I ordered a tempting, luscious Collin Street Bakery fruitcake for a review. I learned about the company from my writer, Danny Gallagher. He suggested Collin Street Bakery as an ideal Big Grey Horse Media feature story (and yes, Collin Street Bakery, you’re on the editorial calender for 2014).
Needless to say, I wasn’t disappointed. This fruitcake is excellent and I recommend ordering it for Christmas parties and as Christmas presents for the special people in your life.
It’s sad that no one else in my family adores fruitcake the way that I do. I guess the upside of this is I get the fruitcakes family members receive as presents but don’t want. Remember Afriel’s re-gifting humor? In this case, freshly made fruitcake is an excellent thing to pass on to me!
When you order a Collin Street Bakery fruitcake, you can request to have it sent immediately or you can ask that the fruitcake be sent as soon as it’s been baked. I opted for this. Fresh fruitcake is one of my favorite Christmas desserts. And what arrived was worth a few extra days’ wait.
Given that I requested my fruitcake be baked fresh and it’s the holiday season, I figure the order came within a reasonable time frame. I ordered online December 6 and had the cake by December 17. The fruitcake was nicely packaged and lovely to unbox.
Impressive, eh? This is one rich fruitcake, folks. Certainly up to the standards I hold for a fruitcake. I’ve eaten fruitcake since I was a tiny child. Every Christmas, someone in my mother’s family made a homemade fruitcake. My mom’s family is full of great cooks and bakers, so I am quite the snob when it comes to how I judge the holiday cake.
Collin Street Bakery fruitcakes are moist and not very cake-like, which I think is the hallmark of a quality fruitcake. The Texas pecans Collin Street Bakery uses brought back plenty of good memories of my hometown and old friends. All of the ingredients in this fruitcake were fresh and tasty. It’s as if the fruitcake is encouraging you to take another bite. Or two. Or three.
Because of the fruitcake’s richness, however, I can’t eat more than one small piece in a sitting. But I think that’s the beauty of a good fruitcake. You eat a little at a time, every day, and before you know it, the cake’s gone!
I ate this fruitcake as it came, meaning I didn’t douse it with alcohol. I’ve had fruitcake both ways, and I think that when done properly, an alcohol-laden fruitcake is out of this world. If you want to age your fruitcake with a bit of hooch, Collin Street Bakery’s website offers instructions.
Collin Street Bakery didn’t return my phone call regarding a media kit or sharing additional information for a product review. Sad to say, because I hoped to speak with someone about this order. The website does say, “And our Bakery officers still personally handle every order the Bakery receives.” Remember customer service, folks. When people reach out to you, especially those who are reviewing your company, be available to answer questions and provide information.
Merry Christmas, ya’ll!
Collin Street Bakery is located at 401 West Seventh Avenue in Corsicana, Texas 75110. The phone number is 800-292-7400. You can visit their website to order products and obtain details about the company and their history.
I like wine. I like Texas. And here’s a really cool thing about Texas. Wineries are popping up all over the place. I’ve seen them in various regions in Texas, but I’ve never had the pleasure of going. Sugar Ridge Winery was my first trip to a local winery.
Normally my husband is the designated driver, but he was working. I called Edye, a close friend, who’s probably as crazy as I am, and we headed to Sugar Ridge Winery for an adventure. When you’re middle-aged, adventures are few and far between.
Sugar Ridge Winery is in the country, on some beautiful acreage that’s been in the family for generations. As Edye and I drove in, we were greeted by an extremely friendly dog. We headed into the winery, introduced ourselves, and got down to business.
The owners of Sugar Ridge Winery, Don and Michele Andrews, have been making wine for coming up on three years. I got to speak with Michele, who is, as you can imagine, a very busy woman!
When asked how she got into the business of making wine, Michele said she received a wine making kit for Christmas. She created some wine, shared it with family and friends, and she was hooked. Michele and Don started Sugar Ridge in April of 2011, and they are still in the growth process. In fact, Michele and Don work full time jobs in addition to running the winery.
I asked Michele what she liked best about having a winery. It only took a second for Michele to say her favorite part was meeting people.
I believe it.
