Sunday, 24 April 2016

Chicken out the Botanist's Birmingham pies

The Botanist Birmingham Chicken and Chorizo Pie Review


Botanist Chicken Chorizo Pie Review
Laura and the pies!
It’s now just over a year since The Botanist opened their doors in Birmingham, immediately becoming one of the better pie producers in the heart of Birmingham with a range of pies available on their menu. So when I was invited recently to go back and rate one of their other pies – the chicken and chorizo pie, which I’d had my eye on in the past – I certainly wasn’t going to say no!

I’d been told the pies had been improved since my visits to rate the Steak and Lamb Hotpot pies last year, so I eagerly awaited my visit! On top of that I’d arranged to meet up with award winning Birmingham blogger Laura from Full to the Brum (yep, she loves food puns as much as we do!) as it was British Pie Week and because, well, pie not?! Fans of her blog will know Laura enjoys a good pie too, and has put us to shame by doing her review on what she thought of the pie (having had the same one as me) a few weeks ago! There were some very positive comments in her review, even if she did chicken out a bit by not giving a pie rating! (This in spite of me taking a full “Pierateer in Training” pack with me!!!) No such worries here though – this is what we thought of The Botanist’s Chicken and Chorizo pie:



As previously mentioned I had already tried the Lamb Hotpot pie back when The Botanist had only recently opened, which sadly fell down on our criteria as it was a mash-topped “pie” with pastry sides and base. However I had a much more enjoyable and filling ex-pie-rience in the form of a fully encased Steak and Stout pie the last time I went, which scored 4.5/7. There was however some room for improvement still and I’m delighted to say that The Botanist has delivered on a number of our recommendations.


Botanist Chicken Chorizo Pie Review
Botanist Chicken Chorizo Pie Review
The clearest improvement was that of the packed capacity and content, which was far better filled and more enjoyable in this Chicken and Chorizo pie. There could have been a little more chicken, but overall this scored a lot better in this new pie. In fact, the scores had improved in nearly every one of our 7 Cs of pie rating, even if it must be remembered this is a different flavour pie filling.

Botanist Chicken Chorizo Pie Review
Botanist Chicken Chorizo Pie cross-section
 
The colour was improved too, a lot more golden on the top and sides even if a little too crisp in places, and while the filling was a slightly shocking bright orange, this was understandable due to the flavours involved! The oozy orange sauce complemented the big chunks of chicken and chorizo (in fact, it was unusual to get such big pieces of chorizo in a pie, as normally they are tiny or even undetectable in pies I’ve rated before!), even if this did mean the larger pieces of chorizo were a bit chewy! However this is expected of the meat, so I can’t really fault it for this!

The condition was pretty good, again well-presented and golden, crisp and well made. The flavours were good – chicken and chorizo is a classic combo! And for £10.95 this meal is quite reasonable for a city centre meal, even if there are a few slightly cheaper options out there. I’d happily recommend it and look forward to trying the other pies on their menu too!

The Botanist Birmingham Chicken and Chorizo Pie
Score: 5.5/7
[Colour 6, Capacity 6, Consistency 5, Condition 5.5, Chewiness 5, Cheapness 5, Content 6]

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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Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Open Letter to Sainsbury's on Pies

Unfortunately it appears Sainsbury's are mis-labelling a tart as a pie on their "Homemade" website.



Despite the recipe on the website even saying "score a border into each tart roughly 2mm deep" they STILL have called this pastry product a "breakfast pie" - despite the fact that there is no "filling", because you can see all of the food items layered on top of the pastry rectangle! And don't even get me started on the lack of lid! Cue the...


Open letter to Sainsbury's

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

And yet in all my days of pie rating for the web's leading pie reviewing website (www.pierate.co.uk) - which it might be worth pointing out is the number one hit when you Google "Sainsbury's pie review" - and in fact in the 23+ years beforehand growing up, I have NEVER... EVER... seen a full English breakfast on top of a piece of pastry called a pie!


Sainsbury's Breakfast Tart or Pie Review
The offending Sainsbury's Breakfast Tart

May I just take this opportunity to remind you that we run www.pierate.co.uk and not "ratemytart" or any such thing. We have a readership of over 12,000 readers a month at present and have almost reached 500,000 views, and they want to read our PIE reviews, not tart reviews. And when they visit your "homemade" website for recipe ideas, they don't want to get all excited reading about a breakfast pie, only to find out it actually is a tart after all. Sure, to some of your customers the mis-labelling of a tart as a pie won't even generate the batting of an eyelid. And many people will see the photo on the website and just laugh at how Sainsbury's don't even appear to know what a pie is!!! But I am sure you will understand that we want to promote pies as much as we can and a tart is NOT a pie!!!

To help you out here, our Pierate Pie Dictionary clearly states what a true pie actually is:- filling fully encased in pastry with clearly defined base, sides and lid. A tart does not meet these stringent criteria and I'm shocked that in the recipe itself you even refer to it being a tart, only to later call the product a pie!!! Even the British Pie Awards - who have a far more liberal definition of a pie than us and even let a blooming pasty win their top award in 2016(?!) - would not consider a tart to be a pie!

As I bring this letter to a conclusion, I hope this has been useful to explain the issues surrounding the mis-labelling of food (we only need to mention "Horsemeat" from a few years ago to kick that off again) and will lead to a correction on your website to avoid future dissapointment/outrage. I am happy to speak to you further if you wish to - just email pierateship@yahoo.co.uk to arrange this.

