From Leesburg, Va.
CurvyMama’s got another pie-shop report for you. I hopped in my little cherry-red SUV on a glorious fall day and drove out to Leesburg, Virginia, picking up a friend along the way, to try the pie at a place whose name virtually defies a bad review:
I enlisted a pie-loving friend (who was kind enough to take time out of a family trip to Atlanta recently to review a pie shop there) to serve as a second taster. We were excited to try the pie at Mom’s. A friend of mine at work had spoken warmly of it; my fellow taster had done her homework on Yelp, and the reviews were encouraging. As she and I drove west on Leesburg Pike toward this little pie shop, we were delighted with the first view: an utterly adorable, tiny, stone-fronted shop squeezed into a little triangle of space at a fork in the road.
This 1930s-era building, once a Texaco station, is barely big enough to fit a couple of small pastry cases into, but Mom’s makes the most of the space. There are whole pies, and pies by the slice, stacked cheek by jowl. Cherry, peach, berry, Boston cream, chocolate cream, banana cream, coconut meringue, almond Amaretto chess, and more jostle for attention. There are also stacks of fat cookies, and big chunks of Texas chocolate cake (named, we were told, mostly for its size). All the baking is done in a larger building out back, which used to be the gas station’s car repair shop.
We bought slices of double-crust cherry and chocolate cream. I didn’t get a pic of the chocolate for you (sorry), but no matter, because it’s best to let it fade from my memory. We were told that the shop has eschewed its all-shortening crust for a combo of shortening and butter, but this crust didn’t offer a trace of butter. It was pale, mealy and pretty tasteless. The filling was an admirable shade of brown, but tasted more of cornstarch than chocolate, which seemed to be backed up by how stiffly it held its shape. The whipped cream was fine, though; obviously made from real cream, and with a nice touch of sweetness.
The cherry experience opened with more promise; a nice egg wash gave the crust an appealing amber glaze, and the gal behind the counter had told us they get their sour cherries from Michigan. When we tasted it, we ended with a split vote. My friend was singularly unimpressed, and thought the glaze-to-cherry ratio in the filling shortchanged the cherries. I would have liked a bit less glaze as well, but I thought the cherries themselves had great flavor, and the crust was better than the one in the chocolate cream pie. It had a firmer texture, and a deeper flavor, so I’m guessing that this one used at least some butter.I bought two whole pies, a cherry and a coconut cream, to bring to the office tomorrow, thinking this would support a member of Pie Nation, give me a chance to taste another of Mom’s pies, and thrill my newsroom colleagues to bits. I was less than enchanted by the look of the coconut meringue, though:
That is one stiff little slice of pie. A mouthful of the coconut cream left me cold, and that is saying something, since I would happily spread myself on the tracks in front of an oncoming train for a piece of truly heavenly coconut cream pie. The coconut flavor tasted artificial, and there was an unpleasant coating on my tongue when the pie and I parted ways.
Go ahead and call me un-American for saying less-than-glowing things about Mom’s Apple Pie; I’ve been called worse. My sampling had too many scientific shortcomings to mention, so that could well be the problem here. All I know is that I had hoped for better. The search, and the yearnings, continue.
Please write in with suggestions for pie places to add to our list, or become a member of our PieTasting Posse and document your pie adventures for us. Here’s hoping one of us finds a real gem soon.