I keep a running list, an actual collection of names written on a notepad, of places around the city I want to go to. Sometimes, names on the list are just eateries I want to try in general without any specific menu item in mind. Those include recommendations from friends and coworkers or places popular for being New York landmarks. Others on my list are food spots I want to try for something in particular—empanadas here, cheesecake there, falafel somewhere else.
Momofuku, in all its different forms, had been on my list since I first moved to New York, but it wasn’t until last week when I read about Crack Pie at Momofuku’s Milk Bar (the sweet shop and bakery in the bunch) that it got immediately bumped up the list and into the “places-I-have-to-try-as-soon-as-humanly-possible” category.
Obviously what drew me in first was the name. I mean, c’mon, Crack Pie? You can’t say you’re not curious. The description on the menu was succinct, adding to the intrigue: “toasted oat crust, gooey butter filling.”
Gooey butter filling? What does that even mean? There’s only one way to find out.
A note of caution here: Friday night, which is when I showed up at Milk Bar ready for some crack (pie), is probably not the best time to go if you’re in a hurry, if you’re impatient, or if you think you can just pop in and grab a quick slice of pie. Every last bit of standing room was taken as people jammed in and inched uncomfortably close to each other in an effort to get just that much closer to the counter where they could order.
After the waiting, the overall invasion of personal space, and the deliberating over what to get and how many of each thing was socially acceptable to order, I was ready to see what all the fuss was about. I kept it simple and got what I came for: Crack Pie.
Another thing worth noting, however, is that this place really makes it hard on someone like me (i.e. someone with a killer sweet tooth) to pick just one thing. With goodies like red velvet soft serve, candy bar pie and compost cookies, practicing self-control requires complete channeling of all available will power. (In case you were wondering what a compost cookie is, it’s made with pretzels, potato chips, coffee, oats, butterscotch, and chocolate chips.)
So finally, there it was, sitting in a white plastic to-go container, the much-anticipated Crack Pie. It looked simple, just a thin slice, nothing monstrous, with a flat surface and some confectioner’s sugar sprinkled on top. But the second I dug into it with the edge of my fork, the world basically melted away and all that was left was me, the Crack Pie and the delicious golden ooze of caramel-like buttery goodness that slowly leaked out of the slice. In my mouth the sticky, sweet filling of the pie mixed with the crunchy, granola-like crust to make for a complete mind-altering experience.
It all made sense. This unassuming marvel of a baked good was very much so appropriately named. After just the first bite I wanted more. I wanted a whole pie actually, but at a whopping, only-in-New-York $44 a pie, I had to settle for the one slice I was quickly devouring.
Now as I sit here writing this, practically salivating as I read it back to myself while obsessively reliving that magic pie experience in my head, I get the distinct feeling that I might be having withdrawal symptoms. And as any crack head will tell you, the only way to satisfy a craving is to have more crack (pie).
Final note: So you’ve read this and now you’re kind of twitchy, your palms are sweating, and you can’t stop thinking about crack pie. Well, don’t worry, as your enabler of all things fatty, I have the thing to set you right. For those of you outside of New York or those of you willing to try your hand at homemade crack pie, check out the recipe here. And if anyone need’s a taster for their crack pie, you know where to find me.