Tuesday, 31 December 2013

2013 Pierate Pie-lights!

And I thought 2012 was a vintage year for Pierate!


But along has come 2013 with even more spectacular highlights – so many that I couldn’t possibly mention them all here, but here are just a few from 2013 in our year end review:

Pierate Ship

January

Our first pieku review (a Haiku about pie) is written by Pierateer ARL

TOP 6 HIGHLIGHT - We review Paul’s Pies Steak and Guinness Pie, which at 6.73/7 becomes our top rated pie and earns the title of #BigFatPieOfTheYear 2013!

February

Our first pie review for a French pie by ARL (even though Pierateer SJL had regularly travelled to France and not found any!!!)

Top of the league rated football pies, making the overall top 5, from Pie Deli Piebury Corner

March

TOP 6 HIGHLIGHT - British Pie Week and all 50 pies consumed by the Pierateers in it – but in particular Day Two, where Pierateer SJL ate only pies for the whole day (11 pies and 3362 kcal of only pie!)

Our attempt at making horse pie and zebra pie in the wake of the Horse Meat Scandal

Our second honorary Pierateer (Rosa) to celebrate the 25,000 pageview landmark on 30th March 2013

April

Pierateers RAS and SJL volunteering at the British Pie Awards 2013

May

Our “Best Pie in London” article is posted, quickly becoming our second most viewed article on Pierate and the most viewed article in 2013!

June

Our first ever guest review, from John Lowe, at the Smugglers Tavern, Osmington

July

Our #200th pie review from Higgidy Pies on 7th July 2013

TOP 6 HIGHLIGHT - The first ever Pierate Pie Contest, held in Birmingham and won by “Chrissy the Terrible!”

August

Seemingly the whole of Suffolk being pie-rated to produce our Suffolk Pie Leaderboard.

September

A review of the pie which won the title of Supreme Champion at the British Pie Awards 2013 produced by The Pie Kitchen.

The launch of our #CelebrityPieQuest on twitter – to find celebrities who love pie!

TOP 6 HIGHLIGHT - Our world exclusive pie review thanks to Mr Kipling!

October

The addition to the original Pierateer line up of our Gluten Free Pie Reviewer – ALE – and her first ever gluten free pie review on 4th October 2013

Reaching 50,000 pageviews on Saturday 19th October 2013, which was celebrated by awarding Paul of Paul’s Pies fame as our third Honourary Pierateer

Our tweet by tweet analysis of the pies in the final of the Great British Bake Off, which was seen by winner Frances Quinn alongside many of the other GBBO contestants including the wonderful #bakechat crew!

November

Eating a fabulous fish pie and champagne pie in Bob Bob Ricard to celebrate our 250th pie review on 2nd November 2013!

Celebrating our 4th Birthday on 12th November – a day now known as “International Pierate Day” – and talking about this in our first ever interview, with Ashleigh Auld Consulting!

TOP 6 HIGHLIGHT - Pierateer SJL judging at the Scotch Pie Club Awards 2014 (held on 13th November 2013)

A tour around the pie production facility of the 2013 World Scotch Pie Champion in the search for the best Scotch Pie.

Our first reci-pie review from our new Ship’s Cook – a spinach sun pie

Pies found and rated in Italy, a particular highlight being the “When in Rome” article

And November 2013 being our first month of posting an average of one post a day (30 posts in 30 days!)

December

Our first meet up with fans of Pierate to do some joint pie rating – with Ashleigh and Olivia from Ashleigh Auld Consulting

TOP 5 HIGHLIGHT - The release of the '12 Pies of Christmas’ video – featuring 78 turkey pies and mince pies

Our first pie rating demo - a demonstration of how to rate pies (inspired by Ali Imdad from GBBO's Baking Demo) by blind-rating three supermarket mince pies

Attending the first event we have sponsored – the @Woodies12 pantomime “Captain Hook’s Revenge”

And who can forget to mention:

We can’t take for granted getting 100, 200, 300, 400, 500 and now 600+ followers on twitter! Thanks so much for following and tweeting @pierateers


We certainly won’t forget the record-breaking 185 posts made this year in a hurry, making it the most productive year yet! (Can you believe we celebrated doing 63 posts last year – when this year we have almost tripled that amount?!)

Here’s to many more pies and reviews in 2014!

Hap-pie New Year!!!

continue reading "2013 Pierate Pie-lights!"

Monday, 30 December 2013

When In Bergamo?! Italian Ham and Cheese Pie Review

Bergamo (Italy) Ham and Cheese Pie Review


The penultimate day of my pie hunt in Italy saw me scouting out the shops of Pavia, to the south of Milan, followed by Bergamo to the north. We quickly passed up from Bergamo bassa (the sprawling modern city) to Bergamo alta (the old town, up on the hillside) on the funicular in order to take in the nicer scenery and quaint narrow streets and shops on the hillside. It was there we spotted our first meat pie of the whole trip - having spotted a number of sweet pies in Rome (called Crostatine) and an apple pie in Milan.


Bergamo Pie
Salumeria Gastronomia Angelo Mangili
The meat pie in Bergamo consisted of ham and cheese, fully encased in a thin light layer of flaky pastry. And when I say thin, I mean thin! This pie was about 70% cheese, 15% ham and 15% pastry - and you could really tell when you bit into it! It was filled-to-the-brim capacity! The cheese and ham both reminded me of the tastes of Italy I'd enjoyed over the past week but it was great to be able to finally get my hands on an Italian meat pie!
The real issue with this pie was the price. Priced by weight, we were only able to really afford a small slither due to it being a whopping €24 per kilo! Our thin slither alone was €2,40. However the cheese and ham were both very rich, so I can't say I'd have wanted a much bigger slice in one sitting.

