Tag Archives: Michele Albano

Making Hay With Pies

When God gave Michele Albano lemons, she made lemon lime pies.

Also apple pies, cherry pies, and caramel pecan chocolate pies.

In anticipation of large Memorial Day crowds passing by — and thronging into — her new downtown Michele’s Pies store, the owner baked plenty of extra goods.

But a brief storm canceled the annual parade.  Suddenly, what looked like great foresight turned into a glut of perishable inventory.

The solution:  give it away.

So — with the grace and generosity of someone who’s been here years, not just a few weeks — Michele donated several dozen pies to the Gillespie Center, the community kitchen just over the hill from Michele’s Pies.

The Gillespie Center benefits from the generosity of countless Westport families — and businesses — each year.  Michele’s donation is one of many.  All are gratefully accepted.

But few have the “lemons” back story of hers.

Michele’s Pies Closing…

…but only while Michele prepares for the National Pie Contest in Orlando next week.

She’s open this weekend, then will shut down for a few days starting Monday, April 4.

If you miss her (and/or her pies), catch the “Today Show” on Friday, April 8.  Westport’s newest baking sensation will appear with Willard Scott.

Then it’s back to Connecticut and reopening on April 13.  Michele’s downtown grand opening is set for April 16 and 17.

We’re salivating already.

Pies Fly Off Shelves

At 7 a.m. yesterday, Michele’s Pies opened for business.

At 7:01, satisfied customers were already walking out the door.

Westport’s newest – and yummiest – store sits smack in the middle of town.  The old Baskin-Robbins store is prime real estate.

It’s bright.  It’s airy.  It sells treats.

What’s not to like love?

Michele Albano pauses -- briefly -- during her busy first day.

Michele Albano’s “soft opening” yesterday was anything but.  She was busy all day.  A steady stream of customers – moms, high school kids, nearby workers – wandered in; snatched up fruit pies (like apple raspberry crumb, mango pineapple with macadamia coconut cream), nut pies (chocolate pecan bourbon, maple oatmeal rasin) and/or cream pies (strawberry glace, ultimate banana split).

They also snagged a chicken pot pie or broccoli cheddar quiche, maybe a muffin, cookie or brownie and/or a coffee, tea or fruit juice.  And they left smiling.

They hadn’t even tried their pies yet.

This one — Michele’s 2nd store — is not tucked away like her Norwalk location.  Unlike that one, this has pie slices (and à la mode!).

She’ll also sell more bread than Norwalk, including cinnamon and her award-winning challah.

A grand opening is set for mid-April.  That’s right after she returns from the National Pie Championships – oh, to be a judge! – in Florida.

It will be hard to leave her new store, even for a shot at a US title.  Right now, after all, Westporters are showing her plenty of love.

“It fills the void left by Baskin-Robbins,” more than one new customer has said.

Actually, it does more than that.  I’ll take a pear cranberry with walnut crumb pie over bubblegum ice cream any day.

Pies!

Out went the ice cream (and ice cream cakes).

In comes pie.

A small sign on the vacant Baskin-Robbins window announces the arrival  of Michele’s Pies.

Soon, we’ll join Norwalk with the opportunity to buy lemon lime pie.  Tiramisu pie.  Twisted citrus blackberry pie.  Maple pumpkin pie with a pecan streusel.  Caramel pecan chocolate pie.

Also chicken pot pies.  And Australian beef pies.

Not to mention handmade cookies, tea breads, pastries, cheesecakes, muffins, coffee, cappucino and espresso.

Our long national downtown nightmare is over.

Owner Michele Albano uses only fresh seasonal fruit — nothing canned or frozen.  Even the pumpkins are puréed by her staff.

Michele’s grandmother taught her to bake.  Her creations remind people of their own grandmothers’ pies.  At least, that’s what the website says — and would a pie-baker lie?

In high school Michele sold her pies locally.  She founded her business in her Killington condo in 2006.  Her pies quickly earned a following at farmer’s markets and craft shows in Vermont and Fairfield County.

Michele's pies won 7 (count 'em!) 1st prize ribbons at the National Pie Championship.

In 2007 Michele competed in her first National Pie Championship.  She won 1st prize in the coveted “commercial nut” category, for her chocolate pecan bourbon pie.

When demand outgrew her Killington kitchen, she headed to the big city:  Norwalk.  Her Main  Avenue location was an instant hit — but Michele did not grow too big for her toque.  She was there every day behind the counter, serving customers.

She began selling to local outlets — Oscar’s is a customer — but now she’s ready to expand to a Westport location.

Her little corner of downtown brims with dining options, though they all seem Italian:  La VillaFinalmenteJoe’s Pizza.

Perhaps Michele has a baked manicotti pie up her sleeve.  Or a lasagna Bolognese pie.

All with fresh, seasonal tomatoes, of course.