Wine tasting is a fine art, much like coffee cupping. The entire point is to get the wine to spray across as many of your taste buds as possible. This makes you slurp. If you slurp too hard, you’ll pull the liquid into your bronchial tubes and spend the next ten minutes coughing. (Not that anyone I know would do that.)
Some wineries give you tiny cups for their tastings. Not so at Sugar Ridge. We were given a generous amount in a regular wine glass. (Not a full serving because, after all, you don’t want to have to call a cab to get home safely.) As the wine was poured, we were given a little background: How the wine got its name, the label, flavor, and any awards that it had won. We had a chance to savor the wine, and then the glass was rinsed and the next wine was poured.
Sugar Ridge Winery rotates wine tastings, but these are the wines we tried during our visit.
Light White is a un-oaked Chardonnay. It is very fruity and has a sweet finish, but not so sweet that it’s a dessert wine. I liked it a lot.
This white wine smells like Sprite and tastes like lemon drops. Very light, very refreshing, and I’m told it makes an awesome slushy.
Little Green Apple
This wine was described as tasting like a green Jolly Rancher. The funny thing was that the wine did. It won a silver medal in the 2013 Southwest Wine Challenge.
This wine was a gold medal winner in the Southwest Wine Challenge. I loved it! The wine was smooth, smoky, and very full bodied. I got hungry for some good barbecue when I was tasting this one.
I really liked Heritage, but it was a little dry for me. It’s a Cabernet and Merlot blend. I think it was Edye’s favorite.
I was really looking forward to this one. Merlot with blackberry flavoring? Yes, please! This wine won a silver medal in the Southwest Wine Challenge. Do you see a pattern here? Anyway, it was good, but it wasn’t my favorite. It lacked the complexity of the other wines and was more like Kool-Aid.
I could have guzzled an entire vat of this wine. It smells of mixed citrus fruit and it’s somewhat sweet. The wine’s a fruity blend of oranges, lemons, limes, strawberries, and grapes.
My mom used to make spiced pears. She’d pack them in jars and pour a hot syrup over them. On those days, the entire house smelled like cloves and cinnamon. Guess what? This wine smells just like that. It’s deliciously pear-tasting with a hint of cloves and cinnamon. The winery serves it warm but I liked it better at a cool, room temperature.
This wine is a Chianti with a sweet-tart, cranberry flavor that’s unique. It was delicious but not my favorite.
While we were there, a couple came in to stock up on some wine. The winery doesn’t sell through many stores, but they do ship. It seems like people come in mostly to chat, pick up wine, and maybe a few things from the gift shop – tee shirts, ornaments, corkscrews, and things like that.
You know how small towns are. We started talking and joking around. One thing that become apparent to me was the customers have a relationship with the owners. This isn’t like walking into Spec’s and getting out as quickly as you came. This is about neighbors and friends. When you go, you’ll find Sugar Ridge Winery, and Don and Michele, warm and welcoming.
That’s the reason I like to buy from small, local businesses. I’ll definitely make this trip again.
Once the customers left, we headed back to where the vats were. Those things are huge!
I was surprised at the small space. You’d think making and selling wine would require a lot of space, but apparently it doesn’t. There were several huge stainless steel vats, an area with a sink, and boxes stacked up against the wall.
One of the most interesting things was that this building was once an old horse barn. Don and Michele turned the entire barn into the winery and tasting area.
The inside area is really too small to hold many people, but there’s a gorgeous patio area with chimeras, tables, and chairs. You can sit and sip your favorite wines in this relaxing atmosphere. The Andrews will even build fires for you when it’s chilly.
The landscape is rolling and dotted with trees. I’m told that it’s especially beautiful during bluebonnet season when the fields are covered with that gorgeous, Texas blue.
I gave Edye a solid hint that anyone with an April birthday (that would be me) might love to have a little get-together here. When I say solid hint I mean I told her flat out.
Sugar Ridge Winery is located at 353 Sugar Ridge Road in Ennis, Texas, 75119. The phone number is 972-666-2888. The hours of operation are Friday, 12 p.m. until 7 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. until 7 p.m., and Sunday 12 p.m. until 5 p.m.
If you loved what you read, check out our other post about Texas wines. We’ve begun a regular series that will continue to grow, wine by wine.