The colour was quite good - both the pastry layer and the internal colours of the cheese and ham layers. The content was very tasty and quite rich but were a true 'taste of Italy' which was good (I would rather that than them exactly copy a British pie flavour for the sake of it).


Bergamo Pie
Ham and Cheese Pie at Bergamo Airport, overlooking the Alps
The consistency very heavily weighted towards the soft, gooey cheese layers and the pastry was light and complimented the soft cheese. That resulted in it not being particularly chewy at all. However the content could have been improved slightly if the pastry:filling ratio were a little more pastry and a little less cheese.

This is certainly a pie I'd have again - it really reminds me of some great tastes of Italy - however I better start saving up the Euros as it sure was pricey!

Salumeria Gastronomia Angelo Mangili “Torta Valdostana” (Ham and Cheese Pie)
Score: 4.93/7
[Colour 6, Capacity 6.5, Consistency 4, Condition 4, Chewiness 6, Cheapness 3, Content 5, Total: 4.93/7]
RAS


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

Make sure you 
and let us know your thoughts!
continue reading "When In Bergamo?! Italian Ham and Cheese Pie Review"

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Watching Pierateers in Panto? Oh yes we did!!!

 
Pierate as Programme Sponsor
Programme Sponsor
In a first for Pierate, we recently sponsored our first event – as www.pierate.co.uk was the official programme sponsor of The Woodfield Entertainers 2013 pantomime “Captain Hook’s Revenge”, performed from Thursday 12th to Saturday 14th December 2013.

Representing the programme sponsors, I (Pierateer RAS) went to see pie rating pirates in panto in person! With a ticket to the Saturday matinee, I was treated to a lovely local production of the pantomime and had a good time afterwards meeting some of the cast in the local pub.


Did you know?
Captain Hook's favourite pie is a Melton Mowbray Pork Pie. (I asked him myself!)


Tonkerbell, Peter Pan, Dotty the Dame, Captain Hook and Sharkey
You’ll probably have guessed there aarrrrrghhh plenty of pirates in Captain Hook’s Revenge, and the opening scene aboard the pirate ship was awash with singing and dancing pirates and the introduction of Captain Hook himself! (Booooo!!!!) There was also a cheeky reference to pies by the Indian tribe in Neverland, who suggested having a buffalo pie for dinner and then rating it on Pierate! And you could tell that the naughty pirates would rather have baked a pie – not a cake – when trying to poison the Crocodile and Indian tribe part way through the performance!

 The panto contained some very impressive singing performances from all the cast, a memorable performance from the comedy Dame, an unexpected version of “I’m sexy and I know it” by Captain Hook and “These wings are made to fly” led by Peter Pan and Tonkerbell the fairy! While the 7 Cs sadly don’t really work for rating a pantomime, I would certainly give 7/7 for content and a further 7/7 for enthusiasm and effort!


I’d personally like to thank Sara and all the wonderful group at The Woodfield Entertainers in Ashtead (Surrey) for making me feel so welcome and for a wonderful afternoon and evening. It was a real shame the pie I had in the pub with them afterwards didn’t live up to the high standards the performers reached but I wish them all every success in their future productions! And who knows, maybe I’ll pop down again for one of their future performances too!

For further info and future performances, do check out The Woodfield Entertainers website and @Woodies12 twitter feed.

RAS

Visit the website or call them for more details.
continue reading "Watching Pierateers in Panto? Oh yes we did!!!"

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Big Fat Pie of the Year 2013

The Top Pies Reviewed by the Pierateers plus fans top pies in 2013!


The Pierateers have eaten plenty of pies in 2013 but only five get into our "Big Fat Pie of the Year Top 5!"

So here they are:

RankPie ProducerPie FlavourScoreBy
1
Paul's PiesSteak and Guinness
6.73
TJP
2
Paul's PiesChicken and Mushroom
6.55
SJL
3
Piebury Corner [N7 8DL]Venison and Red Wine [Thierry Henry]
6.5
RAS
3
Piebury Corner [N7 8DL]Lamb and Veg with a hint of mint [Ian Wright]
6.5
RAS
5
Jekyll and Hyde Pub [B4 6BJ]Steak
6.45
RAS

But we also want to hear what our pie fans thought was there "Big Fat Pie of the Year 2013!" which is where you come in!

So please either leave a comment below or tweet us @Pierateers and we will include your favourite pies of the year in this article!

Over to you!



@NikSpeller: "Best pie of the year? I haven't actually eaten that many this year, but of what I've eaten @CanteenLondon were the best!" - The Venison pie @CanteenLondon

@FarmersgirlCook: "Without a doubt Mince and Cheese Pies - delicious http://farmersgirl.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/mince-and-cheese-pies-and-pie-review.html #bigfatpieoftheyear"

@KirstyTV's "love pie"
@KirstyTV: "Yup! My love pie!"
(The video of Kirsty making this pie with Beth Howard @worldneedspie can be seen here!)

@CD_Angel: "For me, it has to be home made steak and ale #classic #pubgrubstyle"

@dreampopbakery: "My fav pie of the year @pierateers is def chilli beef from @NZGourmetPies full to the brim of tasty yummy chilli beef - the best ever :-) "

@OfficialPeters: "It has to be a Peter's Pie!!! - We love a good steak & kidney, but there's just so many good-uns... steak, steak & ale, roast chicken... YUM!!"

@mr_spoon: "My best pie of 2013, my own Christmas leftover pie. HAPPY NEW YEAR! - chicken, ham, peas, carrots, brussels, 2 cheeses and gravy."


@mr_spoon's Christmas Leftover Pie

continue reading "Big Fat Pie of the Year 2013"

Thursday, 26 December 2013

An exceedingly merry Christmas Mince Pie by Mr Kipling

Mr Kipling Deep Filled Mince Pie Review


Even with the abundance of mince pies that are made and sold in the UK each and every year, there is one brand of mince pie synonymous with Christmas. That brand of pie is the Mr Kipling Mince Pie. So popular, they even have a twitter fan club!

