Celebrating Pie

by J. Leach, Guest Writer

My friend, and the author of the Edibles articles in the Voice, Carol Riley, asked me to write a piece for the Voice about pie, and I agreed. Since February is National Pie Month, my wife Vickie and I decided to celebrate this by visiting three of Jefferson County’s best known pie purveyors. (If we overlooked your favorite, I am confident that Carol would allow you equal time for your article.)

But first, why pie, and not cake or cookies? Ever hear of “American as cake” or “American as a chocolate chip cookie”? No, because pie is America’s favorite dessert. According to both the Harris Poll and the American Pie Council, apple pie is our favorite. Maybe that is why so many advertise themselves as “American as apple pie.”

We started our pie celebration at Hill Bottom Pie, located in the Palace Hotel at 215 Tyler St., Port Townsend. Locally famous for its pizzas, Hill Bottom also offers homemade soups and pies, with the selection changing daily. Currently, due to the pandemic, it only offers takeout service. On a blustery day, my wife chose clam chowder and peach pie to go. Because we were going to eat in the car at the marina looking out at the bay, we passed on ice cream offered with the pie. The clam chowder was excellent. Peach pie on a cold winter day was a treat. Hill Bottom’s pie had a very flavorful chewy crust. My wife and I competed for the last crumbs of crust after we had eaten everything else. You can check out Hill Bottom’s offerings on its Facebook page.

We next visited the Jefferson County International Airport, home of the Spruce Goose Café. Readers of the Voice may recall Carol Riley’s review of this restaurant that noted its reputation for wonderful pie. My wife and I can confirm that reputation. If you are looking for pie when you visit the Spruce Goose, check out the blackboard alongside the wall behind the reception counter. There you will see the day’s pie offerings. If you see a number beside a pie, act quickly. That number tells the number of slices left. And the slices go fast.

We had marionberry pie with vanilla ice cream. Wonderful! The Spruce Goose uses oil as the fat in its crust. This produces a thin, melt-in-your mouth crust. The generous filling was thick with just the right berry tartness.

We made our last celebratory stop at the Chimacum Café. If you want a slice of Americana with your pie, this café is your place. We had to visit the café twice to sample its pie. On our first visit, we decided to have lunch before ordering pie. In true pelican fashion, our bills held more than our bellies could. So, we returned for pie a few days later, on a Friday afternoon. This turned out to be a great time to stop for pie because the café prepares its pie inventory for the weekend on Friday and has a great selection.

The back page of the Chimacum Café menu lists twenty different kinds of pie. Not all are available on any one day and some are seasonal. But the available selection is enough to satisfy most choices. My wife, in her Texas fashion, chose pecan pie, and I picked boysenberry. At our waitress’s suggestion, she heated them for us and served them with a freshly made cup of coffee. Ice cream is avail- able too, but after our first pelican experience, we passed. The Chimacum Café pie maker uses shortening in her crust, producing a nice flakey crust. We received generous thick servings. My wife could not finish hers and took the uneaten part home for an evening snack. I managed to join the clean plate club, enjoying every bite. Imagine the plea- sure of looking out the window at the cars on Highway 19 with a cup of hot coffee and a forkful of homemade pie in hand. Tough research to help my friend Carol.

For those of you who missed National Pie Month, a number of pie days are coming up soon: April 28-Blueberry Pie Day, May 8-Coconut Cream Pie Day, and May 13-Apple Pie Day. You can find a complete list of pie days at Kate McDermott’s website, https://artofthepie.com/