Friday, 21 April 2017

Leeds Pie Tour: Hop to the Pie Hole

This year, as part of our Pie Pledges for British Pie Week, we decided to head up to Leeds Leeds Leeds to do a #LeedsPieTour! One place we visited was Pieminister, a pie chain we know only too well, having reviewed many of their pies in the past. However, this time we went for something a bit different.....



As part of the Leeds Pie Tour we went to a pub in the rejuvenated Granary Wharf in the centre of Leeds. The Hop is one of those trendy types of places built into the archway of the old railway. When doing our research into Leeds pies we were fairly staggered by what we read. Apparently they offered a Pie, Mash, Peas/Beans, Gravy AND a Pint for ONLY A FIVER! Yes, things are cheaper than we are used to down South but surely this kind of offer was impossible. We went in, expecting some kind of catch, we even had to clarify with the guy on the bar, but yes, it was true. He claimed they could offer it cheaper because it is their house beer. But still, surely the pies must be ASDA Smart Price in order for them to make any money at all? We started to understand the business model once we had placed our orders. The pies are already cooked and they operate more of a take-away type of systems. There is a hatch (the eponymous Pi Hole) where you pick up your order once it is ready. The meal comes in a biodegradable box with wooden cutlery. It is a bit of an odd situation to then eat your take away pie in the pub but it seemed to work. The pub primarily focuses on providing real ale, with the food more of a convenient accompaniment rather than their primary focus.

We learnt that the pies are supplied by Andrew Jones Pies of Huddersfield, a company we had not come across before. There were a wealth of options,  we tried to trick Pierateer RAS into getting a Lamb pasty but sadly he decided he wasn't hungry after what had already been a pie filled weekend. Pierateer SJL opted for the Chicken Balti while Pierateer TJP went for the classic Steak & Ale.

At first glance they did actually look pretty appealing. Stout and solid shortcrust pastry had been used. The glaze was something I could have gazed at for days. It was brown and lustrous, indicating tasty pastry. Surely these would be empty promises as I expected this to be a typical half filled mass produced pies? But no, yet, again, these pies surprised us because they were well filled. The Chicken Balti in particular had been packed with meat rather than sauce or air. The Steak & Ale was a bit more heavy on the meat flavoured sauce but still found space for a satisfying amount of meat. My pie meal for a fiver kept me satisfied all the way back to Gloucester.

For both pies, the shortcrust pastry was tasty and crunchy on top although some parts on the bottom were slightly soggy. The meat chunks in the Chicken Balti were quite big and satisfying, they didn't have the watery texture that some mass produced chicken chunks have but yet they avoided being dry. The texture of the steak was tender, perhaps a bit too soft if anything, a bit like steak from a tin.

Onto the flavour and whilst we kept looking for ways in which these pies were going to let us down, yet again they surprised us being enjoyable and full of flavour. The Chicken Balti was quite spicy, perhaps a bit too hot for some but was anything but bland. The spicy marinade was not quite like any other Balti I pie I had tried before. I really enjoyed the flavour, so much so that I bought another to take home. The Steak & Ale was a bit more traditional, it captured the classic Steak & Ale pie flavour well although didn't do anything spectacular. The main downside was that the flavour was dominated by salt a bit too much. Whilst Pierateer TJP tried this pie in the restaurant, I also purchased one to take away so I could verify it was a very good pie. However, in this case, it was the Chicken Balti that really stood out.

Chicken Balti (The Hop/A Jones Pies [Leeds])
Score: 6.25/7


SJL

Steak & Ale (The Hop/A Jones Pies [Leeds])
Score: 6.05/7



SJL & TJP




See what the Pierateers have been up to this British Pie Week in our daily Pie Diary articles:


Day One – Monday 6th March 2017
Day Two – Tuesday 7th March 2017
Day Three – Wednesday 8th March 2017
Day Four - Thursday 9th March 2017
Day Five - Friday 10th March 2017
Day Six - Saturday 11th March 2017 - featuring the Leeds Pie Tour
Day Seven - Sunday 12th March 2017 - featuring the Leeds Pie Tour


Pierate is a pie review website charting a course to find the ultimate pie. For all the pies we have reviewed have a look at our Pie Rankings or find pies of a particular flavour under Pies: Categorised.

Make sure you
and let us know your thoughts!


 
continue reading "Leeds Pie Tour: Hop to the Pie Hole"

Monday, 17 April 2017

Meet the Pie-ducer: Calum from Holborn Dining London

One of the things we really enjoy on the Pierate Ship is meeting the guys and girls up and down the land who make the pies that we really enjoy eating. As such we’ve created a “Meet the Pie-ducer” series of interviews, where we lift the lid on those who are looking to piefect their trade…


Holborn Dining Room, Holborn, London

Head Chef: Calum Franklin
Based: Holborn, Central London
Sells in: Holborn Dining Room, London, WC1V 7EN
Website: http://www.holborndiningroom.com/ or Calum's personal Twitter feed

Calum Franklin Pork Pie Review
Calum Franklin Pork Pie at Holborn Dining Room


Calum Franklin
Calum Franklin
The pie page on the Holborn Dining Room website begins with the slightly understated first line of "Holborn Dining Room Executive Head Chef Calum Franklin has kept London foodies talking with his artful creations..."

I'd personally say less talking, more drooling! For the craftsmanship on Calum's pastry creations would be enough to make anyone go "wow!" as he creates pastry decor to pie-fection - some of which take over 4 hours to create, such is the intricate detail in the pastry work (see the tweet below). When he kindly allowed me to join him for a chat during British Pie Week, he only had half of his giant, multi-layered Pork and Black Pudding Pie left, such had been the demand for it. And that certainly wasn't the first one of those giant pies he'd made that week! Sure, there may have been a bit of spike in demand during Pie Week, but people were coming from near and far to get just a slither of one of Calum's top notch pies!