Yours in pie,

Pierateer RAS


You'll be pleased to know that we would never rate a tart on our website - and that there are in fact very highly rated actual proper fully encased "Full English Breakfast" Pies available from producers such as:

Simple Simon's Perfect Pies - 6.07/7
Dee's Pies - 5.79/7
The Real Pie Company - Eaten and to be rated shortly and available in their range soon!
MyPie London - Still to get our hands on one of these but previous MyPie's have been awesome!

It therefore begs the question why would you call a tart a pie, unless you are just trying to get the pie-blicity by jumping on the pie bandwagon?! We, for one, aren't impressed.

In fact, we're pie-irate!

RAS

We have actually eaten a lot of genuine pies (not tarts) which can be seen in our Pierate Pie Rankings or you can click here for all PIE reviews categorised by shop or flavour.

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Friday, 8 April 2016

Meet the Pie-ducer: Stephen from Kandy Bar Bakery

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


Kandy Bar Bakery

Owner: Stephen McAllister
Based: Saltcoats, West Scotland
Sells in: The Kandy Bar Bakery outlets in Saltcoats (there are two, including where the main bakery is based) as well as Kilwinning and West Kilbride
Website: See their facebook page


Kandy Bar Bakery Pie Trophy
The World Scotch Pie Awards Winners Trophy


“Baked today, sold today” is just one of the mottos Stephen recounts to me as we both tuck into a World Scotch Pie Champion winning pie on a sunny Thursday afternoon in British Pie Week 2016. And it’s the dedication of Stephen, his wife Rona and his wonderful 83-strong team of bakers, shop assistants and other employees that is clearly evident as we chat. Stephen has been the owner of The Kandy Bar Bakery since 1991 and despite it being just the past few years that they have really shone in the limelight with their 3 big wins at the Scotch Pie Club Awards (overall winners in 2014 and 2016, plus best football pie in 2015), he is adamant the team of workers have been doing a great job for years.

And who can deny him that, with numerous gold, silver and bronze awards over the years before their big triumphs the past few years! I asked what the title win at the Scotch Pie Club Awards, for the second time in three years, meant to him. He quickly corrected me as to what it meant for “Team Kandy Bar” – each and every one of their employees a key asset to their continued success – by responding “It’s a fantastic feeling for the whole team.”

And without wanting to exaggerate, I think it’s safe to say the double win at the Scotch Pie Club Awards has firmly put Saltcoats on the map! Traditionally a small coastal town 40 minutes away from Glasgow popular with tourists, the pie wins have led to a whole host of visitors to the town, particularly wanting to visit and try their winning scotch pie. Pies continue to be a large part of the community there.

The pies available at Kandy Bar Bakery include - alongside the Award winning Scotch pie - the Scotch Onion pie (you guessed it - a scotch pie featuring more onion than the standard version), a haggis pie, macaroni pie and apple pie. We focused on the fully encased pies on offer, rating the Scotch pie, Scotch Onion Pie and Apple pies all as Pierate Highly Recommended (above 6 out of 7), which is a great achievement and sign of true quality across their range. Do check out the review for more details of why they were so good!

On my visit I was delighted to be given a short tour of the bakery facilities, before the all-important taste test! The shells of the scotch pies are something Stephen is particularly proud of, informing me that they are a bit softer than the average scotch pie available which makes them ideal for re-heating at home to whatever crispiness the customer wants. As we all know, the customer is always right! And the Kandy Bar Bakery are able to provide a pie that is firm but soft enough pre-heating to cater for a range of pie crispiness levels, where as other naturally firmer scotch pies cannot provide a softer, less crispy finish to the pastry like the Kandy Bar ones. This is to cater specifically for the Kandy Bar customers, who prefer to take their pie home to cook and eat it, and due to a secret recipe Stephen wasn’t going to share with me, of course, but he said it is the same recipe his father used in the 1960s, which had been passed down to him.

In fact, the history of pies in Stephen’s family goes back much further than the 1960s, with his grandfather having set up a bakery in 1929, before his father decided to set up a sweet shop but one selling scotch pies! The name Kandy Bar – which does admittedly seem a slightly odd name for a bakery! – comes from the sweet shop Stephen’s father used to run and the name stuck despite Stephen reverting back to a more typical bakery offering of bread, patisseries and – most importantly – pies!


Kandy Bar Bakery Scotch Pie Review
Stephen and The Kandy Bar Bakery
And boy does Team Kandy Bar make pies! Around 1,200 a day are made early in the week, with a surge to around 1,600 on a Saturday, though shortly after winning the Scotch Pie World Champion title again in 2016 there was a natural surge of customers from far afield! This is on top of the rugby clubs (Stephen is a keen rugby fan and past player), football clubs, schools and other local facilities Kandy Bar Bakery supplies to, and Stephen even recalled past deliveries to local Church Sunday School classes when he was younger!

It was certainly a long way to go but was great to have visited and met Stephen, his wife Rona and the fabulous “Team Kandy Bar”. I certainly hope to visit again sometime and wish the team all the best in their attempt later this year at the World Scotch Pie Champion hat-trick!

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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continue reading "Meet the Pie-ducer: Stephen from Kandy Bar Bakery"

Sunday, 3 April 2016

No Weigh! A 2 Inn 1 Pie?!

Weighbridge Inn, Near Nailsworth, Gloucestershire

I am currently working on an article charting where the best pies in Gloucestershire can be found. Given that this has been my adopted home since 2014 it is perhaps surprising that I only recently found out about quite a famous local pub called The Weighbridge Inn. It is surprising because this country pub situationed near Nailsworth specialises in pies. And not just any pies, what the Weighbridge Inn is famous for is their 2 in 1 pies. So much so that their twitter handle is @2in1pie. I can only assume that people travel from miles around to try these pies as it is actually quite tricky to get a table on a Friday or Saturday, booking in advanced in advised.

