Mermaids Bakery and Pie House

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Maybe it's because I'm landlocked that I wonder about the magic of the sea, the rush of the waves and soft sand between my toes. Now, don't go trying to take away my Colorado native pass, because I love my mountains! But when I drift away, I usually end up on an island, and I don't think my daydream is unique.


"I always, always, always wanted to be a mermaid. And as a kid I just knew I'd grow up to be one," says Diana Ayala, who is also a Denver native. Thanks to the combination of her delightful imagination and her recipes for delicious baked sweets, Ayala and her cousin, Lisa Mavroudis, are capturing a bit of that feeling at Mermaids Bakery and Pie House (1543 Champa Street, 303-5340956, www.74media.net/mermaids/index.html).


The cousins' career change - Mavroudis is a former elementary school teacher, while Ayala was a fashion designer -- came about eight months ago. "We want to hold on to old recipes," says Mavroudis, who uses her great-grandmothers' recipes, including one for a highly regarded Cherry Couga, made with sweet bread dough, tart Wisconsin cherries and a topped with her secret crumble.

But the pies are the stars here, and flavors include sweet tart cherry, apple gone good, coconut cream dream, chocolate cloud, strawberry meet rhubarb, cream brulee, great pumpkin, pecanator, Colorado peach and bananarama.


"That cherry pie is like eating magic," says Ayala. "It's hard to keep on the shelves."


If pies aren't your thing, try the Heaven Cake, a zucchini pineapple concoction covered with cream cheese frosting and topped with mounds of fresh fruit, like mangos, strawberries, grapes and kiwis.


They also offer more than twenty cupcakes, like the Black & Tan, a chocolate cake with light peanut butter frosting sprinkled with peanuts, and the Cabernet Chocolate.


The sweet smells of cakes and pies are aromatherapy at its best, so the next time you need an escape, just follow a mermaid. -- Elena Brown


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Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


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