Butter Love Bakeshop

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3717 Balboa St * San Francisco CA * 94121 * www.butterlovebakeshop.com

Owners Esa and husband Josh have been chefs for years, and like the name indicates, they are Big on Butter. And big on PIE!! It took me nearly literally stumbling into their sign, absent-minded-professory chugging down the sidewalk, to ‘find’ Butter Love. ” Money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy PIE…which is pretty much the same thing. ” The sandwich board declared.

Of course I went in and bought happiness I mean  pie. And what selections! They make SO MANY, here is the list. You name it they got it:

BUTTER LOVE PIE SELECTION

I can’t remember what I got THAT time, which is no matter because once seen on a street I visit often, Butter Love cannot not be unseen.

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Hooligan’s walkie spot is so near Butter Love! Thanks Hoolie!

 

Now every time I’m around I get more nuggets of wisdom – they’re kind of like street pie fortune cookies;  ” Skinny people are easy to kidnap. Stay safe. Eat Pie.” For safety’s sake one must obey! ” Stress spelled backwards is DESSERTS “, they inform. My god the wisdom.

Speaking of stressed that’s what a family potluck reunion is, which is why I ordered an entire berry pie for a small family reunion. It almost got hijacked as I screwed up my address numbers – me cognitize good – and rang a stranger’s doorbell, standing out front with an entire pie in hand. Nobody answered which is too bad for them! They almost won at life that day.

Let me tell you, there were several great desserts at the reunion and which one got totally devoured?! Butter Love Pie. They’re going to save my bacon for every family event from now on. As well as drop in when I go to the bank on that street. And the hardware store. And getting walked by Hooligan. And if I happen to be in the neighborhood…

Let’s finish here on Butter Love Bakeshop’s mantra, they sum it up best; ..for the love of butter, Make Pie, Buy Pie, and Eat Pie!

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 SURFING and STROLLING near Butter Love Bakeshop

[ Pie tastes better when you’re hungry ]

Mt Hamilton Apple Disaster & Tuscan Apocalypse Pies

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Lick Observatory * 7281 Mt. Hamilton Rd. * Mt. Hamilton CA 94140 * www.ucolick.org

Two pies, two different dates, one place!

Now that you’ve clicked on the link above, you have deduced that there is no bakery on Mt. Hamilton. Up here the Lick Observatory can observe star bakeries – (I’m sure astronomers would LOVE that phrase instead of ‘star nurseries’ ) – and one lonely vending machine which definitely does not dispense pie. But there is a way to get pie here; pay attention singles – get romantically involved with an observatory employee.

Easier said than done. In my case I ended up with Rapunzel Pie Snatchers due to a cosmic soup of a chalk mural, Astrid’s grand driveway camping adventure, and the nepotistic advantage of having a Great Grandparent be the Lick director for 29 years. Needless to say there is a lot of ancestral woo-woo around these parts. And now I find myself cooking in a kitchen that is only slightly younger than the ancestors, on the same land where they also used to live, and um, bake.

To understand what cooking here means, you first must meet The Juggernaut. That’s Rapunzel Pie Snatcher’s infamous oven.

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FEE FI FO FUM

Juggernaut definition via inter web; ‘a huge, powerful, and overwhelming force or institution’, and, ‘ a massive inexorable force, campaign, movement, or object that crushes whatever is in its path.’ And my favorite, ‘ Juggernaut is one of the strongest beings in the universe. He is often able to best Thor and Hulk in battle, as even the strongest incarnations of Hulk cannot overpower Juggernaut.’

You have to do whatever Juggernaut wants. This means Juggernaut decides his own temperature and you need a thermometer inside the oven, which doesn’t correspond to the numbers on the dials. For example, if you set a dial to 200, that really means Juggernaut is set at around 425….or not…..maybe the temp will go up and down…or not….You also need to click dials twice to turn them on, and “ DON’T STAND TOO CLOSE TO THE OVEN WHEN YOU OPEN IT!”  Rapunzel Pie Snatchers warns. Without observing the proper rituals, Juggernaut may require a sacrifice, like your eyebrows.  Despite the quirks I enjoy cooking with Juggernaut, maybe because  I’m quirky too and – a-hem! – dangerous. All the adventure you need, right at home.

