Market Street Bakery & Cafe

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492 N. Market Blvd. * Chehalis WA  98532 * 360-748-0875 * www.marketstbakery.com

It was destiny.

I was planning a pipsqueek one night road trip whose sole purpose was to scope out Astrid’s Hatchery. ( Intrigue to be explained later ). That said, there’s always time for pie,  and a quick local search pointed to Chehalis’ Market St. Bakery and Cafe.  ‘Astrid’, (busting into pedantic mode) is more or less an old Norse word meaning, ‘ divine strength’ or ‘divine beauty.’     Where did chef/owner Eric Wearner hone his skills? Iceland! What are Lisa and Eric’s kids’ names? Nina, Elsa, and Freya.

Herded by destiny, I waltzed into the spacious Market St. Bakery and stared at the display counter. PIE. Lots of it. The fun counter girl pointed out that they had whole pies but ALL of their mini pies were sold. Keep in mind this was midday on a Monday, so  how good must those mini pies be?!

I picked up a raspberry almond tartlet and snatched the very last Vinábraud – that’s a ‘Traditional Icelandic pastry with almond filling and vanilla custard ‘, to quote their online menu. Then I took some pictures and had the worst time of my life trying to draw hands, for gods’ sake. So here is the fun counter girl sporting the official Vinábraud t-shirt in holy golden light:

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I’d like to think this happened

Then I scampered to my motel room to lord over my pastry stash like a dragon guarding its treasure. Except I’m hopeless dragon wanna-be because I ate all of it. NO REGRETS. It was YUMMY! The Vinábraud in particular would have paired spectacularly with strong coffee and a desire to pillage.

Market St. Bakery & Cafe, I will return for a second attempt at pielettes  and Vinábraud! And Hooligan, stop giving me that look I promise  I’ll pick up some of their dog treats too.

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Surfing and Strolling near Market Street Bakery & Cafe

Surfing: Well, about 3 hours away there’s a place called Long Beach which states the obvious.

Strolling: I blew it! Only one afternoon and night in the area and I spent it loitering in my motel room. But what blessed loitering it was! Strolling consisted of walking from the bed to the bathroom in my mini kingdom at The Relax Inn. BONUS: The Relax Inn is a rarity; locally owned, clean, comfy, and less expensive than the big boy chain hotels/motels. Aptly named!

EXTRA SPECIAL BONUS! 15-20 minutes from Market Street Cafe and nearly shouting distance from Astrid’s Hatchery, Winlock Eggspress serves scrumptious eggy meals! I experienced a veggie/egg/hashbrown burrito, and it even freakin’ came in a to-go bag with hand drawn smily faces and, ‘ Have a great day!!’ Fan for life.

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MONTARA CAFE & BAKERY

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1410 Main St. * Montara CA 94037 * 650-728-1188

  Looking not unlike a fairy-tale-of-the-not-scary-kind cottage, Montara Cafe & Bakery   serves breakfast, lunch, pastries, and PIE, oh my! I barged past their winsome outdoor patio,  stared at their pie menu, and woe unto me, turns out you have to order pie in advance! Well shoot, if the pies are made to order you know they’re fresh and baked JUST FOR YOU.

 A sympathetic employee suggested a cupcake as they had just been made. Best suggestion ever. These cupcakes look like exotic flowers and are rather scrumptious,  thus via scientific deduction their pies must be the bees knees too. Hmmmm…Thanksgiving pre-order anyone?

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Redvelvetius Cupcakia

 Another employee joined the transaction and all agreed we hadn’t the foggiest idea what was inside Montara Cafe & Bakery’s red velvet cupcake. Not stopping there, comedian employee #2 suggested a ‘cupcake autopsy’. Before you can blurt ‘Jiminy Cricket!’ those two had a cupcake on a slab and tools of the trade ready to slice and dice.

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Not for the faint of heart

 I walked out the door giggling to myself  feeling forever grateful that the phrase ‘cupcake autopsy’ is now a vital part of my lexicon. This newfound knowledge is a tip of the iceberg leading to additional questions: When do cupcakes die? When they’re finished baking? WHILE they bake? When they’re eaten? Do cupcakes even DIE, for gods’ sake? Do they have frosted sugary souls? If cupcakes have souls, doesn’t that obviously mean PIE has soul too?? And if we eat pastries with souls, what, heaven forbid, does that make US?!!

