Pie Social

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

That's a good-looking cherry pie.
That's a good-looking cherry pie. Chris Malloy
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.

click to enlarge Cheeky Cherry pie from Holly Heizenrader,  MacAlpine's Diner and Soda Fountain - CHRIS MALLOY
Cheeky Cherry pie from Holly Heizenrader, MacAlpine's Diner and Soda Fountain
Chris Malloy
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.

click to enlarge Guinness Stew Pasty from Dean Thomas, Cornish Pasty Co. - CHRIS MALLOY
Guinness Stew Pasty from Dean Thomas, Cornish Pasty Co.
Chris Malloy
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.


click to enlarge Salted Caramel With Pistachio and Cherries from Mo Kauppi, The Herb Box. - CHRIS MALLOY
Salted Caramel With Pistachio and Cherries from Mo Kauppi, The Herb Box.
Chris Malloy
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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Chris Malloy, former food editor and current food critic at Phoenix New Times, has written for various local and national outlets. He has scrubbed pots in a restaurant kitchen, earned graduate credit for a class about cheese, harvested garlic in Le Marche, and rolled pastas like cappellacci stuffed with chicken liver. He writes reviews but also narrative stories on the food world's margins.
Contact: Chris Malloy