Pi Day 2018: Our favorite places to eat pie around the Bay Area

By Sarah Fritsche Updated 10:40 am, Wednesday, March 14, 2018 window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-4', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 4', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); Photo: Liz Hafalia, The Chronicle Image 1of/4 CaptionClose Image 1 of 4 Aaron Toensing's green chile apple pie. Aaron Toensing's green chile apple pie. Photo: Liz Hafalia, The Chronicle Image 2 of 4 PieTisserie's strawberry-rhubarb pie in a chocolate crust PieTisserie's strawberry-rhubarb pie in a chocolate crust Photo: Craig Lee, Special To The Chronicle Image 3 of 4 Francis Ang's fried pies with rhubarb-star anise jam. Francis Ang's fried pies with rhubarb-star anise jam. Photo: Craig Lee, Special To The Chronicle Image 4 of 4 Pi Day 2018: Our favorite places to eat pie around the Bay Area 1 / 4 Back to Gallery Not everybody loves math, but pretty much everyone loves pie. While March 14th is technically a celebration of the mathematical constant pi (3.14159265359...), it’s also a great excuse to indulge in a slice of flaky filled pastry. To celebrate Pi Day, here are some of our favorite places to grab a slice, plus a handful of recipes from Bay Area chefs that you can make at home. —Sarah Fritsche Revenge Pies Recommended Video: Now Playing: March 14th is known as Pi Day and that’s because it falls on 3/14, which makes up the first three digits of the mathematical constant pi. If you don’t remember your geometry, pi is the ratio of the circumference of any circle to the diameter of t Media: Fox5DC After a long-term Continue Reading

Three cheers for National Pie Day

Share Tweet Share Email Comments Print It might seem like pie in the sky to have a day dedicated to eating that fantastic food. But dreams do come true: Jan. 23 is National Pie Day. That’s not a bad joke, like a pie in the face. It’s true! On this day, we’re encouraged to eat pie for breakfast, for lunch, for dinner, for snacks, for pick-me-ups — whatever strikes your fancy. We’re celebrating one of the most fun and festive holidays of the year, so why not do it in style? WATCH: Mary Bilyeu demonstrates how to bake an easy-to-make skillet apple pie There has been some confusion about the precise date of Pie Day, so let’s clarify: Jan. 23 is National Pie Day, while March 14 — or 3.14 — is Pi Day, a celebration for fans of both fractions and food. On both days, you get to eat pie. What’s not to love? In honor of this auspicious occasion, we’re offering three varieties to enjoy: individually portioned hand pies that make good use of a convenient prepared pastry, a no-bake pie with a cookie crumb base, and a pie baked in a skillet that takes advantage of a pre-made crust. No mixing of flour and fat, no ice water, no crumbly or gooey mess if there are problems with the consistency of the crust. (This part of the pie is intimidating to many people, after all). These recipes are, truly, as easy as pie. Chicken and Ham Hand Pies are gorgeous in all their rustic charm, a savory sensation in contrast to the sweet varieties. Simply sauté aromatic leeks and mushrooms, stir them into a simple cream sauce, add the meats, and use this mixture to fill puff pastry rectangles that will bake to a beautiful, burnished brown. Delicate and flaky, this casing is everything you seek in a pie crust. Banana Rum Caramel Coconut Pie is a decadently delicious no-bake wonder featuring layers of crunchiness contrasting with creaminess. It may seem, from the elements listed in the Continue Reading

Opal apples are the non-browning apples you never knew you always needed

If your New Year’s resolution included eating more fruit, then I’ve got the apple for you.The Opal apple is a brilliant yellow fruit unlike any other. Its claim to fame is that is has a natural resistance to oxidation. In layman’s terms, this apple doesn’t brown when it’s exposed to air.  That means no more fussing with rubber bands or other hacks to save the cut-up apples in your kid’s lunch. Opal apples can be added to slaws, salads and other dishes without fear of ruining the dish after a couple hours.   It’s even been to space. Opals were sent to the astronauts on the International Space Station in 2015.So what’s the deal with Opal apples? Here are the answers to all your questions about this fascinating fruit.Opals are a cross between a Golden Delicious and Topaz. They inherited the best parts of their parent apples: They’re sturdy and crisp with just the right amount of tang. Plus, they’re disease resistant, which is good for growers.Opal apples were first bred in Prague at the Institute of Experimental Botany in 1999. They grew up in orchards throughout Europe before being introduced in America in 2010. Today, Opals are grown at Broetje Orchards in Washington and distributed by FirstFruits Marketing of Washington.No, they’re not. Opal apples were the first U.S. apple to be verified by the Non-GMO Project, a nonprofit that provides third-party verification and labels for non-GMO food and products. While Opals are a cross between two other apple varieties, it was a natural breeding.The Opal apple website says “one of the most incredible and natural features of this apple is that it does not brown after cutting.” If that seems too good to be true, it is.I conducted an at-home experiment to test this claim. I gathered three kinds of apples: an Opal, a Golden Delicious and a Sugarbee. I cut each one in half as well as into wedges and left them exposed to the air for eight Continue Reading

