Tuesday 24 January 2012

Have the German’s pre-invented the pie?!

As soon as my knife cut into the pastry shell of the so called “Königinpastete”, I knew that I had what will go down as one of the most controversial pie reviews in Pierate history on my hands! And I make no apologies for such a bold claim at the outset of this pie review. For what we potentially have on our hands here is – when the incorrect English translation of the German menu is put to one side – a potential pre-cursor to the pie. Rather than re-inventing the pie, the Germans could here have pre-invented the pie, giving us a potential insight into what life was like pre-pie! (a shocking thought in itself, that there could have even been a time pre-pie!)

“So what could be so controversial”, I hear you cry! Well, when I ordered “two pies filled with chopped chicken breast and mushroomsauce” from the Hofgarten in Aachen, West Germany, I certainly didn’t get exactly what it said on the menu. The plate below was brought out to me, which in itself doesn’t look too controversial, albeit a bit odd. Why was there so much chicken and mushroom on the plate itself, rather than it all being inside the pastry? Perhaps there was just so much filling that it simply couldn’t possibly all fit inside the pastry itself?

Then came crunch time, as I cut my way into the soft, puff pastry casing of the first pie, to find that it was in fact... a pie made completely of pastry! A pastry lid, a pastry base and sides, but to the utter amazement of the Pierateer, also puff pastry on the inside too! There was absolutely no other filling within this pie! It was a shocker! The chicken and mushroomsauce “filling” was, as it turns out, outside the pie! What was I supposed to make of this?! I was naturally taken aback! (so much so, that unfortunately in the bewilderment of this crazy pie revelation, I forgot to actually take a photo of the centre of the pastry pie – my apologies.)

I started eating. The puff pastry was a delight to eat, so soft and flaky and a brilliant golden colour. The Germans are known for their efficiency, and it looked like time well spent engineering the pastry to a perfect level to make this pie. The filling meanwhile, while controversially outside of the pastry casing, was very nice too, with the sauce complementing the pastry, chicken and mushroom. I found myself being completely dumbfounded, but enjoying every mouthful! The combination of the pastry pie alongside the chicken and mushroom on my plate was brilliant. It just left me bamboozled as to why the filling of the pie was not inside the pastry itself, as it was some of the best pastry and filling I have ever tasted!

The mystery continues...Is this what pies used to be like “back in the good old days!” Was this the pre-cursor to the pie we all know and love today – where the filling of the pie had not quite worked its way into the pastry yet? Or did the restaurant even make a complete schoolboy and forget to put the filling inside the pastry pie in the first place?! While it is difficult to sum up my confusion at this pastry-only pie, it did in fact taste delicious and the real sign of a good pie is that I would happily go back there and eat another one of these pie dishes today, if I had the chance! It’s hard to specifically rate the pastry pie on its own, without the filling taken into account, but the pastry did taste very good and was in fact covered in the sauce and filling (as can be seen from the photo). However even if this was not actually how it should have been presented, what counts is that it was one of the nicest pastry and filling combinations I have ever eaten. And it was still a pie! Sehr gut!

Score: 5.9/7
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The Pierateers hit 10,000 page views!

Mark it down in your diary... 12th January 2012.

For this was the day that www.pierate.co.uk hit that landmark total of 10,000 page views! Thanks to all the people who have enjoyed the blog in this time, and here's to the next 10,000 page views! Do keep suggesting pies, eating pies, adding comments and following this blog! And to celebrate 10,000 page views, why not become a Pierateer for the day! Here's the 7 Cs to help you rate a pie yourself!
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Sunday 8 January 2012

McDeutsch Pies?!!

Ist das ein Pie?


Sadly, the McDonald’s apple pie sold in the German city of Cologne (or Köln) follows its British counterpart. Despite the label and high promise, it is not in fact a pie, but simply masquerading as a pie. I certainly won’t be making that mistake again! But the good news is that there are proper pies available in Germany, if you look in the right bakeries.
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Saturday 7 January 2012

Is das ein “Pie” auf Köln, Deutschland?

Ist das ein “Pie” mit Köln Dom? Wünderbar!

Ich habe Köln (Deutschland) besucht. Es war sehr gut! Für mein Mittagessen aß ich „Apfeltorte“ aus Merzenich. Es war Super!

