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Holiday Pie roundup ?

Might be helpful to share our experiences all in one spot.
I think there's been a few sporadic posts on this but nothing comprehensive....

The Gaurdian did a roundup listing Mission Pie, Miette, Crave Bakery, Zanze's Cheesecake, Peasant Pies, Fat Apples, and Beard Papa for uh, pumpkin cream puffs. None of those really sound great.

Some thoughts:

Andronicos: Buying from a supermarket never feels special enough to me, but the "prize winning" Pecan is the best I've had. Since they redesigned their Irving St. location, the store, and the pies look entirely different now. Hmm.

Mission Pies/Destination Pies: Maybe they farm out their bulk pie making during the holidays or something? I've liked their pies the rest of the year, but the crust was flavorless, and lacked butter or something on the samplings I had last Thanksgiving.

Bi-Rite: Really disappointing. We couldn't even eat their house branded pecan pie.

Plutos: Not that anyone would go here for a pie, but just in case, I can report it depends on the year, and where they're ordering them from. They're usually huge 18" pies. Last years was really generic. A couple years back amazing. Who knows for this year.

Anyone have any experience with holiday pies at Arizmendi or Bay Bread?

Is Tartine doing specials? What about Mission Beach Cafe, or maybe Memphis Minnie's?

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  1. Here's my list of pumpkin and sweet potato pies in the Bay Area.

    Don't know why FatApple's didn't sound good to you as she really didn't say much about it. They actually make one of the better pumpkin pies in the Bay Area. I'm not a fan of Peasant Pies as it is because I don't like the crust, but putting apricot pumpkin and pecans in a pie is just wrong. Here's the article

    3 Replies
    1. re: rworange

      I think the print version of the Fat Apples entry is a little more extensive, but in my case, the Berkeley location is the dealbreaker.

      1. re: sugartoof

        Ah ... well, Saturday at Ferry Plaza they are having a holiday pie party

        "CUESA will be hosting a pie extravaganza tomorrow with pie-making demos, mini pies for sale"

        1. re: rworange

          I just posted about Swanton's pumpkin pie at the farmstand, maybe they'll be at Ferry Plaza?

    2. I got a fabulous classic sierra beauty apple pie from Sweet Adeline two Thanksgivings ago.

      1. In the East Bay, I'm a big fan of the pumpkin pie at Bakesale Betty's--i prefer it slightly to the one at Crixa, and it's also a bit less expensive. The Bakesale Betty pie has a good balance of spice--not too sweet--and it holds up well in the fridge, at least overnight. Pretty good deal at $20 (and only $3 by the slice).

        I haven't tried the Arizmendi pumpkin pie and would be curious as to what people think of it...

        1. Any favorites in the NorthBay?

          3 Replies
          1. re: Sarah

            I had a good cabernet grape pie in October at Sweetie Pies in Napa. I am hoping to be able to try the pumpkin.

            1. re: rworange

              I'm going to call Water St Bistro in Petaluma (from your List) to see if they're going to have the pumpkin pie this year -- sounded so good!

              1. re: Sarah

                Talked to Stephanie at WSB who told me she is making pies but has too many orders but took mine. After thinking realistically, I had to call back and cancel my order because there really is no way for me to drive up to Pet on Wed... sad. They were so nice about it all.

          2. Tartine is doing a pecan pie. Is that a special? I don't recall seeing pecan pie there on a regular basis in the past.

            I don't know if Mission Beach Cafe is doing anything. The pastry chef (Alan) is easy to get in touch with, though, and exceedingly nice. I think he's very talented.

            Once again I have to mention Thorough Bread. Some of the holiday offerings:
            --Apple pie, pecan pie, pumpkin pie (all $18, same price as Mission Pie)
            --Pumpkin pave (which is like cheesecake with a hazelnut streusel and is YUM, $1.50/piece)

            They have a long list of things that can be ordered, but those are the pies.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Atomica

              Thanks! I've never seen a Tartine pie before, so that sounds special enough to me. Anyone have one of their pies? No specials listed, but Mission Beach Cafe has a really extensive pie menu on their site.

