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Monday, April 18, 2011

Foot Hi Pie at Blue Springs Cafe

Posted By on Mon, Apr 18, 2011 at 10:00 AM

ROBIN WHEELER
  • Robin Wheeler

Last October Gut Check staged the Great Illinois Pie Fight, with Blue Springs Cafe in Highland taking a sound beating from Mills Apple Farm in Marine.

How sound was the beating?

But if we ever need to gather ammunition for a pie fight, we're heading straight to Blue Springs.

Ouch.

We were more than a little surprised by a tidbit in the Belleville News Democrat about Blue Springs Cafe's "Foot Hi Pies" being featured on Food Network's "The Best Thing I Ever Ate".

Sugar artist and Food Network Challenge host Kerry Vincent picked the pie for an upcoming episode of the show that features Food Network chefs recounting their favorite food moments.

Vincent's no stranger to picking the best sweet stuff. She's co-founder of the Oklahoma State Sugar Art Show and founder of the Grand National Wedding Cake Competition. Last year she became the first sugar artist to judge the USA pastry trials for the Coupe Du Monde de la Patisserie.

Since Vincent seems to know her stuff, we thought it was time for a second helping of Foot Hi Pie.

This time we opted for banana instead of chocolate. While the banana cream filling was a bit too firm, everything else about the pie merits the love we expect Vincent to heap onto it. Heaped like fluffy meringue, with the right level of sweetness and a hit of eggy flavor, whipped into lofty, lightly toasted peaks.

Oh yes, the meringue was good. So was the golden-brown crust, full of crisp flakes with no hint of the sogginess from the previous visit. This might be from the layer of sliced bananas separating the crust from the banana cream, which also gives the pie a burst of fresh, authentic banana flavor that could mask any flavor flaws with the cream.

Perhaps Blue Springs Cafe does banana cream better than chocolate cream. Or maybe they had an off day last October. Cream pies and meringue are so fickle that a difference in temperature and humidity could throw it off. Regardless, this second helping was much better than the first.

ROBIN WHEELER
  • Robin Wheeler

But we also weren't pitting the pie against our 2010 Best Pie winner this time. Comparing cream pie to the fruit pies at Mills Apple Farm is and apples-and-oranges situation, so this time we also tried a slice of Blue Springs Cafe's blackberry pie.

ROBIN WHEELER
  • Robin Wheeler

The slice could slide on that perfect crust alone, but the filling compensated were the too-firm cream lacked. The berries balanced sweetness and tartness in a filling that was thick without any trace of chemical thickening agents.

It's a fruit pie that could give Mills a run for it this year.

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