Saturday, 22 October 2016

What happens at a Pierate Piefest?

Earlier this year, Pierate celebrated the summer in style by throwing a massive Pierate Piefest! As expected, there was plenty of pie and banter - but an unexpected guest at the party was the Ship's Cook triple-layered Neapolitan pie cake. There were definitely some tense moments cutting into the pie, but as you can see it turned out superbly in the end!


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Thursday, 20 October 2016

Taking a bite in the Big Apple (Pie)

As Pierateer Sam mentioned a few months back on Pierate, we've had a craving for an American pie for a while now but despite many kind offers from American Pie Makers, there's never been a realistic op-pie-tunity to go Stateside and try their pie (and despite all the crazy pie flavours I've eaten, even I would be wary of a pie being mailed across the Atlantic Ocean for 8 hours!!!)

Lower Manhattan - Surely there's some pie in there somewhere?!
Is that a golden pie up there?!
However we are pleased to announce that Summer and Fall of 2016 is American Pie Season at Pierate. Just like London buses you wait a long time for a Pierateer to head stateside and then we go over within a couple of months! In August work took Pierateer Sam over the Pond and you can take a look at our Chicago Pie Tour to see where Sam went. And Pierateer Rob is now currently in the Big Apple - New York City - and looking for pie suggestions, so if you have any suggestions for New York or other areas of the North East Coast then let us know on Twitter or Facebook.

While still early on in my trip, I've spotted a couple of pie places to check out and I was encouraged to read that when immigrants to the United States stopped off at Ellis Island in the early 1900s they were given a pie as part of their "lunch box" given to them on arrival!

As I explore this week I'll keep my eyes out for some American pies!

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Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Some Pies I've Not So Recently Been Eating

It's not that I've been neglecting the blog. Oh no. And it's not that I've fallen out of love with pies. It's just that I've needed a bit of pie downtime, if you will. A time to recuperate, a time to be myself, a time to think

You know, the shock of what happened in March really set me back. It made me ask deeper questions about why us Pierateers put in so much hard graft when a PASTY can just stroll right on in there and be the supreme champion of us all. 

But that shouldn't be what this blog post is about. Congratulations and fair play to the winner. I don't want to detract from their victory, and it's up to the Melton Mowbray-based national pie competition setter to generate their own rules. I should look at the positives. What this set back has given me is time to think.

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. And during my quite inexcusably long hiatus (or should I say 'pie-atus'), my heart has grown fonder. Each day away from Pierate, I realise how much I miss the buzz of posting about a top pie I've just eaten, or the tears and genuine emotion of eating a soggy-lidded casserole of shame. I have recuperated, I've grown stronger, and now I more passionate about pies than ever. 

I'm ready to celebrate pies, pastry, and all of the associated industry awards - controversial or otherwise. It never fails to surprise me how many more pies there are out there to eat, and how many more blog posts there are to write. 540,000 page views? Bring on 1,000,000!

Now onto some pies that I have been eating but haven't reviewed (and probably won't do because it's been too long since I ate them and therefore wouldn't be fair).

Actually, this first pie is one I ate fairly recently but Pierate reviewed back in March of this year. It's a Pieminister Saag Pie-neer. It was certainly pleasant and I'd probably agree with ARL's rating of 5.9/7. Pieminister are always a safe pair of hands with a pie.

Next up is a pork pie I never reviewed, from a time when I visited Waitrose and bought as many different pork pies as I could. It's an oak smoked pork pie - certainly an interesting taste, and one that I remember enjoying very much. It's a shame I never got round to reviewing it but if I see it in Waitrose again then I'll pick up another pack.

Aha, here's another vegetarian pie that I just really needed to review but never did. Unfortunately I seem to have misplaced the cross-sectional photo, so the outside is all you'll see of this ASDA Chosen By You Vegetarian Creamy Potato, Cheese and Onion delight. Enjoy!

Oh yes, the ASDA Bistro pies. They never fail to disappoint. They had a strong start on the blog, with the Ultimate Steak Pie not only scoring highly but also being one of the first pies we ever reviewed. Since then, standards in the ASDA bistro kitchen have evidently slipped, and now all we are left with are these half-baked, half-filled ideas. This ASDA Bistro pork, bramley apple and cider offering doesn't turn that around.

Well, there we have it, some pies I have not so recently been eating. I'm really looking forward to posting more actual reviews on Pierate.

Bye for now!


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Monday, 17 October 2016

MyPie are my number 1!