Having been sent a free box from Mr Kipling for our 4th Birthday and about to go on holiday to Italy at that time, it only seemed right that I take the box of pies with me to share with my Italian friend and his family (who had never eaten a British pie before!)


Mr Kipling Mince Pies
Mr Kipling Mince Pies taken to the Colosseum, Italy

However this didn’t leave me with a fully representative sample and so, having bought some more in Poundland recently, it was time to give Mr Kipling a proper pie rating! (Ok, so maybe this was just an excuse to eat more pies...)


Box of Mr Kipling Mince Pies
Box of Mr Kipling Mince Pies
The colour of the pie was a nice shade and immediately appetising. The condition of the pie was quite good, considering the box got slightly worse for wear due to all the travelling I was doing with the pies. There is supposed to be a pastry Christmas tree shape on top of the pies, though unfortunately these were not clearly visible on all the pies in my box. However upon biting into the pie, the lack of a little extra pastry tree was all forgotten about, as I enjoyed the mouthful of pie I was presented with.

Mr Kipling Mince Pie
Mr Kipling Mince Pie
The short crust pastry is nice and buttery – could be a little more moist in places but certainly not as dry as a lot of mince pies I’ve tasted at this time of the year. The pies were filled well with mincemeat content, although there was a bit of an air gap between the filling and pastry lid. This slight fault in capacity however was not an obvious detraction from the pie itself, as the ratio of filling:pastry was pretty much spot on. The filling was quite moist still, which was nice. A few little crisp bits of zest gave it a little tang but the moist, fruity filling was the real draw for me. Not too chewy and consistently good throughout the pie.

The pies were only £1 in Poundland, so 16.7ppp in a box of six. However some other retailers were charging anything up to £1.80 for six pies, so I’d certainly recommend shopping around!

You can see why these are called exceedingly merry mince pies, which if you shop around you can get for a bargain 16.7ppp each. A great addition to any Christmas or New Year celebration!

As briefly mentioned above, Mr Kipling mince pies have been on a bit of an adventure recently with the Pierateers! They’ve been sightseeing around Rome and spent time with an Italian friend and their family, being shared with the Italians as an example of fine British pie-manship.

Mr Kipling pies were also given to the performers in @woodies12 pantomime production of “Captain Hook’s Revenge” – which was sponsored by www.pierate.co.uk!

Finally, the Mr Kipling Mince Pies were featured in the '12 Pies of Christmas' music video in the "Five Gold Rings" position.

5 Mr Kipling Pies
 


Mr Kipling Deep Filled Mince Pie
Score: 6.07/7
[Colour 6, Capacity 6, Consistency 6.5, Condition 5.5, Chewiness 6, Cheapness 6.5, Content 6, Total: 6.07/7]
RAS


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

Make sure you 
and let us know your thoughts!
continue reading "An exceedingly merry Christmas Mince Pie by Mr Kipling"

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

A Christmas message from Pierate - "Unity"



Wishing you a very merry Christmas, from us all at Pierate!

I would like to give a little Christmas message, if I may. The theme I have chosen this year is unity. Whether you celebrate Christmas or whether you celebrate a separate religious festival, I'm sure you'll agree that we all feel a great sense of unity during the festive season. I feel more inclined to help a stranger, call my grandmother, and donate to charity.

This wonderful sense of unity can also be found in a pie. When you think about it, pies are the epitome of unity. The ingredients in the pastry unite together to form the dough. The egg wash unites the pastry edges, and the pastry holds the filling together with robust composure. The pie is a gorgeous symphony of pastry, meat and gravy - a rare orchestration of sublime smell, texture and taste that is so uncommon in this often cacophonous world. The flavours unite, the smells unite. The crunch of the pastry harmonizes with the blissful silkiness of the gravy. One feels a strong sense of connectedness with, and within, the pie.

This Christmas, my friends, we are all united in pie.

Merry Christmas.
Pierateer TJP + all at Pierate HQ

Of course, don't forget to watch Pierateer RAS' 12 Pies of Christmas! Yes, there really 78 pies!
continue reading "A Christmas message from Pierate - "Unity""

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

A special Higgidy pie treat for your Christmas guests

Higgidy “Special Guest” Lincolnshire Turkey, Bacon and Stuffing Pie Review


Christmas is a time for sharing gifts with your loved ones, welcoming in special guests to your home and enjoying good food and good banter! And what better food gift to share with your special guests than a pie (of course, at Christmas time it has to be a turkey pie!) The question is... What do you put with it? Obviously it needs to be packed full of meatilicious turkey – that’s a given! But what other parts of the Christmas meal should be included in the pie if you want to really give your guests some festive cheer?!

Well I guess everyone’s going to write a slightly different list (and check it twice) to Santa when requesting what type of turkey pie they want for Christmas. But for me, it would have to be turkey, bacon/sausage and stuffing, with a nice bit of gravy! Love a good amount of dinner with my gravy! So when I saw that the Higgidy Christmas Turkey pie contained all of my requirements, it was immediately added to my ’12 Pies of Christmas’ list!


4 Higgidy Pies
4 Higgidy Pies

Coming out of the oven, the lid of the pie was a nice lightly golden colour and the sides and base were quite good colour, though a bit paler as can be seen in the photo. Cutting through the pie, there was a strong capacity, though a bit of an air gap between filling and pastry lid. There was not much of a mix of colour inside the pie, particularly because there weren’t many pieces of bacon in the filling to add to the colour.

However tucking into the pie, there was certainly no lack of turkey inside! The pieces were quite large and spread throughout the pie, though in both my pie and those of the three friends I shared my “Four Higgidy Pies” with, the consistency of turkey, bacon and stuffing throughout the pie wasn’t quite perfect, with some mouthfuls exclusively of stuffing.


