Pi Day....let's jump on the bandwagon shall we
It's Pi Day today, another manufactured day on the calendar to celebrate for no particular reason whatsoever! And somehow, espousing the joys of 3.14 Pi has migrated into enjoying it with a slice of actual pie. Food and math together, what nerd fun! All I know about Pi is the useless stuff from high school match and since that was some time ago, it pretty much amounts to not much. But I do know all about the other pie, because....dessert. I like pie, it is one of those things that come in both sweet and savory. And, through some peoples definition, it also extends to pizza, as in pizza pie. It is a stretch, though for the purposes of this post, I'll take it.
In the world of dessert, I'll still take cake over pie based on heft. Sometimes a dessert pie can be quite the sweet treat to eat, I think the trick is how big the slice is, what is the filling and how is the crust. All together they can make a big difference between a truly tasty and filling slice and a "eh, it was all right," kind of pie. Below I thought I would take a walk down pie memory lane of some of my favorites I have covered from the last seven or so years. I am however, going to leave out pizza as a pie since I could do a whole post on that, which now that I think of it, I probably will at some point. When I think of pie I think sweet so most of these will be of the end of meal variety. But I will toss in some savory to liven it up.
Here's an oldie but a goodie, the buttermilk pie from Aunt Mary's in Oakland. Yes, I've reached all the way across the bay for this one as I do sometimes get over there to eat. Aunt Mary's is all things Southern for breakfast, brunch and lunch and the desserts are no exception. It is like pie cake infused with soft cream and butter all the way through. The slice is not the biggest but considering this is a super sweet pie, it may be all most folks can handle.
Here is a bit of savor for you, a minced beef and cheddar hand held pie from Sage Bakehouse. I came across them at the Richmond District farmer's market on a random Sunday and was totally enthralled by them. The ground beef one was like eating a pie version of a sloppy joe, so yum and comforting with the added bonus of cheese and that buttery, flakey crust. Big enough to make a meal out of one, though one bite and you probably won't want to share with anyone either.
I know Mission Beach Cafe already has a reputation for a great brunch, but I went for dinner one time and was totally wowed. And to top it off, they make all their own desserts like this luscious lemon chiffon pie. Tangy, tart, creamy, fluffy and oh so comforting. Like eating a yummy cloud that you want to take a nap after having. Their desserts do change on a regular basis so this one might not always be available, but if it is, try it. I'm sure the others they make are also quite supreme.
You wanna' talk sweet, then pecan pie is the sweetest of pies you can get. Like this mini version from Brioche Bakery & Cafe in North Beach. Nutty and tooth achingly sweet this isn't the pie for everyone, but if you are from the South, you are very aware of it. A classic pie full of sweet stickiness and crunchy nuts. Brioche does a pretty decent version of it and while I myself can eat this mini sized one in a single sitting, it was big enough to share. That is one way to cut the sugar in half! Best not to have it after lunch as it may cause a late sugar crash. Good thing start-ups have nap areas and stuff.
Okay, so I'm taking a bit of a stretch here, but the cheesecake from Vive La Tarte is the bomb people! It is a baked cheesecake in the shape of a pie and that is enough for me to call it a cheesecake pie. This doesn't have you usual super dense cheesecake texture you may be used to, but is more light and spongy in feel like cake meets whipped cheesecake. Each bite is a burst of flavor and that buttery graham cracker crust is just divine. The slice is big and definitely filling and you won't miss not having a topping. It is satisfying just the way it is.
Pot pie is pie right? I mean it has a crust that covers a round bowl of filling and pie is in the description so I'm gonna say yes. This version from The Grove is a fave as the chicken and vegetables are in big chunks. The crust is butter, flakey and has a lovely rosemary essence to it. All together it is a pretty satisfying dish, even though the price on it has gone up some the last few years. Still, it works really well as a comfort food fave on those rainy, chilly San Francisco days.
Here's one that combines both sweet and savory, the Pie From Heaven at Cafe Zitouna. Shredded chicken, eggs, almonds, saffron, ginger and honey wrapped in crispy phyllo dough and sprinkled with cinnamon and powdered sugar. To say this was a revelation is an understatement. It was listed on the menu as a fave though sometimes that is misnomer for "we have a lot of this left over so please order it." In this instance it stood up to the challenge and taste. The savory meat, the sweet toppings, it kind of hit all the marks for both me and the SO. It was also big enough to share and get our individual fill of.
Finally, I'm gonna end on a slice of pie I had years ago from Chile Pies Baking Co. Originally they had a location in the Castro but closed it. They still have the one over in NOPA and you can still get this lovely slice of chocolate peanut butter pie there. The crust is crushed Oreos and the filing is a salty, thick and sweet treat of creamy peanut butter. Like a peanut butter cup in pie form. This is thick and rife with the heft of a dessert to fully satisfy my appetite. It was so good, it almost looks like it is a heavenly slice floating on the plate! Just yum in so many ways.
And there you have my rundown of some of the alternative places around town you can get your Pi or pie on to celebrate whatever this day is supposed to be about. Granted, they probably are not going to run $3.14 a slice, this is SF after all, but a few spots are jumping on that price range and you may have to call around to find them. Otherwise, whatever you do, get out there and eat some pie. It will be good for you soul, comfort food has a way of doing that.