Sunday 24 February 2013

Premier League Piebury Pies

Piebury Corner Pie Reviews

I’m gunner have to put a disclaimer at the start: There will be an Arsenal of football puns in this review! It is a fixture of many a pie review from us Pierateers, but as soon as the place you purchase the pies from starts using puns (e.g. the Viera’getarian) and footballer’s names (e.g. the Thierry Henry), the result is a pun-tastic review of them. And let me say from the start, there are some world-class pies served at Piebury Corner that won’t be propping up any league tables.

Piebury Corner
209-211 Holloway Road - a pie's throw from the Emirates!

So let me show you the team-sheet for today’s review:

piebury corner
Top Row [L-R]: Reg Lewis; Ian Wright; Dennis Bergkamp
Front Row: Evie's cheeky hand; Thierry Henry; Ray Parlour (well, a third of it!)

That’s right – quite an attacking formation, with a meaty Ray Parlour in the heart of the midfield, before a forward line up of Dennis Bergkamp, Ian Wright and Thierry Henry (with a combined goal tally of 533 goals between the three, fact fans) and a Ray Lewis – a pre- and post-wartime gooner striker who scored 118 goals in 176 first team appearances. Thanks to Barnaby, Ro and Arthur for hosting the Piefest and for their helpful comments. Completing the line up was an early run out for Charlie George (eaten a few weeks earlier by Pierateer TJP on a scouting mission for pies).

Piebury Corner Menu
The Pie Legend Menu... need I say any more?

So enough of this pun and games, let’s kick off with the pie reviews...

Firstly, a quick summary of the pies in general (to save repetition in the 6 reviews to follow). The general consensus on the pies was that they were top scorers – though some players were slightly better than others – with some delicious pastry and good capacity all round. The pies were perceived by a number of onlookers, as well as the Pierateers themselves, as being a bit small (for dinner we had 1 & 1/3 each) but a fair price for a top pie in a London establishment. The meat was on the whole top notch, though it was felt that the pieces of meat could have been a bit finer in order to keep the same quantity of meat but spread more evenly throughout the pies. All in all though, they made a cracking team line up.

Ray Parlour (Pork, Apple & Stuffing) – RAS – 6.4/7
I have to admit, I’ve been looking for a pork flavoured pie that contained chunks of prime pork meat and gravy (as opposed to the standard cured pork meat you find in a lot of your standard pork pies) for a while now, but Piebury are the first place I remember being offered the option. I therefore took advantage of the op-pie-tunity, adding this pie to the list even though I technically speaking didn’t need it (but since when has that ever stopped me before?!)

The pieces of pork meat were delicious, nicely cooked and bursting with flavour. It mixed well with the nice, moist stuffing to add good flavour to the pie. The apple was perhaps slightly excessive at times, not particularly evenly distributed throughout the pie but, rather like the meat chunks, you could end up getting a mouthful of apple in one bite and then none for the next few bites. Likewise, there were some very meatilicious mouthfuls, and some that were almost meat-free. If I could make a recommendation to the chef, I’d suggest just cutting the pork and apple into slightly smaller chunk, so that the meat and apple were spread more evenly throughout the pie, thus making every mouthful meaty and delicious. Saying that, the pastry of the pie was lovely and golden, complementing the contents well.  I was certainly left wanting more of this pie (if not only because other little hands were taking pieces too! *ahem*Ev,Lo&Is*ahem*)

Thierry Henry (Venison & Red Wine) – RAS – 6.5/7
Top notch meat for a top notch player! The Thierry Henry has a very meaty rich flavour with a lovely red wine gravy. The meaty chunks taste delicious and the full capacity is once again reached (you know it’s a fully packed pie when the lid is lumpy due to the meaty chunks almost bursting through the top layer of crust! Though slightly more pricey, you expect to pay more for more exotic meat and it really hits the back of the net. The jewel within the crown – certainly a crowd pleaser.

Dennis Bergkamp (Chicken, Ham & Leek) – RAS – 5.7/7
I did check that there were no air miles involved in the production of the Dennis Bergkamp – because I know he doesn’t fly well! Despite being arguably the most technically gifted player to put on the red shirt, this pie is sadly not quite up to that standard. The pastry and pieces of meat were very nice, however I wasn’t blown away by the chicken pie’s sauce and would thus rank this my least favourite (but out of a very good bunch).

