Monday, 27 April 2015

British Pie Awards 2015

All eyes were on Melton Mowbray for the British Pie Awards 2015, once again showcasing the top pies Britain has to offer! Celebrating its seventh edition, the British Pie Awards were held in St Mary’s Church in the heart of Melton Mowbray, a spectacular setting in the home of the pork pie. As well as live blogging the event for the first time, the Pierateers were once again one of 100 judges to rate their way through over 800 pies in 20 different classes, which ultimately saw the Great North Pie Co take the title of British Pie Awards Supreme Champion 2015!

Bridal Pies Review British Pie Awards 2015
The amazing Speciality Class "Bridal Pies" at British Pie Awards 2015

Indeed, it was an incredible achievement for the Great North Pie Co this year, who not only took the Supreme Champion 2015 title with their Chicken, Mushroom, English Mustard and Cream Pie but also won the Small Producer Award, in addition to the Beef and Any Flavour class, Chicken and Vegetable/Herb class and Fish Pie class! The win built on a successful British Pie Awards 2014 and their “Great North Meat Pie” being awarded Pierate Recommended status last year. We will certainly be back for more!

There were a whole host of familiar faces when it came to the top awards this year (see the full list on the British Pie Awards website), with the highly sought after Melton Mowbray Pork Pie (Class 1) title going to Dickinson and Morris, another strong year for Boghall Butchers in a range of classes, Piebury Corner winning gold in the Chicken class and Nice Pie following up their Small Producers victory last year with a win in the Speciality Class: The Brides Pie (with a Chicken, Champagne and Truffle Pie!), while Pieminister were second in the class with a spectacular “Big Night Wedding Drum Pie”.

Following on from last year’s major success in being awarded Supreme Champion 2014, Morecambe FC and head chef Graham Aimson once again secured top football pie with their Chicken, Ham and Leek Pie and also won the Dessert Pie class once again with their Bramley Apple Pie.

Pierate Rip Off Britain
Pierate on Rip Off Britain
Have you seen last year's British Pie Awards winner Graham and our very own Pierateer Rob talk football pies on BBC One's hit show Rip Off Britain? If not, click here to find out more and catch up on BBC iplayer!


The first ever “Free From” class, making its long awaited debut, was won by The Biddestone Arms for their ‘Free From Steak and Ale’ pie. We caught up with Class Judge and Chef Rachel Green after the event, who was “really impressed” with the quality of some of the free from entries. She continued that some of the pies “were the sort of pies you could have had on the family table and you wouldn’t have known if they were gluten free or not.”

Rachel felt it was a very “on trend” category, with more people wanting gluten free products these days, including of course gluten free pies! Fillings included Balti vegetable, goat’s cheese and pepper, beef and pork pies. Rachel was very pleased to be called on to judge the category and, while a few of the pies appeared to be slightly over baked in order to hold together, was generally impressed with the quality of the gluten free pastry on show.


In addition to this, we were delighted to chat to Andy Bates, who you will recognise from the Food Network TV Channel and was compere of the British Pie Awards Lunch, which involved announcing the class winners and handing out the trophies on the Thursday. He had the huge responsibility of judging the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie class on Wednesday!

We also asked food critic Charles Campion why he returns to judge at the BPA year after year, getting a classic reply! "What a foolish question! What could be better than sitting in a lovely church full of delicious pork pies? It's like I've died and gone to heaven!" - We quite agree!

British Pie Awards 2015 Judges
Judges at the British Pie Awards, including Pierateer Sam
This year Pierateer Sam took on the duty of rating Britain’s best pies, being placed in the Speciality Meat Pie Class. This covered a whole range of alternative meats to the traditional beef, chicken and pork, with entries ranging from venison to squirrel and kangaroo to duck.

Naturally we caught up with Pierateer Sam after the judging to get his thoughts:

“I was very happy to have been put on the Speciality Meat pie category as this involved a large number of types of meats and flavours. It kept things a bit varied and interesting. That said, it was a bit hit and miss. None of the top three were pies we had judged so perhaps we were a little unlucky and didn't get the best ones. Highlights that we judged included a duck and blueberry pie (which worked much better than I expected), pork and apricot and a pork, cider and mustard. We had quite a few venison pies to score, some duck and some game pies.

It was tiring day! Winning a British Pie Award can make quite a difference to someone's business, so you want to do them justice. I was really in the pie reviewing 'zone' and was pretty oblivious to anything going on around me. If Elvis had walked in the room I don't think I would have noticed unless he was carrying the next pie for me to review. It was useful to be judging alongside Nick as he is a professional chef and knew what he was talking about regarding how the pie had been made (whereas I’m just a guy who has eaten a lot of pies!)

