Yesterday, I attended a fantastic event called "Holiday Pie Mania" in Santa Fe, NM. As the name might imply, this event was highly magical.
Put on by The Food Depot, this event was designed as a benefit and fundraiser, including raffles, pie auctions, and demos by some of Santa Fe's most famous and talented chefs. Oh, and proceeds from the pie auction and raffles go directly to The Food Depot’s “Building Hope Project.” The project’s goal is to build a 16,000-square-foot warehouse on Santa Fe's Siler Road that will significantly increase The Food Depot’s capacity, allowing distribution of 10 million meals per year.
So, good pie, good cause, right? Oh, and did I mention that admission was free, and there were samples of all the pies so that you could taste before bidding via auction or entering the raffle? Fantastic deal! And a great opportunity to try desserts from some of Santa Fe's finest eateries.
First up: a Banana Amaretto Chocolate Mousse Pie, from a restaurant called Osteria D'Assisi. Hello, pie. This rich pie had a tantalizingly toasty topping which turned out to be crumbled cookies--I say "buon pie, bambino!". Actually, I don't speak Italian, in case you couldn't tell. But I really, really liked the pie. Oh, and did I mention each vendor/exhibitor had a recipe for the taking?
Next up was a big treat: Chocolate Pecan Pie from Cafe Pasqual's. This is a famous restaurant, and with good reason. I can say that because I have now tasted one of their desserts. If you are what you eat then I'm now a jolly millionaire, because this pie is so delightfully rich. Sort of like a re-imagined Derby Pie, this delectable treat made me want to lick the plate. I would have, too, if there weren't people watching.
Oh, they also had apples baked in pie crust. But between you and I, I thought this was sort of like health food so admired the visual but kept my distance and took another piece of the pecan choco stuff.
Oh, I love you, Cafe Pasqual's. Promise I'm gonna come eat cuisine there soon, and more dessert.
Next, I got to try a Jamaican Rum Pecan Pie from Jambo Cafe, an award-winning ethnic cafe. It was like a pecan pie, only more attractive and funnier due to the rum. Funny how alcohol does that, isn't it? The homemade cream to top it with didn't hurt, either!
Next, I tried the thing pictured above. What is it, you ask? Well...it is pumpkin pie, but not like one you've ever tasted before. It's a signature dessert at Azur, a mediterranean restaurant in Santa Fe:
It had Green Chile! This maybe is not a very Mediterranean thing to do, but it is a very Santa Fe thing to do, in case you didn't know. But it's also highly delicious. It lent the pumpkin a slightly savory, smoky aftertaste - I found it a fascinating flavor.
Leaving pumpkin and pecan for a moment...Well, howsabout a Pear Almond Cream pie? This baby came from Ristra, a France-New Mexico cuisine fusion restaurant (no, really). The fellow serving the pie was indeed French, and cute as a button (what Frenchman isn't?). This delicious beast was served in puff pastry, which made for a lovely butteriness and crispiness on the top and outer edges.
The Four Seasons Hotel of Santa Fe played Showoff in a most whimsical and charming way with their "Pumpkin Pie Candy Bar". It was a rather perfect bite, with rich pumpkin creamy filling atop a buttery crust, with a gorgeous candied walnut and perfect meringue on top.
Dinner For Two had mini pies: Butterscotch, with Salted caramel cream on top. Knowing that salted caramel was very trendy, the chef joked "I considered adding bacon". I'm so glad he didn't, because it was so good as it was: buttery, creamy, rich, with that beautiful rounding-it-out-and-making-it-linger-in-your-mouth thing that salted caramel does. Very nice work.
Next up was a Pomegranate Mousse pie by Walter Burke Catering. We were also treated to a demo by chef Stacy Pearl, who detailed and broke down the baking process. Or rather, no-bake process. Made of a pressed graham cracker crust and cream, pomegranate syrup, and white chocolate filling, this pie is surprisingly easy to make and startlingly but beautifully tart.
Finally, a vegan and gluten-free blueberry pie from Body Cafe. To me, this tasted almost like the pie version of the Vegan Oat Bars I came to know and love at Seattle's Caffe Ladro. The great thing about a pie like this is that you can eat it and convince yourself that you are eating something healthy, like the pie equivalent of oatmeal. Truthfully, you're not. But it's that perception that makes you feel awesome about what you're doing. And it makes you feel ready for chocolate pie to follow up.
Man, was this an awesome day!
I'm happy to share the recipes I've collected - just leave a comment and I will share them with you!