Saturday, 29 August 2015

Meet the Pie-ducer: Dee from Dee’s Pies

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’re creating a new “Meet the Pie-ducer” series of interviews, where we lift the lid on those who are looking to piefect their trade…


Dee’s Pies

Owner: Dee Whooley
Based: London
Sells in: Shops and markets in London


Dee has a strong history of working in some top pie kitchens across London, including as chef in the Punch Tavern where we have very much enjoyed the pies we’ve rated there. While he left there a few years ago, we’re sure the work Dee did there is still bearing fruit (or highly rated pies) many years on, judging by how high the current pies there still rate! However Dee has not looked back since starting up his pie business in 2012, which became a full time business around the start of 2014.

Dee's Pies Chicken and Chorizo Pie Review
Dee's Pies Chicken and Chorizo Pie
Selling his ware on the streets of London at various markets, particularly in central to south-west London, as well as supplying a number of pubs, delis and butchers in that area, Dee reckons he makes about 750-1,000 pies a week in his London kitchen. He employs Jo as his marketer, organiser and social media worker, alongside other staff to help in the kitchen and on the market stalls he sells at.

Some of his pielights include the numerous Great Taste awards he has won and setting up a Pie Club which rotates around various Kingston pubs and provides a selection of his pies to the public. Dee is regularly updating his range of pies, not afraid to try out different flavour combinations and with a very impressive range available. However there are some classics regularly on his menu, including the steak and ale.

Add to that list of awards now the Pierate Highly Recommended pies we’ve rated and it’s clear that Dee is onto a winner with this pie business! Dee says his aim is to double pie production in the next 12 months, which sounds great to us! Let’s hope he continues to earn his crust through pies for the foreseeable future!

RankPie ProducerPie FlavourScoreBy
1
Dee's PiesChicken and Chorizo
6.3
RAS
2
Dee's PiesPeppered Steak
6.15
RAS
3
Dee's PiesChampagne Chicken
6.04
RAS
4
Dee's PiesEnglish Breakfast
5.79
RAS
5
Dee's PiesMushroom and Asparagus (V)
4.86
RAS
Click for all Dee's Pie Reviews.


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: Dee from Dee’s Pies"

Friday, 28 August 2015

Is Dee's Chicken and Chorizo Pie-DEE-al?!

Dee's Pies Chicken and Chorizo Pie Review


We run a tight ship here at Pierate, juggling writing the UK’s leading pie blog as a hobby alongside some quite hectic day jobs, so there are times when it takes a little longer than ideal for a pie to get from our pie backlog and onto the blog! But some pies are worth the wait to be reviewed, because they’re just so good we can’t not tell you about them! So here’s my view on what’s noteworthy of the last Dee’s Pie I rated - and yes, I saved the best til last!

Dee's Pies Chicken and Chorizo Pie Review
Dee's Pies Chicken and Chorizo Pie Review

Check back tomorrow for our brand new feature: "Meet the Pie-ducer".

We're starting it off with none other than Dee Whooley himself, the creator of these amazing Dee's Pies!!!


For those of you that don’t know, I rated four Dee’s Pies just a few weeks ago, having met up with small business owner Dee himself in London as part of the #LondonPie Tour. He handed me a bag of pies to rate and with four already rated, my last one was a Chicken and Chorizo pie. Like the other Dee’s pies it had the lovely shortcrust pastry and was absolutely packed with meaty content!

Pie purists will be pleased to know the pie passed the “hand-held” test, holding together very well despite being jam packed with lovely tender chicken pieces and a sprinkling of Chorizo. There is very little to fault with this pie filling, so overall an amazing effort! My only thought was perhaps the pie could have had a little more Chorizo just to add a little more to the flavour, but the combination of meats was near ideal, so this would be just a small im-pie-rovement! It didn’t really have a lot of a sauce to speak of, but the meat was so tender and juicy and the flavours of the meat so nice that I didn’t feel it lacked anything for it. The colour once again was decent and I was definitely craving a second one of these pies as soon as I’d finished the first one! That’s a very good sign in my book!!!

At £3.50 I’d hope for a tad bigger pie for the piefect cheapness score, but the capacity and quality of content are such strong scorers here that it gets Dee’s Pies yet another Pierate Highly Recommended pie! No wonder Chris Evans was so quick to get Dee’s Pies to cater for his Top Gear writing sessions recently, which were all over the papers and twitter! Great work Dee’s Pies!

Dee's Pies Chicken and Chorizo Pie
Score: 6.3/7
[Colour 5.5, Capacity 7, Consistency 6.5, Condition 6.2, Chewiness 6.5, Cheapness 5.5, Content 6.9, Total: 6.3/7]
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 "Is Dee's Chicken and Chorizo Pie-DEE-al?!"

Sunday, 23 August 2015

#GrillAPierateer - your chance to quiz the Pierateers!

