Next week my grandmother turns 102. So many people have asked her
what her secret is. All I can tell you is that she doesn't smoke,
although she did years ago. She takes an Aspirin each day. She eats what
she likes, but just not too much of it. She drinks Campari and soda
when the occasion calls for it, or perhaps a little bit of Port after
dinner. She's always well-dressed and coiffed. She lives alone and still
throws fabulous get-togethers in her impeccably appointed apartment.
This year for her birthday she has asked for pie. Only pie. So we're having a family pie contest. My cousin Mark, who isn't a sweets person, is making Shepherd's Pie for our dinner and the rest of us are making dessert pies. My cousin David, who won the Macaroni and Cheese contest last year, is already sending me text message threats of another win this year.
Here are my top picks for this year's contest. What do you think?
No.1 - Momofuku Milk Bar's Crack Pie.
This is one of my all time favorite pies. The salty sweet goodness is
cold and dense and difficult to put down. In fact, just when you think
you can't eat another bite, you want more. It's much like my candy but
in pie form. The recipe takes fifteen hours. That should throw the
family off a little bit. Also, it's an unusual pie. It's not topped with
anything other than a dusting of powdered sugar and can seriously stand
on its own. It's my top choice for the contest.
No. 2 - Maple, Apple, and Cheddar Pie.
Ok, this sounds bad. But Apple pie is my grandmother's favorite and she
loves heating it up and adding a slice of cheddar cheese to the top.
That may be a Northern thing. So, what if the cheese were IN the pie?
Would it be overkill or just killing two birds with one stone?
No. 3 - Sunshine's Key Lime Pie. Mari and Poppop moved to Siesta Key, Sarasota in 1974. Since then, Mari has fallen in love with key limes. (Key limes are true limes in my opinion.) The description of this pie by Norman Van Aken is just so delectable that I want to try it. A girl named Sunshine bicycles in and hands over two perfect pies. Perfectly scrumptious, I say.
No. 4 - Limoncello Lemon Meringue Pie. Mari is a sucker for tart and nippy flavors. She loves citrus flavors and since we live in Florida I easily gravitate toward lemon. She's travelled the world and one of her favorite flavors (and mine) is Limoncello liqueur. It's the flavor of Italy. For me, it's the flavor of Bologna, but for her it's the flavor of Naples. Maybe a slice of this pie will have her zooming down the Amalfi coast in a sporty convertible with a dark-haired stranger at the wheel. That actually sounds more like an abduction than an attraction.
I'm a bit torn even though I've mostly decided on the Crack Pie recipe. I love citrus. It's the perfect season for it. Trees all over the neighborhood are heavy with ripe fruit.
Maybe I'll make two pies. Wish me luck!