Ian Wright (Lamb & Veg with a hint of mint) – RAS – 6.5/7
What a player and what a pie! The lamb tasted delicious, again with very nice tender chunks of meat and just the (Ian) Wright Wright Wright level of mintiness in the gravy to compliment the contents well. The mix of meat and veg was decent (meat heavy, of course!) and is my choice when – not if – I go back to Piebury Corner. 

Reg Lewis (Goats Cheese, Spinach, Sweet Potato & Mushroom) – RAS – 5.9/7
The vegetarian choice in amongst a team of meaty pies, the Reg Lewis had a soft, tasty filling of sweet potato with a nice goats cheese after taste. I’m not kidding to say that this was a surprisingly tasty vegetarian pie, with the content again packing a punch.

There’s no doubt I’m gooner be visiting again upon my next visit to the North London area!

Over to Pierateer TJP for the "Charlie George":

piebury cornerI had been meaning to try out the gourmet pie deli Piebury Corner for a little while, so when I found myself in the Holloway Road area of London I seized the opportunity. I had a real hankering for a beef and onion pie - a real insatiable desire - so although there were many different varieties of pie on offer, there was only one option I was going to be choosing. This is a picture of Arsenal striker and beef & onion pie 'Charlie George'.

The pie came hot. With mash it was £6.50, without mash £4.50 (if you're a student or pensioner then you can get it £5 with mash). I thought that was a fairly hefty price tag for not a particularly big pie (the pies are quite shallow).

piebury cornerThe content of the pie. It's minced beef, which some might say is indicative of a lower quality meat, but to be honest it was absolutely what I was craving.

It's a very pretty looking pie. The top of the pie is lovely and glossy - how do they get it so glossy? Handsome looks apart, how does the pie taste? It's a yum. The pastry is good quality. I find it hard to assess the quality of beef and onion pies, but it tasted great. In retrospect I should have chosen a different pie where it would have been easier to assess the content, as I don't think this beef and onion content brought anything original to the table. The real winner here though is the pastry. Did I mention the glossiness of it? I'm not sure I've seen something like that before. For me, however, the pie was a little shallow. An intriguing shape and looks pretty, but means the pie compromises on content volume for the price.

Piebury Corner 'Charlie George' Beef and Onion pie
Score: 5.15/7

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

These pies also top score in our Pies and Football - a match made in heaven pie review!

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Canard et fi: ooh la la! French pie review

French pie review

Here at Pierate, we have been fortunate enough to rate pies from countries other than the UK. In fact our pie-oneers have eaten pies from as far flung as Australia, New Zealand and Borneo. You can see our full list at the bottom of our World Cup pie blog.

However, the pie which is the focus of this review comes from slightly nearer home: France. Now, you might think that, as Pierateer SJL has travelled to gay Paris regularly for business meetings that we may have rated a French pie before. But the French, for all their world renowned food sophistication, have a distinct lack of pie on their menus. Therefore, it will come as no surprise to hear that I was over the moon this Christmas to find, not one but THREE pies in a local delicatessen in Morzine, France. The first two were individual pies, one filled with mushroom and the other veal. While very intrigued by the veal pie, instead I purchased the Christmas special “Duck and fig” pie. Though I very much wanted to buy one of each of the other pies, at €15.60 for two quarters, I had to choose between them, and I thought that the other two might still be on the menu when I hopefully return in the spring.

Duck and Fig French Pie Review
Duck and Fig French Pie Review

So other than the high cost of this pie, what was it like? Well, firstly, for such a special pie, I could hardly consume it all myself, so I had to bring it back on the plane for the other pieraters to enjoy with me. As the pie was of the traditional pork pie type (gelatinous?) it travelled better than possibly a traditional chunk-and-gravy pie. We heated it up in the oven which turned the pastry the lovely, rich golden colour that Pierateers crave. As can be seen in the photo, the capacity of this pie was chock-full. The flavours were rich and slightly sweet from the fig. Although a little fatty, which is to be expected from this type of pie, the meat wasn’t chewy. Obviously there wasn’t any gravy, but the pie kept moist and succulent.

