August 8, 2013

Portable pies becoming trend in southern Maine

Tiny crusts with a variety of fillings catch on as a fresh option for eating on the go.

By Meredith Goad mgoad@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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Jessica Barry displays a wild Maine blueberry hand pie, a new and popular menu item currently available only on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at Standard Baking Co. in Portland.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Staff Photographer

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James Murray Plunkett and Pamela Fitzpatrick are opening Little Bigs in South Portland, which will feature specialty hand pies. They also plan to sell other kinds of finger-friendly foods, including raised and cake doughnuts in unusual flavors.

John Patriquin / Staff Photographer

Plunkett has worked all over the country, from a lodge in Alaska to the Quisisana musical theater resort in Lovell. Most recently, he was chef de cuisine at Brown Trout, a farm-to-table restaurant in Chicago.

The couple, who are married, originally planned to open Little Bigs in Portland, but couldn't find a suitable location after a year and a half of looking. Fitzpatrick said South Portland has been "incredibly welcoming to us."

"In Chicago, you know, you wait five months for a building permit," she said. "Here, it was five days."

They've been renovating their new space near Cash Corner -- she painted, he installed the dropped ceiling. It's a cozy place where the kitchen blends into the retail side, so customers will be able to watch the pair at work.

"We want to make it a neighborhood place where they come and feel comfortable and see us working," Plunkett said. "It's almost more of a studio than a kitchen."

Little Bigs will be open from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Sweet hand pies will cost in the range of $2.95 to $3.95 each, and savory pies will run $4 to $6.50, depending on ingredients and size.

In addition to hand pies, the couple expect to make all kinds of finger-friendly foods, including raised and cake doughnuts in flavors like ricotta cream with blueberry compote and grape jelly with Champagne grapes.

A large portion of their menu will feature sweet and savory hand pies such as an ultra-rich German sugar pie and a pie filled with artichoke, spinach, sunchoke and goat cheese.

On the drawing board are a Korean-style noodle pie with kimchee, a mole-braised turkey pie, a Thai red curry pie and a rabbit pie.

"It's really anything you can put in a crust," Plunkett said.

Plunkett said he even wants to fool around with Maine's signature soda, Moxie. Perhaps a hand pie filled with Moxie curd as "a playful attention-getter?"

"We're going to play," Plunkett said. "We're also going to listen to our clientele, and they're going to tell us what they want."

As long as it fits in a crust.

 

Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at:

mgoad@pressherald.com

 

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