Have you ever had a pie question you'd love answered, but not known who to ask? Or eaten a pie and wished you could talk to someone about it? Or even read one of our pie reviews and wanted to find out more? Well now's your chance, as we launch:



The idea is simple - we would like 10 questions to answer for a vlog that we'll be producing and adding to the PierateShip youtube account in the next few weeks. But we don't want 10 boring questions that we could come up with ourselves! Oh no! We want 10 quirky pie questions from you - the fans and readers of Pierate Pie Reviews!

Suggestions might be:

- What was it really like eating Nice Pie's Squirrel pie?
- How does it feel knowing your Pierate video interview on Shrimps Player has got more views on youtube than the one they did with Match of the Day pundit Mark Lawrenson?! (236 v 86 - as of 22/8/15)
- Is there any pie filling you would never eat?!

Hopefully that's ins-pie-red you somewhat, so either tweet us a question, add a comment below or even email us on pierateship@yahoo.co.uk if you have a pielemma you need fixing or a question that only a pie expert could answer! We'll collate them, choose the 10 quirkiest and most interesting and then create a vlog soon for your viewing pieleasure!

The BBC's pie expert - Pierateer Rob - will then take the hotseat and answer your questions the best he can next Bank Holiday weekend, so you have until 7pm on Friday 28th to get your questions in! I look forward to reading them!

Pierateer Rob on BBC hit show Rip Off Britain recently

Did you know we have 24 pie videos on our
PierateShip youtube channel? Why not check them out!


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 "#GrillAPierateer - your chance to quiz the Pierateers!"

Friday, 21 August 2015

GBBO Pie Week and a Birmingham Football Pie League - Pieday Friday - 21st August 2015



It's Friday! It's Pieday!

It's been a few months since our last Pieday Friday but with so much exciting pie news happening right now, we thought it about time we updated you!


New Twitter Landmark Reached

We were delighted on Friday morning to wake up to the news that we've just reached 2,000 followers on Twitter! Thanks to all of those who follow us and contribute to the pie debate on the Pierate Twitter feed! I've had tweets from #GBBO contestants, actors, celebrity chefs, Olympians... something that six years back we would never have imagined! But our bread and butter (or filling and pastry, in this case) is all the pie fans up and down the country who love a good pie and want to find out what's hot and what's not in their local area. It's for you that we're continuing to run Pierate almost 6 years on and with a number of im-pie-rovements in the pie-peline, we hope Pierate will be somewhere you return to week after week!

A great message to wake up to on Friday from Twitter!
Of course like anywhere, we'd love your feedback if there are things you can see that could be improved or pies that we haven't managed to get our hands on yet! Either tweet us, email pierateship@yahoo.co.uk or if it's a pie suggestion, do leave a quick comment on our Suggest-A-Pie page! Thanks!


Countdown to Great British Bake Off Pie Week!

It surely can't have skipped your attention that the Great British Bake Off is back! And with it a brand new set of bakers that we cannot wait to see make pies! I have to admit that I do have my favourite already, for quite obvious reasons! I mean, how many people would go on Bake Off saying that they are so random that "sometimes they try to make a cake and it ends up being a meat pie!" Surely this is pie-deal?! If only everyone had the talent Sandy clearly does!

Pierate Pie Reviews Great British Bake Off Extra Slice
Pierateer Rob and the Ship's Cook on GBBO: Extra Slice
But of course while they've had fun making cake, biscuits and bread, they're really just filling the schedule before the bakers earn their crust by making pies in just a few weeks time! We, naturally, cannot wait til Pie Week - which is obviously the pie-light of the series for us.

And of course we cannot mention the Great British Bake Off without reference to our ap-pie-rance on the Extra Slice show last year, where we had the pleasure of Michel Roux Jnr rating our crocodile pie!!! If you missed it, unfortunately you really missed out! But you can still see some photos and our write up about being on the show.


Pierate Ship sets sail to the Food Blogger Connect Conference

One of the exciting events we'll be attending in the next few weeks is the 7th annual Food Blogger Connect Conference down in London. Sold as the "world's leading international food blogging conference with workshops, talks, demos, tastings and more" we cannot wait to make our debut at this - and in fact any - blogging conference.

With over 350,000 views and multiple BBC TV appearances so far, I think we're doing quite well for ourselves! But of course as with any blog there are things we could do even better, so I'm looking forward to networking and getting some more useful tips from the array of speakers on show!

You can find out more on @BloggerConnect or the Food Blogger Connect website, with some places still available!


Birmingham Pie League to expand the PIEremiership

There's always been a strong link between football and pie. We've highlighted it many a time, including in our "Pies and Football - a match made in heaven" article. We've even created the PIEremiership, to record the half time pies we've eaten at football grounds across the country and the exciting news is that we're planning on expanding it to cover all five West Midlands clubs. With Walsall already covered but rated over 5 years ago (in what was actually Pierateer Rob's second ever pie review!) we've decided to go on a West Midlands Football Pie Tour, with all five grounds in the Birmingham area being covered.

Aston Villa, Birmingham, Walsall, West Brom and Wolverhampton's football pies will all be put under the spotlight in the coming months, to find out whose pies hit the back of the net and which ones will be paying the penalty! You'll be able to follow our progress on our twitter and reports will be added to an article I'll be writing about the Birmingham Football Pie League!