Inside the Higgidy Turkey Pie Review
Inside the Higgidy Turkey Pie
On the topic of stuffing, the sweet apricots in the stuffing (alongside the sausagemeat and festive herbs) did add a slight twist to this pie, adding hints of sweetness to another wise quite meaty pie. I wouldn’t personally add apricot to the pie, but it did make this pie a bit more unique and might appeal to some. Also, while this pie wasn’t dry, it did lack an ideal amount of moisture which would be provided by a little more gravy/stock. The side and base pastry, while nice to eat, could have done with being a bit less dry.

However my main disappointment with this pie was actually the level of pepper included in the recipe. Unfortunately this was a big distraction from the actual taste of the meat in the pie – so much so that when someone asked me the next day about the pie I had eaten, all that immediately came to mind was that it was far too peppery (for me and my special guests). I’m not a huge fan of pepper in pies, but this pie not only had pepper in the turkey and bacon filling and the stuffing, but also cayenne pepper in the short crust pastry!!! I can only hope that the pies we ate had been made in an overly peppery batch because the levels of pepper were so much that I’d personally rename this pie a “Pepper with turkey, bacon and stuffing” pie. To those who love their pepper, this is clearly the pie for you. Sadly, however, I don’t think this would greatly appeal to the wider turkey pie loving market. I certainly wouldn’t eat another if the recipe did not change.

At £3 per pie, I think this is very reasonable for a good sized, meaty Christmas pie. In addition, the pie box contained a token that – when 10 are collected – would allow me to get a free Higgidy pie, so I’m already well on my way to a free pie having eaten 4 Higgidy pies for the ’12 Pies of Christmas’ music video.

I don’t like to end on a sour (or peppery) note, but hopefully this was just an overly-peppery batch and the recipe will be slightly tweaked to provide a delicious turkey pie for next Christmas! There’s certainly a lot of potential in this Christmas pie if the recipe is just tweaked slightly.

Higgidy “Special Guest” Lincolnshire Turkey, Bacon and Stuffing Pie
Score: 5.36/7
[Colour 5, Capacity 6, Consistency 4, Condition 7, Chewiness 6.5, Cheapness 6, Content 3, Total: 5.36/7]
RAS


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

Make sure you 
and let us know your thoughts!
continue reading "A special Higgidy pie treat for your Christmas guests"

Monday, 23 December 2013

Straight up steak and ale pie from Holmesbake

Holmesbake Straight Steak and Ale Pie Review

Today's review comes from London's City Pantry street food market (Whitecross Street EC1Y 8NR). Holmesbake have their stall set up here, proudly offering "quality pie and mash"! Ace!


Two of the pies on offer

As it's nearly Christmas they have a Christmas pie on offer (turkey stuffing, ham, leek and cranberry sauce), but I want to try something which is more likely to be on offer all year round (and therefore perhaps a bit more useful to you guys). So I opt for the Straight Steak and Ale, veg and mash. I go for a large portion, which means for your £5.80 (£5 for small) you get all of this:

The pies come served in a box

Compared to some of the other prices I've seen in this market, that actually seems quite reasonable for a large, heavy portion of food. It's by no means a bargain, but it could have been more expensive I think. Here's what the pie looks like on a plate:


Yes, as you've probably already spotted, this is a top-crust pie. Not just that, though, it's also a portion of a top crust pie, not even the whole thing. As some of my work colleagues remarked, it's "just a casserole with pastry on top". The way the pie is served - from a large tray - is slightly reminiscent of school lunches, and the presentation in a plastic box isn't the most attractive. However, I do love the criss-cross patterning of the crust, with its glossy golden brown colour. While this colour is lost by the time the pie makes it to the plate, as it is rather drowned in gravy, the pie does look attractive in the tray. The condition the pie arrives in is quite messy, and its only a top crust and therefore isn't able to hold itself together. This is one of the reasons why you need a crust all the way round, guys! The pastry hasn't maintained its crispness in the gravy, and has gone a bit soggy and chewy.

However, the content is fabulous. The steak is sublime: not at all chewy, and tastes delicious with a nice hint of ale. This is definitely a large portion; I am getting rather full! I think if this pie had been served totally and wholly encased in pastry, it would have got a pretty decent score.

Here's my Seven Cs:
Colour: 6
Condition: 3
Content: 6
Capacity: 3
Chewiness: 6
Consistency: 6
Cheapness: 4.5

Holmesbake Straight Steak and Ale
Overall: 4.93/7
TJP

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

Make sure you 
and let us know your thoughts!
continue reading "Straight up steak and ale pie from Holmesbake"

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Pierate Pie Rating Demo – Mince Pie Edition

Pierate Pie Rating Demo – Mince Pie Edition


On board the Pierate Ship we are always looking for new ways to share our love of pies with the world. So when attending a Christmas Party with some friends, Pierateer RAS decided to - ins-pie-red by @aliimdadbakes cake making demo - host the first ever Pierate Pie Rating Demo!

That's right - an informative and educational whistle stop tour of how to rate a pie - the Pierate way! With three mince pies each to rate in a near blind taste test (the lights had been turned down low to create ambience in the room, which led to us having to use our mobile phones to see the plates of pies!!!) a group of wannabe Pierateers joined Pierateer RAS for a thorough brief.


Pie Rating Demo
Pie Rating Demo - before and after!

All ‘Pierateers in Training’ were given a copy of the 7 Cs - the way us Pierateers have been rating pies since we started four years ago - and were guided through the requirements. None of the guest Pierateers were told where the mince pies were bought from, let alone which one was which!