              Have you tried the pie itself at Thorough or are you figuring it's a can't miss?

              1. re: sugartoof

                The pecan pie at Tartine looks *very* substantial. I'm sure the price is as well. I regret not taking note of the price when I was there (Wed or Thurs).

                I have not had a pie at Thorough because I actually haven't noticed pie on offer there, but I have had their galette, which I think of as similar, and the pastry was TO DIE FOR. Just buttery and perfect and almost brought tears to my eyes. I know that's melodramatic, but it really was that revelatory. The filling (I had the apple) was damn good too.

                I don't think you'd go wrong with either Mission Beach Cafe or Thorough.

                1. re: Atomica

                  I just checked it out today. All orders must be placed by tomorrow (Sunday), as is the case as MIssion Pie too. Tartine has a pumpkin, a pecan, and a nougatine apple in tart form, and a pie for the pumpkin on their special menu. Prices were $31 for the pie and $35 for tarts. Looked amazing.

            2. I know I posted this elsewhere on this site, but since you're doing a round-up, I'll put my vote in for pumpkin pie from La Farine in Berkeley. I got one last year from the College Ave. location and my whole family loved it. Good crust, nice fresh nutmeg flavor, not too sweet. If I remember correctly, it was around $15, which I thought was a great price considering all the other places I looked and the quality of the pie.

              5 Replies
              1. re: chemchef

                What is optimal time/day of serving should you buy a pumpkin pie?

                1. re: Sarah

                  I'm not sure I understand your question... I'm assuming this thread is about buying pies to serve on Thanksgiving. I don't know that it matters what time you serve the pie on Thanksgiving; sometime after the main meal I assume, unless you're like my grandfather and prefer to eat the best part of the meal (dessert) first.

                  Not trying to be sarcastic, I really just don't get the question.

                  1. re: chemchef

                    I think she might mean how far ahead can you buy a pie and have it still be really good on Thanksgiving day.

                    1. re: chemchef

                      The wording was terrible -- and I edited to the point of no return! I'm asking how many days prior to T-giving can one buy the pie? But as Thursday is almost upon us, the question is moot.

                      1. re: Sarah

                        You can reserve them now, but they will not be selling the pies until Wednesday (I reserved mine today... still $14).

                        Sorry if this information is too late for you, but I hope its useful to someone out there.

                2. We tried the pumpkin pie at Mission Pie today and it was just delicious--a little skimpy on the filling, perhaps, but the crust was lovely all by itself. Their pear and cranberry pie is really good, too.

                  Today was the last day to order one for Thanksgiving, but you might be able to just go in and buy one if you're lucky.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Euonymous

                    I can also report that their Walnut was also really good this week. The filling could have used a few more walnuts instead of just a top layer, but nuts are pricey lately so I suspect that's going to be the case anywhere. I still prefer pecan but this is a lighter option.

                    The pumpkin did look a little thin on the pie they were serving.

                    It's promising they have started baking on premise as of mid-November (that doesn't meant they're not farming some of the holiday baking to pie ranch, and some community baking projects again) but unfortunately despite being a pie specialist they still have a Sunday (today) deadline for orders.

                    Arizmendi's deadline is Tuesday in case that helps anyone.

                  2. FYI Grand Bakery has pumpkin pies this year for the low price of $9. They're pareve (no dairy) which is great if you have someone who can't eat dairy at your table or you're kosher. The flavor is fine, nothing to write home about, but meets the standard of kosher pumpkin pie...

                    1. I just had a slice of the heralded pumpkin pie from Palo Alto Creamery, picked up today and warmed at home. Not impressed. Yes, the pie looks fantastic in the pyrex baking dish ($7 deposit) with the thick, hand-crimped edges of golden brown crust. Dense and very smooth pumpkin custard that's barely sweet and a little heavy on the nutmeg. The downfall is the crust --- the bottom center crust is raw and pasty.