Visiting the Dallas Farmers Market is one of those things that I do often during the summer. As autumn sets in, I am more likely to buy produce at the grocery store, however. I love buying fresh, local foods, but doesn’t the growing season end at some point?
Well, apparently in Texas the growing season ends a lot later than I thought! Late one afternoon, just after Halloween, we hopped in the car and headed downtown to see what was available and to people watch. If you’ve never spent time at a farmer’s market you are in for a treat – there are some really cool people with unique stories to tell.
The History of the Dallas Farmers Market
In the late 1800’s, it was common for North Texas farmers to bring their crops to town and set up in various locations to sell to grocers and the people who lived in Dallas. Back then there were no refrigerated trucks, no permanent sheds, and no advertising. It was a casual, unstructured event that filled a need.
Around 1900, the farmers began to organize a little more, and the intersection of Pearl and Cadiz was the place that they congregated. There they offered fresh from the farm produce, chickens, eggs, milk, pigs, and goats. The farmers’ wives contributed baked breads, jams, and other homemade foods.
Dallas grew and so did the farmers market. A more organized system was needed, and in 1939, the site at Pearl and Cadiz was made the official spot for the market. The first shed was built, and by 1941 it was officially sanctioned by the city.
The Dallas Farmers Market is open every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. Even though I have been visiting the spot for decades, I was under the impression that it was only open on the weekends. How crazy is that?
Fresh and Local
At Dallas Farmers Market, there’s one shed that’s for local farmers only. This makes it easy if you are interested in tasty, fresh produce. There is also a verified local farmer designation that assures you the producer is from within 150 miles of Dallas.
When I visited, there weren’t many local farmers there. I attributed this to being late in the afternoon but it could also be that it’s so late in the season. There was still plenty of yellow squash, green beans, corn, and okra stacked in baskets, however. One stand had beautiful prickly pear fruit, which I have been fascinated with since I had an amazing margarita that was made with it.
Cold weather vegetables were not too plentiful, but there were a few, like turnip greens and kale.
I stopped to look at the baskets of huge, vine ripened, beautiful tomatoes – my culinary Achilles heel. There’s nothing that I like better than thick slices of ripe tomato with salt and pepper – nothing, not even chocolate and not even pie!
D.L. Stubblefield Produce – A Dallas Farmer’s Market Tradition
As I admired the baskets of bright, crimson tomatoes, the dealer started a conversation with me. I told him I was writing an article on the market and asked if I could take a picture, but he laughed and declined. He said there were already pictures of him at the post office. I liked him immediately.
We started talking about the tomatoes and the conversation evolved from there. It turns out that D.L. Stubblefield Produce has been at the Dallas Farmers Market for something like 57 years! The dealer pulled out a picture of the area and pointed to a picture of a man standing in front of some produce with a little girl.
“That’s my father-in-law,” he said. “And that’s my wife!”
We talked tomatoes for a while. They were grown a bit south of here, down by Killeen, where it is still a little warmer. I had a tough time choosing the basket I wanted, but eventually I had those gorgeous scarlet orbs of lusciousness in a bag in my hand. Well, actually they were in a bag in my husband’s hands because I am the buyer and he is the carrier.
A little farther down from where we were, I spied some Red Velvet Sweet Potatoes. I have never had that variety but I love to try new things. I love sweet potatoes, and these sounded like they might be an heirloom variety. “Are these sweet potatoes or yams?”
The dealer shrugged and told me sweet potatoes and yams were basically the same thing. That was a mistake. You never, ever, tell a food writer that two similar foods are the same. A friendly argument ensued, which he let me win. After all, I was buying.
I looked up the variety when I got home and, sure enough, they are an heirloom that is properly called Red Wine Velvet Sweet Potatoes. I haven’t fixed them as of this writing, but my mouth is watering just thinking of it. I can’t wait!
One of the coolest things about going to the market is talking to everyone and learning about what they grow and sell. You can pretty much tell who are the farmers and who are just people selling produce. There is a passion in the farmers that you can see – their faces light up when they are talking about the foods they are selling.
Round Rock Honey
The next spot I stopped at was Round Rock Honey. Honey is another one of those things that I have a hard time walking past. I can remember one of my relatives, although I can’t remember who, kept bees and harvested honey from the hives. I was quite little and all I really remember is that we always brought some home with us, with the honeycomb right inside the Mason jar.
