T’is the season to give thanks for family, friends…and pie! Thanksgiving is nearly upon us, a time when we revel in great food and company, and despite all the delectable savory staples, go into the holiday meal with our eyes set on the pies.
“As American as apple pie”—a quote everyone living in the U.S. has heard at least once. The first apple seeds in this country were planted in the early 1600s in the Massachusetts colony before being spread throughout the land, but Americans were not the originators of pie.
These mouthwatering concoctions date back to ancient times, though for historians it’s a toss-up if the concept of an edible filling embraced by pastry originated in ancient Egypt, Greece or Rome. All three used olive oil as their primary fat, and discovered that when it was mixed with grains, a rudimentary dough was formed.
The predecessor of today’s sweeter versions were savory meat pies surrounded by a thick, often inedible crust brought to North America by the English settlers. As sugar became readily available and apple trees prevalent, the old savory standby was reinvented to the fruit- and nut-driven renditions with lighter, tastier crusts that pie-lovers adore today.
How are pies evolving in modern times? They’re as diverse as Americans themselves, and certainly reflective of the country’s agricultural progress, with pies now made from an enormous array of fruits and nuts grown across the states.
Here in the Truckee Meadows, Chef and Owner of Hömáge Nicholle Alumbaugh has spent years exploring flavor combinations and perfecting her pies. A frequent creator of pastries that mesh both sweet and savory, and innovator of concepts like her upcoming advent calendar-like “25 Days of Cookies” holiday promotion, Alumbaugh enjoys experimenting with flavors—including in her holiday pie menu.
“I’m always looking to do something fresh and exiting to traditional staples,” exudes Chef Alumbaugh. “Like our new Nutella-Marbled Pumpkin I created for the holidays this year. Knowing that chocolate and pumpkin work well together, the subtle nuttiness of the Nutella just added another depth to the flavor profiles that so many already love.”
She seeks out unique flavor fusions through experimentation in the kitchen. That’s how her Boysenberry Merlot Cobbler came to be. For the best chefs, identifying complementary flavors becomes instinctual. Deciding that a bit of merlot would add just that extra “something” to succulent boysenberries a nearly inherent decision for Alumbaugh. Topping the blend with a cobbler, but first refining it to an impeccable texture somewhere between a biscuit and cake with buttery pockets of caramelization peeking through, another talent of hers.
Ingredients typically crafted for glasses often work equally well in pie pans, she came to find out while musing on her holiday menu. For the Dark Chocolate Bourbon Pecan, Alumbaugh infuses her caramelly dark brown sugar custard with just enough Bulleit Frontier Bourbon to bring out subtle maple, nutmeg and toffee flavors. After integrating dark chocolate pieces and pecans, her buttery house made crust is filled with the mouthwatering mixture.
This year, Hömáge is only offering five pies on their menu to make room for a bounty of other holiday goodies, but made sure that fans of longtime favorites still got their fill. Enter the Mile-High Apple, a pie encased in a double-crust that tips the scales at around five pounds and towers over others at about three inches high. Fans of cheesecakes will cheer at the melding of tart cranberries and decadent cream cheese topped with buttery streusel in the holiday-hued Cranberry Cheesecake Streusel.
Each of her nine-inch pies serves six-to-eight people, and are offered at $32 each with a little advance notice requested. Hömáges holiday menu also features bake-at-home cookies and scones so you can fool your friends and family into thinking you haven’t left the kitchen for days while filling your home with fresh-baked aromas. But for lovers of ready-made creative round concoctions, Hömáge will also offer a new and different cookie every day, beginning Nov. 30 through Dec. 24.
An edible advent calendar of sorts, selections like Dulce De Leche Alfajores, Coconut Macaroons, Cranberry Shortbread, Peppermint Brownies, and Red Velvet White Chocolate Chip are Chef Alumbaugh’s daily present for your tastebuds as the holiday season ramps up. And oh yes, gingerbread men will be available on Dec. 24 for stocking stuffers…
Check out all Hömáge has to offer for the holidays by visiting HomageReno.com or their location at 519 Ralston Street in Reno, or calling 775-323-8952.
Would you like to be part of Food Nevada? Restaurant-cocktail-beer-wine suggestions, restaurant or bar openings, have an event you’d like mentioned, upcoming non-profit fundraiser, something that’s made in Nevada, food tidbits – we’d like to hear from you. Contact us at 775-470-8584 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.