Easy as Pie
This month, many food enthusiasts will be taking a slice out of one of the country’s oldest culinary traditions in celebration of Great American Pie Month.
The decision for Ono, You Know to get in on the action was easy as pie, considering there is so much to love about this most classic of desserts — crisp and crumbling crusts, oozing fruit fillings, whipped cream toppings — need I say more?
In addition to being packed with flavor, pies also are rich in history. Their origins are believed to go back to ancient Egypt, but when thinking about these beloved crusts with sweet or savory fillings as a “Great American” tradition, it’s interesting to note that pies were first brought to the mainland by the first English settlers, according to American Pie Council. Thus, pies have evolved alongside the nation, so it’s no wonder the famous saying reads “as American as apple pie.”
Without further ado, let’s take our forks to some of the legendary pies we have been blessed with here in the Islands.
TAKE A CLASSIC SLICE
New Eagle Cafe can be defined as classic in more ways than one. The local-style diner has been around for multiple generations, serves a quintessential mix of American and local favorites, and, of course, offers a plethora of traditional pies.
Whether seeking a pie made with island flavors or a tried-and-true recipe, I know I can find it all at the Nimitz Highway dining spot. Server Sua Torii shares that a number of pies are baked fresh every morning and sold by the slice ($3.15) for patrons to enjoy. The menu proudly states that the pies are homemade from scratch, so they are subject to availability. And as I learned, oftentimes they sell out by the end of the day.
Some of New Eagle’s pie selections, like Apple and Peach, are prepared with a gorgeous golden crumble topping, which expands on the flavors and textures of the sweet treats. The restaurant also whips up celestial Pear, Banana and Coconut pies, which feature a wonderfully firm yet flaky pie-crust-meets-blanket-of-comfort on top of each slice. And that’s not all. Variety really is the spice of life at New Eagle Cafe, as creamy Custard and tangy-sweet Apricot pies give customers even more delectable options to choose from.
Patrons may snatch up whole pies for $10.45 each, and if you’d like to order one, the friendly staff just asks for one day’s notice.
Any way you slice it, these pies are the ideal dessert for all of the eatery’s offerings. Whether enjoying eggs Benedicts and waffles for breakfast, burgers and salads for lunch, or local-style favorites and teishoku meal sets for dinner, you’ll want to end on a sweet note with a good old-fashioned pie.
New Eagle Cafe
1130 N. Nimitz Hwy., Honolulu
FROM SWEET TO SAVORY
I first realized Fendu Boulangerie owner and chef Niel Koep was serious about pie over the holidays a few months back, when he was explaining the importance of pre-baking the bottom crust layer of his famous Pumpkin Pie, which sells out every year. He explained that this extra step ensures the final pie is cooked through all the way — no soggy crusts in sight.
So I knew I could trust his recommendations for a couple of other pie creations to try. Petite Fuji Apple Pie with Oatmeal Crumble ($5.85) is a staple at the bakery, filled with an alluring apple mixture enriched with cinnamon and both brown and white sugar. Like the Pumpkin Pie, the French-pie-dough crust beneath this apple filling is prebaked, while the real magic comes together when the streusel-style oatmeal crumble topping is added. I love that this pie is served in a generous individual portion, which is conducive to sharing, but really is best when enjoyed all by yourself.
Now, we mustn’t forget about the hot and sumptuous flavors that flow out of savory pies, which have been around just as long as their dessert cousin. Fendu makes a fantastic Island Style Chicken Pot Pie ($12.50 regular size) with local Okinawan sweet potato and Hamakua mushrooms, green papaya and Shanghai Cabbage.
“We wanted to incorporate ingredients that are popular here in Hawaii into a classic pot pie,” explains Koep, adding that the inspiration for this one comes from a delicious Filipino specialty his wife makes.
The quality comes across in the details, seeing as the bakery’s team cooks the vegetables separately from the chicken and green papaya, to avoid overcooking any one ingredient. As for the single layer of solid, buttery crust on top, it perfectly complements this hearty and comforting style of pie. The dish is a special, but it’s available most of the time, and you always can call ahead to see if the bakery has it on the menu.
2752 Woodlawn Drive, No. 5-119, Manoa