I leave you to ponder the mystery.

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Surfing and Strolling near Montara Cafe & Bakery

Surfing: Nobody Surfs the North End is fairly close by. And when I say nobody surfs the north end, I mean not even THIS person, ( ya’ll have to scroll to ‘Bodysurfer’ and read her shark story. )  It’s a wee bit vibey.

Strolling: You can get a fantastic view of Nobody Surfs the North End, as well as everywhere else, on Montara Mountain. Masochistic bikers slog up this hill and will pass you no matter how fast you imagine you’re walking. This is impressive. They deserve pie.

SWEET ALEXIS

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2085 10th St * Los Osos, CA * www.sweetalexis.com * 805-528-8956

PEANUT FREE, EGG FREE, TREE NUT, DAIRY FREE BAKERY!!!

I LOVE this bakery! Co-owner Michele opened up her closed bakery when she busted me peeping in her window. She then answered a bunch of questions and played along while I snapped loopy pictures. ( See, Michele, I didn’t use the goofiest one! ) There was no pie on hand so I ran off with a bunch of vegan cookies that were FREAKING FABULOUS. How fabulous?  Michele told me they had just received their first huge order; FORTY THOUSAND COOKIES.

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Michele beset by 40000 happy cookies

Sweet Alexis is named after Michele’s daughter and co-owner  Alexis, who was born with severe allergies. I had no idea they were life-threatening –  Michele humbly downplayed that detail – until I read their harrowing story HERE .

Nothing like nearly dying to perfect the art of allergy-free baking! Growing up, Alexis couldn’t enjoy the cookies and cakes she saw other kids eating, so she and her mom created a bakery to serve the needs of other similarly afflicted folks. What I adore about this is, while there are options for allergy-friendly, healthy eating ( albeit not always simple to pull off ), the options for allergy-friendly, celebratory treats are scarce. What, people with food allergies can’t have FUN too?! No cookies at school parties? Birthday cakes? Wedding cakes? COME ON!!

Enter Sweet Alexis Bakery.  They create cookies, cupcakes, breads, and cakes. There are several ways to order, including online! Everybody wins!

HERE’S HOW TO ORDER:

  • At their WEBSITE ( duh! )
  • At AMAZON
  • At their bakery, 2085 10th St., Los Osos CA
  • At Teaberry Frozen Yogurt Cafe: 847 Higuera St., San Luis Obispo, CA
  • call 805-528-8956 

On another allergy note, most of Sweet Alexis’ goods contain wheat and soy. Since it’s not all, if need be ask for which ones. Other FAQs are HERE.

And I ripped off the following from their website, this might appease some allergy worries:

“All Sweet Alexis Bakery products are produced in a dedicated commercial kitchen on dedicated commercial equipment – peanut free, egg free, tree nut, dairy free.

• WE ARE SCHOOL APPROVED. The Sweet Alexis Bakery is a licensed manufacturer and we are 100% nut free. All products are sealed, labeled and contain all the ingredient and allergen information. The very best part, our products are fresh baked, contain no preservatives and are so delicious no one will know they are allergen friendly. EVERYONE LOVES OUR COOKIES!”

I do love their cookies! In 5 seconds I’m clicking away from here and ordering Lemon Sugar, Ginger, and Chocolate Chocolate Chip.  As a dairy-challenged lass this bakery is the motherlode. Whoopee!

( Sorta ) BONUS:  Michele’s initial sketch appears more smiley and accurate than the inked final. In the name of my ego, here it is:

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Ode to a thought process

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Surfing and Strolling near SWEET ALEXIS

SURFING:  I peeked around a bunch of corners and over hills and left with the impression that when surfing around here, one wishes people would leave, or one wishes people would show up. I experienced the latter when I trudged to a vast, empty beach we’ll call Intuitions. It wasn’t working, it was teeny, it was messy, and…well, in my state of surfless delusions, it was paddle-able. It also felt sharky. I shuffled my feet waiting around for a while, kinda sorta hoping someone else would show up. So we could spread the odds, you see. No one did, so I berated my wimpy self back to the Mighty Steed. A week later a shark chomped a surfer’s board at another local beach break. ‘Intuitions’ it is!

