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:

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( 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.

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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.

 chilepies

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 ]

DEVIL’S TEETH

devilsteeth

3876 Noriega St. * San Francisco CA 94122 * www.devilsteethbakingcompany.com

 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 good look around for snacking and social possibilities. 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 only 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. Pie types are baked according to season – so far I’ve horned strawberry and pecan, and inhaled apple pie on multiple occasions. The apples in that pie are totally phenom. Spiced and baked just so, bits 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!

I didn’t manage to chase down successful owner Hilary for a portrait, so here is Hoolie chasing flying apple pie ( and chasing customers away, it would seem ) in front of the joint. In truth there is usually a horde sitting outside, but since crowd scenes make cartoonists break into a cold sweat we’ll make do with one large dog:

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SURFING and STROLLING near DEVIL’S TEETH

[ Pie tastes better when you’re hungry ]

MAZZETTI’S BAKERY

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101 Manor Drive * Pacifica CA 94044 * www.mazzettisbakery.com

Roughly 15 miles south of San Francisco, the small city of Pacifica stretches along the coast farther than you could imagine for a population that size. This is truly the Gumby of cities. Off one of the first of many Highway 1 exits/Gumby arms, the always-busy Mazzetti’s Bakery lays in wait.

Family owned for 40 years, Mazzetti’s announces itself via hieroglyphic sign and bakes everything under the sun. To hungry to think, it took me weeks to realize the hieroglyphs represented cake decorations. Duh, they specialize in decorated cakes. How important are IQs, really.

In my little world, Mazzetti’s lies in a trifecta of excuses-to-go-in; only a couple of blocks from the Mighty Steed’s d.i.y. Car wash, two blocks from the home of Hooligans’ best dog pals, and a few blocks from a job where I always leave hungry.

Upon my first quest for pie, I found out that they do NOT sell single slices, only whole pies. Damn. Undaunted, I ordered two chocolate cupcakes instead. Within days I was back, carrot cupcakes firmly in hand. Oh my god, heaven.

Mazzetti’s has a way of creating moist cakes that are unearthly. Skulking in for the third time, I realized, f*** it, PIE IS MEANT TO BE SHARED, and went home with an entire Dutch Apple Pie. For my friends and neighbors.

This isn’t just ANY Dutch Apple Pie. This is a pie that was mentioned as one of the best apple pies on the peninsula by CBS San Francisco. First I dropped off a big slice with Hooligan’s human buddy/owner of said best dog pals. This guy is a lucky bastard because by merit of living so close to Mazetti’s, he was the ONLY outside recipient of said ‘pie to be shared.’ I’m so sorry, you guys. Upon arriving home, I ate the next generous slice, took a break for dinner, and of course, ate a slice for dessert. After that I’m afraid the pie fell victim to He Who Shall Be Known as the Pie Eating Heathen. All I know is, I woke up the next morning and there weren’t even any crumbs left. I have to stop this tale here or I’ll get emotional.

The good news is, Mazzetti’s is easy to find and the Pie Eating Heathen swears he’d buy Mazzetti’s stock based on their apple pie alone. You can get your own or twist my arm to pick up another pie – I’ll be in the neighborhood.

Because I suck I did not find the owners nor do much of an illustration – I’m rushing to include the first GUEST! But below I present a traced & tweaked photo of an actual Mazzetti’s line:

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Hooligan herding customers ( as if they needed it ) into Mazzetti’s

I’ll end this overview on a spine tingling MYSTERY: is the Pie Eating Heathen just ONE person, or TWO?? If so, WHICH two?? Or, have we stumbled into discovering a MYTHOLOGICAL BEAST, like Sasquatch? Debate.

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SURFING and STROLLING near Mazetti’s Bakery

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.

PATISSERIE BOISSIERE

patisserieboissiere

Mission Between Ocean & 7th * Carmel, CA 93921 * www.patisserieboissiere.com

Pronounced, ‘ Pahtee-sery Bwah-sery’, this restaurant ser – HA! Got you!

As a 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 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 Bwah-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-sexy Bwaw-sexy!” 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?! Yippee!

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/management spells the demise of a place, but Ibrahim and Wood dis something radical – NOTHING. To quote Ibrahim, ” We never wanted to change things…just polish them a bit.”

GENIUS. 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 bunds cake instead. Sheer heaven. Being an idiot of the ages, I made history repeat itself and totally overlooked the written menu. Only when I researched this restaurant did I 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:

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SURFING and STROLLING near PATISSERIE BOISSIERE

[Pie tastes better when you’re hungry ]