 I set out to cook Mt Hamilton Apple Disaster Pie, and totally nailed it as far as desecrating directions go. No single step of this recipe was achieved within scientific method or reason.  Changed the butter to vegan, replaced the pastry flour with two other kinds you’re not REALLY supposed to use in pie,  chucked in random apples, overdid every spice within reach, rolled the dough with a floured water bottle on a 2/3 sized board. Threw the lot at the mercy of Juggernaut, which, by the way, also involved flapping Juggernaut’s mouth ( okay the door ) open and closed to regulate the temperature within 100 degrees of normal – not unlike those movie servants using giant fans to cool off the Roman emperor. And it turned out great! Mt Hamilton Disaster Pie was NOT a disaster! Juggernaut was pleased with my method of madness and blessed us with a heart festooned pie. Aww.

No problem, I thought. Now onto savory pies.

The God was not pleased. Tuscan Apocalypse pie was precisely that – a natural disaster. For  hours I was cooking tomato sauce from scratch, sautéing organic veggies, browning vegan sausages, slicing vegan cheese and sprinkling Tuscan herbs like fairy dust into the mix. Recreating the same dough as before, and FOLLOWING DIRECTIONS TO THE LETTER.

I’ve made hand pies before – Thanks to Victoria at Victoria’s Last Resort! – and they were fabulous. Not this time. Juggernaut seems to prefer free will and chaos. Tuscan Apocalypse Pies were more akin to Apocalypse Crumbles, or what would happen if a pizza and a calzone got into a fight to the death.

“ Look away!” I hollered at Rapunzel Pie Snatchers. “ But take a bite.” Tuscan Pie Apocalypse WAS absolutely delicious, I’ll give it that, but you couldn’t look it in the eye  – or shoot, take a peep AT ALL – in order to eat. Lesson learned; despite being located at a scientific research center, my pies here are best cooked as per my usual method  – by doing what makes the least amount of sense.

Oh, more Mt Hamilton Disaster Pie WILL be made – and it’ll be made via collaboration between the quirks of Juggernaut and myself. In homage to this promise, here is a take on a brilliant Lick Observatory photo from Laurie Hatch ( I’m sorry!! )

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NOT BRAINS! It’s Pie Moon, people!

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Surfing and Strolling at Lick Observatory

SURFING: Nothing of the sort.

STROLLING: Yeah! There’s a self-guided walking tour with informative signs. One of them them even features my Great Grandfather piercing his eyes out the side of the photo, which is cool and gives me the willies at the same time. Also public tours Thurs-Sun and some evenings, check the website for details. And a semi resident like me can bop all over the place, though being at the top of a mountain, EVERY walk starts with the reward downhill first, and then huffing back up. This exhaustive hiking style is how pie is inspired on Mt. Hamilton.

 

The Grove

Grove

1 Henry Adams St * San Francisco CA 94103 * 415-834-5105 * http://thegrovesf.com/

Grove’s Pie was the fun result of a chain of failed tasks.

First I was called in to jury duty, trials meaning that somebody failed somewhere and it’s a matter of deciding which party failed worse. Then I failed to bring my hearing aids, remembering, ” Well this will be interesting”, on the ride to court. In the jury holding pen, a bunch of us failed to sit on the floor, not for lack of trying you see, but we were told we were not allowed because, and I quote, ” SITTING ON THE FLOOR IS DANGEROUS.” What.

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Arrest me now. I’m wearing the proper safety precautions.

 

“Where do I sit?” one woman gestured to the capacity room. It was suggested to stand, but whatever we do, not to imperil ourselves putting butt to ground.  My lagging faith in America….down 8 more points.

I failed to report to the correct courtroom, but not before bringing the entire jury  picking process to a halt when it was noticed I was the lone outlier. Note to self: don’t forget hearing aids in public. Then a walk of shame to the assigned courtroom, where I failed to show up on time thanks to my little misguided tour. I failed to make the jury – who doesn’t want a pissed-off hearing-impaired juror on their trial – and was booted out the door.