On the a la carte menu, Calum is looking forward to releasing his new Mutton Curry Pie, one which he says he is particularly looking forward to seeing the reaction to. These certainly aren't your typical pies - and the customers at Holborn Dining Room would expect nothing less - so the bar is always set high and Calum is certainly delivering.

Having originally trained in Birmingham at the then College of Food, Tourism and Creative Studies (now UCB), Calum has been at Holborn Dining Room for three years now and is keen to change the menu slightly from having just one pie on rotation to a wider ranged pie menu. There are plans in place to provide a steak and kidney steamed suet pie, alongside a chicken, mushroom and cider shortcrust pie and the Mutton Curry Pie in puff pastry - alongside the classic pork pies they already sell. Different flavours, different pastries. Calum and his team of chefs are being trained up well to rise to the challenge of professional pie making.

Calum Franklin Pork Pie Review
Calum Franklin Pork and Black Pudding Pie at Holborn Dining Room
It was the training element that Calum mentioned which really got my attention as we chatted. Having admitted when he first started in pastry that he had quite a lot to learn, he is now not happy just to master the art himself, but he is training up the pastry chefs of tomorrow in his kitchen. Trainee chefs from around the UK (and even the world) have been requesting time to learn skills in pastry work with Calum, and they could certainly go far worse than learning from the pastry master himself! And with plans to create a dedicated pie room with a serving hatch onto the street, they really are taking their pies seriously!


We very much enjoyed our taster in pie week and look forward to visiting Holborn Dining Room to rate the selection of pies on the pie menu once it launches! Until then, we'll just have to stick to drooling over the pie photos Calum regularly posts on his Twitter feed! Many thanks to Calum for meeting us and donating a few slices of pie to us to try!

RAS

Here are the pie makers in our "Meet the Pie-ducer" series:
Calum from Holborn Dining Room  |  Dee from Dee's Pies  |  Stephen from Kandy Bar Bakery

You can view all our Pie-ducer interviews by clicking here!

Pierate is a pie review website charting a course to find the ultimate pie. For all the pies we have reviewed have a look at our Pie Rankings or find pies of a particular flavour under Pies: Categorised.

Make sure you
and let us know your thoughts!
continue reading "Meet the Pie-ducer: Calum from Holborn Dining London"

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Leeds Pie Tour: Insect Pie!

This year, as part of our Pie Pledges for British Pie Week, we decided to head up to Leeds Leeds Leeds to do a #LeedsPieTour! One place we visited was Pieminister, a pie chain we know only too well, having reviewed many of their pies in the past. However, this time we went for something a bit different.....



As you can see from our Leeds Pie Tour video, we enjoyed some take away pie options from Pieminister. We have reviewed over a dozen of their pies before but nothing quite like the British Pie Week special known as 'The Hopper'. Believe it or not, in an attempt to produce something a bit different, Pieminister have gone for a pie containing cricket insects. We have eaten many usual pies, from Python to Squirrel, but this must surely go down as one of the weirdest!


Was this just a disgusting gimmick from Pieminister or was I bowled over by the cricket pie? As you can tell from the video, it took a bit of getting used to. I had expected the crickets to be in small pieces and difficult to discern when mixed in with the rest of the filling. But, in order to not disappoint those who were looking forward to crunching on invertebrates, the pie had plenty of whole crickets in all their exoskeleton glory. That said, the pie was not overly heavy on the crickets, this was, after all a Mexican chipotle chili, black bean AND cricket pie with plenty of other ingredients. I had expected a bit of crunch from the crickets, however, they were surprisingly soft. There lay the problem, the crickets didn't really seem to add much to this pie apart from perhaps a bit of protein. They didn't seem to add any flavour or texture and I suspect they could have been replaced by more black beans without making much difference. Therefore, it does seem like this pie was a bit of a publicity gimmick. However, this didn't stop it actually being a very flavoursome pie, the smokey chipotle chili flavour went really well with the signature Pieminister crispy pastry. The only downside was that the pie was a bit soft, there wasn't much to get your teeth into. However, it was enjoyable and actually, now I am used to the creepiness of the filling, it is something I would be happy to eat again! So the shock summary from this review is that the insect pie from Pieminister actually receives a Pierate Recommended award for scoring over 5 out of 7!

The Hopper - Cricket Insect (Pieminister)
Score: 5.04/7
[Colour 6.25, Capacity 5.75, Consistency 4.50, Condition 5.75, Chewiness 2.75, Cheapness 4.50, Content 5.75]


SJL


See what the Pierateers have been up to this British Pie Week in our daily Pie Diary articles:


Day One – Monday 6th March 2017
Day Two – Tuesday 7th March 2017
Day Three – Wednesday 8th March 2017
Day Four - Thursday 9th March 2017
Day Five - Friday 10th March 2017
Day Six - Saturday 11th March 2017 - featuring the Leeds Pie Tour
Day Seven - Sunday 12th March 2017 - featuring the Leeds Pie Tour


Pierate is a pie review website charting a course to find the ultimate pie. For all the pies we have reviewed have a look at our Pie Rankings or find pies of a particular flavour under Pies: Categorised.

Make sure you
and let us know your thoughts!
continue reading "Leeds Pie Tour: Insect Pie!"

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Leeds Pie Tour: Voakes Pork Pie at Haley and Clifford

This year, as part of our Pie Pledges for British Pie Week, we decided to head up to Leeds Leeds Leeds to do a #LeedsPieTour! One place we visited was Haley and Clifford, a lovey quaint deli in the north of Leeds, which features in the video of our adventures made by Pierateer Tim below. There we rated a Voakes Pork Pie, famed for being a top pie option in the area!