                      More about Palo Alto Creamery pumpkin pie

                      For the same price, the Swanton pie at $18 (and no pan deposit) beats this by a mile.

                      Palo Alto Creamery
                      180 Stanford Shopping Ctr, Palo Alto, CA

                      Palo Alto Creamery Downtown
                      566 Emerson St, Palo Alto, CA

                      1. Has anyone tried Trader Joe's pumpkin pie? It was $4.99

                        They were sold out by time I went tonight but they were giving out samples of Marion berry (I think or mixed berry) and pecan.

                        I was actually quite impressed with the berry pie. The crust was tasty, though probably not butter-based. The berries bright, maybe just on the edge of a little gluey like some fillings can be. I can see buying a fruit pie from TJ's.

                        i liked the pecan quite alot. The filling was not overly sweet. Not too thick or thin. The whole pecan was good. Hard to really judge on a small sample, but I might buy one in the future. I think it was either $6.99 or $7.99. Definately worth it given quality ingredients.

                        And ... anyone who might be following the cranberry sauce topic on the general board. TJ's cranberry butter is NOTHING like Ocean Spray ... sigh .. another TJ product to try to figure out how to use up ... yeah, yeah ... yogurt, oatmeal, meat glaze.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: rworange

                          We had a pecan pie from TJ's the day after Thanksgiving, and unanimously thought it was horrible. The taste was ok, but the inside was way, way too gelatinous. Even after microwaving for a few seconds, the inside was still solid. I'm not known for leaving food on my plate, but it grossed me out so much that I left half of my slice of pie.

                          Also, re: cranberry butter.... it shouldn't be anything like Ocean Spray, if you're referring to Ocean Spray cranberry sauce. Butter and sauce are two different things entirely. Think apple butter vs. apple sauce. Anyways, did you like it or not like it... I couldn't tell from your remarks. If not, I suggest you return it for a refund. TJ's is really good about that. Hope that helps.

                          1. re: chemchef

                            Didn't particularily like it, but found ways to use it up. To me it had this medicinal taste to it. I'll take stuff back if it has gone bad, and though I could do it, if I just don't like it I figure I'll live with it.

                        2. Yesterday we had Andronico's pecan pie. It's a good one with nice halves and a pastry star on top. The filling isn't as sickly sweet as most but a little too loose for my taste. Andronico's pecan looks better than Duarte's, but we agreed that Duarte's still wins the pecan contest. We did enjoy Andronico's.

                          1. so I know this is late, but we ate at Butler and the Chef the day after thanksgiving and had a slice of their pumpkin galette for dessert. It was one of the best desserts I've had in a long time and without a doubt the best version of pumpkin anything.
                            You can reserve whole galettes for the holidays.

                            Butler & the Chef Bistro
                            155 S Park St, San Francisco, CA 94107

                            1. I tasted the Tartine pumpkin pie. It had a pastry crust rather then a pie crust and we all agreed it was a real letdown with a really heavy filling that bordered more on a savory item then a dessert.

                              1. Just yesterday, I had a piece of leftover Frog Hollow pumpkin pie. The crust was pastry/flaky too. The filling was very nice. Creamy but not too rich, and definitely spicy. It struck me as a decadent pumpkin pie.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: rln

                                  Better late than never. I've been making my way through the sweet potato pie we got from Arizmendi, instead of the pumpkin cheesecake. Very decadent but not OTT. We pre-ordered a whole bunch of other stuff along with it, but IIRC the pie was $20.


                                  Arizmendi Bakery
                                  1331 9th Avenue, San Francisco, CA

                                2. I thought the pies I tried last year when visiting the Whole Foods in Los Altos were delish:

                                  Did you know there's a FREE PIE AISLE at Whole Foods? Yeah, me neither. I was there last night and there were really generous samples of sweet potato and berry pie. It was hard to say what was better. The sweet potato tasted just like pumpkin pie (I even took two samples because I've been craving pumpkin). The berry pie was the best berry pie I've ever had (I think this pie was "mixed berry," and there was no sugar added.