Posts Tagged ‘Hedy Goldsmith’

Let them eat pie! The heart shaped strawberry tart took first place.

For the second year in a row, Slow Food Miami held its pie baking contest. This year there were a few changes. The event moved to the historic Barnacle House in Coconut Grove, and your ticket also got you a fried chicken dinner prepared by Sustain restaurant, with sides from Whole Foods. But the heart of the event stayed the same — to choose the best homemade pie made with local (Florida) or home grown ingredients.

Jan Anderson Treese and her grandson baked the blueberry-lemon curd-cookie crust pie.

Sixteen contestants rose to the challenge and brought unique, delicious pies filled with avocado, guava, and muscadine grape, to name a few. Jan Anderson Treese and her grandson made the lemon curd-blueberry-cookie-crust pie. “I used local eggs and lemons and butter,” she said, and sourced Florida grown blueberries. “My biggest thing is local food and fresh food. I’m a chef and I’ve preached that all my life.”

Even the judges were local. Food celebrities Lee Brian Schrager (founder of South Beach Wine & Food Festival), Hedy Goldsmith (executive pastry chef, Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink), and Ariana Kumpis (president, Les Dames d’Escoffier Miami) had the really tough job of grading pies on appearance, filling, crust, and overall creativity. And of course, judges had to keep entries to the rule of using “a main ingredient that grows in Florida.”

Blueberry-lemon curd-cookie crust pie!

In last year’s competition, some entries had used non-local main ingredients (chocolate and apple don’t grow here), and there had been some grumbling as to why those pies weren’t disqualified. This year the pendulum swung in the other direction. There was a moment of controversy about the rhubarb pie, whether the filling was local or not, and should it be disqualified. But that contestant claimed she did manage to grow rhubarb in her garden. (Who knew that rhubarb can grow this far south?)

Controversy aside, two of the the three finalists used the ever beloved mango. Third place was mango ginger, and second was mango crumb. The winner was a strawberry tart with a heart shaped crust — definitely scoring points for appearance and creativity!

All the contestants posed for a group picture with their prizes.

Each contestant received a Breville pie maker, and the three top finalists won additional kitchen appliances. After the prizes were awarded, pies were sliced up so guests could get a taste. This is always the best part of the event, to sample pies and make your own decisions on which were best. Slices and slivers of the winning strawberry pie just flew, and by the time I ambled up for a taste, it was all gone, just crumbs left in the pan.

Avocado pie (foreground) and scorecards.

Slow Food Miami did a good job with this year’s competition, which is maturing and evolving. Including lunch was smart. It kept hungry guests from mobbing the pies. The raffle was also new this year. If you bought extra tickets, you got chances to win a food basket from Whole Foods, or one of several pie makers.

And to complete the circle of eating local, two local growers and one vendor — Bee Heaven Farm, G.R.O.W. and Seriously Organic — brought fruits and veggies, sprouts, eggs and honey.

Slow Food members did a lot of work to make this event better, and it showed. Looking forward to next year!

Elke Zabinski of Seriously Organic

Thi and Bill Squire of G.R.O.W.

Sampling monstera fruit at the Bee Heaven Farm Tent, with Sara Willoughby and Margie Pikarsky.

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Pie…. ah, who doesn’t love pie. Fruit pie, custard pie, pie with whipped cream on top, pie with ice cream, pie with a light flaky crust. Pie! As much as I love eating pie, I haven’t had much luck making it. Have been thwarted by the most important step — making a crust that is light and flaky, not tough and rubbery.

Growers Teena Borek and Robert Barnum

The Cantankerous Chef aka Robert Barnum spent his summer vacation patiently working on pie crust. He was passionately in pursuit of the perfect light, flaky crust to use in his tropical fruit pies. He told me that I could get a taste of that perfection in his homegrown longan-walnut-‘bola raisin pie at the Slow Food Miami “Pie on the Porch” competition this past Saturday.

It was a great afternoon to hang out on the wide wraparound porch at the historic Merrick House while sipping lemonade. Kids ran around on the lush green lawn under the shade of huge live oak trees. A vegetable garden had been set up on a side lawn. It was round, with coral rock borders, and looked very much like a pie cut into four slices. Boy Scouts from

Little plants ready to grow.