2 in 1 pie weighbridge inn
Steak & Kidney with Cauliflower Cheese 2 in 1 pie
But what is a 2 in 1 pie I hear you cry?! The basic premise is that instead of having your meat pie with vegetables on the side, the veg actually arrives inside the pie with the content being divided in half rather than mixed together. What a great idea, I have long since advocated that anything can be encased in pastry and that actually non-pie food is unnecessary.

The Weighbridge Inn is lovely inside, a classic country pub with some interesting retro decor. They have opted against plastering the walls in kitsch pie related paraphernalia like many other pie pubs. Upon opening the menu there is a choice of quite a few protein pie fillings and and a few different vegetable fillings. I go decided to go for their most popular combination; Steak & Kidney with Cauliflower Cheese. Given that you could mix and match your veg choice with your protein choice, there were a huge number of theoretical possibilities which made me feel I would have to come back even before I had tried the pie! There was also the option to have a 1 in 1 pie if you wished. They did a Gluten Free pastry which was great as it allowed Pierateer ALE to have a pie as well and is quite unusual. She chose the Chicken and Root Vegetable options. In addition you could choose a 'standard' or 'giant' size at £12.20 and £14.80 respectively. Given that I would only be eating pie I thought it would take a large one to fill me up whereas ALE went for the standard. I also felt that given the quite big size difference the large was better value!

half and half pie
View inside the Steak & Kidney side of the 2 in 1 pie
When the pie arrived there was an elephant in the room to address and I am not talking about the colossal size of the pie (which really was giant). Not only was this pie in a dish rather than fully encased in pastry, the half with cauliflower cheese didn't even have a pastry lid! That right, this was only half a top crust pie! This meant that the actually pastry content was oddly low considering this was a pie. Of course, being advocates of a pie being fully encased in pastry I wouldn't really call this a pie. In fact I am at a loss what to call it. But putting that aside for a moment I will let you know my thoughts on this gigantic meal.

The dish was served on a slab of wood and was already overflowing before I attempted to negotiate my way into it with cutlery. It really did look volcanic and an eruption was inevitable. The juices oozed out and made quite a mess although I barely worried about this as all my attention was turned to stuffing my face with food. The large chunks of meat were just what I enjoy in a pie. They were not too chewy but not too soft. There was plenty to get your teeth into which appealed to my carnivorous side. There was a good mix of steak and kidney chunks with neither dominating too much. The meat gravy was tasty although not overly thick, it might have struggle to work had the pie not been in a dish. It was odd because the meat gravy began to mingle with the cauliflower cheese, there was nothing separating the two types of content, unlike when our Ship's Cook went for a multi-stage pie where she went for pastry dividers. The mixing of the fillings wasn't necessarily a bad thing, as we have often found, steak and cheese can work well together in a pie. The cauliflower itself passed me by. It was done well with a good balance of cheese flavour but I always find cauliflower cheese a bit mushy and that was the case here. Next time I would go for one of the other vegetable options but I am sure if you are a fan of cauliflower cheese this would be a good one.

gluten free pub pie
Gluten Free 

The pastry itself was quite thick which helped offset the lack of it to some extent. The taste was fine, although a bit floury. There was a slightly spongy texture, perhaps on account of the thickness, but the pastry went well when mixed with the filling

Overall I did enjoy this meal, it was extremely satisfying in more ways than one. I would come back as I enjoyed the ambiance of the pub and I would be interested to try some of the other combinations. The 2 in 1 pie novelty didn't really quite work for me personally. It did look quite spectacular but given that there was so little pastry I don't see how it would be much different if it were to be served on a plate. It would be good to see a fully encased 2 in 1 pie option for those of us who are purists regarding their pie definition and it really needed more pastry. In terms of local competition, we gave a good review to the Farmers Boy Inn who offer both the 'top-crust' dish pie option and fully encased option. The Farmers Boy Inn also have a 2 in 1 dish pie but we haven't tried that. For me the Farmers Boy Inn currently have the edge over The Weighbridge Inn. We also enjoyed similar 2 in 1 dish pies at Mad O' Rouckes in the West Midlands so perhaps this novelty is not as rare as you might think. I haven't given the Weighbridge Inn an official Pierate score as I don't think it is a pie (and doesn't meet our pie definition). But it is worth a visit, I certainly plan to go again so they must be doing something right.

SJL

continue reading "No Weigh! A 2 Inn 1 Pie?!"

Friday, 1 April 2016

Pierateers pie rate the Kandy Bar World Scotch Pie Champ!

The Kandy Bar Bakery Scotch Pie, Scotch Onion Pie and Apple Pie Reviews


Kandy Bar Bakery Scotch Pie Review
Stephen and The Kandy Bar Bakery
There are very few pies that have had the accolades that a certain minced beef offering on the West Coast of Scotland has had. Not only did it win the World Scotch Pie Championship in 2014 but they repeated the feat again in 2016 – while the pie still won “Best Scottish Football Pie” in 2015 when they kindly let someone else have the honour of World Scotch Pie Champ! We are of course talking about the Kandy Bar Bakery Scotch Pie, sold in the family run Kandy Bar Bakery based in Saltcoats on the Scottish west coast.