Overall, this pie would have scored a lot higher, if it wasn’t for the outrageous price. It scores well on all other 7 Cs though, so as a luxury or occasional treat, this pie is well worth it.

Morzine Delicatessen (France) Duck and Fig Pie
Score: 6/7

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

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Friday 22 February 2013

A trip to Selfridges Food Hall for a pie review

Tom's Pies Butternut Squash, Bean and Cheese pie review

Selfridges pie review
I've come here to the Selfridges Food Hall because I've got word that there are pies on sale here. It's the third pie-vending establishment I've been to today, but I am clearly passionate about my pies so that's hardly a surprise.

This is a Butternut Squash, Bean and Cheese pie - and I've tracked the manufacturer down to Tom's Pies. It cost me a cool £2.99, which I didn't think was too outrageous for a Selfridges item.
Selfridges pie review
I wasn't sure if the pie had to be cooked, but I'm so hungry I eat the pie cold on the train home from London. The vegetables taste soft so I think it has all been pre-cooked and just needs heating up in the oven.

Despite the chilled temperature of the pie, it actually carries quite a hot chili flavour. I was quite surprised by the potency of the chili, and even started to sweat a little bit.

The pie tasted delicious though, but this may have just been because I was extremely hungry. The vegetables were just right - a little bit crunchy (which would probably be softened on heating the pie) which I actually really liked. There was a great mix of flavours in the pie. The pastry was a nice quality although looked a little bit pale. The pie held itself together nicely despite me eating it with my hands - there was no mess at all. An excellent portable pie, it seems!

So overall a novel little vegetarian pie. I normally go for meat pies, so I am pleasantly surprised by how I am not disappointed by the lack of meat here. The capacity of the pie is nearly entirely filled with content.

Tom's Pies Butternut Squash, Bean and Cheese pie (Sold in Selfridges)
Score: 5.03/7

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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Thursday 21 February 2013

Lifting the lid on Sainsbury’s standard fruit pies

Sainsbury’s Bramley Apple and Blackcurrant Pie Review

When the lid comes clean off your pie upon lifting it from the foil, you do have to ask a few questions about the quality of the pie in question. When the lid comes clean off several people’s pies in quick succession, that’s when the alarm bells start ringing! However, despite this obvious design flaw and a slightly larger air to filling ratio than would be ideal, the standard range of Sainsbury’s Bramley Apple and Blackcurrant pies were appetising and nicely fruity. The pastry was crisp and the fruit mix tasted good, if a bit sweet. All in all, a nice addition to the snacks on offer with friends at Church homegroup!

Oh, and fortunately I managed to find one pie where the lid remained on for the photo below!

Sainsbury's Apple & Blackcurrant Pie

Sainsbury’s Bramley Apple and Blackcurrant Pie
Score: 4.15/7

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

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Friday 15 February 2013

Pierate Piefest 2012

Yes, I have been a little behind schedule putting these photos up, but better late than never eh! This is the Pierate Piefest December 2012, where we all made some successful pies. Yum.
We made sure all the pies were not just top-crusts, ensuring that the pie filling was totally encased in pastry.

The spread...(we brought out the special pirate-themed crockery for this event) 

Arguably the most expensive pie ever on Pierate, costing 15 Euros for the above portion of duck pie (this pie will also have its own review, since we didn't make this pie. It was bought specially in France)

We did make this pie, though. The Pierateer here is reading the Pierateer's Essential Guide to Pie, which will soon be made available on our website.


