While I love just about everything involved with living here in Knoxville, I have run across a few minor annoyances that leave me ranting, mostly to myself (oh, and Facebook). One of these annoyances is not being able to find things that were readily available to me when I lived in Chicagoland, like affordable, fresh cherry pie.
This Saturday we’re heading over to my parents’ house to celebrate Jim’s and my mom’s birthdays, which are only six days apart. My sister is taking care of cooking the meal and I’m taking care of dessert. That means a rainbow cake with my mom in mind because it’s a long-time family tradition, and cherry pie with Jim in mind because that’s his favorite. (We are a dessert-laden family on special occasions. Don’t judge.)
The rainbow cake is obviously no problem; at this point I can practically bake one in my sleep, and I have a solid theme in mind for the shape and decoration. The cherry pie is something that I have, for most of the last seventeen years, picked up right down the street from our house in Naperville at Baker’s Square. A pie from Baker’s Square is…well, you just can’t go wrong. For eleven bucks you can buy an incredibly tasty cherry pie, and while you’re there you need to splurge on the French Silk, which is perfection, and my favorite. In fact, my mouth just started watering when I typed “French Silk”.
Sidenote. In my search for a cherry pie picture for that quote (above), my eye was drawn to that one immediately. As it turns out, the origin of that picture is…Baker’s Square. Do I know my Baker’s Square cherry pies or what??
I don’t live in Naperville anymore, obviously, so I needed to find a new local source for Jim’s birthday cherry pie. I asked my Facebook friends for recommendations and there were a bunch so I started calling around. Here are the results, without naming bakery names because all of these businesses came highly recommended in general and I don’t want to throw a bunch of cherry pie-based negativity their way:
- Bakery #1: Does not make cherry pies.
- Bakery #2: Does not make cherry pies.
- Bakery #3: Does not make cherry pies.
- Bakery #4: Good chance they DO make cherry pies but they are closed until January 9 to recover from their holiday rush so I don’t know for sure AND their being closed won’t help me.
- Bakery #5: “We make a cheesecake with cherry topping, will that work?” (Is that a cherry pie? Then no.)
- Bakery #6: Will make me a cherry pie, for $32. (THIRTY-TWO DOLLARS!!!)
- Bakery #7: Does not make fruit pies. Recommended that I call Bakery #4.
- Bakery #8: Does not make cherry pies.
One of my friends also recommended a place that specializes in small fried pies, and remembering that Jim used to absolutely love Hostess cherry pies in his teens and twenties, I gave them a call. They mostly do catering but would do a special order for me, with a minimum of twelve. That’s a “no” from me.
The frustration I was feeling at not being able to find a simple cherry pie at a bakery was enormous, and then it occurred to me that I could make it myself. Even though making a pie crust from scratch has always been intimidating to me, I decided to give it a shot anyway. I searched for a Pioneer Woman recipe because you can never go wrong with Ree. I found one right away and made that my Plan B. I just had to get the ingredients at the store!
Sidenote. Liz called last night and this happened:
While we were laughing about my self-created drama, her husband GarthNHRN mentioned in the background that I probably can’t find cherry pie here because only four people in the world eat that: Jim, Liz, his dad, and me. I think his estimate is a little off but I have no proof and have other cherry pie-related concerns so I’ll leave that alone for now while reserving my right to return to it at a later date.
This morning I went to the grocery store, armed with the ingredient list from Ree’s recipe. I had to get six cups of frozen tart cherries and I figured the grocery store that would have the best chance of stocking them was Publix. They carry Chicago’s Home Run Inn Pizza after all, so I imagined that I could count on them for other things that might be hard to find, like frozen tart cherries. Deciding to hit the freezer section last, I grabbed all of the other ingredients I needed. After grabbing two lemons in the produce department, I passed by the bakery and UM. Guess what?
Publix sells fresh cherry pies in their bakery.
I looked at the baking ingredients in my cart and decided, “Hey. I’m on a mission. I’ve come this far…I’m just going to make the pie myself.” At least I would know that I could get cherry pie at Publix in the future. I felt good about my decision; in fact I was actually excited about it. I headed to the freezer department where I found…frozen sweet cherries. Not a tart cherry in sight.
Not to be deterred from the homemade cherry pie mission to which I had just committed with every fiber of my being, I completely forgot about/repressed/ignored the massive frustration I had been going through for the last twenty-four hours. Ever the optimist, I thought to myself, “There has to be a store in Knoxville that sells frozen tart cherries! Sure! There has to be! I’ll find them!”
Fast forward to me sitting in my car, letting my fingers do the walking (Google it, kids!) and calling all of the other grocery stores in town. I’ll give you one guess as to how that went.
- Store #1: Does not carry frozen tart cherries.
- Store #2: Does not carry frozen tart cherries.
- Store #3: Does not carry frozen tart cherries.
- Store #4: Does not carry frozen tart cherries.
- Store #5: Does not carry frozen tart cherries.
The closest I came to finding them was at Whole Foods. The lovely woman who answered my call told me that she thought they used to have frozen tart cherries but they currently don’t. That said, they DO have them in 14 oz cans for six bucks each. I needed six cups of cherries (not liquid). After doing that math, I…
…called Publix to ask if they could make sure a cherry pie is sitting there with my name on it Saturday afternoon.
When I got home I was filling Jen in on the new pie developments and she said, “You know, don’t you, that you should have just ordered the $32 pie yesterday? You have put about ten times that into energy and calls and driving around.” She’s absolutely right.
On the bright side, I now know just about everything there is to know (and not know) about cherry pies in Knoxville. Also, I’m going to enjoy every bite of that Publix cherry pie on Saturday. Also, Baker’s Square? Call me.