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)

Beef Scotch Pie (Quality Butchers Dunbar)

continue reading "Setting the Bar in Dunbar"

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!

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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 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!


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

Make sure you 
and let us know your thoughts!
continue reading "The Pies of Football 2016"

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 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)

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 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 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"

Friday, 4 November 2016

Last But Not Least....

First Slice - Apple Pie and Balsamic Raspberry Pie Reviews

To end my Chicago Pie Tour reviews I come at last to First Slice, a pie based charity, who use their profits in order to provide meals to the homeless and needy. This sees them serve close to 4,000 meals a month. In return their customers are provided with tasty food. This arrangement seemed like a great idea to me, a warm pie and hopefully a warm feeling of doing something good! I had never come across anything like it before in all my years of pie reviewing so I felt I had to pay a visit.

First Slice have a few cafes in Chicago, unfortunately for me, all were somewhat outside the city centre. I decided to cycle up the Lake front to the Andersonville branch which was a bit of a trek but the journey was nice. After some of the run-down areas I had visited, Andersonville seemed posh. The main high street was bustling with people going to cafes, bars and restaurants. First Slice was down a side street and a little bit more 'shabby chic'. I instantly like it. There was a neon sign advertising 'Coffee & Pie' which is not the way pies are advertised back home (but they should be). Jolly signs outside made clear that this was an establishment which took their pies, and also their charity work, seriously. There was even a giant papier-mache model of a slice of pie.

Venturing inside, the guy serving was friendly and keen to chat about Pierate. There were lots of pies on offer although many of them didn't meet our criteria of being fully encased in pastry. This was the sort of thing I had expected from American pies. But yet again there were some fully encased pies. I opted for a classic Apple pie and also a slightly more 'left field' choice in the Balsamic Raspberry & Pear. I was pretty sure that we had never reviewed a Balsamic Raspberry & Pear pie before but it is hard to remember now we are nearly at 600 pie reviews!

Both pies were highly enjoyable but were slightly tainted by the fact that I was really, really thirsty after my cycle on what was a hot day in August. I asked a few times for an iced tea and was told it would be brought over to me. It started to get a bit awkward to keep asking for it and eventually I gave up! It was almost like the guy knew I was really thirsty and was doing it on purpose to test my ability to eat a pie while really thirsty! It was surprisingly challenging, I was so keen to drink rather than eat, but nothing gets in the way of me eating pie. Each slice was $3.80, around £3, so I thought this was a decent price for eating in at the cafe (and with the pound being weak against the dollar).

The apple pie was absolutely packed with fruit. So much so that it exploded out of the pastry, meaning the presentation wasn't particularly great. It also meant it was a bit short of pastry and actually I was left wanting a bit more to go with my pile of apple slices. But it tasted great with a lovely cinnamon hit and a flavour which was not too sweet. It wasn't all that dissimilar to apple pies back home, with perhaps a bit more cinnamon.

Apple Pie (First Slice [Chicago])

Onto the Balsamic Raspberry & Pear. Apparently, it is as the name suggest, a fruit pie with the addition of balsamic vinegar. At first I didn't really notice the vinegar taste but after a few bites I was definitely picking up a bit of vinegar tang. In some ways this worked well, it seemed to complement the sourness of the raspberries. I can't say I noticed the pear, I only realised it had pear when I got back home and looked at my photos! This pie was much nicer in appearance, holding together into an almost perfect slice. Overall, a pie that could have seemed very wrong actually seemed quite right.

Balsamic Raspberry and Pear Pie (First Slice [Chicago])

On leaving the guy at the desk insisted on giving me a slice of Pecan pie to take away as this was the best taste of America in his opinion. I felt a bit uncomfortable taking a freebie from a charity, but it was one of those situations where it was difficult to say no. It was very nice of him. Whilst very tasty, the pecan pie will not be reviewed on these pages because it wasn't fully encased in pastry.

I loved my trip to First Slice, what they are doing makes so much sense, I would be much happier going to a not-for-profit cafe back at home if they could serve up good quality food like this and at a price that didn't even cost any more than the other places I visited. It is also a shame that a pie cafe as a concept doesn't exist back home. I guess we normally opt for cake or biscuits to go with our drinks in a cafe in the UK. But it is as I expected, whilst Americans might not share our love of savoury pies, they put us to shame when it comes to sweet pies.


continue reading "Last But Not Least...."

