A few nights ago, in Omaha, we were treated to a dinner, our 2nd dinner out in the last year. It was so stimulating to be there! I’m still thinking about the conversation, atmosphere, and food, all casually elegant.
I passed on dessert until strawberry rhubarb was mentioned. I had to try it. This was the chef’s original version, not pie shaped, but somehow little bundles of strawberries and rhubarb and pastry scattered on the plate. The actual menu description was “STRAWBERRY RHUBARB TURNOVER, vanilla ice cream, almonds, mint”. Every bite was devoured and appreciated.
Mom always liked rhubarb. She tried to get her children to like it too.
“Here, try it raw”, she’d say, “dipped in sugar.” Not for me.
Then, she’d make a rhubarb sauce, like applesauce. Still, not for me.
“Maybe in a jam?” she’d offer us. No way.
“OK, then, how about strawberry rhubarb jam?” This I liked!
She may have even made a strawberry rhubarb pie, but I don’t especially remember that.
Last night, we picked up homemade pan fried chicken and sides (good gravy!) for the first time at The Gingham Inn, a take-out only place.
They had strawberry rhubarb pie on the menu. One piece came home with us. It was very good and fresh tasting!
On another summer’s day, on August 4, 2011, I wrote this about a visit to a small town Iowa cafe, and its strawberry rhubarb pie:
Driving to Lake Okoboji, I suggest that we stop in Odebolt, a town north of Denison, IA. I wanted to see the gorgeous bank building that I saw years ago. Back then, it was all boarded up, and piled with junk, as I saw through a window. Maybe now it had become a trendy, comfortable coffee shop.
We get there and I see that it looks like a functioning bank. Dan very nicely parks the car so I can see it up close. As I open my car door, he rolls his eyes a little, wanting to keep going, I think. I explain that I have to see the inside!
It is gorgeously detailed, with gold-bronze metalwork, built in 1915 by a Chicago architectural firm. After closing in the 1930’s because of the Depression, and for several decades after, it was restored and recently put back into use.
The next thing I want to find out is where we can have lunch in town. The teller says there’s a cafe on Main St. It’s one block away, so that’s where we go.
The farmers are leaving their boots outside, for a very good reason.
We go inside and I see the special on the board is strawberry rhubarb pie. I picture a fresh, 2 inch thick filling with a tender flaky crust. The waitress says there is one slice left.
“I’ll take it!” I say.
“Do you want that warmed up?”
“Yes, absolutely.” And the picture in my mind gets even more enticing.
“How about Cool Whip?”
“No, thank you”, I say, thinking how wonderful real whipped cream or ice cream would be.
Then, I ask, “Is it homemade?”
“Yes,” she says, and I can hardly wait!
Now she’s carrying it to me, and I am deflated. This little, thin piece with a thick, biscuit-like crust, and what looks like canned something or other filling is on my plate. Oh well, I’ll eat it.
But, when I took that first bite, I knew I would not eat another bite of the worst pie I’ve ever had.
Even my feelings of guilt over taking the last piece in the cafe could not make me finish it.
Dan has a saying about this: “A bad piece of pie is better than no piece of pie.” I disagree.
Life is too short.