A Slice Above

By Morgan Katz and Amelia Schwartz

By

Morgan Katz and Amelia Schwartz
Blueberry-Cornmeal Pie | Pastry Chef Alyce Garcia of Nobie's
Blueberry-Cornmeal Pie | Pastry Chef Alyce Garcia of Nobie's

Let’s talk about pie. Let’s talk about the pies of our childhood. The pies that sit behind glass, slowly rotating, revealing the “Pies of the Day.” In the South and Northeast, the diner dessert is practically ritual. But Martin Stayer’s Nobie’s in Houston is not a diner. Far from it. The cozy neighborhood tavern features ever-changing daily menus with elaborate, yet playful, dishes. This includes the clam and Tunisian chickpea stew called “Wu-Tang Clam Ain’t Nothin to Shuck With,” and Duroc meatballs with gochujang and kimchi collard greens referred to as “Just Quit Squishin’ My Balls.” There are likely few times in gastronomic history has a meal started with an amuse bouche and ended with a whipped cream topped slice of pie. But at Nobie’s it’s par for the course, as with Stayer’s one-bite pasta stuffed with fried chicken jus, a “sorta-llini.” Tasked with the duty of supplying the restaurant with an endless slate of pies is Pastry Chef and pie expert Alyce Garcia. Inspired by her own childhood and by the American diner only in aesthetic form, Garcia’s pies are technically precise and balanced (salted and never sticky). They’re decadent but unpretentious little wedges that eat much lighter than they look. Garcia ignites nostalgia and make us wonder why not every day ends with pie. Here are some faves we flipped for. 

The PB&J Pie

To echo the white bread that so many of us remember from our brown-bag-lunch schooldays, Garcia adds toasted sourdough to the graham crust. The peanut butter flows into a fluffy cheesecake filling topped with Concord grape (of course) gelée, whipped cream, and more sourdough crumbles.

 

The Blueberry Cornmeal Pie

The heart of this pie is a cornmeal custard. It comes with a cornmeal-graham cracker crust, blueberry jam, whipped cream, and blueberry syrup. Garcia’s use of sugar is so restrained it almost eats like a savory pie, relying on the natural sweetness of the corn and berries—a dynamite combo.

 

The Cinnamon Toast Crunch (CTC) Pie: 

“Often times I come up with a pie of the day on the fly,” says Garcia. When she is in a pinch, Garcia finds inspiration wherever she can. In this instance, it came from Chef Stayer’s snack—a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. From there, Garcia invented a cereal milk custard pie with a graham cracker crust and milk chocolate ganache, topped with whipped cream, and (you guessed it) cinnamon toast crunch.

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