But before I tell you whose pie was rated highest by me and by the 'Pierateers in Training', here are the scores on the doors:

Pie Rating Demo
Detailed Scores for Pierateer RAS
CsPie APie BPie CAverage
Colour
6
5
5.5
5.5
Capacity
4.75
5.25
6
5.3
Consistency
4.5
5
5.5
5
Condition
5.5
5
5.5
5.3
Chewiness
5.5
5.5
5.5
5.5
Cheapness
3
6
5.5
4.8
Content
5
5
6
5.3
Seven Cs Score
4.89
5.25
5.64
5.26


Pie Rating Demo
Scores for all Pierateers
NamePie APie BPie CHighest Rated
Tim
4.14
5
5.5
Pie C
Ramin
1
5
4
Pie B
Tom
3.71
5
5
Pie B and Pie C
Will
4
4
5
Pie C
Brittany
2.86
5.14
3.57
Pie B
John
3
3
4
Pie C
Pierateer RAS
4.89
5.25
5.64
Pie C
Average
3.37
4.62
4.67
Pie C


And for those intrigued as to which pie was which, the results were:

Pie A = Heston from Waitrose Puff Pastry Mince Pie
Score: 4.89/7

Pie B = Tesco Mince Pie
Score: 5.25/7

Pie C = Sainsbury’s Deep Filled Mince Pie
Score: 5.64/7

So there we have it – while there were a few slight differences in scoring, we have a winner by a very small margin. Well done Sainsbury’s on winning this particular Pierate Pie Rating Demo – Mince Pie Edition! Until next time...

continue reading "Pierate Pie Rating Demo – Mince Pie Edition"

Digging deep for the Christmas by Sainsbury’s Mince Pies

Christmas by Sainsbury’s Deep Filled Mince Pie Review


It seems every supermarket likes getting into the festive pie spirit and Sainsbury’s are no exception. With a fantastic range of mince pies in store, we picked up the Christmas by Sainsbury’s Deep Filled Mince Pies to rate and also use as part of the first ever “Pierate Pie Rating Demo” (article coming soon), in a blind taste test with two other supermarket pies.

So what were the Sainsbury’s Mince Pies like? The pies cost £1.30 for a box of 6 mince pies or 21.7ppp, which makes them one of the slightly more expensive boxes of supermarket mince pies this Christmas time. However at Pierate HQ it’s not all about the price – it’s about whether the pie is worth the price!


Sainsbury's Deep Filled Mince Pie
Sainsbury's Deep Filled Mince Pie

The pies came in very good condition and were arguably the best looking pies out of the standard supermarket range. The colour was quite good for these pies and the pastry was nice and crisp, yet crumbled easily in the mouth. This did however also mean they crumbled quite badly when cut in half with a knife for sampling.
 

Inside the pie, there was a reasonably strong capacity of mincemeat. The content was nicer than the other supermarket pies I had eaten in the blind taste test, with a nice fruity taste lingering in the mouth upon completion of the actual pie itself. The content wasn’t too chewy, which was good, and was consistently well filled throughout the pie.



All in all, a very nice Christmas pie which is a little more expensive per pie than the comparison supermarket pies, but which still doesn’t break the bank.

Sainsbury’s Deep Filled Mince Pie
Score: 5.64/7
[Colour 5.5, Capacity 6, Consistency 5.5, Condition 5.5, Chewiness 5.5, Cheapness 5.5, Content 6, Total: 5.64/7]
RAS


Note: While I did enquire with Sainsbury’s Head Office, unfortunately these Sainsbury’s Mince Pies were not featured in the '12 Pies of Christmas' video as George Bowden at Sainsbury’s felt "filming presents significant disruption to our stores".

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

Make sure you 
and let us know your thoughts!
continue reading "Digging deep for the Christmas by Sainsbury’s Mince Pies"

Friday, 20 December 2013

Simon Simple spices up the competition

Simple Simon's Hot Roasted Root Vegetable with Mango and Chilli Pie Review

This pie review is the fourth in the series of Simple Simon's Perfect Pies pie reviews. You can read the other reviews here:

Having worked our way through the above Simple Simon pies, we're thrilled to review a fourth pie - this time, a spicy Hot Roasted Root Vegetable with Mango and Chilli pie.

simple simons


You can see in the picture above that this pie developed a beautiful golden Colour in the oven, with the pastry looking perfectly crispy and flakey, yet the pie is still more than capable of holding itself together - perfect! I'm not quite sure what the XV on the top signifies - perhaps this is the 15th pie which Simple Simon developed? Or is Simple Simon aiming for 15th place in our pie rankings?

Either way, the pie is looking good so far. It's worth noting at this stage that this pie retails at £4.95 on the Simple Simon website, which seems quite expensive for what's a relatively small pie. This will cost the pie a few points in terms of Cost. But this pie is weighty, so it must be packed to Capacity inside with some quality dense filling. In fact, why hypothesise when we can just find out for real! Let's open up the pie!

simple simon pie

My suspicions were correct! This pie is packed to Capacity with what looks like some quality Content. There's barely any air gap to be seen here! Terrific. On sampling the filling, I can see why they put "hot" in the name, because the spiciness of this pie certainly packs a punch. Don't get me wrong, it's not overwhelming, but the spiciness is more potent than I had anticipated from a pie. The spiciness isn't quite to my liking, however. As I finish the pie I can feel some perspiration on my face. I'm not convinced that pastry and chilli go together. The contents might be nicer outside of a pie than wrapped in pastry. It's a bit like eating a curry with pasta. The vegetables have a decent Consistency, and lie pleasantly between crunchy and soft, and score amiably on Chewiness.

Overall, this is a well-rounded pie but is let down by its Cost and the mix of chilli and pastry.

Hot Roasted Root Vegetable with Mango and Chilli Pie
Score: 5.29/7
TJP
(Colour: 6.5, Condition 6, Content 4, Capacity 5, Chewiness 6, Consistency 5.5, Cheapness 4)


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

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and let us know your thoughts!

continue reading "Simon Simple spices up the competition"

Top Collar Pork Pie Dog Biscuits are a real treat!

