I really like unexpected ingredients. From cocktails with pea tendrils to Blueberry Balsamic Pie with Black Pepper.
Let me tell you how this Blueberry Balsamic Pie with Black Pepper came to be. It’s a story as unexpected as the flavors in this pie. This Blueberry Balsamic Pie with Black Pepper was inspired by a parking space in Hollywood.
Like most tall tales this story starts with vinegar. I’ve had a bottle of Honey Ridge Farms Balsamic Honey Vinegar hanging out in my pantry since Christmas. It was a gift from Honey Ridge Farms. I’ve been using it to shake some flavor on quick salads when I don’t have the energy or creativity to make a more demanding vinaigrette. It has enough flavor all on its own to add pizzazz to simple salads (especially arugula with lots of black pepper). However every time I shake some onto my green lunch leaves I can’t help but feel like I’m eating a dessert salad. This vinegar is made from pure honey and pure vinegar (and nothing else). It’s sweeter than any vinegar in my cabinet. It’s not overpoweringly sweet or cloying, but it’s sweet enough to notice.
This week, instead of reaching for the Honey Ridge Farms to shake onto my salad, I decided it was time to pair this vinegar with something sweeter than croutons. Strawberries seemed like the logical choice. They’re in season and they’re proven winners with balsamic vinegar.
However, it was late in the day in the middle of the week. Late in the day in the middle of the week means there are no farmers markets close enough to sanely consider. So I chose to drive to Trader Joe’s. I like Trader Joe’s well enough, but I don’t love it. Especially when it comes to produce. Too much packaging and most of their fresh fare doesn’t seem to last more than a day or two. But, as I said, it was late in the day in the middle of the week and I was on a mission to make a sweet and savory dessert with honey vinegar. Even if I got stuck with lousy strawberries.
I go to the Trader Joe’s in Hollywood at Selma and Vine. As with every other corner in Hollywood, they’re building something giant there. Which of course creates mayhem. Somehow between the orange cones and “temporary” scaffolding I missed the turn into the Trader Joe’s parking garage. I was really peeved at myself because this meant I had to circle around the block and attempt to make four more right turns. Right turns should be easier than left turns – but in Hollywood they’re not. Right turns mean you have to navigate through jammed crosswalks that are constantly in motion. The kind filled with tourists who suddenly step out of your blind spot while taking selfies and dawdling over the famous names on the sidewalk, or craning their necks for a glimpse of the Hollywood Sign. In other words, four right turns means four opportunities to kill a German family of four. I’d already maneuvered the gauntlet once. I didn’t want to press my luck.
I was just about to give up, when out of nowhere, I noticed an open parking space at Hollywood and Vine. At first I couldn’t register what was happening. I’d never seen an open parking space at Hollywood and Vine before. Was it a cruel trick? Was I on Candid Camera?
Blueberry Balsamic Pie with Black Pepper
I didn’t stop to think, I parked. Then another miracle befell me. As I was swiping my credit card in the meter a street vendor appeared before me hawking fruit. Do tourists buy fruity souvenirs. Is street vending legal in this area? Does Trader Joe’s know about this? Am I dreaming?
Who cares? I went to see what the man had to offer. He didn’t have strawberries, but he did have gorgeous little blueberries. I was torn. If I bought these blueberries I’d have to give up this great parking spot before the meter ran out. But if I stuck around I could walk into Trader Joe’s and have the glory of telling the checker that I got a parking space right in front. He’d probably give me the lousy strawberries for free!
It was a hard decision. But, as you see from this Blueberry Balsamic Pie with Black Pepper, I abandoned that parking space – and with it all my parking karma. Oh well, at least I did it for pie. GREG