Friday, 13 January 2017

Billy's Bakehouse - Aussie Pies from The Netherlands!

Billy's Bakehouse - Pie Reviews

You might think that after 7 years of eating and reviewing pies it has become a bit repetitive. Surely there is only so much that can happen when reviewing various pastry packages? But, like the fillings themselves, the whole experience continues to lead to the unexpected. One of these more random experiences was when an Australian from the Netherlands gave me 21 pies in Birmingham on my way to Northampton. Now let me explain...


Darren comes from a small coastal town in Australia but has been living in the Netherlands for over 20 years. Unfortunately the Dutch are not into pies and Darren missed the pies he used to get in Australia. Like us, he found many of the frozen pies he could import from the UK were not up to scratch. He Dad was a butcher and his Mum a pie lady so with this background he thought he would try and make his own. When other people tried his pies, they quickly caught on. He soon started a business making fresh pies for pubs and doing festivals during the times of year when his building work was quieter. Given that demand was varied, fresh pies would spoil before being used so Darren started making frozen pies with the emphasis on making them quick to cook on demand. The brand Billy's Bakehouse was born, marketed as producing authentic Australian pies. He also decided to make an affordable, everyday pie rather than a premium gourmet pie. The pies are small so that they can be eaten with one hand and to open up the market to younger pie fans and women who typically would want a smaller pie.


It struck me that Darren has really thought about his market, more so than most pie makers I come across. From my experience, it does feel he has identified a bit of a gap in the market. Sales are good for Darren, particularly at music festivals, but there is one problem. The Dutch have no idea about pies! A meat pie in particular is not a concept they are familiar with, so to make headway with Dutch supermarkets he has his work cut out. Hence Darren has an ambitious plan to break into the UK market somehow, be that via a franchise or importing pies. This brought him over to chat to some companies and he also decided to contact the Pierateers to get our opinion!

We met for a coffee at Birmingham New Street station. Darren said he would be easy to spot as he would be the one with the esky. Hmm.... only problem is I didn't know what that was. Turns out it is an Aussie name for a coolbox. I brought my own cool bag to take some pies with me as I was on my way to visit friends in Northampton. I didn't expect that Darren would be giving me the whole coolbox filled with 21 pies! The coolbox was a slightly random thing to turn up at someone's house with, fortunately my friend had a big chest freezer! (This event only added to my reputation as being completely obsessed with pies.)

Darren claimed to have come up with a unique way of making the frozen pastry work. He said that coming at it from a non-culinary background had allowed him to think outside the box. He didn't let me in on the secret but said it was a bit unusual. Hopefully nothing too weird though!

Billys Bakehouse pie

Darren gave me detailed instructions for how to cook the pies. They must be cooked in the foil and on a baking tray. He also specified the relatively high temperature of 200°C. It felt like it was a bit of a science experiment rather than baking a pie. I was glad he gave me 21 pies so I could make sure I got some right! It also allowed me to share some with Pierateer Rob. (I meant to give him meat pies and chicken pies but turns out they were all meat, oops.) Whilst I tried to follow the instructions, perhaps there was some variability to the oven because some cooked better than others. Some had perhaps been slightly defrosted in their travels which meant they weren't quite at their best.

When they did cook right though, the pastry was very good, especially given that it was frozen. It was slightly flaky but with a bit of crunch. There was a nice buttery taste to the pastry. As Pierateer Rob observed, it was nice that the sides and base cooked well too, there were no soggy bottoms here! It is actually quite unusual to achieve this for a frozen pie. This meant the pies held together well making them ideal to eat by hand. I can see they would work well as a festival pie.

The pies retail for €2.79 for a box of 2 in supermarkets, putting them just above £1 each at post-referendum rates. This is competitive with other companies such as Birdseye which dominate the frozen brands in this country. At festivals the offers vary but they tend to be around €3.20 each. This is cheap compared to pies at event we go to (like the football where prices tend to be #PieHighPrices).

But onto the fillings! I was given four different flavours, meat, spicy meat, chicken and veggie.

Meat

5.35/7
SJL/RAS

The meat was minced beef which is the traditional Aussie style. Darren said this is the pie he would always try first to see if a pie maker is worth their crust. Whilst we do tend to prefer bigger meat chunks on the Pierate Ship this has allowed Darren to make these pies both good quality and affordable. Whilst it was minced meat, it was still in relatively big pieces. This indicated the quality of the meat was better than most minced meat pies where the meat is ground so fine there is nothing at all to chew. The flavour was fairly simple, meaty with little seasoning, but not too much. The seasoning was different (in a good way) to the average meat pie in the UK, but my palette is not refined enough to determine what the differences were.

