According to the e-mail I had received, there were 3 categories, with $50 market gift certificates going out for the following:
- Best peach pie—consisting of peaches as the only fruit used
- Best not-just-peach pie—consisting of peaches plus other creative fruit or ingredient combination
- Best presentation—the most photogenic pie
I was the second one to the tent, dropping off the pie. We got some compliments on the star cutout crust and double-checked the judging time. Then we wandered off in search of a much-needed breakfast and to see what this market had to offer, since it was our first time.
We definitely enjoyed the variety of produce we saw at Collingswood, but both agreed that we preferred the atmosphere of our own, slightly smaller market. It seems like there are fewer double strollers and pushy old ladies at the Burlington County market in Moorestown. Plenty of pooches though, and who couldn't love the fact that the BC farmers' market is AT a working farm? But I digress ...
At that point, the nerves crept in—not necessarily bad ones though. I was excited and eager for judging to begin. The contest coordinators looked to have their hands full, repeatedly exclaiming on what an amazing turnout this was! Twenty-five pies were there at the official start time, though they did let in a 45-minute late entrant (I wouldn't have ... contests have rules for a reason).
The first judging round was for presentation. While there were a number of lovely lattice crusts, I can honestly say there were an equal number of sloppy-looking and crumbling top crusts. To each their own, but I'm a strong believer in good presentation when it comes to food.
Now, I have to say that Ray deserved a gold star or something for dealing with me, muttering about other pies and some of their bakers (this contest, like most I'm sure, attracted some odd birds). Like the mother who got pushy about the missing number card for her daughter's pie—totally gave me a short story idea about a girl being pushed into competitive baking. All throughout, he remained as cool as a cucumber as we waited for the judges to get their fill of pie and cast their votes.
My category, which had the majority of the pies in it, was up first and the winner, with 9 points, was announced. It wasn't me. But, because I had selected a choice spot for watching, I DID see who did vote for me. I received 2 points from a local food writer, which I took to be a high compliment. That put me at 5th or 6th place. Not bad out of 20+ peach-only pies.
We got to take our pies home, due to a local health code law, but before taking it back to the car, we grabbed a fork and dug in. The lavender honey's flavor burst in the filling, and the choice of slightly under-ripe peaches gave a tartness to the pie, which we both loved. The crust held up to the weighty pie filling, and the stars were flakey and buttery.
Triumphant for trying, we paraded the pie back to the car, locked it up and headed back into the crowd to pick up my order of 25 pounds of plum tomatoes, as well as some fruits and veggies we had eyed up earlier. If the market hosts a fall apple pie contest, we are SO going to be there, with yet another cutout top crust. I consider it my new pie signature.