On Day One of the Leeds Pie Tour we headed to Haley and Clifford in the north of Leeds. We'd heard they stocked Voakes Pork Pies (a reasonably local pork pie producer) and thought we'd pay them a visit! It was a lovely delicatessen, selling food from a range of local stockists and with a decent selection of salads and (more importantly) pies! Both Sam and Rob went for a Voakes Pork Pie, which Rob rates below:


The deli was a lovely place to visit on our Pie Tour of Leeds - serving a few different pie options to be eaten cold. The Voakes pork pie however was what we were there for and was a pretty reasonable price for a reasonably high end establishment. It was possibly the first place we'd ever rated which offered an accompanying side salad with your pork pie - a combo Pierateer Sam relied upon during his "Pies For Every Meal" British Pie Week 2014 stunt, which rather amazingly led to Sam losing weight over the week he ate 21 pie meals!

Voakes Pork Pie at Haley and Clifford Review
Voakes Pork Pie at Haley and Clifford

The Voakes Pork Pie was very crispy to bite into and while - as said in the video - the first bite was pretty much all pastry, it was a very crisp and delicious pastry I'd happily eat on its own. What the deli owner told us in a chat later was that between receiving the pork pies from Voakes and cooking them, they don't actually add in the jelly which many pork pies contain. They found their customers prefer their pork pies without, which we on the Pierate Ship can understand. We too can find the jelly muddles the flavour a bit, so unless done well, it can be better not to include jelly just for the sake of it! It would however be interesting to rate a Voakes with jelly too sometime!

The colour was lovely and golden, with a reasonably even bake, though the pastry did flake and crumble into random pieces upon biting into it, therefore losing some marks for condition. This is perhaps why they offer the pork pie already cut into quarters when serving it with a side salad (see tweeted photo above!) There was a noticeable gap around the meat where the jelly would normally be, thus reducing the capacity slightly. However the meat content of the pie was pretty succulent in spite of the lack of cooking with jelly - nice and meaty. Seasoned but not too strongly, it was a pork pie I'd happily eat again.

Voakes Pork Pie at Haley and Clifford (Leeds)
Score: 5.64/7
[Colour 6.25, Capacity 5.75, Consistency 6, Condition 5.75, Chewiness 5.5, Cheapness 4.5, Content 5.75]


RAS


See what the Pierateers have been up to this British Pie Week in our daily Pie Diary articles:


Day One – Monday 6th March 2017
Day Two – Tuesday 7th March 2017
Day Three – Wednesday 8th March 2017
Day Four - Thursday 9th March 2017
Day Five - Friday 10th March 2017
Day Six - Saturday 11th March 2017 - featuring the Leeds Pie Tour
Day Seven - Sunday 12th March 2017 - featuring the Leeds Pie Tour


Pierate is a pie review website charting a course to find the ultimate pie. For all the pies we have reviewed have a look at our Pie Rankings or find pies of a particular flavour under Pies: Categorised.

Make sure you
and let us know your thoughts!
continue reading "Leeds Pie Tour: Voakes Pork Pie at Haley and Clifford"

Friday, 7 April 2017

Leeds Pie Tour Video

This year, as part of our Pie Pledges for British Pie Week, we decided to head up to Leeds Leeds Leeds to do a #LeedsPieTour! Check out the video of our adventures made by Pierateer Tim and check back for the reviews of the pies you see in the video over the next few weeks!


In order of ap-pie-rance:

[Piebury Corner Fruit pies (from London, not Leeds) - reviewed as Pierate Recommended]
Pieminister MooDog Pie
Pieminister Cricket Pie (Limited Edition for British Pie Week)
Wilson's Pork Pie
Wilson's Meat and Potato Pie
Wilson's Pork and Apple Pie
Voakes Pork Pie in Haley and Clifford
Great North Pie Co. Classic Lancashire Cheese and Onion Pie in Haley and Clifford
Jones Steak and Ale Pie in The Hop
Jones Chicken Curry Pie in The Hop

Day One (Saturday)

Staying in Armley, we decided to walk to the local Wilson's Butchers store and they kindly allowed us to do a bit of filming. Sam tried one of their pork pies while filming outside, while Sam had a meat and potato and Tim had an apple and pork pie back at the house.

Following that, we headed to Haley and Clifford in the north of Leeds. We'd heard they stocked Voakes Pork Pies (a reasonably local pork pie producer) and thought we'd pay them a visit! It was a lovely delicatessen, selling food from a range of local stockists and with a decent selection of salads and (more importantly) pies! Both Sam and Rob went for a Voakes Pork Pie, while Tim had a Great North Pie Co "Classic Lancashire Cheese and Onion" pie (which on their website is listed as containing Dewlay’s tasty Lancashire cheese, caramelised white onion, white pepper, nutmeg & Japanese Panko breadcrumbs). You may well recognise the name Great North Pie Co and that's probably because it was the last pie company to win the British Pie Awards (back in 2015) before this year's 2017 winner was announced.


In the evening we tried the Pieminister British Pie Week special - Cricket pie! Yes, you read that right - actual crickets. You could see their dead bodies in the pie and everything! And we also had a more normal Pieminister MooDog Pie too!

Day Two (Sunday)

With so many pies consumed on day one of our #LeedsPieTour, it was always going to be a hard act to follow! But we kicked off the morning with three more fruit pies from Piebury Corner, which we had picked up in London on Friday. Having had the Apple and Blackcurrant on Saturday morning, Sunday morning consisted of Cherry Pie, Blueberry Pie and the old classic, Apple Pie! All three slipped down well, with all three Pierateers commenting on their enjoyment of the lovely crisp top pastry and decent fruit chunks inside. The condition was pretty good – a slight uneven bake but nice and golden. The pies at Piebury are quite shallow – a quite unique shape and size – but boy do they fill the hole! A fruit pie like those definitely ticked the boxes and we’ll give them all a full pie rating soon!