Now I had 14 minutes to hoof it to a nearby bakery. You knew I wouldn’t go all the way to court without researching nearby pie! I strode past bail bond and pawn shops, climbing the class ladder up through hardware stores,  foofier hardware dealers,  and design stores featuring befuddling ‘concept’ bean bags. In 4 blocks the rate of change was so vast, if I was the Enterprise, I’d be speeding warp 9.

Bakery closed! Boy were they in a hurry. I pressed my nose to the window in case a clerk was avoiding detection by ducking behind the counter. Yes maybe I failed to arrive on the EXACT dot, but in this case I’ll claim they failed because who doesn’t need a baked treat after jury duty!

Thwarted, I shuffled past more perplexing display furniture towards the nearest street corner, to catch a cab. ‘Lo, there at the intersection sat The Grove. This restaurant just had a Pie Look about it.  Score!

Said savior is a roomy  restaurant that coins itself as ‘San Francisco’s living room’, which makes sense because it’s such a large and comfy space, and you kinda have to walk through San Francisco’s bathroom to get there. The front counter had plenty of delectables, and I walked out with boysenberry and cran-apple slices.  Awesome duo of sweet and tart.  Reward!

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Am I guilty?! Damn right. Guilty of being a crap juror. Guilty of gratuitous caloric intake. Guilty of spontaneous pie FUN. Shoot, that’s  a lot of  guilty technicalities.  Come to think of it, those crimes make me not feel guilty at all! HA! Thank you, Grove.

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Click here for Surfing and Strolling near The Grove

( Pies tastes better when you’re hongry )

The Sequoias

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*501 Portola Rd * Portola Valley CA 94028 *  (650) 851-1501 * http://thesequoiaspv.org/

Words of warning; this is not a bakery. This is not a restaurant. It is a metaphorically named retirement home with lovely grounds and people – shoot I’d move in  – and a business logo of trees that can push 3000 years of age what are they really saying with this choice of icon again?

Living 3000 years is out of reach for us, but scoring pie at The Sequoias is easy. All you have to do is lose a parent, be in daily telephone or personal contact with the other, have meetings in person and by phone with social workers, caretakers, lawyers, financial planners, tour a couple retirement homes, have retirement home meetings,  have real estate agent meetings, sort out things for the remaining parent to keep,  sort them out multiple times because they’re getting dementia, empty a 2500 square foot house that’s been lived in for 42 years, empty 6 storage units, discover The World’s Most Ironic Object, curse hoarders,  praise professional movers, get the parent moved – sort of, they do tend to run about – start jollying back and forth with furniture, your back, and your truck,  and prepare the house for sale. Then fork over six digits and you have….PIE. Voila. What could be simpler.

Okay The Sequoias Pie was pure luck. But what timing! The day mom moved we decided to….celebrate?…by dragging ourselves to dinner in the main hall. What was for dessert? Pie!! Also by pure luck we were invited to share a table with the lady on the food board – hooooeee she gets it done – and an eagle-eyed woman who is a parent of a high school classmate of mine, which felt both cool and very awkward at the same time.

I delightfully couldn’t believe they were serving pie for my mom’s first night, and chalked it up to a sign from the gods. The effort of reaching that point and then stumbling into a mini high school reunion complete with pie slathered me in a surreal glaze. “Where am I?” I thought. ” What am I? Where does this pie come from?” Then I realized I’d slipped into a Gauguin painting:

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I’d prefer Tahiti

Mom and I both had a slice of strawberry raspberry and offered more fine slices ’round the table. In-charge-of-food-lady admitted that some pie was made on premises and some was bought off-site. Frankly that pie could have the taste and texture of lemon worms and I would have cared less. Hooray for pie! Cap off the evening!

Now a shoutout; all elderly caretakers are badasses, and should be paid like badasses too. If you take care of my mother –  I LOVE YOU. Here is a portrait of an anonymous Sequoias employee, posing in front of one of the six storage units:

Sequoias

 

The Angel is waving an alluded-to-treasure: the World’s Most Ironic Object. This gem was unearthed whilst spelunking through the storage units, 4 bedroom house, attic, 3 garage storage rooms, and 600 sq. foot office/library with kitchen and bath.  Zero words were sarcastically added to enhance the emotive effect. Direct photo trace:

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WHHHYYYYYYYYYYYYY

I feel like I found the One True Ring.

