I have embarked on a new journey- a journey of pie.
It began Saturday, after an early dinner of shawarma with two of my closest friends. I shall introduce them to you as Killer Queen and the Doctor Esquire. The plan was to leave our lovely shawarma for a production of Twelfth Night in which Killer Queen's brother was starring. But before the play, Dr. Esq. decided to treat us girls to desert at Underbelly.
Underbelly is a relatively new restaurant in town- highbrow, very posh, don'cha know?- and home to the dubious character of Vinegar Pie. That pie was the sole reason Dr. Esq. wanted to go there. He seemed so happy, telling us about his secret treat as he watched our faces. We were surprised and wary. Vinegar is something for fish and dirty counter tops. Its wine gone wrong.
Its pie gone good.
The pie came and, while I was not impressed sufficiently to warrant the gold-gilded price tag, I was intrigued. It was yummy. Pale yellow colour, light flavour, smooth texture. I don't remember the crust, other than that it was good. I decided, looking at Dr Esq. in his sheer, bubbly, pie-induced happiness, that I had to make this pie. Moreover, I had to make it better.
That night, Dr. Esq. invited KQ and me to his family beach house with a couple of other friends for the 4th of July. Perfect. I had an occasion, a deadline, and promise of hungry guinea pigs. It was time for me to make some pie.
A quick foray to Pinterest showed me no one else seemed to even know of the pie. A quick trot to Google led me to a recipe from someone's grandmother and the late 1800's.
I have no pictures of my own, unfortunately, but here is the link to the original vintage recipe.
The recipe is full of spice with a pastry crust and used cider vinegar. I was not up to the challenge of a pastry crust and, since I was house sitting that week and using someone else's pantry, I had no cider vinegar. Fortunately, I can improvise. Seasoned Rice vinegar was at my disposal and a full bag of amoretti cookies. These cookies would make my crust, which turned out beautifully. I couldn't find any ground cinnamon, coves, or nutmeg- only whole sticks and nuts. While the grinding of the spices was tedious (I used a microplane, and a spice-bottle and cutting board for mortar and pestle) I think it added to the flavour. It certainly made the kitchen smell intoxicatingly wonderful. To be fair, I must say here that Dr. Esq. helped microplane the cinnamon and that he did a wonderful job.
My two pies turned out more flat, lower to the crust, and darker than the Underbelly pie. They were more fragrant and a very different flavour- more spicy, darker, and still good. We ate some that night before it had completely set in the fridge.
The second pie, which I made for the 4th, we let chill completely. Unfortunately it partially un-set while waiting for us swimmers to tire of the sea. This made it kind of oily, but the flavour was still the same.
After everyone else had been dropped off at his or her own homes that evening, Dr. Esq. asked for another slice of the first pie that I had kept reserved in the refrigerator.
It was set, cold, and perfectly scrumptious.
We talked about various things that could be changed about the flavour and texture, but, in the end, he pointed out that he felt it was already good enough as is and that I was welcome to make some more for him anytime.
And yet, I still want to make some adjustments.
I need to work on the crust, either by finding a cookie recipe to use specifically for this pie or by learning how to make a pastry crust.
I also want to tweak the flavour, experiment with fruit, extracts, and different vinegars.
Changing up the texture is my main goal. I want the pie to stand taller and be smoother on the tongue.
I will record the progress of my journey here, but for now, I sit here on a couch, nursing a sunburn with a tall mug of tea and a thin slice of Vinegar Pie.