Check out the football pies we've rated so far in our PIEremiership!

Pierateers filming with BBC Sport
And speaking of football pies, you may well have seen that Pierateer Rob was called upon by BBC One hit show "Rip Off Britain" to give his expert pie opinion recently on football pies. You can find out more about what he said by visiting our Rip Off Britain: Football Pies article.

And if you want to find out more about the match winning pies they sell at Morecambe FC, currently top of our PIEremiership, you can see both Head Chef Graham and ourselves in a video on the BBC Sport website talking football pies!


If you have a story you think would be good to feature in a future Pieday Friday, send us an email at pierateship@yahoo.co.uk or contact us on Twitter @pierateers 
continue reading "GBBO Pie Week and a Birmingham Football Pie League - Pieday Friday - 21st August 2015"

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

A budding pie seller in the heart of Birmingham

The Botanist Birmingham Steak and Stout and Lamb Hotpot Pie Reviews


Living in the UK’s second city, I sometimes take for granted how many great pies I have on my doorstep in Birmingham. Sure, it’s never going to match London for the number of pie shops – especially with a lack of Traditional London Pie and Mash shops! - but there are certainly more than a fair share of pie pubs in Birmingham! And one new pie provider on the market in Birmingham is The Botanist.

The Botanist Steak and Stout Pie Review
The Botanist Steak and Stout Pie Review
Opened in March 2015, The Botanist has already become a top spot for the trendy young professionals of Britain’s Second City. Following a £1.2million refit of Cheltenham House on Temple Street in the City Centre, the Botanist boasts a wide range of “home comforts” – which of course makes it no surprise that they have a range of pies on the menu. Four, in fact, when I visited this weekend just gone.

Having already tried the Lamb Hotpot pie a few months back when The Botanist had only recently opened, a mash-topped pie review I will get to shortly, I returned again on Sunday and had a much more enjoyable ex-pie-rience in the form of a fully encased Steak and Stout pie.

It is worth noting that The Botanist is one of the most beautifully decorated restaurant venues I have ever eaten in, especially in Birmingham. It’s really clear how much thought and time has been put into the small details here, all keeping brilliantly to the flowery theme. Drinks served in watering cans and flower pots, plus starters served in trowels, give an indication of the quirky attention to detail put into the décor and the live music is another of the many things going right for the place. They've clearly planted a great idea and it’s now blooming.

The Botanist Kitchen - Where the magic happens!

The Botanist Steak and Stout Pie Review
The Botanist Steak and Stout Pie Review
I must however confess therefore that while I did enjoy the Steak and Stout pie at The Botanist, it did struggle to live up to the high standard set by the décor and friendly staff. The pie came out on a flowery plate and was well presented, but it was rather pale and the pastry crumbled quite easily upon cutting. Opening the pie up, the capacity was quite limited – approximately half filled – and by the end of the meal there was definitely a poor filling:pastry ratio, with a reasonable amount of left over pastry.

It was a shame really, because the filling itself was quite nice. The meat was lovely and flavoursome – even if I have preferred some other steak and ale pies to this stout filling – and I was therefore longing for a more meatilicious content to the pie! It was quite consistent throughout, with very little padding out. I would therefore happily eat this pie again, but would want a meatier filling for piefection. At £10.95 for the pie meal of pie, chips, mushy peas and gravy this was quite a reasonable price for the meal in lovely city centre locale but I have had better value restaurant pies for the price.

The Botanist Birmingham Steak and Stout Pie
Score: 4.5/7
[Colour 4.5, Capacity 4, Consistency 5, Condition 5, Chewiness 5, Cheapness 4, Content 4, Total: 4.5/7]



The Botanist Lamb Hotpot Pie Review
The Botanist Lamb Hotpot Pie Review
The Lamb Hotpot Pie was eaten a few months ago with pie friends Caroline and Justin. However there was an unfortunate mix up with the waiter, because even though I had checked with him all the pies were fully encased (having had a hunch this lamb hotpot pie might have a more potato bias) I was assured they were and yet was still presented with a mash-topped Lamb Hotpot pie! Lesson learnt: Always trust your pie instinct!!!

It cannot however take away from the fact it was a very nice meal, even if I again thought the pie was a bit lacking in meaty content. The lamb however was very nice and the flavours of the pie worked well together. It cannot however compare in capacity and condition to a fully encased pie offering, meaning although this was a nice meal, it was not really a proper pie. There was also too much potato in this meal, with the very nice chips adding to the potato topping the pie to be a bit of a carb overload. There was also a lack of gravy in the pie, so while it was moist it could have been a little more gravy focused. Once again I would eat this meal a second time, but would not call it a pie!

The Botanist Birmingham Lamb Hotpot Pie
Score: 3.71/7
[Colour 4.5, Capacity 3, Consistency 4, Condition 3, Chewiness 5, Cheapness 3, Content 3.5, Total: 3.71/7]



All in all, I have to say that The Botanist is a lovely place to visit and eat in – somewhere I hope to visit many more times in the future. It does sell some decent pies, though they perhaps aren’t the pie-light of the menu and staff perhaps need to do a bit more digging around if they are going to plant an award-winning pie we would highly recommend! Just goes to show how hard it can be trying to reach piefection!