Ranking America’s top 10 chain restaurants

People love to pick on chain restaurants. Like used car salesmen, the mass feeders are easy targets. Their uniformity and ubiquity seem to go against a culture increasingly bent on personal customization. Indeed, it has been a rough past few years for casual chains, whose customer base has been dropping. But some of their presumed negatives are also part of their appeal. The promises of speed and sameness can be downright welcome when you're hungry and near a highway exit, on a business trip in a strange place or home for the holidays. Knowing that you can wake up to the same fluffy pancakes from Denny's whether you're in Miami or Minneapolis, or sit down to the identical warm breadsticks at Olive Garden, no matter which of its 800-plus branches you find yourself in, speaks to the chains' charm offensive: no-surprise comfort. RELATED: Ian Froeb's STL100 But not all chains are created equal. That's why I spent several months grazing through the menus of the 10 casual, full-service restaurant chains that have the highest sales, according to Nation's Restaurant News. (For the record, Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar is No. 1, with $4.4 billion in annual domestic sales, although its parent company's profits have been slipping.) Just as I would for a star-rated critique, I visited each chain multiple times. I surprised myself at one restaurant when I took home leftovers - something I seldom do even from independent establishments. Other lessons: Mashed potatoes are almost always better than french fries, "lite" applied to a dish might as well be a stop sign, and when a picky friend calls something "entirely edible," it's the equivalent of a rave. Here's how I ranked the chains, in order from least favorite to most, along with letter grades. 10. Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar Grade: FThe saddest meals of my entire year? Nothing can touch lunch and dinner at the sports bar that can't even get its signature dish right. I'm not sure which is more of a Continue Reading

Food Prowl: The search for Omaha’s best pie

A slice of pie — sweet and warm, flaky and buttery — conjures an image in most people’s minds.There’s a plump grandmother in a sunny kitchen. She has carefully placed fresh-cut fruit and sugar in a baking dish. She carefully crafts a lattice crust over the heaping fruit, slowly pinching dough into a perfect, crimped edge. Finally, an hour later, she pulls that baked delicacy out of a hot oven, wiping her hands on a worn apron.Mouths water at that imagined scene. It was that image — that pie — that we wanted to find on the first Food Prowl of 2016. But finding it turned out to be tough — as tricky as the task of baking that blue-ribbon pie.A handful of hindrances stood in the way of our team, pastry chef Tina Tweedy and home baker Linda Grubb. Among them: canned pie filling, overcooked fruit, weepy meringue, too-firm cream centers and the biggest of them all, pre-made frozen pie crust.“The crust is what defines any pie. We have to know the crust is homemade,” Tina said during our first meeting. Tina, 40, most recently crafted desserts at M’s Pub for six years.Linda, 72, who has been baking pies for the better part of her life, nodded solemnly.So I put on my pie reporting hat and spent the next two days calling restaurants and bakeries all over the city, asking pointed questions of the poor people who happened to answer the phone.“Is your pie made from scratch, in-house, by hand? Is your pie crust homemade or frozen? Do you use fresh fruit or canned filling? Is your whipped cream real or canned? Does your cream pie include pudding mix?”The resulting dozen restaurants who answered all my questions to our satisfaction lent us the best of the best. At a few spots we found the pinnacles of great pie, including our winner, notable not just for its flavor but for its beauty.Though our trio sampled a wide variety of pie flavors, we focused mostly on fruit pie, and mostly on the most all-American of pies, Continue Reading