In some senses it seems only yesterday that we set sail on this e-pie-c adventure to rate as many pies as we could get out gravy covered hands on - and yet next month marks our 7th birthday! In that time we've had a few number 1s but top spot has been held on to firmly by Paul Skyes of Paul's Pies from January 2013. Until now...

Yes, hold the front page! Pierate has a new number 1 pie, as existing cham-pie-on Paul has decided to close down his personal business and work elsewhere. Sad as it is to confirm bad news, which Paul honourably informed us of over the phone a few months back, we fully respect his decision to move job and spend more time with his young family. Our stomachs, however, may not cope so well with the news!!! We wish Paul well.

Tim and Sam with our new number 1... but which pie is it?!
This did however leave us with an unusual situation, as for the first time we were having to remove pies from, rather than add them to, the pie rankings! It also left us wanting to re-test our top pies just to check their ratings - especially as the original King's Farm review was done in 2010 and we needed to see if it was worthy of the crown of best pie on Pierate!

Sam kindly took on the task of re-rating King's Farm steak pie recently (while cheekily adding a new review of their chicken pie!) and compared it with the countless steak and ale pies we have had from Chris at MyPie in the last year and we can confirm there was only one winner...

Our new number 1 pie is MyPie's Steak and Ale pie!!! Check out the amazing review we gave it!

No longer just best chicken pie in London - Chris will need to update his signs!!!

The latest addition to the "MyPie" fleet of pie trucks!
Photo courtesy of Chris @MYPIE_LDN
Congratulations to Chris Brumby who, since we started tasting his pies a few years ago following his 'Roll-off' 2014 win (best sausage roll), has produced numerous efforts of ex-pie-tese that have been Pierate Highly Recommended, and has dominated our top 10 pie list!

We're excited to hear of the new plans Chris has - including a number of new vehicles in his pie fleet to help serve even more pies at the various events he attends!

Meanwhile we'll keep our eyes on the pies to see if anyone can dethrone MyPie from the top of the pie rankings!


The Pierateers with our new number 1 pie maker - Chris!
(L to R - Chris, SJL, TJP. 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!
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Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Who Are Hoosier Mama Pie Company?

Hoosier Mama Pie Company - Chicken Pot Pie & Apple Pie Reviews

As part of my Chicago Pie Tour and Pierate's American Pie Season, I paid a visit to Hooiser Mama Pie Company. To start with, I had no idea what Hoosier Mama Pie Company was all about, because I didn't know what the name meant. For a British lad the term 'Hoosier' is a bit of an enigma. My only reference point was the band 'The Hoosiers' with their 'Trick to Life' album. I started wondering if HMPC were trying to say that the 'trick to life' is to eat more pie. After all they do carry the quote "We must have a pie. Stress cannot exist in the prescence of a pie' on their website (I mantra I try and live by and is indeed hung upon my own wall). Upon meeting one of the proprietors, Craig, he explained that Hoosier is a term for a person from the state of Indiana, where he and his wife Paula were from, then I started to understand who Hoosier Mama Pie Company are. Paula is the eponymous Hoosier Mama, conjuring up visions of traditional and homely pies, just what I was looking for in order to get a real taste of America! 

Paula used to work as a fine-dining pastry chef before noticing an op-pie-tunity to put the filling in a pie shaped hole in the Chicago culinary market. Paula & Craig started selling their pies at farmers markets, with an emphasis on trying to use local produce. The success of this saw them take the leap into opening a permanent shop which seems to have been a real success. HMPC now have a cult following, receiving numerous recommendation as one of the best in America and they now have two shops. Craig suggests that Americans are now getting more in touch with their culinary traditions which has seen a upsurge in pie popularity, similar to what has unfolded in Britain in recent years. The popularity has even led Paula to release a pie recipe book. (Although presumably she has kept some secrets to herself?)

I visited the Chicago store, which is apparently the original, but smaller, of their two pie shops. It felt tiny inside but I liked it. It was unpretentious, with some decorations explaining the virtue of pie and a few mix and match table and chairs. The small size made me suspect a lot of people are ordering their pies whole, to take away and eat at home. Of course, what excited me the most was the small cabinet proudly displaying their selection of pies. I was again, very pleased that there were pies which met our definition our a pie, being that it should be fully encased in pastry (as this was one of my main concerns for the Chicago Pie Tour).  I even more pleased to see that a savoury Chicken Pot Pie was available as I was in the mood for a savoury meal. 

