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June 2012
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Traveling with Jenna: Take the Key Lime Pie Trail in Naples, Florida

Story by Jenna Wise Photographs by Harold Leath

If you are a snowbird heading south toward Naples, Florida - or if you are not a snowbird - just try to imagine heading down that way ready to experience the tantalizing delight of biting into piece after piece of Key Lime Pie. Oh my, what a task to decide which pie you like best.

Of course, while thinking about Key Lime Pie, you can also imagine eating delicious seafood and seeing beautiful coastal sights and sunsets while making cultural choices in one of the most "artsy" parts of the country. There are beaches, plays, concerts and exhibits. What a nice situation.

Back to the Key Lime Pie Trail: Eating these great, tart desserts dates back to early 20th century days in Key West, Florida, where the story goes that a cook named Aunt Sally, who worked for one of the area's first millionaires, used to bake him pies made from key limes. She adapted a recipe created by local sponge fishermen using canned milk, limes and eggs. Eventually, the recipe spread and became so loved that the state of Florida made Key Lime Pies its state pie in 2006.

Key Lime Pies can be found in many restaurants, and even in food-chain groceries. It is amazing the variety of forms the pies take ranging from creamy pies with egg-white topping to ones with more dairy-like texture. Even the crusts vary from baked to graham cracker types.

Pie-loving customers in the Naples area are loyal to their favorite pie makers. The connection between the different businesses and pie makers would make an interesting book or movie and is ever-changing â “ competitive, yet most often friendly. Recipes, and long-held practices, are lovingly guarded, all pie makers thinking theirs is "the" way, of course.

Dolly Scott, owner of Dolly's Produce Patch and Eatery since 1996, says she likes to make customers feel welcome and serves home-style food with love. Her Key Lime Pies are hand stirred and "double-baked" because at Dolly's the crusts are baked, then the mixture is put in the shells and baked again. Dolly is quite a lovable character, and she considers herself the "top" of the Key Lime Pie bakers.

Randy Essig, owner of Fish Crazy and former owner of Randy's Fish House, has had his "finger in the pie" of several businesses in Naples. He loves to say his experience has made him the "grandfather" of Key Lime Pie in Naples and is proud of his new location and how he is continuing his years of tradition of serving delicious pies.

Rodes Fruit /Fish Market /Restaurant is another of the Key Lime Pie makers with years of tradition.

Getting to see the pie-making process was awesome. Call to have a Key Lime Pie or a bottle of their Rode's Key Lime Pie Juice shipped â “ it is a big business that Rodes does well. I brought home a bottle of Key Lime Pie Juice and made a pie with quite tasty results. (See easy recipe.)

Another source for excellent Key Lime Pie in Naples is Randy's Fishmarket Restaurant. This is the original Randy's and is definitely worth a stop to eat or to place an order to ship.

POSH Photographer Harold Leath especially loved the Key Lime Pie at Buzz's Lighthouse Restaurant located on Vanderbilt Lagoon across the street from Vanderbilt Beach.

Harold liked it so much we had to go back a second time. Does that say how much he liked it? He and I both also enjoyed our visits and eating pie at The Fish House, Coconut Jacks, Pinchers and Publix, too. Is that last one a surprise?

Last, but certainly not least, Harold and I enjoyed going to The Dock. That neat waterfront restaurant at Crayton Cove was actually the first stop on our trail. The Key Lime Pie was fine, and the stroll along the dock nearby was a lesson that Naples has a lot more to offer than just pie. Maybe we need to start all over and repeat the whole trail. Now it is your turn.

You can order, or even bake a Key Lime Pie. You can go take the Key Lime Pie Trail - or, be adventurous and take some other trail - just make sure you let me know about it. ENJOY! n

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