Boozy Blueberry Cherry Red Wine Pie and an L.A. Party

by Irvin on July 18, 2011 · 47 comments

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The car trip down to Los Angeles was uneventful. AJ was cycling down for the AIDS Lifecycle and I was heading down there to pick him up and to spend a little time with my friends in Southern California. As usual, we were staying with our friend Rita and Damon, in their condo over in Santa Monica. They were the usual gracious hosts, letting us take over their second bedroom and hosting another one of our pie and pie parties, inviting friends from all over the greater Los Angeles metro area to come and partake of the food we made. AJ made pizza of course, and I made a couple of pies, including this Boozy Blueberry Cherry Red Wine Pie. It was, as the guests at the party said, a total winner.

My friend Rita, praying to the altar of the Boozy Blueberry Cherry Red Wine Pie. jpg

My friend Rita, praying to the altar of the Boozy Blueberry Cherry Red Wine Pie.

AJ’s AIDS ride went well without any major mishaps. I had been developing tons of recipes for a company while he was gone and had no one to eat them, so I made sure to bring along plenty of my baked goods to Los Angeles for his cycling buddies to eat. I had brought a “version 1.0″ test cookie (that I wasn’t super thrilled with) for a dinner party that they all had before the ride, so I was glad to arrive with the final version of the baked good in hand. They all agreed that it was vastly improved, with most of them reaching for a second (and third) helping.

AJ enjoying one of my test recipe baked goods. jpg

AJ enjoying one of my test recipe baked goods.

One cyclist turned to me and said “I’m SO glad you aren’t my husband. I’d be the size of a house.” And then proceeded to reach for another baked good. I’m going to take that as a compliment, though AJ wasn’t sure if the guy was implying he was the size of a house or not. I assured him that he was not.

When I went to pick up AJ at the closing ceremonies, AJ had decided, after doing the ride for 11 years, that he didn’t need to attend. I was fine with that, and we loaded up our car with his luggage. AJ said he would just cycle back to Rita and Damon’s place (it was only three or four miles away… which is nothing compared to the 545 miles that he had just cycled) and meet me there. As I drove off, a man in cycling gear waved me down and asked me if I was heading in the direction of Wilshire Blvd. As he stood in front of my car, he asked if I could give him a ride down there, as his friend had been stopped by the police for an expired license plate, driving to pick him up.

I did not have a picture of my hitchhiker, so I am putting this random shot of Jane Lynch at AIDS Lifecycle day 1. jpg

I did not have a picture of my hitchhiker, so here's a shot of Jane Lynch at Day 1 of the AIDS Lifecycle.

I figured that he was fairly harmless, being in spandex which doesn’t really allow you to hide any concealed weapons, and clearly an AIDS Lifecycle rider. Plus he was standing in front of my car. So I told him to hop in and we drove down to the Wilshire Blvd. He had me turn left onto Wilshire Blvd…the opposite direction of where Rita and Damon lived, and assured me that his friend was only a little bit down the road. And then we drove. Past Westwood. Past Beverly Hills. Into La Brea, south of West Hollywood, all the while craning our necks left and right trying to spot his friend pulled over with police cars surrounding him. When Raphael (my car guest) finally got ahold of his friend, he was somewhere over in Beverly Hills, not on Wilshire and things were not looking good (apparently his friend didn’t have a driver’s license with him either). I dropped off Raphael, who it turns out is a private chef living and working in Los Angeles and wished him the best, as I zoomed off to meet up with AJ (who had arrived at Rita and Damon’s awhile ago and had called me to ask me where the heck I was).

AJ cycling with his team, the Gutterbunnies. jpg

AJ cycling with his team, the Gutterbunnies.

I arrived back and AJ and I settled into the our Los Angeles trip. We ate so much food there, our first stop being Jitlada (where I was able to snag a table for ten of us by tweeting to the restaurant, who no longer takes reservations – ah the power of Twitter) which is one my favorite Thai restaurants. We had actually taken AJ’s cycling buddies to Jitlada two years prior post-ride and they had been clamoring to go back ever since (one cyclist said he had been dreaming about his meal for the past two years and absolutely insisted we go after the ride this year). We had Korean food twice, BBQ one day, noodles the next day. And we visited Yogurtland three times, due to the fact that our friend Mok is obsessed with it and had to go everytime we got together.