The pies at Hooiser Mama are mainly large pies. These are sold by the slice to customers who are eating in (although presumably you could try and eat the whole pie there and then, although you would need quite a group as the pies are very large). The Chicken Pot Pie looked great on the shelf with a slice yet to be taken from it. The pastry looked flaky and golden. The arrival of the slice of pie was preceded by a beautiful waft of a buttery, chicken aroma. Sadly, the pie hadn't held together all that well on slicing, which detracted from the appearance somewhat. It is difficult to get a slice of a hot, meat pie to come out looking pretty. Taking a bite, I found that the pie really made up for this in the flavour department! It was full of flavours which were different to your typical British pie. The emphasis here was on a buttery taste to both the filling and the pastry. It was well seasoned and contained peas, carrot and potato as well as the chicken. The chicken seemed like real pieces of chicken, not the processed cubes of breast meat which are found in lesser chicken pies. I enjoyed the firmness of the vegetables which added variety to the texture (although the potato was a bit too firm if anything). The pie was so well filled it was almost lacking in pastry (given that it was slice of pie). Fortunately there was a thick roll of pastry at the back. Often this large crust can be a bad thing, but in this case it was not at all dry and helped give the pie the right balance of filling to pastry. For $6.25 this seemed like a decent sized slice of pie. It was enough to prevent me eating another slice of pie straight away at least! I think the rich, buttery flavour would have also put me off from eating a lot of this pie, a slice was a good amount. Overall a very tasty and stand-out pie, the main thing stopping it getting a higher score was a lack of cohesion causing it to fall apart on serving, not quite what I would be looking for in the ultimate pie.

Chicken Pot Pie (Hoosier Mama Pie Company [Chicago])

I also had to try a sweet pie so I picked up a piece of their apple pie to take-away. They were good enough to give me a bit extra too which I contemplated bringing back to the UK for the other Pierateers to try. However, it had already become so smashed to pieces by the time I got back to my hotel that I realised this wouldn't be worthwhile!

A slice of apple pie costs $5.50 which initially seemed like quite a bit for a slice of fruit pie (a bit over £4). However the slice was really big, bigger than many individual pies and had a premium appearance which you would expect to pay more for. It is better value to buy the whole pie but here I was paying more for the individual slice and the option to eat it on the premise with coffee. When it came to the eating I think it lived up to the price tag. They advertise it as 'not too sweet, with more apple than goo, in a delicious buttery crust' and I think this is a better description of this pie than I could ever have come up with. There was a lot of apple chunks which were soft but retained some bite. The pastry lid and crimp was crispy and had a lovely sugar glaze, this was a sweet treat which I would have been happy to eat on it's own. The rest of the pie was surprisingly moist. There was plenty of gooey syrup which had soaked into the bottom crust, leaving it a bit too soggy in my opinion but tasty nevertheless. (This may have been because I had pursued the take-away option causing the syrup to leak out, I am not sure.) There was plenty of flavour to this pie, it was more spiced than I usually find back in Britain and I really liked the cinnamon hit. For my taste it was quite sweet (as opposed to other apple pies back home with slightly sour hint). This was not over the top but enough that I only wanted to eat one slice at a time as more might have become sickly (perhaps it would have gone well with ice cream). Overall I really enjoyed this apple pie, it was certainly the best apple pie I had during my trip to Chicago and the crunchy part of the pastry was probably the best I have ever had with any sweet pie ever! It was close to beating the Morecambe Apple pie (British Pie Awards Supreme Champion 2014) as my favourite ever apple pie (if cost was not a factor).

Apple Pie (Hoosier Mama Pie Company [Chicago])

Both pies deservedly receive 'Pierate Highly Recommended' Awards. I can see why Hooiser Mama have become arguably the biggest name in the Chicago pie scene. The pastry is like no other and it shows that the pies are carefully made on a small scale. Craig explained that were they to produce more pies it would be difficult to maintain oversight of the quality. The small size of the operation was something that I really liked about HMPC and I think the pies would loose something if they were to be produced on a larger scale. Thanks to Paula and Craig for presenting me with my very own Hoosier Mama branded pie slice! Ever time I use it I will remember this true slice of America and I wish them much success in the future.


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Friday, 9 September 2016

The Kingmakers

Kings Farm Shop, Wendover, Buckinghamshire - Steak Pie & Chicken Pie Reviews

When you write for the world's most popular pie based, light entertainment website there are many things that can keep you awake at night. Trying to make our reviews consistent and maintain accuracy after 6 years of pie reviewing is one of those things. It's like trying to herd cats (albeit very tasty cats). You look away for one moment and a company will have changed it's range or updated it's flavours. I have nightmares about sending someone to eat a pie which is perhaps not longer as good as it was when we visited. I see their scornful faces asking me how I could have got it so wrong. Worst still, what if one of the pies on our list is no longer in production. I would feel terrible to send someone on a wild goose chase for a pie which doesn't exist. (Note to self, why have I never tried wild goose pie?) Even if the companies themselves have done exceptionally well to maintain a consistent product, after having reviewed over 500 pies we now have quite a lot more pies to compare against than we did to start with. In some cases this probably means we need to revisit some of our early scores to re-benchmark them against the latest competition such as MyPie, our favourites of last year. In all seriousness, we do take our pie reviewing seriously as we know what it can mean to the pie producers to be crowned as a Pierate Highly Recommended pie. We might not quite be the kingmakers but it won't harm a business to have our recommendation.

