Last night was a further celebration of that most delectable of desserts. A month and a day after the celebration of Pi(e), a group of gal pals and I gathered together at Magpie on South Street to learn the secret behind their perfectly flaky crust. We each walked away with a full apple crumb pie that we prepared after feasting on the sweet and savouries offered in the shop.
The artisan pie boutique located at 1622 South Street has hosted a small group of us on several occasions, coming together in our love of pie, but they closed the shop for this special class. The space is full of light, warm and rustic but with a touch of modern flair. Owner Holly Ricciardi incorporates her graphic design background in subtle touches around the shop like the large blackboard display of the menu and the logo itself – a clean black and white circle incorporating the namesake bird, known for its penchant for collecting shiny items and incorporating it into its nest. Ricciardi likens this behavior to pie construction, bringing the ingredients together to build her delicious pies.
A display wall welcomes one into the shop with ties to Magpie’s history, a collection which incorporates family photos; a bird’s nest; and a framed, crumbling and yellowed piece of paper containing the handwritten recipe for butterscotch pie, the inspiration for the boutique’s signature butterscotch bourbon pie. The page came from a book filled with Ricciardi’s grandmother’s handwritten notes, recipes, home remedies, and etiquette tips.
I took a dozen photos of the pie making experience from crust to crumb, and everything in between, which you can view here. But more importantly, we ate! The menu at Magpie consists of savouries and sweets, both using the same magic, buttery, slightly sweet crust as well as an assortment of teas, coffee, and milk shakes with your choice of pie blend-ins. I feasted on my own selection as well as whomever’s was in reach of my fork. I chose the shephed’s pie with cauliflower mash for myself, while other’s sampled the chicken pot pie topped with a cheesy biscuit, mole chili frito pie, and mac & cheese with spicy beef. Then came the sweets – caramel apple, strawberry rhubarb, the aforementioned butterscotch bourbon, the pie of the month chocolate peanut butter, and my personal favorite banana nilla. As one fellow pie enthusiast stated, it tastes like childhood. Agreed, and it is just about the best banana pie I’ve ever encountered. The buttermilk with blackberry jam was unfortunately sold out for the day. It wasn’t until this morning’s breakfast that I even had any room in my stomach to taste my apple crumb. The crust which presented problems while rolling still retained its Magpie magic, the apples had some crisp left in them and a bit of brightness from the pink peppercorn incorporated into the mix, and the crumb topping was buttery sweetness with a slight taste of salt and home from the oatmeal.
Many thanks to Allison from BrotherlyGrubLove for setting up our special pie evening.