Sunday, November 29, 2009

The End of the Beginning

Well, Thanksgiving has come to an end, ushering in the beginning of the rest of the holidays. Soon, the malls and shopping centers will be choked to overflowing with raging, zombie-like, consumer whores. Soon the television will be screaming desperate screams to come in and, for the love of Christ, shop. But before all of that, we have the simplicity of Thanksgiving. It's all about getting together for a big meal... and that's it. Nothing else. No gifts. No decorations. No maxed-out credit cards. Just food, family, and friends.

In all honestly, Thanksgiving is also one of those days where I would jump straight to the dessert if I could. Pies are usually had, and pies are one step below Ambrosia for me. Trust me, it is not possible to live on pie, because if it was, I'd be doing it.

As I mentioned in a previous post, The Village Hearth, likely my favorite bakery in Rhode Island, had pies available for order. My sister was making the apple pie, so I didn't get to try that one, but we ordered one of the other two: pecan maple brandy, and sweet potato pumpkin.

I'm not the biggest fan of pumpkin pie. Never have been. I don't really enjoy the flavor and the texture is just terrible. The weird, gelatinous body makes me feel like I'm eating a large, whipped booger. I'm also not the biggest fan of pecan pie. So of the two pies that I did purchase, I'm not a big fan of either.

That affords me an interesting perspective, though. Namely, I can say how someone who doesn't like the pies, likes the pies. And I say very well. The pecan pie is the best pecan pie I've ever had. It's sweet, earthy flavors and gritty, sugary texture paired well with the more savory, soft texture of the nuts. As I said, it's hard for me to say anything definitively since I've only ever eaten three slices of pecan pie in my life, but for my friends and family, all fans of pecan pie, it's easy to say. Universally, this was the best pecan pie that they've ever had.

The pumpkin pie was also a hit. The decorative leafs on top and deep color made the pie attractive, to say the least. It was palatable. That's saying a lot. The sweet potato, aside from adding some real depth to the flavor, also lended texture. The aforementioned gelatinous texture of pumpkin pie was kept at bay, and made the pie feel like something in my mouth. The best pumpkin pie I've ever had. And I've actually tried a lot. Everyone else seems to enjoy pumpkin pie so damned much, why can't I?! Ah well. Again, with others, the pie was a big success. Not orgasmic, like the pecan pie, but excellent nonetheless.

One thing I want to mention, though, is the crust. Oh how sweet it is. It was dense, DENSE, crispy, with great snap, and buttery beyond belief. This is where the real quality of the pies stood out for me. The crust alone distanced the pies from anything that is purchasable anywhere else. La Salle, Seven Stars, Emilio's, they all pale in comparison.

Simply because they had it, we also ordered a loaf of cranberry chocolate bread. I've never been the biggest fan of dessert breads. It just makes no sense to me. It's as though someone set out to make cake and somehow got lost along the way. Regardless, I liked the bread. We went digging around our fridge and found a variety of jams and jellies that went very well with the dark chocolate and tart cranberries inside the bread. We heated it up, which brought back the crisp to the outside, and piled high. One thing that blew our mind? This bread went really well with turkey. Turkey! With chocolate and cranberries! Who knew that poultry went well with cocoa?

Now, the pies are all gone, the stomachs are still distended, and the shopping season is beginning in earnest. Soon, people will be shooting each other for Zhu Zhu pets, flipping each other the bird in traffic, hollering and gesticulating in parking lots, and peace and goodwill will descend upon the sphere. Santa will complete his heathen trip across the sky. Jewish Santa will deliver crappy gifts to Jewish kids. And at the end of it all, I'll get another chance to eat pie. Happy holidays, indeed.

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