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A Key Lime Pie Adventure

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We have been to Key West Nearly a dozen times. Mostly as part of SmartRidea charity bike ride, Chuck is part of, on cruise ships and once by myself in my younger days.

 

Only In Key West

You can’t really go to Key West and NOT have key lime pie. I generally got mine frozen, on a stick, and dipped in chocolate. It’s portable, cold, and refreshing.

It’s a Key West ‘thing’, I never thought much about and just enjoyed.

This year on our recent SmartRide trip, I decided that I would try a local food tour, which included a stop for one of the more famous Key lime pies.

In watching a bunch of YouTube videos, I started to see this great debate over how had the best pie and, more importantly, to me, what was authentic key lime pie. So I did some research.

 

Whipped Cream or Meringue?

Some people swear that key lime pie has whipped cream, the one consistent caveat was that the whipped cream needed to be made fresh and piped on at the time of service.

Always a good rule, but it seemed to rule out a lot of the key lime places in town.

Others claimed the meringue was the only way to go and the absolute original.

 

Historically Speaking

Some historians claimed that the original “Aunt Sally” recipe, credited to a cook at the local Curry Mansion. She allegedly adapted a method of local sponge fisherman who took Cuban bread and topping it with a mixture of local wild eggs, some say turtle and pelican, sweetened condensed milk, and a squeeze of local limes.

The extraordinarily acidic and tart key limes cooked the eggs and condensed milk, which was an everyday staple due to the lack of fresh milk.

In later days, chicken eggs were used, but the egg whites seem to make the pie filling too thin, and not wanting to waste anything meringue became the topping.

 

Blond Giraffe

My first top for meringue topped key lime pie was near the top of the keys at the Blond Giraffe Key Lime Pie Factory in Tavernier, not far from Key Largo.

They seem, like most other places, to have capitalized on the key lime everything market. Offering cookies, candies, marinades, sauces, and multiple types of key lime pie.

I, however, was laser-focused on the pie with meringue at $5.95 per slice, which they have nicely prepackaged.

The graham cracker pie crust in nicely packed, the filling is perfectly tart with just a touch of sweetness, and the meringue is the perfect consistency both light and firm. The meringue was nicely browned, and there were a few shaves of lime zest across the top.

Key Lime Pie - Key lime pie with meringue - Blond Giraffe - Blond Giraffe Key Lime Pie Factory - The Florida Keys - Mark and Chuck's Adventures

Their pie has won awards consistently for the last twenty years and was honestly very good. The one downfall form me was the texture of the filling. The filling seemed to have a slightly gritty feel to it, almost like they had added confectioners’ sugar.

It’s definitely worth the stop as they have a beautiful Secret Garden with seating, birds, and rabbits, a charming Lock Lane with heart-shaped locks and notes attached to it. And it’s an excellent place for a little break.

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I’m In Heaven

The other place for key lime pie has got to be the incredible Blue Heaven on the corner of Petronia and Thomas, in Key West.

There are a thousand reasons to go here for food, drinks, ambiance, and entertainment. It’s a place you don’t want to miss when you come to Key West. {be sure to check out my upcoming post on brunch there}

To refer to their famous key lime pie as ‘mile-high’ probably isn’t an exaggeration, it’s a traditional slice but stacked with a mountain of meringue.

I’ve had their pie on a previous visit, and it is EVERYTHING, incredible graham cracker crust, amazingly tart filling, and luscious meringue. Oddly enough, my one complaint has always been the mountain o’ meringue. For me, it just throughs off the ratio or crust/filling/meringue.

Key Lime Pie - Key West - Blue Heaven - best key lime pie in Key West - The Florida Keys - Mark and Chucks Adventures - Flood Bloggers - Travel Bloggers

This visit was part of my Key West Food ToursSouthernmost Food Tasting & Cultural Walking Tour. A name this is almost as big as the meringue on the pie!

To my surprise, our key lime pie tasting for the tour was one, miniature perfectly portioned key lime pie tart. Made in a small cupcake type foil, it was the absolutely, positively, perfectly proportioned bite. The ratio of crust to filling to meringue was … heaven.

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You Choose

Honestly, both were excellent, each had a tiny flaw for my personal preference, but I would each both again.

My answer is if you are looking to have authentic key lime pie, make sure it’s not green, and go for the meringue!

 

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