Evan Kleiman, chef-owner of Angeli Caffé, cookbook author and host of KCRW's radio show Good Food, has been baking pies lately. A lot of pies. A pie every single day, in fact, as part of her Pie-a-Day project on her KCRW blog. And although KTLA will be doing a live broadcast tomorrow morning from her restaurant kitchen, Kleiman says she has no plans to turn the project into a movie. "I'm not quote as photogenic as Julie," said Kleiman by phone this morning from her home kitchen, which doesn't even have an oven. "My oven fell down during the [Northridge] earthquake," explained Kleiman, who has still not finished rebuilding. "Everyone thinks restauranteurs have these huge kitchens; all our money goes back into the restaurant."
Kleiman started her pie project last month ("I don't even remember when, July sometime?") because she wanted to improve her pie-making skills and thought "if I made it public, then I would have to do it." Kleiman is fond of pies, loves making dough, and thought it fit the season. "I started thinking about summer and thought, I'm an adult, I don't get to have summer vacation: there's nothing that marks the summer if you're an adult with no children." Pies, Kleiman thought, would be the perfect way to achieve this. So now every day, Kleiman makes a pie and posts about it. "I made a decision that I would document everything that happened," says Kleiman, because a lot of people are intimidated by pastry, and that this was a way to learn ("the disasters are hysterical"), not only about pies but about how people approach them.
"I look at the books, then I go onto the Internet to see what home cooks are doing. It's amazing how people tweak pie recipes." Kleiman says that she's exploring savory pies now, and is going to try a galette, but that she doesn't really want to do tarts. "Some tarts work as pies; I'm using only pie pans. I haven't done any crustless pies, but what's the point?"
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Kleiman is having such a blast with her pie project that what was originally intended as just a summer-long adventure has been extended to Thanksgiving--the natural cumination, really, of pie season. She also says that, although she didn't think about turning the project into a book originally ("I didn't think of that, because I'm so unstrategic"), she may self-publish a pie book after this is all over.
In the meantime, Kleiman will be baking--and serving--pies at Angeli Caffé. Because, as she points out, "there's this really hysterical subtext. Do I keep the pie at home or do I take it someplace? How many pies do I want to eat? How many pies do I want my mother to eat?" So swing by the restaurant, particularly tomorrow, as Kleiman will have a lot of slices on hand after the KTLA broadcast (according to a tweet at 8 o'clock this morning, she's making 6 pies today: tomato, coconut cream, black raspberry, peach, blueberry, strawberry and Key lime). "People should come by; there will be a lot of pie."
Angeli Caffé: 7274 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles; (323) 936-9086. Follow Kleiman on Twitter @evankleiman.