A weekly series about our food and sustainable agriculture.
When Philly native Sarah Curtis-Fawley travelled to Australia for what she just intended to be a year, fate seems to have intervened. Marrying, and eventually opening up a pie shop in Portland, Oregon specializing in sweet & savory pies, was simply not part of the original plan.
When she and her husband moved back to the States, and in 2010 first opened up their Portland, Oregon bakery, the Pacific Pie Company had only 3 eating tables, and just one employee. After being featured on Food Network, their business took off, and enabled them to move into a much larger building, a former brewery, that marks their present location.
Meat pies are a staple of Australia, and are hard to find here. Says Curtis-Fawley, “I also think that we have become a real home for a lot of ex-pats in the community so there’s so many Australians and New Zealanders and South Africans and people from Zimbabwe, you know all over the world that have these pie eating cultures… I mean we have people come in almost in tears because they finally found a place to come have a meat pie and it’s just this total reminder of home or what their mom or grandmother used to make for them growing up.”
In Australia, the standard meat pie is made of chunky beef, braised in onion and gravy, but in the countryside, a meat pie might consist of more exotic fare, kangaroo or alligator pie. In England, it’s steak and kidney pie; in South Africa, they favor a creamy style chicken and mushroom pie.
Asked if the Pacific Pie Company would be serving kangaroo or alligator pies anytime soon, Sarah Curtis-Fawley responded, “No, [we] can’t source that locally or sustainably as far as I’ve found, although there is a ranch in Texas apparently raising kangaroo for meat. But I don’t think we’re gonna go down that route.”