Pies are not fashionable, it seems.  No one talks about pies like they used to.  A few years back, it was the great New York Style versus any other kind of cheesecake debate, and today, all the current conversation about our collective confectionary lust seems to be centered on cupcakes.

Trendy, designer cupcakes…red velvet, preferably…pint-sized parcels of individually wrapped perfection that we are supposed to feel are so delectable that they can be worth five dollars and up for the privilege of taking a bite out of them.  Unbelievably, whole stores are dedicated to them now.

Okay, maybe I’m just playing the devil’s-food advocate here, but, is this worship justified?  I think it began for two reasons, both illusory.  First, cupcakes are nostalgic.   Eating them takes us back to childhood birthday parties around the pool, recalling a time when colored sprinkles or chocolate jimmies were the major issues in our lives.  It makes us feel good to think back and lick our fingers again for a quick taste of our youth.

Secondly, in today’s obsession with staying thin by purging all fat and sugar from our diets, we’ve sucked most of the taste out of it, as well.  We can fool ourselves into thinking, “one little cupcake won’t count”…Wrong!  That single white chocolate chip macadamia nut designer dreamboat of a cupcake at the Giant Bakery may be small, but it’s a dietetic landmine, weighing in at a count of over seven hundred calories!

Now, I’m not saying that it wouldn’t be worth it, all I’m putting out there is a request for honesty.  We should admit the addiction and open our minds to other, more obvious, yet more neglected baked ambrosia.

This carb-fueled campaign to rediscover the pie began on Thursday, when I was chased down F Street, NW, by an employee from Firehook Bakery.  Now, I consider this unusual behavior in a retailer.  Most tend to ignore me until I jump up and down waving a credit card in their faces.  I realize that my hips may proclaim me a devotee of all-things-sugar, but I don’t, as a norm, draw bakers out of their establishments.

And no, I hadn’t committed a five-finger discount and indulged my cruller-o-maniacal fantasies (“Honestly, Officer, those doughnuts just rolled into my pockets, I’ve never seen them before!”).  Instead, I had indulged in a bit of dessert nostalgia myself.  Chatting with my co-worker and fellow carb-croney, Connie, I pointed out Firehook Bakery to her as being the purveyor, in the past, of the best…I mean it, gotta capitalize it…THE BEST Banana Cream Pie (with chocolate shavings) that I have ever tasted.

Connie, naturally, looked skeptically at me.  “Chocloate shavings?” she said. 

“Yes,” I asserted, “no kidding…chocolate shavings.   That’s the important thing to remember.”

“Wouldn’t you rather get a cupcake at Cake Love?”

“No,” I said, knocking my head in frustration against a nearby glass partition and scaring the lady waiting for the bus. “You just don’t get it.  This is THE BEST Pie I’ve ever had.  Truly unique.  Not just banana cream, but very ripe (but not over-ripe) bananas, halved and arranged on the top of the chocolate cream in a starburst of lusciousness.”

“Oooh,” Connie said, “mmmm!”  She was on the verge of becoming a convert.  I could tell.  I pushed in for the kill shot.

“Did I mention the ring of whipped cream rosettes around the rim, and the lace-like shavings of dark chocolate garnishing and enhancing the delicate flavor of the bananas?”

“No, you hadn’t.” She said, toppling metaphorically over the edge.  “What are we waiting for?”  We went inside Firehook.

Eagerly, I posed my descriptive question to a lovely and helpful employee behind the counter.  We held our breaths; collectively hanging on the words about to issue from her lips…She had no idea what pie I was referring to.  It didn’t seem to help with my repeated assertions that it was THE BEST Pie that they made.  But she told me that as she had only been with the company for two years, that she’d be happy to ask the management about it, if we’d check back in with her.

Connie and I sadly nodded, crestfallen, and went back out onto F Street, having to face our lunch break with merely the prospect of THE BEST affordable Shrimp Tempura Roll (Kabuki Sushi) and splitting a bag of THE BEST French Fries (Five Guys, both at National Place Food Court, F St, NW near 13th).  But as we waited, unsatisfied, for the light to change; behind us, we heard the patter of running feet, and a plaintive cry of “Wait!  Madame!  A moment!”

We turned, surprised to see our sales lady hurrying out of the bakery towards us with an expression on her face that brought hope to our hearts.  “Ladies, I had completely forgotten the banana tarts!”  It seems that these half-sized wonders never fail to sell out before the morning rush is over, and so she forgot them, but it sounded just like my described Dream Pie, and she’d be happy to make it up in the nine inch size for a mere $25.  She smiled, we smiled.  THE BEST Pie was back, and with customer service like hers to be had, we knew we’d be back at Firehook Bakery in the very near future.

 “Vive la tarte!”

Banana Crème Tart, orderable online. And no, I don’t own stock in the company. Darn.  http://www.firehook.com/e-com/index.cfm

Easter Brunch Offering

So, THE BEST Banana Creme Tart, as I must now correctly identify it (my sister Joan, the trained baker in the family, tells me that the difference lies in the amount of sugar in the dough of the shell, more like a cookie than a pie shell…yum…and the thickness, hence the lack of a pie pan) was no longer decorated as I remember originally discovering it, years ago. However, it still tastes just as delicious as I remembered and was well worth the longish trip to DuPont Circle to pick it up and deliver it by Metro. A wonderful addition to the Easter Brunch Table, to be enjoyed by friends and family. Thanks, Firehook!