Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Chicago Pie Tour

Chicago, the Windy City, was only incorporated as a city in 1837 but is now the third most populous city in the United States with 2.7 million residents. Its location on the shore of Lake Michigan made it an important location for trade and saw the economy expand. This massive growth in population and economy saw people arrive from all over the world. The question we wanted to answer to was what affect has this had on the pies that they have on offer? Indeed are pies common in Chicago? Being based in the UK we have not had much exposure to American pies, in fact we have not reviewed any before. I was aware that apple pies were popular but have often found that what American's call pies we might refer to in Britain as tarts, i.e. a fruit pie without a top pastry lid.


chicago pierate

Work took me to a conference in Chicago (yes, sadly pie reviewing is not quite a full time job yet!). Afterwards I took a day off to do some sightseeing, having never been to Chicago before. It was a packed schedule, I wanted to see some of the tourist sights such as the view from the John Hancock Center but also wanted to try at least a few different pies. When trying to find the best pies in a new city it often seems that they won't be in convenient central locations and will be spread around the city. This indeed was the case in Chicago. High up my itinerary was Pleasant House Pub (home of Royal Pies) and Hooiser Mama, both seemed to be highly regarded. I was also intrigued by First Slice, a charity who use their profits to provide free meals to those in need. Pleasant House Pub was conveniently situated to the south end of the city, where I was based. Hooiser Mama was to the west with First Slice miles out to the in the north.

I found that Chicago had a cycle hire scheme called Divvy, similar to the one in London and used this to travel around. It was slightly dangerous for a few reasons; I didn't understand the rules of the road, the bendy buses seemed keen to take cyclist out and the road resembled the surface of the moon. However, it was great fun as it meant I saw diverse parts of the city I wouldn't have gone to if I had just stuck to the tourist trail. The lakefront in particular was beautiful and had segregated cycle paths. I would have enjoyed it even more if I wasn't melting in the 35C heat. It's just not what I am used to on the hunt for pies in England! Fortunately some of the pies came with ice cream so all was okay.

The pies didn't let me down after all my efforts to track them down. I am pleased to say that Chicagoans seem to be into their pies, there were many more that I didn't have a chance (or occasionally the appetite) to eat in my short visit to such a large city. My worries that none of the pies would have top-crust lids were unfounded based on what I saw. I always found what we would call 'proper pies' available although some options like pecan pie (without a lid) were also present.

Overall I have reviewed 5 pies from my trip to Chicago, see the rankings below;

1. Pleasant House Pub/Royal Pies - Steak & Ale
2. Hoosier Mama Pie Company - Chicken Pot
3. Hoosier Mama Pie Company - Apple
4. First Slice - Apple
5. First Slice - Balsamic Raspberry & Pear



SJL


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