Tin Shack Bakery

TinShackBakeryAkeakamai Loop * Pahoa HI 96778 * 808-965-9659 * www.tinshackbakery.com

 Tin Shack Bakery blew my mind.

This literally named cafe/bakery is a – overused term alert ( but true ) – local hub in picturesque ‘ downtown ‘ Pahoa, Hawaii. Yup, it’s that Pahoa, the town that almost got wiped off the map by a lava flow. Goddess Pele spared the township, just barely, for reasons of her own but I like to think that she didn’t want to take out Tin Shack.

By now you realize two things; one: I only give good pie reviews, and two: I eat a fantastic amount of pie. When I say that Tin Shack’s vegan pies are THE MOST INCREDIBLE VEGAN PIES ANYWHERE, you know that this opinion is based on empirical evidence and can be construed as FACT.

The Shack first gifted unto me chocolate tangerine tahini pie. This pie was ridiculous. I took one nibble and immediately afterwards friend Robert and I ran around Volcano National Park, taking hero photos…..OF THE PIE. 

The chocolate tangerine tahini pie disappeared in a fit of gastrointestinal rapture, so I returned to Tin Shack two days later. Lo, vegan key lime pie and Tin Shack’s pie baker were in the house. Said baker did not want her name used, I think because she can vegan bake any kind of pie, including the humble variety. I’m naming her the Vegan Pie Goddess because, hot damn, those vegan pies are epically yummy and creative. Plus I want to talk her up because I’m such  a fan of this gal:

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Bow before greatness

Maybe Pele spared Pahoa because she did not want to disturb a vegan pie diety. Mahalo, Pele, Tin Shack, and Vegan Pie Goddess!

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Surfing and Strolling near Tin Shack Bakery

Surfing: in lieu of naming places, I’m naming books instead:

Waterman: The Life and Times of Duke Kahanamoku, by David Davis

Eddie Would Go: The Life and Times of a Hawaiian Hero and Pioneer of Big Wave Surfing by Stuart Coleman

Fierce Heart: The Story of Makaha and the Soul of Hawaiian Surfing,  also by Stuart Coleman

Strolling: for god’s sake, just step outside.

 

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Marie Shannon Confections

MarieShannon'sSign

27 S. Chestnut Street / Ventura CA 93001 / 805-667-8043 / www.marieshannonconfections.com

 I literally do not remember finding this bakery. The logical reason is likely because my visit to Marie Shannon came at the end of two days of chalking at the Ventura Arts Festival. But I like to think that as I was stumbling around Ventura’s downtown, I happened upon this bakery by Chance.

 Star baker/business owner Shannon Wright was not in her lair when I dropped by, but I talked to her lovely manager, named…drum roll…Chance. My eyes lit up as my beloved cat, found abandoned in a park while walking Hooligan, is also named Chance. And that’s how we find ourselves with a portrait of Chance sporting a tattoo of my cat:

MarieShannonChance

  Chance – the person – talked me around the baked goods while I made the serious decisions. Pie was short in supply, but there were cookies to be had and a-HA! Teeny tiny blueberry tarts. I snatched up a tart and returned to my lodging, stumbling upon another Chance:

Octotart

Yeah maybe Octopus Tart isn’t your thing, but I’d been chalking a ten foot cephalopod for days and here in my mini porch was this Octo-Deco who was, incredibly, the exact size for Marie Shannon Confection’s most wee blueberry tart. Note his look of bliss.

Shoutout to Chance and Marie Shannon’s for assuaging this chalker’s pastry craving and helping creating one darn cute cephalotart!

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Surfing and Strolling near Marie Shannon Confections

Surfing: Just about anywhere on this dang coast looks like a surf spot.  I scoped out one spot I’ll call Sleazy Street for seeming like a cross between a family friendly playground and a debauched beach party that went on years too long. In the end I paddled out at Happy Chalkies, so named because literally all I had to do was cross the street from my site at the Arts Festival. Happy Chalkies can also be called Truancies, because to get a wave – on a Monday mind you – I’d basically have to get into a knife fight with children. “DOESN’T ANYBODY GO TO SCHOOL ANYMORE?!” Bemoaned an older ( my age) local paddling by. We shared frustrated nods and I took off on a closeout.

