Saturday, 21 May 2016

Wedding Pie? Don't mind if "I do!"

Pierateer Rob is particularly excited at the moment as today marks not only two weeks until his sister Carly gets married to Alex, but he managed to persuade them to have pork pies at the wedding buffet in the evening! The main catch was that he'd have to pay for them himself... but that's alright for a once in a lifetime op-pie-tunity! He's therefore delighted to say he has commissioned two "wedding pies" - yep, they're a thing! - to be made by Bray's Cottage for the big day on Saturday 4th June!



Brays Cottage Pork Pie
The individual Bray's Cottage Pork Pie we rated previously

Rob was therefore left drooling at the slightly teasing photo below that Sarah, owner of Bray's Cottage with the quite apt www.perfectpie.co.uk web address, uploaded to twitter the other day. It was in fact a pie made for a different wedding, but it certainly made him want to lick his phone screen! (Disclaimer: Rob didn't actually lick his phone screen!)



Sarah, who has appeared on TV with Heston Blumenthal on a show about pies (and only went and made the news in the "Thetford and Brandon Times" online newspaper about it!!!) and been in countless pie articles in newspapers and magazines (like the Guardian), really is passionate about making top quality pies and the pork pies we've tried of hers have been some of the best we've had. Check out the review Sam did previously, where it was really only the cost of the pie that brought the average down a bit but still it pie rated very highly! Of course, you often only get top quality food when you're willing to part with your cash and we are very excited to sample the wedding pie in two weeks time!

Until then, Rob best start finish the little speech he's writing for the wedding, which ***SPOILER ALERT*** may possibly mention the word "pie" in it...
continue reading "Wedding Pie? Don't mind if "I do!""

Friday, 20 May 2016

Parsnip ship Pierate ship


Parsnip Ship Pie Review to celebrate National Vegetarian Week (16th - 22nd May 2016)



The ParsnipShip specialise in vegetarian and vegan foods, selling their wares at various farmer’s markets and fayres around the country. Pierateer SJL and I happened across their stand at the Gloucester Christmas market.



While many companies make veggie foods as part of their ranges, it always pleases me to find one that specialises. Often their pies have more unique flavours and unusual fillings.



Upon The ParsnipShip stand there were two veggie pies: Indian Balti (which was also vegan) and a mushroom something (I have forgotten precisely… possibly stroganoff)



Both these pies were slightly unusual in that if they were inverted and microwaved that would become a ‘pudding’. Of course, this isn’t the number one pudding rating site, so I kept them right way up and popped them in the oven.










The Indian Balti had a dry and crispy pastry, but intentionally so. It had a beautiful golden colour. I think it may have been flavoured/coloured with turmeric. It complemented the lovely curry flavour which was warm without being too hot. The pastry on the bottom was lovely and soft – I don’t know if this has anything to do with its possible pudding transformation, but it was really nice having a pastry crispy on top and soft at the bottom.



The pie was chock full of content, and the filling was tender with the perfect amount of crunch. The chickpeas inside provided a good portion of protein and I enjoyed the orange vegs. Overall though, it was a little dry.



It wasn’t a large pie, but this suited my appetite nicely. I imagine it would be a great compliment to a curry, or some Indian side dishes.



5.4/7





The mushroom pie had the same pastry, without the turmeric. It was however more buttery, but then, this one wasn’t vegan so it probably actually had butter in it. Inside was a lovely combination of green lentils, mushrooms and tomatoes which was also quite dry, but again, a nice portion of protein. The buttery pastry complimented the tartness of the tomatoes wonderfully.



It was quite a bland flavour but it a good way. It let the mild, nutty flavour of the mushrooms and the buttery pastry speak for themselves without being overpowered.



4.8/7



ARL
continue reading "Parsnip ship Pierate ship"

Monday, 9 May 2016

I real-ly can't fault these pie much!

The Real Pie Company Steak and Horseradish and All Day Breakfast Pie Reviews


It has been almost two years since I first got my hands on the amazing pies being sold by The Real Pie Company, which all rated at least as Pierate Recommended but with plenty of Pierate Highly Recommended pies including a 6.46/7! And with well over 3,000 views of that review and countless appearances on TV shopping channel QVC now under their belt, I thought it was about time I got hold of a few more! And with me celebrating the big 3-0 last month, it felt an apt time to put in an order to entertain the guests at the pie-rty and see what new offerings The Real Pie Company could provide.


The Real Pie Company pies
The Real Pie Company pies
I was therefore both amazed and delighted that The Real Pie Company were willing to send us several free boxes of pies - containing 20 pies in total! - to keep our guests happy at the pie-rty and also a couple of new pies that were either new or not quite on their books yet but coming out soon! These were the Limited Edition Steak and Horseradish pie and the All Day Breakfast pie, which contained bacon, sausage, egg and baked beans.


The morning after the pie-rty before!
Firstly the Steak and Horseradish pie, which came in the beautiful packaging of similar style to the previous pies I had before. The pie was a decent size, coming out nice and golden in colour with a great capacity upon cutting it open. Because I served it alongside a Peppered Steak and a Steak and Stout pie, I did have to ensure I got the right one (as they all looked quite similar!) but was delighted to tuck in and find it just as good as the steak pies I had previously and one of the best steak pies I have had in a while.

