Monday 20 August 2012

Reading About Pies

Sweeney and Todd - Vicar's Pie Review

In the pie reviewing business you always have to be on the look out for where the best pies can be found. There are just too many pies out there to review them all, no matter how hard we try. This can involve reading about pies, attending gourmet pie shows but most important of all, following up recommendations (see 'Suggest A Pie').

Pie Review Sweeney and Todd - Counter
Sweeney and Todd Pie Counter

This leads me on to a place in Reading which I have had recommended to me by a few people. The fact that it has such a formidable reputation gave me high hopes for something special. The place in question is called Sweeney and Todd and what a brave name that is to give a pie establishment. It is take away or eat in with some roasts and casseroles available but the main focus is always on pies. My first impression was... where is it? The outside of the establishment was fairly nondescript. In fact it looks pretty run down and quite unappealing. Despite this there was a queue out the door, which hinted there must be something pretty good inside. Too many of the modern pie shops which have sprung up recently look fantastic but do nothing special with their pies. Sweeney and Todd certainly do something special to their pies (but hopefully not that...). Once I got into the shop and surveyed the magnificent selection I could tell they had a special cooking method. These seem to be pies cooked inside a pie mould, which stops the pies drying out and gives the pastry a fantastically gooey texture.

I opted for a Vicar's Pie. Vicars is the name of the butcher's in Reading which provides the meat for the pies. I deduced that the pie contained lamb, pork, carrot, potato, leek, mint and potentially some other ingredients as well. The combination was a bit unusual and the gravy had a delicious thickness to it, almost like jelly. The only slight criticism I might have is that there was a lot of mint, verging on too much. This certainly didn't stop this being one of my favourite ever pies. The meat was great quality and at £3 this pie was cheaper than many other pie establishments. I would note that one of my pie eating companions had a pork and apple pie which had far too much apple in it. It was like eating a sweet apple pie with pork in. So Sweeney and Todd are not perfect but for a pie lover it would be barbarous not to murder one of their demon pies.

Pie Review Sweeney and Todd
Sweeney and Todd Vicar's Pie

Vicar's Pie (Sweeney and Todd)
Score: 6.30/7

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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Saturday 11 August 2012

ExCellent Olympics Pies

ExCel Centre - Creativevents Ltd - Chicken Pie and Steak Pie Reviews

As Boris Johnson famously said at the handover of the Olympic games to London "ping pong is coming home ... where as the French looked at the dining table and saw an opportunity to have dinner, we (the British) looked at a dining table and saw the opportunity to play Wiff Waff (original name of table tennis)." 

Fortunately the British did also see the opportunity to have dinner at the dining table and Wiff Waff was not the only British invention to grace the table. British cuisine is often forgotten or derided internationally. This was why it was nice to see a selection of British food available to an international audience when two of the Pierateers went to see Olympic table tennis.

The Emirates Air Line with the ExCel Centre in the background
The venue was the ExCel Centre in London, a humungous conference centre big enough to have multiple temporary arenas constructed inside. The Pierateers arrived in style taking the new cable car across the river Thames from Greenwich Peninsula to the Royal Docks. Despite only lasting a few minutes the experience was worth it for the views alone.
The Pierateers saw the quarter finals of the Women's Team matches Singapore v. North Korea and South Korea v. Hong Kong. In terms of pie experience Hong Kong clearly has an advantage however this didn't help as Singapore and South Korea both ran out 3-0 winners.

There has been plenty of talk, even on these pages, of Olympic food and pies being expensive. However, upon leaving the Pierateers were delighted to find someone directing people to the pie stall for half price pies. The normal price was £7 for pie, mash and peas, which didn't seem so bad for a meal in a sports venue. However, £3.50 was an absolute bargain (though we do of course consider the price as it would normally be sold, not the special offer price, when rating cheapness). You might think they were selling dried out pies cheap at the end of the day but far from it. Both pies has nearly perfect levels of crispiness of the pastry.

There were multiple pies on offer so the Pierateers chose one Chicken and one Steak. The chicken pie was complemented for it's crisp and delicious pastry and large chunks of meatylicious chicken. The sauce was nice and creamy. This would clearly inspire a generation of pie eaters.

The Steak pie was much the same, the meat was fantastically tender. The pastry perfectly gooey. Despite already having eaten dinner this Pierateer could have eaten another of these pies they were so good.

Given this unique opportunity to showcase British pies it was great that the organisers put the emphais on quality. So often at sports venues, because of the capitive audience the food is mediocre.

These pies are another great performance and surely a gold medal to cap off a wonderful Olympic games for Team GB.

P.S. The company providing these pies was Creativevents, if you are ever organising an Olympic games they come as highly rated caterers.

Chicken Pie (ExCel Centre - Creativevents Ltd)
5.50/7 (RAS)

Steak Pie (ExCel Centre - Creativevents Ltd)
5.50/7 (SJL)
The ExCel Centre Steak Pie

The ExCel Centre Chicken Pie

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Sunday 5 August 2012

Olympic Pie: Football at London 2012

Peter's Steak Pie review

You’d have struggled to miss that the 30th Olympic Games are in full swing, being hosted by the city of London - London 2012. And with some of the Pierateers getting involved in the volunteering effort, it has left a bit quiet following the celebratory #100thPie Review. But fear not, for the lads have still been busy tucking into pies – of Olympic standard, none-the-less – and here is the first Olympic Pie review...

London 2012 venue 'The City of Coventry Stadium'
Visiting the City of Coventry Stadium for the Olympic men’s football, I had a bit of time to kill between watching Mexico beat Gabon and the start of the South Korea-Switzerland tie, so what better way to spend that time than in getting that first Olympic Pie under my belt?! I went for the Steak Pie...because, well, that was sadly the only pie on offer. But in any case, steak is one of my favourite flavours, so the limited selection wasn’t going to put me off! Queuing up was however a bit of a mission, with hundreds of fans streaming out of the stands to get their footie pie fix. Fortunately I had my good friends Gavin, Joel and Christine to chat to in the queue, and to ease the disappointment when I found out that having queued for at least 30 minutes, I would have to wait a further 10 minutes to get my hands on the food, due to exceptional demand for pies! I can’t say I’m surprised though, because when I got to dig in it was delicious.

The pastry was golden and the filling piping hot (possibly even too hot – I had to wait a while for it to cool down!) The gravy was delicious and complimented the meat well, with my main disappointment being that the chunks of meat were a bit too large and therefore meat was not well spaced evenly throughout the pie but more in clusters. But the pie itself was a good effort, particularly appeasing the footie pie fan within me. While not a gold medal winning effort, it was certainly worthy of a medal and the Olympic movement should be happy with the pies on offer. What I only found out later was that this was in fact a Peter’s Steak Pie, for the branding had been removed pre-Olympic Games due to there not being an official Pie sponsor of the Olympic Games. It only begs the question “why is there not a pie sponsor for the Olympics?!?!”

Peter's Steak Pie
Score: 5.75/7


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

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