Unfortunately we just don't have time to go back and review all the pies again and we wouldn't want to, there are so many new pies out there! However there are some cases where it feels particularly important to carry out a repeat review, such as those near the top of our pie rankings. Or in some cases, we regularly eat a particular pie anyway and hence to do a repeat review is that much easier.

One such pie is the Steak pie from Kings Farm Shop, near Wendover in Buckinghamshire. I have recently eaten a few of these and it seems appropriate now to revisit the review given that it was almost 6 years ago. Back in 2010 I gave it a huge 6.7 out of 7, sending it to number one in our rankings for quite some time. Is it still as good as I remember? I hadn't had one for a couple of years. I was slightly nervous, when expectations are high it is easy to be disappointed.

The display in the shop still warms my heart with the range of simple handmade pies all begging to be taken home and devoured. (And isn't my phone camera now so much better than the crap one on my cheap ZTE Blade from 2010? Although I now have a ZTE Blade S6 with a camera equally as crap compared to the modern competition!)

I am pleased to say that the Steak pie is still very similar to how it always has been and is still an excellent pie! Not a lot has changed really, it still looks very much the same with a rustic, handmade look and a thick crimped, overhanging edge (although if you do a spot the difference, this one doesn't have fork imprints on the crimp). One thing definitely has changed though over the last six years and that is the price! From £5 for a large steak pie to £6.45 seems to be an inflation busting price increase which could affect the score slightly. However, it does still feel good value for money, the pies are still packed with steak chunks and are certainly big enough to feed 4 normal people or 2-3 Pierateers. I still find it difficult to stop at one slice! The rich, meaty, thick sauce is very effective, with ample amounts so that additional gravy would be boarding on foolhardy. The pie is still packed with tender chunks of steak. Having now tried so many other steak pies, I realise how simple this pie is. It doesn't try and do anything unusual, but it does the little things so well.

Something I have found is that the versions which come frozen tend to be the best and their staff seemed to share this opinion. Re-heating the pre-cooked version has a tendency to make some of the pastry quite crunchy, sometimes verging on too much crunch. If I had to be critical, the pastry crimp can be a bit large, which can detract, particularly from the individual sized pies, which are consequently a bit pastry-heavy. Also, perhaps it is a bit too simple compared to some other Steak pies we have tried, such as MyPie and Paul's Pies. Maybe it takes more for a pie to standout having reviewed so many now. But overall it is hard to find much fault and the Steak pie is still deserving of our Pierate Highly Recommended award. 

Steak (Kings Farm Shop, [HP22 6BH])

This time I am also going to review a Chicken Pie from Kings Farm Shop, the first time I have tried this particular pie. At £5.95 it is a bit cheaper, which makes sense given that Chicken is much cheaper than Steak but oddly a price difference between the different flavours of pie is quite rare. Much like the Steak pie, this is simple, wholesome food. It isn't Chicken and Ham, it isn't Chicken & Asparagus, it is certainly not Chicken & Earwig or whatever the next random pie will be that tries to be super weird just to standout. It is just chicken. There in lies it's strength but also unfortunately some weakness. Whilst it is nice that it doesn't over complicate the contents, there perhaps isn't enough in there to give it much flavour in this otherwise excellent pie. The appearance is similar to the steak, if anything slightly too rustic in appearance but charming nevertheless. The chunks of real chicken sit in a thick gelatinous sauce. This doesn't stop it being a delight getting your teeth stuck into this pie, given that the pastry is still delicious and there are so many chunks of meat. But you can't get away from the fact that it lacks the strong meaty flavours and great balance of seasoning that the Steak pie has. Still a pie I would recommend. Not a pie I would often buy given that the Steak pie sits next to it on the shelf.

