One secret ingredient can make a recipe stand out, whether it’s chocolate in the chili or anchovy paste in the gravy. For Jenna, the lead character in the hit Broadway musical “Waitress,” which arrives at the National Theatre next week with Desi Oakley, left, in the role, what makes a pie perfect lies in her very imperfect life. An unexpected pregnancy leads her to create Betrayed by My Eggs Pie, an abusive husband inspires My Husband’s a Jerk Chicken Pot Pie, and a flirtation with an M.D. results in I Wanna Play Doctor With My Gynecologist Pie. While the show (which was nominated for four Tonys in 2016, including one for composer Sara Bareilles) centers on Jenna’s life, there’s something to be said about coping — or celebrating — with carbs.
We asked local pie-makers what they’d cook up for distinctly D.C. situations. Because no matter what’s going on, pie can help.
Single-tracking on the Red Line
Buzz Bakeshop, 901 Slaters Lane, Alexandria; 818 N. Quincy St., Arlington
Buzz Bakeshop’s Naomi Gallego is ready to break the rules with her hand pie — one about the size of a Pop-Tart, but twice as high — which is filled with a cranberry-raspberry-jasmine tea jam and a fruit glaze on top, all meant to color-coordinate with Metro’s most problematic line. “It’s definitely portable,” the pastry chef says of the sweetly tart, nicely jammy treat. “Although this might not be kosher, you could definitely sneak it in your bag and eat it on the platform while you’re waiting.” If your normally 20-minute commute home has stretched to an hour (or more), Gallego has another idea for when you get home: Get to baking. “Making pie, for me, is very therapeutic,” she says. “It’s relaxing — not only in the eating, but in the making.”
Pie Sisters, 3423 M St. NW
Sometimes they start early. Sometimes they start late. But they always start. When your Twitter feed goes presidential, get a taste of a simpler, classic Americana — when political policy wasn’t shaped by an app — with a double-crust apple pie from Pie Sisters. “It feels like you are at home and you are relaxed,” says Teresa Mollegas, the owner of the Georgetown shop. This is a pie that can bring a sense of calm to a world filled with odd typos and rants about Witch Hunts. In fact, maybe the commander in chief could do with a piece of the pie, which wraps thinly sliced apples in a filling worthy of an expert grandma. “Even when you have been working for 12 hours, 20 hours,” Mollegas says, “classic apple makes your life better.”
New baby at the zoo
Livin’ the Pie Life, 2166 N. Glebe Road, Arlington
We know who the stars of the National Zoo are. “When I think of the National Zoo, I immediately think of the pandas,” says Heather Sheire, co-owner of Livin’ the Pie Life. So when she and Wendy MacCallum were asked what they’d create to celebrate such an arrival, the answer was there in black and white. They started with their shop’s Oreo Cookies & Cream Pie, which involves an Oreo crust, chocolate ganache, cream, cream cheese, sugar and more Oreos. Inspired by the frenzy that engulfs D.C. whenever a panda is born, MacCallum and Sheire topped it all off with a panda face made of chocolate and Oreos. While slicing into the representation of Tian Tian’s face was a little unnerving, the pie was a success. “It’s like an amazing inside of an Oreo cookie,” MacCallum says.