Monthly Archives: May 2014

The Perfect Two Bites…

I received a number of emails and texts today about how our sweet little pie box fared on the journey into the jungle of NYC.  I’m taking the liberty of speaking for the nine-inch German Chocolate when I thank each of you for your warm wishes and concern as the box navigated planes, warehouses, and box trucks.  Sadly, I must announce that our darling pie suffered some mild damage in transit, thus confirming that the primary method of sorting boxes in shipping warehouses is throwing.  And perhaps drop kicking.

Charlotte reported today that the box arrived on her doorstep and overall, it looked rather promising.  Weighing in at two pounds, she proclaimed the box to be sturdy and she expected nothing but a wonderful pie vision when she cut through all the packing tape.  Sadly, it was not meant to be.  It seems the crust took some heartbreaking blows that were unrecoverable.  On the bright side, most of the broken crust was in the box and tasted great.  She concluded taste still earned a solid A+, but appearance certainly lacked something to be discovered.

So, back to square one on the shipping endeavor.  I already have some new ideas for Spencer and Kyle and the team at Worldwide Express.  I plan for sample #3 to ship out on Tuesday with a new concept in packaging.  That said, Director of Publicity and Something-Else-I-Can’t-Remember Charlotte is likely overwhelmed with receiving a dubious looking German Chocolate pie once a week and we may need to switch pie types before she starts just putting “return to sender” on the box.

In other marginally interesting news, we spent most of the day baking tarts for tomorrow’s KBIA event.  We are planning to take 750 tarts, given or take a few.  The awesome thing about tarts is that you can really do them in any flavor and they provide an excellent two bites of pie.  You can also enjoy them in social settings without needing a plate, fork, or a silent prayer to the heavens that you don’t spill filling all over yourself.  Basically, a tart is a perfect two-bite portion of any pie you can imagine.

We make the tarts just as we would any of our pies – completely from scratch.  We don’t use pre-purchased tart shells or add in any pre-mixed filings.  And when you see the tarts, the first thing that crosses your mind is that these tarts are made with a lot of patience and affection for the art of pie-baking…

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So tomorrow…600 more tarts to bake.  And a party to attend.  If you are at the Premier event tomorrow night, please stop by and say hello.

 

 

Once-In-A-Lifetime List…

What we have here tonight is an assortment, a medley, a GRAB BAG of topics.

Please pardon the absence of any sort of unifying narrative theme.

  1. Yesterday, we shipped a pie to Charlotte, our Director of Publicity and Something-Else-I-Can’t-Remember, in New York, New York.  And I wish I knew where the pie box was right now and how it is faring on its journey to the Big Apple.  I hope the UPS workers aren’t drop kicking it across a warehouse or storing it in an un-air conditioned warehouse in some forgettable suburb near an airport as I type this.  That I actively spent time this afternoon thinking about that pie box and wishing it safe travels probably  tells you that we at PJP are SERIOUSLY INVESTED in this shipping endeavor.
  2. Our general rule at PJP is that I concentrate on cream pies and Jeanne concentrates on fruit pies.  Lately, we’ve had a lot of requests for traditional meringue on cream pies for special order.  In those scenarios, I beg of Jeanne to do the traditional meringue because meringue is so very temperamental (I swear I’ve caused a meringue to collapse simply by having doubt about it in my mind).  Saturday found me alone in PJP Buttonwood with a long-term customer who kindly asked if I would do a traditional meringue on her lemon pie.  I managed to do it, but the meringue was HUGE.  As in I should probably investigate the world record for meringue height.  All I can think is that when I’m nervous, I tend to do big meringue.  Which makes me think of Annelle in Steel Magnolias because she tends to do big hair when she is nervous.  Which is fair enough, because I also enjoy the colors blush and bashful and would frequent a beauty parlor owned by Dolly Parton if I had the opportunity.tumblr_n1coalMPS21r9ablgo2_500
  3. This Friday evening, we will be at the University Concert Series Premiere event (http://www.concertseries.org/event/premiere-the-celebration-of-the-year/).  We are super excited for this event wherein Concert Series unveils the 2014-2015 concert series schedule.  And by unveiling, I mean they throw a massive party with food, drink, and music in the historic Missouri Theater.  Purchasing a ticket gets you all-inclusive access to some of the best food, cocktails & beer, and entertainment in Columbia.  We are thrilled that we were invited to be a part of this awesome event and we can’t wait to see everyone on Friday.  We will be located in the rooftop lobby and we are bringing SO MUCH PIE.  And if you snag us a sample of white wine on your way to our booth, we will let you have two pieces of pie.  Fair enough?
  4. And finally, I’m happy to announce that PJP has ARRIVED and is a full-on fancy operation.  How do I know?  We have personalized pens.photo-64Really, these pens don’t mean anything except that I am not good at saying “no, thanks” to telemarketers who have a once-in-a-lifetime closeout special on ink pens.  But whatever…they come in blush and bashful.  Stop by PJP Buttonwood and get one before the once-in-a-lifetime supply is gone…

