My family holidays are researched around food. We watch tons of food programmes and are inspired by the different cuisines that even my very food-orientated family have yet to try. So when we decided to spend Christmas and New Year in Florida, it wasn’t long before my girls discovered that it was famous for key lime pie. And so food holiday objective number one was set – to find the best key lime pie in Florida.
We started on the Gulf Coast. Key lime pie from the convenience store and a sunrise breakfast on Fort de Soto beach. It was sickeningly sweet but that may have just been our jet-lagged tastebuds.
Orlando came next. Surely the home of Mickey and Minnie would produce Florida’s tastiest key lime pie? Nope. We found cookies: giant ones, chocolate ones and double-sandwiched ones, but no key lime pie.
How about NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre? Surely those astronauts would insist on packing Florida’s finest into a vacuum bag? Wouldn’t Mission Control be fuelled by this sugary treat prior to lift off? Sadly no. We found space ice cream but no key lime pie.
Our midway point of the holiday was Miami. I was hopeful. It’s a huge city with a wide variety of cultures. From food trucks to rooftop restaurants, the Floridian food scene is incredible. Focussed on our target in this sprawling city, we booked a culinary tour with those in the know. We scoured South Beach and Little Havana, but our eureka moment came in the arty district of Wynwood at Fireman Derek’s Bake Shop. Derek really is a firefighter. He just bakes in his spare time and the verdict was a thumbs up for his key lime pie.
Our final stop was Key West. The southernmost point in the whole of America. More importantly, it is also here that key lime pie is said to have originated back in the early 20th century. The pie was created by the sponge fisherman using ingredients they happened to have handy one day; condensed milk, graham crackers and key limes.
Key lime pie was everywhere in this town. Cocktails, preserves, chocolates, sweets. You name it, it had a key lime pie version. Our favourite was key lime pie ice cream at Flamingo Crossing on the infamous Duvall Street.
So to sum up our quest, the closest we got to a good pie was Miami. It had been a fun search and the calories were worth it. I’ve recreated the pie back home here in the UK. I’ve stayed true to the key limes and the condensed milk used in original recipes but decided to use a sweet pastry base rather than the traditional biscuit one.