The main thing I would say about my experience judging is that it was really enjoyable. If only pie reviewing could be a full time job! Thanks to the team organising the BPA for letting me take part.”

Stephen Hallam
Stephen Hallam


Of course the last word at such an event as this should go to one of the chief event organisers – Stephen Hallam. An integral part in proceedings on the day, Stephen has also been on the Chris Evans Show on BBC Radio 2 and Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch promoting pies and the British Pie Awards. He felt the status of the British Pie Awards was growing year on year, with for example this year being the first that all the classes had been sponsored. However in order to add further gravitas to the awards next year, it was announced that the awards would be moving forward to 9th March 2016, to tie in with British Pie Week and create a mega week of pie action!

We for one can’t wait! Until then, we'll be adding to over 500 pies that we've rated and reviewed on the web's leading pie review website. And we'll be sure to try out plenty more of the British Pie Awards 2015 winners in the months to come!

RAS

Read fellow pie judge Jennifer John's experience of judging at the British Pie Awards 2015 here.

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

Make sure you 
and let us know your thoughts!
continue reading "British Pie Awards 2015"

Sunday, 26 April 2015

It Burns, Burns, Burns, the Ring of Fire

Nice Pie - Ring of Fire Pie Review


Eyes watering, nose running, reaching for a drink to take the pain away. That is what I expected from a pie called ‘Ring of Fire’. I expected it to perhaps be a bit of a novelty, hot but not much flavour. What I didn’t expect was for it to be one of the most downright tasty and meatilicious pies that I have had in some time. I don’t need to wax lyrical about the high quality and often quirky offerings from Nice Pie near Melton Mowbray. My colleague RAS has reviewed a large number of nice pies. He has often written about how fabulous they are which is a view certainly supported on the Pierate Ship. I took on this particular review as a spicy pie goes down very well for me. It was quite unlike any other pie I have had before. It was not like a curry, not like a chili, just meaty chunks in a spicy sauce.

Despite the intro to this review, it wasn’t all that spicy, I would have expected a bit hotter but I think they got the balance of flavour just right. It had apparently been toned down because they know RAS isn’t such a fan of the hot stuff (which is one of the problems sometimes when people know we are reviewing their pies, we should review the retail version). There was no question in my mind that this should be a ‘Pierate Highly Recommended’ pie, top quality and one I would love to have again. See below for the score breakdown.
 

Condition – 5.8 out of 7 – A nice, solid appearance with an edge crimp.
Colour – 5.9 out of 7 – A gradated, glossy, golden glaze made it look handmade and attractive.
Cheapness – 5.5 out of 7 – At £3.50 for an individual pie this is quite standard for a ‘gourmet’ pie, but it was well filled with good quality meat so I considered it better value than most.
Capacity - 6.5 out of 7 - Top dollar, decent capacity which was absolutely jam packed.
Chewiness - 6.8 out of 7 - Soft and moist beef, the texture was super. There was a good texture to the pastry, soft and gooey in places whilst crumbly in other places.
Content - 6.3 out of 7 - The spicy tomato sauce complimented the beef very well. In general the pastry tasted nice but wasn't quite in the same league as the filling; it was a little flour-y in places (but not enough to affect the score much).
Consistency - 6.7 out of 7 - Not really much to criticise. Yet again Nice Pie have done something original and pulled it off.

Ring of Fire (Nice Pie)
6.21/7

SJL


continue reading "It Burns, Burns, Burns, the Ring of Fire"

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Pierate advises BBC's Rip Off Britain 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. If you missed the episode on BBC One, click here to catch up on Rip Off Britain on BBC 'Pie-player'.


In the episode from minute twenty-six, 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.

Make sure you 
and let us know your thoughts!
continue reading "Pierate advises BBC's Rip Off Britain on Football Pies"

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

British Pie Awards 2015 - Live!

British Pie Awards 2014 - Church
The home of the British Pie Awards

The day of the British Pie Awards has arrived! Held in St Mary’s Church in the heart of Melton Mowbray, it is a spectacular setting in the home of the pork pie. The sun is shining and around 100 judges are making their way to the venue to rate over 800 pies from across Britain and beyond. Of course you won't be surprised to know we've been called up to judge again this year, having been a judge at the British Pie Awards last year and volunteer helpers at the awards in 2013.


Yes, following Pierateer Tim's judging debut last year, we have been called in again to lend our pie rating skills to the com-pie-tition, alongside TV chef Andy Bates, food critic Charles Campion and food writer Rachel Green. And while the British Pie Awards use a significantly different set of criteria to us, rather than the 7 Cs of pie rating that we have used to rate 500 pies on Pierate, there are very few pie experts they could call on with more ex-pie-rience than us when it comes to the pie-fect pie judge!

