Cherry pie and hot black coffee seems to be the topic of pop culture conversation this week. Many of the individuals all abuzz about an iconic television series were mere babies when Twin Peaks first aired in 1990. Thankfully, Netflix offers both seasons of the cult classic for millennial viewing pleasure.
A new season of Twin Peaks returns this Sunday, May 21st, airing exclusively on Showtime. In anticipation, there have been a number of pop-up events celebrating the fictional town and characters of Twin Peaks. Both the food and style section of the New York Times shared cherry pie and Snoqualmie Falls inspired fashion tips this week. While many pies claim the title of “Twin Peaks Cherry Pie,” it’s best to separate the show from the pie due to strict licensing agreements. Better to simply dub the lattice top dessert, “Not Twin Peaks Cherry Pie.”
I can’t speak for other professional pie bakers out there, but when I need roughly 64 pounds of plump pie cherries, neatly pitted and lightly sweetened from Fish Creek, Wisconsin, there’s only one person to call; Loretta.
Thankfully, Loretta Robertoy, the matriarch of Hyline Orchards answered her rotary phone last week when I called. Hyline Orchards has been a mainstay of Door County, Wisconsin since 1958 and I’ve been ordering cherries from Loretta since 1984. I have yet to hear anyone else’s voice on the other end of the line when I dial the number.
Loretta answered, “Hyline Orchards” in her signature voice, slow and measured, somewhat welcoming, but clearly busy doing things that took precedence to my phone call. I told her I was hoping to place an order for cherries to which she replied, “Can you hold on?” I suspected she was searching for an invoice pad and pen. Loretta doesn’t use the computer.
“Who is this?” Roberta asked, waiting for me to explain who I was and where I was. I explained I was calling from New Jersey to which she replied, “Aren’t you the one in Philadelphia?” Gently reminding her that I no longer owned a restaurant in the city of brotherly love, I gave her my current Garden State particulars.
“Ok, just a minute, can you hang on?” Pause. “Just hang on.” Roberta set the phone aside to continue a somewhat heated conversation taking place in Fish Creek. “No, I don’t want you to paint the roof. Not now. Maybe later.” Loretta returned to the phone.
“Hello? Are you there?” I hadn’t moved. “What do you want to order? The tubs?” Yes, yes, that’s right, I needed the 8-pound tubs of Wisconsin cherries. “Well, how many?”
Frantically doing some quick baker’s math in my head, I arrived at the number eight. Eight 8-pound tubs would yield 64 pounds of cherries, enough to fill sixty 9” pie shells. I hoped it would fill sixty 9” pie shells. Loretta wasn’t quite finished with the painter on her end of the line. I waited.
“I don’t want you to paint the roof now. I wanted you to paint the roof when I called you.” Hating to interrupt, I timidly cleared my throat.
“Loretta? Are you there? Eight. Eight tubs of cherries. That will be two packages of four tubs each. Can you do that?”
“Oh, sure” Loretta replied.
“Can you do that tomorrow? I need the cherries by the end of the week.”
“I’ll try and get to it tomorrow. What’s your address in Philadelphia?”
The following day I started to panic. In all the years I’ve been ordering frozen cherries from Hyline Orchards, it’s always questionable when the order will be delivered. Many things can effect shipping; excessive snow or summer heat, lack of packing materials (each tub of cherries is hand-wrapped in the local newspaper) or the simple fact that Loretta is busy running an orchard and farm market. Over the years it has been evident that Loretta is a tireless woman who runs the cherry show at her own pace. I dialed the number once again and eventually Loretta answered.
“Hi, Loretta. I’m just calling to see if you were able to ship the cherries I ordered from you yesterday.”
“No. I’ll try and get to it today.”
“I’d be most appreciative if you could ship them today. In fact, I was wondering if you could send them 2nd day freight instead of standard freight.”
“Oh sure,” Loretta agreed, “I could do that.”
“Will you be able to ship them out today?” I realized I was holding my breath.
“Oh sure, I have to go back there and pack them. The bill will be on the box.”
“Thanks so much.”
“Ok. I’ll send them 2nd day. Where are you?”
For over 30 years, Loretta has yet to fail me, and this order was no exception. Two brown corrugated boxes of white plastic tubs wrapped in the Advocate, arrived on Friday. Slipped into a sleeve on the side of one of the boxes was invoice #1200. The bill was as always, hand written by Loretta in blue ink on a blue lined invoice. Directly below the total amount due were the words THANK YOU. No, thank you, Loretta.
Sixty cherry pies means one hundred and twenty circles of pie dough, dozens of 10” bakery boxes, and the calm presence of Master/Master. On Tuesday, a little after 1:00 pm, pies still slightly warm from the oven were loaded into the back of a Honda Odyssey, piloted by an Uber driver with nerves of steel. As we veered onto route 78, through the Holland Tunnel and deep into the heart of Brooklyn, pie boxes stacked three high leaned against each other, only once taking a nosedive. Thankfully, no cherries were injured in transit. The feeling in the pit of my stomach was reminiscent of the mild nausea one experiences delivering wedding cakes. The stress of baking pales in comparison to the stress of delivery.
On Tuesday evening, slices of the “Not Twin Peaks Cherry Pies” were served up alongside damn good cups of coffee against a reimagined Double R Diner. The all- immersive event might have taken place in the outskirts of Brooklyn, but inside it certainly felt like a remote Pacific Northwest logging town.
This coming Sunday night, a huge audience will tune in to watch the continuation of a story created by David Lynch over 27 years ago. There will be viewing parties and slices of cherry pie. No doubt, many of the pies will feature canned cherry filling which is perfectly acceptable to many. For those of us lucky enough to have access to Loretta’s telephone number, we’ll be tucking into forkfuls of sweet Wisconsin cherries.
Professional Pie-isms & Seasonal Sarcasm