Real Pie Steak and Horseradish Pie Review
Steak and Horseradish Pie Review
The filling was “Crammed to the Crust” just like the slogan that adorns the pie packaging on these pies warns you! Not that I'm complaining one bit, with capacity one of the famous 7 Cs we rate pie on. And the Real Pie Company pies had a really good capacity throughout their range. The pies had a good pastry – golden and crisp – with a classic shortcrust base and sides and puff pastry lid. The meat was in general very nice and tender, with a nice gravy and hint of horseradish that added flavour but didn't overpower the taste.

At £2.95 each for a pie so packed with meat, this represents a good price, though they aren’t the biggest pies and thus aren’t quite the perfect value pies. But you can buy in bulk on The Real Pie Company website to get your pies cheaper. I'd certainly rate this pie as strongly as the other Steak pies in their range and let you decide which you'd choose based on your own personal preference of steak accompaniment!

The Real Pie Company Steak and Horseradish Pie
Score: 6.21/7
[Colour 6, Capacity 6.5, Consistency 6.25, Condition 6.5, Chewiness 6.25, Cheapness 5.5, Content 6.5]



Real Pie All Day Breakfast Pie Review
The Real Pie Company's All Day Breakfast Pie cross-section
It was also a treat to get my hands on an All Day Breakfast pie, particularly as these were so new that they had a temporary packaging while the official package design is completed and printed off! Talk about hot off the press!!!

Real Pie All Day Breakfast Pie Review
Lifting the lid on the Real Pie All Day Breakfast Pie
We've had a few All Day Breakfast pies in our time on the Pierate Ship, with a slight variety in filling in each one. This one from the Real Pie Company had a layer of bacon, topped with sausage, topped with an egg, surrounded in baked beans and finally all fully encased in pastry! Quite a mouthful to say and also to eat, this pie was once again packed to the top with filling, and when I "lifted the lid" on this pie, so to speak, it was clear what care and precision had been put into making this pie. The layers of food and lovely arrangement of baked beans made it a visual treat, while also gaining consistency in the filling.

A couple of things to note: There was a nice range of flavours in the pie but it was quite dominated by the sausage meat (which does make sense, as it was the largest item in the pie). Plus the baked beans didn't really have much of a distinct tomato-ey taste, which was fine for me as I don't like overly-tomato flavoured foods, but for someone who loves the normal tomato-ey taste of full English breakfast beans, this wouldn't tick your box! I however enjoyed the taste combo, and my main reminder to you is that this pie is a lot more filling than you might imagine, what with it being a calorific all English breakfast which has then been encased in pastry as well!!! All in all though, it was the best All Day Breakfast pie I'd sunk my teeth into, so great job!

The Real Pie Company All Day Breakfast Pie
Score: 6.11/7
[Colour 6, Capacity 6.5, Consistency 5.75, Condition 6.5, Chewiness 6.25, Cheapness 5.5, Content 6.25]


So there we have it: they real-ly have done a great job with these pies – with two more Pierate Highly Recommended pies to add to their long list of accolades! And I'm delighted to hear there are other pies in the pie-peline, so we look forward to giving them a pie rating soon!

Many thanks to Brett at The Real Pie Company for sending both these two pie samples and lots of other pies for our Birthday Pie-rty. It was a great night because of the great pies! And thanks to Amy, Becca, Dan, Hannah, Jeremy, Katharina and Laura for coming along to our after pie-rty pie meal!

RAS

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

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continue reading "I real-ly can't fault these pie much!"

Friday, 6 May 2016

Are Putney Pies REALLY the finest in the land?

Putney Pies - Pie Reviews


Since we started reviewing pies many years ago, one of our most popular articles has been our best pies in London page. You might think that it would be fairly easy to keep this one up to date. We already have a thorough list - so all we need to do is review any new places that spring up? But with London being classified as a "Mega City" it has proven anything but easy. In the time it takes to mop up the gravy from one pie the hipsters are already raving about a new pop up shop where they only serve indigo food and you must use chop sticks BUT they do a plum pie which is TO DIE FOR!!!

Or there are the places a little outside the city centre and it's just a bit difficult to find your way over there especially to try a pie. Sure, we might come across as single-minded pie-obsessed maniacs but sadly there are other things we have to worry about in our lives such as work, sleep, our deadly pollution levels and regular dental check ups. (Okay, maybe they aren't that regular...) All of these things sadly eat in to our pie reviewing schedule. Combine that with the fact that only Pierateer Tim actually lives in London and you might understand why it took us so long to visit Putney Pies. Their slogan promises that they deliver "the finest pies in the land" and given that they specialise in pies it seemed a must for the Pierateers to check them out!