Chicken (Kings Farm Shop, [HP22 6BH])

P.S. Looking back on the original review from 6 years ago does make me appreciate how time flies. Back then we had reviewed less than 50 pies. I talked about how this was one of the first times I had experienced bad heartburn. Now we are over 500 pies reviewed and heartburn has now become a familiar companion over this epic pastry fuelled journey!

continue reading "The Kingmakers"

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Chicago Get These Royally Good Pies

Pleasant House Pub - Steak & Ale Pie Review

First on my pie-tinerary for the Chicago Pie Tour was Pleasant House Pub, home of the Royal Pies brand. For my first American pie it would have perhaps been typical to go for an Apple Pie or something similar. However, I happened to be quite close to the Pleasant House Pub which was billed as offering a British-inspired menu. Pleasant House had good reviews and I was confident I would be able to get a pie meeting our definition of a 'Proper Pie' so I decided to visit them for our first American pie review. Perhaps going to this pub which promised to be a 'home from home' would also be a way of easing myself in gently to the American pie experience?

Pleasant House Pub

A short cycle from McCormick Place to Pilsen and I arrive at this beautiful cafe/bar/bakery/pie house combination. It really does seem to do it all so is likely to appeal to a broad range of people. One of the many great things about Pleasant House Pub is their long opening hours, 10:00 til 22:00, apparently there aren't many pie requests in the morning but they can do them (Is there a market for breakfast pies perhaps?). It would be good to see more places offering this kind of pie experience in the UK.

Upon stepping inside I am greeted by this chap, Art Jackson (on the left), co-owner of the pub and creator of the Royal Pies. Trained as a classic chef, he has the all important combination of a flair for cooking and a passion for pies. Art's passion for British food was in part inspired by cooking with his Grandmother, his Father having come to the US from Yorkshire. When he was young his Grandmother said he should run a pie shop, something he didn't take seriously until later in life! After working in restaurants, Art and his wife Chelsea dreamed of owning their own restaurant so in 2011 they opened Pleasant House Bakery in nearby Bridgeport. This original incarnation of Pleasant House went down well with the local community. The unusual name comes from the house where Art's Father used to live in the Yorkshire countryside. However, it lacked it's own bar and was not air-conditioned, so, a few weeks before my visit they 'upgraded' to the new Pilsen location and changed the name to Pleasant House Pub with their experienced business partner Kevin Heisner becoming involved. The new venue is simple but appealing. I was particularly pleased to find that there was no kitsch British themed decor! In fact the British inspiration is subtle until you begin to look at the drinks or food on offer at which point the pies and scotch egg give it away.

The pies are unchanged, still being branded as 'Royal Pies'. I grabbed a crisp Aspall's cider to help me cool down as I decided what pie to go for. The standard pies were the classic Steak & Ale and Chicken Balti as well as a Mushroom & Kale. There are also intriguing specials available with Ratatouille being on offer when I visited. I was torn, but decided to go for the Steak & Ale as this seems to be a pie which often scores well on Pierate. It was $8.50 with the option to 'crown' your pie with mash and gravy for another $2.50. I opted for the gravy on the side but couldn't resist crowning the pie with mash. I initially felt this was a bit expensive for a small meal (over £8) but it was table service and a nice restaurant setting so I decided actually the price was quite reasonable even with the crap exchange rate (and I don't want to hold the political whims of the British public against this pie).

Royal Steak Pie at Pleasant House Pub

This is the dish that arrived and I think it looks rather fetching even though the mash does obscure the pie somewhat. I was pleased to see the pie was a quite tall, a decent size and had a nice golden crust. They had even achieved what most pies fail with, in that the sides and base had also been cooked well whereas all too often the sides and base can be soggy.

Slicing the pie open revealed plenty of steak and quite a bit of carrot. The pastry was ideal in that it was crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle. The chunks of meat were soft and had a nice flavour. The flavours were familiar but also a bit different and I say that having eaten a lot of Steak & Ale pies in my time. What made this pie stand out was the tangy, almost fruity flavours to the sauce. It reminded me of Worcestershire Sauce and I suspected it may have been flavoured with a similar sauce called 'Henderson's Relish' which Art had noted they imported specially to Pleasant House Pub. Apparently it is a staple in Sheffield and South Yorkshire but those from outside that region are unlikely to have heard of it (like myself). There was also a real meaty flavour to this pie and overall I thought the flavours worked very well. It was nice that it did something a bit different to the standard Steak & Ale. The carrot was soft and added a sweetness to the flavour, I thought it was nice to have some veg but would have chosen it to be less soft personally. The gravy was unnecessary as there was enough sauce with the pie but as is the case back home it is provided regardless. If I had to criticise the pie, some of the pastry was a little too thick in places for me but I think this is difficult to get perfect when you are trying to make a pie which has rigidity like this one did. Whilst the pie was a good size, had I been more hungry I but suspect I might have looked at the plate and thought it could have benefited from more mash or peas on the side.