STROLLING/KAYAKING: Among other options, Montaña de Oro State Park can double as a hike / surf spot spy center, depending which way one chooses to sneak. I also fell in love with kayaking when I borrowed one and toodled around self-named ‘Elephant Bay.’ As in, never mind the defunct  Morro Bay Power Plant looming over the precious estuary, just look at those birds!

CHILE PIES BAKING CO.

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601 Baker St. * San Francisco CA  94117 * 415-614-9411 AND 16290 Main St. * Guerneville CA 95446 * 707-666-9411

www.chilepiesbakingco.com

It took several days before I realized that Chile Pie’s logo is NOT a wheel. This is understandable because my SPECIAL GUESTS this time ’round – Robert & William – are my bestest friends in the universe,  I love hanging out with them so much I’m constantly inviting myself to their house. Therefore I’m kind of  a…okay,  I AM The Third Wheel.

 I don’t consider being a Third Wheel an insult, because think about it, three legged structures are pretty stable. Would you want to sit on a two-legged stool!? Exactly.

 Besides, Chile Pie Baking Company has such a huge pie selection, it took a team of three to sample it, and a fourth to complete the eating process.  No kidding! Pies vary by season, and narrowing down the selection in the moment felt like minor torture. Check out their whopping menu HERE. Chocolate pumpkin?! Pear cranberry?! Frito pies?? What is this place?!

Attempting to dent this huge selection, one rainy Friday I hijacked Robert and William to Chile’s San Francisco panhandle location.  (Oh hail, appropriately named address.) Whereupon arrival I finally understood that I had rorschach tested myself on their logo;  ‘Chile’s Wheel’ is a PIE CRUST.  Well then.   Psychoanalyze THAT. Thus enlightened, we snagged a medley of take-out goodies: two chicken chile pot pies, two green chile apple pies, chicken hand pie, chocolate malted pie, and vegan apple chai pie.

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Only one pie here plus the black shadow

  Oh my goodness. These pies are FANTASTIC. We ate in shocked silence which is a rarity for this trio of sarcastic chatterboxes.  My ‘contribution’, the vegan apple chai pie, defies description, and I’m still wondering if it’s the hand of god that chopped the apples so evenly and perfected the chai cinnamon spice. Everything got inhaled, barring a chicken chile and chile apple which I brought home to share with The Pie Eating Heathen.

 Then disaster! The chile apple pie features a cheddar cheese crust, which sounds amazing but I can’t digest dairy. Wait, what?! Who makes a blog about pie but can’t freaking digest dairy products? Yup, that casein is a doozy. Let’s just say I have a ‘system’,  but that said I can never, goshallmighty ever, eat cow’s milk cheese.

 This setback deterred me for .3 seconds until I grabbed a fork and, er, reshaped the interior of the chile apple slice. I warned the  Pie Eating Heathen, but having access to the entire chicken pot pie mellowed any potential protests regarding pie restructuring. His pies disappeared quickly too!

 We vowed to return to Chile’s and eat more pie. And YOU should vow, besides eating more pie, to check out Robert’s cartoon work. He’s an underground legend, and hilarious.

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Unlike me, Robert draws excellent backgrounds

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 SURFING and STROLLING near CHILI PIES BAKING CO. 

[ Pie tastes better when you’re hungry ]

MANNA

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2350 Meadows Blvd. * Castle Rock CO 80109 * 720-455-3664  www.mannasbounty.com

You can live on pho for 10 days, but around day 5 one starts craving variety. In the middle of a Colorado schooling stint, with no time to cook, I was told the best place for great, but inexpensive food was…in the HOSPITAL.

That’s right! In Castle Rock, people go to the hospital FOR THE FOOD. What the…?!?! I hauled my ass and my books there, chomped through delectable ceviche, and attacked the dessert menu.

