Thursday nights at the Valois restaurant in the Hyde Park neighborhood in Chicago was known as pot-pie night. The Valois is just a hole in the wall cafeteria near the University of Chicago, but it is locally famous for its outstanding food, especially the pot pies. The restaurant is also academically famous from a sociological perspective because it is featured in the book, "Slim's Table" by Mitchell Duneier. The Valois is a very popular eatery, and with only a few tables, it is necessary for patrons to share a table with strangers, which by the end of a great meal, your new dining companions are more like family than strangers.
During out days in Hyde Park back in the 1980s, we enjoyed many wonderful and filling meals at the Valois, especially on pot-pie night. The recipe was rich with heavy cream, perfectly cubed chicken breast, and an assortment of vegetables. The bowl was topped with a buttermilk crust that had a maple sweetness that I've never tasted anywhere else. It's been twenty-five years since I've had a good pot pie, but that long dry spell is over. The other day, on a whim, Vee made pot pies that captured the glorious richness of the Valois pot pies. She used her crostada pastry dough recipe for the topping and sprinkled it with cinnamon sugar to give it that mysterious sweetness. Wow!
Food is like a time machine. It can transport you back to the distant past with a clarity and immediacy that is almost supernatural. Perhaps more than any other sense, the sensation of taste can recreate a time in your life that you haven't thought of in years.