From Louisville, Ky.
CurvyMama was delighted to find that one of the Pie Shops On Our List was in this city where my newspaper was actually paying me to go for a story. So when there was a lull in the action, I made an escape to Homemade Ice Cream and Pie Kitchen.
Folks in Louisville love their pie enough that the shop, open since 1982, now boasts nine locations. The one I visited was in the lower Highlands neighborhood, a couple miles southeast of the downtown bustle.
A very nice cab driver named Earl did the honors, regaling me the whole way there (and back again) with tales of the pies his father used to bake for him when he was a boy. His favorite was a Golden Delicious apple pie. These days, he takes his apple pie with a slice of cheddar cheese on it. I’m not a fan of apple pie, but I can’t seem to shake that apple-pie-and-cheese idea. I might have to do that soon.
But first, let me tell you about this monument to pie love in Kentucky. Yes, they have ice cream. And baked goods such as cakes. And most locations include a deli. But the sheer volume of pie they make is impressive. When I visited, they had 24 types in the case, including no-sugar cherry and apple, and uncommon flavors like butterscotch meringue and chocolate-covered cherry.
The manager told me that the bakers, who arrive at each location around 4 a.m. daily, typically make two of each kind, except for the top favorites, of which they make five or six daily: Dutch apple with caramel, chocolate chess, and traditional Kentucky chocolate nut bourbon.
The chocolate nut bourbon pie, she said, hastening to add that the Dutch apple with caramel was supremely popular as well. That was a vision I could hardly resist: I took a slice of each.
The caramel apple was not my thing at all, unfortunately. I should have been tipped off by the thick slab of brown-sugar icing on top. The apple filling was unobjectionable, though a bit finely chopped for my taste. But the icing, combined with an underlayer of sprinkled brown sugar, proved too cloying for me. A few bites and I was done.
A delicious layer of that classic pecan-pie goo, with tiny chocolate chips sparingly scattered between it and a floating layer of pecans. The nuts tasted as if someone had toasted or roasted them ahead of time; yum.
The crust was flaky and tender. The manager wouldn’t disclose the shop’s crust ingredients, but I’m guessing that they use all shortening, judging by the absence of any butter taste, and the perfect formation the crust maintained on the back end of an outing in a hot oven:
Delicious as it was, I left half the nut-bourbon pie on the plate. I was stuffed, and Earl was on his way back to get me. A great pie pilgrimage, though. It’s worth a stop if you find yourself in Louisville.