Behind the Scenes with a Judge from Roosevelt Row/Phoenix New Times’ Pie Social

As followers of this page know, our Pie Social event went down this past weekend. We got good weather, good tunes, and some wild pies. I was one of the event’s judges. It was a good gig. The judges’ table practically creaked under tens of thousands of calories, hundreds of grams of sugar, and every sweet color you can dream. It was a sight.

Here are three pies that really surprised me. These aren’t necessarily my three favorites of the group. Rather, each of these gently slapped my head sideways in a way I wasn’t expecting.

Cheeky Cherry from Holly Heizenrader, MacAlpine’s Diner and Soda Fountain
Some pies were traditional, some pies were creative. Heizenrader’s cherry pie was the former. Maybe that’s why I wasn’t expecting such flavor. This pie, oozing with molten cherry goodness, located whatever part of the brain is responsible for the experience of cherry. It then pushed the pedal all the way down. Nothing fancy here, other than the pie’s elegant appearance. Just a damn good pie.

Guinness Stew Patsy from Dean Thomas, Cornish Pasty Co.
A savory pie. Interesting. It takes some moxie to enter a savory pie into a competition like Pie Social. The effect of eating a bunch of sweet pies and then sinking my teeth into this pasty, loaded with tender meat, was to throw the savory flavors into richer relief. Going sweet and then savory accentuated the savory. I don’t know if there is any science behind why this is, but I strongly feel that the transition made the meat’s decadence, the flaky shell, and the cool cream that much better. Also: It was lunch time.

Salted Caramel with Pistachio and Cherries from Monique Kauppi, The Herb Box
The dark chocolate flavor of Kauppi’s pie came like an avalanche. It kept on coming and coming even after the flavors of pistachio and caramel had fallen away. One judge said she got a kind of chocolate brain freeze from the rush of pure cacao to the head. No such thing as chocolate too dark, in my opinion. This was easily the most intensely flavored pie of the bunch. You could see that on the faces of folks who tasted it. Between this pie, the other two, and the remaining 12, it was a nice run this year.

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By NOVEMBER 22, 2017
(Original post)