Mok and Rita happy at yogurtland. jpg

Mok and Rita happy at Yogurtland.

Though we didn’t want to put Rita and Damon out, we ended up cajoling them into letting us host another pie and pie party, where AJ made pizza and I made dessert pies. Then we basically invite over a hodge podge of friends and we all gorged ourselves silly. AJ made three pizzas, each with a whole wheat crust, and one of which was vegetarian for our vegetarian friends (thankfully we had no vegan friends coming over, that would have required vegan cheese, something I’m just not too fond of).

AJ making pizza, Bryan hanging out. jpg

AJ making pizza, Bryan hanging out.

pizza pizza! jpg

Pizza Pizza!

AJ explaining which pizza is which. jpg

AJ explaining which pizza is which.

Thankfully Rita and Damon have a double oven, which allowed for AJ and me to simultaneously bake the multiple pizzas and pies. I decided to make two pies from the fruit that Damon had picked up from the Santa Monica Farmers Market. The aforementioned Boozy Blueberry Cherry Wino pie and an apricot peach plum pie were made, for all to enjoy. And though the apricot peach plum pie was good, I think it was the addition of the red wine, to go with the cherry and blueberry filling that really gave that pie the kick that everyone loved. In the end the party was quite the success, with a nice mix of new and old friends all wining and dining and laughing and feasting on pie and pie.

Party people feasting on the goods. jpg

Party people feasting on the goods.

Party People hanging out at Rita and Damon's place. jpg

Party People hanging out at Rita and Damon's place.

Explaining the pies to the party people. jpg

Explaining the pies to the party people.

Pie and Pie ala mode. jpg

Pie and Pie ala mode.

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{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

luv July 18, 2011 at 11:50 am

Out of curiosity, why are all your recipe names so long? Not only do they sound over-the top complicated, but they often drip with pretension. It’s an absolute turn-off.

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Sarah July 18, 2011 at 3:05 pm

How is “Boozy Blueberry Cherry Red Wine Pie” dripping with pretension? It states, in a rather unpretentious way, exactly what the recipe is – a recipe for blueberry cherry pie with a filling that includes red wine and a crust made with a 1/4 cup of vodka!

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Rene July 18, 2011 at 3:13 pm

I like when blog posts (especially food blogs) give you a title that actually TELLS you what the thing is. It makes looking for recipes so much easier rather than just having the title of the post “L.A. Dinner Party”.

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Brian July 18, 2011 at 3:33 pm

A turnoff this recipe title (or the recipe, for that matter) it IS NOT. He’s obviously not only talented, but playful and that’s one reason I never miss a post… Because I know he’ll do something different and I find a tremendous amount of inspiration from his recipes

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Heather | Farmgirl Gourmet July 18, 2011 at 4:43 pm

Us “pretension luvers” think you rock Irvin. Keep up the great work.

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Pia July 18, 2011 at 10:50 pm

Dripping with pretension? Have some pie, will ya?

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Irvin July 19, 2011 at 2:24 pm

Thank you everyone for responding. I realize that my blog is not for everyone, and my recipe names may be longer than the usual blog, but I do try to write descriptive titles to let people know what is in the baked good from the beginning. Often times my posts are long so I’d want the readers to know specifically what is in the baked good upfront.

Everyone’s blogging style is different. Hopefully you’ll find another blog that you enjoy more.