Spicy Meat

5.35/7
SJL

The same type of meat as the standard meat pie but this one packed more of a punch. To me, it tasted like someone had injected a meat pie with chip shop curry sauce and then added a bit more pepper and chili to make sure it was hot enough. Again, it didn't do anything fancy, it was simple but effective. I couldn't choose between this and the meat pie as my favourite, it depends on how you feel on the day.

Chicken & Mushroom

4.85
SJL

The flavour of this pie was so much nicer than your average chicken and mushroom pie in this price range. It was a world away from the horrible grey gloop that you often find. There was plenty of leek which added of flavour with a good amount of salt. The mushroom added nicely to the texture and variety of the pie without over powering the flavours. It seemed like a different variety of mushroom to what we typically eat in the UK. The chicken was in quiet small pieces but just about big enough to get your teeth into. Unfortunately, in the pies I had the sauce was a bit too thin for me which, was surprising when the others had quite a thick sauce. Hence, it lost marks against Consistency. The leek was also a little Chewy which detracted from the texture. A shame when it did some aspects very well.

Potato & Sweet Potato

4.50
SJL

Given the choice of filling, it is not too surprising that this was quite a soft pie. It had a consistency like a cheese & onion pie or a butter pie. There was again, a welcome flavour from the leek, so this pie avoided being bland. There was, of course, not much to chew, this type of pie slips down too easily to be something I would choose regularly, but it was tasty enough to eat again. Perhaps as a 'side' to one of the meat pies, it would be a bit like pie and mash then!


So to summarise, the Aussie pies from the Netherlands turned out to be pretty good! The Meat and Spicy Meat both receive Pierate Recommended status. Given the business trip to UK, perhaps we will one day see Billy's Bakehouse pies on these shores, there is certainly an appetite for this kind of pie in the UK, but probably more com-pie-tition in the market place too. It strikes me that these would be
perfect pies to eat at football matches. They cook quickly, they are easy to hold in your hand and for the most part the hold together very well. For some reason in England, most football pies tend to be stodgy and gloopy affairs that make a mess everywhere. Here's hoping that a club signs this talented foreigner up! We wish Darren and Billy's Bakehouse good luck in the future.

SJL
continue reading "Billy's Bakehouse - Aussie Pies from The Netherlands!"

Saturday, 31 December 2016

New York Pie Review: Apple Pie from Pies n Thighs

Start spreading the news… I’m reviewing New York pies today…

Following on from the apple and blueberry pie reviews of the last few days from my e-pie-c adventure to the land of the free and home of the sweet pie, the U-S-of-A, here’s the third and final part of my whistle-stop tour of the American pies I ate. The final pie is the only proper apple pie I had – following the crumb topping of the Billy’s Bakery Pie – and was the best of the lot!


Apple Pie from Pies n Thighs
$4.50 per slice
166 S. 4th Street, Brooklyn, New York City


Pies n Thighs Apple Pie Review
Pies n Thighs Apple Pie Review
The other side of the Williamsburg Bridge from downtown Manhattan, I first spotted Brookyln’s “Pies n Thighs” store on a stroll round the area on the first night we were in New York but we visited slightly later in my trip. Specialising in chicken and pies, it’s a pretty apt name really! They have a decent range of pies available, including a fully encased apple pie for $4.50 a slice (£3.65 in English money). With a quaint little store in a funky part of town, it is a bit out of the way compared to downtown Manhattan but well worth the trip over to Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

The golden pastry was lovely and buttery, crisp and held together really well. The apple too was the right blend of crunch and mushy sweet filling. Certainly the best pastry I had over in America and better than many sweet pastries I’ve had on these shores, the cost of the pie at $4.50 is also a bit more reasonable for a slice of pie, with the option of adding ice cream for a few dollars more.

The store was quirky and atmosphere was good, with a good selection of pies and I’d certainly recommend visiting it. Pierate Highly Recommended!

Apple Pie from Pies n Thighs
Score: 6.04/7
[Colour 6.5/7; Consistency 6/7; Cheapness 5/7; Chewiness 5.75/7; Condition 6.25/7; Content 6.5/7; Capacity 6.25/7]
RAS




Pies n Thighs Pie Menu
Pies n Thighs Pie Menu


Lower Manhattan - Surely there's some pie in there somewhere?!

Summer and Fall of 2016 was American Pie Season at Pierate! Just like London buses you wait a long time for a Pierateer to head stateside and then we go over twice within a couple of months! In August work took Pierateer Sam over the Pond and you can take a look at our Chicago Pie Tour to see where Sam went.