This year Rob, Sam and Tim all headed over to Melton Mowbray and recorded what was happening in their live blog posts below and on Twitter. While the event is now over you can still catch up below with what happened at the British Pie Awards 2015 - Live


You can now read our review of the British Pie Awards 2015, including the thoughts of judge and Pierateer Sam!


8.00 - The lads were up and ready to go for the British Pie Awards 2015!

9.22 - The train is setting off from Birmingham to Melton Mowbray with Pierateers Rob, Sam and Tim on board. You can imagine the excitement as this yearly festival of pie is only hours away from kicking off!

9.37 - You'll have seen on twitter last night that we Pierateers prepared in the only way we know how... by eating pies together!

10.33 - Lack of phone signal on the train to Melton Mowbray but we've arrived and the town is looking glorious in the spring sunshine!

10.40 - The short wander up the road to the Church is complete! We're ready to enter and pick up our judging apron!

10.55 - Our media passes and judges apron have been picked up! Raring to go!

11.14 - Julie Duff, who normally writes on cakes, knows a thing or two about pies too! "If you look into pies back a few hundred years, pies would be stacked on top of one another with different contents - like snake and literally four and twenty blackbirds!"

11.20 - The judges briefing is well underway! We're getting ready for the pie judging to commence!

11.30 - Stephen Hallam has just welcomed Matthew to introduce the British Pie Awards and made a big announcement! The British Pie Awards 2016 will be on 9th March 2016!!!

11.35 - The Rev Kevin, whose church we are in today, has just blessed the pies with a very fitting pie prayer to thank God for the pastry beauties before us!

11.37 - The control pie is out and our Head Judge Ian Nelson is just going through his views on how the control pie should be rated - to help with consistency of judging!

11.45 - Pie judging is well underway and the church is a hive of pie activity!

12.00 - Friend of Pierate and fellow food blogger Nik Speller is judging the 'Pub Pie Class'. "We're expecting an eclectic mix of pub pies - and really they should be served with whatever the pub recommends to drink with them!"

12.12 - The hive of activity at the BPA right now is glorious to hear and see! So much pie loving going on right now!

12.20 - We just asked food critic Charles Campion why he returns to judge at the BPA year after year? "What a foolish question! What could be better than sitting in a lovely church full of delicious pork pies? It's like I've died and gone to heaven!" - We quite agree!

12.33 - Great to see Head Judge Ian Nelson mingling with the judges, offering his pie advice and pearls of wisdom!

12.39 - Nick Galer, chef and pie judge today with Pierateer Sam, calls the British Pie Awards "quintasentially British". He continues "You're in a church, sampling pies... what could be better?"

13.00 - Over an hour and a half in and they are still heating up plenty more pies!

13.15 - Rachel Linstead has judged at the British Pie Awards before. Asked why she loves coming back, she replied "It's the 5th time I've helped and I love supporting a British institution like the pie awards! It's the highlight of my year! You can see what's going on in the pie sector at the British Pie Awards and see what new flavours are coming along."

13.22 - Maureen and Janet in the fish pie class have already sampled haddock, eel and oyster pies! Just highlights the variety of pie fillings out there!

13.35 - Chef Rachel Green and team have the important job of rating the first ever 'Free From' class at the British Pie Awards.

13.45 - There are so many beef pies they are needing extra pie judges to help, once they've finished their own pie class of course!

14.00 - With things wrapping up in the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie class, we've managed to get an interview with Andy Bates, who will be hosting the awards lunch tomorrow!


14.15 - Stephen Hallam, who owns Dickinson and Morris shop "Ye Olde Pork Pie Shoppe" in Melton Mowbray and is heavily involved in the Awards, has given us a great interview about why pies are so great and the plans to move the BPA to March 9th (British Pie Week) next year!

14.25 - Alan Stuart, who is on the committee of the Scotch Pie Club Awards, is a class leader at the BPA. Great to have such pie expertise here!

14.35 - While some classes have started winding down now, others are still going strong!

14.45 - Just been chatting to chef Rachel Green about the new Free From class. "A bit overdue but an honour to judge the class for the first time! Some great efforts and a range of flavours, from vegetarian to meat to sweet."

15.00 - The clock strikes three and we're done at the British Pie Awards! What a great day! They're now busy setting down ready for the Awards lunch tomorrow! Can't wait to see who has won!


The winners at the British Pie Awards were announced from 2pm on Thursday 23rd April on the @BritishPies twitter feed and updated on the British Pie Awards website on Friday.

You can now read our British Pie Awards 2015 review!


If you want to find out more about the British Pie Awards 2015, check out our Countdown to the British Pie Awards article.

Did you know? This is the first year there is a 'Free From' Gluten Free Pies Class!


The Pierateers are on a mission to find the best pie they can and you can see a list of their pies rated so far in the Pierate Pie Rankings or find pies of a similar flavour on the Pies: Categorised page.