Sadly Leeds only have a Corn Exchange, not Pie Exchange
We then headed into Leeds centre for a brief wander round, checking out a few of the sights and spotting the Pieminister store just a stone’s throw from The Corn Exchange shopping centre. We briefly popped in to speak to the staff there – having already actually eaten a couple of Pieminister pies the previous day – and find out how British Pie Week had been for them. They had had a lot of traffic from pie fans the last week following their £5 pie and mash meal deal, which was great to hear as we generally rate the Pieminister brand highly.

Then we “hopped” over to The Hop pub under the arches of Leeds Railway Station, part of the Granary Wharf shopping area. We’d heard good things about the pies there – and in particular their “pie, mash, peas and drink for a fiver” pie meal deal! It sounded too good to be true, but as advertised online they were indeed doing this pie meal deal for just five of your English Pounds!


We couldn’t resist and tried a few of their pie range there (making sure to avoid the pasties also on sale!) as well as taking a few home with us to try later! The pies we tried in the pub – a Steak and Ale pie and Chicken Curry pie – were both highly commended and we’ll see how well they rate on the 7 Cs of pie rating soon!

RAS

See what the Pierateers have been up to this British Pie Week in our daily Pie Diary articles:


Day One – Monday 6th March 2017
Day Two – Tuesday 7th March 2017
Day Three – Wednesday 8th March 2017
Day Four - Thursday 9th March 2017
Day Five - Friday 10th March 2017
Day Six - Saturday 11th March 2017 - featuring the Leeds Pie Tour
Day Seven - Sunday 12th March 2017 - featuring the Leeds Pie Tour


Pierate is a pie review website charting a course to find the ultimate pie. For all the pies we have reviewed have a look at our Pie Rankings or find pies of a particular flavour under Pies: Categorised.

Make sure you
and let us know your thoughts!
continue reading "Leeds Pie Tour Video"

Thursday, 30 March 2017

British Pie Awards 2017

And the winner of the British Pie Awards 2017 is… a pie!!!


British Pie Awards 2017
Read all the winners on the British Pie Awards website
We never thought we’d have to start any review of the British Pie Awards with such an obvious statement! But then again, we never seriously though that the British Pie Awards (or should I say British Pie and Pasty Awards?!) would let a pasty enter, let alone award a pasty the title! But then this happened:


"Controversy as a pasty triumphs at the British Pie Awards" – headlined the Telegraph, who happened to include quotes from world leading pie review blog Pierate Pie Reviews

"The winner of the 2016 British Pie Awards is…a pasty" – headlined the Metro, who happened to include quotes from world leading pie review blog Pierate Pie Reviews

Heck, even the Plymouth Herald newspaper chipped in with Outrage as pasty from CUMBRIA wins British Pie Award – oh and for the record, they also referenced the world leading pie review blog Pierate Pie Reviews!

British Pie Awards 2017

British Pie Awards 2017
The Regional Pies Class at the
British Pie Awards 2017
So after all the controversy surrounding the British Pie Awards 2016, which of course meant we couldn’t review the Supreme Champion for the first time since 2013 - as we’d never touch a pasty with a barge pole – you can imagine our relief when the overall winner was announced as a pie! And not just any pie, but a Pierate Highly Recommended pie that we’d rated a few years ago!

So many congratulations to the Supreme Champion pie from the British Pie Awards 2017 – the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie from Dickinson and Morris.

At 6.15/7 it was awarded Pierate Highly Recommended status when Pierateer SJL pie rated it in 2014. Certainly deserving of awards, the British Pie Awards compare Stephen Hallam must be delighted to not only help run the awards but sell Dickinson and Morris Melton Mowbray Pork Pies at his local shop in the town centre, Ye Olde Pork Pie Shoppe! You can imagine there will be an increase in sales follow this title win, and in a recent email sent out from the company they said they were “supremely proud” to announce they had been crowned Supreme Champion!

Read our review of the British Pie Awards 2017 Supreme Champion from Dickinson and Morris!




But the British Pie Awards were about far more than just the Supreme champion! With a bit under 900 pies rated by over 100 judges, there were 21 different classes (20 of them being pie classes and one non-pie class) to munch and rate in a busy few hours on Wednesday 8th March 2017! The venue may have changed – with St Mary’s Church unable to be used due to renovation of the church this year – but the outline was the same. Briefing, judging and collating the best pies on the Wednesday, followed by the crowning of class and overall supreme champion on Friday 10th March.

You can catch up with all the highlights of the day in our “British Pie Awards 2017 – Live!” article.




Some of the pie-lights this year included:

- The Chicken, Leek and Parmesan Pie from Ben’s Kitchen winning the Small Producer award – one we’ll have to try and pie rate soon!

- Our number one pie maker – Chris from MyPie London – both winning the class and having another in the top 3 in the Vegetarian pie class, to compliment the Steak, Venison and Minced Beef meat pies that he has in the top 10 (out of 600) in the Pierate Pie Rankings! We rated the vegetarian class winner – MyPie’s Sweet Potato and Goat’s Cheese – as Pierate Recommended with 5.93/7!

Nice Pie Review Beef
Nice Pie's Beef in Red Wine with Roasted Marrow Bone Pie
- The Pierate highly regarded Nice Pie (who we have rated countless Pierate Recommended Pies from) winning the Beef and any other flavour class for their Beef in Red Wine with Roasted Marrow Bone Pie – one we are going to be reviewing very soon! They also won the Chicken and vegetable/herb and the chicken and any other meat pie classes too! Nice job!!!

