You know what time it is, don't you? It's time to make that phone call and find out what you're bringing for Thanksgiving. According to in-house City Pages research, eight out of ten of you are bringing dessert. If this describes you, please know that it is your lucky year. A few years ago you had to place your pie order weeks in advance, but now you have all the way until the Monday before Thanksgiving to make up your mind.
As I see it, you have two pie options. On the traditional, homemade, rustic, and artisanal front there is Turtle Bread, about which I have written so many raves that I am kind of at a loss to speak of the place anymore, but let's just say that if you could hear the American landscape of apples, pumpkins, and raspberries as a symphony conducted by sweet, organic butter using a baton of the Midwest's best ground grains, that symphony would sound as dazzling as the pastry cases at Turtle Bread look. Okay? And they're taking pie orders through the 23rd of November.
Options, for those of you new to their magnificence, include a gorgeously heavy pumpkin pie; their classic apple pie; a puckery raspberry; silky, weighty, crunchy pecan; overstuffed blueberry; cherry; and, new this year, a pumpkin cheesecake. Pies cost $18.99, not including an additional $2.50 refundable deposit for the pie tin. Remember, you can also reserve Turtle's award-winning, marvelous breads. The Turtle Bread Company, 4762 Chicago Ave. S., Minneapolis, 612.823.7333; 3421 West 44th St., Minneapolis, 612.924.6013; or downtown in the Minneapolis skyways, at One Financial Plaza, 612.455.2552.
If you're less interested in artisanal America, but more interested in European pastry nirvana, Patrick's Bakery is taking orders for desserts until Monday the 22nd. Options include a traditional pumpkin pie, which will not be ordered by anyone reading this column because--get this: There is now also a special Patrick's pumpkin pie, in which the bakers place six--count 'em, six--chocolate-covered, gold-foil-gilded chocolate mousse pyramids on top of the pie. Did you hear me? I said gold-foil-gilded pyramids of chocolate mousse! If this doesn't make your damn cousin stop yammering about how much better life is on the East Coast, nothing will. Unless it's the cranberry meringue or strawberry rhubarb meringue pies, in which that devastatingly buttery crust is topped with a layer of vanilla flan, which is then layered with either cranberries or the strawberry-rhubarb combo, after which the whole thing is topped with that airy, buoyant, photo-perfect meringue. Prices for Patrick's pies run from $19.95 to $23.95; they also have lovely rolls and excellent whole quiches. Patrick's French Bakery; 2928 66th St. W., Richfield; 612.861.7570.
But what if you don't want fancy highfalutin pies, but want the old-fashioned, real Minnesota pies like your grandma used to make? In that case, make your way east of the river to Jerabek's, where they make the pies that live deep in your subconscious--the French silks, banana creams, lemon meringues, and even that old-fashioned classic sour cream raisin. Now, you might not know about sour cream raisin, and if not, please know that once upon a time in the winter heartland there were no refrigerators, no fresh raspberries, no fancy French chefs, and no gold foil on nothing. What there was was a lot of fresh dairy and a precious few sweet things, like raisins. Hence the sour cream raisin pie. This is my call for the pie most likely to bring a tear to Great Grandma Lena's eye, and if you ever want her to knit you an afghan, you better special-order one of these.
If you have a Southern grandma, consider charming her with Jerabek's update of the classic shoofly pie--they call theirs the shoo-bee, and it's made with espresso, molasses, and brown sugar. There isn't space to list them here, but please know that Jerabek's seems to have about as many pie recipes as an afghan has knots. Your other options include basic pumpkin, scads of different apple pies (not limited to apple-maple-cream, apple-pear-cranberry, and caramel apple), lemon meringue, key lime, cream (including banana, coconut, and chocolate), rhubarb (including strawberry rhubarb and new blueberry rhubarb), cherry, blueberry, triple-berry (raspberry, blueberry, and blackberry), and more, more, more! Even mincemeat, which, if you don't know, used to contain some meat, back in the Middle Ages and all, but nowadays tends to be just another old-fashioned, meatless, American classic fruit pie--but with extra, extra nuts. Jerabek's mincemeat filling includes walnuts, apples, raisins, and a hint of orange peel.
Can't make up your mind? You've got until 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday the 23rd to decide. And even if you totally blow it, rest assured that the good folks at Jerabek's plan to have a bunch of pies on hand for those of you who read this whole article and still never manage to place an order. Oh, and Jerabek's also has old-fashioned pricing; pies tend to cost between $7.99 and $11.99. Jerabek's New Bohemian Coffee House & Bakery; 63 W. Winifred St., St. Paul; 651.228.1245.
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