Top Collar Pork Pie Dog Biscuits Review


Top Collar Pork Pie Dog Biscuits
Top Collar Pork Pie Dog Biscuits
For most people who have a dog, their pet really is one of the family. They share the sofa, the bed and most probably a fair few pie scraps at the dinner table! But rather than just getting given the pie leftovers, what if there was a pork pie flavoured treat designed especially with dogs in mind?! Well that’s the brain child of Sophie at Top Collar!

In fact, Sophie’s passion for creating wholesome, fresh, meatilicious dog treats makes me kind of wish I was a dog! And when we heard that there were pork pie flavoured treats in her dog biscuit range, our Pierateer dog’s ears pricked up! We had to give some a rating!

At £4.95 for the dog biscuits and postage, these are a reasonable price to pay for dog treats, but you do have to remember the freshness of the ingredients used to make these biscuits! Don’t go leaving them around for long (as you might with mass produced dry dog biscuits), as they are made with fresh meat and therefore need to be eaten quickly – not that your pet dog is ever going to let you keep hold of these special treats for long!!!

But enough of me talking... these photos of Geordie eating the pork pie treats tell their own story!!!


Woof...Woof...Woof!!! Geordie and the Pork Pie Biscuits!
Geordie’s owner made these helpful comments:

Like most (or is that all?) Golden Retrievers, Geordie always enjoys biscuits, but given the speed with which he:-

1) assumed the position (bottom hitting the floor);
2) was very focussed (see photos);
3) waited patiently;
4) woofed the biscuits down; and
5) came back for more;

it fair to say that he very much enjoyed his new treats. A probable canine vote would be maximum points with 7 out of 7!


Safe to say that Sophie really has hit the nail on the head with these pie flavoured treats! While I would of course rather eat a pie than just a product that tasted like a pie, it is still a fab idea to provide the taste of pie to our canine companions and we wish Sophie all the best with her new venture. I’m sure dogs up and down the country will love their owners for buying these pork pie treats this Christmas time!

Oh and a word of advice to Sophie... You better get stockpiling on the pork pie dog biscuits!!!

For further info, do check out the Top Collar website and @TopCollar twitter feed. Thanks to Geordie’s owners for taking the photos and providing feedback. And thanks so much to Sophie for sending us a free sample! You can tell Geordie really enjoyed them!

RAS
continue reading "Top Collar Pork Pie Dog Biscuits are a real treat!"

Thursday, 19 December 2013

A Lidl bit of Christmas Mince Pie magic!

Lidl Snowy Lodge Mince Pie Review


Having been highly commended by Which? Magazine in a blind taste test, but not having had any of their pies rated on www.pierate.co.uk, I stopped off at Lidl in Manchester. Purchasing both the mini pies and the standard version (thus a total of 21 pies for only £2.84) I set about rating them.


Lidl Mince Pies
11 Lidl Mince Pies, part of the '12 Pies of Christmas' (POC)

These Lidl Mince Pies feature in our '12 Pies of Christmas' video!

 

The standard Lidl pies came in a box of 12 at just 12.4ppp. Quite remarkable really, when a lot of mince pies can be anywhere from 25ppp to £1 or more! The pies were in quite good condition, although just on picking the pie out of the silver foil case, I could see cracks appearing between the side and lid pastry, which wasn't ideal. That said, when it came to biting into the pastry it was nice and light, crumbling perfectly in the mouth and not dry at all. The pastry was golden and buttery.

The content looked on first appearance like it would be more sauce and less fruit, however upon taking a few bites I was left with a nice, slightly lingering fruity flavour but also several pieces of fruit to chew over! A little too chewy perhaps and not quite as much fruit as some mince pies I've had (and believe me, I've reviewed a few mince pies lately!!!) but that didn't stop me thoroughly enjoying this mince pie! And at less than 12.5ppp it's hard not to say "no" to another... and another... and another...


Lidl Mince Pie
Lidl Mince Pie

It is a good, affordable Christmas treat. One that will only leave a Lidl dent in your wallet but a far greater dent on your waistline! Especially if you eat 11 of them...

Lidl Snowy Lodge Mince Pie
Score: 5.79/7
[Colour 6, Capacity 6, Consistency 5.5, Condition 6, Chewiness 5, Cheapness 7, Content 5, Total: 5.79/7]
RAS
continue reading "A Lidl bit of Christmas Mince Pie magic!"

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Don't forget, it's #CelebrityPieQuest!


Do you know any celebrities who love pies? Don't forget to get involved in our #CelebrityPieQuest!

We're hunting down those celebrities who love to eat and share their love of pies. Have a look at who's got a famous fondness for pie, and add your suggestions in the comments or send us a Tweet @pierateers with #CelebrityPieQuest.

[Image: flickr/ tolomea]
continue reading "Don't forget, it's #CelebrityPieQuest!"

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

This little piggy went to (Borough) market

I've come here to Borough Market in Southwark, London, to see what pies I can find. The first stall I come across is The Ginger Pig, who sell quality rare breed meats. They fortunately also have quite a variety of pies on offer. I opt for the Beef Bourguignon pie.
 At £5.50, the pie is quite expensive. However, as you can see, the pie is also quite large.
The colour of the pie is already an attractive golden pine.
This pie is about to board the Pierate Ship for a thorough review from not one but FIVE Pierateers!












So what did the Pierateers make of the beef bourguignon pie from The Ginger Pig? Here are their notes:

  • SJL: Packed with unprocessed steak, possibly rare breeds. A bit dry, but really tastes like beef bourguignon. Big bits of onion, but the pastry is hard, doughy, and really hard to cut to the bottom. Overall score: 4.50
  • ARL: The pastry was solid. Overall score: 4.20
  • TJP: The pastry was quite tough and difficult to cut with a knife, especially at the base of the pie. The steak was however of good quality, but a little dry for my liking. A tad expensive. Overall score: 5.30
  • Guest: Overall score 5.50
  • Guest: Overall score 6.95 (crazy! But this is a farmer who is keen on his quality beef)

Of course, here on the Pierate Ship we like to keep things consistent so we only use scores from accredited Pierateers when calculating the grand overall total score. Read the Seven Cs for how we rate our pies.