New York bars whip up apple-based cocktails using both fresh and hard cider

The apple doesn’t fall far from the cocktail this autumn. Big Apple bars are ripe with the crisp fruit — whether served as hard cider, the fermented drink sold on tap and in bottles, or in cocktails mixed with farm-fresh juice from nearby orchards. Though hard cider is only about .5% of the beer market and is unknown to many drinkers, it’s becoming a lot more popular at pubs and restaurants, according to Angry Orchard cider maker David Sipes. And in the first quarter of 2013, cider sales soared by 70%, according to GuestMetrics, a company that collects data on the hospitality industry. One reason that cider’s gained so much juice is that, unlike most beer, it is gluten free, says Matthew Critz of Harvest Moon Cidery, which grows apples in Cazenovia, N.Y., and makes several varieties of hard cider. The majority of cider fans who visit the tasting room at Harvest Moon are in their 20s and 30s, and many have studied abroad and became fans of hard apple cider in Europe, where it’s far more popular than here. Baby boomers can be a tougher sell, many remembering the syrupy sweet taste of Boone’s Farm Apple Wine, which was popular in the late 1960s and early 1970s. “Boone’s Farm did more to hurt cider in America than anything else,” Critz says, laughing. “But once they try it they realize cider can be complex, like a wine is complex.” Here are some area bars making the most of fall’s favorite fruit. Vienna Morning, Seasonal Restaurant & Weinbar 132 W. 58th St., (212) 957-5550 Sugar and spice fuel the flavor of the Vienna Morning Cocktail ($14) at Seasonal Restaurant & Weinbar, an Austrian eatery in midtown. The Vienna Morning is made with Zubrowka Bison Grass Vodka — a dry herb-flavored vodka distilled from rye — spiced apple cider and St. Germain sweet elderflower liqueur, topped with Prosecco and garnished with a caramelized apple Continue Reading

Where to buy Thanksgiving pies

Give thanks that pumpkin's not the only pie on the plate - and for the abundance of places around town where you can order magnificent Thanksgiving desserts like banana cream with macadamia nut crust, bourbon-pecan, organic apple crumb and chocolate cream. One caveat: Order early. And here's a little secret: many bakeries still have a great selection on hand at the last minute, so not to worry if you totally spaced and forgot to place an order. Here's where to shop: At Belli, a Brooklyn-based dining and events company, 10-inch organic pies come in flavors like maple pumpkin, honey ginger pear crumble, Williamsburg pecan pie with Knob Hill bourbon, and lemon meringue. All double-crusted pies are baked with a pie bird. Prices range from $20 to $25, and Belli will deliver anywhere in Manhattan for a $5 charge. With orders of $50 or more, there's free delivery. To phone in an order, call 1-646-701-7047. You may also order on line by emailing [email protected] The website is www.bellinyc.com. 543 Clinton St. on the corner of Nelson St., Brooklyn. Baked, a bakery in Red Hook, is offering three fall pies for the holiday: autumn apple with plenty of warm spices, pumpkin spice in an oat crust, and chocolate bourbon pecan. Orders must be placed by Tuesday, Nov. 20. Call 1-718-222-0345. The website is www.bakednyc.com. 359 Van Brunt St., Brooklyn. Blue Smoke's holiday dessert selection features a couple of pies that are a cut above the rest: a banana cream pie in a walnut vanilla wafer crust and a key lime in a honey graham crust. More traditional pies such as bourbon pecan, pumpkin, apple crumb and cranberry walnut round out the selection and cost $27 for a nine-inch pie. Order deadline is Tuesday, Nov. 20 by 6pm. Pick them up anytime on Wednesday before 11 pm. Closed on Thanksgiving. 116 E. 27th St. bet. Park and Lexington Aves., (212) 447-7733. Clinton St. Baking Co. & Restaurant is taking orders now right up until the Monday before Thanksgiving. Pick up Continue Reading

Celebrate fall at these 11 festivals

School is back in session and evenings have taken on a slight chill. Sumac is already blushing, and area apple orchards are about ready for harvesting. Ready or not, here comes fall.And with that comes festivals celebrating all-things-autumn. Here are some worth checking out this season. Wine & Harvest Festival Sept. 17-18, Cedarburg Cedarburg's historic downtown was seemingly built for a fall festival and all of its quaint trappings. This festival includes the usual suspects: local produce at a farmers market on Columbia Ave., tractor-drawn hay rides, an arts and crafts show, live music. Then there's the wacky stuff: the Giant Pumpkin Charity Regatta, where paddlers race across Cedar Creek in hollowed-out pumpkins; the Giant Pumpkin Weigh-In, featuring all manner of giant produce; and the Grape Stomp, with visitors using their feet to crush grapes at Cedar Creek Winery.Maple Fall Fest  Sept. 17-18, Marshfield Maple festivals typically fall in March and April, when the sap is harvested from its wooden cocoon. But the sweet pancake topper is great any time of year, and it's fitting to salute the tree that produces it as maples put on a fiery fall color show. This festival features pancake breakfasts, maple syrup and dessert contests, an arts and crafts show and, new this year, a close look at the historic Soo Line Steam Locomotive 2442 that is permanently stationed at Wildwood Park.Beef-a-Rama  Sept. 24-25, Minocqua Nothing says fall like … giant beef roasts being paraded down the street? So it goes in Minocqua, where this annual celebration of beef has been a fall tradition for more than 50 years. The smell of roasting beef fills downtown on Sept. 25, when local businesses will also march their creations down the city's main drag. Visitors get to enjoy the spoils at Torpy Park, as Continue Reading