Strolling: So sue me I did nothing.  The walking I did was up and down Main Street looking for pie, and up and down the harbor. Highly recommend both, by the way.

Malama Market

MalamaMarket

15-2664 Pahoa Village Rd. / Pahoa HI / 96778

 The plan here wasn’t to frequent the baked good aisle of chain grocery stores, however, due to an epic clusterfark of traffic planning, if you are lucky enough to reach Malama Market without a fender bender, any kind of celebratory pie sounds like a fine idea.

Malama Market is a regular ol’ grocery store situated in the ‘ugly’ ( yeah sure ) section of Pahoa, Hawaii. What sets it apart is the risk to life and limb trying to reach it. Some genius government planners, in an effort to improve the safety of reaching said mini mall, got bored and increased the traffic accidents near Malama by FOUR HUNDRED PERCENT. Maybe they were paid off by auto body shops. In any case what used to be a simple intersection or two of ho-hum ninety degree angles and straight lines now resembles urban planning by a hedgehog on acid.

MalamaMap

For the love of god

My dear friend Robert and I took a risk and popped into Malama Market for taco shells and cheese.  Upon parking in front of the store sans damage we were sweating bullets. Keep in mind the first week upon moving to town, Robert and William were in a car smash in the very same location, so arriving unscathed is a big deal. Damage-free, en route to the taco shells we passed by….PIE.

Giddy with relief, of course we nabbed dessert. Returning to Robert’s home in one ( technically two ) piece,  I admit I was skeptical as the peach pie resembled peach smash more than anything else. Maybe EVERYTHING gets smashed on the way to this place.

Was I in for a surprise. You see, every restaurant in Pahoa, be it a finer dining establishment or a tin shack, is delicious. Malama Market peach pie smash was no exception. Robert and I took first bites and blurted out, ” Hey, this is really good!”

HibiscusSmash

Like Malama’s pie, real hibiscus  is insanely more delectable in person than as a smash sketch

I don’t think the deliciousness of that pie was a result of our post-adrenaline rush. It genuinely tasted great.  Malama Market, I salute you!

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Surfing and Strolling near Malama Market

Surfing: in lieu of naming places, I’m naming books instead:

Waterman: The Life and Times of Duke Kahanamoku, by David Davis

Eddie Would Go: The Life and Times of a Hawaiian Hero and Pioneer of Big Wave Surfing by Stuart Coleman

Fierce Heart: The Story of Makaha and the Soul of Hawaiian Surfing,  also by Stuart Coleman

Strolling: for god’s sake, just step outside.

BONUS WORDS: ‘Smash’, ‘ Delectable’, ‘ Auto Insurance’.

 

 

 

 

Shampa’s Pies

Shampa's

1625 Palmetto Ave * Pacifica CA 94044 * 415-412-3592 * www.shampaspies.com

 

It was the balloons that finally enlightened me.

 Shampa’s Pies’ storefront is located a measly half mile from my work place, which I was oblivious to until I stopped by the pet food store next door – for the umpteenth time mind you – and sensed something different. What could it beeee…..ah! There were balloons festooning the parking lot entrance. In grey foggy Pacifica, colorful balloons stand out like a Lite Brite in a closet. And THESE balloons had a message; PIE. Plenty of it.

Thus began my never ending taste testing of Shampa’s Pies. I’m sorry to say I can’t list every kind I’ve tried because I’ve eaten so many of their hand pies I’ve, er, lost count. Confession; I’m an extra sucker for hand pies because each one is a single serving dessert, you grab one and covet it alllllll  to yourself. To maintain karma, buy a batch of wee pies and divvy out to loved ones, though this tactic can fail, keep reading.

The latest Shampa’s hand pies purchase I do recall; nectarine blueberry and peach cobbler. I bought three to share, and did give away one, but too much time went by before I located lucky pie gifteee #2 and, well, you know. These things happen.