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 "A budding pie seller in the heart of Birmingham"

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Would I show contempt to The Old Contemptibles Steak pie?

Nicholson’s Pub Signature Steak and Nicholson’s Pale Ale Pie Review


Nicholson's Steak and Ale Pie Review
Nicholson's Steak and Ale Pie Review
With the grand occasion of James’ birthday to celebrate at The Old Contemptibles in central Birmingham, part of the Nicholson’s Pub range, it was a pie-leasure to see a hearty pie selection to choose from at the pub.

The pie, sold as steak and ale in a shortcrust pastry case with creamy mashed potato and sautéed greens for £10.95, was slightly more expensive than the other pies on the menu, but it made sense with it being a steak pie in comparison to chicken and a vegetarian pie offering. What caught my eye – and no doubt would catch some of yours – is that it was listed under the banner of “perfect pies”. Now, you know us. We’ve rated over 500 pies now on the Pierate Ship and so for anyone to call their pies perfect is a big boast which we were certainly wanting to test.


So how did the Nicholson’s pie rate? Could it be our first 7/7 pie? And what difference would the Nicholson’s Pale Ale make?

Nicholson's Steak and Ale Pie Review
Nicholson's Steak and Ale Pie Review
Well the first encouragement was that it was a nice, big fully encased pie being presented to me. The gravy was in its own gravy boat – thus ensuring that the gravy didn’t make the pie have a soggy bottom – and the pie looked nice and golden. Sure, it could have had a bit more of an even glaze (and for piefection I would expect this) but condition and colour would score well.

The pie held together well when cutting and revealed a solid, if not spectacular, capacity of filling. There was a decent amount of steak and the gravy was very flavoursome and added to the appeal of the pie, however there was a fair bit of filler too in the nice ale gravy. All in all the pie tasted good and was enjoyed, but the pastry:filling ratio certainly wasn’t perfect. Reflecting on this I think it is due to the square shape, which looked aesthetically pleasing but does give a lot of pastry and more than a similar sized circular pie (even if the square pie in theory could hold a little more filling too).

At £10.95 for the pie meal it was a fair few pounds more expensive than some other pubs in Birmingham that offer similar – if not slightly better – pies, so it doesn’t score so strongly on cheapness. But it was a decent pie still and I would eat it again, especially in such great company with James, George, David and Poonam. I just wouldn’t call it perfect…

Nicholson’s Pub Signature Steak and Nicholson’s Pale Ale Pie
Score: 4.89/7
[Colour 5.75, Capacity 4.5, Consistency 4.5, Condition 5.5, Chewiness 5, Cheapness 4.5, Content 4.5, Total: 4.89/7]
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 "Would I show contempt to The Old Contemptibles Steak pie?"

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Reci-pie Review: The Great British Apple Pie Bake Off

Oh my apple pie! The Great British Bake Off is back on our TV!!!


What better sight than a row of freshly baked pies?
Oops... perhaps got a little carried away there! But anyway, unless you have been hiding under a rock for the past few weeks, you'll have no doubt heard that the Great British Bake Off kicks off at 8pm on Wednesday 5th August and we can't wait to get the party started! We of course have fond memories of the last two series (when we properly started getting into it). No doubt you can all remember Frances Quinn's amazing baking designs and fabulous picnic pie in the 2013 final (see link below if not or if you just want a reminder!) And of course last year we had the wonderful Kate Henry being awarded star baker in Pie Week - and we hope to try her pies in the coming months ahead!

But one thing many of you may remember from last year, away from the main Wednesday night show, was how we aboard the Pierate Ship got involved in the Bake Off - and Pie Week in particular! Not only did we have a steak pie-off between Paul and Mary that has had a whopping 1,600 views already but we also then got invited to star on Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice! Yes - those two odd people who cooked an exotic pie for Michel Roux Jnr to rate (we cooked a genuine crocodile pie, for goodness sake!!!) were in fact none other than Pierateer Rob (who has since been on BBC One's Rip Off Britain as a pie expert) and the Ship's Cook - who is about to reveal to the world how Mary and Paul's pies rate in her latest GBBO pie-off to see who will be crowned Star Baker in 2015! Bring on the pies!!!

Re-live the pielights of British Bake Off 2013's finale with their Picnic Pie Challenge! See all the pies and our Pierate analysis in our article "Great British Bake Off - The Final: Pie Review Tweets"

Winner Frances Quinn's Picnic Pie - Screenshot from BBC

Excellent news for all you cake, bread, biscuit, pastry and especially pie fans - The Great British Bake Off is back! The adverts have been counting down the days and I just couldn't resist any longer... I had to get into the kitchen and bake some pies.


You might remember that last year I pitted Paul Hollywood against Mary Berry by rating their steak pie recipes. Well it's time for a rematch and this time I've been testing their apple pie recipes.

