This is a guest review from Paul W., who writes about Gluten Free and Dairy Free living over at (Gluten Free) Cookies & (Dairy Free) Milk. Paul is my brother, and unlike me, he actually has culinary training and experience. He and his wife recently took the plunge into Gluten Free living and they are experimenting with recipes as well as exploring what Portland area bakeries and eateries have to offer.
The Portland Farmer’s Market has a surprising number of merchants selling gluten free baked goods these days. But how many are selling gluten free, dairy free, almost completely raw pies? So far I count only one, and that is Divine Pies.
Owner Alissa started making these pies when she was on a cleansing diet, eating strictly raw foods for a period of about six months. “I was craving sweets like crazy, and I started checking all these books out of the library on raw food and raw dessert making. I went on this raw pie making kick, because I loved how they were so nutrient dense, full of protein, totally rich, not too sweet, and didn’t require extensive sprouting or dehydrating like a lot of other raw foods,” she said.
Eventually she began developing recipes and testing them out with friends. Alissa went on to explain “it took off as a business after I brought the chocolate hazelnut pie to a friend’s birthday party a few years ago. This girl who was at the party was thinking of starting a food cart in an old streetcar, and wanted to feature my pies there. Long story short, I ended up becoming her business partner and designing a whole raw foods, juice, smoothie and pie menu for the cart.”
The pies ended up being the streetcar’s most popular items, and people would flock to the location every week to find out what new and exciting pie was waiting for them. Eventually the popularity of the pies led her to leave the streetcar for a tent at the market. “I decided after a while that i didn’t need to be sitting in the rain everyday of the week in an expensive flashy vehicle just to sell my pies. All I needed was an umbrella and a card table at the farmers market,” said Alissa.
A number of flavors were available at the market the day I went. One that was memorable was the white chocolate lavender cheesecake, and also there was a pretty good rendition of a key lime pie. But for my review, I had to go with the pie that started it all: Chocolate Hazelnut Cream Pie.
Presentation- I like the look of the pie. It is made in its own individual tin. You might not think it okay to eat a whole pie, but this one is little and (comparatively speaking) good for you. Ingredients are listed on the package and the list is pretty simple: Crust- hazelnuts, coconut flakes, dates, cinnamon, salt. Filling – fresh hazelnut milk, young coconut meat, dates, coconut oil, cacao, vanilla extract, lecithin (the only non raw ingredient), cinnamon and salt. Alissa told me the hazelnuts are from Freddy Guy’s hazelnuts, whose booth happens to be right next to her at the Farmer’s Market. She tries to source as many local ingredients as possible.
Crust- Okay, so if you are a pie purist, it isn’t really much of a crust. It isn’t rolled or baked, it isn’t even dough. However, it does provide the desired effect in terms of contrast in flavor and texture. Oh yeah, and it tastes good.
Filling- If you look at the ingredients, nothing seems to sound particularly creamy. I would have expected to see something like coconut milk or cream listed, but it was not. Despite that, the filling is very creamy- a nice velvety texture. This tastes like a good chocolate mousse. It is hard to believe that this was achieved without the aid of eggs, cream, sugar or milk. This certainly didn’t taste raw. It was sweet, but not overly so.
Overall rating- 4 out of 5 slices. This is a good dessert. It isn’t pie in the strictest sense. I really enjoy a good crust, which was hard to achieve in this (mostly) raw pie. Still, it was very good. It requires skill to achieve these unique flavors without cooking anything, even more so without gluten or dairy, but Alissa pulls it off. Highly recommended.
You can find Divine Pies at the Portland (PSU) Farmer’s Market on Saturdays, as well as online at www.divinepieportland.com. If a little personal size pie isn’t enough for you , special orders are available. Just let Alissa know a few days ahead of time and you can have a delicious full-size pie for your special event or just because. They serve about 10-12 people – so you might want to share.