- Momofuku Bakery & Milk Bar
207 Second Ave., entrance on 13th St.; 212-254-3500
There is no simpler pie than a chess pie: eggs, butter, corn flour, sugar, brown sugar, and that’s about it. And yet there couldn’t be more confusion about the origin of the name. Some say it’s a derivation of “cheese pie” (certain pies were called cheese pies way back when even though they contained no cheese). Others say the name comes from the fact that pies were kept in a “pie chest” or “pie safe,” maybe to protect them from hoboes and pie burglars. Another theory holds that when a modest southern housewife was asked “What kind of pie is that?,” she said, “It’s just pie,” but in a voice like Dustin Hoffman’s Tootsie, so that it came out as “It’s jes’ pie.” An aged pie-lover in the crowd who must have forgotten his ear trumpet interpreted this as “chess pie.” To put an end to this mayhem, the folks at Momofuku Milk Bar have given the treasured southern confection a nice new name: “crack pie.” Whatever you think of that, the supersweet Momo version is awfully addictive, although, in the manner of a cheeseless cheese pie, crackless. The crumbly crust is good enough to eat on its own, the top is a little caramelized, like a crème brûlée, and the filling achieves a kind of heretofore unknown pie texture: somewhere between a nice lemon curd and a soft fudge, like the best pecan-pie filling you’ve ever had, except without the pecans.
From the 2009 Best of New York issue of New York Magazine
So what exactly does “best” mean in a city with thousands of pizza joints, hundreds of celebrity masseuses, and museum-worthy concept shops on every corner? Well, in the case of this, our annual “Best of New York” roundup, there’s a heavy emphasis on what’s new or what has somehow remained virtually unheard of (until now, of course).