Matte’s Blog

Pecan Pie

About thirty years ago there appeared on 24th Street a few doors east of Castro an enterprise known as Noe Valley Bakery. It flourished owing to the high quality of its baked goods; and I routinely bought the sublime asiago cheese bread, a delicious loaf with rich veins of cheese.

And since I was in there, I’d often pick up something small and sweet from the wide variety of choices. But then, when I started having to slash my carbohydrate intake, my visits became less and less frequent.

Ten years ago, they put out a tee-shirt emblazoned “Born and Raised in Noe Valley”, so witty that it was snapped up almost as rapidly as their pastries. Shortly after it appeared, I mentioned to the countergirls that it really ought to be “Born and Risen” owing to the difference in meaning, transitivity, and conjugation of the verbs “rise” and “raise”. This suggestion met with, at best, indifference.

Not that I stopped going in. By this time I’d discovered their pecan pie, offered seasonally from just before Thanksgiving until just after the New Year. As a southern boy, I loved my mother’s pecan pie and even made it for myself a few times, but this bakery’s pie was undeniably superior to my mother’s. Her crust was as good, her pecans were as good, but their filling was much better. It had by no means turned into health food, but it was somehow lighter and not as cloyingly sweet. Forgive me, mother.

Over the years I’ve bought that pie to take to others, and the response has been invariable. In every case it was declared to be “better than mother’s”.

Last Tuesday it struck me that the season was probably about to begin, so I called ’em up and discovered that this year’s premiere would be in two days. Gotta have one.

I figured they’d probably sell out before the day was over and that I’d better get there early. So I did. I hit ’em at 8:30 this morning, asked for a pie, and learned that I’d cut it rather close since the one on display was the only one left.

I snatched it home, thinking about how I might carve it up and pass around slices. But when I took it out of the box I realized that I needed to sample it to make sure the quality remained up to standard.

Oh hell, might as well go ahead and have lunch.

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  1. ckm3
    Posted 7 December 2013 at 09:18 | Permalink

    For most people, what stays in Las Vegas is the money.

    Most excellent turning of the phrase

    • Matte Gray
      Posted 7 December 2013 at 14:26 | Permalink

      Many thanks.

  2. Chimpus_Dorkus
    Posted 21 December 2013 at 19:59 | Permalink

    Ouch. Poor bb, here’s hoping you have some good holidays etc to cheer you up and a speedy recovery.
    Be careful, will ya?!?

    • Matte Gray
      Posted 21 December 2013 at 20:50 | Permalink

      The holidays are most definitely cheerful, the recovery is progressing apace, and the caution level has been dramatically increased.

  3. Posted 24 January 2014 at 12:08 | Permalink

    Thank you for remembering Barry. And for loving him, as I did. I am glad he got to see a loving face before he died. You are right, he wanted to go out on his terms and it was never going to be pretty. Barry, even though he’d be cleaned up, was always disappointed after falling or having a heart attack, being picked up by ambulance, treated and then dumped right back onto the streets… He gave up hope for a place indoors after realizing that even that level of frailty was not enough to deserve housing in this city. he did admit to me he would have preferred to live inside. As you said, he was not crazy. 🙂 Again, thanks for the love and kindness you and others showed him. I know he appreciated it.

    • Matte Gray
      Posted 24 January 2014 at 12:26 | Permalink

      Since i wrote that account i’ve been back to the makeshift shrine several times and have talked with folks who knew him longer than i, people who were also there the afternoon before he died and to whom he also expressed very clearly that he did not want to go to the hospital. Some of the people who knew him better are organizing a little wake for him on the 1st of February, and i’ll post more details here as i learn them. Meanwhile, a useful resource is, with an article on 22 Jan that has extensive comments.

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