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 "New York Pie Review: Apple Pie from Pies n Thighs"

Friday, 30 December 2016

New York Pie Review: Wild Blueberry Pie from Petee’s Pie Company

Start spreading the news… I’m reviewing New York pies today…

Following on from yesterday’s apple pie review from my e-pie-c adventure to the land of the free and home of the sweet pie, the U-S-of-A, here’s part two of my whistle-stop tour of the American pies I ate. Sure I was visiting The Big Apple, but I needed some variety in my pie-t (pie diet) so today’s American pie is…


Wild Blueberry Pie from Petee’s Pie Company
$5.50 per slice
61 Delancey Street, Manhattan, New York City



Petee's Wild Blueberry Pie Review
Petee's Wild Blueberry Pie Review
After diving off the subway and speedily walking along the busy major road that is Delancey Street, I was glad to pull out of the rain and into their quaint little pie shop and see the staff hard at work making delicious looking pies! It’s not the biggest shop – with a few high stools to sit at if required but most customers picking up a pie/slice and leaving – but I appreciated most of the space was needed for pie production. As said in my article yesterday, the Americans have their own interpretation of pie, which often lacks pastry and full encasement. However there were a few options meeting my criteria in Petee’s Pie Shop and I decided to go for something different and choose a wild blueberry pie.

The pie was $5.50 (that’s £4.50 in English money) and again you got a decent slice for your dollar. It seemed pretty much the going rate for a slice of pie from a pie shop round these parts – though I did manage to get a slice for $4.50 at a shop in Brooklyn (more about that later in the week!) Again the price wasn’t terrible for a slice of pie considering the central New York location and it equating to a posh slice of cake in a London deli, but compared to a lot of pies it’s still quite pricey and unlike yesterday’s review they didn’t really have a proper seating area to charge for either.

Petee's Wild Blueberry Pie Review
Instead Petee’s Pie Company focused on the pie. In fact, it was pretty much pie, pie or pie here! Both regular and gluten free, they bake pies for your pleasure! Sure, if you study the menu you will find a few cheesecakes and other goods, along with a selection of beverages, but this is first and foremost a pie shop, not a general bakery. So for this, I commend Petee’s Pie Shop to you and their crazy late opening hours (Midnight or 1am every night of the week)!

In fact you don’t get a recommendation like “The absolute best pie in New York” (via NYMag – New York Magazine) without clearly selling great pies. But perhaps that was on the American definition and appetite for pie that got those remarks, as while the wild blueberry pie was very nice, it didn’t blow me away like the NYMag recommendation had hinted at.

Sure, the fruit was fresh and I thought the pastry held together quite well, but the pastry was a bit dry in places and quite crumbly. While this by no means made it a poor pie – on the contrary it still rates quite highly! - based on pastry alone, this one was third place out of the three pies I had in New York. Still, it's one of the top scoring blueberry pies I've had and I’d like to go back some day and try a few more of their pies, as it was still very nice and I’d enjoy trying their range, but with such a high calibre available it just misses out on a Pierate Recommended score.

Wild Blueberry Pie from Petee’s Pie Company
Score: 4.89/7
[Colour 5.5/7; Consistency 5.5/7; Cheapness 2/7; Chewiness 5/7; Condition 5/7; Content 5.5/7; Capacity 5.75/7]
RAS



Lower Manhattan - Surely there's some pie in there somewhere?!

Summer and Fall of 2016 was American Pie Season at Pierate! Just like London buses you wait a long time for a Pierateer to head stateside and then we go over twice within a couple of months! In August work took Pierateer Sam over the Pond and you can take a look at our Chicago Pie Tour to see where Sam went.



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 "New York Pie Review: Wild Blueberry Pie from Petee’s Pie Company"

Thursday, 29 December 2016

New York Pie Review: Apple Pie from Billy’s Bakery

Start spreading the news… I’m reviewing New York pies today…

Admittedly I haven’t made much of a song and dance of it for a while – it has been a good few months since my e-pie-c adventure to the land of the free and home of the sweet pie, the U-S-of-A! But with holiday season comes an op-pie-tunity to catch up on a few reviews I should have written up from my notes a long while ago! So in the next few days, I’ll give you a whistle-stop tour of the American pies I ate. And being The Big Apple, it would be rude not to start with an apple pie…


Apple Crumb Pie from Billy’s Bakery
$5.50 per slice
Three outlets across Manhattan, New York City
(I visited 9th Avenue as it stays open late)


Billy's Bakery Apple Pie Review
Billy's Bakery Apple Pie Review
It was late at night when we picked up this slice of pie – post checking out some comedy at the aptly named “New York Comedy Club”. With a little sweet hole to fill, I searched the pie selection for pastry encased pies on their counter. Unfortunately there was only the one option when it came to fully encased pastry – and even that was slightly debatable due to the “crumb” topping. But hey, we’re in America! They drive on the right, they call rubbish “trash” and the American pie-deal is certainly something far different to us Brits! (Have you seen a pumpkin “pie”?!)

Still, I wasn’t going to turn down a good looking pastry pie – and one is better than none!!!