Shortly after it won the World Scotch Pie Championships in 2014 – which Pierateer Sam was a judge at but in the steak pie category – the Kandy Bar Bakery Scotch pie was added to our “Pierate Pie Hit List” as one we wanted to get our hands on, though being based in southern England it had proved a logistical challenge. However upon hearing they had bagged the top title at the Scotch Pie Club Awards 2016, thus re-affirming their status as the top scotch pie producer for the second time in three years, we knew it was a pie we needed to get rating! Therefore as part of Pierateer Rob’s Pie Pledge for British Pie Week, he made the mammoth 300+ mile journey to the west coast of Scotland to find out what all the fuss was about and get a tour of the bakery by owner Stephen.


Kandy Bar Bakery Pie Trophy
The World Scotch Pie Awards Winners Trophy
Having arrived in Scotland in the early afternoon, it was nice to see the sun shining over this quaint holiday resort as I made my way up the little high street. As I headed past the newly done up town hall and the smaller bakery outlet on Dockhead Street I happened to end up walking behind a man carrying a tray of scotch pies towards the main Kandy Bar Bakery store on Hamilton Street, and immediately sensed I must be on the right track! The man carrying the pies turned out to be bakery owner Stephen, who was just making sure there were plenty of pies available at the main shop for my visit! Top man!

Having had a look around the bakery – which you’ll find out more about in our “Meet the Pie-ducer” article coming soon – I sat down with Stephen to talk pie and, of course, eat one! I ate one of the award winning Scotch Pies in the shop, with another eaten on the plane journey back to Birmingham – part of my “Pie in the Sky” pie pledge! I then ate another with Pierateer Sam back in Birmingham, alongside the apple pie, while Sam also tried the Scotch Onion Pie a day later. Here’s how the pies rated:

Kandy Bar Bakery Scotch Pie


Kandy Bar Bakery Scotch Pie Review
Kandy Bar Bakery Scotch Pie

We have to kick off with the World Champion Scotch Pie, which was the best Scotch pie Rob had tasted and one of the best Sam had tried. Sam has purveyed a number of Scotch Pie outlets when in Scotland for the Scotch Pie Club Awards a few years back and on holiday in Scotland last year, creating our “What is a Scotch Pie?” article and leader board. He particularly noticed the softer crisp outer shell, which Stephen had already told me in my visit is intentionally softer than most other scotch pie providers. The pastry certainly wasn’t too soft though, with a noticeable crunch through the pastry rim and holding together well as we ate it by hand.

The colour of a scotch pie is generally a lot paler than traditional shortcrust or puff pastry pies, which does naturally bring the colour score down a bit when considering the whole spectrum of pies available but was still very good for a scotch pie. Likewise the content of the pie was very good for a scotch pie, though a minced beef filling - however well-seasoned - will struggle a bit with more illustrious steak fillings! Overall though, these were small criticisms of scotch pies in general, and this was a premium example of Scotch Pies done well!

Having got through the initial pastry layer, it was then that we were confronted with a lovely, juicy and packed flling. A bit of juice oozed out of the pies as we bit into them, which kinda comes with the territory with a scotch pie! To be fair it would be far too dry and taste worse without the bit of fat you get oozing out of a scotch pie! The beef mince was nicely flavoured and not at all bland, leaving a little kick in the mouth as you tucked in. What I hadn’t realised until talking to Stephen is that Scotch pies tend to be far more seasoned on the West coast of Scotland than the East coast, which does explain the range of seasoning found in many of Sam’s range of pie reviews!


Kandy Bar Scotch Pie
Kandy Bar Bakery Scotch Pie cross-section
The filling was very good and capacity was pretty much spot on! Once aware of the juicy filling, which meant the plate I was eating off came in very handy, I thoroughly enjoyed the pie and the minced beef was very good quality. At 86p cold or £1.03 hot (due to the UK VAT laws on hot food) it’s almost rude not to take a box home with you! I was certainly glad to!

The Kandy Bar Bakery Scotch Pie
Score: 6.21/7
[Colour 5.5/7; Consistency 6.25/7; Cheapness 7/7; Chewiness 6.25/7; Condition 6/7; Content 6/7; Capacity 6.5/7]


Kandy Bar Bakery Scotch Onion Pie

Sam also tucked into the Scotch Onion pie. Often shortened to the Onion Pie – as a distinction to the more famed Scotch pie but not to be confused as being just a pie filled with Onion! – the Scotch Onion Pie was naturally very similar to Scotch pie in terms of the pastry quality, crispness and filling capacity, but with the added flavour of the onion. Sam had expected more of a strong onion flavour, it wasn't as oniony as the Simpson's one he had tried, in fact it was pretty similar to the Scotch pie with perhaps a little more flavour. There were some small pieces of onion that could be found. Many people would be pleased that that the onion wasn't overpowering. It was hard to separate the two, so we've given the Scotch pie and Scotch Onion pie the same score and will let you decide which one you'd prefer!


Kandy Bar Scotch Onion Pie
Kandy Bar Bakery Scotch Onion Pie

The Kandy Bar Bakery Scotch Onion Pie
Score: 6.21/7
[Colour 5.5/7; Consistency 6.25/7; Cheapness 7/7; Chewiness 6.25/7; Condition 6/7; Content 6/7; Capacity 6.5/7]


Kandy Bar Bakery Apple Pie

Kandy Bar Bakery Apple Pie Review
Kandy Bar Bakery Apple Pie
Finally, Rob had taken home a family apple pie from the bakery, which did very well to survive the flight and journey home with not even the slightest crumbling! Upon tasting it, from the first bite Rob commented this was one of the best apple pies he’d eaten and we were immediately likening it to the Pierate Highly Recommended Apple Pie we had enjoyed from Graham Aimson at Morecambe Football Club, which was not only highly rated by us but also won Supreme Champion at the British Pie Awards 2014! Sam noted that it was sweet but not too sweet with a great crunch to the pastry. The chunks of apple were tender but retained some bite.

