With bountiful seasonal harvests of pecans, peaches, berries, muscadines and sweet potatoes, Alabama has long been known for capping off any culinary experience with a crowd-pleasing grand finale: pie. Here, pies come in all shapes, sizes and flavors, meaning that every visitor is sure to find a flaky and fantastic dessert that hits the spot.
Flaky, hot fried pies are a Southern tradition perfect for eating out of hand. And the fried peach pies at Peach Park – just past the peach-shaped water tower on Interstate 65 in Clanton – are well worth the trip. To Alabamians, Chilton County is the undisputed peach capital of the world. It’s all about quality, not quantity. These peaches are tree-ripened and flavorful, rivaling any from the big growers in the neighboring Peach State and making that fried pie the peachiest indulgence in the South.
There is no middle ground at the Twix ‘n Tween truck stop in Centreville; it’s all about the meringue pie, and only mile-high toppers will do. To-go orders must be flattened to fit in the box, so for full effect, enjoy a slice on the premises. Address: 297 Walnut St., Centreville.
For some of the best down-home meals in the state, go Greek. In Alabama, you don’t have to look far to find a Greek-owned meat-and-three, hot dog spot or fish restaurant. The Bright Star in Bessemer has been a shining example of Mediterranean-meets-Southern since 1915. Stuff yourself with snapper amandine, squash casserole and Greek salad, then finish off the meal with a slice of customer favorites like lemon ice box pie or peanut butter pie.
For a sweet taste of Alabama shipped anywhere in 48 hours, Lady Lynn’s Tarts is the ticket to your recipient’s heart. This mom and professional pastry chef turned her beloved tart recipes — pear, apple, lemon, chocolate and pecan — into a commercial operation. The only products she ships are her organic pecan tarts made from Mammoth pecans grown in Louisville, Ala., because they hold up well in transport. The same can’t be said for how well they hold up after arrival. It is a strong person who can resist this package.
If you like to get your hands dirty, then Greensboro’s PieLab is the place to “crimp” your style. This pop-up café, featured nationally by such publications as The New York Times, is a communal kitchen and meetinghouse where patrons can craft a pie from locally grown fruit and share ideas, talk politics or just relax and order off the menu while watching others wield a pastry blender. PieLab has both sweet and savory pies to choose from, including chocolate-bourbon pecan; Mrs. Whittfield’s Blueberry; green apple with sharp cheddar crust; goat cheese, caramelized onion and mushroom; or balsamic roasted tomato, bacon and spinach. If you can’t find or make a pie you like here, then you are most certainly not a pie person.
About the Author
Katherine Cobbs is a food writer whose work has appeared in Southern Living, Southern Accents, Cottage Living and Cooking Light magazines. She has co-authored books with renowned chefs, including: Frank Stitt’s Bottega Favorita and The Hot & Hot Fish Club Cookbook with Chris Hastings and served as editor of the recently released Cooking in Everyday English with Chef Todd English. Katherine resides in Birmingham, Alabama with her husband and three daughters.
The views expressed here are those of the author.