The Apple Crumb Pie was $5.50 (that’s £4.50 in English money) and a decent slice for that. It seemed pretty much the going rate for a slice of pie from a pie shop round these parts – though I did manage to get a slice for $4.50 at a shop in Brooklyn (more about that later in the week!) Not too bad for a slice of pie, considering the central New York location and it equating to a posh slice of cake in a London deli, but compared to a lot of pies it’s still quite pricey!

Still, it’s hard to argue when you hear an opening line on their website like this: “It all began in 2003 with two friends from business school who shared a sweet tooth and a dream of baking.” Tucking into their pie, I can see why they got involved in a business that sells and makes quality pies! The fresh ingredients and rich buttery taste make for a wonderful pie.

Billy's Bakery Apple Pie Review
The Apple Crumb Pie was amongst a range of more typical American dessert pies.

The chunky, crisp apple pies are held together by a tasty, buttery bottom crust and then a crumbly, oaty topping is layered on top. It reminds me of a number of “crumble pies” I’ve had before in the UK, which combine a pastry base with a crumble like lid. Sure, if I’m being strict it’s not quite a proper pie by our high standards, as it is more a layer than a lid, but it was at least fully encased. It was also darn tasty!

While the topping did slightly crumble off in transit back to our hotel (as it was almost closing time in the shop by the time we’d got there) it was captured in the lovely pie box I was given to transport it in. And the crisp pastry base held together perfectly and gave a delicious crunch to the pie. All in all, the condition was decent apart from the crumbling, while the colour was quite golden and the capacity was strong, with plenty of apple chunks. A bit chewy at times but a good slice of pie!

Co-founders Marc and Wayne have done a great job in providing that 1940s “grandma’s kitchen” feel to the store and it appears New Yorkers have fallen in love with their wares too, with three stores across Manhattan. With a Pierate Recommended pie, I can see why. Great work Team Billy!

Apple Crumb Pie from Billy’s Bakery
Score: 5.18/7
[Colour 6/7; Consistency 5.75/7; Cheapness 2.5/7; Chewiness 5/7; Condition 5/7; Content 6/7; Capacity 6/7]
RAS



Lower Manhattan - Surely there's some pie in there somewhere?!

Summer and Fall of 2016 was American Pie Season at Pierate! Just like London buses you wait a long time for a Pierateer to head stateside and then we go over twice within a couple of months! In August work took Pierateer Sam over the Pond and you can take a look at our Chicago Pie Tour to see where Sam went.



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 "New York Pie Review: Apple Pie from Billy’s Bakery"

Friday, 23 December 2016

Football Pie: Petering Out at Newport County

Newport County Football Club/Peter's Pie Reviews

Welsh pie maker Peter's are a bit like an old friend of Pierate. Common at fish and chip shops and also served at our home town football club we have eaten quite a few in our time. We also reviewed quite a few of their pies although it is notable we haven't reviewed any for a while. It is also notable that I haven't see many at football grounds recently, which is apparent by the lack of Peter's pies in our PIEremiership Football Pie League.

A trip to Peter's heartland in Wales help rectify this as Pierateers Rob and Sam headed over to the Newport County vs. Wycombe Wanderers match. Upon entering the away end of Rodney Parade we were a bit worried to see that the catering options were dominated by burger and chips. However, when we asked they went and fetched some hot pies from another outlet. Phew!


Newport Football Pie Review
Newport Football Pie Review
Rob went for a Chicken Pie and Sam opted for the Steak at the steep price of £3.50 which had me frustrated again at the #PieHighPrices. This price was surprising given that Newport have told the BBC Price of football survey that their pies cost £2.60. We wondered if away fans were being fleeced with a higher price than home fans (as we found at Cambridge).


Newport Football Pie Review Steak
Peter's Steak Pie at Newport County
Whilst it was nice to reunited with Peter's pies again, after having reviewed nearly 600 pies we have tried a lot of very good pies. It is perhaps the case now that we have higher expectations than when we started on this pastry journey. Hence I did find my pie a bit disappointing. To be fair, this may not have been the fault of Peter's. It wasn't cooked very well. Often the case with football pies cooked in a rush, it had soft and stodgy pastry which didn't hold together well at all, I am not sure why so many football ground sell pies like this. My Steak pie fell apart completely although Pierateer Rob seemed to get on a little better with his.


Find out where this pie ranks in our Football Pie League


Peter's Chicken Pie Review
Peter's Chicken Pie
The filling for my steak pie wasn't bad. It had quite a lot of meaty chunks in a fairly standard, but tasty, onion flavoured gravy. The meat wasn't too chewy but it wasn't as soft as I remembered from Peter's pies. It also wasn't as flavoursome. Overall, if it wasn't for having no other pie option in the ground, I wouldn't be choosing to get this pie again.

