Friday 31 December 2010

Do the pies taste as good on the continent?

Belgium Apple Pie Review

A recent trip on the Eurostar left me pining for pies in Belgium, so I’m sure you will join me in being delighted to find that Apple Pie with or without ice cream is available in Brugges for pie lovers on the continent. While there was a lack of savoury pies in the establishments visited in Belgium, the Apple Pie was a great addition to the puddings menu. You could find the Apple Pie just a stone’s throw away from Brugges Train Station in the Brasserie Tuf Tuf, which is also cleverly located near the winter attraction of the Snow and Ice Sculpture Festival just to bring in even more pie-loving punters!

So what does the “Warme Appeltaart met Ijs” taste like - I hear you cry! Well the pastry isn’t firm all the way round the pie, just on the bottom and side of the pudding, which is a first concern when you see that the French menu mentions “tart” rather than “pie” straight out. What’s good to see is that it is classified as a “pie” on the English translation, and although there is a lattice design on top it is still reasonably solid between the nice saucy apple filling. The layer of sugar on top cheekily hides the lattice pastry topping, but it is definitely not your normal solid pastry pie lid. However it does do the same job at the end of the day, and keeps the filling inside the pie well enough. Mixed with the lovely ice cream, the pie does however go down a real treat.

While there may be some debate over the tart/pie consistency of the pudding, I certainly enjoyed it as the Apple Pie it clearly states on the menu. It may not be as crisp a pastry coating as we would expect in Britain, but still well worth going for a visit next time you pop over to Brugges!

Brasserie Tuf Tuf "Warme Appeltaart" (Apple Pie)
Score: 4.3/7

See where this pie ended up in the Pierate Pie Rankings or find other pies of a similar flavour. This pie also represented Belgium in the World Cup 2014 Pie Off!

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and let us know your thoughts!
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Sunday 26 December 2010

The Homemade Pie Challenge

We love a good Battle of the Pies here at The Pierate Ship, so I have pitched two heavyweight contenders against each other in the December 2010 Homemade Pie Challenge.

First up is the homemade Steak and Ale pie, made by housemate A.

This really is a stormingly good pie. The meat is succulent with absolutely no chewiness - pure melt in the mouth texture. The gravy is light and the vegetables within are fluffy and flavoursome. A really top pie.

Next up is the homemade Apple Pie, made by housemate B.

It's packed to the rafters with juicy chunks of apple, and the golden pastry is flaking off beautifully. It is an absolute appley delight.

The Battle really has reached fever pitch here, with two such strong contenders in opposite corners. Which will win, the sweet or savoury?

I can't decide. It's not fair to make a man choose between his pies. I think a rematch may be necessary?

Many thanks to both Housemates A and B for cooking such delightful pies, without even being asked!
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Saturday 11 December 2010

Good things come in small packages

The Fitzrovia Pub London, Pie Review

As a product that has been around for hundreds of years you might think there are no original ways to sell a pie. That's why it was good to see that The Fitzrovia pub in London are really thinking outside the pastry. Having recently come under the Taylor Walker brand name they have launched a new menu including something called a Mini Pie Platter. This novel concept includes 4 mini pies and is an easy way of getting towards your weekly allowance of five pies as recommended by us here at Pierate. The pies included are steak & kidney, steak & ale, chicken & mushroom and shepherd’s pie served with mashed potatoes, mushy peas and gravy.

The price was far from tiny however, this collection of petite pies will set you back a giant £10.49, so not a winner on the cheapness front, even in London. Continuing with the bad news there were no peas (I had forgotten they were advertised) and two of the pies were chicken and mushroom and the steak and kidney was notable for its absence. Upon being served with this I didn't really feel it looked like a meal. It arrived on a piece of wood with a bowl of mash and I wasn't quite sure how I was actually supposed to eat it. I mean where are you supposed to pour the gravy?! I poured the gravy on the mash and ripped bits of pie off and dipped it in. It really made me appreciate how good an invention the plate actually is.

PiesThe good news now and you'll be pleased to know the pies were in fact pretty good. The short crust pastry didn't come up short for these not even pint-sized pies. It gave them the classic golden brown colour which is a very desirable asset amongst gourmet pies these days. The content was maxed out in all these pies with quality meat which was pretty much a necessity give the cramped capacity. These minute morsels boasted a solid, unsoggy pastry, just a bit crumbley and not at all chewy. The cottage pie was tasty and all the better for the pastry around the edge but with its mash potato lid was it really a pie? A debate for another day!

