Checkerboard cake: Three layers tall, chocolate-vanilla-chocolate, chocolate frosting on the side, vanilla on top, each slice a visual and tasty treat. No, you are not in heaven, just Pie In The Sky on Seward Street.
"I'll make anything," owner Andrea Mogil, 43, said as she tossed lemon wedges, ginger, cayenne pepper and, for a particular customer, a lavender bud, into a blender as said happy customer stood on tiptoe at the walk-up window to breathe in the concoction's aroma. "Wait until you smell this."
Twelve years ago, Mogil celebrated passing the Washington bar exam in Seattle in atypical fashion from her fellow attorneys-to-be who went out on the town.
"I stayed up until two-o'clock in the morning making lattice-top peach pies instead of going out drinking with my buddies," Mogil said. "I don't know. I had always liked to cook but was never much of a baker; suddenly all I wanted to do was make pies. It just does not have any explanation."
Mogil came to Alaska on June 5, 2000, when a friend invited her to visit Juneau's folk festival. A musician as well, she completely fell for the scene.
"I just had to move," Mogil said. "I sold my car and bought a truck, found tenants for my house, and gave notice at the law office."
Bouncing around from various cooking spaces at the Merchants Wharf and working at eateries such as the Summit, Rainbow Foods, The Fiddlehead, and the popular breakfast spot BaCar's, Mogil decided to start her own eatery. She helped design her space inside the Canvas, where she has happily created chocolate and baked pie goodness for nearly two years.
With Valentines Day and Mardi Gras approaching, Mogil is preparing for an onslaught of specialty orders and possibly her busiest work times. Thanksgiving and Christmas are givens. Surprisingly the touristy summers are slower.
"I used to think it was winter that was my busy time," Mogil said. "Or the legislative sessions. Now I am not so sure."
Scones and coffee are top on the legislative lists, and Mogil is known for a love of extraordinary drinking chocolates: One hundred percent pure chocolate discovered on trips abroad, bittersweet DDD (decadent drinkable dessert) European style chocolate, raw organic cocoa powders, as well as 100 percent Kona coffee, if someone needs extra caffeine.
She combines and mixes from scratch. Her world-famous brownie creation resulted in winning a trip to Portugal for a chocolate festival.
"It is really fun," Mogil said. "They have huge chocolate sculptures, chocolate classes and demonstrations."
Yet Mogil doesn't eat much of what she creates.
"I wouldn't be able to fit into my hat and apron after a while," Mogil laughed.
Chocolate-berry love-affair pie and gluten-free chocolate raspberry valentines are ready for sweetheart's day.
For Mardi Gras there is bourbon pecan pie, bourbon balls shaped as voiles, and king cakes with a small plastic baby Jesus placed inside, which brings luck to the person who gets that slice.
For Mogil, the Pie In The Sky name was as sweet and thoughtful as her own life.
"I think everyone should have a piece of the pie and I just couldn't think of another name," Mogil said. "It just happened."
Contact Klas Stolpe at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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