To gear you guys up for July’s Best Suburbs issue, I’m traveling to ten different ‘burbs in the DFW area for a semi-weird cross-city food tour. I’ll be documenting all my finds in these ‘Burbalicious posts that’ll be peppered throughout June and July. If you feel like your suburb deserves a shot at some SideDish love, email me and I’ll ask my Magic 8 ball if I should go.
Out in Roanoke (population of 6,320 and home to the famous hotel where Bonnie and Clyde once stayed), I found myself some pie. Melt-in-your-mouth pie.
Most people who visit Roanoke dillydally on Oak Street where all the restaurants congregate along a single strip. And though this little town prides itself on being a “Unique Dining Capital in Texas,” chain restaurants like Babe’s Chicken Dinner House and Twisted Root Burger draw in large crowds of high schoolers glued to their iPhones.
Sorry, that was completely off topic. Let’s go back to pies. Nothing in life is more important than the pies from Oak Street Pie and Candy Co. at this moment.
Normally, I’m not the kind to gush about pies. Sure, I love pumpkin pies whenever Thanksgiving rolls around, but I didn’t grow up eating pies because my Asian parents aren’t the pie-eating types. Yet there I was strolling along Oak Street on Thursday evening, minding my own business until I was lured by the magnetic force of a charming two-windowed store where owner Carol Southern bakes her pies fresh daily.
“I just love to cook and bake,” says Southern. “I don’t have formal training.” Instead, she grew up being in the kitchen with her mother whom she describes as a “good country cook” not far from the Oklahoma border.
Each slice of pie is $3.50, which is a small price to pay for pies made entirely from scratch. “We buy our own graham crackers, grind ‘em up, and make our own crust,” explains Southern. Crust is probably my favorite part of the pie, and the section I usually dig up first with my fork. With Southern’s key lime pie, I found the graham cracker bottom crumbly and soft, complementing the creamy part of the pie well, which wasn’t too lemon-y (a problem I often have with key lime pies).
The same happens when you’re eating the banana cream pie. It tends to make you forget that gravity is keeping your feet glued to the ground, because you feel like you’re on cloud nine. The whipped cream is fluffy and light as air.
Carol Southern rotates her pie flavors daily, but she doesn’t just make pies. Her shop is called a candy store, too, after all. Since the day Oak Street Pie and Candy Co. opened in 2006, faithful customers have been coming back again and again for the salty sweet peanut brittle, Roanoke rascals (turtles), and homemade fudge that comes in a variety of different flavors. Chocolate walnut, cherry vanilla nut, mint cookie, and oddball flavors like jalapeño fudge sell at $7 for a half-pound, and $12.99 for an entire pound, but you can also get as little or as much as you want. Southern’s daughter, Laura, 23, is the one who makes all the fudge. “My daughter gets real creative with that,” she says proudly.
Southern also makes peanut brittle and divinity, which is an old-fashioned white candy made from egg whites and pecans. It’s weather sensitive and can’t be made when it’s too humid. “It’s a little dangerous ’cause you have to get the syrup real hot.”
But Carol Southern is a brave Southern woman, and she sure knows her pies. Even though Oak Street Pie and Candy Co. is no bigger than a small shed, two tables occupy each corner for those who like to sit and savor. If you’re one of those people, stay and chat. Let Southern heat up a slice for you on one of her mismatched home-y plates. Take a good look at the photographs on her walls – the black-and-white ones of her mother laughing in front of a Dairy Queen in Bonham, Texas. Southern will probably tell you about her, and you’ll feel like you’re sitting in an entirely different universe where nothing else exists except for a good slice of pie.
(Other pie flavors include: Buttermilk, lemon chess, pecan, pumpkin, sweet potato, raspberry lemon, raspberry rhubarb, strawberry rhubarb, apple, cherry, blueberry, key lime, banana cream, lemon cream, coconut cream, German chocolate, chocolate cream, peach and blackberry cobbler. Whole pies sell between $16 and $20 each.)