An impressive dessert of Chocolate, Marshmallow, Ginger and Popping Candy pies.
It was a terrific event, and the pies were enjoyed by all that attended. We can't give them a rating (apart from the expensive French pie) because we made them ourselves.
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Sunday 10 February 2013

Tesco’s Melton Meltdown

Tesco Melton Mowbray Pork Pie

So shortly after the Mini Pork Pie Bites of last week, I thought I’d treat myself to a slight upgrade on the pork pies with a slightly more expensive Tesco Mini Melton Mowbray Pork Pie. I was disappointed. I’m afraid these were nothing spectacular at all, with the pastry being quite soft and soggy. The colour wasn’t that great and the meat in the pie wasn’t very good quality either. The capacity was again letting the side down, with clear pockets of air in the pork pie that you wouldn’t expect. They also weren’t cheap, costing far more per pie that the Mini Pork Pie Bites. I’m certainly glad I’m going to the home of pork pies in April for the British Pie Awards. Surely I’ll get a good Melton Mowbray there!

Tesco Mini Melton Mowbray Pork Pie
Score: 3.25/7

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Thursday 7 February 2013

Cornwall's Pride Before a Fall

Cornish pie review

Cornwall is a beautiful county, full over idyllic coves and picturesque fishing villages. It has a fiercely independent identity with some claiming it should be a separate country. They are also, of course, famous for a particular pastry product. (Which it must be stated is in no way a pie!) You would however expect that they might not be so bad at making other pastry products too. It seems it's these images a company that call themselves Cornwall's Pride have tried to tap into. But can they live up to this reputation? I came across a family sized Cornwall's Pride Sausage and Onion Lattice Pie in Co-op for just £2. I was intregued by this flavour, I was expecting something strange from a Sausage and Onion pie. I was also drawn in by the fact that this pie could be eaten cold, a great selling point for a savoury pie. There is a definite a gap in the market there. Most supermarkets sell slices and pasties to take away and each cold, so why not also sell pies to be eaten cold? Pies are equally as portable, but have a proven superior height to width ratio.

This is certainly NOT what the actual pie looked like

However, to cut right to the chase, I was instantly disappointed. This pie was none other than a sausage roll masquerading as a pie. The filling seemed to me to be identical to any sausage roll, although perhaps not as good given that it was quite grisly. Also, you can just make out from the photos (due to the lattice top) that there was a significant amount of empty space at the edge of the pie. I did attempt to eat all of this pie in one go which was a mistake. It seemed quite dry and sickly, as you can imagine, it was just like trying to eat a whole pack of sausage rolls. Ultimately this pie scored fairly well on cheapness but was a disappointment. I would rather just buy a pack of sausage rolls to be honest which made me realise the score should be low. I don't feel this was anything for Cornwall to be proud of. If you know of a pie Cornwall can be proud of then tweet @pierateers.

You can see the gaps around the edge!

Oh and one more thing, lattice pies look great but to really get a good score from me you need to fully enclose your filling in pastry.

Sausage & Onion Lattice (Cornwall's Pride)

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Tuesday 5 February 2013

Pierate January Newsletter

January has been an extraordinary month of broken records here at the Pierate Ship:
  • Most page views in a month - EVER!
  • Most posts in a month - EVER!
  • Highest rated pie - EVER!
  • Unofficial world record for people eating and reviewing a pie at the same time
Yes, we smashed our previous monthly page views by over 600, with the final page view tally clocking in at 1,754. This would largely tie in with the commencement of the Pierate @pierateers Twitter account. So thank you to everyone that has visited, and everyone who has followed us and retweeted us on Twitter. We also broke our personal best with 13 posts per month, breaking the previous record of 12 posts in March 2011. This is a very positive sign that the Pierate Ship is accelerating at a rate of knots. We won't stop until we've tried every pie under the sun!

We also reviewed our highest ever scoring pie. The Steak and Guinness Pauls Pie scored a very impressive 6.73 out of 7, beating the previous high scorer by 0.03. Well done Pauls Pies, it was an excellent pie!

If that wasn't all enough, we also attempted to set a world record for people eating and reviewing a pie at the same time. Admittedly we weren't sure if there had been any previous attempts at this record, but we're pleased to announce that we're going to claim an unofficial world record of 7 people eating and reviewing this Tesco Apple and Blackberry pie at the same time (and we fed the pie to about 90 people all in all).

