Sunday, July 10, 2016

Houston Pie Project - Kenny & Ziggy's New York Delicatessen

It will come as no surprise if you are a fan of their deli that Kenny and Ziggy's is great at making pies too. Two of the pies obey their silly naming style typical of the menu (e.g., the Pecan on someone your own size and the Big Apple). ‪#‎Houston_Pie_Project‬

Big Apple Pie

The Big Apple Pie has a lovely thin crisp dome and signs of being made by hand. Take note that a good crust stays crisp for several days after being made unlike a frozen pie crust or grocery store crust. Recommended.

The apple filling is a giant pile of crisp tender apple shreds that are very simply apple - not a lot of cinnamon or ginger - and not very sweet. Clearly has the East European style of pie making that the owner learned from his grandparents as described in the documentary "Deli Man" that featured Kenny Gruber.

The Hungarian apple strudel has a mixture of nuts added to thicker apple slices. I will be coming back to report on the other sweet pies and the chicken pot pie that was designated one of the top 100 dishes in Houston in 2013.
Hungarian Apple Strudel
Chocolate Cream Pie
Banana Cream Pie

Houston Pie Project - Goode Company Seafood

Goode Company Seafood has been a popular place for seafood for many years and I have found older Houston restaurants to be fond of serving pies as desserts. However, they also make several savory seafood hand pies in a Cajun tradition as well. Their creole shrimp pie showed good browning on a very thin flaky crust and was packed with many plump shrimp in creole sauce (see my entry on Hebert's).

creole shrimp pie

Goode Company Seafood has several sweet pies on offer including the banana cream pie, margarita key lime pie, chocolate cream pie, and pecan pie. The pecan pie is the most popular but I was intrigued by the structural aspect of the banana cream pie. The bananas were layered into the pie rather than being on top of the cream filling and the base crust was kept crispy by a thin layer of chocolate. The cream layer is topped with fresh sweetened whipped cream and dark chocolate shavings. A elegant version of the traditional banana cream.
Banana cream pie with chocolate base

 The margarita key lime pie was very tart. You could taste that a lot of key lime zest had been added to increase the lime flavor. To balance the tartness of the lime the whipped cream was enhanced with marscapone. Additionally, the base was made with a crisp pretzel crust that wasn't soggy at all.
Margarita Key lime pie
The famous campechana
The Goode Company Seafood campechana is not pie, but compared to many Mexican style ceviches that are simply lime or lime-tomato, theirs is much more delicate due to olive oil brine and the bay leaves which impart the shrimp and fish with an herbal forward flavor.


Houston Pie Project - Beef Wellington at Black Labrador

The "beef Wellington" at Black Labrador is a great and affordable dish. The classic version uses filet mignon, but this version (closer to steak and mushroom pie) is probably half the price and still pretty tasty. Cubed beef was nearly fork tender with lots of mushrooms and served with a fresh horseradish and still crunchy steamed broccoli. The pastry lid was just right just like all the pub pies I've had in the U.K. The Lab should do an all mushroom vegetarian version too. I had several recommendations from friends for more classic versions of beef Wellington, including at Queen Vic, B&B Butchers, Tony's, and Maxim's. Stay tuned for those.


Houston Pie Project - Pondicheri Bake Lab‬

The New York Times award-winning chai pie is reminiscent of Thanksgiving and cheesecake due to the chai tea spices in a milky creamy gelatin base. The Parle-G and crackine crust is crispy crunchy like French millefuille with tiny seeds and toffee flavor from the crackine. The pie is topped with fresh whipped cream and candied cashews. Highly recommended.
Parle-G is a popular Indian cookie in the style of an English digestive biscuit

Fruit galette with figs and plums. The crisp crust is pressed into poppy seeds, sesame seeds, and almond flakes, covered with a fluffy almond paste, and topped with sliced figs and plums. The idea of rolling the crust in seeds imparts the Indian sensibility that the Bake Shop is recognized for. Recommended.