The Ginger Pig Beef Bourguignon Pie
Score: 4.67/7
TJP/SJL/ARL

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

Make sure you 
and let us know your thoughts!
continue reading "This little piggy went to (Borough) market"

Pierate present the 12 Pies of Christmas

The Pierateers of www.pierate.co.uk have been eating many Christmas Pies - Turkey Pies and Mince Pies - on their adventures and have recorded a Christmas Video! Loosely based on the '12 Days of Christmas', enjoy the Pierateers take on this Christmas classic as you watch the '12 Pies of Christmas'. Enjoy!




The 12 Pies of Christmas 2013
DayPie FlavourPie Name7 Cs ScoreCost (ppp = pence per pie)
1
Turkey
5.90/7
2
Turkey
6.21/7
350ppp to eat out or 700ppp to eat in at Sweeney and Todd, Reading
3
Turkey
6.14/7
1250ppp for a full meal (pie, potato and veg) from Canteen restaurants in London
4
Turkey
5.36/7
300ppp from Sainsbury's (nationwide)
5
Mince
6.07/7
16.7ppp from Poundland or various prices from many other stores (nationwide)
6
Mince
6.18/7
49.9ppp from Robinson's Bakery, Manchester
7
Mince
4.89/7
45.5ppp from Little Waitrose (nationwide)
8
Mince
5.36/7
100ppp from Marks and Spencer (nationwide)
9
Mince
4.14/7-3.64/7
99.4ppp from Harrods in London
10
Mince
5.25/7
16.7ppp from Tesco (nationwide)
11
Mince
5.79/7
12.4ppp from Lidl (nationwide)
12
Mince
1.57/7-1.46/7
107.9ppp from Fortnum and Mason's, London

To view all the reviews for the pies featured, click on #12POC.

And if you use twitter, feel free to use our video hashtag #12POC and follow us @pierateers


See where all 12 pies ended up in the Pierate Pie Rankings or find other Turkey or Mince Pies.

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and let us know your thoughts!
continue reading "Pierate present the 12 Pies of Christmas"

Monday, 16 December 2013

Reci-pie Review: Gingerbread Apple Pie

‘Tis the season to be jolly, and what could be more jolly than a festive pie? I’ve been baking gingerbread every Christmas since I was a teeny tiny Ship’s Cook, so a gingerbread pie seemed like the obvious choice for some December baking.


The Recipe:

The recipe for this pie comes from Family Feedbag. It has lots of pictures and some detailed instructions, which always makes for a good recipe:

Unfortunately, things got a bit complicated as soon as I started baking…
Firstly, I don’t know what vegetable shortening is so I just used butter.
Secondly, I had NO idea how much a cup of butter weighed. It’s supposedly 227g. I used 227g and the dough was really runny. I ended up doubling all the other ingredients to make the dough roll-able.
Thirdly, I didn’t have molasses. Luckily, black treacle seemed to work just as well.

I also had to work out the temperature in degrees Celsius. It’s 204 for the first ten minutes and 190 for the remainder of the time. However, I just cooked the pie at 190 degrees for half an hour and that seemed to work pretty well.

This wasn’t the easiest recipe I’ve ever made, but I think that might be down to my measurement conversion skills (or lack thereof). If you’re familiar with American or Canadian recipes you’ll probably do a bit better. Either way, treacle is really fun to cook with, your kitchen will smell delicious and if you do end up doubling the recipe to make it work, you can just make lots of gingerbread men. 


The Seven Cs:

Colour:
There’s no risk of a pale piecrust here as the treacle in the pastry means this pie comes out a very dark shade of brown. Unfortunately, I think it might even look a bit burnt, which puts your pie at risk of looking less appetising than it could.

Consistency:
The addition of sugar and flour to the apple filling makes a lovely thick apple sauce as well – a bit like apple gravy, which is a nice touch.

Capacity:
There’s lots of filling in this pie, and you can adjust the top to fit around it, although the gingerbread men don’t fully encase the filling so pie purists might want to make a full sized lid – there’ll be enough spare pastry to do this.  


Chewiness:
You’re not likely to ever have a problem with apples being chewy, but you’ll be glad to know that the apples in this recipe are baked for just long enough to go a bit soft, but they don’t go too mushy.

Cheapness:
If you have a well-stocked baking cupboard full of flour, sugar and spices, you’ll probably only have to buy the vinegar, apples and treacle, making this a very cheap pie indeed. If you have to go out and buy everything, it’s going to be more expensive.

Content:
The apple and cinnamon combination isn’t very original but the novelty value for this pie comes from the gingerbread pastry, and apple and gingerbread is an absolutely delicious combination so the content scores pretty highly for me.

Condition:
As Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry would say, this has a bit of a soggy bottom. The apple filling combined with the lack of a blind bake means the sauce soaks into the pastry and it all turns into a gingerbread mush. You probably want to eat it straight out of the dish with a spoon rather than taking it anyway or trying to put it on a plate. It tastes lovely though. 

The Ship's Cook
continue reading "Reci-pie Review: Gingerbread Apple Pie"

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Have Marks and Spencer got the Pie Factor?! Take Three

Marks and Spencer Handcrafted in Yorkshire All Butter Pastry Chicken and Leek Pie and Slow Roasted Ham, Onion and Mature Cheddar Pie Reviews


The Pierateers arrrrgh always searching from the crow’s nest for a pie bargain to be had, so when I was informed of a 3 for 2 pie offer in Marks and Spencer the Pierate Ship plotted a course down to our local store. While the 3 for 2 offer extended further than just pies, we have our eyes firmly on the pies at Pierate HQ!