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luv July 20, 2011 at 7:38 am

First, I am not a drive-by poster. I have been following this blog for over a year now. My comment about Blog titles is based on cumulative notations from the past year. I work in psychology and journalism focusing on food & perception. I use randomized recipe names in weekly surveys asking groups about their accessibility/comfort recognition with products, recipes, technique etc. This research is used by publishing companies to identify trends in blogging and cookbook production, target audience, trends and to identify appropriate wording, etc for the varying food-communities.
My comment about blog titles dripping with pretension was actually a group comment from my research. Just thought you’d want to know that while your food is amazing, and I personally think you are absolutely *brilliant*, I have a research pool of 450 people from varying walks of life, and their cohesive comment is that your recipes (most, not all) are inaccessible.

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Irvin July 22, 2011 at 10:54 pm

Thank you for coming back and clarifying Luv. Context is everything.

Here’s the thing. I’ve been a designer for 15 years. I’ve participated in market research/focus groups, I’ve moderated market research and focus groups and I’ve sat behind the window observing market research and focus groups. And they can only give you certain amounts of information.

If you are only using my recipe names without any context, I can see why they might be construed as pretentious. But you are using them without any context. My blog titles are designed to not only describe the recipe I have made (which is often at the end of a relatively long blog post) but they also are set up for search engine optimization (SEO) where someone might google “quinoa rosemary” and find my recipe for Quinoa Cornmeal Lemon Honey Pancakes with Rosemary infused Maple Syrup. If I were writing a cookbook, I might just title that recipe “Quinoa and Cornmeal Pancakes” but since I happen to be writing for the web, with a more dynamic audience, and I’m trying to not only allow for search engines to organically find the page but also explain to the reader what the recipe is upfront, before they read my story, I write longer titles.

The problem with stripping the recipe titles out and randomly using them in a weekly survey is that you also strip them of their content and what the title refer to as well as where it comes from. If you were to pull names of dishes out from a cross section menus, from quick service restaurants to fine dining and then put them next to each other, the fine dining name of a burger (fresh ground Wagyu Beef burger with housemaid applewood smoked bacon and Tillamook sharp Cheddar) will look pretentious next to a QSR burger (bacon cheeseburger). But if you pull titles only from fine dining menus or only from casual dining menus, you’ll get a more nuanced result. The problem is, unlike categories for restaurants, there are no distinctions between my blog and someone who writes a post using a 99¢ box cake mix and calls it “Delicious Yellow Cupcake with Sprinkles” – we aren’t in the same category. I make no judgement on those who want to use a box mix or read a blog that features it. In fact, in all likelihood, they get way more traffic than me but using a cake mix it’s not what I have any interest in, and I think my readers are probably of the same mindset. However, I certainly would never call the recipe title “Delicious Yellow Cupcake with Sprinkles” a “ridiculously low brow title” which, in my head, is probably the equivalent to calling a blog title “dripping with pretension” – both insulting.

As I stated before, my blog is NOT for everyone. There are ten of thousands of blogs out there that deal with food and a lot of them focus on everyday simple foods. I specifically try to be creative in my baked goods, to challenge myself and to challenge my readers. And do keep in mind that I have a large group of readers that specifically come to my blog because, even though I am not gluten free, I create gluten free or allergen free recipes for them. Using alternative flours, unusual whole grains, alternative sweeteners or off the beaten path ingredients, unique flavor combinations or other other alternative ingredients, might also make people feel like my recipe are “over-the-top” but my readership seems to appreciate it. It’s what makes my blog my blog and not someone else’s blog.

That said, I do try to vary my posts so that there are more challenging recipes, and there are more basic recipes. And, as a writer, I occasionally write my recipe titles to coincide with the story itself. I recently posted a recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies. The title is The All American Classic Jumbo Chocolate Chip Cookie. I could have titled it The Chocolate Chip Cookie, or the Best Chocolate Chip Cookie, or My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie, but if you read the entire post, you’ll find it’s about gay pride, being proud of who I am, taking pride in myself. The All American Classic Jumbo Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe title was a better fit to my story. Does that title drip with pretension? I hope not. But If it does, then so be it.