- Graham Aimson, head chef at Morecambe FC, once again doing well with a “Highly Commended” (aka top 3) pie in the sports pie (Steak and Ale) and dessert pie (Bramley Apple) classes. This follows their supreme champion wins in 2014 and 2011. Consistency!

- There were also a few mass-producer surprises, with Pukka Pies being “Highly Commended” in the Beef and Ale Class and Ginsters being “Highly Commended” in the non-pie class! Not sure what that says about the entrants in the non-pie class!!!

- And finally the British Pie Awards avoided having controversy for a second consecutive year by clarifying that the second and third placed pies in the Meat and Potato class – namely a “Peppered Steak Pie” and a “Beef Stew Pie” – did actually contain potato! Despite the names, they met the class requirement of having a content of potato (the levels of potato are not specified in the rules of the British Pie Awards).

The Melton Mowbray Pork Pies, from where the Supreme Champion came!

All in all, it was another hugely successful year for the British Pie Awards, and this time for all the right reasons! I particularly enjoyed chatting with TV chef Phil Vickery (who cooks on ITV's "This Morning" show), but also meeting and chatting to lots of friends of the blog, such as Nik Speller, #AwayDayPieGirl Katie Peal, Martin Tarbuck and Jonny Smith. This also included our com-pie-tition winners Anya, Charlie, Jessica and Katie - who won the chance to judge at the Awards and write for the sports pie blog called the "Sisterhood of the Travelling Pies" - plus we had a good chat with butchr.net creator Jamie, looking to grow a website he’s designed to bring butchers and meat industry professionals together.

The girls made a vlog of their experience at the British Pie Awards
which you can watch on their website

With the nation’s pies judged for another year, you’d think that was it til next British Pie Week. But of course any of you who’ve read Pierate Pie Reviews before will know that British Pie Week and the British Pie Awards are just the start of things for us. We’ll be judging and rating pies all year round, so check back again soon!

RAS

This isn't the first time we've attended the British Pie Awards! Oh no! Find out more in our other articles here:
Judges in 2016  |  Judges in 2015  |  Judges in 2014  |  Helpers in 2013


Pierate is a pie review website charting a course to find the ultimate pie. For all the pies we have reviewed have a look at our Pie Rankings or find pies of a particular flavour under Pies: Categorised.

Make sure you 
and let us know your thoughts!
continue reading "British Pie Awards 2017"

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Open Letter to Mary Berry about top crust pies

A Mary Berry Steak "Pie" we made
It's not that we're angry Mary Berry... we're just...well... disappointed! I mean, we'd expect it from a lot of pubs, who are trying to earn a fast buck. We'd even expect it from some of the more quirky chefs out there who are "trying something new". But not our Mary! Not this!

And yet on her cookery show Mary Berry Everyday the legend that is Mary Berry was accused of making a casserole with a pastry lid and calling it a pie! And people - we of course included - were not happy!!!



I know it's not got the same gravitas as the pie v pastry debate of the British Pie Awards 2016. It's not even as bad as Sainsbury's claiming a tart is a pie! But of all the baking heroes we'd hope were championing a fully encased pie, it would be our Mary! Which is why we feel the need to write an...


Open letter to Mary Berry

I have to admit it takes a lot to shock us aboard the Pierate Ship these days. Pies - our passion and dedication for over seven and a half years now - have a tough press. People often mis-label many things as pies - the shepherds pie (which should be a shepherds potato bake), pumpkin pie (which is really a tart), even whole pizzas are called pies in America!

But perhaps the thing that bugs us most - because it is so close to a proper pie and yet is not - is a casserole with a pastry lid being called a pie! And unfortunately Mary, we can't sit back and watch you bake casseroles with a pastry lid and call them pies on prime time BBC TV!

To help you out here, our Pierate Pie Dictionary clearly states what a true pie actually is:- filling fully encased in pastry with clearly defined base, sides and lid. A casserole with a pastry lid does not meet these stringent criteria and it's not even the first time you've called a casserole with a pastry lid a pie, as the Steak and Mushroom pie made by our Ship's Cook for our Great British Bake Off Steak Pie Off was also sadly a top-crust pie!!! Even the British Pie Awards - who have a far more liberal definition of a pie than us and even let a blooming pasty win their top award in 2016(?!) - would not consider a casserole with a pastry lid to be a proper pie!

With so many people looking to you for ins-pie-ration and important pie making knowledge, the future of British pie making is in someways in your hands Mary. So please... please don't keep on making casseroles with pastry lids and calling them pies! The real art of a pie is making it fully encased in pastry - something you can pick up in your hands and eat wherever you are (not stuck in a ceramic dish due to lack of base pastry!) Let's avoid the controversy and make British pies great again! Do the right thing Mary, and next time, line your pie dish with pastry before you add your filling!

Yours in pie,

Pierateer RAS


You'll be pleased to know that we at Pierate Pie Reviews will always mark a top-crust only pie down in our pie rating, so that only true, fully encased in pastry pies can get anywhere near close to our pie-fect score of 7 out of 7! You can find out more about this by viewing our "7 Cs of pie rating".



You'll also find that there are many others who agree with us that pies should be fully encased in pastry, not just casseroles topped with pastry. One person above all others stands with us in this view and that is Bill T Wulf. Not happy at being served casserole after casserole topped with pastry hats, Bill T Wulf took matters into his own hands in 2015 by creating an e-pie-tition to “make wrongly describing a casserole with a pastry lid a criminal offence”.

While sadly it fell short of the 100,000 signatures it needed to be debated in parliament - in part due to the government changing part way through the e-pie-tition phase which meant there wasn't the usual whole year to gain signatures in - it raised awareness of the need to highlight this dishonesty that has affected hundreds of menus up and down this land.

