Now that’s a name sure to deliver. It has alliteration and assonance. It has pie. I’m not a proud person, but when I say that I would bow down, denounce my impossible-to-pronounce surname, sacrifice my out-of-production Belle & Sebastian shirt on behalf of pie, I’d like to think it holds some weight. I’d be fine (and shortly dead) if pie crust replaced all bread products. I had a crush on someone because his name sounded like “pie”. Sweet pies are great (actually Berkeley’s pie selection is disgraceful) but I always got the impression that you couldn’t find a savory pie unless you go to the South, UK, or Marie Callender’s. Add South Hayward to the list. I dream of this place single-handedly gentrifying the neighborhood.
Let’s explore its merits-
1) circulates east bay farmer’s markets on weekends for those living far away
3) the owners are the nicest people you’ll ever meet. you get the pie and the cute grandmother who gives free agua fresca and samples
4) FIVE vegetarian options, FOUR vegan, and NINETEEN meat. Four dessert, and deli menu as well. All without preservatives or MSG
5) make. your. own. pie. tell the chef your dream filling (jam, custard, gravy and beef?) take control of your destiny.
I think they reheat pies in the microwave if you dine in and don’t catch them freshly made. Not into that. I took a frozen one back to Berkeley – just thaw and bake for 20. On this particular day they had at least 20 different savory flavors. The other people coming in seemed to be regulars who the employees knew by name. I thought I’d have a hard time choosing one, but I was pretty much sold on the Javanese Tempeh Vegan (5) with roasted tempeh, red bell pepper, eggplant, tomato, basmati rice, onion, garlic, brown
sugar, soy sauce, olive oil, ginger, hot sauce.
I gathered up all the strength of my tastebuds and tried to detect a buttery flavor in the crust but I couldn’t find any, so perhaps this pie is truly vegan-friendly! Shortening makes the most sense, so the trans fat is probably off the charts. I choose not to care. The crust is fantastic – light, flaky on the outside, doughy on the bottom and infused with the flavors of the filling. And there was a ton of filling. The level of spice was awesome, it tasted very Italian to me, with the tomatoes (I always prefer red sauces on pasta) and onions. I don’t know where they got Javanese from, but then again I had to google that. The tempeh cubes were soft and had a great soybean aroma but the texture was meaty. There was just a tiny bit of rice for even more textural variety – it was mainly stuffed full of eggplant and tempeh. Racking my brain for things to complain about, I’d say that the bottom crust is prone to getting soggy, which is inevitable for a pie that’s been made ahead of time. One day I’m going to catch this right out of the oven.
Hayward’s given me a reason to be proud. I’ll be back to try the other ones soon.