Make sure you 
and let us know your thoughts!
continue reading "British Pie Awards 2015 - Live!"

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Sainsbury's Taste The Difference Chicken Pie Review

Sainsbury's Taste The Difference Chicken and Ham Puff Pastry Pie Review


Sainsbury's Taste The Difference Chicken Pie Review
Sainsbury's Taste The Difference Chicken Pie Review
For my birthday recently I was presented with a Sainsbury's Taste The Difference Chicken and Ham Puff Pastry Pie (thanks Jonathan - you clearly know me too well!) - and couldn't resist giving it a pie review. Of course regardless of it being a gift, we always give a fair rating to all pies on the Pierate Ship, so how will the pie rate on the 7 Cs of pie rating?

Quite tall and golden upon removing the pie from the oven, I was looking forward to delving in and therefore left a bit disappointed to find that my attempt to cut open the pie left the sides collapsing and only a half filled capacity. The collapsed sides of this pie are particularly evident in the photos, much more so than in many pies I've eaten in recent memory. Sure, it was quite tall to begin with and therefore more at risk of collapse, however it mainly made me think why was the pie so tall in the first place if it was only going to be half filled?!

Sainsbury's Taste The Difference Chicken Pie Review
Collapse! The sides of this Sainsbury's Chicken Pie collapsed upon cutting
The pie was 25% chicken and 6% shredded ham hock, a far cry from the 70% meat content of some non-supermarket pies I've had recently. But it did still have a nice flavour to the content, with a flavoursome creamy sauce. The leek was quite prominent for reasonably small pie (at 250g). £3 for this pie seemed a bit on the expensive side considering it was quite small and hardly packed with meat.

Sainsbury's Taste The Difference Chicken Pie Review
I wasn't expecting gristle in my Taste the Difference pie!
The flaky all-butter puff-pastry lid was particularly enjoyable, and while the side pastry collapsed far too easily (see the photos) it did still taste good. However my main complaint with it was the piece of gristle I found in the pie, which I would be disappointed with in any chicken pie, but even more so in a luxury 'taste the difference' range pie. This combination of small flaws unfortunately meant it missed out on a Pierate Recommendation.

Sainsbury's Taste The Difference Chicken and Ham Puff Pastry Pie
Score: 4.82/7
[Colour 5.5, Capacity 4, Consistency 5.25, Condition 4, Chewiness 5.5, Cheapness 4, Content 5.5, Total: 4.82/7]
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 "Sainsbury's Taste The Difference Chicken Pie Review"

Saturday, 18 April 2015

G Kelly Beat Local Rivals

G Kelly - Traditional Pie & Mash Shop Review

 G Kelly Pie Review vat 

G Kelly Pie Review outsideYou may have seen our recent review of S & R Kelly to celebrate their 100th birthday. In that review I said I had saved space in order to eat another pie at their competitor G Kelly, located just down Bethnal Green Road in London. They literally are a couple of moments away from each other. If only such a situation existed on every street.... that's the Pierate dream world!

Originally I had planned one review of both places as a head to head. The only problem was there was a clear winner in my eyes, and it was G Kelly. It didn’t feel quite right to tell S & R Kelly that they are losers on their birthday. But now…. well I am going to have to say sorry guys but G Kelly pipped you to the post on this occasion!

G Kelly Pie Review insideAs seems common in the London Pie and Mash world, these two shops were founded by members of the same family but now are in separate hands. The pie in question at G Kelly was very much in the same vein as the S & R Kelly version, as is the tradition (see our article on traditional pie and mash shops for more info). Whilst pie and mash cost the same in both places, G Kelly slightly undercut S & R Kelly with the pie option being only £2. G Kelly was a little run down, but to me this seemed charming. There were more old fashioned features than the relatively modern looking S & R Kelly. The liquor was perhaps a bit too floury at G Kelly but most importantly the G Kelly pie was a bit more moist, and better filled so it takes the prestigious title of Pierate Bethnal Green Road Pie & Mash shop of choice.

G Kelly Pie Review cross-sectionCondition – 4.3 out of 7
Colour – 4.0 out of 7
Cost - 6.1 out of 7
Capacity – 4.3 out of 7 – Again, quite small but it was well filled on this occasion.
Chewiness - 4.2 out of 7 – Some nice crunch to the pastry in places but it was mainly soft and slipped down well (and wasn’t chewy like S & R Kelly).
Content – 4.0 out of 7 – Simple and meaty. The pastry tasted a bit flour-y but still nice.
Consistency – 4.0 out of 7 – I would have another

Traditional Minced Beef (G Kelly [E2 0DJ]) 
4.41/7 

SJL
continue reading "G Kelly Beat Local Rivals"

Friday, 17 April 2015

Pieday Friday - British Pie Awards Special - 17th April 2015



It's Friday! It's Pieday!