Okay, so enough of the really poor level of German I vaguely remember from School lessons (and thanks to Google Translate for helping me!) What is important is that, despite calling it in the German an “Apfeltorte”, you can buy a pie in Germany! The research was conducted upon a recent trip to Cologne/Köln, in Western Germany. The Pierateer was helpfully assisted by his spy comrade to search out if in fact the pastry loving Germans were fans of the pie. Upon stumbling across a delightful lunchtime eatery in the centre of Cologne, just a stone’s throw from Cologne Cathedral (however I wouldn’t recommend throwing a stone at such a marvellous piece of architecture and world heritage site), the lads found to their delight that Merzenich did indeed sell pies! The pie in question, as seen above, was a sweet apple pie, served per slice but clearly being a sweet apple centre encased in pastry with a clear lid. As such, it passed the “is it a pie?” benchmark which can leave so much foreign produce outside the pie parameters.

The pie itself was a lovely, sweet apple pie which crumbled beautifully in the mouth when eaten. While not served with anything such as ice cream or custard, the simplicity of the pie was one of its strengths. Nothing needed to be added to the slice of pie, as it tasted delicious just as it was! The pie was certainly on the sweeter end of the spectrum, but this made it a very nice pie to end your lunch with. The beautifully buttery pastry was lovely and golden, crumbling in the mouth. The only downside to it was that it was quite hard to hold, as the slice of pie was almost too crumbly for its own good! This made taking a photo of the pie – and more importantly, eating the pie – in front of the Cathedral rather a challenge! The pie was delicious to eat and well packed with apple goodness – a sure fire way to get one of your five-a-day. The only other thing to warn you about is that the top of the pie is covered in white icing sugar, which on a blustery day like the one it was purchased on was always going to leave the eater covered in icing sugar themselves. A recommendation would be to wear white clothes, so that it doesn’t show up when you get covered in sugar! The pie will set you back at least 2.75 Euros, but for the taste sensation it is certainly worth the investment. Wünderbar!

Merzenich "Apfeltorte"
Score: 5.7/7

See where this pie ended up in the Pierate Pie Rankings or find other pies of a similar flavour.

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Monday 2 January 2012

Here's to a pros-pie-rous 2012

2011 was an eventful year. Revolution (Tunisia, Egypt, Libya), crises (Eurozone, phone hacking), disaster (East African famine, Japanese earthquake), unrest (England, Syria) and deaths (Kim Jong-il, Osama Bin Laden.... and Amy Winehouse) made it seem less like a normal year and more like an end or season finale for all of mankind. It will certainly go down in the history books as one heck of a year. One of the biggest stories to try and grab a slice of the headlines  was the continuing financial crisis in Europe. Credit rating have been downgraded, governments have fallen (poor old Silvio) and bailouts have been chucked around like hot pies burning Hessian hands. Despite the bailouts the performances of some European economies are still more disappointing than biting into a pie only to find it has no filling (see the air pies review). If things weren't gloomy enough, European leaders are already warning that 2012 is going to be a tough year for the economy.
It is interesting to note that while the UK economy has been struggling, sales of pies have actually increased over these islands. It is well known that pies have a good calorie to pound ratio which is so often cited as a bad thing. However as recession bites maybe the reverse is true as people try to save the pennies. Another possible reason is that pies are one of nature's ultimate comfort foods. There is nothing quite like a pie pick-me-up and the warm glowing feeling it brings. This leaves us in the position where the pie industry is one of the few growth manufacturing industries in the country. Could pies spearhead our return to economic prosperity?
Pierate is however not just confined to the UK so we want to spread the word about the economic benefits of pies to other countries who find themselves in difficulties. The country at the centre of the financial storm seems to be Greece. The strikes of 2012 have already started and despite the crippling austerity measures there remains the real possibility of a default on their debts. 

Hence, this Pierateer decided to stand in solidarity by making a Greek themed pie. Fortunately Greek culinary tastes can be easily transposed to the pie arena if Filo Pastry is used. Hence a Greek Solidarity Feta Pie (as seen previously in Filo-ing Good) was created. This followed a similar recipe as before (with a bit of Dill being added). However there was a twist, with the addition of 2 Euro coins in a similar way to putting sixpence in a Christmas pudding (believed to bring wealth for the coming year). The idea was that whoever got a coin in their slice of pie had to sing (or at least vaguely hum!) along to the Greek national anthem. Fortunately this pierateer was not the one doing the singing and instead a German friend had the honour which seemed appropriate. 

Here is to a new era of pros-pie-rity. Have a great 2012 everyone!

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