I make a concerted effort when I write my recipes to simplify and test them so that they are accessible. It’s one of the reasons I created my wordless recipe (more of them are to come), to challenge myself to make a recipe so simple that it could be explained with pictures alone. It’s why I often times do not post a recipe until I’ve made it three or four times until I’m satisfied with enough to publish it. And it’s why I use grocery store eggs (instead of the eggs I get from friend’s backyard chickens) and middle of the road butter (often from Trader Joe’s) as opposed to Plugra or another European style butter. It’s why I buy grocery store wheat flour and grocery store cane sugar as opposed to artisan small batch sugar or flour. But it sounds like you don’t actually do any market research on my recipe itself, just the title.

You mention you’ve been following my blog for over a year. Thank you for that, but keep in mind that my blog has only been around since March of 2010. That’s a year and half old. I’m still pretty new to blogging. When I look back at my early posts vs my later posts, there is a definitely evolution in how I wrote my posts, my recipes, and yes my titles too. I’m constantly learning and finding my voice – it’s a process. My blog is young and I do appreciate the feedback you gave me. I just wish you would have given it to me with some context, or better yet, emailed me so we could have had a conversation about it. It would probably have been much more productive. I welcome feedback, but a stark comment accusing me of being over-the-top complicated, dripping with pretension and being an absolute turn-off came across as rude and trollish. Thank you for coming back and explaining. I hope my explanation helps as well.

As a last note, in case you have not figured it out by reading my posts, or reading this comment, I am an extremely verbose person. I write like I talk, which is to say, I talk in long complex sentences that hopefully are grammatically correct, though are often viewed as run-on. When I bake something, and someone asks me what it is, I actually will describe the baked good in a long ingredient based sentence. It’s what I’ve always done, and that translated to my blog and recipe titles. What you are reading is who I am. If that makes me pretentious, than I guess that is the cross I have to bear.

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Michael Procopio July 18, 2011 at 2:32 pm

My word, you do go to a lot of food parties, don’t you?

I am intrigued by the vodka in your crust recipe. I’ve never seen that before. What does it do?

P.S. I love luv’s comment. Wear it like a badge of honor that a complete stranger would take the time out of his/her busy schedule (do I leave the dirty, airless apartment, or do I stay here and count my cans of soup for the fifth time to make sure the cats did not steal them?) to read your post and then write something insulting.

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Irvin July 19, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Actually I tend to host a lot of food parties, mostly because I love food. You must come to our next one…

The vodka inhibits the gluten, while keeping the crust moist. It allows you to work the dough and adding extra flour as you roll, without having to worry about the crust getting tough.

And thank you for the PS.

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Kate July 18, 2011 at 3:09 pm

This pie sounds delicious, and I can’t wait to try that natural wine and berry pairing in a pie filling.

I love your recipe names. Each one is story in and of itself. And they “sound like you.”

I’m also curious about the vodka. Seems like a 1/2 cup total liquid would make a fairly wet dough–does that get balanced out by the vodka burning off more quickly in the cooking or am I just off-base in thinking the dough might be on the stickier side before it’s cooked?

Thanks!

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Irvin July 19, 2011 at 2:28 pm

Honestly it is a lot of liquid and the dough is a sticky in the beginning. But once you let it rest in the fridge for an hour, it’s less sticky as the the wheat has time to absorb the moisture.

I also recommend a heavy application of flour on the surface you rolling on and the rolling pin and dough itself. It facilitates easy rolling, and because the moisture, you can use as much flour as you want. The vodka burns off as you bake it, leaving you a wonderfully flaky and tender crust.

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Samantha July 18, 2011 at 3:17 pm

everyone seems to really love your recipe names (including me) don’t sweat one person out of…. a lot of others :) I really want some pie now… and some booze.

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Irvin July 19, 2011 at 9:46 pm

Thanks for your support! Glad you like my recipe names. Booze and pie are a perfect combination!

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Brian July 18, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Another stunning post my friend! Seeing all of these parties makes me want to move to SF so we could cook and eat (and drink) and be merry!

Congrats to AJ on completing the bike ride yet again!

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Irvin July 19, 2011 at 9:47 pm

Why thank you Brian! You know I would LOVE for you to move out here. We would have a blast together. But let me know if you visit. I’d love to see you.