It's been a little while since we last did a Pieday Friday news update, but with the British Pie Awards just days away, we couldn't resist a cheeky pie round-up!


Pie rating at the British Pie Awards 2014
Pie rating at the British Pie Awards 2014

Pierateers just days away from rating more pies at the BPA!

You'll no doubt have read in our "Countdown to the British Pie Awards" article that with them once again expecting over 100 judges to rate over 800 pies from across Britain and beyond, we've been called up to judge again this year, having been a judge at the British Pie Awards last year and volunteer helpers at the awards in 2013.

This year's British Pie Awards offers a Bridal Pie Class, the first Dutch entry and a new "Gluten Free" pie class - which led us to remind you of some of the best Gluten Free pies we've rated on the Pierate Ship!

Last year's Supreme Winner was Graham Aimson and the Morecambe FC kitchen team! We had actually already rated last years winning pie prior to the awards. In fact, it received “Pierate Highly Recommended” status with 6.11/7! We will have to wait until Thursday to find out who is Supreme Champion 2015!

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


500 Pie Reviews for the Pie-fessionals at Pierate!

We won't bang on about it too much more, as you probably have to have been living on another planet to miss that we have just reached 500 pie reviews on the web's leading pie review website!

You can view them all in our updated Pierate Pie Rankings table and we marked the occasion with a little "500 Pies Press Release" to sum up just a few of the pie-lights of the first five and a half years on board the Pierate Ship!

Guess it's a good warm up for judging at the British Pie Awards this Wednesday!!!


British Pie Awards to feature on TV's Sunday Brunch

Regular fans of Channel 4's Sunday Brunch will know that host Simon Rimmer loves his pies! In fact, we have Sunday Brunch to thank for probably our most high profile follower on Twitter, as acting legend Warwick Davis began following us after tweeting us about his appearance on the show to make a plate pie!

This Sunday 19th April at 9:30am will see hosts Tim and Simon welcome the host of the British Pie Awards, Stephen Hallam, to chat about the upcoming festival of pie! Can't wait!


I sPIE with my little eye...

You'll already be aware that we love a good pie on www.pierate.co.uk and the more pies get promoted, the better! But this from Holland's pies has got to be one of the most unusual pie promotions we've heard of!

Holland's Pie Review Vans
Holland's Pie Vans
Of course, we'll all be familiar with the game 'I spy'... but how about Pie Spie?! For Holland's Pies are giving you, the pie loving public, the chance to win pies and other pie-zes simply for spotting and recording Holland's Pie vans up and down the country!

When a Holland’s van is spotted, all fans need to do is log their entries on the new PIE SPIE App on the Holland’s Facebook page – giving details on what flavour van they spotted, where and when! Sounds crazy, but why wouldn't you for a chance to win some fabulous pie-zes! Here's hoping they make plenty of pie deliveries near my local shops in the coming months!

We've rated a number of Holland's Pies on Pierate over the years and particularly enjoyed their Pierate Recommended Steak and Guinness pies during the World Cup Final last year!



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 "Pieday Friday - British Pie Awards Special - 17th April 2015"

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

British Pie Awards 2015 go Gluten Free!

Pie Rating at the British Pie Awards 2014
Pie Rating at the British Pie Awards 2014!
The British Pie Awards 2015 are just days away and with them once again expecting 800 pies from across Britain and beyond to be rated, you won't be surprised to know we've been called up again this year, having been a judge at the British Pie Awards last year and volunteer helpers at the awards in 2013. After all, we have just reached our 500th pie review on Pierate Pie Reviews, meaning we've probably rated as many pies as all the other judges put together!


Yes, following Pierateer Tim's judging debut last year, we have been called in again to lend our pie rating skills to the com-pie-tition, alongside TV chef Andy Bates, food critic Charles Campion and food writer Rachel Green. And while the British Pie Awards use a significantly different set of criteria to us, rather than the 7 Cs of pie rating that we have used to rate 500 pies on Pierate, there are very few pie experts they could call on with more ex-pie-rience than us when it comes to the pie-fect pie judge!

Meet the pie-fessionals!

Find out more about the Pierateers as we reach 500 Pie Reviews in our story so far or on our "About Us" page!

Right: Filming with BBC Sport about pies!


But you may not know that since 4th October 2013 we have also had a gluten free pie reviewer aboard the Pierate Ship, in the form of Pierateer ALE. In this time she has reviewed 10 different gluten free pies from a number of different companies and you can see all the gluten free pie reviews here.

But why am I telling you this? Well, because that clever team at the British Pie Awards have finally recognised the great skill and art required to make a top rated gluten free pie, as evidenced by the fact that there will for the first time be a Gluten Free Pie Class at the British Pie Awards 2015!