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Who Rate All the Pies?

The answer to the question is of course us! At nearly 600 pie reviews we are leaders in the pastry consumption field. I am going to take the opportunity for a bit of light hearted 'dissing' of the com-pie-tition in the way rappers might diss each other. I know this might seem a bit harsh given that Pierate is a family friendly site but sometimes a Pierateer has got to do what a Pierateer has got to do.

I was a bit bemused to today to be sent a link to this article from that ever enlightening newspaper, The Sun. It is about a fellow who who runs a blog called The Pie Pundit who apparently 'rate all the pies'. He has been reviewing football pies since 2011 and has got to the grand total of 'around 50' of the 92 football league grounds. I will clarify that I do enjoy looking at his website as it is nicely laid out with pictures of different football pies. However, this article really got my goat because I cannot understand how this possibly made it as so called 'news'. Even by a normal person's standards (as in, someone who isn't a pie obsessed manic like us), is it really that impressive to eat 50 pies in 5 years? That is less than 1 pie a month! Tom Dickinson has already done all the football league grounds in ONE season in '92 pies' for crying out loud! In the article, Jonny Smith (if that is his real name, it sounds suspiciously generic) says it is 'his life long goal to find the best'. I am glad it is his life long goal as it's going to take him a long time at this rate.

What gets me the most is that he hasn't gone out of his way to find the best pies because he hasn't even been to Morecambe! Multi-winners at the British Pie Awards, they are regarded by many (including ourselves) as having the best football pies. Head chef Graham has made many media appearances, including featuring in this BBC Sport video with ourselves. Not visiting Morecambe is like saying I have found the best Pizza in Europe.... oh but I haven't been to Italy.

The table topping Morecambe Pie line up
He has also visited some non-league grounds so to his credit he has been to more than 50 grounds. However, something that frustrates me is that there is no rankings list of the places he has been, how are you supposed to know which ones he says are any good? The Sun article claims that he rates Bristol City as the best. Made by Chunk of Devon, we have previously reviewed their pies quite favourably, but they are certainly not table toppers. Being mass produced, they are a long way from the 'local butcher' pies that he claims he is looking for. Something else that gets me (I will stop my rant at some point, I promise) is that he doesn't seem to have any clue that many pies at football grounds are made by the same big companies (e.g. Wright's, Pukka), treating them as completely different propositions and occasionally giving them completely different scores. Take his reviews of Millwall, Tottenham, Crystal Palace and Sunderland. If you compare to photos in our football pie league, these are clearly all Wright's Chicken Balti but yet he doesn't even acknowledge the fact that they all look exactly the same! He then gives scores ranging from 2 to 9.5! With lack of consistency like that, the Pie Pundit isn't going to be pushing for promotion any time soon....

Lastly, something that will always prevent me from taking the Pie Pundit too seriously is that his number 3 is a Cottage Pie from Fulham, a product which is not even slightly related to our favourite pastry product. The fact that it completely lacks pastry isn't even mentioned in his brief article!

I said lastly but I have just remember another thing that has got me wound up! He recently reviewed a burger.... yes, that's right, a burger. Plus he only wrote two sentences in his review at our beloved Wycombe Wanderers.... how can two sentences count as a review? Okay... I really will stop now.

P.S. Great work Jonny, we love it really. I am just bitter because you have reviewed more football pies than we have in our Football Pie League (the other half doesn't let me go to the football very often...).

continue reading "Who Rate All the Pies?"

Saturday, 22 October 2016

What happens at a Pierate Piefest?

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


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Thursday, 20 October 2016

Taking a bite in the Big Apple (Pie)

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

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

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

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

continue reading "Taking a bite in the Big Apple (Pie)"

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Some Pies I've Not So Recently Been Eating

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bye for now!


continue reading "Some Pies I've Not So Recently Been Eating"

Monday, 17 October 2016

MyPie are my number 1!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Pierateers with our new number 1 pie maker - Chris!
(L to R - Chris, SJL, TJP. RAS)

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

Make sure you
and let us know your thoughts!
continue reading "MyPie are my number 1!"

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Who Are Hoosier Mama Pie Company?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Apple Pie (Hoosier Mama Pie Company [Chicago])

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


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