And AJ say thank you for the congrats!

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Casey@Good. Food. Stories. July 18, 2011 at 3:36 pm

I’ve seen pie crust recipes that include vinegar, which apparently keeps things tender instead of tough – wonder if the vodka has the same effect?

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Irvin July 19, 2011 at 2:31 pm

The vinegar is acidic, and it also helps in preventing the gluten from forming and keeping the crust tender. But what’s nice about the vodka is that you can use more of it, adding moisture like water, but you don’t have to worry about it imparting any flavor, unlike the vinegar.

You can substitute lemon juice or orange juice for the vinegar, which will also work, and add flavor as well.

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Casey@Good. Food. Stories. July 20, 2011 at 5:18 am

And THAT’s why you’re a genius. Awesome explanation.

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Tana July 18, 2011 at 3:41 pm

I’d eat that pie, and appreciate the boozy warning. (I would also eat the pizzas. More details on savories, please?)

Regarding “luv” and the ubiquitous drive-by anonymous coward comment?

People like that are “stronzo,” which an Italian explained to me is the situation where you sit on the toilet, grunting and panting, for an hour—and all that comes out is a hard little rock. That’s exactly what “Luv”(-less) has produced. A hard little rock. Flush it away, and pray s/he some day knows that sunlight is the best disinfectant. What a jealous little chickenshit.

Irvin, if you are dripping with pretension, I’ll help you lick your fingers.

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Irvin July 19, 2011 at 2:32 pm

Thank you Tana. You can lick my fingers anytime. ;)

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Alexandra July 18, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Ok, wait…wine AND pie together? This might be love, can’t wait to try it. As for your titles, they’re great! As are your recipes! Keep em coming, thanks!

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Irvin July 19, 2011 at 9:48 pm

Thanks Alexandra! The wine really goes well with the blueberries and cherries. I appreciate the support.

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Stacie Tamaki July 18, 2011 at 4:07 pm

First congrats to AJ. I am in awe that he has done this ride for over a decade!

Second. The pie looks and sounds amazing. I wish I could bake one right now but I still have this month’s Daring Baker’s Challenge to undertake. Then Espresso Brownies. Then maybe pie :)

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Irvin July 19, 2011 at 9:51 pm

Right? Isn’t AJ amazing? I can’t believe this was his 11th ride.

And I am SO behind on my Daring Bakers’ Challenge. Sadly, I don’t think I’ll make this month’s challenge either as I’m in Maui, with a very limited kitchen equipment. Bah.

And espresso brownies! I have a great recipe for those. I should post it.

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Julie W July 18, 2011 at 4:30 pm

You should rename it Irvin’s Signature Stolichnaya Elit, ‘Rubel’ Blueberry, ‘Lapin’ Cherry, Château Mouton Rothschild Pauillac Pie. Can’t wait to make it.

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Irvin July 19, 2011 at 9:56 pm

I love that name! Though, my dirty little secret is that I used a cheap box wine from Trader Joe’s. Ha! I guess the cat is out of the bag. Hard to be pretentious when I’m measuring out wine from a spigot.

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marisa July 18, 2011 at 4:45 pm

I’m pregnant and exhausted, have no cherries and I WANT THIS RIGHT NOW!!!

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Irvin July 19, 2011 at 9:59 pm

C0ngrats on the pregnancy! I wish I could give you some cherries. Sadly the ones I’ve found here in Maui (where I am for the month of July) are not very good. They have to be imported…from California. Oh the irony.

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marisa July 20, 2011 at 8:01 am

Our cherries are done now so it’s NW or frozen:( You started a whole new craving with Maui. If you go eat a Loco Moco without egg at Da Kitchen on Kihei for me that will make me feel better. Aloha.

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mary fran | frannycakes July 18, 2011 at 6:12 pm

So, I have been reading your blog for a while and I have learned 2 things.
1. I need cooler friends to have awesome food parties all the time.
2. I should not read your blog when I am hungry.

