Friday, March 28, 2014

Peasant Pies

3 Locations!
1039 Irving Street ( Inner Sunset) / 550 Gene Friend Way ( Mission Bay) / 
4108 24th St. ( Noe Valley)

   Peasant Pies are touted as meals-to-go, which is true enough, but they should also be called, 'meals-at-speed' because that's how fast I ate them. Walking out with peasant pies in hand is like scoring giant cookies, and they are eaten accordingly.  With three locations in San Francisco, you cannot escape the Lure of the Pies. You canNOT.  I visited the storefront on Irving St.,  just a couple of blocks away from Golden Gate Park. My  Plan A) was to take my purchases to the park for a nice picnic. This is foolishness. Those buggers disappeared before I hit the first stoplight. My next Great Plan was to bring them home to heat up. The Peasant Pies clerk knew better and asked if I wanted them warmed first. "No", I smugly replied, 'I'll heat them up at home."  You know what happened. The lesson here is, always take the advice of someone wearing an apron with the words 'Pies for the People' spelled out on the front.  Note to self: at least these pies taste really dandy when they're cold.

 The gurus behind this mini chain are owner/manager Ali Keshavarz and chef Gerard Buulong. Their goal was handheld, affordable meals, and they nailed it. On the menu are meat and poultry, veggie, and sweet pies, as well as homemade soups and salads. They also pulled a double miracle, and made these goodies REALLY AFFORDABLE. In San Francisco!! Way to go, you guys!! Ali got his masters in organic chemistry, which  I suspect has led to some  awesomely creative edibles. I demolished a black bean & tofu pie, then a lentil and yam pie, both mildly spicy, delicious, and unlike anything I'd eve had.  My boyfriend nommed a chicken pot pie and a chinese beef/hoisin sauce special of the day, both earned double thumbs up.  That's right, pies can change according to request and need so you HAVE TO KEEP COMING BACK. I know I will. I haven't finished plowing through their menu.

 I have to give a big shouout to Ali Kesharav and chef Gerard Buulong, because in the name of stuffing more pie reviews in here I'm forging ahead in lieu of doing their really, really, deserved portrait. Instead, take a look at the Peasant Pies logo up top. That is the logo that marks Peasant Pies eateries. Well, mostly. I replaced their logo boy with.....*drum roll*..........

Our first GUEST: CHRIS 'The OneHundredPercent' LEE!

    Our first guest is here in spirit. No really. He is, literally, a spirit. You can cue the woo-woo ghosty sounds now. Chris was one of the very first supporters of my Cuckoo comics back when I was just starting and terrified. I used to run into him at small comics conventions and he exuded faith in my comics and what I was doing when I was rightfully mortified at my efforts. Support over the years like this is priceless. And it wasn't all about lil' me, Chris went all out and lifted the hearts of MANY!

 We remained Facebook buddies where he was outstanding for his smart-ass remarks. He was a rare  poet,  I mean, not the Oh-God-Run-Away kind of  but a really great poet whose stuff you actually, truly WANTED TO READ and had FEELINGS AND THOUGHTS ABOUT AFTERWARDS.   Most infamously I found myself laughing out loud from something he wrote while he was stuck
[ literally! ] in the hospital. Wait a minute, shouldn't this go the other way around?!?  I also failed to tell him - and I'm sure he'd like to know -  that up until 2 weeks ago, I only glimpsed at his moniker and literally thought he called himself ' Chris THUNDERPANTS Lee'. The name blended with his essence so well it was unquestionable. It never occurred to me to actually READ his entire name, oh no.  Whatever name Chris chooses,  he crossed planes recently and his birthday coincides with this Pies of the West entry, so Chris,  this one is just for you!

 Chris loved comics and other self-proclaimed 'dork culture' elements, especially Doctor Who. By a pre-planned coincidence, a gigantic, fantastical video rental store [ stop laughing they still exist ] called Le Video sits only 3 blocks from Peasant Pies. In the name of awesomeness, here we are rampaging through the BBC section of Le Video, sporting ninja one-sies and tossing pies;
Totally not allowed behavior at Le Video

    Chris TheOneHundredPercent - or is it, THUNDERPANTS?? - I know you are out and about cavorting! Enjoy  your wonderful adventures in the time machine, and tell us all about them when  we  meet up again in the Phone Booth!

* * * * * * * * * * * *SHAZAM!!!! * * * * * * * * * * * * 

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SURFING and STROLLING near Peasant Pies 

[ Pie tastes best when you're hungry ]

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Devil's Teeth

3876 Noriega St. 
San Francisco CA 94122

   Did you know that Great White Sharks 'spy hop'? You know, spy hop; when a marine creature lifts its head out of its watery kingdom and into your airy one to get a really good look around. Ask me how I know this.