Too many pubs and restaurants don't distinguish properly if their pie is a proper pie (fully encased) or just a casserole with a pastry lid - or even worse, really just a potato bake! We continue to seek change in this regard, in continuing the legacy set by this e-pie-tition. For full comment by Bill T Wulf on the latest Telegraph article please click here.

As Matthew O’Callaghan - chairman of both the British Pie Awards and the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie Association - pointed out in his interview with The Telegraph:

“The awards are about celebrating the craft of pie making. It’s a lot easier to put a bit of pastry on top of a dish and call it a pie. A real pie encased in pastry means getting the ingredients right, making the pastry, and ensuring an even bake throughout.”

We're pleased to hear that the British Pie Awards were set up for similar reasons to the petition – "to celebrate and distinguish artisan British efforts like the pork pie from "pastry-topped casseroles" and to "rescue" the word pie from what purists consider to be decades, nay centuries, of misuse." (Although it is then rather ironic that the British Pie Awards still let pasties enter!!!)

While we realise some people will disagree with us and not see anything wrong with calling casserole topped with pastry a pie, we will hold a firm line as pie purists. We'll continue our search for the best pies out there, knowing that only filling fully encased in pastry with a clearly defined base, side and lid can ever be crowned Pierate pie-fection!

RAS

We have actually eaten a lot of genuine pies which can be seen in our Pierate Pie Rankings or you can click here for all PIE reviews categorised by shop or flavour.

Where do you stand on the proper pie v casserole with pastry lid debate?

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continue reading "Open Letter to Mary Berry about top crust pies"

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Can Piebury Corner The Fruit Pie Market?

With a swathe of their pies in our top 20 pies (out of over 600 we have rated) you won’t be surprised to hear we eagerly await any new offering from the number one modern pie shop in London - Piebury Corner. With such a high bar set by their meat and veggie pies, the more recent addition of fruit pies to their selection (albeit not that recently!) was something we were intrigued by. Could Piebury – famed for their football-related pies and puns – still push for the title with their fruit pies? Or was it a case of second season blues – like Leicester City struggling to maintain the form they showed in their previous outing?

Piebury Corner Fruit Pie Review
Piebury Corner Fruit Pie Review

Well the good news is that these fruit pies are far off mid-table mediocrity! In fact, as fruit pies go, these are some of the better individual fruit pies we’ve pie rated. Gone are the Arsenal-related footballer names (such as the “Thierry Henry” or “Viera-getarian”) and instead you get pies that do exactly what they say on the tin (or in this case, cardboard box) – Apple, Apple and Blackcurrant, Blueberry and Cherry.

Here’s our overall impression of the fruit pie range, followed by some individual comments. Please note that all these pies were heated for 20 minutes in the oven but then eaten as they were – without custard or cream or other additions – to ensure we were rating the pie accurately.

Have you heard the big news?! Piebury Corner will be opening a brand new pie shop in the heart of Kings Cross, central London! We can’t wait to see them open up their second branch around the end of April and serve even more of their Pierate Highly Recommended pies!

Read all about it in this Hot-Dinners.com article!



Overall Im-pie-ression:

Piebury Corner Fruit Pie Review
Piebury Corner Fruit Pie Review
These pies are noticeably quite shallow and wide, but this is the Piebury way! Similar in shape to their meaty teammates, the fruit pies also have a lovely golden pastry shell which particularly crisps up well on top. The main difference: that fine sprinkling of sugar on top of the pastry, which does add that extra sweet taste to an already sweet fruit pie! A couple of the pies we cooked caught slightly and were a bit more golden in some places than others, but overall I’d say this is a nice golden colour.

At £3.50 per pie to take away cold, these certainly aren’t the cheapest fruit pies on the market. But then these aren’t your typical pies on the market either – with a much bigger capacity than most fruit pie boxes you’d buy in the shops and a strong pie capacity as opposed to some of the “fruit” air pies you can get your hands on! I also mention fruit because you can actually see and taste the fruit in these pies, rather than the fruity mush that a lot of fruit pies contain.

Overall, I would say these are a tad expensive for the size, but they are some of the best fruit pies we’ve had on Pierate. The pastry (specifically the lid) is delicious as part of the pie or even eaten on its own. While the content of all the pies is nice and fruity – sweet but generally not too much! They fill the hole and – while I’d suggest you probably wouldn’t want two in one sitting – leave you wanting to try another!



Piebury Corner Apple Pie Review
Piebury Corner Apple Pie Review
Apple

The classic fruit pie flavour and done well. Some decent sized pies of fruit – though could perhaps have been a few more large pieces that had a bit more of a bite to them. They were rather soft, so not much to bite onto! The flavour worked well with the crisp sweet pastry. Would definitely want again.




Piebury Corner Apple and Blackcurrant Pie Review
Piebury Corner Apple and Blackcurrant Pie Review
Apple and Blackcurrant

Another classic fruit flavour – the apple was nice but again could have perhaps given a bit more bite to the pie if they were a bit less soft. The blackcurrants were also very noticeable, particularly because the seeds got rather caught in my teeth during the eating of this pie, which spoilt my enjoyment of it a bit. However a good balance to the flavour and in combination with the pastry.

Piebury Corner Blueberry Pie Review
Piebury Corner Blueberry Pie Review
Blueberry

We don’t seem to see many blueberry pies out there on the market, so Pierateer Sam was particularly keen to try this one. While quite sweet, the flavour was very nice and again complimented the crisp pastry well. Well worth getting hold of.



Piebury Corner Cherry Pie Review
Piebury Corner Cherry Pie Review
Cherry

While perhaps not as famous as the apple pie, the cherry pie is still another regular flavour and the pieces of fruit were very obvious upon slicing through. Quite sweet again, but not overpowering. I’d happily eat another of these.





