Bakery, Pie, Sandwiches

Ever find yourself tasked with a project so confounding that your best option moving forward seems to be procastination? No? Well, why don’t you take a pause for the cause to think about what I just said and get back to me later.

Last spring, my family’s business was exploring the idea of creating a more legitimate and substantial web presence. Good idea, right? Sure, great idea, only we were trying to imagine something more impactful in scope and content than your typical Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare. We wanted to simultaneously attract and engage our customer base, a group whose cyber skills ranged from “up to the minute tech and social media savvy” to “challenged by the prospect of accessing e-mail”.

Our business has distributed floor covering to retail stores and other members of the flooring trade all over New England (L. Bornstein & Company in Somerville, MA) for over 50 years,

and after much discussion and contemplation, I settled on the idea of writing an informal column as a promising means of dipping our proverbial toe in the water. This particular format was already established and well received in our industry’s trade publications, and the idea of taking that online via blogging was an intriguing challenge. Still, writing on a regular basis about the state of affairs in the flooring industry on behalf of our customer base was a daunting task.  How could I do that in a fresh and familiar way that would appeal to our varied audience? The answer to that question at that time as far as I was concerned was that I couldn’t, so I approached the problem from a different angle – I put it off.

Wondering where the food is yet? Hang in there – I’m almost done with the whole procastination by pontification thing.

Back in college, when faced with the rapidly approaching end of the semester and the finals, papers, and copious amounts of catch up reading that came with it, I would ease into study mode by reading something completely enjoyable and unrelated to my course work. Once I had devoured this decidedly non-academic appetizer, I felt relaxed and focused enough to take on the Everest of course work that lay before me.

Now frozen by the formidable task of writing something about the floor covering biz, I slipped into old and comfortably familiar shoes, opting for a path less traveled by creating a blog on a topic entirely unrelated to the task at hand – food, or more specifically, sandwiches.  I approached it this way because I needed to know if I could create readable content on a regular basis and I figured my best shot was through the stomach, discussing and dissecting a topic near and dear to my heart.

And guess what? It worked. Post by post, “Enjoy Every Sandwich” found its voice and form, eliciting a greater response with each passing week from a growing circle of family and friends and even people I didn’t know. Ultimately it led to a conversation with an old customer/friend and some of her colleagues (thank you, Paige Pieroni and fellow colleagues from Colony Rug in Hanover, MA!) that helped bring my ideas for the floor covering blog into focus.

No sooner had my practiced procrastination begun to yield fruit for my work blog (check out  “Floor Your Consideration”, coming soon to an internet near you) when I was contacted through the Twitterverse by jewishboston.com writer and food blogger par excellence Molly Parr (I probably should have said food blogger “Parr” excellence, huh?). Molly writes a great blog called “Cheap Beets” that explores inexpensive and easy to prepare dishes of a mostly vegetarian bent, as well as other interesting food news. She also writes for the aforementioned jewishboston.com, an online site filled with great stuff for the hebraic 20- to 30-something crowd in the Boston area.

Molly reached out to me because she had recently launched a feature for jewishboston.com called Four Questions, where she asked young, locally accomplished MOT’s four questions about themselves and their passions. For those of you not in the know, the four questions is a passover reference to a beloved segment of the holiday’s seder, or ritual dinner, traditionally performed by the  youngest member in attendance who is capable. Right about now you’re probably humming the tune to Sesame Street’s “one of these things is not like the others” as you puzzle over my inclusion in this exercise, and I have to agree with you, but it wasn’t my call, and I never turn down the opportunity to chew the fat with anyone about my favorite subject (and by subject I mean food, not me).

Molly and I talked for over an hour at Panera Bread on Harvard Street in Brookline (just a stone’s throw from EES fave Rami’s),

and when we finished, I thought a nice tie in to the experience would be a discussion of a sandwich from Panera.

I try to stick to the independent operators as far as the food goes, but my mention to Molly about my intentions elicited a response that as corporate food chains go, Panera’s ethical and philanthropic choices are commendable, so I gamely stepped up to the counter

and ordered my favorite iced green tea

and a Mediterranean sandwich (peppers, feta cheese, cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, onions and cilantro with jalapeno hummus on tomato basil bread).

