Sunday, September 27, 2009
Regional foods are uniquely wonderful. Some of these foods can be found in other places-they just aren't the same, chicken wings, for example. Some regional foods are found in certain areas-small-say Western New York (chicken wings, beef on weck and orange chocolate) or much larger, like Texas (true Tex-Mex) or the South. Some food however is VERY regional. I grew up in Buffalo, but it wasn't until I moved to Rochester (an hour/hour and a half to the East) that I heard of grape pies. I'm so glad I discovered these wonderful pies, which, generally you can only find in the Finger Lakes from Mid September-Mid-October, during the grape harvest. Apparently it all started in Naples, New York when Al Hodges, who owned the Redwood Inn, was looking for a special dessert to attract visitors. He came up with the idea of grape pies and they were a hit. He was making so many and guests began asking for whole pies to take with them that he couldn't keep up. He soon got Irene Bouchard, a local baker, to help out. She made some changes to a recipe from a friend's mother and got to work. That was 1965. Grape pies are still a huge hit-and you still can only find them in the Finger Lakes of New York during grape harvest. I haven't had a grape pie I didn't like-but I had an extraordinary one last year. The Creamery offered these pies made by a local woman-this year I reserved 2 pies, one for me and one for my folks. We picked them up today...if I hadn't reserved them, we wouldn't have gotten them-they were already sold out! If you ever get a chance-have some grape pie, you won't regret it!