Fruit? What Fruit?

Fruit? What Fruit?

Pie A La Road Day 3: I had a few stocks of rhubarb left from what I had purchased the day before but, with a class just hours away in a new town, “Fruit? What fruit?” are not the words that a pie teacher wants to hear…ever. I was assured by the produce guy the day before, when we paid a visit to the market, that my fruit order would be in by 9AM and that I would be getting the pick up call from them by 10AM at the latest.

After a good night’s sleep at Debi’s, we gathered in her charming kitchen for oatmeal and eggs. In the daylight her kitchen is even more beautiful. It is easy to see why it has been featured in Taste of Home. Relaxed and happy, we all were looking forward to our first workshop of the trip. Ten o’clock rolled around and no phone call had come from the store. Hmmm…give them a few more minutes…maybe even a half an hour. I was sure every thing would be fine but just to be sure, I called the produce department to check on the status of my case of rhubarb.


Precious First of the Season Rhubarb!

“The fruit order doesn’t get until noon ma’am.” Oh dear! Class would start at noon!


Debi’s scrumptious Danville kitchen!

Ever to the ready, Debi got right on her phone and called a local fruit stand.

“Do you have rhubarb? About 24 stalks?”

“Sure we do.”

“OK, we’ll be right over.”

I climbed into the passenger seat of her car and off we went. I had tunnel vision when I got there and made a beeline for the rhubarb. Yes, they had rhubarb…well, sort of. The stalks were skinny, dried up on the ends, and floppy. Definitely not pie-worthy.  We both looked at each other knowing that these stalks would just not do. With the clock ticking closer to the noon start time for the workshop, we left the farm stand. Next? Where to?

“Is there a Costco nearby, Debi?”


Art of the Pie Workshop in Process

She deftly turned the wheel of the car and off we went in the other direction.

“Go straight to the back, Kate. You’ll find the fruit there. I’ll park the car and meet you inside the store.”

With my membership card in hand, I picked up a basket and passing through the door with great determination, I went directly to the cold storage. I was definitely a pie maker on a mission.

I swung around the cold storage. What? No fruit? No berries?

Uh oh! Now I was close to having a serious moment of panic. Trying not to have sinking heart, I wheeled the cart out and spied Debi rounding a corner near me.

“Debi, there’s no fruit.”

“What do you mean, Kate, it’s right…”

There it was. Right in front of me. In my local branch the berries are kept in the cooler section but at the Danville store they keep them just outside of it. I opened boxes of raspberries, blueberries and strawberries to taste for sweetness.


A pretty little pie to share at workshop snack time.

“Yum! These will work!”

I piled in flats of fruit and we headed quickly to the front of the store to check out.

When we got back to Debi’s home, Duncan and Robin had already set up the teaching area. It looked beautiful! I had time to roll out some leftover dough, sprinkle it with sugar and cinnamon, and bake them up for some little tasties to share at the beginning of class. I like to give everyone a sample of the dough that we will be making together right away.



With the house smelling oh so good, the doorbell rang and the first student arrived just as I finished tidying myself up. Although it was nip and tuck there for a few minutes, with Debi’s and Jane’s calm presence and help, the Power of Pie prevailed. And, I never really doubted that it wouldn’t!

Everyone’s pies turned out just perfectly and we were all very happy as you can see here.


That’s Debi, our host, third from the left.

After class we cleaned up the kitchen, packed our gear up, which Duncan again fit into the car, and with many hugs and promises to return, we headed down to road to settle in for the night at our host home in Palo Alto for the next day’s workshop.

Day 4: When our host, Carrie Oliver, learned that I would be coming to California to teach, she immediately offered her home and kitchen to be one of the stops on the pie-way. I met Carrie years ago in Seattle and was thrilled to have the opportunity to have her in a workshop. It was ironic that as the time got closer, her work schedule would not allow her to take part in the class right in her own kitchen! But, gracious as ever, she would not think of canceling the workshop.


Robin gets the table ready for workshop snack of prosecco and pie.

Before she left for work in the morning, Carrie showed us around her kitchen and then we were on our own. But first on our agenda was breakfast. We consulted Siri, who pointed us in the direction of Baji’s Cafe in Mountain View. Good choice! Over breakfast we talked about the possibility of finding rhubarb but it really was just too early for this year’s crop. Another day of berry pies was not going to be any problem though!

With our supplies all purchased, we headed back to set up in Carrie’s kitchen. A charming group of women from all over the Bay Area walked through the door and class #2 began. While our class pies baked, we enjoyed sitting around Carrie’s beautiful dining table enjoying a little bubbly and a pie that I had baked for everyone to share, and I answered many thoughtful questions about pie making. When the pies emerged from the oven, bubbling happily between golden lattice strips, we gathered outside for a graduation picture and then everyone was off to share their freshly baked pies with friends and family.


Palo Alto Art of the Pie grads and their pies.

In the morning we said our goodbyes but not without leaving Carrie a few pieces of pie to snack on. Then we headed down the road for our Los Angeles area workshop. We enjoyed a brief stop at Zest Bakery in San Carlos for some gluten free treats. Marina Del Rey, Westlake Village (Thousand Oaks), and Encino were up next on three successive days in the grand Pie A La Road Tour. But first we had to get there!


Many many thanks to Jane Bonacci (The Heritage Cook) for graciously sharing some of her photos of our time in Danville together! You can see more of her pictures and read about the workshop here.

Next Up: The new ovens don’t seem to be working.

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