The Recipes:

Mary Berry's Proper Apple Pie is a classic recipe - just apples, sugar and shortcrust pastry (you can find it here). Paul Hollywood, however, takes a more regional approach with a mix of apples and the surprising addition of cheese in his Yorkshire Apple and Wensleydale Pie (which you can find here).

So, which of the Bake Off judges did I crown Star Baker? Read on to find out!

 
Close competition: #TeamMary on the left and #TeamPaul on the right

The Seven Cs:

Colour:
Both pies were a beautiful golden brown and looked really appetising, although Paul's pies had some extra crispy patches from where the cheese had leaked out which I think just gives him the edge in this category.

Consistency:
Mary's pie was my favourite in this category, with a lovely jammy apple sauce alongside the chunks of apple. Paul's pies had a nice creamy texture from the cheese and certainly weren't dry, but they didn't have the same sauce-like quality as Mary's.

Capacity:
Both scored pretty highly in this category with plenty of filling, although if you make Paul's pies be sure to pack the slices of apple really firmly into the crust, otherwise when they cook down you get a bit of an air gap under the lid.

Chewiness:
Paul and Mary have slightly different ways of cooking the apple in their pies, but in both versions you end up with soft, mushy apple with just a little bit of bite left. The cheese in Paul's pies was soft and melted which added a nice creamy texture alongside the apple.

Cheapness:
These are both really cheap pies - some cooking apples and sugar won't cost you very much. Technically Mary wins in this category because you don't have to buy any Wensleydale, but the cheese isn't exactly going to cost a fortune!

Content:
Both pie fillings are delicious. Apples and sugar, great. Apples and cheese, also great. Paul just sneaks ahead with the novelty value of added cheese though.

Condition:
I made mini pies rather than large ones because even I can't eat two giant pies in one sitting, and they looked lovely - golden brown, the perfect round pie shape and the filling stayed put when I cut them in half. I think it's safe to assume that the full sized versions would work just as well.

#TeamMary scoring ever so slightly higher in the capacity category...

And the winner is...


So here's the thing - Paul's apple and cheese pies are seriously delicious. I could not stop eating them. They're sweet and salty and melty and just really really good. However...if I'm having apple pie for pudding I want to put ice cream or custard on it, or even ice cream AND custard. I cannot do that if you've put cheese in my pie (well, I could, but it would be terrible). So if this was just a pie Bake Off then Paul would win hands down, because cheese and pastry makes the best combination. But unfortunately for Paul this is an apple pie Bake Off, so Mary's lovely traditional pies are going to be smothered in custard and she will be pronounced Star Baker!

The Ship's Cook

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.

Or why not check out the growing list of all the Ship's Cook Pie Recipe Reviews?

Make sure you
and let us know your thoughts!
continue reading "Reci-pie Review: The Great British Apple Pie Bake Off"

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Pierate advises BBC's Rip Off Britain Food on Football Pies

The BBC have once again called upon the Pierateers to find out what makes a great pie! The team from BBC's Rip Off Britain called upon our ex-pie-tise to advise on football pies, following our TV debut on Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice and appearing on the BBC Sport website in their video on pies related to the Price of Football Survey.


Rip Off Britain Pie Review
Pierateer Rob on BBC's Rip Off Britain
Pierateer Rob - who was the chosen pie expert for the show - is seen talking about the quality of British football pies and whether they really are a rip off or not. For the eager pie-d among you, you'll know that the clip on Rip Off Britain tonight was actually the same footage as back in April, but a re-dubbing over it with presenter Julia - rather than Gloria - setting the scene!

In the clip (which can be view on BBC Pie-player for the next month and features us in the pie story from minute 13 to minute 20 and Pierateer Rob specifically in minute 16), Bradford City fan Kevin was questioning the quality and price of the pies at his local football club. Like us, Kevin thinks a half time pie is part and parcel of football culture in Britain. When you think football, you think half time pie. What better during those cold, winter evenings to warm the heart, as well as the hands, during the half time interval as you watch your local team? But is that actually what people do? Or has the quality and price of football pies put off the regular football fan? Do the caterers even have enough pies to go round? And if fans do buy a pie, is it piefection or are football fans being held to ransom? Find out in the episode!

We at www.pierate.co.uk will readily admit we are first and foremost a pie rating website, rather than specifically a football pie rating website, but we’re looking to delve further into the provision of football pies as we develop our Pieremiership of football’s best half time pies.

We've rated over 500 pies, including a number of football pies

But while we realise we haven’t eaten anywhere near enough pies in different football grounds yet – despite having over 500 pies rated in our Pie Rankings from many of the regular football pie manufacturers like Pukka Pies, Holland’s Pies and Peter’s Pies – we have always been a fan of eating a golden pastry product in the football stadiums we’ve visited. And in our minds what’s more important than simply the price of the pie is how the pie rates. Is it a soggy disappointment, overly dry or lacking in content or does it meet the 7 criteria we Pierateers look for in a pie?

In our view, it’s all about a great tasting pie – filling and pastry - which is value for money. You can find out more about what makes a great rated pie by reading about the 7 Cs of pie rating. However what makes a great football pie?