PIE. Listed underneath ‘Homemade Salted Caramel Gelato “Sandwich” ‘ – ( holy crap! Gotta try that too ) – was ‘Sodacracker Pie with Fresh Berries.’  Have you ever heard of such a thing?! Sodacracker pie manifested as a surprise of scrumptious meringue festooned with strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and whipped cream. Before demolishing it I whipped out my camera and took photos. Nobody batted an eye, I suspect people take food photos in Manna on an hourly basis.

Woe unto me, my camera ate the photos. So I ripped off a pie photo via Manna’s Facebook account, then ironically thought it’d be a marvelous idea to draw while I was ill. Look at this beauty:

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What. The fuck. Do note that the ‘101 F’ is written upside down, nice touch. Perhaps I’d have been better off IN the hospital than artistically butchering the hospital’s fine desserts. Rest assured, in real, healthy life the Sodacracker Pie is gorgeous and uniquely yummy! I was a repeat customer.

And why is Manna restaurant so freaking awesome?! Because it was created by a superstar and now run by one too. I was gonna paraphrase this intro but here’s the whole shebang, it’s so impressive:

‘Dan Skay was the opening Executive Chef at Littleton, Parker and Castle Rock Adventist Hospitals. Chef Dan worked on the design phase for Castle Rock Adventists’ Manna Restaurant. He is Nutrition Manager and Executive Chef for Manna with help from Chef de Cuisine Adam Freisem. In 1992, Chef Dan was the winner of the Great Chefs of America Culinary Competition and also the Grand Prize Winner of Custom Foods Golden Recipe Competition. Other accolades included winner of 1995 Premier Chefs of America, 1996 National Cully Award, 2000 Colorado Govenor’s Symposium Celebrating Colorado Cuisine, winning Best Colorado Entrée, and 2009 AHF National Culinary Competition Gold Medal Winner in Palm Springs, CA and the Wall Street Journal title of Hospital Top Chef. Most recently, Chef Dan won the national 2014 AHF Spotlight Award for innovation in healthcare food service and the MUFSO Best Concept Award.’

Chef Dan Skay and Adam Freisem make the hospital a place you go to ON PURPOSE. In addition, the wait staff was friendly and awesome. This team simply rocks it . In their honor, here is an awful picture of them. ( So sorry you guys!!)

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Bravo, Manna Restaurant!!

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Surfing and Strolling near Manna Restaurant

[ Pie tastes best when you’re hungry ]

SURFING: If you know people in Castle Rock, I guess you could go couch surfing.

STROLLING: Lots of open space! But hurry, as developers are encroaching like aggressive slime mold. Front Range weather changes by the minute so be prepared to experience all four seasons. During summer, stroll during the morning, afternoons turn into exciting games of Thunder Dodge.

MAGNUSSEN KAFFEBAKERI & KONDITORI BAKERI

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On the Main Street * Stokmarknes, Vesterålen * Norway

Upon hearing my pie plans for Stokmarknes my local friends advised, ” We have two bakeries and they are not very good. ” Undaunted, I visited both of them. This led me to discover the greatest chocolate bar EVER:

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 Behold Viking chocolate. This giant nugget is thick as my little finger and soooo delicious. It’s found in stores all over Norway – admittedly I’m pretending to speak for the entirety of Norway, and I never wandered below the Arctic circle. Fantastic for hot chocolate and breaking off ‘just a wee bite to warm up, ‘ never mind this excuse being torpedoed by the warming Gulf Stream that chugs along the Norwegian coast.

Stokmarknes is also gingerbread-happy, and they host a gingerbread ‘house’  contest every year. The entries are displayed in a downtown window, and this is how I found myself standing on an Arctic sidewalk in December laughing out loud:

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Bwaaah hahahahahaha!!!

Who made this Trump tower?! Can I invite them to dinner?! Can I make THEM president instead ?! Normally I don’t trace but for the sake of capturing every nuance I went for it here.  I love the Scandinavian style hearts and stars on the side of the building. The helicopter and martini glass  – ( oops forgot to draw it, pretend it’s on the floor behind the figurine ) – are fantastic details , could one be disqualified for adding non-edible elements?

It goes without saying this tower is an infinite improvement on the larger version. Stokmarknes, you and your gingerbread parodies are forever in my heart!

