Thursday, June 17, 2010

Pies but no Camel Milk: Julian, California

Julian is a tiny town in the hills of central San Diego County. With a population of just over 1,500, Julian may have more pies than people. In the heart of San Diego fruit tree country, the town has at least three pie shops in its tiny commercial area and is famous, at least locally, for its apple pies.

I recently happened through Julian and was eager to try the pie. I would have liked to sample all of the shops and do a real smackdown, but I was just passing through, so I had to pick. The shop I picked was Mom's Pie House, or as the sign says, "Moms Pies Etc." on Highway 78.

Now, while Julian is known for apples, it isn't exactly the height of apple season so I went with something more seasonally appropriate and had a strawberry rhubarb pie with a crumble crust (the other option was a flaky crust).

Maybe it's just my big city bias, but I wasn't expecting much. Fruit pie is nice but seldom wows me. This pie, though, was one of the best strawberry rhubarbs I've had.

The major problem with strawberry rhubarb pie is that most people who make it are afraid of rhubarb, a sour, celery looking vegetable that is notoriously difficult to cook. As a result, most pies have a paltry amount of rhubarb and taste pretty much like strawberry pie. Mom does not fear the rhubarb. She included plenty of the stuff, giving the pie a wonderful sour/citric note. The acid was a great contrast to the strawberries as well as the sweet, cobble-type crust. Great stuff!

Mom's has chocolates as well so I tried some toffee and fudge, but neither was very good. This place is for fruit pies.

Mom's Pie House
2119 Main St/Hwy 78
Julian, CA 92036
(760) 765-2472

Driving further east down Highway 78, past the little town of Julian, I came across the Oasis Camel Dairy. Now that sounded intriguing! As I drove through the gate, I could see actual camels grazing in the fields. A woman came to greet me carrying a mason jar of what I can only assume was camel milk.

"Where can I buy some camel milk?" I asked.
"We don't sell camel milk, just soap." She replied.
"You don't sell milk?"
"Just soap, but you can take a tour."

Now I may be hopelessly naive, but when an establishment advertises itself as a dairy, I assume that is has milk. You don't go to the dairy to buy soap, you go to the drug store to buy soap. I considered asking her for a pull on the jar, but figured that would be futile and drove away (I don't need soap or a tour of animal milk that I can't drink).

The Dairy's website, while touting the nutritional benefits of camel milk, confirms that the dairy does not "sell camel milk for you to drink." Oh well, I guess I will just have to have some good old-fashioned goat milk with my pie.

1 comment:

Diana said...

I had one of Julian's apple pies five years ago and I'm still thinking about it! Best pie I've ever had. Even better when served warm with vanilla ice cream! ;)