Here are a few specific pointers for making the perfect football pie:


Firstly, it’s got to be cooked properly. Sadly, in the rush to serve so many customers in such a short space of time, food at football grounds can be undercooked or left sat in a hot locker for far too long, making the pie taste bad or even be pretty much inedible. We have unfortunately fallen foul to a few pies being served to us either undercooked or over baked. Naturally, the rating of such pies is badly affected.

Secondly, the football pie has got to be something you can pick up in your hands and bite into, without it crumbling all over the place. Quite a few football pies can be too soft to pick up or crumble all over the place when bitten into, so a firm but crisp pastry casing is key.

Finally, the consistency of the pie filling has got to be just right. Naturally we want a meat pie to be filled to capacity with nice, tender meaty chunks, but we also expect the viscosity of the gravy or sauce to be well thought through so that it is flavoursome but not too runny, as the last thing you want is gravy down your football shirt!

Morecambe FC British Pie Awards 2014
Morecambe FC won the British Pie Awards in 2012 and 2014!
All this has got to be provided at a reasonable price that leaves the fan going away happy and without a huge dent in the wallet, otherwise it's certainly a rip-off!

Featuring in the Rip Off Britain episode, one football ground has seemingly found the perfect reci-pie for the half time pastry snack, producing some of the highest rated pies on Pierate, let alone best football pies! Head chef Graham Aimson at Morecambe FC has won several titles at the British Pie Awards for the quality of his pies, including being British Pie Awards Supreme Champion 2014, where unsurprisingly we were there as one of the judges.

In summary, we think there’s nothing better than a warm, hearty pie to get you through half time. But the key thing is that they have got to be top rated pies! Too often the pies are not only overly expensive but are just not up to scratch, either too dry or undercooked. So as well as checking out the price of pies, we’ll be making sure we rate as many as possible on our 7 Cs of pie rating so that you know what pies to purchase and don't get ripped off!

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.

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Pierate are top pie blog in bookatable Top 50!

The Pierateers have received special recognition in the last few days in the form of a place in the prestigious #BookatableTop50 list of the UK's top food blogs. They join a list of 50 food blogs that bookatable regard as "an endless source of insight, advice and entertainment" and who have "a lot on their plate". Well, at Pierate Pie Reviews you know exactly what's on our plate, as we only rate pies! But to be the one and only pie blog on the list is a great honour!


Bookatable Pierate Pie Review
Our entry on the bookatable website in the Top 50 UK Food Blogs

Of course you don't need to have a Degree in Rocket Science to determine what www.bookatable.co.uk are all about - getting that restaurant booking you want at a price you can afford! Having scouted it for pie-motions I'm pleased to see a number of tantalising offers and a number of places I've dined in for Pierate!

How to rate a pie 7 Cs
The 7 Cs of pie rating
If we're honest we're not quite sure what swung it for us to be included in the #BookatableTop50! But whether it was our recent TV appearance on BBC One's hit show "Rip Off Britain" (where we were labelled "pie experts"), our TV debut on Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice last year (where our crocodile pie was rated by none other than Michel Roux Jnr!) or appearing on the BBC Sport website in their video on pies related to the Price of Football Survey, we're delighted to be able to call ourselves a "Top 50 UK Food Blog"!

With over 500+ pie reviews we've shared with the world for the past five and a half years, we've certainly booked a lot of tables full of pies before! And perhaps we'll need this menu cheat sheet that Bookatable also created recently if we eat out in the poshest of pie restaurants, as it helps people understand all the nuances of eating out these days!

The honours don't even end there for the Pierateers, who sail the 7 Cs of pie rating to rate pies up and down the country. Having made the top 100 of the Foodies100 website in May 2015, we're delighted to have now reached number 74 as of July 2015 and are still the number 1 pie blog! And with the launch of our instagram account we hope to pietentially rise even higher!

Since we first entered the Foodies100 charts, the news has just got better and better for the Pierateers! The June 2015 rankings listed Pierate up 5 places to 81st in the rankings, with a further rise of 7 places to 74th place in July 2015!

July 2015 - 74th - 1864 points
June 2015 - 81st - 1826 points
May 2015 - 86th - 1912 points

Foodies100 Index of UK Food Blogs
Foodies100
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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Monday, 27 July 2015

A ready meal pie? I'm always ready for pie!

Robins Pie & Mash review

Robins Pie & Mash is a family-owned business with several retail shops across East London and Essex. They've been going for 5 generations - so you'd certainly expect they'd know a thing or two about pie and mash!

Indeed, their website gives us a nice bit of history about the famous food, with pie and mash dating back to the 19th century.

Now, not content with selling their pie from their popular stores, Robins Pie & Mash has been branching out into new areas of the retail market. This is a Robins Pie & Mash ready meal, which has recently been made available in the frozen section of ASDA in London and Essex (although according to MySupermarket, it's no longer available? - will have to verify this!). Their pies are reportedly handmade and filled with 100% Scottish Beef.


Once cooked and on the plate, you can see this is a pretty standard pie and mash affair. You've got your minced beef pie, mashed potato and parsley liquor. 


