This blog is devoted to remembrances and essays on general topics, including literature and writing. It has evolved over time, and some older posts on this site might reflect a different perspective and purpose.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Cuppa Coffee and Pizza Pie

            Last week we got back from a 10-day trip to Washington and Oregon. We drove up Interstate 5 to Seattle in two days, spent a long weekend visiting my sister, who lives in the University district, then took the long way back. That involved cutting over to the ocean and taking U.S. 101 down the Oregon coastline and through California redwood country before getting home.
            The most interesting thing about the drive down 101 occurred when we left it for a bit and went inland. Isn’t that how it always happens — the detour becomes the highlight of the trip.
            And it all started with a really simple concept. We decided we didn’t want to stop at a Starbuck’s or other espresso joint for a latte and pre-fab pastry. Instead, we decided to seek out an old-school bakery or café that served fresh homemade pie and coffee — preferably the kind sitting in clear, institutional pots on warming burners.

You Could Always Ask

            Pie patrol began Tuesday afternoon, and for a while there, it didn’t look promising. We stopped at several places along the 101, but none had pie. Finally, though, a waitress at one recommended the Otis Café, at a small town just down the road and slightly off the highway.
            It was good, and we’d go back in a heartbeat, but it just whetted our appetite for more. So the next afternoon we were driving south of Coos Bay, looking for pie again. Figuring that going inland had worked once, I suggested we try the town of Coquille, 11 miles east of the main road.
            It was set in a rich and picturesque valley along the river of the same name, and I’m guessing most of its few thousand occupants earned a living related somehow to farming or logging. Just outside the town proper, we stopped at a fruit stand and bought a jar of locally made raspberry preserves and a larger jar of local blackberry honey.
            Then it was back to town in quest of pie. We drove around the streets while Linda searched to no avail on Yelp, and finally stopped in front of the Chamber of Commerce office, which was open. Linda went in and asked about a pie place, which is what we used to do all the time before the advent of smart phones.

Of Course There’s Pie

            After a bit of misunderstanding, we hit pay dirt. When Linda said she was looking for coffee and a piece of pie, the woman at the chamber heard pizza pie instead and referred her to a place with a name like Luigi’s.
Fortunately the error was self-evident and we end up being sent to Frazier’s Café and Bakery, which had a formidable array of pies in a clean, well-lit establishment with décor from around the 1950s. We each ordered a slice, with a cup of coffee, and each of us got the first piece cut from a fresh pie.
            Linda had a plain cherry pie, and I had the razzle-dazzle: a combination of blackberry, blueberry, cherry, strawberry and raspberry. It was without a doubt one of the finest pieces of pie I’ve ever eaten. The waitress, a young local woman, told me that the bakery has a customer in California who periodically orders a razzle-dazzle pie shipped to her overnight. I’m surprised there’s only one such customer.
            We ate slowly, savoring it all, and when we were done, the check arrived. It was $8 for two slices of pie and two cups of coffee — about what one slice of pie would cost where we live — if you could get it. The décor wasn’t the only thing old-school about Frazier’s.