Byron Recommends: Brownie at Pie in the Sky

Show me a person who claims to dislike sweets and I’ll show you someone in denial. True enough, sweets are not all that healthy, but then again what on this polluted earth is? The trick is not to overdo it, and especially that the chosen confection be of high quality. If it means indulging in sin, let it at least be worth it.

I grew up in Istanbul, a city that had a fine pastry shop every block, sometimes on opposing sidewalks of the same block (sort-of like Starbucks in Vancouver). I was weaned on pistachio-baklava with gossamer filo-dough that barely contained its canary-yellow cargo; and airy genoise cake covered in clouds of heavy cream with heaps of ripe, intoxicatingly perfumed strawberries; and plump marrons-glacés whose chestnut essence melted on contact with the tongue.

I lost all that when my family emigrated to Canada, but I gained chocolate brownies. I liked the notion, I liked the texture and I liked the intensity of the cacao flavor. I enjoy all brownies, starting at the bottom with the commercial variety, but I find real solace, almost a spiritual contentment, from a high-class brownie that is made with real chocolate.

I follow advice on the subject from my great friend Wendy Grean and seek out Pie in the Sky, the upscale pastry shop that sprang to life in Bucerias and blossomed in Vallarta, (at two locations: the one downtown noted below and another in the Marina).

There is a wealth of cakes and pies here, which I’m told are all artisanal and truly delicious (absolutely worth the calories) but the specialty of this pastry kitchen, its glory and claim to fame, is an altogether irresistible brownie.

Concocted from pure ingredients like butter, flour, vanilla and pecans, it achieves its rich and creamy heart from the unstinting use of chocolate. It is not too sweet, being mercifully low in sugar, which is fourth on the list. It is pure joy from first mouthful to final lick of the spoon.

If you’re in the mood for some luxurious transgression, make it this brownie and if you insist, regret later.


Aquiles Serdàn #242

Centro, Puerto Vallarta


Photo by Algis Kemezys

Byron Ayanoglu
Byron Ayanoglu is a writer of many hues. Memoirist, travel columnist, cookbook author, film-scenarist, playwright, restaurant reviewer, novelist. His most recently published novels are A Traveler's Tale and Fresh Blood, which followed Istanbul to Montréal (simultaneously published in a Turkish version); a memoir, Crete on the Half Shell (published in four languages; optioned for film); and a satirical romance Love in the Age of Confusion. Widely traveled, Byron speaks five languages and lives about forty miles north of Montreal.