Of course you may not want to wait to find out who rates well in the Gluten Free Pie Class, so we've summarised our top rated gluten free pies in a number of flavours to whet your ap-pie-tite and hope to find out about even more great gluten free pie sellers when the BPA results are announced! Enjoy!

Gluten Free Mince Pies


"To summarise, this is a fantastic pie! It doesn't just beat the other mince pies I have scored, it is infact the best shop brought mince pie i have ever tasted, including gluten ones (before I was diagnosed as a coeliac)!! So if you're Gluten Free, or you know someone who is, don't hesitate to go out to Marks and Spencer and buy a box of these shining stars!"

RankPie ProducerPie FlavourScoreByInfo
70th
Marks and Spencer Gluten Free Mince Pie
6.00
ALE
GF, V


Gluten Free Pork Pies


"In conclusion, the pastry on these pies is probably gluten free world class! Like nothing I have ever tried before and will probably try again. It was so light, beautifully golden and deliciously tasty. Thank you Foodamentalists."

RankPie ProducerPie FlavourScoreByInfo
159th
Foodamentalists Gluten Free Pork, Venison and Cranberry Pie
5.64
ALE
GF
159th
Foodamentalists Gluten Free Pork, Black Pudding and Caramelised Onion Pie
5.64
ALE
GF


Gluten Free Chicken Pies


"My first thoughts were that they were well presented - the pie even had writing on the top which is pretty smart! ... The pastry was soft, very crumbly and tasted like pastry we make at home, a bit floury."

RankPie ProducerPie FlavourScoreByInfo
219th
No. G Gluten Free Chicken, Bacon and Leek Pie
5.32
ALE
GF


Of course, for those of you who love your gluten pies, there are 19 other pie classes that will be judged on Wednesday too! And just so you know how long you need to wait for, following the success of our Countdown to British Pie Week, here's our Countdown timer to the British Pie Awards 2015, happening on Wednesday 22nd April:



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 "British Pie Awards 2015 go Gluten Free!"

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Topping up with some premium hot eating pies

Toppings premium hot eating pies steak and chicken pie reviews


Our recent pie delivery from Toppings pies featured a wide selection of premium pork pies, however they do also have a range of ‘hot eating pies’ as part of their offering and I was delighted to be able to try some of these, with a big box of their range posted down from Doncaster on Day Three of British Pie Week.

I’d heartily recommend you check out the Toppings pies website, which is simply one of the best looking pie company websites I’ve seen (and believe me, I’ve seen a few!) It’s a really high end website, with quality photography and professional design, which portrays the ethos of this high quality, family run business. In fact, so much so is this a locally crafted and family run business that the pies are today still made to Maggie Topping’s original homemade family recipes, taking inspiration from the Victorian and Tudor eras!

Toppings Premium Hot Eating Pies Review
Toppings Premium Hot Eating Pies
So what of the pies I’m rating today? These hot eating pies come from their Premium range, although there is also a Classic range available. The premium range are priced between £2.70 & £2.90, which I think is very reasonable for a 270g-290g pie and the filling:pastry ratio was pretty spot on for all these pies. The pastry for these pies was very nice, a little out of the ordinary with a rich hot water pastry crust. This provided a lovely flavoursome pastry, crisp but not dry and holding the contents in well without being too thick and chewy. If anything, I think the pastry was the real selling point on these pies and while the content was generally of a good standard, a little tweaking of the filling alongside this quality pastry would see them rate even higher in future!

I had three pies from the range, which were as follows:

Rump Steak with Minted Mushy Peas Pie Review

Toppings Steak and Mushy Peas Pie Review
Toppings Steak and Mushy Peas Pie Review
Prime British steak, in rich, meaty gravy, topped off with delicious minted mushy peas all encased in a rich hot water pastry crust

The meat was very nice and tender, with a lovely thick gravy of great consistency for a meat and gravy pie. The minty mushy peas were layered on top of the meat, in quite a clear distinction between the brown meaty layer and green pea layer. The minty pea flavour was a little strong in places in my view, creating quite a distinctive taste to this pie, but perhaps a slightly too stark a contrast. I think I would prefer a straight steak pie rather than the steak and minted mushy peas version, as the steak was very nice and complemented the hot water pastry crust really well. While I didn’t have one of them to sample this time, I’m glad to see this is covered in the Toppings range.