Putney Pies Review
Putney Pies - self labelled "the finest pies in the land"
When we were recently looking for somewhere to get a special pie to celebrate Pierateer SJL's birthday it seemed like a good enough occasion to trek over to Putney and they have also recently opened "The Vault". This is underneath their main restaurant and is built into one of the arches of Putney Bridge itself. It seemed like it might provide the unique pie setting we were looking for. Certainly the atmosphere inside was special and we all enjoyed it! You sit within the brick arch and it feels like some kind of bunker where you could take refuge from nuclear war and the only food to eat for the rest of time is pie. Sam was in two minds about how he would feel about that one... but anyway, this is a great setting for pie. It remains classy; some pie related decor but they forgo the in your face kitch pie paraphernalia that other places resort to. At weekend evenings the music turns up and you can imagine it is a great party venue with people getting off their faces on pie!


Putney Pies Vault
Four of the Pierateers were present at this meal
It was good to see a choice of 7 Proper Pies which is well above average for a restaurant but expected for somewhere such as Putney which is specialising in pies. They do also offer a range of 'pot pies' or 'casseroles with pastry lids' as we might call them. We were please they used the slightly inferior 'pot pie' term for these pies but puzzled as to why they don't offer the choice of pastry case with all flavours as other places do. Pierateer Sam ordered a classic, the Steak and Ale for £10.95 (now £11.95) with mash and gravy which is pretty average for a London pie in this kind of setting. He also got the 'pie bites' starter which was 3 mini pies for £5.95. Pierateer Rob got a Beef Bourguignon and they could also cater for Pierateer Anna Senior (veggie) and Pierateer Anna Junior (gluten free). However this did mean a top-crust, spicy butter bean pie and a shepherds pie respectively.

Pie Bites, but are they pies?
Sam had this to say about the starter: "The pie bites arrived and were somewhat baffling, they certainly didn't look like pies to me, seemingly more like sausage rolls in appearance. The flavours were nice enough but, as with many pies of this size, it is difficult to get the pastry to filling ratio right. Given that they didn't look anything like pies I won't review them here but expect to see them winning the British Pie Awards in 2017." (Cheeky reference there to a pasty winning the British Pie and Pasty Awards 2016, of course!)

Putney Steak Pie
Steak & Ale Pie


Putney Steak Pie

Sam continues: "Now onto the meat of this review and when I say meat that was the star of this pie show. It was well filled with proper pieces of flavoursome steak. They sat in a tasty gravy made with London Pride ale which was just the right consistency. This was a decent sized pie, well filled with chunks of meat which felt like decent value at this price. The pie also looked fantastic, reminiscent of the recently defunct Paul's Pies and it was nice to see them put the effort in to make it look good. It had a lovely glaze on top but this was a bit patchy.

Sadly though Putney were always setting themselves up for a bit of a fall by claiming to have 'the finest pies in the land'. This certainly was a long way off being the finest in London, let alone England. With such high expectations I was left rather disappointed. The pastry was quite a let down. It was too crumbly and a bit tasteless. The biggest problem was that some of the meat was too chewy. While I like something to get my teeth into, this was too much and could have done with being cooked for longer. Unfortunately overall this was not a pie I could quite Pierate Recommend, although the overall experience at Putney Pies was good." (As with all our reviews, the score only reflects the pie itself, not the venue.)

Steak & Ale (Putney Pies)
Score: 4.89/7
[Condition 5.1, Colour 5.0, Cheapness 4.5, Capacity 5.6, Chewiness 3.9, Content 4.9, Consistency 5.2]


Putney Pies Beef Bourguignon Pie Review
Putney Pies Beef Bourguignon Pie Review

Pierateer Rob went for the Beef Bourguignon pie - also £10.95 at time of purchase - and had this to say: "The setting was great - never been in an underground vault like that before, let alone to eat pie there! I was excited to see the range of pies on the menu, even if a lot of them turned out to be casseroles with a pastry lid or even potato bakes!!! But there was still a decent selection of fully encased in pastry pies to choose from.

The Beef in the Beef Bourguignon pie was quite nice, not too chewy and had a good flavour to it. Upon starting the pie I enjoyed the taste, with the filling nicely complementing the pastry. However after a while it was clear the pastry:filling ratio wasn't quite right, especially with quite a dry and crumbly pastry (as Sam has already pointed out). In the end there was some leftover pastry as it just wasn't quite nice enough to eat on its own. But the filling was better than in Sam's pie, and I would happily eat another one if offered, so it sneaks a low Pierate Recommended from me."

Putney Pies Beef Bourguignon Pie
Score: 5.07/7
[Condition 5, Colour 5, Cheapness 4.5, Capacity 5, Chewiness 5, Content 5.5, Consistency 5.5]


Putney Pies Beef Bourguignon Pie Review
Putney Pies Beef Bourguignon Cross-Section
Matt Barr, the owner of Putney Pies was good enough to come and talk to us. He has big plans to take up more space in adjoining arches in order to produce more pies which can be sold around London. His business plans sound enticing and we really wish him well. With some tweaks these could be great pies. We think part of the problem may be that Phil doesn't really like pies himself. Most of the really great pie places have a chef or owner who is fanatical about pies. And we mean fanatical!!!Whilst he is mainly focusing on the business side, we are sure Scotsman Phil can be successful with the right people around him. We wish him all the best in the future!

SJL and 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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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.

Where do you stand on the pie v tart debate?
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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
and let us know your thoughts!
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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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.

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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"