Kandy Bar Bakery Apple Pie ReviewThe pie was a fair bit shallower than the apple pie at Morecambe, containing less apple filling, which divided opinion slightly with the Pierateers. Rob preferred the slightly higher ratio of sweet pastry to apple filling, while Sam would have preferred a bit more apple in the pie. But at £1.75 for the family apple pie, which would easily have catered for 4 people, we both agreed this was a great apple pie at a very reasonable price. I was certainly pleased to have picked one up on the way out of the shop! Despite being a bit hesitant as to whether it would last the flight intact, it certainly proved me wrong and was delicious! I’d love to try the rest of the fruit pie range on my next visit!

The Kandy Bar Bakery Apple Pie
Score: 6.07/7
[Colour 5.5/7; Consistency 6.25/7; Cheapness 6.25/7; Chewiness 6/7; Condition 6.25/7; Content 6.25/7; Capacity 6/7]



All that really is left to say is that – while I totally understand Stephen’s reasons for not supplying his produce outside of the family bakery he runs – I sure wish there was a Kandy Bar bakery outlet nearer to where I live! The quality ingredients and craftsmanship of all three of these Pierate Highly Recommended pies is obvious and yet the prices provide such good value. You’d be foolish if in the Glasgow area not to take a detour down to Saltcoats for a World Champion Scotch pie – or any other of the Kandy Bar Bakery’s top produce! Thanks once again to Stephen for his time with me and who knows – maybe he will be a hat-trick hero when it comes to the World Scotch Pie 2017 title? With the passion Team Kandy Bar show for quality pies, I certainly wouldn’t be surprised!

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.

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continue reading "Pierateers pie rate the Kandy Bar World Scotch Pie Champ!"

Friday, 18 March 2016

Pie-oneering into the Dragon's Den...

Alf Turner's Dragon Pork Pie Review - Dare we take on the Dragon?!


We Pierateers are still amazed at how many unique flavours of pies we still come across considering we've been rating pies for over 6 years now - and eating them for much longer than that! How many flavours of pies are out there?! We may never find out! But our job is made that much easier when we get sent some interesting new flavours to try out, like this Dragon's Pork Pie from family butcher Alf Turner.

Established in 1956, Alf Turner and Sons Ltd have been a family butchers for three generations now but the pork pie they've just released is certainly something a bit different! Containing hot chilli, this is a pork pie that is designed to give a real kick to each bite! Having worked with BBC TV's Dragon's Den entrepreneur Peter Jones, they have a new Dragon Pork Pie and Sausage Roll out, to follow on from their Dragon Egg previously released.

And boy does it pack a punch! But not only does it give you a taste sensation like very few other pies available, by purchasing these pies you'll be contributing to the money being raised for charity Help for Heroes! An enjoyable pie and giving back to charity - what's not to like! Especially as the Dragon's range has helped contribute to over £100,000 being donated to Help for Heroes. What a great achievement - and we're sure sales of these pork pies will help even more!

chili pork pie
The pork pies looked simple but effective. A deep brown colour hinted at a lovely crunch to the pastry. Jelly oozing out the top indicated it was moist. I am pleased to say that both these things it delivered to a standard within the upper echelons of the pork pie market. Indeed it could have been a Melton Mowbray with the good quality pork meat used. In terms of flavour, the first bite was not unlike the competition, it didn't taste a world away from a standard pork pie. However after a few bites the tongue began to tingle as the chili announced its presence. I then realised it had been there all along, increasing the flavour of the pork filling in a subtle, but important, way. Without the chili the flavour might have been bland. Other pork pies rely on salt and pepper, which can work, but it was nice that this pie beat blandness in a slightly unusual way. Often pork pies can be too salty but this one was not. There wasn't much to criticise, the top pastry was a bit soft given the jelly on top and perhaps the pie could have been bigger. Maybe the chili could have kicked in sooner but then it may have become too hot for some people. However these are minor flaws and this is definitely a pork pie I would be happy to recommend.

We have been told that these have an RRP of £1.85-1.95 which is comparable other premium pork pies, if slightly more expensive than some. But it is cheaper than a similar chili pie I had and a darn sight cheaper than the top end of the market). These pies are mainly being sold in convenience stores where the price is always going to be that bit higher. They are certainly in a different league compared to the usual fare in convenience stores such as Walls and Millers so we would expect to pay a little more.  We mustn't forget that in addition to the warm feeling that the chili leave, there is also the warm feeling from knowing that the pies are supporting
charity! Great work guys!