Toppings Rump Steak with Minted Mushy Peas Pie
Score: 5.68/7
[Colour 6, Capacity 6, Consistency 5.25, Condition 5.5, Chewiness 6, Cheapness 5.5, Content 5.5, Total: 5.68/7]


Toppings Steak, Shallots and Mushroom Pie Review
Toppings Steak, Shallots and Mushroom Pie Review

Rump Steak, Shallots and Portobello Mushroom Pie Review

Prime British steak with shallot onion, portobello mushrooms, in rich meaty gravy all encased in a rich hot water pastry crust

While it certainly had all of the above flavours in it, this pie was overly dominated by shallot. It felt at times like I was eating a shallot pie, with such large, uncut shallots present. I’d certainly have liked a more meat base to this pie, as it was definitely shallot heavy and a bit of the meat was a little chewy, which was surprising given the quality of meat in the rest of the pies I sampled.

The gravy was a great consistency again and I’d imagine that I probably did not get a typical meat-focused helping of pie here, though I can only rate was it put in front of me! Using chopped up pieces of shallot, rather than large whole ones, would perhaps even out the distribution and help improve the consistency of the pie a fair deal, in addition to the more meaty focus.

Toppings Rump Steak, Shallots and Portobello Mushroom Pie
Score: 4.86/7
[Colour 6, Capacity 4.5, Consistency 4, Condition 5.5, Chewiness 5, Cheapness 5, Content 4, Total: 4.86/7]




Creamy Cracked Black Pepper Chicken, Wiltshire Ham and Portobello Mushroom Pie Review

Toppings Chicken, Ham and Mushroom Pie Review
Toppings Chicken, Ham and Mushroom Pie Review
Chicken breast and Wiltshire ham, in a creamy cracked black pepper sauce with Portobello mushrooms, encased in rich hot water pastry crust

The chicken pie was well filled, with a great capacity of tender chicken pieces and a decent sprinkling of Wiltshire ham to complement it. I did find the sauce quite peppery, a bit too seasoned for my palate but it is what you’d probably expect for a pie sold under the banner of a “creamy cracked black pepper sauce”! Once again this is a classic pie filling done well, with a filling that complemented the delicious pastry once again.

Toppings Creamy Cracked Black Pepper Chicken, Wiltshire Ham and Portobello Mushroom Pie
Score: 5.86/7
[Colour 6, Capacity 6, Consistency 6, Condition 5.5, Chewiness 6, Cheapness 5.5, Content 6, Total: 5.86/7]



In summary, it really is no surprise to me that Toppings Pies have won so many Great Taste Awards, with a clear focus on quality ingredients and pie making. The hot water pastry was delightful and the fillings were generally very good, providing a real quality to the pie eating experience. I can’t go on enough about the quality of their website, which I feel is a real benchmark for how great a pie retailer’s website can be, and hope to sample some more of their range in the future!

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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continue reading "Topping up with some premium hot eating pies"

Friday, 10 April 2015

500 Pie Reviews - A Pierate Press Release!

Lock away your pies, a mysterious group are rating all the pies in Britain!

Pierate Ship
The Pierate Ship - with the 7 Cs

It is like a scene from a time long ago, Pirateers have been raiding shops across Britain. However in this case it is not your gold they are after but your golden pastry! These are Pie-rateers as opposed to Pirateers and so they are only interested in raiding pie establishments. They have a mission and they won’t stop until they have rated all the pies in Britain!

But who are they and why are they doing this? The motley crew are all members of the Pie-rate Ship, the world’s leading pie rating website who have now written 500 pie reviews. And how do they rate their pies? Well they sail the 7 Cs of pie rating, of course! These are the seven qualities they rate their pies against: Condition, Colour, Capacity, Content, Chewiness, Consistency and Cheapness.

Who eat all the pies?! We do!
Nowadays many pie companies are desperate to have their pies reviewed by the crew of the Pierate Ship! Free pies delivered to your door is a position many of us would love to be in, but how did the Pierateers manage it?

The Pierateers have said they have always had a passion for pies but that the idea of a pie rating website came about because they thought up the name Pie-Rate. It seemed like it must already exist as a pie review website, however, upon finding that it didn’t, they decided to set it up themselves back in November 2009. They had no special plans other than highlighting the good and bad pies they had found to one another. However their insatiable appetite for pies saw them pass the landmark of 250 pie reviews in November 2013 and now 500 pie reviews in April 2015. Eventually they realised that they were the world's leading pie review website.

Pierateers filming with BBC Sport
Pierateers filming with BBC Sport
In this time, the Pierateers have appeared on Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice with their crocodile pie being rated by Michel Roux Jr, filmed with BBC Sport in a video on the best pies in football, spoken on BBC Local Radio and even reviewed Mr Kipling pies before they were actually in the shops!

The Pierateers also love to explore the world to find countries which share Britain's love of pies. They have found pies in Australia, New Zealand, Borneo, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, Italy and Greece. This has given an international flavour to their pie treasure map, however the key reason the Pierateers say they have kept rating pies across the UK is to help the general public find a top rated pie near them!

