SEEDS Pie Social

This Sunday from 1pm – 5pm is the 4th annual SEEDS pie social.  This is a great event to benefit the Durham-based urban gardening organization.  For $10 you get four slices of pie from some of the best restaurants in the area.  There are about 30 of them participating this year, including Acme, Guglhupf, and Foster’s Market.  There will be sweet ones, of course, but also pizza pies, and you’ll be able to vote for your favorite slice.  Also part of the event is a skill share auction, where you can bid on learning unique skills from community members.

It’s rain or shine, and you’re encouraged to bring your own plate and fork.  I missed the event last year, but I’m hoping to be able to make it on Sunday, because, really, who doesn’t love eating for a good cause?

SEEDS Pie Social

Coming up on Sunday April 10 is a great event called the SEEDS Pie Social.  SEEDS, which  stands for “South Eastern Efforts Developing Sustainable Spaces”, is a non-profit organization based in Durham that focuses on getting urban youth engaged in sustainable food activities, from participating in community gardens to entrepreneurial activities.

The event will feature music, garden tours and an auction.  In the auction, instead of bidding for things, you’ll bid to learn fun and interesting skills from fellow community members, like how to spin fire, reupholster a chair, brew beer, fly a plane, play capoeira and more.

In addition, there promises to be great food as well.  Pies, both sweet and savory, are being donated by many of Durham’s best eateries, including Toast, Watts Grocery, Scratch Bakery, Foster’s, Four Square, Dos Perros, Pie Pushers, Durham Catering, The Farmer’s Daughter, Daisy Cakes, Dame’s Chicken and Waffles, Parker and Otis, Papa Mojo’s Roadhouse, Piedmont and others.

All proceeds benefit the Durham Inner-city Gardeners (DIG) program at SEEDS. DIG is a youth-driven, urban farming leadership development program that empowers young people by teaching organic gardening and healthy life skills while providing them with meaningful employment and job skills.  A suggested donation of $10 will get you up to 4 pieces of pie.

The event is from 2pm – 6pm at the SEEDS Garden at 706 Gilbert Street in downtown Durham.  For more information, visit http://www.seedsnc.org

PieBird (Raleigh, NC) – Preview

I stopped by the soon-to-open PieBird in downtown Raleigh tonight for their “soft” opening (disclaimer: my wife designed the website, so we had the inside track).  The space is gorgeous, with plenty of table seating and a nice bar.  The details of the interior are really nice, like the cute little birdie salt and pepper shakers on each table and the sliding barn bathroom doors.  In the back of the space, there’s a very cozy nook complete with a fireplace.  Of course, we tried a few samples as well – an apple tart with caramel and crushed peanut brittle, a strawberry whoopie pie, and a chocolate bourbon pecan pie.  All were yummy.  We didn’t get a chance to try any, but there will be plenty of savory offerings as well.    In addition to the full bar, PieBird will also be offering its own custom coffee blend from Counter Culture Coffee.  It’s a great addition to Raleigh and we look forward to their official opening within the next few weeks.

Maximillian’s Pizza Kitchen (Cary, NC)

We don’t often eat pizza in a restaurant.  We prefer to get take out, to make our own, or to get the occasional delivery.  Sure, pizza is best piping hot, but sometimes there are other reasons for not dining in.  Maximillian’s Pizza Kitchen provides a perfect example of this.  To be blunt, the space is very dark and a bit dingy.  The cavernous ceilings and marble table tops offer no comfort.  Worse, the weathered dark wood paneled walls and especially the tables didn’t seem entirely clean.  The restaurant looks like it has seen better days.  Service was not really inviting either, and my wife’s order of hot tea was essentially forgotten.  Well, to clarify, a cup and teabag came to the table, but no hot water (until we reminded the waitress much later).

But on to the pies.  We ordered two individual pies, a “Bianca” (fontina, asiago, mozzarella, ricotta, $10.95) and a “Maximo” (sausage, pepperoni, peppers, mushrooms, olives, $11.95).  Each was just about big enough to split between two adults.  A note on the menu: many of the pies listed on the website (including some of the most tempting) were not on the menu.  In fact, while there are a handful of entrees to choose from, I felt that the array of menu choices was rather limited.

The Bianca was surprisingly delicate in flavor.  The ricotta was nice, but there was too much cheese, and not enough “sun-dried tomato/pesto drizzle”.  The latter was more like a few drops here and there.  The result was somewhat bland.  Moreover, the pie left an uncomfortably big puddle of oil on the serving platter.  The hand-tossed crust was pillowy and soft, but otherwise unremarkable.  The Maximo had a distinct sweet taste, which must have come from the sauce.  It was strewn with giant chunks of sausage, but the pepperoni and the mushrooms were quite flavorless.  I did like that the peppers were roasted.  I much preferred the thick crust on the Bianca to the thin crust that we opted for on this pie.  It was cracker-like on the edges but far too thin to support the toppings in the middle. In the end, neither pie was bad, but the Bianca was the better choice.

The dessert list is extensive, and includes a $9 (!) tiramisu.  We had a coupon that obliged us to spend a minimum of $30, so we opted for a slice of key lime pie ($5.95) to go.  It had an almond laced crust and was pretty good, but you can make a better version at home.

I had been to Maximillian’s once before, a couple of years ago, and recalled their distinctively flaky, pastry-like crust then.  Apparently the dough recipe has changed since then.  I got take-out that time, and, if I ever go back, I’ll get take-out again.