I had one main regret from my trip to Pleasant House Pub, why on Earth did I only have one pie? I will always wonder what the Chicken Balti would have been like, with Art citing it as his favourite. I should have at least taken a pork pie away with me, but alas, at least Pleasant House Pub left me wanting more. I hope that their new neighbours in Chicago get the British inspired menu which is quite niche in these parts, with Art feeling that British food is unrepresented considering the wealth of other international cuisine available. Many thanks to Art for taking the time to chat to me. Was really great to learn that he was a fan of Pierate and I am pleased to announce that we are now fans of his pies which now carry Pierate Highly Recommended status! A great pie which would go down well in any gourmet pie house back in Britain.

Steak & Ale (Pleasant House Pub/Royal Pies)

continue reading "Chicago Get These Royally Good Pies"

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Chicago Pie Tour

Chicago, the Windy City, was only incorporated as a city in 1837 but is now the third most populous city in the United States with 2.7 million residents. Its location on the shore of Lake Michigan made it an important location for trade and saw the economy expand. This massive growth in population and economy saw people arrive from all over the world. The question we wanted to answer to was what affect has this had on the pies that they have on offer? Indeed are pies common in Chicago? Being based in the UK we have not had much exposure to American pies, in fact we have not reviewed any before. I was aware that apple pies were popular but have often found that what American's call pies we might refer to in Britain as tarts, i.e. a fruit pie without a top pastry lid.

chicago pierate

Work took me to a conference in Chicago (yes, sadly pie reviewing is not quite a full time job yet!). Afterwards I took a day off to do some sightseeing, having never been to Chicago before. It was a packed schedule, I wanted to see some of the tourist sights such as the view from the John Hancock Center but also wanted to try at least a few different pies. When trying to find the best pies in a new city it often seems that they won't be in convenient central locations and will be spread around the city. This indeed was the case in Chicago. High up my itinerary was Pleasant House Pub (home of Royal Pies) and Hooiser Mama, both seemed to be highly regarded. I was also intrigued by First Slice, a charity who use their profits to provide free meals to those in need. Pleasant House Pub was conveniently situated to the south end of the city, where I was based. Hooiser Mama was to the west with First Slice miles out to the in the north.

I found that Chicago had a cycle hire scheme called Divvy, similar to the one in London and used this to travel around. It was slightly dangerous for a few reasons; I didn't understand the rules of the road, the bendy buses seemed keen to take cyclist out and the road resembled the surface of the moon. However, it was great fun as it meant I saw diverse parts of the city I wouldn't have gone to if I had just stuck to the tourist trail. The lakefront in particular was beautiful and had segregated cycle paths. I would have enjoyed it even more if I wasn't melting in the 35C heat. It's just not what I am used to on the hunt for pies in England! Fortunately some of the pies came with ice cream so all was okay.

The pies didn't let me down after all my efforts to track them down. I am pleased to say that Chicagoans seem to be into their pies, there were many more that I didn't have a chance (or occasionally the appetite) to eat in my short visit to such a large city. My worries that none of the pies would have top-crust lids were unfounded based on what I saw. I always found what we would call 'proper pies' available although some options like pecan pie (without a lid) were also present. I will attempt to write up my experiences in the next few weeks so keep looking at Pierate to see which pies come out on top!

continue reading "Chicago Pie Tour"

Monday, 15 August 2016

American Pie Season

The Pierateers head stateside to pillage some American Pies 

Over the years we have had many request to rate pies from the USA. However, given that the Pierateers are based in Britain this has not proved easy, the op-pie-tunity has not come up and to get a pie shipped all the way over would not be pretty, much better for the Pierate Ship to head over there itself!

We are pleased to announce that Summer and Fall of 2016 will be American Pie Season at Pierate. Just like London buses you wait a long time for a Pierateer to head stateside and then three go over within a couple of months! Pierateer Rob has been planning a holiday to New York in October for a number of months. Then in August work took Pierateer Sam and Pierateer Tim to Chicago and LA respectively. Have a look at our Chicago Pie Tour to see where Pierateer Sam went. If you have any suggestions for Pierateer Rob in New York or other areas of the East Coast then let us know on Twitter or Facebook.

continue reading "American Pie Season"

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Piefest UK celebrates a summer of pie fun!

This weekend (13th-14th August) marks the first ever "Piefest UK" celebration of pies in the one and only capital of pies - Melton Mowbray! From 10am to 4pm on Saturday and Sunday you can sample the many pie-lights of the UK pie scene all in one place - the Melton Mowbray Cattle Market (LE13 0HS)!