Round Rock Honey is unique. They have 90 hives located all over Central Texas. When the honey is blended, it has a unique flavor. I can only describe it as a flavor that is sort of like buckwheat honey, but more delicate and with floral notes. The man I talked to explained that the color of the honey changed depending on which plants were growing at the time. This batch was dark because it was so late in the season.
The honey is raw and unfiltered. There’s no worry that it’s cut with corn syrup the way some of the commercial honeys are. Three different labs check the Round Rock honey each year to test for pollutants. If you aren’t in the Dallas area or another area where they sell it, you can buy it on the Round Rock Honey website. I am telling you this stuff is delicious!
I mentioned that I had always wanted to keep bees but didn’t have the time. We talked about having a bee keeper put a hive or two on my property which would give me plenty of bees to pollinate my garden in the spring and some honey as well. I am definitely going to look in to that!
You Have to Be Careful, Too
On the other side of the street is the shed where they have produce from all over the place. A lot of this is bought from wholesalers and put in baskets to make it look local. You may or may not be getting a better deal than the grocery store, so don’t assume that just because it’s at Farmers’ Market, it’s a great deal. Always ask questions and be skeptical of any answers that don’t seem right.
For example, I saw these tomatoes stacked in baskets with a handwritten sign, Heirloom Tomatoes, $6. You know, I already said how much I prefer heirloom products, but these just didn’t look like heirlooms to me. They looked like Beefeater tomatoes. There’s not a thing wrong with Beefeaters unless you are trying to sell them as heirlooms.
I pointed at the tomatoes, “What kind are those?”
The young man smiled. “Those are heirloom tomatoes, ma’am.”
“Yes, but which heirlooms? They don’t look like Brandywines, Cherokee Purples, or anything I am familiar with.” I was truly interested in finding out what kind they were, but I was not convinced that the guy was being honest. I pointed to the Beefeater tomatoes in the basket next to them. “They look an awful lot like Beefeater.”
His eyes kind of narrowed. “They’re just heirlooms,” he said abruptly and walked away.
Needless to say, I didn’t buy anything from that booth.
This isn’t to say you can’t find some interesting things in this shed. I picked up a bunch of tiny, little bananas from Costa Rica, a yellow watermelon, and some really delicious grapes.
Grass-fed Beef and Farm Fresh Eggs
Although I didn’t get any meat this trip, I have gotten grass-fed beef and pork from North Star Ranch in the past. Cooking with grass-fed beef is a little different because it has less fat and a stronger flavor. This beef is so delicious! I feel better about eating meat that was taken from an animal that lived a normal life rather than being all cooped up and never seeing sunlight. It’s a little more expensive, but you won’t have as much waste – there is more meat in the pan when you are done cooking.
Eggs are very reasonably priced as well, but are a little more difficult to find.
Inside at the Market
The Dallas Farmers Market isn’t just outside anymore. Shed #2 has been turned into an air conditioned area that holds a variety of interesting products and little cafes. Every time we go, we walk past the barbecue place. It smells amazing, but we’ve never been there when it is open and not sold out. Apparently getting to eat there is kind of like winning Willy Wonka’s golden ticket. The place sells out fast.
Fudge, pastries, deli meat, seafood, candles, and gift items are available. There are tables where you can sit and eat lunch with the family in a cool air conditioned spot. In the winter it is a haven of heat.
There is a spice shop with hundreds of herbs and spices, a pasta shop with shelves full of all kinds of pasta, and even a place where you can buy gluten free bread.
My personal favorite is the cheese shop. If you like cheese, you definitely have to go and try some of the craft cheeses that are offered. The shops are pretty good about giving samples if there is something you aren’t sure about.
Once in a while there are cooking classes, book signings, demonstrations, entertainment, and other special events. Be sure to check the website to see when these are scheduled.
There are vendors that sell plants of all kinds. The day we went, there were flats of colorful pansies and other bedding plants, flowering kale, cold weather vegetables, and strings of dried peppers moving with the breeze.
