Righteous Road Trip: A Pilgrimage to Pie Cottage

Righteous Road Trip: A Pilgrimage to Pie Cottage
Kate McDermott Art of the Pie
Pie aura or halo? Kate McDermott of Pie Cottage.

As a disciple of pie, I take my responsibility in sharing this bake-good gospel very seriously. Oh hear me poor pagan apostles who stray down the wayward path of cake, “Pie is the answer!” If you’re still a doubter, I understand (my name is Thomas after all). Fear not, for all are welcome here. I believe in a world where the proselytes of pie can dine side-by-side with the crusaders of cake (and still avoid a food fight).

homemade pies tall clover farm
Pies I’ve made and loved: Shaker lemon, peach, sweet cherry, sour cherry, plum and blackberry.

And so, as a devout pieman, I want to share with you the day I heeded the call, and embarked on a pilgrimage to Pie Cottage, home to my friend and High Priestess of Pie: Kate McDermott. As founder and voice of Art of the Pie, Kate brings the wonders of making and baking pie to the world, teaching classes, hosting pie camps, and sharing her culinary gifts and wisdom in person and on her blog. After I took a pie class from Kate several years ago, I became a willing convert in the ways of butter, flour, fillings, fruit and lard.

The drive from Vashon Island to Pie Cottage in Port Angeles (like pie) should be shared.  Lucky for me, my pal and fellow baker Linda adores Kate,  the call of adventure, and the promise of pie. We set out for an early ferry off the north end of the island, a time that would fit nicely with a lumberjack’s breakfast an hour or so into the drive.

Map Vashon to Port Angeles
Vashon to Port Angeles: ride a ferry, cross a floating bridge, and be awed by the majestic Olympics.

Past Port Orchard, around Bremerton and across the Hood Canal bridge, we headed west toward the Olympic Mountains and our destination, Port Angeles. First stop, Chimacum, home to my favorite food oasis, Chimacum Corner Farmstand. In their words, “Chimacum Corner Farmstand is a small rural grocery featuring ‘FOOD FROM HERE’ – scrumptious food grown or produced in the mountain-rimmed fertile valleys of Washington State’s NE Olympic Peninsula.” If I had to shop for a last meal, this would be the place.

Chimacum Corner Farmstand
Rob and Linda, top left; and Tom and salmon, lower right. (I’m the one in the green sweater)

We asked our new best farm-stand friend Rob where we should eat breakfast. He suggested Farm’s Reach Cafe, that is, if we were hungry. (And when aren’t we?) A short (and very purposeful) walk later, Linda and I were standing before a display cabinet chockablock with bake-good beauties. I asked what was the local favorite, and the friendly gent behind the counter said, “Hands down, our breakfast burrito.” A half an hour later I could see and taste why; it was exceptional. Add to that a dreamy pour of Stumptown Coffee, and the trip almost ended there.

Farm's Reach Cafe Chimacum
Breakfast is served all day. Joy!

We were so full, but despite our inability to move and our desire to nap, we pressed on toward the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the promise land. Kate was  expecting us a little after 1 pm. GPS guided us through Sequim and on to Port Angeles, where it seemed to stop functioning. Amazingly without too much back-seat driving or a bout of fisticuffs, we found our way to Pie Cottage (and I didn’t even have to stop and ask for directions, as if that was an option).  Kate met us at the door, her welcome as genuine and generous as the pies she bakes. Her beloved German Shepherd, Gretapie, was also on hand to share in our reunion. Inside, a crackling fire set the stage for enjoying some chai tea and lively conversation.

rhubarb pie kate McDermott
She had us at ‘hello’ and rhubarb pie.
tom and kate pie cottage
Tom and Kate: a good day for pie and reunions.

Kate is one of those rare individuals who lives her passion daily, whether pie, people, teaching or sharing. Her enthusiasm is contagious and her rhubarb pie transformative. We enjoyed a wonderful visit and ended our day plotting ways to get Kate to teach a class on Vashon. She was a willing conspirator, and said she may know just the venue to host a class on the island. Fingers crossed, aprons pressed and forks ready.

pie cottage rhubarb pie
Rhubarb pie, Kate, and her son’s artful window at Pie Cottage.
tom tall clover farm apple pie
The only thing better than homemade apple pie, is homemade apple pie with your own orchard’s apples. Thanks Kate, I’m spreading the pie love.



21 thoughts on “Righteous Road Trip: A Pilgrimage to Pie Cottage”

  • I’m afraid I’ll have to make a citizen’s arrest. It’s against the law to eat a piece of rhubarb pie without a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

  • Tom….I love reading your blog…makes me feel like I’m almost there…now if I could just get my hands on some of that rubharb pie

    • Dan thanks so much for the kind words, love that we reconnected. Now just stay tuned and I’ll let you know when my first rhubarb pie is on this kitchen’s menu.

  • I love pie, and next time I’m in the area I might have to do a side trip because that rhubarb pie looks spectacular (so many of them are a swampy mess).

    I was thrilled last fall to come to terms with a bourbon laced pie crust (allergic to the vodka that most recipes call for). I will be playing with it some more this year!

    • Sue I was doing the vodka thing for a while in the pie crust and then went back to a recipe Kate me. 2.5 cups of flour, pinch of salt, 6 tablespoons of butter, and also of lard, mix with ice cold water until it binds, but not too wet. Divide in two and refrigerate. Letting the dough rests, keeps it tender. Oh and yes, you are so right, Kate’s Rhubarb pie was just firm enough to hold together,no runny mess there.

  • Tom- What lovely words you have written of your visit to my home, Pie Cottage. The day was just, if not more, wonderful for me! I look forward to returning the visit to Vashon very soon.
    My berry best to you always,
    Kate

    • Kate we were gushing the whole ride back, waxing on about the wonderful time we had at Pie Cottage and with its premier pie-maker. I look forward to returning the favor very soon. I’ll have you try my version of Shaker Lemon Pie.

  • What a wonderful pie adventure! Thanks for a great story and pie pictures that look good enough to eat. My favorite pie to bake is marionberry. No, wait, I think cherry….well, really it’s blueberry. Oh, let’s face it – the best pie is the one you’re about to take a big bite of!

  • Tom – what a lovely trip you had! I agree, nothing better than homemade pie. Once I baked an apple blackberry pie for my two neighbours. It was a big deep dish pie. The two of them sat down and devoured it during our conversation. I was standing there conversing when I said “you guys just ate a whole pie”! They asked for more!

    • Those are my kind of neighbors Ina. Wait a second; you’re my kind of neighbor. Nothing says love thy neighbor as thyself like a homemade pie. Thanks for the visit and the tip. Blackberry apple pie is something I could really get behind making.

  • Tom, what a fabulous post. I want to hire you to spend a day baking pies with my boy B. He loves pie. Loves making pie. But needs the guided wisdom and expertise of a true pro! It’s 9 am and I’m drooling over that pie!

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