In my opinion, the pie is a bit too dark in colour with an uneven bake. On the all important cross-section, you can see the pie is sort of half-filled with your standard looking beef mince filling. I found the pastry to be a little floppy and chewy, and the pie to be a little small and not particularly filling.


Overall, the pie was reasonably pleasant, but I didn't find anything particularly noteworthy about it. However I'm pleased that Robins has made their pies available through the ready meal route. More pies mean happier Pierateers!

Robins Pie and Mash
Score: 4.2/7
TJP
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Sunday, 26 July 2015

Pleased as punch with Punch Tavern pies

Punch Tavern Game and Fish Pie Reviews

Punch Tavern
Punch Tavern, Fleet Street

Once again, Pierateers RAS and TJP came knocking at the Punch Tavern on London’s Fleet Street to see if they could deliver some more knock-out pies.

It was November 2014 when RAS and TJP first tried the pies at this gin-friendly gastropub - and what great pies they were! The chicken pie clucked up a Pierate 'Highly Recommended' 6.02/7, while the rabbit pie jumped in at 5.92/7.

This time, RAS and TJP were hungry for the game pie and the fish pie - and with the standard set so high last time, will their dreams be shot down or will it be 'squids in' at the Punch Tavern?

First up, the fish pie.

We were thrilled to note that this supreme little parcel of joy was - unlike many fish pies out there - fully encased in pastry. It's great news that the Punch Tavern does believe in wholly encasing their fillings in pastry, including their fish pies, when too many fish pies are sold with a mashed potato lid. (Not a pie!)

fish pie punch tavern
The fish pie
According to the menu, this pie contains smoked haddock, king prawn, salmon, squid, mussels and mushroom sauce. It costs £12.50, a price we decided last time wasn't "the cheapest pub pies out there, but by no means the most expensive...we would rate the pie pretty well for cheapness". We'd stand by that statement for this review - the Punch Tavern is in a great location and the pies come with a generous portion of mash and vegetables.

For colour, the pie loses a few points because it looks a bit too dark - is the lid over-baked? The condition of the pie loses a few marks because - although you can't quite see in the photo here - the base of the pie has become a bit soggy in the sauce and has lost some of its structural integrity. Otherwise the pie looks well presented. The pie truly is the king upon the castle of mash, surrounded by a moat of creamy sauce.

Contents of the fish pie

On the cross-sectional view, you can see the content spilling out of the pie. The air gap you can see is just because the content has tumbled out of the pie. I'd say this pie was very well filled with a minimal air gap. The lid does look a little overly crisp - I'm hoping this isn't a sign of bad things to come.

On tasting the lid, my fears were realised. Yes, the lid was rather overbaked for my liking - a bit too dry and crispy. By contrast, the base was a little too wet and soggy (after absorbing the moisture from the sauce). However, the pastry did still taste nice, and the filling was also delicious, although a little dry in parts - perhaps as the creamy sauce was mainly outside, rather than inside, the pie! I don't think I've ever seen such a wide variety of fish inside a pastry-encased pie before. The fish flavours worked well together with the creamy sauce (though you'll know at Pierate that we prefer our gravy in the pie, rather than round the side of it, so this is perhaps something to consider).

RAS also felt that the fish pie was a little bit dry inside and overly cooked on top - so certainly benefited from the sauce surrounding the pie plus a bit chewy in content at times, but such a fantastic array of sea food and fully encased in pastry too that it was very impressive.

Overall, the fish pie was a tasty delight and I'd definitely recommend you give it a go! After all, you don't see too many fully-encased in pastry fish pies out there! You'll see this pie appearing in the 'Best Pies in London Restaurants' article soon!

Then it was time for the game pie.

We both agreed that the game pie was the nicer of the two. It was similar in quality to the rabbit pie eaten previously but a bit more of a mix of flavour. The lid wasn't quite as over-baked as in the fish pie, and it was stuffed with the same great quantity of content. With a similar price and similar sides of mash and veg, this pie had few differences to the fish pie we'd just enjoyed.


The game pie

The game pie - cross-sectional view

Overall they were both very good pies again and - while we'd would prefer them not to be swimming in quite so much sauce/gravy when served (I would rather add this myself really, as both pies arrived to the table with soggy bottoms due to this approach), they were two more top rated pies!

Punch Tavern Fish pie
Score: 5.50/7
RAS and TJP


Punch Tavern game pie
Score: 6.01/7
RAS and TJP


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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Thursday, 23 July 2015

Are these Dees Pies Dee-licious?!

Dee's Pies Reviews - Chicken, Peppered Steak, English Breakfast and Mushroom and Asparagus Pies


It was the second week of the Wimbledon tennis championships and while it’s still early in the morning, you can sense the hustle and bustle as fans of one of the most iconic sporting events in the world start to gather for a (potentially rain interrupted) day of quality tennis.

I, however, am just in Wimbledon to talk pie. Yep – no strawberries and cream for me! I’m meeting with the owner of Dee's pies to hear how the pie world is treating them and – very importantly – get my hands on some of these apparently “Dee-licious” pies (see what they’ve done there?!)