You just never know what you are going to experience. I adore old cars, and as we were leaving, I happened to see this old Chevy El Camino with a ton of flowers in the back. I loved the look. That’s just it, you never know what you’re going to find when you get to the Dallas Farmers Market. There are people from all cultures and lifestyles, and all kinds of sights, aromas, and sounds.
When you go to a grocery store it’s always the same whether it’s summer or winter. There is background music, the same fruits and vegetables you always see, and you probably get the same products each time you shop. When you go to a farmer’s market, you never know what you are going to find, who you are going to talk to, or what you are going to see.
Shopping at a farmers market enables us to buy healthier, fresher, less expensive food, and it allows us to connect with the past on a basic level. It’s a great family day trip and a good way to help your kids make the connection between the food they eat and the farmers that grow it.
Keep in mind that you won’t be given a grocery cart at the Dallas Farmers Market. Bring your own bags and someone to carry them when they are full. I use large canvas totes and my husband. It works perfectly. You will also want to bring plenty of dollar bills. Some of the vendors take credit or debit cards, but most of them want cash. They don’t always have change for large bills so using small bills saves everyone from getting frustrated.
The majority of farmers are there on Saturdays, but some are there on Friday and Sunday as well. If you are after the best selection, come early. If you are after the best deals, come late. If you think you’ll be buying a lot of stuff, it’s a good idea to bring a wagon.
Oh, and by the way – those tomatoes that looked so good in the basket? They were even better with salt and pepper on a plate.
The Dallas Farmers Market is located at 1010 S. Pearl Expressway, Dallas, Texas 75201. The phone number is 214/664-9110. The hours of operation are 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. daily, with the exception of the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s holidays.
Big Grey Horse Media welcomes Marye Audet and her piece about Texas pie. Marye is an author, freelance writer, and editor located in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. She brings a wealth of Texas knowledge to our blog, and we are delighted to have her. Marye’s a brave soul – she ate plenty of pie to complete this piece. We see a long and tasty relationship with Marye…let’s give Marye a great, big, Texas HOWDY!
There are a lot of foods Texas is known for – great barbecue, steaks, chicken fried steak, biscuits (is your mouth watering yet?), but probably the most loved dessert to any Texan worth his or her Tony Lamas is pie. P.I.E and pronounced most often “paaah.”
It can be Parker county peach, east Texas blueberry, or Rio Grande lemon, as long as it’s sweet, has a flaky crust, and tastes like it just came off Grammy’s counter top. Most of us would agree that the national pie of Texas, pecan, holds a special place in our hearts with its gooey, rich, cloyingly sweet filling that slides down just right with a scoop of vanilla Blue Bell and a hot cup of coffee or a cold Dr. Pepper.
One afternoon, I started craving some good, old fashioned pie and a cup of coffee. I realized that I had no clue where to go since my area is now populated by chain restaurants and fast food places. Let’s face it, y’all, those people do not know how to make paaah. I decided to take a road trip and find out who had the best pies between Dallas/Fort Worth and Hillsboro.
I asked my friends on Twitter and Facebook where to go for the best pies and I made a list. It took two days of pie eating but my husband and I tried them all. A couple of hundred miles, five cafes, numerous pies, and several Alka Seltzers later, I came up with my review. Each eatery is family-owned and Texas proud.
Get your fat pants on and head out for some pie and coffee. After all, y’all are only going to live once.
Looking for Real Texas Pie in All the Right Places
Our Place Restaurant
915 W. Debbie Lane
Mansfield, Texas 76063
6 a.m. – 3 p.m., 7 days weekly
Disclosure: Our food was compensated for us by Our Place Restaurant. This in no way affected my review of the establishment or influenced my opinions written for this piece.
We started out in Mansfield, a little town off 287 between Arlington and Fort Worth. Mansfield has grown by leaps and bounds, from a sleepy little town a decade ago, to a growing urban area that’s working hard to retain a friendly atmosphere country villages are known for in Texas.
If the folks at Our Place Restaurant are any indication of the rest of the population, Mansfield is well on its way to achieving the balance between the two.
Walk in the door to smiles on one side, and a huge, old fashioned pie case on the other, filled with almost every pie known to man. Stacked high with fluffy clouds of whipped cream or blanketed with a flaky, just right crust, these extraordinary desserts are the creation of Jessy Henager, a self-taught young lady whose light hand with the pastry has allowed her to move from server to Pie Goddess.