The chicken pie eaten by Pierateer Rob had similar flaws to it. Again the pastry was far from ideal, collapsing under the soft and stodgy pastry. The chicken filling was quite nice, with the creamy sauce blending well with the chicken chunks. However it took a number of bites to even reach the chicken filling, with a rather large air gap and not overly strong capacity. And while the pie lid was quite crisp and tasty, the rest of the pastry was nothing to write home about and disintegrated far too easily. For a football pie, the filling flavour was reasonable (which doesn't say much for some of the lower rated pies in our PIEremiership table!) but he wouldn't choose to eat it again.

Peter's Steak Pie
3.75
[Colour 4/7; Consistency 3/7; Cheapness 3/7; Chewiness 3/7; Condition 4/7; Content 4/7; Capacity 3.75/7]
SJL


Peter's Chicken Pie
Score: 3.79/7
[Colour 4/7; Consistency 4/7; Cheapness 3/7; Chewiness 4.5/7; Condition 3/7; Content 4.5/7; Capacity 3.5/7]
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 "Football Pie: Petering Out at Newport County"

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Higgidy pies to celebrate International Pierate Day

Slow Cooked Venison and Red Wine and Chicken, Bacon and Mushroom Pie Reviews from Higgidy


Higgidy Pie Review
Higgidy Pie Review
Not for the first time on reaching a big occasion on the world’s leading pie reviewing blog we’ve gone to a tried and tested top pie producer in Higgidy’s pies to celebrate! You may not remember but several years ago back on 7th July 2013 we rated a Slow Cooked Steak & Red Wine Pie from Higgidy to celebrate our 200th pie review on Pierate, and today I’m reviewing the two pies I had on International Pierate Day 2016 (which was our 7th Birthday Pie-rty!)

A lot has happened on Pierate since that 200th pie review almost three and a half years ago – namely almost another 400 pie reviews plus multiple TV and radio ap-pie-rances! But they have also in the Higgidy kitchen too, with a wider range and much more regular availability showing the growth the company have made too. I mentioned in my 200th review that it was more like me having to sail the seven stores than the seven seas to find a Higgidy pie back in 2013, before getting my hands on one of their pies! But for International Pierate Day 2016 I was able to pick up two new Higgidy pies at my local Sainsbury’s for £3.70 each, which is just 21p more than what I paid back in 2013 (though the pies are still the same size at 250g).

On the shelf, one of the things that really stands out is the attractive packaging, with a number of intriguing features including the care put into selecting only the best ingredients (in the case of the chicken pie, even stating which farm it is sourced from!) and a cheeky see through plastic glimpse of the pie in question. It is clear from the packaging and the quality of the pie when eating that these people clearly love their pies! The box states the pie was “lovingly made in Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex” and I very much appreciate the care and attention put into it. The pie holds together well, has good content and interesting flavours. With 4 pies already scoring over 5/7 (thus being “Pierate Recommended”) Higgidy know how to make a good pie! So how did these two flavours rate?


Higgidy Venison Pie Review
Higgidy Venison Pie

Slow Cooked Venison and Red Wine Pie

This “special guest” pie – available for a limited time only – was a nice addition to the Higgidy family, from which we had not had a venison pie before. Regarding the content, the meat was nice and tender from it being slow cooked and, while a bit lacking at just 22%, it did give a nice flavour to the pie. The first few bites were slightly dominated by the chestnut mushrooms and the cranberry and apricot stuffing does add a surprising sweetness to the underside of the crisp puff pastry lid, however these flavours do combine to give the pie quite a unique and seasonal flavour.

However the biggest surprise was hint of dark chocolate, which certainly added some additional richness to sauce. While not really my cup to tea, I can understand it adds an extra texture to the pie sauce and would appeal to those who like something quirky in their pie fillings. It does however dominate the flavour a lot, so not ideal if it doesn’t take your fancy. The capacity was a bit lacking too, so while a good content the air gap does bring the score down a bit.

The Higgidy pastry, as ever, is very good quality. The pastry is a golden colour and perfectly held together. Fully encased with short crust pastry sides and base and a buttery puff pastry lid, it is a classic example of pie pastry done well, holding together and giving you a good crunch on top while holding the moist filling. The puff pastry lid, in particular, was very nice. I commend them for something new and it is certainly not lacking in flavour, once again being awarded Pierate Recommended status.

Higgidy Slow Cooked Venison and Red Wine Pie
Score: 5.43/7
[Colour 6/7; Consistency 5/7; Cheapness 4/7; Chewiness 5.75/7; Condition 6/7; Content 6/7; Capacity 5.25/7]




Higgidy Chicken Pie Review
Higgidy Chicken, Bacon and Mushroom Pie Review

Chicken, Bacon and Mushroom Pie

Similarly the pastry was very good for the chicken, bacon and mushroom pie and a highlight of this pie. Golden and crisp, it complimented the filling well. Again the meat content could have been a bit higher, at just 19% chicken and 7% bacon, but it was once again the mushrooms that slightly dominated the flavour, with three different types of mushroom in this pie (making up 16% of the pie!) The creamy sauce was pleasant and complimented the pie well, again leading to a Pierate Recommended status pie.