I enjoyed the friendly service, but…was disappointed with the results. I’m no stranger to the Panera experience. I’ve had a number of good eats there for breakfast and lunch in the past. But I wasn’t enthralled with the flavor of this particular choice (the jalapeno/feta blend was simply too bitter), so, just like I used to do back in college, I opted to go off in an unexpected direction in the hope of finding my way back, and the result was pie. No, it was not “pie” as in the result was as easy to find as pie, it was actually pie.

I am a huge pie lover, both figuratively and literally for those of you familiar with my considerable 6’7” frame. I mean, it’s kind of like a dessert sandwich, isn’t it? Starchy carbs on the bottom (and sometimes the top) and a tasty filling in between. Molly mentioned during our chat that pie was starting to trend like cupcakes did 8-10 years ago, and I began to think about one of my favorite spots for satisfying my jones for one of my favorite baked treats – Petsi’s Pies.

Petsi’s in it’s own words is:

“an indie bakery and coffee bar serving up handmade pies and pastries in Somerville, Massachusetts since 2003.  Founder Renee “Petsi” McLeod grew up baking pies in her grandmother’s kitchen and hasn’t stopped since. We bake everything fresh daily using only all natural ingredients and no fillers or mixes of any kind.  Our second location in Cambridge specializes in soups, sandwiches and espresso drinks in addition to offering our sweet treats.  Please stop by either shop and enjoy some of our creations, there’s always something new coming out of the oven and we can’t wait to share it with you.”

I can only speak to the magic of the Somerville spot as I have darkened its door many times (it’s just around the corner from my office). They make pies of all sizes, and they are fresh baked and full of home made ingredients. Sweet potato, pumpkin, Bing cherry, key lime, mixed berry and apple crumble, I’ve experienced so many, and always been pleased.

They even have a wonderful selection of savory pies (quiche/tart territory) and cupcakes,

but I’m here to talk specifically about the sweet and crusty stuff, so here are three for you to contemplate.

Petsi’s makes their pies in three sizes (small, medium, and large), so you can throw all your pie-eating intentions into one basket, or split it up depending on your mood. Let’s begin with a large traditional apple pie, one of my favorites.

The apples are sliced thin, kind of like scalloped potatoes/potatoes au gratin style, and then dosed with brown sugar/cinnamon(?) to enhance but not overwhelm the flavor. The crust is moist and melt in your mouth on the inside of the pie and kissed with a sprinkle of sugar on the exterior prior to baking to lend a dose of sweetness to every bite. The pie is then baked to perfection, filled with dense apple-y goodness without too much juice, and the crust is so perfectly done it could almost be eaten by itself (I said almost).

 

Next is a medium-size blueberry, topped with hearts made from crust on the criss-cross crust, signifying the love you will experience with every bite.

The plump, dense filling is loaded with blueberries and the perfectly sugared baked crust made for a wonderful pie-lovers treat, both tart and sweet at the same time.

Last is a small Salted Caramel Apple pie, with caramel lining the latticed crust on the top of the pie, and infusing the thin-sliced apples with a salty/sweet tang inside the creation.

Wow. Salting caramel and chocolate is a culinary trend of the moment so popular that even the President is enjoying it, but while this practice wherein salt enhances the taste of sweet can now be scientifically explained (something to do with how taste receptors function), the actual implementation of it was discovered and put into practice years ago in France.

 

If all this salty/sweet talk has aroused your sweet tooth, why not treat yourself to some home-baked love from Petsi’s? You’ll be glad you did!

Oh, and I would be remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity to thank Molly Parr and her editor David Levy for sharing their resources and efforts on my behalf. Check out jewishboston.com and Cheap Beets, folks. Uh, anybody still reading?

Posted in Bakery, Pie, Sandwiches

2 comments on “Petsi’s Pies, Somerville, MA – Musings about professional procastination, Petsi’s Pies, and Molly Parr’s “Cheap Beets”

  1. I’m still reading! And I’m so unbelievably flattered to have been mentioned in your blog. Thank you so much for the unnecessary shout-outs. You’re too kind!

    Petsi’s is great, no? Someone brought us a savory pie for my birthday, full of mushrooms and gruyere. I’ll see if I can track down where it’s from and report back.

    • I know it’s long! It just kinda turned out that way. Anyway, I really appreciated the benefit of your time, advice, and insight, and I felt compelled to return the favor in some way.

      Petsi’s is great, and the savory pie could very easily have come from the Somerville location, where they are available pretty much daily. The mushroom and gruyere sounds like something I’ll need to track down (hmmmmm.) Keep writing and I’ll keep reading!

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