Dee's Pies Champagne Chicken Pie Review
Dee's Pies Champagne Chicken Pie Review
With a background as a chef, company owner Dee has been running the pie business as a full on business for the last 18 months or so. With the demand growing and growing (his pies have recently been in the newspapers for being well received by none-other than self-confessed pie fan and Top Gear presenter Chris Evans!), Dee finds himself in the kitchen nearly every day, with deliveries around London every few days. It was therefore great to get a good half hour chat in with the man himself! And a real pleasure it was to, talking pie and… well, more pie! This will form the basis of a future article, but for now, let’s get on with some pie rating!

See below which pies are!
To start off with, these pies have some of the nicest pastry around! It was great shortcrust pastry! A really good sign of a quality pie is that you can even enjoy the pastry on its own – and you definitely could with these Dee’s pies! The pie-fectionist in me would say the pastry did crumble slightly too easily in parts (especially the one we rated from frozen – but that was to be expected) but all in all it was delicious pastry and complimented the fillings well. You’ll also be pleased to know the pies all passed the “hand-held” test, impressive with the amount of filling packed inside! The only other thing to briefly mention about the pastry was that the colour – while far from being pale and anaemic like some pies I’ve rated – isn’t quite as golden coloured as I would demand for the perfect pie. Still, colour doesn’t affect the taste, so it certainly shouldn’t put you off purchasing!

Dees Pies have gone for the one-price-fits-all policy of £3.50 per meat pie (with vegetarian pies all being just £3). It certainly makes it easier at the market stall, though I imagine it would leave some customers thinking they are getting a better deal if they go for a lamb pie over a chicken pie, for example. All the meat pies I had were definitely packed with a lot of meat and there was pretty much no air gaps to be seen, which is great. I’d say they are a tad small compared to what I would prefer – so while one was filling I would (in part because they are so tasty!) normally prefer one and a half to two pies. This does slightly impinge on their “cheapness” score but I would still definitely buy more! They certainly are very good pies and they have a great range of pies too, so with these being the general thoughts, let’s get some individual detail!

Champagne chicken – This was a very nice chicken pie, filled to near capacity with lovely tender pieces of chicken (see photo above). While the sauce did add something to the chicken, I have preferred some other white sauces more. But the fact it is champagne will add sparkle to your dinner table and conversations if you serve it at a dinner party! A little something to compliment the chicken pieces would probably add to this pie, perhaps a little bit of carrot or similar, even though I would recommend focusing on the chicken element. A little small for £3.50 but generally very good and would eat again.

Score: 6.04/7
[Colour 5.5, Capacity 6.75, Consistency 6.25, Condition 6, Chewiness 6.5, Cheapness 5.5, Content 5.75, Total: 6.04/7]


Dee's Pies English Breakfast Pie Review
Dee's Pies English Breakfast Pie Review
English Breakfast – The breakfast pie contained a great range of ingredients, including quite a bit of meat and egg, though the pie did taste a bit sweet – I presume as a result of the inclusion of baked beans, which are known to contain sugar. Personally I’m not a fan of baked beans anyway, but the sweetness of them had infiltrated the whole of the pie, so pie fans should be aware of this ingredient before purchasing. However capacity was very strong and it is a great idea to put a full English breakfast into pastry as a breakfast option!

Score: 5.79/7
[Colour 5.5, Capacity 6.25, Consistency 5.75, Condition 6, Chewiness 6, Cheapness 5.5, Content 5.5, Total: 5.79/7]


Dee's Pies Peppered Steak Pie Review
Dee's Pies Peppered Steak Pie Review
Peppered Steak – Very nice pie, packed with meat. A little more gravy would be ideal but meat was moist and tender. Held together quite well, though a little flaky. Few bits of fat on the meat in the pie, which was a little disappointing and stopped the pie scoring quite as highly as its’ pie-tential, but in general very good. Significant pepper, but in general one I would eat again (even if I would prefer a steak and ale!)

Score: 6.15/7
[Colour 5.5, Capacity 6.75, Consistency 6.25, Condition 6.2, Chewiness 6.5, Cheapness 5.6, Content 6.25, Total: 6.15/7]


Dee's Pies Mushroom and Asparagus Pie Review
Dee's Pies Mushroom and Asparagus Pie Review
Mushroom and Asparagus (v) – While the pastry was good as in all the pies and the capacity was strong, this combo didn’t really excite me. I am by admission a meat lover but the combo of quite chewy mushroom and crisp asparagus – while pleasant – did not really wow me. Certainly not a bad pie but I wouldn’t personally want to pay £3 for that veggie combo again. However I realise vegetarians may love this unique combo, which I don’t think I have ever heard of before!

Score: 4.86/7
[Colour 5.5, Capacity 5.5, Consistency 5, Condition 6, Chewiness 4, Cheapness 4, Content 4, Total: 4.86/7]



Overall, these really are quality pies from Dee’s Pies, made from great quality, fresh ingredients and I can certainly see why they have celebrity appeal! Two Pierate Highly Recommended offerings without even a steak and ale pie in sight! We’ll be rating two more Dee’s Pies soon, including my favourite one of the lot!

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.

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