Who says pumpkin is just for lattes and pie? 10 spots to enjoy the sweet, savory squash

Not only is it front and center in October, the season’s signature squash gets its own holiday month too. Raise a fork — or spoon — and indulge with these seasonal treats from 10 Valley bakeries, restaurants and ice cream shops.A secret recipe handed down from his mother is the key to Aaron Pool’s brown sugar-glazed pumpkin cookies ($1.90). Thick, soft and slathered with icing — good luck eating just one.Details: 3313 N. Seventh St. 602-279-5080, gadzooksaz.com.RELATED: 10 spots to drink your pumpkin | 3 spooky cocktails for your Halloween party | Best fall beers to try at breweries around Phoenix​ | 5 recipes to make leftover Halloween candy disappear | Best and worst Halloween candy | Arizona has been been Tobler-ownedA light pumpkin puree is incorporated in the batter of the pumpkin crepes, topped with whipped cream and a powdered sugar sprinkle ($9.99).Details: 7100 N. 12th St., Phoenix. 602-633-2442, lucisorchard.com.The vegan and gluten-free pumpkin spice chili is made with chunks of pumpkin and beans in a tomato-based sauce, with a touch of cinnamon and clove ($4 cup, $7 bowl).Details: 4041 E. Thomas Road, Phoenix. 602-714-5243, jewelsbakeryandcafe.com.The pumpkin pancake breakfast features a signature spiced pumpkin pancake with cinnamon and nutmeg accents, two eggs your way and Aidells all-natural grilled chicken and apple sausage ($9.79).Details: 6149 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale. 480-991-5416. Other locations at firstwatch.com.Kick off dinner with roasted pumpkin maple soup with fried sage, pumpkin seeds and crispy housemade bacon ($11). Wind down over a pumpkin pie sundae with house-made pumpkin ice cream, caramel sauce and cinnamon whipped cream ($10).Details: Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North, 10600 E. Crescent Moon Drive. 480-513-5085, proofcanteen.com.Craft an ice cream Continue Reading


If you're still planning tomorrow's menu, you might as well bail on making a homemade pie. The good news is that New York City's bakeries sell desserts that are so delicious, no one will care! Here's our guide to picking up the perfect pie. - Clinton St. Baking Co. & Restaurant, 4 Clinton St., (646) 602-6263. Besides a delicious organic apple crumb, there's maple-bourbon-pecan and a creamy pumpkin cheesecake. Pick them up by 10 tonight. - Sweet Melissa Patisserie, 276 Court St., Brooklyn. (718) 855-3410. (Also at 175 Seventh Ave. in Park Slope; 718-502-9153.) The pear-cranberry pie here screams autumn, but don't miss the chocolate-bourbon-pecan and classic pumpkin. A 9-inch pie is $24. Open until noon on Thanksgiving Day. - William Greenberg Jr., 1100 Madison Ave., at 82nd St., (212) 744-0304. These top-rated pies come in fab flavors like creamy pumpkin, traditional apple, cherry, blueberry and a pecan that's made with Georgia pecans. An 8-inch pie is $25. Pick up today by 5 p. m. - Little Pie Company, 407 W. 14th St., (212) 414-2324. The sour-cream apple-walnut pie ($26) is a standout, but you can't go wrong with old-fashioned apple pie ($22. 50), ­sugar-free apple pie ($23), Southern pecan pie ($21. 50), Mississippi mud pie ($21) or cranberry-apple crumb pie ($23). Pick up by noon on Thanksgiving. - Almondine Bakery, 85 Water St., Brooklyn. (718) 797-5026. This DUMBO bakery features a wonderful apple tarte tatin (puff pastry with ­caramelized apples, $18). Pick up tonight by 7. - Artuso's Pastry Shop, 670 E. 187th St., the Bronx. (718) 367-2515. Buy a trio of pies - apple, coconut custard, pumpkin or sweet potato - and you'll still come in under budget. The 10-inch pies are $9. 50 apiece. Italian-style ricotta pie and a sweet grain pie are $5. 50 per pound. Pick up tonight by 9 or Thanksgiving from 7 a. m.-3 p. m. - Royal Crown Bakery, 1350 Hylan Blvd., Staten Island. (718) 668-0284. This classic Italian pastry shop Continue Reading