What else has happened aboard the Pierate Ship in January?
Pierate has gone from strength to strength this month, and we are all taking to the blog with renewed vigor.  Sometimes it is hard to balance writing for the blog with other duties (which some might say were a bit more important, like work etc), but it is always a pleasure to eat a lovely pie and let the world know. Thank you for joining us. We'd really appreciate any input you have on how to improve Pierate, suggestions for pies, your own reviews etc etc. If you haven't followed us on Twitter, please join us @pierateers! And please let others know about this little pie rating blog we call Pierate!

Best wishes for a pros-pie-rous February,  
All at Pierate HQ.

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Sunday 3 February 2013

Who Nose How They Make Their Pies So Cheap?

Farmers' Markets are a delight for the pie lover. A great selection of unique, home cooked pies that offer something different from the standard mass produced fare. I work near to the Bloomsbury farmers' market in London so when we feel like a treat on a Thursday we head over there. There is one pie stall there called 'The Parsons Nose' which is entirely an enigma to me. They sell absolutely huge pies, sometimes with premium fillings like wild boar, plus mash, gravy and salad for £5, easily scoring a 7 out of 7 for Cheapness.

Beware, they often sell out of many of the pie flavours so get there early.

Anyone who knows London knows that is just too cheap! Normally farmers' markets have a premium cost if anything. I have tried a couple of these pies to investigate the situation. The first I tried was the wild boar. It was a ridiculous pie, it was almost solidly filled with some kind of swine meat (can it really be wild boar at that price?!) with no gravy. The meat is minced and stuck together and it looks somewhat like a pork pie but with lighter pastry. To start with I thought this is fantastic, what a great value pie. The lack of gravy however soon began to take it's toll, it was just too dry and became hard work. I also started to wonder how well the filling had been cooked. It certainly was still very pink. Combine this with the huge huge size and consequently I didn't actually finish this pie. I think is the only time this has happened in all my time spent on the pierate ship. Disappointing, however this pie still came in high on the calories to pound ratio.

The wild boar pie, perhaps it is possible to be packed too full of Content!

Next time I changed to a chicken and ham pie which was again far too big for one person to comfortably eat. However this time the pie had much more gravy and was much easier to eat. However the chicken was clearly low quality and there was a lot of gristle. It was also far too salty and led to a maddening thirst. I did finish it but many of my colleagues didn't manage to. The general consensus was that despite being great value and good to start with by the end none of us enjoyed these pies as much as we thought we would. I also felt so sleepy after these pies it killed my productivity for the afternoon at work! However at that price I would get the chicken again and I think this is reflected in the scores.

Served upside down, the chicken and ham pie explodes with ample filling.
Wild Boar (The Parsons Nose) 

Chicken and Ham (The Parsons Nose) 

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Pierate Desktop Background [1650x1098]

Brighten up your desktop with this inspirational Pierate poster, which displays an image of nearly every pie we've ever eaten and reviewed on our blog. It would also make a great mousemat or motivational poster for your wall.

Example usage (my current desktop)

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Saturday 2 February 2013

Will you bite my hand off for Tesco Pork Pies?

With a Winter BBQ & Six Nations Rugby at my friends the Bentalls to go to, the invite had “bring pies” written all over it. So, with Tesco Mini Pork Pie Bites in my bag, I headed off for some sausages and ribs (and very nice they were too!) But let’s be honest – you’re only here to read about the pies. So let’s get straight to business.

Tesco Mini Pork Pie BitesObviously being little pie bites, I wasn’t expecting them to fill the hole. But I have to admit I was expecting a bit better than I got – after all, these aren’t Tesco Everyday Pies. While the pastry was nice and firm, and not dry at all (as can be the case for some pork pies), the content was slightly grisly and chewy, so the consistency of the meat throughout the pie suffered from this. The capacity was reasonable, but with pork pies you normally expect a pretty much full pie to be served. Instead, there was certainly some air involved in mine. While they were a lovely golden colour and came in good condition, I’m not sure they are worth the cost (particularly if you don’t get the promotion of 30 pies for £5).

Tesco Mini Pork Pie Bites
Too much air for my liking
Let’s face it, they were quite nice to eat, but I won’t be biting anyone’s hand off to have another one. There’s plenty more pork pies out there. A nice basic pork pie but not great content.

Tesco Mini Pork Pie Bites
Score: 3.75/7

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