The announcement that Paulette’s is moving from Overton Square to Mud Island in a few weeks brought back fond culinary memories.
I used to walk to Paulette’s when I lived on Poplar and Avalon in Midtown in the ’70s and ’80s. I’ve always liked the French peasant cottage look of the place. I like the exposed beams, the plates on the wall and the tiles bearing pictures of vegetables. Two of my favorite menu items were Paulette’s Childhood Favorite, a potato, Hungarian sausage, egg and sour cream casserole, and what I always called “Kahlua Pie.”
Paulette’s Childhood Favorite no longer is on the menu, but the classic Kahlua pie is still there under its real name, Kahlua Mocha Parfait Pie.
Apparently, it’s so popular that it’s the first item on the menu under “Our Famous Desserts.”
The description of Kahlua pie is “Coffee chip ice cream in a pecan crust, topped with whipped cream, chocolate shavings and a side of delicious Kahlua.”
When I ordered “Kahlua pie,” my server joked, “The big one or the little one?”
Kahlua pie is enormous; it looks like an iceberg. You know at some point you’re going to have to turn it over on its side to make it easier to eat.
The menu doesn’t say the pie serves two people, but I got two forks even though I was the only one at the table. My server, who goes by “J.W.” (which she said stands for “Just Wonderful”), said she once served one slice of the pie to a table of 15 people.
The menu also doesn’t tell you what you’re supposed to do with the little cordial glass of Kahlua that comes with the pie.
J.W. said she often has to tell people they’re supposed to pour the liqueur over the pie. She also tells them they can save some of it to pour in their coffee.
Faye Jones, who has been cooking at Paulette’s for 30 years, showed me what a complete Kahlua pie looks like. It resembles half a volley ball. They use six pounds of coffee chip ice cream, which they build over the crust. They get eight slices out of the pie.
“Paulette herself brought that pie here,” said George Falls, Paulette’s owner. “Paulette Fono. She was the Hungarian lady who I brought to Memphis to do Paulette’s. That was one of the desserts she brought.”
The pie was popular right away, Falls said. One reason was because it was so good. Second, tall diners would see servers carrying it to tables and say, “What is that? We want one, too.”
I decided to eat the entire piece of pie by myself, which wasn’t a great idea. It was what I think eating the whole 71/2 pound Kookamunga burger at Kooky Canuck would be like: too much of a good thing.
Paulette’s is at 2110 Madison; 726-5128
— Michael Donahue: 529-2797; firstname.lastname@example.org