Friday 4 November 2016

Last But Not Least....

First Slice - Apple Pie and Balsamic Raspberry Pie Reviews

To end my Chicago Pie Tour reviews I come at last to First Slice, a pie based charity, who use their profits in order to provide meals to the homeless and needy. This sees them serve close to 4,000 meals a month. In return their customers are provided with tasty food. This arrangement seemed like a great idea to me, a warm pie and hopefully a warm feeling of doing something good! I had never come across anything like it before in all my years of pie reviewing so I felt I had to pay a visit.

First Slice have a few cafes in Chicago, unfortunately for me, all were somewhat outside the city centre. I decided to cycle up the Lake front to the Andersonville branch which was a bit of a trek but the journey was nice. After some of the run-down areas I had visited, Andersonville seemed posh. The main high street was bustling with people going to cafes, bars and restaurants. First Slice was down a side street and a little bit more 'shabby chic'. I instantly like it. There was a neon sign advertising 'Coffee & Pie' which is not the way pies are advertised back home (but they should be). Jolly signs outside made clear that this was an establishment which took their pies, and also their charity work, seriously. There was even a giant papier-mache model of a slice of pie.

Venturing inside, the guy serving was friendly and keen to chat about Pierate. There were lots of pies on offer although many of them didn't meet our criteria of being fully encased in pastry. This was the sort of thing I had expected from American pies. But yet again there were some fully encased pies. I opted for a classic Apple pie and also a slightly more 'left field' choice in the Balsamic Raspberry & Pear. I was pretty sure that we had never reviewed a Balsamic Raspberry & Pear pie before but it is hard to remember now we are nearly at 600 pie reviews!

Both pies were highly enjoyable but were slightly tainted by the fact that I was really, really thirsty after my cycle on what was a hot day in August. I asked a few times for an iced tea and was told it would be brought over to me. It started to get a bit awkward to keep asking for it and eventually I gave up! It was almost like the guy knew I was really thirsty and was doing it on purpose to test my ability to eat a pie while really thirsty! It was surprisingly challenging, I was so keen to drink rather than eat, but nothing gets in the way of me eating pie. Each slice was $3.80, around £3, so I thought this was a decent price for eating in at the cafe (and with the pound being weak against the dollar).

The apple pie was absolutely packed with fruit. So much so that it exploded out of the pastry, meaning the presentation wasn't particularly great. It also meant it was a bit short of pastry and actually I was left wanting a bit more to go with my pile of apple slices. But it tasted great with a lovely cinnamon hit and a flavour which was not too sweet. It wasn't all that dissimilar to apple pies back home, with perhaps a bit more cinnamon.

Apple Pie (First Slice [Chicago])

Onto the Balsamic Raspberry & Pear. Apparently, it is as the name suggest, a fruit pie with the addition of balsamic vinegar. At first I didn't really notice the vinegar taste but after a few bites I was definitely picking up a bit of vinegar tang. In some ways this worked well, it seemed to complement the sourness of the raspberries. I can't say I noticed the pear, I only realised it had pear when I got back home and looked at my photos! This pie was much nicer in appearance, holding together into an almost perfect slice. Overall, a pie that could have seemed very wrong actually seemed quite right.

Balsamic Raspberry and Pear Pie (First Slice [Chicago])

On leaving the guy at the desk insisted on giving me a slice of Pecan pie to take away as this was the best taste of America in his opinion. I felt a bit uncomfortable taking a freebie from a charity, but it was one of those situations where it was difficult to say no. It was very nice of him. Whilst very tasty, the pecan pie will not be reviewed on these pages because it wasn't fully encased in pastry.

I loved my trip to First Slice, what they are doing makes so much sense, I would be much happier going to a not-for-profit cafe back at home if they could serve up good quality food like this and at a price that didn't even cost any more than the other places I visited. It is also a shame that a pie cafe as a concept doesn't exist back home. I guess we normally opt for cake or biscuits to go with our drinks in a cafe in the UK. But it is as I expected, whilst Americans might not share our love of savoury pies, they put us to shame when it comes to sweet pies.


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