Cafe Society

First look: Humble Pie opens today in Baker

Few people can resist the scent of a fresh-baked pie emerging from the oven, and fewer still have the willpower to snub a slice of fresh pie when it's shoved under their nose. And if you live in the Baker neighborhood, you're really screwed, because as of 6 a.m. this morning, you've got a pie shop...that takes the cake.

See also: - The Humble Pie Store will open in August in Baker

For the past several months, Tamara Brink and her two partners in pie crime have been testing recipes and baking pies, quiches, croissants and muffins in anticipation of today's opening of Humble Pie, a corner store that's steeped in nostalgia. The mass appeal of pie is hard to describe, but suffice it to say that it's far more than simply a dessert: It's about tradition and comfort, and for whatever reason, most people can remember the first time they had their first piece of pie (bet you can't say that about the cupcake).

Pies make memories, and as a new generation of pie lovers emerge, so, too, do the varieties, which are no longer limited to pumpkin, apple and blueberry, though you'll certainly find those traditional flavors in the glass cases of Humble Pie, which carries both sweet and savory pies made with organic, local ingredients that celebrate the season's bounty.

"Pies are definitely classic and nostalgic, but we also wanted to do some modern pies," says Brink, whose pie selection touts a luscious banana cream pie that's bottom-crusted with housemade graham crackers. She'll rotate the pies every few weeks, but her chicken pot pie, she insists, will be a mainstay. "It's too popular to not have it every day," admits Brink, who quit her job as an elementary school teacher six years ago to become a full-time pie pusher.

The neighborhood shop, with its rustic brick walls, recycled barn wood compositions and hand-crafted walnut tables, is kissed by natural sunlight, and the high-ceilinged space feels homey and artsy; a long scroll of brown butcher paper inked with the pies of the day hangs from the wall in the partially open kitchen, where java drinks and ice cream, the flavors of which are from Sweet Action, are also sold. "We have amazing pies, but we also wanted to make sure that we had great coffee products and baristas who can make a proper latte and French press coffee the right way," says Brink, who's using beans from Huckleberry Roasters.

And the ice cream, she notes, is integral to her pie shakes. "We'll take a slice of pie and a scoop of ice cream, toss them in the blender and you end up with a really incredible pie shake," she says.

Within the next few weeks, Brink will also add salads and housemade soups to the lineup of pies and quiches (the "breakfast burrito" quiche is terrific), and she's currently taking orders for Thanksgiving pies, including, of course, pumpkin. "You can call the shop, order online, or just come in, and we'll give you a pick-up date and time," she says, noting, however, that orders must be placed by November 19. "If the interest from the neighborhood is any indication, we should be really busy for the holidays," says Brink, adding that curiosity-seekers have been popping in on a daily basis. "It's really exciting for me. This has been something I've wanted to do for a long time, and it's been great meeting all the neighbors who have wandered in to ask us what we're doing," she adds. "Pie brings people together, and that makes me happy."

I stopped in over the weekend to snap some photos of the space and the pies, and I can't wait to go back for more.

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Lori Midson
Contact: Lori Midson

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