Pie baking contest brings Francestown residents together

  • Bakers and bystanders gathered as Recreation Commission staffers tasted each pie in turn, ultimately selecting a winner from the sweet, savory, and kids' categories. Abbe Hamilton—

  • Bakers and bystanders gathered as Recreation Commission staffers tasted each pie in turn, ultimately selecting a winner from the sweet, savory, and kids' categories. Abbe Hamilton—

  • A pizza chena, one of the savory entries in the pie bake-off. Abbe Hamilton—

  • Bakers and bystanders gathered as Recreation Commission staffers tasted each pie in turn, ultimately selecting a winner from the sweet, savory, and kids' categories. Abbe Hamilton—

  • Bakers and bystanders watch as Recreation Commission staffers judge each pie, ultimately selecting a sweet, savory, and kids' category winner. Abbe Hamilton—

  • BJ Carbee points out ingredients in the pizza chena to Evalina, 9, and Lazarus, 6.  Abbe Hamilton—

  • Bakers and bystanders watch as Recreation Commission staffers judge each pie, ultimately selecting a sweet, savory, and kids' category winner. Abbe Hamilton—

  • Barry and Susan O’Dwyer introduce a customer to their cow, Heidi. The O’Dwyers sell cheese at the farmers market.  Abbe Hamilton—

  • Brad Bull’s Red House Road mustards attract tasters at the farmers market. Abbe Hamilton—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 8/5/2019 6:02:16 PM

The Recreation Commission’s second annual pie-baking competition drew a deeper talent pool and more hungry spectators at the Francestown Community Market Friday.

In addition to last year’s sweet and savory pie categories, the organizers added a kid’s category this year.

“I think the kids are excited,” said Dawn Kirlin, a Recreation Commission board member, as she arranged the entries ahead of the event. The contest received 11 entries this year, up from last year’s five.

At 6:30 p.m., spectators and bakers clustered around the pie table as Recreation Director Alana Samuelson briefed the judges on scoring criteria. Pies were evaluated for appearance, taste, creativity and their overall impression. Judges were Recreation summer staff: Scoby Pond lifeguards Gabe Niles and Dave Boutchia and tennis camp instructor Emma Place.

Simone Clare played a ukelele rendition of Elle Saunder’s “Ex’s and Oh’s” as the judges sat down opposite the spectators at the table

“They’re so pretty I don’t want to eat them,” remarked Boutchia.

“I’m not a disinterested party,” said Kevin Pobst as Kirlin cut into the blueberry pie he submitted.

Pobst said he received the cookbook “Art of the Pie” for his birthday and “vowed to master” pie making by baking 52 pies in as many weeks. His competition entry was his ninth pie, although, he said, he’s missed one or two weeks.

“Those are Scoby Pond blueberries,” he said.

BJ Carbee’s savory entry, a pizza chena, turned heads for its thick, puffy crust and layered interior.

“I didn’t know anyone around here knew how to make one of those!” said Jennifer Allocca, a Francestown resident.

Pizza chena is a traditional Italian Easter dish. When one feasting spectator remarked that Carbee ought to go into business, she said, “I’d have to sell them for $70 apiece.”

Samuelson said that although the Recreation Commission hosts fundraisers at the community market, including a hamburger and hot dog sale earlier in the evening, the pie bake-off is a purely for-fun event. “And who doesn’t love pie?” she laughed.

Samuelson’s own cheese and ham pies won the savory category. Kaela Law’s Honey Pie “cutie pies” won the sweet category and Regan Kirlin, 10, won the kid’s category with a peach pie.

Samuelson said she is excited about the growth of the community market since its start last June. “We keep hearing that it’s one of the more popular markets in the area.”

Tom Mitchell, of Ledge Top Farm in Wilton, said he sees more participation at the Francestown market than the other markets he sells at in Bedford, Merrimack and Milford.

“Cars are always coming through,” he said. “When I have enough produce, this is a great market to go to.”

He said Francestown had been a “pass-through” town for him, “But in the past year I’ve learned [residents are] really into their community market.”

Barry and Susan O’Dwyer of Harrisville sell cheeses under their brand, Lone Wolf Cheese. They bring a laminated photo of their only cow, Heidi, to show to customers.

“My wife milks her by hand every morning and every night,” Barry said.

The O’Dwyers have been making and selling cheese for eight years, and said they found the Francestown market through Mitchell, their neighbor at the Milford market. It was the O’Dwyer’s retirement plan to have a farm and “do something more sustainable.”

This year, the market started up in April and is slated to run through December.

Last year, Kirlin said, about five vendors reliably attended every week. This year, a dozen or so are regularly in attendance. There is no fee for vendors to set up during the outdoor season, and Kirlin said that the diverse and balanced offerings of cheese, eggs, pastries, ice cream, vegetables, ciders and condiments happened organically. When the weather gets colder, the market will move into the Town Hall and vendor tables will cost $5 per market.

The market runs Fridays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on the town common.


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