Friday, October 26, 2012

The Twin Cities Pie Experiments!

Heya, this is Robbie!

My girlfriend alerted me to the Twin Cities Pie Experiment at the beginning of September, and I'd been looking forward to it all month. We signed up, brainstormed what we could make. A facebook posting lead to such ideas from Curry Pie, Thai Pie, Oreo pie. Two experimental pies I'd made before were Pumpkin pie that looks like a lemon-meringue pie, and a gluten-free raspberry pie. We went with the GF raspberry pie, because it was delicious. We didn't do hardly any preparation beforehand, which probably put us at a disadvantage to everyone else there. The man running the event was Theo Peck, who was pretty darn charismatic and fun to talk to, although both times I saw him, at the Pie Experiment Pre-party at Stanley's Northeast Bar, and the main event, he was rather intoxicated.

The process for making our pies started Saturday night. We prepared the crusts, which were made out of cocoa, ground almonds & coconut, and rice flour. They were sweetened with honey, held together with butter, canola oil, and water. After chilling for three hours, we cut the dough roughly into sixths and then thawing for an hour, we rolled them out and pressed the dough into pie tins. We had six 8-inch pie tins, and had enough dough to fill them all,  ith leftover. The crusts baked for only 5 minutes at 400 ˚F. The baking is only meant to gelate the rice starch and make sure they conform the the pan. The crusts were left out over night to cool. 

The next day, we cooked down frozen raspberries with red wine and balsamic vinegar, sweetened with 4 cups of sugar, thickened with a box of pectin and a quarter cup of rice flour. We diced strawberries, and tossed the strawberries, fresh raspberries, and the strained raspberry jelly. We also made a whipped cream, lightly sweetened and heavily cardamom-ed. We filled 5 pies, and wrapped up them all up right around noon.

Our Pie, tabled.
The event itself took place at the Fine Line Music Café in downtown Minneapolis. We got everything in there and set up. There were twenty other competitors, and Rose and I seemed to be among the least prepared. Some of the competitors had made a mini brand for themselves, for example, "Quality Pies". Right around 1:00, people started trickling in. People went around the pies circuitously, when I'm pretty sure the intention was for people to do more of a mingle-thing. For the next two hours, we handed out at least one hundred pie samples, all the while saying "It's a gluten-free chocolate crust with a red wine raspberry filling, topped with a cardamom whipped cream". Definitely said that fifty times. We were judged by local foodies, notably Kim Ode of the Star Tribune (who I've met before through the St. Paul Bread Club), and the owner of the bakery Patisserie 46.

GrHOPfruit pie - Way underrated!

I had to make my own rounds of the pies. The ones I can remember best 
Pluot pie - Way Overrated!!!
were the pluot pie (nothing special!!!), a grapefruit & beer pie (delicious! though no one thought so), a coffee-chocolate-whole hazelnut pie (super rich & super good), and the so-called Tardis Blueberries (I'm still wondering what made them deserve the title Tardis - they just had a lot of lemon...). There were also a few savory pies, a curry pie that I thought to be too bland, and a shepard's pie that was done real well. Also, there were way too many normal apple pies. Like, four or five. Come on people, this is a pie EXPERIMENT, not a show-your-pie-off. Jeez.
Curry pie???

Around 3, the doors were closed and a lot fewer people were coming in, and the voting was called to a close. The judges AND the audience chose the pluot pie for second place, which really made me mad. But the lady who was voted in first place deserved it by far. I voted for her! She had a mexican chocolate hand pie, and it was flopping incredible. The perfect amount of spicyness, not overly rich but definitely creamy & dark & good, with a wonderfully flaky crust. She won a trip to the National Food Experiments hosted by the same people.
Chocolate, hazelnut, coffee pie. Mmmmm...

    I know I wasn't competing to win - I didn't expect I'd win. But gosh, it would have been real nice to get a Le Creuset dutch oven for free....

Oh well. It was a lot of fun! 
Theo Peck - The man behind it all!
Meat hand pie & Sweet potato hand pie 

Some of the competitors

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