Pie Is Home…

To say the very least, the retail display of our pies at PJP Buttonwood has been a challenge.  While we can create pies, bake pies, discuss pies, and plan for pie world domination…it appears that the simple act of displaying our product in the most compelling way to potential customers is a little more difficult than either of us anticipated.

If you recall PJP on Broadway and PJP Chapel Hill, you’ll remember traditional bakery display cases…

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When we started to consider PJP Buttonwood, nothing about that display concept felt right to us.  We researched all sorts of different display cases on the Internet and browsed restaurant supply companies, but each result left us feeling less than inspired.  And to further complicate the situation, display cases are insanely expensive.  In fact, the unit pictured above is currently for sale for $10,588.52.  And for $10,588.52, that case should be able to bake the pies and clean up the mess after it is finished.

Finally, as the opening day of PJP Buttonwood neared, we settled on a fairly unique refrigeration case…primarily because we needed something and it was the least offensive of our choices.  On equipment delivery day, the unit wouldn’t fit through the front door.  It was too wide at the base by just a few inches and because none of the delivery people thought my claims of “JUST SHOVE IT THROUGH THE DOORWAY AND IT WILL BE FINE” was a good way to proceed, the case went back on the truck and was returned to the store.  And because we are fairly good at recognizing a sign from the universe, PJP Buttonwood opened with a rather sad three tier display unit purchased from a defunct retail store for our ambient temperature pies and no cold display at all. And after what it took to get PJP Buttonwood ready to finally open, a delay over display cases was not a delay I was interested in, thank you very much for asking.

So we are rolling into five weeks into our space and it has become apparent that our retail display skills are lackluster.  It is a problem that Caroline Leemis from Caroline Leemis Design has been actively attacking for the past few weeks.  I can’t even begin to tell you what sort of transformation is planned for our front retail space, but please trust me when I say WE ARE IN LOVE WITH THE PLANS.

Last week, Caroline stopped by and we were all chatting and the idea of an antique refrigerator surfaced in our conversation.  We’ve been working on this theme of “pie is home” and so what if we could find just the right refrigerator for our cold pies and place it in the front of PJP Buttonwood and encourage our customers to open the refrigerator and browse the selection, just as you would at home?

Later that afternoon, Caroline emailed me a Craigslist posting for the Kansas City area for an antique refrigerator for $400.  I emailed about the availability and in the span of a few emails and text messages, we became the owners of a prime condition, fully functioning antique refrigerator.  And for an extra $100, the owner even offered to drive it from Kansas City to Columbia, with scheduled delivery for today.

(As to be expected with Craigslist, we both had a little doubt this morning about this whole transaction.  Would the guy even show up?  And if he did, would the refrigerator be as advertised?  And if so, would he just deliver it or use it as a guise and then actually be a killer?)

Turns out, refrigerator owner Chad was a delightful person who spent most of his drive to Columbia questioning if we were crazy people plotting to kill guys who deliver antique refrigerators.  Once all the awkward once-overs were complete and there was palatable relief that we were all real and normal people, it was time to welcome our new addition to PJP Buttonwood.

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Once in place, Chad plugged it in and it powered to life…

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Chad wasn’t sure of the manufacture year of the refrigerator.  Some Google image searches seem to point to around 1950.  It works beautifully and the interior condition is nothing short of perfect.

This refrigerator has brought her own charm to PJP Buttonwood in a way that we hadn’t anticipated.  We filled it quickly with all our fresh cream pies and then squealed with delight whenever a customer came in and intuitively opened the refrigerator door to see if there was anything good worth having.

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We couldn’t be more happy with our budget friendly cold storage that feels like it has always been at home with us.  We love watching everyone open the door and peruse the options, just like they would at home.  Because pie is home.  And eventually everyone comes home.