Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY


June 11, 2008

Tart and creamy, key lime pies delight the Florida Keys

KEY WEST, Fla. — Two inches of cloud-like meringue sit on top of a tart, key lime-infused custard and a buttery graham cracker crust.

It looks like a slice of pie — but it tastes like sunshine.

Key lime pie is the official dessert of the Florida Keys, craved by tourists and locals alike. And nearly every restaurant — from the gourmet to the ones that also sell live bait — is more than willing to please.

“In the middle of summer, it’s just so refreshing, like drinking a glass of lemonade,” said Charlene Griffin, a waitress who served up a slice at the Hideout Restaurant just off U.S. 1 in Key Largo. “Everybody that visits the Keys wants key lime pie.”

Traditional key lime pie has a graham cracker crust and a custard that’s yellow, not green, made of key lime juice, eggs and sweetened condensed milk. It can be topped with whipped cream or meringue.

But variations abound. At the Islamorada Fish Company, which sells about 70 pies a week at its outdoor restaurant overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, the pie is made of a whipped filling that’s less tart.

“We’re more of a family style restaurant,” explained manager Adrian Miranda. He says kids prefer the milder sweet flavor to the tart bite of a traditional pie. But not everyone is happy.

“We get a lot of key lime pie purists who say, ’This isn’t key lime pie,”’ he said.

Such purists also might be offended by the slices served at the upscale Louie’s Backyard, which are made with a gingersnap crust and garnished with berries.

“We just take a twist,” said senior waiter Ben Harris, who noted the stylish $7.25-a-slice pie is the only item other than conch chowder that has stayed on the restaurant’s menu for 20 years.

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