 When you share eye contact with a Great White ,  believe me, you need pie and you need it THAT INSTANT. Fortunately for us all, the appropriately  named Devil's Teeth Baking Company sits just two blocks from the domain of curious apex predators.

 This beloved local hub serves up tons of fresh baked goodies which disappear quickly. Portions  are generous and quite suited  for the many customers who have just busted their arses trying to surf ever-loving Home Break. Pies types are baked according to season - so far I've horfed strawberry and pecan, and inhaled apple pie on multiple occasions. The apples in that pie are totally phenom. Spiced and baked just so, bites of apple are bursting at the seam. YUM.

 Of course Devil's Teeth bakes more than pie! I've nommed ginger cookies, lemon bars, carrot cake, and keep staring at their massive cinnamon rolls. Check out their menu for more temptations. They also display a jar of free homemade dog treats, so when I treat myself, Hooligan gets treated too!

  Coming up soon is a portrait of the owner Hilary, plus I'll edit whatever info I can glean from her into this post. But I didn't want to dally any longer, so here is Hoolie chasing flying apple pie [ and chasing customers away, it would seem ] in front of the joint;

Hooligan art bombs the Devil's Teeth Baking Co. 

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SURFING and STROLLING near Devil's Teeth Baking Company

[ Pie tastes best when you're hungry ]

Thursday, February 13, 2014

San Francisco Introduction


OVERVIEW: Oh for goodness' sake. This is San Francisco.

SURFING:  Now I will babble,  because  Nature's Insane Asylum here is my Home Break.

  There is surfing 'round these parts - that is, if you're a masochistic freak. Rips, severe beatings, and long hold-downs are your reward for the marathon effort it took to reach that peak you just saw. You know the one.  That damned  mirage which vanished the moment you finally fucking gasped into the lineup. Now you're 1/4 mile offshore and have to figure out how on earth to get back to the beach without calling the Coast Guard. Use your energy wisely,  because not a session will go by without a set that INSISTS it unloads smack dab on your head. Waves close out at sizes ranging from pipsqueek to jumbo, and also have an exciting habit of jacking up the moment you jump to your feet - a great help if you love to fly, but not so great if you love to surf.  It's no surprise that drownings occur every year, including surfers. Nobody paddles around this place  for long without AT LEAST once being convinced  they were going to die.   Surfers here need more balls than brains, or, if you're like me and don't have balls, no brains at all.  Even on small days - my 'forte' -  this place can be wicked fierce.  Home Break is less surfatory and more exploratory, each session is all about heading off yonder into...Situation X. People ask me what gym I go to, and I just laugh and laugh. Caloric output / per actual ride snatched ratio assessment =  5,000/1.

 The big beach can be roughly divided into three sections. Running from north to south; Chiropractics, Stress Test, and What Was I Thinking. Each carries its own, um,  charms. If neither that nor the near constant 20 knot onshores floats your boat, there are other local options. Tourist Trap and Zombies! are the nearest contenders.

 For more personal details on the joys of Home Break, check out my surfing magazine writing contest essay; it won an honorable mention!


 For goodness' sake, this is San Francisco. Virtually all info is available online or via sordid rumors. That said, for a spontaneous trail not listed in any guide, the  hike between your  parking spot and actual destination can be quite invigorating.  The now-you-see-it-now-you-don't public transportation system can also precipitate walking adventures.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Patisserie Boissiere

Mission Between Ocean & 7th
Carmel, CA 93921

OVERVIEW: Pronounced, ' Pahtee-sery Bwaw-sery' , this restauraunt ser - HA! Got you! 

 As a young child, once in a while my family would swing into Carmel and lunch at the   Patisserie Boissiere. It's a charming French restaurant where I'm certain that Mom savored the illusion of family civility [ white tablecloths midday! ] Being an idiot, I was a picky eater. My assumptions of French food involved roast bunnies and sauces you'd have to be over 40 to enjoy. I DO remember staring at the pastry counter, gleaming with  homemade fairy-tale goodies and being allowed to pick whichever dessert I wanted! Oh joy! 

  Out of familial consensus, Patisserie Boissiere became a tradition and we lovingly devolved their name to , 'The Pahtee-sery Bwaw-sery.' As people who also pronounced  'horses'  as 'hoe-ees', our proclamated day trip  became,  "Let's drive over the hill, look at hoe-ees, and get pastries at the Pahtee-sery Bwaw-sery!" My family will never be allowed to set foot in Paris. 

 Of course I had to revisit this land of good memories. And I was shocked.

Nothing had changed!  Does that really happen in this day and age?! Yipee!