Pork Pie with Chili (Alf Turner)
Score: 5.37/7
[Condition 4.50, Colour 5.00, Cheapness 4.50, Capacity 5.20, Chewiness 6.20, Content 6.20, Consistency 6.00]

dragon's pork pie
With such a large number of pork pies and sausage rolls sent to the Pierateers, in addition to Pierateer SJL a number of workers at Minster Logistics Software company also gave the pork pie a try and these were their comments:

Neil - Very good indeed (Dragon's Pork Pie); Amazing, insPIErational, highly recommended (Dragon's Sausage Roll)

Brendan - At first bite, tastes like a nice traditional Pork Pie, with a slightly crisp pastry with a good texture. Then you get a wave of satisfyingly hot chilli. Makes your taste buds tingle! (Dragon's Pork Pie); Really liked it! A very tasty snack! (Dragon's Sausage Roll)

Peter - Nice frim crispy pastry, very well filled with just a smidge of jelly. Taste is very good, a very subtle heat which grows the more you eat but it is very mild. A decent quality pie not quite as tasty as the sausage roll but still very good. (Dragon's Pork Pie); Nice crumbly pastry and an excellent, very tasty filling which is warming thanks to the chillies but not overbearing. Recommended. (Dragon's Sausage Roll)

Tony - The heat kicked in after I had finished eating it, enjoyed it but preferred the sausage roll. (Dragon's Pork Pie); Very nice, meaty and just a nice amount of heat too in that didn’t burn your mouth. (Dragon's Sausage Roll)


Thanks to Paul at Alf Turners Butchers for sending us the Dragon's Pork Pie and Sausage Rolls to sample. We wish them well in raising lots more money for charity and all the views above are genuinely what we and our friends thought of the products.

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 "Pie-oneering into the Dragon's Den..."

Thursday, 17 March 2016

British Pie Week 2016 - Day Seven

Pierate Pie Review
The Ship's Cook Pierate Pie

As Pierateer SJL had stayed over on Saturday night following our pie rating of the Scotch Pie and Apple Pie from none-other than the 2014 and 2016 Scotch Pie World Champion The Kandy Bar Bakery, it would have seemed rude not to kick off Day Seven of British Pie Week with a pie or two for breakfast! It was also a busy day for pie making, with both the Ship's Cook and Pierateer ARL cooking up a storm in their respective kitchens to nicely round off another packed British Pie Week!


While Pierateer RAS went for the more standard sweet pie option on Sunday morning, finishing off where he started the week with a sweet Mr Kipling pie (this time a cherry pie), Pierateer SJL went for the more exotic choice. We'd been sent over a selection of pies from Chunk of Devon, whose pies we've rated highly in the past, and Sam went for their new "Ricardo's Pie", a hot chili vegetarian pie option. While the top of this Ricardo's Pie was not pastry, so will lose some marks from the Pierateers, it was an enjoyable pie and will be reviewed soon. The other Chunk pies - while we didn't quite manage to squeeze eating them in British Pie Week - will also be reviewed soon too!


You also may recall that on day four of British Pie Week Pierateer RAS completed the final stage of his #TriPie pie pledge. He headed up to Scotland for the first time to visit the home of the World Scotch Pie Champion for 2014 and 2016, The Kandy Bar Bakery in Saltcoats, on the West Coast about 40 minutes train journey from Glasgow. Well having pie rated the Scotch pie and apple pie together with Pierateer RAS on Saturday evening, Pierateer SJL finished off British Pie Week by eating the Onion pie (a variant of the Scotch pie, which also contains onion - not just a 100% onion filling!) The reviews of all of these pies will be coming soon!

Kandy Bar Bakery Pie Review
The Kandy Bar Bakery, Saltcoats, Scotland
Day seven of British Pie Week however really belonged to our home bakers, with the Ship's Cook and Pierateer ARL both creating their own unique pies in their kitchens. You can read how the Ship's Cook made and rated her Pierate Ship Pie - including how she created a ship shaped pie crust - in her reci-pie review, which all aboard the Pierate Ship thought looked amazing!

Pierateer ARL, our vegetarian pie reviewer who earlier in the week rated the brand new Pieminister vegetarian pie they released this British Pie Week, also made a quirky pie on Sunday. She used the 7 Cs theme to include only veggie ingredients beginning with C, which are listed below the photos! Would you have guessed any of these? What 7 Cs would you have used in your pie - veggie or not?!

7 Cs pie review7 Cs pie review

The 7 Cs veggie pie contained:

Cannelli beans
Courgette
Chili
Cumin
Cocoa
Coriander
Cayenne pepper


Thanks to everyone who has followed our adventures this British Pie Week! It's been full of shocks, surprises and of course plenty of pies! Of course every week is effectively British Pie Week to us aboard the Pierate Ship and we hope you'll come back for more pie reviews soon!

See what the Pierateers have been up to this British Pie Week in our daily Pie Diary articles (Updated throughout the week, so do check back!):


Day One – Monday 7th March 2016
Day Two – Tuesday 8th March 2016
Day Three – Wednesday 9th March 2016
Day Four - Thursday 10th March 2016
Day Five - Friday 11th March 2016
Day Six - Saturday 12th March 2016
Day Seven - Sunday 13th March 2016


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

Make sure you 
and let us know your thoughts!
continue reading "British Pie Week 2016 - Day Seven"

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Pie v Pasty debate rumbles on post Pie Awards

I'm sure we've all now had a chance to hear and reflect on the news emulating from Melton Mowbray last Friday regarding the results of the British Pie Awards. The top awards in pie, this year having been held in none other than British Pie Week itself, sent shock waves around the pie world when a pasty was announced as the Supreme Champion at the Award's Lunch on Friday 11th March.


Having been a judge at the British Pie Awards this year, last year and in 2014, plus volunteer helpers at the awards in 2013 and rated well over 500 pies on our pie blog, we know pies - and a pasty most certainly is NOT a pie!

Pierateer RAS British Pie Awards
Pierateer RAS judging the PIES at the British Pie Awards

As stated in our pie dictionary, we define a true pie as "filling fully encased in pastry with clearly defined base, sides and lid." Even putting the fully encased in pastry v top crust issue to one side for a moment, a pasty quite simply does not conform to this or any correct definition of a pie, as it is just one piece of pastry folded over the filling.