We would have loved to have been there this weekend, having been invited along to do a talk on "How to rate a pie" - something we are of course the pie-fessionals at, having been on BBC One's hit show Rip Off Britain as pie experts, among other highlights. However "proper work" - as pie rating is sadly not yet a full time profession! - has got in the way this time, but we hope to be there next year!

In the meantime, however, we very much hope people enjoy the first ever Piefest UK and look forward to hearing how it went! For more information on this first event, in the same town that hosts the annual British Pie Awards, check out their website!

The Ship's Cook made this amazing Birthday Cake Pie!
This official pie extravaganza follows hot on the heels of our very own Pierate Piefest 2016 just a few weeks ago, which was the first time in a long while we'd managed to get all the Pierateers under one roof. We sampled a range of lovely pies, including a crocodile and a game pie donated to us from Pierate Recommended Pie & Ale Manchester! They were both very nice and full of flavour, although split between 4 hungry Pierateers we will need to give them a proper review when we have a whole pie each during our next visit to the shop in Manchester!

However the undeniable pie-light of our very own Pierate Piefest was the Birthday Cake Pie, made by the one and only Ship's Cook! This amazing construction was a vanilla, strawberry and chocolate cake layered into and fully encased in sweet pastry - with a few pirate decorations just for good measure! And it tasted just as good as it looks! Amazing work! The only question we were left asking ourselves was why had we never had one of these before?!?!

This Birthday Cake Pie (a cake in a pie) was followed the next day by Pierateer Rob going to an event hosted by Matt Williams of - a food website that celebrates giant food and allows people to rate the snacks they see (and even submit photos of their own efforts!) Matt himself had decided to make a "pake" - which is pie in a cake. Although his colossal effort was actually loads of pies in loads of cake!

Matt Williams Pake Pie Cake Review
Matt Williams and his "Pake"

Matt ended up using 10 fruit pies in five layers of cake/pie - with 3 layers of chocolate sponge with cherry pie inside and 2 layers of vanilla sponge with apple pie inside. I personally went for the vanilla cake/apple pie combo and it tasted very good! Great work Matt!

The summer is always a bit of a quieter period for the Pierateers, this summer even more so. Work and life commitments come to the fore but don't worry - there are still some very exciting posts that will be hitting the world's number one pie blog soon! Firstly, if you've been following @pierateers recently you will know that Pierateer Sam has been checking out some pies Stateside!

Yes, our Pierate Ship finally set sail to America, as Sam visited some pie shops in Chicago! However, like London buses, it won't be long until our second visit to America, as Pierateer Rob will be visiting New York in October! Look out for some awesome American pie reviews coming your way soon!!!

And hot off the press is news that on 23rd October the Pierate Highly Recommended firm "Nice Pie" are hosting a Melton Mowbray Pie Eating Competition! We look forward to finding out more about that soon!

As always, keep your pie suggestions coming in, enjoy some summer pies and we hope to review more pies soon!


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.

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continue reading "Piefest UK celebrates a summer of pie fun!"

Saturday, 23 July 2016

York Pies - Shambles

Ye Olde Pie & Sausage Shoppe Pie Reviews - The Shambles, York

On a recent visit to the Viking city of York I was pleased to find a proper, traditional pie shop in the heart of the city. The narrow street called The Shambles is rich in history. Some of the timber framed buildings date back to the 14th century. It is also rich in pie history with the street having previously been packed with butcher's shops. There is a high kerb running down the street. I heard was so the blood and gore could flow away down the centre of the street.... a bit different to your modern supermarket meat aisle! The street is now primarily focused on tourists with gift shops and quaint cafes. Fortunately one shop is tapping into the street's heritage, they don't even have a sign, just a picture of a pie hanging from the side of the shop. Ye Olde Pie & Sausage Shoppe has a lovely display of pies sitting proudly in the window. They also had some interesting flavours so I couldn't restrict myself to only trying one. Many of them were in the style of a pork pie and could be eaten cold but they also had pies that they could heat up for you to eat straight away. I grabbed a Scotch Pie to have hot for £1.50 then to have later I got a Pork & Black Pudding and a Wild Boar pie at £1.70 and £2.00 respectively.

Some of the pies they had made themselves and some of them were brought in. This really showed as I have never had such a mixed experience from one shop.