PiesThey say good things come in small packages which seems appropriate in this situation, it was good. Not great, just good. However hats off to Taylor Walker for trying something new, it was a mini adventure.

Score: 4.4/7
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Friday 3 December 2010

Is a family-sized pie too big for one Pierateer?

A large sized pie offers greater value than a smaller sized pie, but I have often been deterred from capitalising on this economic proposition simply because I'm not sure I could manage to eat the whole thing. But I have finally manned up! And I am pleased to announce that I did indeed manage to eat the whole pie (though not in one sitting, I had to reheat some of it in the microwave later). In future, I will not be so hasty in declining a family-sized pie if I can see it makes clear economic sense. I would urge you to do the same.
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Pie-in-a-tin: Will it be canned heat or just canned laughter?

If you cast your mind back to the golden days of 1898. I'm sure we all visited Uruguay that year, and probably passed through a little unassuming town called Fray Bentos. You almost certainly didn't know it at the time, but the very next year Fray Bentos was going to get shot to fame thanks to the production of corned beef there by a company called Anglo. From here, the company of Fray Bentos was developed, diversifying into tinned soups, tinned fruit, and eventually tinned pies. Big business in the UK in the 70s and 80s, Fray Bentos tinned pies have somewhat fallen out of fashion in recent days thanks to the advent of many affordable fresh non-tinned pies on the market. However, they are still stocked by supermarkets; and when they're on offer, a Pierateer can't turn down the opportunity to trial one!

Fray bentos pieI've got my can opener ready. It is a little odd feeling to be using a tin opener to be opening a pie, but let's just roll with it and see what happens. I fully encircle the tin, fold the lid back and...

Fray bentos pieWell initially it certainly doesn't look very appetising, that's for sure. Although I'm surprised that I'm surprised at its appearance, if you understand what I mean. I wasn't sure what sort of condition I was expecting this pie to arrive in - clearly I wasn't expecting it to be cooked and puffy - but both the anaemic, fatty looking colour, and the way the pastry peeled off the surface and stuck to the lid, was a little repulsive in my opinion. But hey, this is what I should have expected, given that the puff pastry was still raw. So I must continue, and follow the instructions on the back of the tin...

Fray bentos piePie in oven...

Fray bentos piePie out of oven. It's risen nicely, and is engaging in some beautiful orange and brown sunset tones. The surface of the pie is mountaineous and ravaged by crevasses. Is this a sign that I left it in the oven for too long? Probably. But oh well. The proof of quality is in the eating of the pie.

Fray bentos pieI wasn't sure of the protocol of eating this tinned pie. I checked the instructions, and it is still unclear as to whether I eat the pie in the tin, or whether I dish it out onto the plate. I opt for the plate option, since this will provide me with a better photo opportunity of the content. And the content is a bit unpleasant actually, if I'm honest. I'm not really sure what's going on beneath that pastry (which is actually very applaudable, especially the gooey "secondary layer" beneath the main puffy bulk). I try some of the filling. The steak has, in my view, a chewy texture consistent with the fact that it's a pie in a tin. Which brings me on to my next point. Why pie in a tin? What is the point? I certainly appreciate that some people do savour the taste, but this pie is no more economical than your average fresh pie, and in my opinion certainly not as nice. In fact, the single tinned pies when they're not on offer are more expensive. Sure, they have a shelf life of infinity (my pie would last until the latter half of 2012) which means they're good for the cupboards...but when might you need such an "emergency pie"? Normal pies last a decent amount of time in the fridge anyway, so it's easy to have one to hand that way. I'm sure you can think of many fanciful situations when a non-refrigeratable pie would be necessary, but in our day to day lives, I will just be sticking for the cold section of my supermarket.

And the rest of this pie review? Well, after I'd finished the gooey secondary layer and picked a bit at the meat, I just wasn't that hungry any more...

Score: 3.8/7

(NOTE: This score includes a boost because of the fact that Fray Bentos allows the consumer to always have a pie to hand when climbing a mountain [although where's the oven?] or during a nuclear fallout).

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