Written to celebrate reaching 500 pie reviews on 10th April 2015. For more information or to find out more, please feel free to contact us on pierateship@yahoo.co.uk


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 "500 Pie Reviews - A Pierate Press Release!"

500th Pierate Pie Review - A landmark occasion!

The Pier Arches Café Steak Pie Review


Over the last 5 years we’ve rated pies from large pie producers, local delis, farmers markets, pubs and specialist pie shops, but as we reach a landmark 500th pie review we’ve gone for a small local café serving delicious pie to the locals and tourists in Southend-on-Sea, Essex. For to us, the promotion of and rating of great pies up and down the country is what we’re about here on the Pierate Ship and it is heart-warming to see that pie is a staple on local café menus just as much as the local chip shop, gastro pub or artisan pie stall.

Pier Arches Cafe Steak Pie Review
Pier Arches Cafe Steak Pie Review

So during a trip to Southend-on-Sea on a sunny weekend at the end of British Pie Week 2015, with 69 pies already consumed in the week between the two Pierateers RAS and SJL, they rounded off day seven of British Pie Week by both having the homemade Steak Pie at The Pier Arches Café – which is literally under the arches at the land end of the landmark that is Southend Pier, the longest pleasure pier in the world, and thus in the heart of the Southend seafront.

British Pie Week 2015
We celebrated British Pie Week 2015 with our 500th pie review!
Owner Sam had taken over the small business from his grandfather a few years back and had brought an even bigger focus to using fresh ingredients in his meals to the visiting tourists and regular customers of his sea front café. However one thing he didn’t need to change apparently was his mum’s homemade steak pie recipe, which was kept exactly as it was.

At £6.80 for a large slice of pie, chips and two veg, literally a stone’s throw away from the longest pleasure pier in the world, this is a great value meal served by friendly staff and a great place to celebrate our 500th rated pie on www.pierate.co.uk!

The pie itself (photo coming soon!) was a large slice of steak pie taken from a larger, fully encased tray baked pie, with a strong capacity of tender steak. It was quite a shallow pie but being such a large slice of pie it was certainly filling! The meat was very nice, served in a flavoursome gravy which had a good consistency for a pie. While some may argue a straight steak pie filling does not have the excitement of a more complex steak combination (such as with ale or other ingredients) the important things were done well and that has led to a strong rating.

The shortcrust pastry held together well and wasn’t too crumbly. It was slightly crisper on the outside of the pie than the central lid, though part of this was due to the gravy that had been poured onto the pie prior to serving and quite tasty. The filling:pastry ratio for the pie seemed pretty much spot on even if it was quite shallow.

Overall, the pie meal was very nice and worthy of being Pierate Recommended. A delightful end to our first 500 pie reviews... and here's to many more voyages of golden pie discovery on the Pierate Ship!

The Pier Arches Café Steak Pie
Score: 5.57/7
[Colour 5.5, Capacity 5.5, Consistency 5.75, Condition 5.5, Chewiness 5.75, Cheapness 5.5, Content 5.5, Total: 5.57/7]
RAS and SJL


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 
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continue reading "500th Pierate Pie Review - A landmark occasion!"

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Will you Vote Pies at the General Election?

After "The Pies" Road Graffiti it's "Vote Pies" now!


You may recall that in July 2014 we Pierateers felt the need to clarify that we were NOT behind a "The Pies" bit of graffiti on a road bridge across the M6 near Chester (between Junctions 17 & 18), an article which over 1,000 of you have now viewed!

Having been queried by a colleague at work (yes, sadly Pierateering is not quite a full time profession just yet!) who had taken the photo below on the motorway towards Chester, we 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 been a bit wittier and put "Pierate" or "Who rate all the Pies?" or similar! It did however lead us to investigate why this "The Pies" graffiti was probably there!


But now, thanks to a tweet by Anna Evans it appears that those behind the railway bridge graffiti have gone all political on us, changing the wording to now say "Vote Pies" - something we can really get our teeth into! After all, we've rated almost 500 pies on our pie review blog, so surely no-one has got behind the pies as much as we have!

So if you're still chewing over all the election literature and deciding who your pie-litical vote should go to, perhaps we should all just get behind the pies instead! After all, we certainly don't want to see quiches, tarts or pasties getting into power!

"Vote Pies" sign - Photo credit: Anna Evans

"The Pies" sign - Photo credit: Jas

In other pie-litical news, we were saddened to hear the news from pie e-petition founder Biltawulf that the petition to make it a crime to serve a top-crust pie has been closed due to the upcoming General Election. However we were pleased to see that thousands of you had signed it and thus backed the fully encased pie, which we fully support (as can be seen in our pie dictionary definition)!


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 "Will you Vote Pies at the General Election?"