Higgidy Chicken, Bacon and Mushroom Pie
Score: 5.5/7
[Colour 6/7; Consistency 5.5/7; Cheapness 4/7; Chewiness 5.75/7; Condition 6/7; Content 6/7; Capacity 5.25/7]



In summary, Higgidy have once again produced two recommended pies. While both could have been a bit bigger and had more meat content for the price (£3.70 for a 250g pie), they were certainly both being sold as and delivered as a pie on the top end of the supermarket range. A bit more meat would have boosted them ever so slightly higher in the rankings, as neither were at full capacity when you cut into the pies, but in general two pies worth getting your hands on!

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 "Higgidy pies to celebrate International Pierate Day"

Friday, 16 December 2016

Pieday Friday - 16th December 2016 - Pie in space and Pierate in the media



It's Friday! It's Pieday!


Well we can't deny it's been a while, but Friday Pieday is back for a pre-Christmas special! Though perhaps sur-pie-singly it is lacking on the festive Turkey and Mince Pie reviews you may expect at this time of year and instead focusing on pies in the media, as it seems you just can't keep a good pie down... quite literally in the case of our top story!



Our "Pie in the Sky"
Pie in the sky?! Just watch this space!!!

You may well remember back in British Pie Week 2016, which we extensively covered here on the home of the pie review, that Pierateer Rob pie-oneered "Pie in the Sky" by enjoying a World Scotch Pie Championship winning Scotch Pie from The Kandy Bar Bakery on his flight back from Glasgow to Birmingham. However it appears some pie fans in Wigan have taken things one step further!

As reported on the BBC News website, to celebrate the upcoming World Pie Eating Championships in Wigan some pie fans have only gone and sent a meat and potato pie up into space!!! Attaching the pie to a balloon, it's believed to be the first pie sent into space and there are scientists studying how the pie will react to being so far above the Earth's crust!

Will it freeze in the outer atmosphere? Will it burn up upon re-entry? The pie scientists are hoping to find out soon! You can see a snazzy little video on the BBC website right now!


Pierateers are pie advisers to the BBC once again

While the full details cannot yet be unveiled as it is still at the idea pitching stage, this week Pierateer Rob was once again advising the BBC on a potential pie-related clip for hit BBC show "Rip Off Britain". You may remember that back in February 2015 Pierateer Rob was filmed by the BBC talking football pies, for an episode of "Rip Off Britain" that aired in April 2015 and has been repeated several times since. This follows our appearance on BBC hit show The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice and several BBC Radio ap-pie-rences!


While sadly that episode of Rip Off Britain is no longer available on BBC pie-player, you can still see us on the BBC Sport website talking football pies!


The Sun's Sports Section covers our PIEremiership!

Turns out it's not just the BBC wanting to get their hands on top pie-fessional advice when it comes to pies! Just a few weeks ago Pierateer Rob was also featured in The Sun newspaper's sports section talking about the best football pies. Featuring just shortly after the BBC announced its annual Price of Football survey, which we covered in our article on the Pies of Football, The Sun contacted us to find out more about football pies and grab a slice of our PIEremiership - where we rate the pies at football grounds up and down the land!

You can find out more about Pierate's Football Pie League and a whole host of other football pie related info right here! This includes the Pierate Highly Recommended pies from Morecambe FC, which rate as our number 1 pies in football.


If you have a story you think would be good to feature on the web's leading pie review site, send us an email at pierateship@yahoo.co.uk or contact us on Twitter @pierateers 
continue reading "Pieday Friday - 16th December 2016 - Pie in space and Pierate in the media"

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Setting the Bar in Dunbar

Dunbar Pie Reviews

A trip to Dunbar provided me with the chance to reignite my love of Scotch Pies. Normally I go on a recommendation by the Scotch Pie club which has meant I have found some very good Scotch Pies. I had no recommendation in this case so I didn't know how high the bar would be set. The simple high street was indicative that this was a small town but it had all the essentials and felt alive, unlike many similar high streets around the country. They are fortunate to have both a Butchery and a Bakery in this scenic seaside town. As is common in this part of the world, both the butchers and the bakers sold Scotch pies. This gave me a chance to do a bit of a head to head. As both cost £1.20 and were about the same size it provided a fair comparison. It was cute to note that the Bakery was run as a community bakery, for the benefit of the community rather than profit. I would have liked them to have had an equally wholesome pie but the Butchers version had the edge in terms of taste. Sadly neither were particularly good, the bar was not set particularly high in this case and they are not challenging near the top of our list of the best Scotch pies.