British Pie Awards
British Pie Awards 2016
The British Pie Awards themselves even recognise this fact, stating that for the Pasty Class "For the purpose of these Awards a pasty is a single piece of pastry folded over and sealed along its edges to contain either savoury or sweet ingredients (occasionally both) and then baked."

This is not how you would make a pie, and it seems odd to us that such a specific definition of how the pastry should be folded and sealed is necessary in this one particular class if they are in fact just pies like all the other classes. The Telegraph newspaper on Saturday also helpfully indicated there were differences between pasties and pies that covered casing, shape, filling and cooking methods, highlighting the distinction between the two food products.

Having rated over 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 makes it all the more difficult to accept why there was a pasty category there at all, let alone having a pasty win the whole thing. What next? Sausage Rolls? Slices? Beef Wellingtons? With a Pasty World Championships now set up and doing well, surely it's time for the pasty class at the British Pie Awards to be dropped?

I'm afraid we would have to completely disagree with Matthew O’Callaghan, chairman of the British Pie Awards and Melton Mowbray Pork Pie Association, who has gone on record as saying "the definition of a pie is a filling totally encased in pastry" as we believe this is not an accurate enough definition and query why - if this was the British Pie Awards' unusual view - there was not a slice category or beef wellington category available. Pies do come in all shapes and sizes, but still maintain a clearly defined base, sides and lid. Once again, a pasty is NOT a pie.

Nice Pie, a pie maker based near Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire that we have rated many top pies from and who did well with the pies they entered into the Awards, have even further added to the debate with an entertaining pastry creation they've named the "Nice Piesty", which is an interesting combination that looks like two pasties combined and is filled with classic pasty filling but is made with a base and lid of pastry (rather than one piece of pastry as the British Pie Awards would require) that makes it more pie by definition! It still looks a bit too similar to a pasty for our liking though!!!

Nice Pie's Piesty
Nice Pie's Piesty!

Nice Pie's Piesty
Nice Pie's Piesty cross-section

Many thanks to the Metro and Telegraph for including some of our quotes in their articles on this controversial British Pie Awards decision. Interestingly it was a debate between fully encased and top crust pies that started off this British Pie Week, but it is the pasty v pie debate that has concluded it.

Out of respect to all the genuine pies that were entered into the competition we will be providing a fuller analysis of the British Pie Awards 2016 at a later date, but for now you can re-live the winning pies from previous years in our articles below and our live blogging at the British Pie Awards 2016.


This isn't the first time we've attended the British Pie Awards! Find out more in our other articles here:
Judges in 2015  |  Judges in 2014  |  Helpers in 2013


For any media enquiries relating to this article please contact pierateship@yahoo.co.uk

RAS

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 "Pie v Pasty debate rumbles on post Pie Awards"

British Pie Week 2016 - Day Six

With the British Pie Awards judging having been completed and the results of the competition still sending shock waves around the world of pie - you can see our article on the controversial winner here - Day Six of British Pie Week saw Pierateers RAS and SJL meet up to (surprise, surprise) eat some pies together. However these weren't any pies - they were the Scotch Pie and Apple Pie from none-other than the 2014 and 2016 Scotch Pie World Champion The Kandy Bar Bakery!



You may recall that on day four of British Pie Week Pierateer RAS completed the final stage of his #TriPie pie pledge. He headed up to Scotland for the first time to visit the home of the World Scotch Pie Champion for 2014 and 2016, The Kandy Bar Bakery in Saltcoats, on the West Coast about 40 minutes train journey from Glasgow.


Kandy Bar Bakery Pie Review
The Kandy Bar Bakery, Saltcoats, Scotland
Pie in the Sky
Pie in the Sky!
On Thursday Rob had been made to feel very welcome by Stephen and the team, having a tour around the bakery and then a long chat of about 90 minutes or so in the cafĂ©, which of course included getting his hands on one of their famous Scotch Pies! Needless to say it was fantastic to chat for so long with Stephen and his wife Rona, who gave a great insight into Team Kandy Bar! Rob even had "pie in the sky" on the plane journey home - just, well, because I could!


But Saturday was the day Pierateer SJL had planned to come up to Birmingham to join Rob in giving the Scotch pie and apple pie from The Kandy Bar Bakery a proper pie rating! We don't want to give it all away until the full review coming later this week, but needless to say that the Scotch pie was one of the best we'd ever tasted and the apple pie was very good as well, even if it was a bit shallow. The apple pie contained nice chunks of apple in a crisp but buttery pastry - something Pierateer RAS particularly enjoyed! If only the Kandy Bar Bakery was fractionally nearer to the Pierateers!!!

Pierateer SJL was going to take the Onion Pie home with him to try the next day (an Onion Pie, by the way, is just a Scotch pie with added onion, rather than literally a pie with 100% onion filling!) We'll be reviewing all three pies and telling you a bit more about our trip to meet Stephen, Rona and Team Kandy Bar (which employs 83 people at present) later this week!

However earlier in the day we were very excited to see that the Pierateers had not only had a mention in the online Telegraph article about the British Pie Awards, but had also made the printed version too! Under the headline "Put a lid on it!" the Pierateers were mentioned as saying the decision to award a pasty the Supreme Winner of the British Pie Awards was "a sad day for pie fans" and that for the first time we would not be rating the winner of the awards. It's one thing to be quoted online but to make the print copy was particularly exciting! The article also included a number of differences between pies and pasties, which it seems everyone bar the British Pie Awards themselves clearly understand are two distinct food items!