A chickpea chaat provided a savory contrast to all the pies. My wife and I routinely visit the bake lab for the quinoa muffins, and the soup and 1/2 sandwich combo is always amazingly flavorful with complex combinations of Indian spices. I keep thinking about a lamb sandwich with fresh mustard I had there months ago.

quinoa muffins with pepitas and pomegranate arils
salmon sandwich with pea tendrils

Not your grandfather's root vegetable soup - think rasam with mustard seeds

This bar is reminiscent of a peanut butter bar but is topped with a variety of seeds and less sweetness

Houston Pie Project - Hay Merchant

Cajun meat pies are made empanada style for Chris Shepherd's Hay Merchant by chef Angela Rowley of Blackbird Foods. Knowing Angela's other meat pies, I'm sure this one is oozing with butter but doesn't taste greasy at all. Very pillowy unlike a traditional cajun meat pie. The meat filling is relatively sparse and a cilantro dipping sauce was offered, so these are clearly intended to be a shared appetizer rather than a main dish like the many savory meat pies Angela serves at the Eastside Farmer's Market. I paired these pies with Bavik Pilsner. I wanted to try them with a sour beer to counter the usual fattiness of the meat pies I had in Natchitoches, but the waiter was right that due to their lightness such a beer wouldn't be the right pairing here. ‪#‎Houston_Pie_Project‬

Hay Merchant is known for its diverse variety of beers

Houston Pie Project - Revival Market

 Revival Market has a shifted since my last visit to more of a restaurant and less of a grocery store. They still offer their house-made Worcester sauce, soy sauce, etc. The selection of pastries, fresh orange juice, and coffees not to mention the more savory breakfast options will be worth returning for.

Of course they are known for their butchery, cured meats, and charcuterie.

The chocolate cream pie by pastry chef Alyssa File is perfectly balanced. The chocolate was neither too sweet nor too bitter and much more dense than the typical chocolate cream pie, which usually has a mousse-like texture. Fresh sweetened whipped cream enrobes the entire pie, and bittersweet chocolate crumbles are scattered over the top. The pastry crust shreds rather than flakes. You need this pie. Highly recommended.

chocolate cream pie and latte

Cross-section of the pie

Houston Pie Project - Cafe Brasil

Three pastry chefs tag team baking a rotating seasonal offering of fruit pies and cakes. Today's pie was apple, but based on my experience I want to come back for the peach pie. Apparently the peach pies have been selling out regularly.

The apples were crisp tender suspended in a Mexican cinnamon streusel. I have yet to master this style of pie filling. Crust was slightly chewy. Recommended.

The cakes looked worthy also. Chocolate lavender with edible flowers, strawberry basil, and lemon blackberry.

Houston Pie Project - John and Jane Dough

John and Jane Dough (and Tejas Chocolates and BBQ) have become two of the reasons to travel to Tomball when it's not time for the German Christmas Festival or to shop for antiques. John and Jane Dough is owned by a couple formerly from Portland and you can see that Northwest sensibility in both the setting/decor inside a bungalow decorated with elementary school items and garden herbs and vegetables rather than flowers. With all Houston's sunny days unlike Portland we aren't feeling the need for carbs and breakfast all day to combat seasonal affective disorder, but rather indulging our love of those foods.

The bakery features several seasonal pies and cakes on their menu. They are quite popular, so I was lucky to have snagged the last piece of lemon icebox pie the day in early March that I and my friends made the drive. Their version was very lemony and creamy with a thick layer of vanilla whipped cream and some gray salt. Highly recommended.

Slices of cake are almost decorative items among the cake stands, antique mixers, and baking books.

 They serve breakfast and lunch. Breakfast includes an variety of biscuits, scones, and muffins. The sandwiches are made on the breads baked in house.

coffee and espresso comes from
Stumptown Roasters in Portland (one of the three best roasteries in the U.S.)
Their version of a donut muffin