Overall, while these pies are not going to compete against the Piebury Corner meat pies for our affection, they are very good individual fruit pies that I’d happily enjoy for dessert as part of a “Double Pie” main and pudding option. I’m Gunner have to go back to Piebury Corner and get some more soon!

Piebury Corner Apple Pie
Score: 5.89/7
[Colour 6.5, Capacity 6.25, Consistency 5.75, Condition 6, Chewiness 5.5, Cheapness 5, Content 6.25]

Piebury Corner Apple and Blackcurrant Pie
Score: 5.75/7
[Colour 6.5, Capacity 6.25, Consistency 5.5, Condition 6, Chewiness 5.25, Cheapness 5, Content 5.75]

Piebury Corner Blueberry Pie
Score: 5.89/7
[Colour 6.5, Capacity 6.25, Consistency 5.75, Condition 6, Chewiness 5.5, Cheapness 5, Content 6.25]

Piebury Corner Cherry Pie
Score: 5.82/7
[Colour 6.5, Capacity 6.25, Consistency 5.5, Condition 6, Chewiness 5.25, Cheapness 5, Content 6.25]

RAS


Pierate is a pie review website charting a course to find the ultimate pie. For all the pies we have reviewed have a look at our Pie Rankings or find pies of a particular flavour under Pies: Categorised.

Make sure you
and let us know your thoughts!
continue reading "Can Piebury Corner The Fruit Pie Market?"

Monday, 13 March 2017

7 ways to survive post British Pie Week

Yes, British Pie Week is over. We hear ya! Pie specials will disappear from pub menus. Pie Week discounts will no longer apply. But we’ve got one important message for pie fans: “A pie is for life, not just British Pie Week!” We all know that pies are far too good to celebrate just one week of the year! So here's 7 ways to survive post British Pie Week:


1) Enjoy a pie as soon as possible post British Pie Week - after all, there's no need to just eat pies in British Pie Week!

2) Reminisce about your favourite pie or pies from British Pie Week and plan to eat them again soon!

3) Save up your money to buy some top pies even once the promos and discounts have disappeared.

4) Petition your local pub or pie shop to bring back some of their specials if they were only on sale for British Pie Week.

British Pie Awards in Pie Week

5) Search our pie rankings list of around 600 pies to find a new pie to try in the coming weeks!

6) Use your extra time to catch up on all the crazy antics the Pierateers got up to in British Pie Week 2017 via our pie diary:




7) Remember - it's now less than 365 days until we do it all again, for British Pie Week 2018! It'll be from 5th-11th March 2018.


Pierate is a pie review website charting a course to find the ultimate pie. For all the pies we have reviewed have a look at our Pie Rankings or find pies of a particular flavour under Pies: Categorised.

Make sure you
and let us know your thoughts!
continue reading "7 ways to survive post British Pie Week"

Sunday, 12 March 2017

British Pie Week 2017 - Day Seven

As British Pie Week draws to a close, we’ve got one important message for pie fans: “A pie is for life, not just British Pie Week!” For as much as we promote British Pie Week – especially having become the unofficial home of British Pie Week this year – we know that pies are far too good to celebrate just one week of the year! How the Americans just have a “National Pie Day” I do not know – but British Pie Week is just the start of things for us!


And so while our Leeds Pie Tour, which we started yesterday and continued into today, wraps up another busy but highly enjoyable Pie Week, we’re delighted that so many people have tweeted, emailed and got involved with us and our pie antics this British Pie Week! The reaching of 600,000 page views on Thursday was amazing, and passing 10,000 page views in British Pie Week by Friday morning was great too!

And today we celebrated having 2,500 followers on twitter, who are (hopefully) enjoying all our pie-fueled tweets! We’ve certainly been filling their twitter feed with more pies, puns and pie photos than ever before, and have loved the engagement we’ve had with pie fans across the world!

Remember, just because British Pie Week is ending, there is no need to cut back on the pies and not celebrate next week (and the week after, and the week after that) with even more pies and puns! We’ll be trying to get through our pie review backlog and giving you even more suggestions for what to buy and what not to buy in the world of pie - with over 600 pies now rated on the world's leading pie review blog!

So thanks for stopping by to read about pie – and we hope you’ll enjoy pies and our pie blog throughout the year, until British Pie Week 2018!!!



#LeedsPieTour – Day Two

With so many pies consumed on day one of our #LeedsPieTour, it was always going to be a hard act to follow! But we kicked off the morning with three more fruit pies from Piebury Corner, which we had picked up in London on Friday. Having had the Apple and Blackcurrant on Saturday morning, Sunday morning consisted of Cherry Pie, Blueberry Pie and the old classic, Apple Pie! All three slipped down well, with all three Pierateers commenting on their enjoyment of the lovely crisp top pastry and decent fruit chunks inside. The condition was pretty good – a slight uneven bake but nice and golden. The pies at Piebury are quite shallow – a quite unique shape and size – but boy do they fill the hole! A fruit pie like those definitely ticked the boxes and we’ll give them all a full pie rating soon!

Sadly Leeds only have a Corn Exchange, not Pie Exchange
We then headed into Leeds centre for a brief wander round, checking out a few of the sights and spotting the Pieminister store just a stone’s throw from The Corn Exchange shopping centre. We briefly popped in to speak to the staff there – having already actually eaten a couple of Pieminister pies the previous day – and find out how British Pie Week had been for them. They had had a lot of traffic from pie fans the last week following their £5 pie and mash meal deal, which was great to hear as we generally rate the Pieminister brand highly.