After all that hullabaloo – not to mention 8 tons of dust and many spiders EEK – living to a desiccated 3000 years might be easier than earning pie at the Sequoias. I’ll still choose the latter..so long as there’s pie at the end!

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Surfing and Strolling at The Sequoias

SURFING: Um. Over the hill? I went couch surfing while taking care of a family situation nearby. Each couch surf location is geared for the individual so you’re on your own for this one.

STROLLING: Windy Hill Preserve is RIGHT THERE! So is Wunderlich Park which is lovely. Watch for horse poo.

Palo Alto Creamery

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566 Emerson St. * Palo Alto CA 94301 * 650-323-3131 * www.paloaltocreamery.com

  Stating the obvious here, when visiting family who are batshit crazy challenging, it’s a wise idea to have the closest pie stop mapped out. Being a dim bulb, it took many years and a dental cleaning before I  took advantage of the pie situation at Palo Alto Creamery. I also had trouble finding it, which is not the fault of me being an idiot but because Palo Alto has changed SO very much I recognized nothing and was walking up and down streets, confused. Hone your map reading skills and with patience and good walking shoes you should be okay.

The reward for wandering about is stepping into the time warp that is Palo Alto Creamery. This joint is a good ol’ fashioned DINER that – duh – serves meals, and also has a gigantic selection of baked goodies and PIE. Apple, Cherry, Blueberry, Banana Cream, Key Lime, Lemon Cream Cheese, Chocolate Pecan, plus seasonal pies; Peach, Strawberry Rhubarb, Mixed Berry, and Pumpkin. Phew I’m hyperventilating! They also featured a most mysterious ‘Whoopie Pie’ which looks like a giant oreo, sounds like adult fun, and could be something to wear on a really hot date. Next time.

Immediately after a nearby dental appointment , I made a beeline for the Creamery neighborhood. It was crucial I choose pies to inflict maximum damage on my gleaming chompers right away.  Thus I waltzed out with two GINORMOUS slices of apple and blueberry. Everything about their pies is huge. The apple looked so poofy it could have doubled as a hot air balloon, and the blueberry was a …a…it’s indescribable really, but it was a BLOCK of blueberries. I’ve never seen so many blueberries in one dish in my life.

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Blueberry Pie a la the Smile Factory

Being thorough, I’m happy to announce that Palo Alto Creamery’s pies are suitable with Dinner, Breakfast, Lunch, and Snack. There’s so much fruit you can overtop your daily vitamin C needs, and if you want to turn your entire mouth blue – or shoot, everything you’re wearing blue if you’re exuberant,  the blueberry pie is primo.

In addition to pie, Palo Alto  has another secret gem of a Smile Factory. Every time I visit I sneak out and walk by one particular artist’s house, and stare. It’s another ‘old school’ home ( rare! ) and the front yard is BONKERS with small animal and people statues, bottle trees, mosaics, FUN STUFF. Each visit I see something different, and it’s always changing. Hence on this page we’ve got goofy pictures of somebody else’s nifty art.  Rain or shine, this place is magic and I’d like to meet the owner and give her a hug. And some pie.

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Smears on painfully overwrought art courtesy of west swell closeouts @ Home Break

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Surfing and Strolling near Palo Alto Creamery

Surfing: I think people mainly do ‘net surfing here.

Strolling: Getting turned around trying to find Palo Alto Creamery is one stroll. There’s also Baylands and, frankly, wandering around looking at people’s gardens is really enjoyable. But my favorite stroll by far is swinging by the artists’s house mentioned above. This hike is a loop starting anywhere you wish, but the apex is always the same magic place. For privacy’s sake I won’t give the address – yeah so WHY did I mention it in the first place, right?!! ( “What an asshole”, you think .) If you’re really super interested and are not remotely creepy, message me and I’ll share hints.

 

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.

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.