Pie, Whimsy, and the Phantom Wilfair

I can be bargained with and swayed to many different viewpoints, but one thing I must stand firm on is this: The Wilfair Hotel's real-world Los Angeles neighborhood is freakin' whimsical.

Maybe not at first glance, but again, within one city block, you have a mastodon statue, tar pits, climbable ceramic sloths, a giant boulder you can walk beneath, 202 vintage street lamps in a clump, and a Perceptual Cell (a small orb you recline inside as a light show plays). Plus the diner seen in "The Big Lebowski" and, and, and? Dorothy's ruby slippers facing Wilshire and Fairfax, at least in mega poster form.

Let's add a pie contest to this list, the sort of homey 'n sweet pie competition you'd expect to see at a county fair and not plunk in the middle of one of the world's biggest cities.

Last week such a homespun cook-off went down next door to The Wilfair and Motel Fairwil, outside the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Home cooks entered pies of every sort, local foodies judged, and pie lovers were invited to come taste.

Yep, that's Moby. He judged the vegan pie category.

I predict a few of The Wilfair chefs may enter a fruit pie -- made with oranges from the hotel's famous citrus topiaries, of course -- in a future KCRW Good Food Pie Contest. As will Monty Overbove, who may try his hand at a savory pie, or maybe chiffon or mousse.

Gomery will be Monty's go-to guinea pig, as far as sampling early efforts go. That set-up will not go smoothly, I predict, as the bespectacled cousin will thumbs-up the pies Monty is iffy about and will have constructive notes for the pies the tender-ego'd baker believes to be surefire.

Just don't get pie on your tie, Gomery.

(He probably will.)

Whatever edible effort Monty ultimately enters, you can bet the motel lobby will smell like sugar and warm pastry for days, since it leads straight into the diner and the diner's tiny kitchen.

And a little more Wilfair before I go. The space the fictional hotel occupies can be very clearly seen in the snapshot below. See the two women on the left? And the buildings immediately behind them? And the space between those buildings? That's the phantom Wilfair. I can see it, so perfectly, and all of its themed floors.

Right there. Exactly.

And, yep, there's a large swath of green next to our corner. I just bet a few particular people who live at The Wilfair and Motel Fairwil retreat to that lawn to make grass angels by the full moon.

cr: Thank you, KCRW and Caught Up in the Moment Photography!


Amanda W said...

Mmmm....pie. Now I'm going to have to make one very soon.

Wilfair Book said...

Are you sweet or savory, Amanda? I need details, please.

Kelly said...

I am generally pretty patriotic about my country, but I have to admit that the UK is seriously lagging behind in the arena of pie. I mean, you can get a decent apple pie, and a good chicken & leek or beef & ale, but we are seriously lacking in variety and availability.

Every time I've been to the US I make a point of sampling as many pies as possible.

Now I'm hungry, and trying to figure out if I will have time after work tonight to bake. Steak and stilton is my favourite savory pie. Sweet is much harder to pick, but I'll go with pear and almond.

Amanda W said...

I'm a pretty equal opportunity pie maker/eater. I'll probably make green chili chicken hand pies sooner rather than later, because I have the ingredients and they are delish. But apple pie season is coming, and I really dig on some apple pies. Especially for breakfast.

Wilfair Book said...

Kelly: I just had a steak and Stilton pie for the first time last year and I must say it was a revelation. And I started thinking all savory things should come in a crust. I'm not off-base here, right?

When you visit LA we'll go to Du-par's at the Farmers Market. They make about 30 different old-school pies, including a gooey cherry I rather like.

Amanda: No joke -- I am a BIG green chile fan and very much associate it with the fall. If I can roast a few of my own, I do, because The Smell. You know what I'm talking about. Mmmmm.

Also, I just came across agreen chile-apple pie recipe I might try. I like sweet with some spice, I do I do.

Wilfair Book said...

Sorry for the squished-together words in that link! I was in a green chile love haze and may not leave it before sundown.

Amanda W said...

That green chile-apple pie looks AMAZING. I'm pretty much of the opinion that I could eat nothing but pie and be pretty happy. Once you realize how many options there are (savory as well as sweet) it's a no-brainer! Veggies (Spinach and tomato pie is sooo good), eggs, fruit, meat.

Maybe the Finley's should add a pie restaraunt to one of their hotels? ;)

bess said...

I love pie, it is maybe my favorite food. Baking it, eating it, reading about it, all favorites.

Amanda- I agree, pie for breakfast is the best, the morning after Thanksgiving (one of the bigger pie holidays) I always have a pie feast.

I haven't had many savory pies, unless quiche counts. Victorian books talk about eel pie and eel pie vendors so that's one I've always wondered about.

Chiara said...

That's a lot of pies! And vegan pies! I wish I had been there.

My part of the country is quite famous for what I guess could be called pies but we have nowhere as many variations as you have in the US. I should bake more pies myself and get creative with it! In case anybody wants to see Dutch pies, which are called "vlaai", there's even an English Wikipedia page

do dah said...

pusheen agrees with you. http://pusheen.com/post/32481225787
(saw that comic today and thought it was appropriate).

Chiara said...

That comic reminded me that I wanted to bake a pumpkin pie now that the magical fall season has arrived. Maybe this weekend if they have pumpkins at the farmer's market.

bess said...

Chiara- do you make pumpkin pies out of whole pumpkins? This is very impressive to me. I've made many pumpkin pies but always with canned pumpkin. What is the whole pumpkin process like? Do you have to cook it ahead of time? Or purée it?

Chiara said...

Bess, I've actually never baked a pumpkin pie but I want to try! We don't have canned pumpkins here (not that I know of at least, maybe at special stores) so I figured I'd make my own. I figured I'd cook the pumpkin and make my own puree? Shouldn't be harder than making pumpkin soup from scratch. And if I can get hokkaido pumpkins it will be even easier because they don't need to be peeled :)

Here is a site with instructions I found.

Wilfair Book said...

Things to say here, but I've got one foot in bed so I'll jump in tomorrow.

Still, Chiara, you have a new photo! Love! And our glasses are nearly the same (I'm rocking my older glasses in the recently posted pic on the site). I like your short haircut, too!

Chiara said...

Yes I do :) Thanks a lot! Glasses twins for the win! *high fives*

Wilfair Book said...

High five back, Chiara!

Also, I enjoyed reading all of the comments. Thanks for sharing about vlaai, too. I'm now more informed. It's a pretty pie, too. Some pies are not pretty, and rather fall-apart-able, but I don't hold it against them.

bess, quiche counts. And if I had the opportunity to eat eel pie, well. Maybe if I'd time-machined back to Victorian London! Hmm. I need to meditate on this one.

do dah, your links charm. Always.

Amanda, I'm all for a pie restaurant in a Finley hotel. I like one-dish restaurants, and pie is royalty in the land of one-dish foods!

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