I had coconut cream and my husband had chocolate peanut butter pie. A regular customer told me later that the apple pie was the real star of the show. By then, however, my jeans had shrunk at least one size.
The pie crust is light and flaky with that texture you can only get with lard. (And that happens to be what Jessy uses.) The crusts are generously filled and then piled high with cream. I asked Jessy what made their pies the best in the area. She said it’s because they use fresh ingredients. Jessy also checks each pie. If it doesn’t taste right or look right, the pie doesn’t make it to the case. I assume that one of the benefits of working at Our Place is chowing down on the pies the Jessy deems unfit for customer consumption.
Not only can you get pie and a pretty decent cup of coffee, you can buy whole pies as well. Last year, Our Place Restaurant sold about 600 pies, in three days, going into the holidays. If you’re thinking of having one of Jessy’s masterpieces on your table, you’d better put your order in now.
The pie is great but the coffee is average. I’d love to see Our Place get whole bean coffees and grind them fresh daily.
Main Street Café
2023 S. Cooper Street
Arlington, Texas 76010
7 a.m. – 6 p.m., 7 days weekly
Disclosure: Our food was compensated for us by Main Street Cafe. This in no way affected my review of the establishment or influenced my opinions written for this piece.
Main Street Café is off the beaten path, situated behind some other buildings that face Cooper Street. The cafe is really easy to miss if you aren’t looking for it.
Inside, the restaurant is as country as they come with red-checked table cloths, a large open dining area, and an old fashioned lunch counter in the center. I have had a thing for twirly chrome stools since I was a little kid, and I was sorely tempted to sit at the counter. Since I needed light for the pictures, I took a booth by the window.
It was a different feel here than over in Mansfield. Just a bit more of the big city hustle and bustle, but still very friendly. I ordered apple pie and my husband had turtle pie.
While we were waiting, I asked if the pies were made in-house. I was told that the pies weren’t but that they were made especially for the cafe.
The crust on the apple pie was very crumbly. The apples were tart and sweet at the same time. Whipped cream had been piled on top, with a final drizzle of caramel added to the plate. The turtle pie had a cream cheese filling, whipped cream, and a caramel drizzle. The pie was then sprinkled with crumbled chocolate and vanilla sandwich cookies. The turtle pie had a freezer flavor, but would have been great otherwise. The apple pie was good, but not outstanding.
When I asked what made Main Street Cafe’s pies special, I was told it was the elaborate plating. This cafe is a sweet, little place if you happen to be in Arlington.
113 E. Oak Street
West, Texas 76691
6 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Friday
We arrived at the Village Bakery at 9 a.m., ready to eat more pie. If you’ve never been to West, Texas, (not to be confused with West Texas) then you really owe it to yourself to grab your bestie, hop in the car, and do a road trip. West’s a sleepy little town off I35, south of Hillsboro, that has more delicious Czech food per square foot than anywhere outside of Prague… and maybe there, too. I knew I couldn’t do all of the pies, so I settled on a cute little bakery in the center of the historic area in town.
The bakery was established in 1952 and is the oldest Czech bakery in Texas. Love sausage kolaches? This is where it began. Now, back to pies.
The Village Bakery is one of those places you walk into, close your eyes, and breathe in all of the aromas. You are immediately surrounded by two of my very favorite things, antiques and pastry. I looked longingly at the kolaches, but resignedly turned toward the pies. Village Bakery does not sell pies by the slice, so we bought an entire pie. Which did we choose?
Uncle Dub’s Pie. I don’t know who Uncle Dub is, but I will be forever grateful to him. This confection is a combination of pecans, chocolate chips, and bourbon in a flaky crust. The crust on its own is slightly saltier than I would normally want, but it works brilliantly to balance this ultra-sweet, ultra-rich pie. The aftertaste of bourbon was a delicious surprise. We drove very carefully to the next cafe so that we didn’t have to explain to a police officer why we smelled of bourbon.
Definitely worth the drive.