Taking them out of the oven it was amazing to see such a difference in Colour. The Bakery pie was a bit on the pale and pasty side wereas the Butchery pie looked had a dark brown, carmalised colour. Strangely this colour variation also applied to the fillings of the pie. Whilst many pies you cannot judge by their appearance, in this case it was a good indication of the taste. The Bakery pie pastry was a bit papery and floury which wasn't helped by a thick pastry base. It did have some crunch to the lid which indicated it had been cooked for long enough. The Butchery pie had crunch pastry with a slight biscuity taste. There was a hint of caramlised sweetness to the pastry which was a bit odd. It was a bit wonky in appearance with some boil out.


In both cases, the flavour of the meat was hard to distinguish but given the lower fat content they were certainly not mutton Scotch pies so I assumed that beef was the main ingrediant. The pale pastry of the bakery pie was matched by a pale and rather bland filling. The lack of seasoning left the overall taste mainly coming from the floury taste of the pastry. The butchery pie was well seasoned in comparison but did have a bit of chewy meat.


Whilst neither were amazing, they were edible so it wasn't a disaster but I would recommend a trip to Dunbar for the countryside and tourist sights rather than the pies. We had a nice cycle from Torness to Edinburgh on National Cycle Route 76 as well as a nice trip on the Borders Railway and a cycle from Galashiels. I didn't manage to pick up any more Scotch pies on the trip but I am sure to be back for more.



Beef Scotch Pie (Dunbar Community Bakery)
3.79/7

Beef Scotch Pie (Quality Butchers Dunbar)
4.12/7

SJL
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Thursday, 17 November 2016

Say No to Pie High Football Prices

Together we can raise the standards and not the prices #PieHighPrices

As Pierateer RAS has already noted, the price of football pies has gone up above the rate of inflation according to the latest BBC Price of Football Survey. Whilst more than two thirds of ticket prices have been cut or frozen, it seems that clubs are recouping that saving in other areas with prices of traditional match day pies now reaching eye watering (rather than mouth watering) levels. Eight Premier League clubs are now charging £4 or more. For these kind of price in a chippy you would expect to get pie AND chips and still have some change! Yes, the fans can choose not to buy these pies but is it going to kill the tradition of eating a pie in the ground?


The pie high prices wouldn't actually be too bad if only the pies were top notch. But at Pierate we have often bemoaned the fact that these pies are regularly not all that good. The challenge of producing a large amount of pies in a short time often leaves them under cooked or dried out. But clubs like Morecambe have shown that table topping pies can be produced without having to charge more (see our Football Pie League). We would advocate boycotting the pies, however we don't want to damage this matchday tradition. Instead, if you think the that your club have #PieHighPrices then why not contact them to let them know?! Together we can raise the standards and not the prices!

SJL
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The Pies of Football 2016

As the 2016 BBC Price of Football Survey launches, indicating that Premier League ticket prices have gone down but pie prices have increased above the rate of inflation, what does this mean for the average football fan? And what should we really be looking for when it comes to the pies of football?


Sam and Rob being interviewed by BBC Sport's Azi Farni
Watch the video on the BBC Sport website
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 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?

Two years ago we joined BBC Sport's Azi Farni at Morecambe FC, who make some of the best pies rated on Pierate (let alone football grounds) to discuss what makes the perfect football pie! Watch us featuring in the BBC Price of Football video here.

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 almost 600 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 almost 600 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?

Pierateer Analysis


One of the pielights of the #PriceOfFootball survey in the main article refers to pies going up in price, despite ticket prices going down! Why should fans have to pay so much for their pies - with many Premier League clubs charging over £4 for a pie - when clubs are on this new £8billion plus TV deal?! In our mind, football fans should never have to pay over the odds for food at a ground, especially their beloved pie! They've already paid for their ticket, so the pies on sale should be good quality and good value!

Interestingly the BBC choose to highlight the average price difference between English Premier League pies (£3.49) and Scottish Premiership pies (£2.18) but this is not really a fair comparison. The typical English pie is a steak pie, with full on chunks of meat, where as the typical Scottish football pie would be a Scotch pie, a much cheaper pie to make made of minced meat. In our view, the BBC should only compare like for like pies if they're going to compare at all, and get us to rate the quality - not just the cost!!!

Pie at the football!

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!



As seen in the above video, 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! The secret? Head chef Graham Aimson at Morecambe FC makes his pies on the kitchen on site by hand, rather than just buying them in! Top work Graham and the team!

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 this season, 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!

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 
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Saturday, 12 November 2016

Oxford Pie Reviews

Oxford United Football Club - Chunk of Devon Chicken and Mushroom Pie Review


As a celebration of our 7th Birthday today here at www.pierate.co.uk we're posting a pie review we wrote a little while back but sadly never saw the light of day! Here's our day out at the football at the end of last season, with a decent scoring football pie! (And one glance at the PIEremiership will show you that sadly isn't said all too often!)



