For the Love of the pie
AVON – For at least five meals a week Mark Sugden feels like he’s home. Word of mouth traveled fast when the Aussie bakery, G,Day Meat Pies, opened in the Slifer Building in Avon. As soon as Sugden, a Melbourne, Australia, native, heard the news – he rejoiced, he said. “I worked here last season too, and the first thing I had mum have ready was a meat pie,” he said. “Now I don’t have to wait so long.”
Starting at 5:30 a.m., owner Brian Love and pastry chef Phil Rose begin baking. By lunchtime a steady stream of people flow into the small shop. They stand at the display case and pick their pie from the assortment lining the shelves – steak and cheese, beef with mushroom, bacon and cheese, chicken with curry, chicken with mushroom and straight vegetable, among the options. There are pasties as well – half-moon shaped pockets of pastry filled with ground beef and vegetables, topped with sesame seeds. Sausage rolls, filled with house-made sausage, fill the bottom shelves. The pies cost between $3 and $4 a piece.One snot block, pleaseIn the other display case, there are a slew of authentic desserts – Lamington’s (butter cake dipped in chocolate and rolled in unsweetened coconut) and apple turnovers (filled with fresh apples and heavy cream) among the cakes and tarts. Sugden is a big fan of the vanilla slices, he said, which is custard couched between two layers of flaky crust and topped with passion fruit icing – “we call them snot blocks back home,” he said with a grin. At $2 – $3 a pop, the desserts shouldn’t be missed.Clutched in Sugden’s hands are a square-shaped steak and cheese pie and a custard apple tart.”I love it – its exactly the same as home. They just need Big M’s now – it’s a chocolate milk drink. That and a bit of footie, Aussie football,” he said.In Australia, hand held meat pies take the place of hot dogs at the ballparks, owner Robyn Love said. Aussies eat the pies for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and everything in between. If you’re a real traditionalist, like Aussie Kelly Bogardus, you’ll ask for a side of mushy peas, and Love will pry open the top of the pie and spread a layer of the bright green peas on top.
“I can’t have pie without peas – it’s custom, it’s a rite of passage,” Bogardus said. “And tomato sauce, too.”Sauce, in Aussie speak, is code for ketchup, and don’t knock it until you try a little on the side. ‘Like part of the family’Robyn, and her husband, Brian (“he’s the big fella’ with the cheesy smile,” she said), are the brains behind the operation. They opened the pie shop nearly a month ago, though Brian said he’s been planning the company in his head for a few years now.”It took me two years to convince her,” he said.Australian natives, the Loves’ are striving to offer an authentic Aussie bakery experience here in the Vail Valley, they said, hospitality included.”When people come in it’s ‘g’day, come in, have a go,'” Robyn said.
Even a visiting dog, tied up outside the bakery’s door, gets a few bites of meat pie tossed to him, courtesy of Robyn. This is the couple’s fifth season in Vail. The first two years they drove the ECO buses.”You couldn’t get a pie here so we put a pie cart in Beaver Creek for a season,” Robyn said. That was two years ago. The pies were such a hit that the two decided the valley could support a full-fledged bakery. Beaver Creek Apres entertainer Shannon Tanner met the couple back when the cart was in Beaver Creek, he said. “I think it’s the greatest thing to happen to locals,” Tanner said. “The pies are a hearty, filling, quick meal, and they’re affordable, which is nice when everything else around is astronomical in price. Plus, when you walk in the door, (Brian and Robyn) are the most hospitable people, they make you feel like part of the family.”Caramie Schnell can be reached at 748-2984 or email@example.com.