Many families share memories of grandmothers baking pies from scratch — rolling out the butter-studded dough; stirring together ripe fruit, flour, sugar and spices; and baking it in the oven. Now, when people whip up a pie, they’re asked what the occasion is. Whether its a pie trail or pie shop, pie destinations are cropping up all over the country. Groups are encouraged to slow down and enjoy a slice — or two. It’s easy as pie.
Hoosier Mama Pie Company
Hoosier Mama Pie Company in Chicago is a nostalgic oasis amid busy Windy City life. In addition to a pie of the week, Hoosier Mama offers over 10 different pies on the menu daily. Muffins, scones, coffee, savory pies, quiches and hand pies also are available.
Sweet pie selections might include apple, cherry, chocolate cream, Hoosier sugar cream, orange buttermilk chess with raspberries and blood orange meringue. Fresh quiche selections range from sausage and Swiss to zucchini with goat cheese, and are good reasons for groups to pay an afternoon visit.
Hoosier Pie Trail
Indiana Foodways Alliance is an association of members dedicated to developing and promoting Indiana’s food culture. The alliance is the brains behind the Hoosier Pie Trail. On the trail, groups can follow the path of pie crumbs to 19 pie trail stops.
Lindsey Skeen, who handles marketing and media at Indiana Foodways Alliance, gave her top picks from the trail.
“Blue Gate Restaurant & Bakery in Shipshewana is a must for groups,” Skeen said. “Known for their amazing pies and chicken, the Blue Gate offers banquet facilities with both buffet and family style dining. Groups can catch a show at Blue Gate Theatre afterward.”
Dutch apple, coconut cream, pecan and sugar cream are just a few of the standouts in Blue Gate’s arsenal of old-fashioned faves.
Wick’s Pie Company, in Winchester, Indiana, “makes 12 million pies and pie shells per year,” Skeen said. “Groups can see how the magic is made during a tour of their facility.”
Sweet Potato Sensations
Sweet Potato Sensations is a soulful family-owned and -operated bakery in Detroit. It specializes in crafting sweet and savory items out of fresh sweet potatoes.
“Some of our menu items made from sweet potatoes include pies, cookies, cheesecake, ice cream, cobbler, candied yams, cupcakes, soup, waffles, pancakes and more,” said Espy Thomas, owner of Sweet Potato Sensations. “We are the sweet potato lover’s heaven on earth.”
Sweet potato pie, lemon chess pie and sweet potato pecan pie remain the bakery’s most popular slices, all whipped up by Thomas’ sister, Cassandra.
“They are family recipes that my mother has taught to my sister who now makes everything,” Thomas said.
Sweet Potato Sensations offers a savory menu on Saturday and Sunday, with limited savory offerings during the week.
“If groups come on a Wednesday, Saturday or Sunday, I would most definitely say to get the chicken and sweet potato waffles,” Thomas said.
Arkansas Pie Trail
Every respectable Southern state serves pie, and Arkansas is no different. The Arkansas Pie Trail celebrates this fact, with over 20 destinations. Although, the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism website warns, it is far from a complete list.
Groups won’t want to miss a stop at Charlotte’s Eats and Sweets in Keo.
“For a decade or more, the eatery has offered a special back room for travel groups, where visitors to central Arkansas can enjoy such delicacies as the Keo Klassic, the house chicken salad plate and the coconut meringue pie Southern Living magazine calls the nation’s best,” said Kat Robinson, Arkansas food historian and travel writer.
Robinson also recommends Franke’s Cafeteria, the oldest cafeteria in Arkansas.
“Among the dessert choices are several pies — pecan, apple, cherry, chocolate cream and the restaurant’s own proprietary cinnamon cream pie,” she said.
Sue’s Kitchen, Hillbilly Hideout and The Skillet Restaurant round out Robinson’s picks.
Apple Pie Trail
Blue Mountains, Ontario
The rich Canadian soil and the reduced likelihood of late-spring and early-fall frosts, courtesy of Georgian Bay, make the Blue Mountains an ideal place for growing apples. An abundant crop plus long winters add up to lots of apple pie baking. Groups will find the best of the best on the Apple Pie Trail.
“From the picturesque setting of the Blue Mountain Village, the hub of activities and lodging in the region, to orchards, vineyards, cideries, breweries, boat tours, mountain adventures, restaurants, shops and galleries, there is an abundance of options for groups,” said Patti Kendall, director, marketing & events at Blue Mountain Village Association.
Stop No. 25 on the trail, Blackbird Pie Co., serves classic apple pie, along with apple crumble muffins and butter tarts.
Article by Chelsea Scott