 Over 50 years ago, the Patisserie was opened by a French couple named Elaine and Pierre Boissiere. Their establishment became a local favorite, but in 1987 the Boissieres were tragically killed in a car accident. The restaurant was picked up by loyal customer Magdy Ibrahim, who brought on co-manager Lynn Wood. Normally new ownership/managements spells the demise of a place, but Ibrahim and Wood did something radical - NOTHING. To quote Ibrahim, " We never wanted to change things...just polish them a bit." 

  GENUIS.  I can attest that the pastry counter is as sparkly as ever. There are mouth watering menu items from old times and new. When I visited,  pie of the day was coconut cream, but being in a chocolate mood I became vigorously acquainted with a chocolate bundt cake instead. Sheer heaven. Being an idiot of the ages,  I made history repeat itself and totally overlooked the written menu. D'oh!! Only when I researched this article did learn that they have shepherd's pie and chicken pot pie! Arrrrrg I am kicking myself!!! 

  The Patisserie Boissiere is as beloved now as it was back in the day, and for good reason. Unfortunately I was unable to meet Magdy Ibrahim or Lynn Wood, so here is a portrait of the restaurant with a special guest:


  I need somebody to go out and report back on the shepherd's pie and chicken pot pie. Or better yet, send me one of each! 

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[ Pie tastes best when you're hungry ]

Monday, April 29, 2013

Carmel, California: Introduction.

Carmel Introduction

  Ever notice how there is a direct correlation to the amount of money a place has, and the illegibility of their street signs? Carmel takes this up one notch further - they don't  even bother with silly ol' street ADDRESSES. As I maneuvered my stinky Civic around town, I felt not unlike She-Ra the invading barbarian - an impression that cemented when a local docent innocently asked me what other languages I spoke.

  I should have messed with his head.

  But I didn't, because, you see,  people in Carmel are really, really nice. This is the kind of place where strangers ask you how you are, and listen to the answer. They say, "Please", and "Thank you". And they're  additionally cool, of course,  because Carmel is very dog friendly. There are places to take dogs, stay with dogs, and play with dogs. Likewise, if you want to avoid those fur balls, there are plenty places to go without 'em. This policy reeks of common sense, works for everyone, and therefore is something encountered never ever ever.

Surfing: I'd call it The Doldrums, because I got soooo skunked here. However, according to legend,  surfing happens around these parts.  Nearest to Carmel township itself is Shorepound in Paradise. In addition to neck crunching rollers, this beach is off-the-hook gorgeous, clean, and dog friendly. Farther north lies Fatal Shark Attack! - a tragically true moniker. And I'll make the rare exception here and mention an actual surf spot, Ghost Trees. That's because the only people who should surf this place are professional big wave psychopaths. Seriously. This is a tow-in only spot that breaks in front of wicked gnarly rocks.   Anyone who actually surfs  Ghost Trees is granted  an automatic 51/50 in my book.

Strolling: Point your feet in any direction and go.  The coastal road named - wait for it - Scenic Drive, is shockingly one of the best streets to explore. South of Carmel is Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, which will whack you upside the head with serenity. The gods designed Point Lobos specifically for landscape painters, but  pie eaters are included in the deal too - perfect if you are both.  You can really work up an appetite exploring all the trails or getting sucked into the views.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Cafe Carmel

Ocean Avenue between San Carlos and Mission
Carmel, CA 93921

OVERVIEW:  Warning; the front window of this place will SUCK YOU IN. All I wanted was a  cup of coffee, but when I wandered in front of Cafe Carmel's fantasy land storefront, the next thing I remember is standing in front of their pastry counter, ogling. 

 After getting a grip on myself I finally noticed the Clint Eastwood posters and extensive menu; breakfast burritos, homemade soups, cannolis, you name it etc...As luck would have it, the owner was there too. 

 Fay Massoudi is a lovely woman who is not just the owner, but a chef, too. She's owned it for five years, and Fay and co. had to redo virtually EVERYTHING, from the floors up. Now the place is chock-full of goodies and is a local hub. As I kept eyeballing the apple and pecan pies, Fay told me that Cafe Carmel has four folks working manically in the kitchen, making all the recipes  from scratch. No hydrogenated oils,  all butter, croissants hand rolled. 

  I ordered a Cafe Carmel version of a pie-to-go, which I nicknamed, "Apple Pie Cobblestone", it's essentially a slice of pie wrapped on all sides by pastry crust. Miles down the road I started tearing at it, and OH MY GOD. You can taste the pure butter.  Cafe Carmel's Apple Pie Cobblestone has this magical ability where the filling melts in ones mouth, the crust flakes just so, and yet it  doesn't fall apart into a huge mess. The nooks and crannies of my car were denied their usual meal whenever I try to eat and drive.    Apple Pie Cobblestone fueled me for miles on a euphoric belly high. There be elves working at Cafe Carmel. I mean, my god, these folks CAN DO PASTRY DOUGH. 