York Viking Pie

Pork & Black Pudding

pork and black pudding pie
The pork and black pudding pies and the wild boar were both clearly premium, hand-made products in excellent Condition. As you can see from the picture, the rustic appearance fit in perfectly in the Viking banquet reconstructed in the Yorkshire Museum (which was well worth a visit by the way). They had ample golden glaze giving a delicious Colour. Something I always look for in a good pork pie is a bit of a crunch to the pastry unlike the soggy fare from mass produced pies. This pie did not disappoint being incredibly crunchy. This must have been made for strong Viking jaws. At one point I wondered if I had accidentally picked up one of the fake loaves of bread from the banqueting table.

The Content certainly a bit different to your average pork pie. Instead of jelly the pie relied on the black pudding to give keep it moist. It had quiet a pungent aroma which reminded me of charcuterie and was slightly over powering. I did enjoy the black pudding which added a bit of variety which is normally lacking for a pork pie. It was let down by some of the pig meat being a bit Chewy. It had a decent sized capacity and for a premium product at a premium location, £1.70 seemed relatively Cheap.

Pork & Black Pudding (Ye Olde Pie & Sausage Shoppe [YO1 7LX])

Wild Boar
york wild boar pie

The Wild Boar pie looked like it had the same pastry that the Pork & Black Pudding but if anything it was even more crunchy! The pastry actually squeaked against my teeth in a very peculiar way and bordered on being a bit dry. It was a bit softer on the inside and somehow it just about worked. This pie was helped by having an excellent Content. The wild boar was cured in big, salty pink chunks that tasted a bit like gammon. The pieces of meat were firm which gave plenty to get your teeth into. There was a lot of jelly in all the gaps which kept it moist and held the fragmented filling together like a delicious glue. As you can see from the photo, it was very greasy, turning the bag translucent, like all good pork pies should! It was a bit different to your average pork pie but overall the unique Consistency worked. Another Pierate Recommended Wild Boar pie to add to a surprisingly long list

Wild Boar (Ye Olde Pie & Sausage Shoppe [YO1 7LX])

ye olde pie & sausage shoppe

Scotch Pie

Last and definitely least was the Scotch pie. It was by far the worst Scotch pie I have ever had. You may be aware that I am quite a fan of Scotch pies, having reviewed a fair few in my search for what makes the best Scotch pie. It is relatively rare to find one in England so I thought I had to go for it but soon regretted it. There was nothing too it really. I bit into it and the lid sunk down to the base because there was barely any filling. The pastry was too dry and not enjoyable to eat. Whilst the filling was very moist, there just wasn't enough of it to soften the pastry. The filling wasn't unpleasant to eat but seemed quite watery and runny. I think it was probably beef but it was hard to say for sure. I couldn't really find anything good to say about this pie so it unfortunately goes to the bottom of our Scotch pie rankings. The only saving grace for Ye Olde Pie & Sausage Shoppe is that they didn't actually make this one, having bought it in from catering giants Bako.

Beef Scotch Pie (Ye Olde Pie & Sausage Shoppe [YO1 7LX])

york scotch pie

The Scotch pie was one blip on an otherwise very enjoyable trip to York. It is a fine city with lots of interesting history, particularly Roman and Viking. Sadly the Jorvick viking museum was closed due to the terrible flooding they experienced in 2015. Due to reopen in 2017, they are trying to meet some of the cost via crowd funding, I might have to pay another visit when they reopen but will know to avoid the Scotch pie next time.

continue reading "York Pies - Shambles"

Thursday, 21 July 2016

The Pies Graffiti: BBC prove what the Pierateers knew all along!

BBC investigate who is behind "The Pies" Road Graffiti

Two years ago, following a number of photos like the one below doing the rounds on twitter, the Pierateers felt they needed to clarify that they were NOT behind the "The Pies" bit of graffiti on a road bridge near Chester.

A colleague at work (yes, sadly Pierateering is not quite a full time profession just yet!) had taken the following photo on the motorway towards Chester:

"The Pies" sign - Photo credit: Jas

Pierate officially confirmed we were not doing a Banksy and adding pie signage to road bridges up and down the country. If we'd been thinking of doing such a thing, we would certainly have put either "Pierate" or "We rate all the Pies" - our policy summed up brilliantly in our article "Who rate all the Pies?" which was produced just prior to British Pie Week two years ago.

Due to overwhelming views of this article two years ago we decided to do some research on this piece of graffiti and found a lot of history to it! Find out more in our latest article on pie graffiti

However what is interesting is that yesterday the BBC News team decided to do their own research and you can watch their 103 second long video right here: The Pies BBC Investigation

Once again, the Pierateers prove they are one step ahead of the game when it comes to all things pie!


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 "The Pies Graffiti: BBC prove what the Pierateers knew all along!"