Then we “hopped” over to The Hop pub under the arches of Leeds Railway Station, part of the Granary Wharf shopping area. We’d heard good things about the pies there – and in particular their “pie, mash, peas and drink for a fiver” pie meal deal! It sounded too good to be true, but as advertised online they were indeed doing this pie meal deal for just five of your English Pounds!


We couldn’t resist and tried a few of their pie range there (making sure to avoid the pasties also on sale!) as well as taking a few home with us to try later! The pies we tried in the pub – a Steak and Ale pie and Chicken Curry pie – were both highly commended and we’ll see how well they rate on the 7 Cs of pie rating soon!

It’s now time for us to say farewell to Leeds, and start writing up some of these pie reviews we’ve been too busy eating more pies to write! Fortunately that’s one of the benefits of a long train journey home. Thanks for having us Leeds – it’s been a pie-leasure!!!


See what the Pierateers have been up to this British Pie Week in our daily Pie Diary articles:


Day One – Monday 6th March 2017
Day Two – Tuesday 7th March 2017
Day Three – Wednesday 8th March 2017
Day Four - Thursday 9th March 2017
Day Five - Friday 10th March 2017
Day Six - Saturday 11th March 2017
Day Seven - Sunday 12th March 2017


Pierate is a pie review website charting a course to find the ultimate pie. For all the pies we have reviewed have a look at our Pie Rankings or find pies of a particular flavour under Pies: Categorised.

Make sure you
and let us know your thoughts!
continue reading "British Pie Week 2017 - Day Seven"

Saturday, 11 March 2017

British Pie Week 2017 - Day Six

So after the announcement of the Dickinson and Morris Melton Mowbray Pork Pie winning the British Pie Awards 2017 (which we live blogged on Wednesday) and our London Pie Tour (featuring Piebury Corner, Pieminister, Holborn Dining - to meet chef Calum Franklin - and The Windmill Pie Room), today will see us venture in and around Leeds, Leeds, Leeds as part of our Pierateer "Leeds Pie Tour".

Sadly Leeds only have a Corn Exchange, not Pie Exchange

Yes, as part of our Pie Pledges for 2017 Pierateers Rob, Sam and Tim decided to go somewhere new for the weekend of British Pie Week and try some pies there. So, after a bit of deliberation of where we should go, we set on Leeds Leeds Leeds. So arriving late on Friday evening, we've now got just under two days to find the pies that matter in this Northern Powerhouse of a City! Any Leeds pie recommendations welcome either here or on our twitter @pierateers! Just use the hashtag #LeedsPieTour





#LeedsPieTour – Day One

After live blogging at the British Pie Awards on Wednesday, the results came out on Friday lunchtime and the winner is a Melton Mowbray Pork Pie we're already very familiar with - the Dickinson and Morris Melton Mowbray Pork Pie! We've already rated it as Pierate Highly Recommended in 2014 and will try to get a few more in this year to celebrate!


As for today, having got the train from London to Leeds yesterday evening, we look forward to kicking off our #LeedsPieTour - not forgetting Tim's e-pie-c "9 pies in a day" Triple Pie-thagoras in Leeds to come! (If you don't know what Pie-thagoras Theorem is, check out our Pie Dictionary!)

This morning I kicked off the pie eating with one of our Piebury Corner fruit pies picked up in London - a very tasty Apple and Blackcurrant pie. Heated up for 20 minutes in the oven, the top pastry was crisp and golden, with a warm tasty filling with clear pieces of fruit. Quite sweet, of course, but the pastry was very nice and a good way to kick off the morning!

Staying in Armley, we decided to walk to the local Wilson's Butchers store and they kindly allowed us to do a bit of filming that will be part of our #LeedsPieTour video. Sam tried one of their pork pies while filming outside, while Sam had a meat and potato and Tim had an apple and pork pie back at the house.

Following that, we headed to Haley and Clifford in the north of Leeds. We'd heard they stocked Voakes Pork Pies (a reasonably local pork pie producer) and thought we'd pay them a visit! It was a lovely delicatessen, selling food from a range of local stockists and with a decent selection of salads and (more importantly) pies! Both Sam and Rob went for a Voakes Pork Pie, while Tim had a Great North Pie Co "Classic Lancashire Cheese and Onion" pie (which on their website is listed as containing Dewlay’s tasty Lancashire cheese, caramelised white onion, white pepper, nutmeg & Japanese Panko breadcrumbs). You may well recognise the name Great North Pie Co and that's probably because it was the last pie company to win the British Pie Awards (back in 2015) before yesterday's 2017 winner was announced.


In the evening we tried a few new Nice Pies we hadn't rated yet - which we collected on Wednesday when in Melton Mowbray for the British Pie Awards. They were the Slow Cooked Lamb and Mint pie, Chicken, Gammon and Mushroom pie and Beef in Red Wine and Roasted Marrow Bone pie - all of which did really well at the Pie Awards (with two of the three winning their class!)

And we also tried the Pieminister British Pie Week special - Cricket pie! Yes, you read that right - actual crickets. You could see their dead bodies in the pie and everything!

Our #LeedsPieTour concludes tomorrow!


See what the Pierateers have been up to this British Pie Week in our daily Pie Diary articles:


Day One – Monday 6th March 2017
Day Two – Tuesday 7th March 2017
Day Three – Wednesday 8th March 2017
Day Four - Thursday 9th March 2017
Day Five - Friday 10th March 2017
Day Six - Saturday 11th March 2017
Day Seven - Sunday 12th March 2017


Pierate is a pie review website charting a course to find the ultimate pie. For all the pies we have reviewed have a look at our Pie Rankings or find pies of a particular flavour under Pies: Categorised.

Make sure you
and let us know your thoughts!
continue reading "British Pie Week 2017 - Day Six"