Slice of Humboldt Pie
By T. Aaron Carter
Image courtesy of Slice of Humboldt Pie
They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree…
That couldn’t be more true with a Slice of Humboldt Pie. Shortly after creating the business, owners Kristen Thompson and Amber Wall learned that pie making ran in the family, starting with Amber’s great-grandparents who ran a successful pie stand in the state of Oklahoma. When they relocated to Southern California they expanded their stand into a combined burger and pie joint. Today Amber is more than a pie maker, she is a prime example of Humboldt County’s entrepreneurial spirit. Launched nearly two years ago, a Slice of Humboldt Pie has been pulling premium handmade pies out of the oven daily.
I sat down with Amber and Kristen and we got down to pie. “We originally wanted to start a diner,” Amber explained, “so I started experimenting with the types of pies I would sell at the diner. After getting feedback from our friends and family and the overwhelming support we received for our pies, we made the decision to skip the diner and focus on making really good pies, and now we are nearly two years old and growing quickly.”
A Slice of Humboldt Pie is not your typical pie. Where else could you find a handmade buttermilk pie or a savory pie in Humboldt County? The dough, fillings, mixing, rolling, and cutting are all done by hand, and the creative ingredients open up a new understanding of what a pie is or can be. My first slice of pie answered a question I have pondered for over 20 years: What did the edible flowers and chocolate river taste like in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory? It tastes like a Slice of Humboldt Pie, more specifically their 8-Ball Stout chocolate cheesecake. This malty ingredient has enhanced what is now the best cheesecake ever! The next time you find yourself at Lost Coast Brewery, save room for dessert and order yourself a Slice of Humboldt Pie.
What came next in my interview was a well-rounded menu of sweet and savory pies. The Peanut Butter Fudge pie caught my eye. It had a graham cracker crust lined with fudge and topped with a light fluffy peanut butter cream. Then came the Mexican Chocolate Pecan pie with chopped pecans swimming in a gooey cinnamon-spiced chocolate filling. Other pies included Apple with Buttermilk Custard, Mocha Cream and Lemon Cream pies, all of which held their own ground, making it clear early on why these pies are in such hot demand. And they don’t stop there. The infamous savory pies came next.
After hearing about their savory pies I wasn’t sure what to expect. But as I anticipated, the savory pies didn’t let me down. I tried a Pizza Hand Pie, which tastes exactly as it sounds. Before my first bite I was having flashbacks of my college days and the copious amount of Hot Pockets that traveled through my microwave. Hot Pockets were cheap so I was forced to endure. I don’t think I could ever eat another Hot Pocket again. Fortunately this Pizza Hand Pie was nothing close to resembling a Hot Pocket. It was one of the best pies, or pizzas, or pizza-pies, I’ve ever consumed. With its cornmeal bottom and cheese tucked away in the pie crust, this pie made for a serious meal in hand.
After your first bite of a Slice of Humboldt Pie pie, it becomes obvious that they are using top quality ingredients. Items I didn’t think I would like were great, and I found myself not only enjoying it, but appreciating it. The next savory pie I tried was a Chicken Curry Hand Pie. I felt like I was eating something from a top Thai kitchen. The chicken was great, and the yellow curry with potatoes and peas are something I’ve been craving ever since.
The list of their savory pies is as solid as their sweet pies, like their Jalapeño Popper Hand Pie with fresh jalapeños in a spiced cream cheese with crisp bacon. Bacon. Bacon. I could eat one of these every day.
They have chicken pot pie, veggie pot pie and beef pot pie. A Breakfast Hand Pie allows the menu to literally cater to every meal of the day, from their ovens to your table. And you won’t have to wait much longer to enjoy a Slice of Humboldt Pie with Amber and company as they’ll be opening their retail location in Arcata this year. Mum’s the word, but I did get Amber to share a few details which only lead to increasing my anticipation. “Our goal has always been to open a retail location and offer a great environment to enjoy our handmade pies. The location has outdoor seating, wine and beer on tap, we will have our entire menu of pies including quiche pies, breakfast pies and our own special take on biscuits and gravy, but a pie.” Kristen added, “We love this community, and this is our way of giving something back while doing something we love.” It was also noted that you shouldn’t worry about the secret location in Arcata, the smell of savory hot pies will be the only tip you need to navigate to the best pies in Humboldt County.
In April you can get your pie eating on at the Humboldt Homebrew fundraiser for Engineers without Borders, where 2,000 of their pies will be within reach to enjoy with a tasty beverage from some of Humboldt’s top homebrewers. Does it get any better than that? They also have a Kickstarter campaign in the works to assist with the cost of a new industrial mixer and ovens for their new digs and a couple convection oven display cases to keep the savory pies warm. No reheating, fresh out of the oven and waiting for you. I got a sneak peak of a couple of their Kickstarter Rewards and when they launch I am already in. You will be too.
After filling my belly with what seemed like a hundred pies, I asked Amber what motivated her decision to build Slice of Humboldt Pie and open a retail store. She had this to say: “We want to create a business that is a staple in our community and where families and friends can visit and create memories.” She went even further in sharing her commitment to the county and people of Humboldt. “There are many reasons that have lead me to this path; baking for my parents, unknowingly following in my great grandparents footsteps. What is always in the back of my mind as my business grows is what kind of owner I want to be; how I will contribute to my community and how I will care for my employees. I want to provide a happy, healthy work environment where employees feel respected and fairly compensated. My goal is to have fun, create tasty food while being a positive contributor to our community. I feel so blessed to have the support of this wonderful community, fellow entrepreneurs, and friends.” Now go get YOUR Slice of Humboldt Pie!