I needed a sugar fix like I needed a punch in the head.
But I went to Wanda’s Pie in the Sky anyway. It used to be in Yorkville in Toronto but relocated to bohemian-friendly, Prada-mocking Kensington Village a few years ago. Now it even tries to cater to vegans! Vegans! At a place known for its all-butter pie crusts and super rich, egg-heavyy mousses and meringues. Their sign even said “gluten-free options”. This ain’t a Yorkville bakery (homage to my favourite Kensington bookstore that has closed since the last time I was here: “This Ain’t the Rosedale Library”. What happened to it? Rent and landlord problems, and the fact that it’s independent have forced it out of its location. Two men who love interesting books and magazines. A selection of highly curated selections. Full of discoveries you won’t find at Amazon, or wouldn’t even know to look for. They have a paypal account, so donate of you have the means to help them get out of debt and find a new location!!!)
Back to pies.
Turns out the only gluten-free options were 1 type of biscotti, 1 other cookie, and a few dairy-heavy options I chose not to even remember because they weren’t relevant to me. Bring on the eggs, I thought, but there weren’t too many of those options either. Fortunately, through some miracle, my favourite lemon meringue pie has a lemon custard that’s all eggs and no dairy, said the counter staff. The only butter was in the crust, and as good as the crust is here, I would happily suck it free of its lemony coating and toss it aside to be permitted a towering mass of meringued fluff.
This is the perfect meringue. Let me put this in context: I suck at meringue and this is perfect. What makes a perfect meringue? Well in the case of lemon meringue pie it’s actually a lot easier than, say, mousse. You have to get lots of height from beating the egg whites, and add the sugar at the right time, but with pie you also have to broil (or kitchen torch) it for just the right amount of time so that the top swirls are browned and chewy – not crunchy and not soft fluff like the interior of the meringue that’s lower down away from the heat. This pie’s meringue was perfectly whipped so that it had stiff peaks that held their swirled 3D shape in the oven. I could pull off the browned pieces and I got to chew them and then stick my fork into the fluff ball pillow below for contrast. Like “eggs – two ways”. Take that, brunch). One bit of meringue + one bite of perfectly puckering lemon custard. Heaven. I hate overly sweet lemon custard. With lemon meringue pie you need to err on the side of sour so that the sugary meringue can sweeten it up for you, and they do this perfectly here. The trick is the find the right ratio of meringue to custard in every bite, but there’s enough volume to this cake that you have an ample amount of time to get it right.
They have lots of other cakes and pies and cookies and even salads and soups and sandwiches, and slushies and teas at Wanda’s Pie in the Sky. The bakeshop is like a sugary dream come true. Oh, and ice cream. They make their own cream-heavy ice cream. For dairy-free I go to Hibiscus across the way. Mmm…almond-based ginger and pistachio. Not together.
So I had my pie and then passed out in Bellevue Park. A guy asked me why I was sitting by myself before I could get to sleep. I kept my face blank and replied, “tired,” monosyllabically. I love Toronto sometimes. How you can completely ignore people or brush them off and get away with it. And I didn’t even have to pretend I didn’t understand the language the man was using. Here’s to pie and gruff Toronto. Cheers.