So with episode one and episode two of ‘Pie Factor’ completed, the final auditions took place on Tuesday 12th November 2013. ‘Why are you telling me the exact date?’ I hear you ask! Well, that only happens to be International Pierate Day, a celebration of eating and rating pie, which coincides with our pie blog’s birthday! It also formed part of my 5-a-day pie quota for International Pierate Day, which demonstrated Piethagoras theorem (see our Pierate Dictionary for a full definition).

Anyhow, I digress! Back to the Pie Factor and we had already had 3 contestants, with two more in the firing range... I mean, on stage for a constructive review on the third instalment of ‘Pie Factor’ (which by sheer coincidence happens to tie in with the final of another, less interesting Factor experience!)

Let's welcome down Pie Factor contestant number 4...

What's your name and where are you from?
I'm the Chicken and Leek Pie from Marks and Spencer.

And what do you do?
I’m one of the 3 for 2 individual sized Yorkshire Pies that you can buy, handmade in Yorkshire and ready for you to enjoy as part of your main meal of the day.

Brilliant! And what talents have you got at your disposal?
Well we didn’t want anyone to accuse us of being “chicken” and all when it came to being on the big stage, so we’ve gone all out to pack our filling with big chunks of chicken!

You’re not wrong there! Some of the pieces of chicken were almost as big as some eggs I’ve eaten!
Well we wouldn’t want to chicken out when it came to content and capacity! They compliment the leek, I hope, but the leek doesn’t overpower the flavour.



M&S Chicken and Leek Pie Review
Chicken and Leek Pie

That’s a pretty spot on assessment. A much better mix than your steak and ale friend who performed previously.
Thanks. We are friends, but there can only be one winner of the Pie Factor... and we want that to be us!

Well with the nice crisp pastry lid and the well held pastry sides and base, complimenting the chicken and leek on offer, it sure is in with a good shout!
Aww, thanks so much! We do pie our best!

Alright, alright! Leave the pie puns and jokes to us please!
Sorry!

So there we have it – a very good performance even if it is again a little small for an individual dinner portion. I’d rate you as slightly better than the steak and ale option due to having a better mix of content and no “padding out” this time!



Marks and Spencer Pie Reviews
Marks and Spencer Ham, Onion & Cheddar (l) and Chicken & Leek (r)

And finally, let's welcome down Pie Factor contestant number 5...

What's your name and where are you from?
I'm the Slow Roasted Ham, Onion and Mature Cheddar Pie from Marks and Spencer.

And let’s just cut to the chase... why do you think you should win the Pie Factor?!
Well I’m one of the 3 for 2 individual sized Yorkshire Pies that you can buy, handmade in Yorkshire and ready for you to enjoy as part of your main meal of the day. Containing big chunks of ham and a nice cheesy sauce, I’m quite unique as there aren’t lots of ham and cheese pies out there! On top of that, I’m full of filling and have a nice, fully encased pastry shell. Vote Team Ham and Cheese!!!

Alright, less of the promotion please – I’ll be the judge of you!
Sorry, just got a little carried away. ***Motions for people to ring in and vote for Ham and Cheese***


Slow Roasted Ham, Onion and Mature Cheddar Pie Review
Slow Roasted Ham, Onion and Mature Cheddar Pie
 
Right...So let’s not pad this out too much longer. The pastry was again very good. The ham – nice big chunks of it – was very nice if a little chewy in places, perhaps due to being too many large pieces of meat rather than a more ideal smaller, consistent approach. I’ll give you credit for being more original in your flavouring, especially as it is often just steak and cheese or cheese and onion pies you get, so thank you for bringing something new to the table (quite literally!)
Ah, nice one! I see what you did there!

As for the capacity, once again it was strong and it wasn’t compromised by other ingredients. The pie was quite cheesy as the sauce really did come into its own. Could have got a bit much if the pie had been a lot bigger, but all things considered, a good effort! The pie rating for you is 5.43/7.



Marks and Spencer Handcrafted in Yorkshire All Butter Pastry Chicken and Leek Pie
Score: 5.79/7
[Colour 6/7; Consistency 6/7; Cheapness 4/7; Chewiness 6.25/7; Condition 6/7; Content 6.25/7; Capacity 6/7; Total: 5.79/7]

Marks and Spencer Slow Roasted Ham, Onion and Mature Cheddar Pie
Score: 5.43/7
[Colour 6/7; Consistency 5.5/7; Cheapness 4/7; Chewiness 5/7; Condition 6/7; Content 5.5/7; Capacity 6/7; Total: 5.43/7]


So there we have it!

Five pie contestants, but only one of them can go away with the title of “Pie Factor” winner for Marks and Spencer. I hope you’ve enjoyed finding out more about our five contestants but before we go, here’s our round up of the pies in question:

Pie Factor - Series 1 (Marks and Spencer)

RankPie ProducerPie FlavourScoreBy
1
Marks and SpencerHandcrafted in Yorkshire All Butter Pastry Chicken and Leek
5.79
RAS
2
Marks and Spencer Handcrafted in Yorkshire All Butter Pastry Steak and Old Peculier Ale Pie
5.50
RAS
3
Marks and Spencer Handcrafted in Yorkshire All Butter Pastry Slow Roasted Ham, Onion and Mature Cheddar
5.43
RAS
4
Marks and Spencer Gastro Pub Beef And Ale
5.40
RAS
DNQ
Marks and Spencer Gastro Pub Aberdeen Angus Steak Yorkshire Pudding
DNQ
RAS

RAS

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

Make sure you 
and let us know your thoughts!

continue reading "Have Marks and Spencer got the Pie Factor?! Take Three"