A Pop Pie Co. chicken pot pie, ready to come out of the oven
I feel the now familiar tinge of fear as I leave my apartment and get into my car, parked out front. Especially since the governor ordered Californians — all 40 million of us — to stay at home during this coronavirus outbreak, the act of leaving home has been fraught with anxiety. But this tinge of fear is something else: I have the plumb spot, the closest to my front door. I’m sure anyone who’s lived in an urban area with limited street parking can relate. Someone will take my spot while I run this errand.
4404 Park Boulevard, Suite A, San Diego
Obviously, I know that on the long, long list of things to worry about right now, being able to see my car out the window sits way, way down towards the bottom. But it gives me comfort. That’s a peculiar dichotomy of this moment, before the full weight of the outbreak has landed in San Diego. Even as many of us comply with government orders to only leave the house for essential services (shopping for food and household supplies), statistics warn that a large number of us are already infected, incubators of the virus destined to fall ill within the next few days. But while we wait, mundane fears about trivialities, such as parking location, nag. We are human, and we’re cooped up at home.
The view of Pop Pie Co. from my car window during curbside pick-up
My errand this afternoon is simple. I’ve heard that University Heights’ miniature pie specialist Pop Pie Co. has joined a number of San Diego restaurants in offering curbside take-out. Even better, perhaps, it’s offering unfinished pot pies for customers to take home and put in our freezers.
Most of my meals (and Feast stories) are in take-out mode for the foreseeable future, but the idea of keeping pot pies in my freezer sways me. Chicken pot pie may be the most comforting of all comfort foods. And if I get sick with Covid-19 — more likely when I get sick — I am genuinely comforted to know I will have something nourishing on standby I can cook without much energy. Just defrost the pie, and cook for 50 minutes at 275 degrees. It’s almost something I could nap through.
Directions on a to-go bag
I call in to order and pay, but like many restaurants throughout the county, Pip Pie Co. has updated its web site so you can order and pay online, whether you’re ordering pies hot, or frozen. Savory are $8.50 hot, $7.50 frozen, or five for $35. Individual servings of frozen sweet pies are $4. There are also sides, and a selection of hot teas or coffees to go. There are even pints of small batch ice cream made by its next door sister business, Stella Jean’s Ice Cream.
I’ve gone for a couple of chicken pot pies (Pop Pie Co.’s rate among the best in town), plus one steak-and-ale pie. Other options include two vegetarian pies (one passed on cauliflower and sweet potato, the other portobello mushrooms and brussels sprouts).
Pot pies for the freezer may come in handy at a later date.
The sidewalks are empty, but there are other cars on the road as I drive. Being in my car feels safe: I’ve got my dog in the backseat, and I switch the stereo from NPR to a favorite album, as I try to enjoy this time outside the house.
As I pull up to the curb, I call the restaurant to let them know. A minute later, a young employee steps outside and passes a brown paper bag to my outstretched hand through my passenger window. I’m all paid up, so there’s no further transaction necessary. We wave and wish each other well; we’ll both probably wash our hands now as a precaution. Washing hands is the new national pastime.
My ride to Pop Pie takes just over twenty minutes — ten there, ten back. Roads I’ve taken hundreds of times, but now see differently, in this new context we all endure. And I take solace, optimism even to get home and realize: my parking spot is there, right in front! People are staying home, and small victories may sustain us. Take-out orders, and the restaurants offering them right now, are a blessing.
Check websites and Facebook pages of your favorite restaurants to get an idea which currently offer take-out in your area, or check this crowdsourced Google Map being updated by the Eating & Drinking in San Diego Facebook group.