps, 29 W. 125th St. 212-410-2296: When Georgie and James Bryant packed up their doughnut fryers and closed Georgie's Bakery, and the Better Crust Bakery also closed its doors, it was left to Wimp's to pick up the Harlem pie slack. Preferred Pies: Sweet Potato, Coconut Custard, Apple Crumb Pie
Sweet Melissa's Patisserie 276 Court St. (Douglass), Carroll Gardens, 718-855-3410, 175 7th Ave. (1st and 2nd Sts), Park Slope, 718-502-9153. Melissa makes excellent pies, and even better butterscotch pudding. Pies available: Apple, Maple-Pecan, Pear-Cranberry with Ginger Snap crust, Chocolate Bourbon Pecan. Serious Eats Pie Ranking: #3
Briermere Farms 4414 Sound Ave. Riverhead, LI, 631-722-3931: North Fork summer and year-round residents can't imagine a Thanksgiving without Briermere Farms pies, with good reason. The crust is flaky and the fillings are much more fruit than goop. What's available: Just about every pie variety on the planet. Serious Eats Pie Ranking: #4
Round Swamp Farm, 184 3 Mile Harbor Rd. East Hampton, LI, 631-324-4438: Round Swamp Farms may make the most expensive pies in the universe, but their East End customers know they may be worth taking a second mortgage out for. Pies available: Pumpkin, Cranberry-Apple Crumb, Pecan, Apple Crumb, TriBerry Crumb.
There are other pies worth considering. Has anyone ever ordered a pie from wichcraft? Karen DeMasco is one of the country's great bakers, so I bet her pies are pretty damned fine. What about One Girl Cookies in Brooklyn at 68 Dean St. (212) 675-4996? Rob Patronite and Robin Raisfeld wrote glowingly of One Girl's apple pie last year in New York Magazine, but I don't know how much passion they have for pie. Has anyone ever had a pie from Duane Park Patisserie? Madeline Lanciani makes the city's best apple turnovers, so it stands to reason that she also makes a mean apple pie. If we're going to convince the city and the country that my all-pie Thanksgiving is a good idea, we need as many first-rate pie bakers as possible. Any nominees?
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