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SURFING and STROLLING in Stokmarknes

[ Pie tastes better when you’re hungry ]

SURFING: There is! More or less. My surfing friend/host was telling me about various places that probably work. On the right swells. In summer. Some exploration and patience is in order. Bucket list!

STROLLING: Repeat the following, ” No such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing”, and you should be fine. Surrounded by mountains and fjords, Stokmarknes has 360º of hikes of various lengths and difficulties. ESSENTIAL, however, are ‘pigger’, that means ‘shoe spikes’ in Norwegian. Forgo spiked shoes and you’ll enjoy a worm’s eye view – because you fell on your ass – of locals literally running down the icy street.

 One of my favorite walks is the Stokmarknes Aurora Interval Training Workout. This stroll cannot be planned, nor is there a set path. To find this trail, you A) Park yourself at your Stokmarknes friends’ house, stay up half the night, and obsess over the current-time, online Tromsø magnetometer. B) When the levels start spiking, throw on your warm clothes, run outside and up the water tower hill. C) Pace around, “Ooo”,” Aaaa”,  and enjoy nature’s light show. D) Walk down the hill when the aurora peters out, then run back up the hill when you’re at the bottom and the green lady makes another appearance. E) Return to your friend’s house when the sky calms down, repeat A-E multiple times. F) Hot chocolate and collapse.

KAFFEBØNNA

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KAFFEBONNA * Stortoget 3 * 9008 Tromsø * NORWAY * 47 77 63 94 00

Part bakery/cafe, part pit-stop from the weather, this ideally located bakery is within walking distance from anywhere in Tromsø’s center. Surrounded on two sides by large windows, you can sit with your pie and coffee, ogle the Arctic blue light, and if you sit strategically facing south-east ( lame tourist’s guess ), across the water you face what could be the grandest homage to a baked good anywhere:

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Behold, the Ishavskatedralen, aka The Arctic Cathedral, and pride of Tromsø.  The reasons for the Ishavskatedral’s iconic design are still up for speculation. If you’re anyone but me. CLEARLY this landmark is an enormous piece of pie! I mean, take a look:

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Is it not obvious

Holy Pie Wedge!

I recommend the Tromsø pie pilgrimage; walk across the bridge aka wind tunnel to the Ishavskatedral. Pay respects. Walk back to the sentrum and experience the true meaning of wind chill. Seek shelter in Kaffebønna and delight in pie and a delicious cup of coffee, all the while with the northernmost icon of pie within sight. Lovely!

Quick note: I did cheat as Kaffebønna did not have pie on the day I visited. In addition, with 9 hours of jet lag an interview seemed foolhardy. So I ordered the next closest thing to pie, a kanelsnurr. No you sickos, it is not brains, though appearances look deceiving in the picture. Nor is it ‘Camel snot’ though a bad translation is tempting. Kanelsnurr is aka ‘cinnamon swirl” a not-sticky, most outstanding cinnamon roll I’ve ever eaten! I don’t know what they did to it, but le swirl was light, not-too-sweet, and thus a cinch to eat in one sitting. Can I have another, please?!

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Defective Sketch of Successful Pastry Event!

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EXTRA BONUS: TROMSØ BEER SAFARI

The northernmost brewery! Arctic tapas! Beer samples! Tromsø Beer Safari is a hoot and plan for 10 samples not 5 which I misheard in the beginning, oh my.  You probably don’t need to buy tickets 6 months in advance like I did, but who am I to argue with long term goals. Tromsø Beer Safari will not disappoint!

SURFING and STROLLING in Tromsø:

Surfing: There is! Kind of. In the general area. There are also known places in Lofoten, nowhere near Tromsø of course, but hey since we’re in the same part of the world…. check out my next bucket list item: Unstad Arctic Surf.

Strolling: EVERYONE walks in Norway. Inclement weather is no excuse. In Tromsø , as previously mentioned there is the Pie Pilgrimage stroll from Kaffebønna to the Arctic Cathedral and back. Or, point your feet at a peak or well-marked-on-a-tourist-map trail and go. Prestvannet is a local lake that makes for a small easy hike and I’ve vowed to return to Tromsø to ‘attempt’ it. The real challenge strolling around here is not feeling embarrassed falling on one’s arse while locals are BICYCLING UP icy hills!