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How far would you drive for pie?

March 30, 2009

Buy Local Central Wisconsin was on the road this weekend.  Friday night, we enjoyed the fish fry and pie at the Crystal Cafe’ so much we drove back on Saturday. Yep, a slice of pie at the Crystal Cafe in Iola is pretty much mandatory and well worth the drive.

I was pleased to find that the restaurant serves what I call straight-up rhubarb pie like my grandma made. My rhubarb pie philosophy is simple: a slab of cold, pink rhubarb pie on a homemade lard crust. No strawberries, apples or raspberries mixed in to temper it’s full-on tart goodness.  No whipped cream, thank you. And certainly not warmed up with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, which will just turn the crust to mush. Glad I got that out…

Growing up, I was rarely far from a pie. My grandma baked pies on a regular basis: custard, apple, gooseberry and, of course, rhubarb. But sadly, these pies are just a childhood memory.   I think the memory of pies evokes in me a longing for family, for some closeness and togetherness and perhaps innocence of days gone by. I’d say that’s worth a tank of gas.


The Crystal Cafe’ has been in operation and family owned for more than 40 years.  We’ve built a reputation for good home cooked food and a warm family atmosphere. As one of Iola’s unique landmarks, we continually welcome friends and travelers with our traditional Scandinavian warmth.  Our cafe’s delicious daily specials continue please, as well as our Pies 2 die 4.  Our Breads, Cookies, and  Muffins are fresh daily and out of this world. So stop on in for a visit. We’d love to have you….  It is truly just like grandma use to make.

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