 Shampa’s Pies itself is the business of Pastry Chef Haruwn Wesley, who named Shampa’s after his mother-in-law, Sheridan. Haruwn is also a wicked surfer, he specializes in boogie board. I’ve tried boogie boarding myself and can assure you that nothing is more exhausting, nor hunger inducing, than paddling out to Home Break on an itty bit o’ foam that moves 127 times slower than the waves barreling towards your head. To boogie Home Break at size is mental and physical aerobic torture, so respecting that as well as his baking skills, here is Haruwn the surfing baker in The Hero Shot:

Shampa'sHero (2)

( Full disclosure; this pic is photo referenced via Joe McNally of National Geographic. I hope he got pie too. )

 

 Shampa’s Pies are available for order, and can be picked up at Farmer’s Markets as well as their storefront, being guided by balloons to find them is not required. Simply look HERE.

Thanks for the pies, Shampa’s!

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Surfing and Strolling near Shampa’s Pies

SURFING: Why yes. This isn’t called ‘Pacifica’ for nothing. Wave quality is dependent on tides and number of boards aimed at your head. The best way to maintain sanity is to give into the Force and find a group who will ‘party wave’ everything, thus fun will be reborn. Some choice spots are: A) You are Part of the Problem, where on good days you can actually walk from board to board without touching the water. B) Pebbles Shoved Down My Wetsuit, need I say more. C) Chum Comes from the Sky, not a place you’d want to surf alone and the shore pound is nasty.

HOT TIP #1: You Are Part of the Problem also has a theft problem. My friend’s longboard was ripped off right under her nose while she was changing at dusk. Boo!!

HOT TIP #2: I gargle generously with mouthwash after surfing here. The water can be…itchy.

STROLLING: So much! Look at all those hills with trails! You’ve got McNee Ranch, Sweeney Ridge, Mori Point…Seriously, you can see routes from the highway, so go knock yourself out exploring. Don’t explore the poison oak though! It is EVERYWHERE.

Sticky Fingers Baking Company

StickyFingerssign

2016 E. Main St. * Ventura CA  93001 * 805-628-3444 * www.stickyfingersbaking.com

  A well-timed surgical strike was required for Sticky’s, as the days I was blowing through town for an arts festival coincided with their off hours. AND they also close when they run out of  goodies, which happens A LOT.

  Sticky Fingers is a small bakery, local hub, and life work of Katherine & Marty Glassman, who claim, ” True happiness can only be achieved by eating delicious, baked goods.” Hands-down no argument there.

In order to reach them while they were open and not depleted by the hungry happy hordes, I had to sneak over during Saturday lunch time while I was making a chalk mural at the Ventura Arts Festival. Cue a chalky filthy mess barging in the door, waving a camera around and babbling about pie. Katherine was fearless and friendly, posing for photos and hopefully not annoyed that I got bored with face-front smiley poses and instead chose her for my baker’s profile glamour shot:

StickyFingers

  Okay she was not wearing earrings, but I had to add the chain of hand pies since I absconded with a larger, cherry version of the same. And a vegan breakfast muffin, while promising myself I’d return the next day. Absolutely scrumptious, and when I raced back during Sunday lunch, Sticky Fingers was closed because they’d sold out!

Was it all a dream? Hell no. Ventura’s baked goods fans know the score. I also announce/warn Sticky Fingers that once a year, mystically coinciding with the Ventura Art Festival, a chalk zombie will be bursting in and snorting pastries.  Ha Haaaa!

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Surfing and Strolling near Sticky Fingers Baking Company

Surfing: Just about anywhere on this dang coast looks like a surf spot.  I scoped out one spot I’ll call Sleazy Street for seeming like a cross between a family friendly playground and a debauched beach party that went on years too long. In the end I paddled out at Happy Chalkies, so named because literally all I had to do was cross the street from my site at the Arts Festival. Happy Chalkies can also be called Truancies, because to get a wave – on a Monday mind you – I’d basically have to get into a knife fight with children. “DOESN’T ANYBODY GO TO SCHOOL ANYMORE?!” Bemoaned an older ( my age) local paddling by. We shared frustrated nods and I took off on a closeout.

Strolling: So sue me I did nothing.  The walking I did was up and down Main Street looking for pie, and up and down the harbor. Highly recommend both, by the way.

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.

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.