As a child, one of my fondest memories of dining out with my family was going to Pete’s Pond. Earning a reputation for one of the special occasion restaurants for dinner in our small rural town, it also served delicious breakfasts after which you would go out to the pond (thus, the name), and feed the geese and the swans. Oh, it was a child’s paradise. As far as the food, the only item I remember, and remember fondly, is their marionberry pie.
Every time, without fail, I would ask my parents for a slice of marionberry pie. At the time, I had no idea that marionberries were primarily only found in Oregon and had a short growing season, or at least were not grown by many farmers. The facts of its origins did not phase me, but its deliciousness was profoundly memorable.
To answer the question you may be asking: Marionberries were bred at Oregon State University in 1945 and released in 1956. If you think they look a lot like blackberries, you are correct, but their flavor is unique unto themselves. The sweetness makes it distinctly different from blackberries which is primarily why I love it, and it offers a purple/magenta color, rather than black or deep, deep purple like the blackberry. The short harvest season is usually between early July and early August. In fact, the carton of marionberries I picked up happened to be on the last day they would have them available.
Where does the name come from? They were produced originally in Marion county in Oregon. Simple, makes sense. Where will you find them? Marionberries are primarily grown in Marion county and Willamette Valley (western Oregon) due to the ideal growing environment: mild and warm with immense moisture.
But back to the tart (and yes, you absolutely can use this recipe with other berries (and I recommend that you do as the filling is scrumptious!). I have made many, many tarts on the blog (see the dessert page as evidence to the fact), but I now have a secret arsenal when it comes to tart fillings thanks to The Seattle Magazine‘s food contributor Lorna Yee. Needless to say, butter, vanilla, sugar and eggs (and a touch of rum or bourbon) do marvelous things to the flavor of this seasonal dessert.
~a picture of the marionberries picked up fresh from the farmer’s market (no purple peppers were used in this recipe).~