So, I'll be honest with you - I'm pretty new to the phenomenon of Finger Lakes grape pie - my first taste came just this past July at a picnic at Grimes Glen. However, despite being a novice, I have already experienced the magic of grape pie first hand. And I want to share that with you as you prepare for what is sure to be a lot of family time in the coming days.
It all started on Thanksgiving, with about 15 of us around the table at my nonna's (my very Italian grandmother) house in Buffalo. There are a few rules that are inherent to eating at nonna's table - things we just understand after innumerable meals over years and years. First: at all costs, avoid dripping, spilling, or setting dirty utensils on the very clean, white, lace tablecloth. Second: you will be expected to partake in all seven courses, so plan accordingly (or, in my case, expect to have to lie flat on the living room floor after completely overeating, as usual). Third: you turn in your pasta dish after the first meal, but the plate under it is the only one you get for the rest of the meal until dessert - so yes, expect your salad to taste like gravy and your fruit to taste like olive oil. No problem. Finally, fourth: NEVER stack your plates at the end of the meal.
Easy, right? Usually, yes. But this Thanksgiving, a couple family members at the table (who all happen to be named Lou - yes, there's three generations of them), seemed to forget the last two rules, and, after their turkey, potatoes, stuffing, and other sides, promptly stacked each other's plates in a pile in front of my nonno.
Let's just say that trouble ensued, and the three Lous found themselves in quite the predicament. Now they didn't have plates for the salad that was about to come out - and there's NO way they were un-stacking the plates and putting those dirty plate bottoms on the clean tablecloth. So when nonna came out of the kitchen, they felt the fear.
How does this relate to the magic of Finger Lakes grape pie? Well, after eating salad rather quietly (stifling laughter, of course), the fruit came out. Very soon after that, the table was covered in desserts - pies, cheesecakes, Italian cookies, and coffee. But the knight in shining armor among the army was the grape pie, sourced from the heart of the Finger Lakes at Monica's, in Naples.
The minute the grape pie was served on to my family's (fresh) dessert plates, a feeling of serenity passed over the table. The conversation turned away from my nonno's stubbornness and the evil deed of stacking plates, on to the delectable magic that was the grape pie. A new, delicious dessert? Where did it come from? Where could they get more?
Little did they know (now, of course, they do), that Ontario County is home to the Grape Pie Capital of the World - the small town of Naples at the lower end of Canandaigua Lake. How lucky are we?
So, if you happen to find yourselves in any sticky situations during the coming holidays, I have one piece of advice for you: have a Finger Lakes grape pie on hand at all times. It's a sweet, rich, delicious distraction that is sure to bring a smile to people's faces - from the beginner grape pie eater to the professional. Witness the magic for yourself.