The Dove’s Nest Restaurant
105 W. Jefferson Street
Waxahachie, Texas 75165
11 a.m. – 2 p.m., Monday – Saturday
I don’t live far from Waxahachie, and it’s always been one of my favorite towns. If you’re into architecture, Waxahachie has some of the most beautiful Victorian, transitional, and craftsman homes around. The historic area surrounding the old Ellis County courthouse is filled with antique shops. In the midst of all of that is The Dove’s Nest Restaurant.
I had been to The Dove’s Nest before, but hadn’t eaten there in a long time. I decided to see if the menu had gotten better in the past few years. I’m thrilled to tell you that it has.
The little tea room has taken on a new pastry chef – Julie McClellan. She’s worked at the Rosewood Crescent Hotel in Dallas and the Four Seasons Hotel Houston, so creating magic in the middle of a kitchen in Waxahachie is, literally, easy as pie.
I ordered the buttermilk pie. The Dove’s Nest is known for their pecan chocolate bourbon pie, but since I had just had that I really needed something different. I was told that Julie hadn’t made the buttermilk pie. She had just put an apple pie in the oven, however. My husband and I decided to share the buttermilk pie and come back for the apple.
All of the desserts are made in-house except the cheesecake. The buttermilk pie was good, tangy, and sweet with a buttery, crispy crust, but the texture was a little coarser than I like. The apple pie was still in the process of baking, so we decided to roam the antique stores until the pie was closer to being ready.
When my husband and I came back, we arrived just in time for the pie to come out of the oven. Julie was apologetic because she was afraid the pie would run since it was so hot. She brought the pie on one plate and the ice cream in a bowl so I could get pictures without the ice cream melting.
This apple pie was as good as they come. A flaky, buttery lattice crust covered a thick layer of lightly sweetened and spiced Granny Smith apples that had a nice balance of apple and apple goo. Apple goo is a professional term you may not have heard before. It’s the syrupy goodness that lavishly swathes the tender fruit. Often I find this is skimpy in pies, but Julie did not disappoint me. The apples were more than generously swaddled with apple goo, transparent amber, and freckled with the cinnamon and spices.
Try not to lick the plate but, if you must, at least do it discreetly.
Uncle Willie’s Pies
600 Methodist Street
Red Oak, Texas 75154
11 a.m. – 6 p.m., Tuesday – Friday
Saturdays by appointment
Uncle Willie’s Pies was our last stop. I have to admit, by this time, I wasn’t craving pie. I was hoping we could get pie by the slice and not have to buy a whole one.
Uncle Willie Pettigrew got his start when he made a pie for a celebration that a restaurateur happened to be attending. Pettigrew’s pie was discovered, and the rest is history, according to CeCe Pettigrew.
I was glad to see that we could indeed buy slices of pie. I chose a chess and a lemon chess because those were the only types I hadn’t already consumed.
The crust was soft and tender. One thing I discovered on my pie road trip is the variety of crust textures and flavors. That was sort of surprising when you are used to thinking of crust as being a receptacle for the good stuff inside.
I liked the lemon chess pie best. CeCe told me that they used whole, fresh lemons in it. You could tell because the flavor was definitely fresh, lively lemon. You bite into the creaminess of the pie, then get the sweetness, and then your mouth is filled with a tangy lemon flavor. It’s simply delicious.
The plain chess was good but was more custard-like than my own chess pies. It wasn’t bad, just unexpected.
There is no real plating here. Uncle Willie’s sells pies but the establishment isn’t a place where you sit down and eat. The staff graciously allowed me to use a plate so I could get a couple of images before I left. The majority of Uncle Willie’s business is selling whole pies and catering. You can get a quick piece of pie, but don’t expect to savor it while you sip coffee.
Post Road Trip Thoughts
If you decide to retrace my steps, start in Mansfield, then head to Arlington, Red Oak, Waxahachie, and end in West if you are coming from the Dallas area. If you are south, like around Waco, then do it the opposite direction.
In all cases, the people I talked to were friendly, helpful, and more than willing to share their time with me, answer my questions, and explain their pie philosophies. If I ever do this again, I will wear a caftan for sure. Fat pants aren’t enough.
Can you get too much pie? Nine pies in 24 hours might be close, but I have been able to prove, once again, that Texans make the best pies ever.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to sleep off this sugar-induced state of Nirvana.