 In homage, here is a portrait of Fay Massoudi.  Cafe Carmel's storefront  is virtually impossible to replicate - it'd be like recreating Santa's workshop.  Instead, here is our lady of the hour with a whirl of her creations. 
 Besides the essential pastries, can you spot the essential power drill, hammer, and paintbrush?  

   How good was that Apple Pie Cobblestone, really? One year and 100 plus miles distant, I am still craving one!! 

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[ Pie tastes best when you're hungry ]
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~   EPILOGUE: I learn something new with each addition to Pies of the West, and Cafe Carmel's piece was no different. What did I discover? Well, despite trumpeting about hand-rolled croissants, note the lack of a croissant in Fay's portrait. Horrific omission? NO. It's because, depending on one's level of depravity,  a black and white cartoon of a croissant  looks precisely like,  a) Jabba, b) a turd, or c) a big fat grub. Me, I go for "c". It's sick and wrong so  no croissants are depicted here! 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Linn's Em-PIE-r

 Original Farmstore and Easy as Pie Cafe and Gourmet Goods and Homestyle Gifts

OVERVIEW:   John and Renee Linn. I don't even know where to begin with these two. They frikking kill it.

 At first I was kicking myself for this over-worked, maximalist  portrait - I mean, seriously, this is ridiculous;

Renee and John Linn!

    And then I  realized this was a perfect metaphor for the emPIEr the Linns created.  It's impossible to list all the things they bake and create without making a huge mess of this page. My subconscious mind tried to cover all the bases and ended up committing pen-icide. But the Linn's have their over-worked act together, check out their remarkable story, HERE! In a pieshell, they started with nothing but dreams and  hard labor, and now preside over 4 locations [ when I last counted! ],  including a restaurant, cafe, farm, internet sales and shipping, innumerable products and services  - and of course,  some  DAMN FINE PIE.

 You've got to love people who feature , "WHAT IS AN OLLALIEBERRY?", in the front page of their website. Ollalieberries are their specialty, and shame on you if you don't try AT LEAST one slice. "The Olallieberries grown on the Linn's farm are fairly tart making them perfectly suited for Linn's delicious More Fruit - Less Sugar Olallieberry Preserves, Pies, and Sauces", their Ollalie-page states. Not only are you biting into home-grown berries, but you can justify the health benefits because you are eating more fruit and less sugar. (Er, I'll justify crust benefits someday. )  And remember Victoria's Pie Baking Lesson?! Victoria emphatically trumpeted the flavor advantages of minimal sugar and fresh seasonal fruit. This is the best advice, ever. 

  In the name of science I tested the sweet ollalieberry and peach/blueberry pies, and the savory chicken pot and veggie herb pies.  The savories I bought frozen to heat later, and can attest that not even my adhd cooking style diminished the deliciousness . This is not like wine tasting, folks, nibbling and spitting will simply not do.   ALL of the Linn's pie on my plate was DEVOURED,  every time. Wherein I gleaned this HOT TIP:  maintain your pants size and maximize your taste testing via utilizing Cambria's 
SURFING and STROLLING. I'm not kidding. Despite spontaneously competing in the Cambria Biathlon, I could only eat one Linn Pie Bomb per day.  
Renee Linn. Proof that actual thought goes into these silly cartoons. 

   The ironically named  Easy as Pie Cafe is where I loitered the most. It's so relaxing and their patio is dog friendly. But why ironically named? John and Renee explain;

   "Easy as pie" - we have never really understood that saying. What's so easy about pie? You have to prepare the fruit, and when you're farmers like us, you have to grow it, which means you have to plan and build irrigation systems, build a fence to keep the deer out, plant trees, fertilize them, prune them, fight the bugs and birds, and pick the fruit and prepare it for the pie -  not to mention buying the land and paying the taxes. Then, you have to make a huge mess in the kitchen with flour flying everywhere, roll out the dough, and hope it doesn't crack. You clean it all up while you're baking the pie and then your family comes in and devours it in a nanosecond. 
   We guess that's the point. It's easy to eat. "

   See? This is classic! And now you feel guilty, so you have to emotionally eat  MORE pie. Every baker reading this is falling down laughing. 

   Visit Cambria  and become a citizen of Linn's EmPIEr,  your stomach will thank you!

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Click here for SURFING and STROLLING near  LINN'S EM-PIE-R