The Filling Station - Orange
Tapping into the wisdom of university educators takes four years and a lot of money. But the sage advice of one Professor Salt -- a fellow O.C. foodblogger who writes You Gonna Eat That -- comes free and easy, sans tuition fees or midterm exams. And instead of a degree, you get great tips on where to find good eats.
One such tip of his that I had been putting off for far too long is The Filling Station; a joint in Old Towne Orange which, the Professor says, bakes "behemoth pies of incomparable flavor."
And he wasn't the only one singing its praises either. Recent chatter on the Chowhound board told of family members disowning other family members who come back from The Filling Station pieless, and forewarned that it was "open season" on pre-orders.
If you didn't know any better you'd think they were gabbing about Elmo TMX (no relation) or a PS3. But this ain't the latest toy craze. We're talking pie. Pumpkin pie. A pumpkin pie that people around these parts go nuts for every year around this time.
About a week ago, we ordered a slice to share just to see what the hub-bub was all about. The wedge of pastry was heated, dusted with cinnamon, and served with several dollops of whipped cream.
As soon as I tasted my first forkful, I understood. This was a true masterpiece in the art of baking.
While fillings of lesser pies range from too pasty, or too slobbery, or too dry, this was perfectly set; firm to the touch and wiggly on the palate. With a fleeting presence on the tongue like the lightest of creme brulees, this pumpkin custard was a happy confluence on its roster of players: the emulsifying power of eggs, the earthy-sweetness of the gourd, and the warmth of cinnamon.
The edges of the crust that held it all was rippled in repeating parabolic shapes, and was of a rigid construction although it looked as if it was sculpted in sand. It broke into brittle chunks under the pressure of my forktips and ate like a butter-rich shortbread cookie. The granulated coarseness of the crumbles was the perfect foil to the custard -- a study of contrasts between the sturdy and the delicate.
This was autumn, distilled inside a pie pan.
As we pinched the last pie pieces from our plate with our petty paws, we knew what we had to do: pre-order post-haste for a paltry $20.
The Filling Station
201 N Glassell St
Orange, CA 92866