Troop 4 tilled the soil, and starter plants provided by Teena’s Pride Farm were waiting to get planted into the beds. Slow Food Miami director Donna Reno explained this would be a historically accurate kitchen garden, growing foods much like the ones the Merrick family ate. The garden and pie competition are two of several events to  commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Merrick House.

By the time I arrived, the porch was packed with eager, hungry people. Serving tables were set up, but where were the pies? They were inside the house getting judged. The seven judges aka the Supreme Court of Pie, led by Chief Justice of Pie Hedy Goldsmith herself, were ensconced in the dining room of the Merrick House. They were seated around a large table, armed with scorecards, plastic forks and glasses of water.

The Supreme Court of Pie

In the adjoining kitchen, 23 pies were arrayed on the counter. The pies were judged one by one. Three thin slices were cut and brought out to the table. The judges sampled and passed around the slices, discussed them briefly, and made their marks on score sheets. The judges evaluated pies on overall appearance, taste, overall impression, creativity, regional ingredients, and name. It was serious, intense work.

Pastry chef Hedy Goldsmith goes eyeball to eyeball with coconut pie.

According to the competition rules, “All pies must be made with a fruit or main ingredient that grows locally.” The pies had to be homemade, using home grown or local, and non-artificial ingredients. The pies had small cards describing what they were, but contestants were not identified.

Once the pie was judged, a runner brought it out to the porch, where hungry guests were waiting for a taste. As a Slow Foodie began slicing and doling out pieces, people immediately mobbed the table. You’d think they hadn’t eaten pie in ages. “It’s a feeding frenzy out there,” the runner commented when she returned to the kitchen. I was intrigued by a green avocado pie and a salmon-colored mamey pie, but those vanished before I made it to the table.

The first pies to emerge from judging got mobbed.

Tracked down Robert’s longan-walnut-‘bola raisin pie and dug in. It was a pie of complex flavors and unusual textures. Am not a fan of fresh longan, but baking mellowed and sweetened its flavor, and it tasted more like lychee. Encountered chewy bits of ‘bola raisins made from dried carambola, and crunchy bits of walnut. The texture reminded me of mincemeat pie, but count on Robert to push a recipe and turn the familiar into something different. As for the perfect crust, yes, it was light and crumbly, as promised. (If you want The Cantankerous Chef to make you a pie, and maybe dinner to go with it, give him a call at 305-235-1768.)

Most of the pies that I tasted (but I didn’t taste them all) followed the competition rule that the predominant ingredient must be local — mango, avocado, mamey, passion fruit, guava, coconut and longan to name the ones I saw. Some were nowhere near local — apple, apricot, pecan, chocolate — but they sneaked into the competition anyway.

The official winners were blueberry (could be local, blues grow in Florida), chocolate pecan (not local), and papaya (could be local). Details are posted on the Slow Food Miami web site.

Robert Barnum's longan-walnut-bola raisin pie.

Robert’s longan-walnut-‘bola raisin pie won an Honorable Mention. His cantankerousness vanished for a few moments. “Yippee!” he cried out happily. “I’m in fourth place,” he kept telling me. Yes, indeed. Good to see his work receive public recognition on its merits alone. Good to see SFM inching closer to recognizing local food.

In the past, SFM was chided about using (or not using) local food at its locavore events. With this pie competition, the group came one step closer to walking the walk. If the Holy Grail of a locavore event is that the ingredients (all, most, or as much as reasonably possible) are sourced locally, this event came a bit closer. However, pies made from non-local ingredients (for example apple, chocolate, pecan, apricot) should have been kept out of competition.

Foodies Naomi Ross and Brian Lemmerman enjoying pie bliss on the porch. They bicycled over from UM in the rain to taste something good to eat.

If you missed the pies, you can still visit Merrick House. It’s a lovely place, and one of the few structures that still remain from an earlier era. I’m glad I was able to visit it briefly, and want to come back another time to tour the house and grounds.

Merrick House
907 Coral Way
Coral Gables, FL 33134
305-460-5361, 305-460-5095

Kara Kautz, Historic Preservation Officer

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