At the end of last season our team (Wycombe Wanderers) didn't have a lot to play for but with new pies to review (and the chance to beat local rivals) we headed to Oxford United's Kassam Stadium for the final fixture of the 2015/2016 season. As maybe we should have expected, the game was a disappointment for Wycombe as our form had dipped dramatically during the run in. We lost 3-0 which saw Oxford clinch promotion. Fortunately the pies were anything but disappointing and have performed well in our football pie league. Oxford had gone more up market than most by supplying Chunk pies who we have scored highly before. I picked up a Chicken and Mushroom, while RAS grabbed a Steak and Kidney pie (not reviewed this time). At £3.30 these pies were great value compared to other football grounds. Slightly more expensive than some but worth it for a much more edible pastry package.


Pierateer RAS with a couple of the Wycombe players holding pies & Pierate postcards!
(l-r: Joe Jacobson, Pierateer RAS, Sam Wood)

Perhaps the biggest highlight was grabbing a picture with some of the injured Wycombe players holding pies! Sadly they declined to eat them... have they not heard about our research that eating pies can make you lose weight?!


The Chicken and Mushroom was not a Chunk pie which I had tried before but I knew what to expect from the Devon company. The shortcrust pastry was very much like you find with a good pasty. In this case it wasn't quite as good as previously. It tasted like it had been microwaved or kept warm for too long. We have often found this problem when catering for so many at a football match but it wasn't too detrimental in this case. The chicken filling was tasty and not overly heavy on the mushroom. The filling went well with the pastry. The amount of filling was good but some air gaps remained. Overall I would certainly have this pie again and wish more football ground would sell pies that are a bit different to the standard dehydrated Pukka pies. The decent pie, bantering with the players and time hanging out with Pierateer RAS in Oxford went some way to making up for the poor display from Wycombe but please can we have some more goals this season lads?!


Chicken and Mushroom (Oxford United/Chunk)
5.12/7
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
and let us know your thoughts!
continue reading "Oxford Pie Reviews"

International Pierate Day 2016

We Pierateers of pie review website www.pierate.co.uk are today celebrating our 7th Birthday, and we'd love you to join us by simply eating a pie and rating it!


That’s why we’ve designated
12th November as International Pierate Day!


It follows in the footsteps of the very first International Pierate Day in 2013, which was once again celebrated in 2014 and last year. But we don’t want you – pie lovers worldwide – to just sit at home and watch as we eat all the pies! Oh no! Pie eating and pie rating is something we can all enjoy. Something that can bring friends, family and communities together. Pies are celebrated and eaten in so many countries worldwide and so today – marking our seventh birthday – we would love you to join us in eating and rating pies this week to celebrate!


Pie Birthday Card
Quite an apt pie card to celebrate our 7th Birthday!

This year we got a lovely pie-related Birthday card to celebrate our 7th year, and you may also remember that to celebrate the occasion of our 6th birthday, we commissioned fellow food blogger and amazing illustrator Emily from www.recipesandreviews.co.uk to create us this lovely, personalised print - an illustrated guide on how to rate a pie, based on our 7 Cs of pie rating!


An illustrated guide on how to rate a pie by @emily_etc
 

So here’s the deal... in six simple words: Eat a pie and rate it!

It doesn’t matter whether it’s savoury or sweet, or whether you prefer your pies without the wheat or meat! We really do rate anything and everything that is a true pie and sometimes a number of interesting things that try to be pies to! But the important thing is we love to eat pie and rate it – for we are, after all, the Pierateers!

So once you’ve found a pie to eat – whether in the local bakery, butchers, supermarket or your favourite pie shop or one you have made in the luxury of your own home – why not rate your pie using the Seven Cs of pie rating in our lovely illustrated guide above?



In addition to celebrating #InternationalPierateDay today, we are also delighted to announce that Chris from MyPie London is now our number 1 pie maker on Pierate, taking the top spot since our 6th birthday! Following the closing of Paul's Pies, Chris now holds the number 1 and number 2 spots in our pie rankings!


His Steak and Ale pie scoring 6.61/7 has beaten off the com-pie-tition of almost 600 other pies to top our pie rankings!



So what do you need to do now?


Well, first things first - you need a pie (or two!) For insPIEration you might find our Pie Rankings helpful, with almost 600 pies we've rated and reviewed over the past 7 years! Or perhaps you want to make one of the pies our Ship's Cook has made, following her reci-pies here.

You can even watch us on the BBC website advising what to look for in a pie!

Most of all, we hope you enjoy eating and rating pies this week! We sure will and will be rating the pies we ate for our birthday celebrations this week!!!



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 "International Pierate Day 2016"