Also, I am glad someone else uses vodka in their crust. I feel much less like I have a booze problem – you know, you want to make pie and because you don’t have vodka you run to the store at 11:30 at night because a crust made with water is just not the same…

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Irvin July 19, 2011 at 10:02 pm

Thanks Mary Fran!

1. I love my friends. But all you need to do is throw a party, and invite your friends and make food. Suddenly YOUR the cool one, and my extension, all your friends are cool. See how easy that is?

2. Then my job here is done.

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Kimberley July 18, 2011 at 10:46 pm

Of all the things a person could be annoyed by in life! Thankfully, everything awesome and life-affirming about this post is the takeaway. I love your long and complicated titles.

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Irvin July 19, 2011 at 10:02 pm

Thanks Kimberley! I wish I could make everyone happy, but apparently that is impossible. I’m just glad that you and others like my long titles…

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Brianne July 19, 2011 at 6:57 am

My boyfriend and I are TOTALLY going to throw a pie and pie party. He makes great pizzas, and I can make a mean pie. What a fantastic idea!

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Irvin July 19, 2011 at 2:33 pm

Do it! Pie and Pie is a winner. Who doesn’t love pizza and pie? Total crowd pleaser.

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elizabeyta July 19, 2011 at 12:54 pm

Lovely post! I was curious about the middle and how it was going to stay together. Looks good in the pictures.

(((hug)))

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Irvin July 19, 2011 at 10:03 pm

Hugs back to you Elizabeyta!

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Tricia July 19, 2011 at 1:52 pm

LOL at drip with pretension – only someone so pretentious as to be that opinionated would point fingers about such a thing…I can’t think of a better way to describe what sound like a winner of a recipe. I look forward to giving it a try!

Pizza and pie – no better way to please a(n unpretentious) crowd!

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Irvin July 19, 2011 at 10:05 pm

The pizza and the pie were great. I believe fellow blogger Allison said it was her favorite fruit pie EVER.

And I’m glad you like the descriptive title!

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Allison July 20, 2011 at 5:39 pm

Yes I did. ^_^

The party was what, a month and a half ago? And I’m STILL craving that pie. It was ridiculously good… way above any other fruit pie I’ve ever had (and I’ve had some good fruit pies, so that’s saying a lot!)

I’ll admit that I let out an excited squeal when I saw you had posted the recipe (finally!)… since I can’t exactly ask you to make the pie for me on a regular basis, what with you living so darn far away. ~_^

P.S. I love your titles. Don’t change one bit!

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Sonja July 20, 2011 at 2:28 am

I truly love your posts Irving :) – thanks to luv for making me delurk here!
I cannot wait to try this pie and surprise my friends back here in Germany and regarding luv’s comment:
there is an old German saying that rougly translated means “the old oak doesn’t give a damn if the wild boar uses it to scratch his itchy skin”…
Keep up the good work!

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Anna and Liz recipes July 22, 2011 at 11:42 am

Wow this looks delicious! my dad loves cherry pies! thanks for a great recipe :)

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Kristyn May 4, 2012 at 12:27 am

I LOVE this idea!! I actually thought my idea to make a red wine cherry pie might be original but when I googled it I found this recipe. I want to make a cherry pie with more depth and layers of flavor and I was wondering if you can taste the red wine. I am also curious if your pie somewhat stays together or when you cut into it does it kinda fall apart?

Thanks so much!

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Irvin May 7, 2012 at 3:00 am

Hi Kristyn,

You can definitely taste the red wine. And I use a 1/4 cup of cornstarch in the filling to help thicken the filling. You can certainly add a couple of tablespoons more if you are fearful that your fruit is extra juicy and will be runny. If I remember correctly the pie was a nice consistency and texture. Soft filling, but not too runny. Flaky crust.

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Linda July 28, 2014 at 5:33 am

First have to tell you that I thought this recipe name was intriguing and descriptive. Loved the idea of wine with the berries and made the pie…

Oh wow… So yummy! Thanks for sharing this recipe – definitely a keeper!

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