See what the Pierateers have been up to this British Pie Week in our daily Pie Diary articles (Updated throughout the week, so do check back!):


Day One – Monday 7th March 2016
Day Two – Tuesday 8th March 2016
Day Three – Wednesday 9th March 2016
Day Four - Thursday 10th March 2016
Day Five - Friday 11th March 2016
Day Six - Saturday 12th March 2016
Day Seven - Sunday 13th March 2016


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

Make sure you 
and let us know your thoughts!
continue reading "British Pie Week 2016 - Day Six"

Monday, 14 March 2016

British Pie Week 2016 - Day Five

The major results of the British Pie Awards 2016 were announced Friday, Day Five of British Pie Week. And what a shock it was! For the first time in the award's history the Supreme Champion was not a pie at all, but a pasty! Unsurprisingly we were completely outraged - writing an article in response to the result - and spent most of the afternoon in shock, responding to various tweets and reading news articles about it.

But the most exciting thing was that we at Pierate Pie Reviews were forming the news, with a number of our tweets and info being featured in the following publications:

Controversy as a pasty triumphs at the British Pie Awards - The Telegraph

The winner of the 2016 British Pie Awards is…a pasty - The Metro


Here are a few of the pie-lights from our Twitter feed on Friday:






Pierateer SJL responded to the day's news by creating a pasty related video for his "Unique Ways to Eat a Pie" series of videos and Pierateer RAS polished off the last remaining Lewis Pies, as well as getting his review from the Lewis pies he'd rated earlier in the week ready to post!


Lewis Pies
Wilfreds Pie Range from Lewis Pies

See what the Pierateers have been up to this British Pie Week in our daily Pie Diary articles (Updated throughout the week, so do check back!):


Day One – Monday 7th March 2016
Day Two – Tuesday 8th March 2016
Day Three – Wednesday 9th March 2016
Day Four - Thursday 10th March 2016
Day Five - Friday 11th March 2016
Day Six - Saturday 12th March 2016
Day Seven - Sunday 13th March 2016


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

Make sure you 
and let us know your thoughts!
continue reading "British Pie Week 2016 - Day Five"

Sunday, 13 March 2016

British Pie Week Reci-pie: The Great British Pierate Ship

British Pie Week is drawing to a close, and what an eventful week it was! The Pierateers have travelled round the UK, eaten pies in a variety of ways, taken on pie challenges and seen some serious pie drama as a PASTY won the British Pie Awards. After hearing about all their adventures, I needed a pretty good #PiePledge to keep up with them. And so, I am very proud to present....the Great British Pierate Ship!


The Recipe:

Not only did I want to bake a Pierate Ship, I wanted it to be a Great British Pierate Ship, so I chose ingredients from around Britain. Herefordshire beef from England, neeps and tatties from Scotland (there was some debate about whether neeps were swedes or turnips so I used both), leeks from Wales and cider from Ireland (Magners is actually made in the Rebublic of Ireland which really makes this a British Isles pie, but that was the only Irish cider I could get so I hope nobody will mind). What makes this recipe even more exciting is that a beef and cider pie is sometimes known as a Smugglers' Pie - what better filling for a Pierate ship?


I browned the beef with some salt, pepper and plain flour, then set it aside and cooked the leeks, neeps and tatties. Then it all went back in the pan with the cider for an hour and a half of very slow cooking. I also had some mushrooms lying around, so I added them for the last half hour even though I hadn't originally planned on using them.



I made the whole pie out of shortcrust pastry - a good pastry for structural integrity! I used an enamel pie dish, some baking parchment and lots of baking beans to support the hull of the ship.


Then it was time to fill the hull and put the lid on...


And finally, once it was golden brown, add a sail and the Pierateers' flag!


The Seven Cs:

Colour: 
You can't really tell from the photos, but this was a lovely golden colour and very crispy, especially around the edges.

Consistency:
This pie had a really nice consistency - the cider cooked down to make a lovely thick, smooth sauce.

Capacity:
The capacity of this pie wasn't quite as good as it could be because of the unusual shape - if you ate the bow you go a lot of pastry. Still, I think it was worth it, and there was still quite a lot of filling packed in there.



Chewiness:
Cooking the filling for so long meant the beef was really tender and the leeks were lovely and soft. The neeps, tatties and mushrooms still had a little bit of bite left so they were soft but not too mushy.

Content:
This tasted really really good - the cider and leeks added a nice sweetness to the meaty beef flavour, and the neeps and tatties reminded me a bit of a Cornish pasty (although it might be best if I don't say that too loudly after the British Pie Awards!) The last minute addition of mushrooms turned out to be a good idea, as they added a nice earthy flavour. 

Cheapness:
This is a great value pie - root vegetables and stewing beef are cheap ingredients that taste great, and cider isn't too expensive either. I ended up with loads of spare filling as well, which means I can make another pie sometime!

Condition:
I have to give myself full marks here - look at that pie! The shape definitely makes an impression and the pie held together when it came out of the tin!

I'm incredibly pleased with the results of my #PiePledge -  although now I'm a bit worried about trying to beat it next year!

The Ship's Cook




The Ship's Cook wasn't the only one cooking up a storm on the final day of British Pie Week! Our very own Pierateer ARL cooked a 7 Cs veggie pie especially for Pie Week! Check it out and find out the 7 ingredients in our Day Seven summary article!
continue reading "British Pie Week Reci-pie: The Great British Pierate Ship"