As one of pie wizard Phoebe Lawless' many acolytes, I've been hungrily awaiting the opening of her new shop, on Orange Street in downtown Durham. No more getting up early and driving to the Durham Farmer's Market on Saturday morning just to grab the last Shaker lemon pie!
I found Lawless behind the counter at Scratch Artisan Bakery on Thursday afternoon, looking tired but happy as she cut a slice of the above-mentioned Shaker lemon pie.
How's business, I asked?
"It's been unpredictable, but I'm not complaining," Lawless said, adding that she's been doing a lot of sales in coffee (from Counter Culture), and pie-by-the-slice. She's planning on adding sandwiches and a greater range of savory pies for lunch over the next few weeks.
The small shop and cafe has a sunny, vaguely Scandinavian look, with exposed brick walls and sculptural plastic chairs. On the day I visited, the glass pastry case featured a half dozen or so large pies, a plate of mini peach pies, and a yellow layer cake with thick swirls of chocolate frosting. The counter held platters of empanadas and savory vegetable crostatas, a basket of Lawless' infamous donutmuffins (just what they sound like; try one), a tray of delectably oozy-looking sticky rolls, plus a few odds and ends - homemade pigs in blankets, slices of roasted veggie focaccia.
What to choose?
If you can only pick one, try the blueberry crumble pie, Lawless suggests. "Blueberries are getting really great," she said.
I was sold. I walked out with a slice of blueberry crumble pie, a slice of Shaker lemon pie, a slice of lemon chess pie, a mini peach pie, two vegetable crostatas and a lamb empanada.
Let's just say I'm, uh, having a dinner party, OK?