Sunday 31 March 2013

Stop horsing around! What do horse pie and zebra pie ACTUALLY taste like?

Pie Review of Horse Pie and Zebra Pie made by the Pierateers at Pierate HQ

The UK food industry has been rocked in recent weeks by headlines relating to traces of horsemeat being found within products that were packaged as being beef, with spaghetti bolog-neighs being one of the controversial items unintentionally on offer. This has lead to some significant changes in attitudes towards what consumers choose to eat, some grovelling apologies from major UK supermarket chains but also for some inquisitive people to wonder: what does horsemeat actually taste like?!

Well here at we have tried to contact a number of major food producers involved in the horsemeat scandal in an attempt to obtain an actual horse pie, so that we could inform the nation of what horsemeat actually tasted like. Unfortunately Tesco, Findus and IKEA did not get back to us regarding our tweets. So we took things into our own hands by ordering some horsemeat from – and while we were at it, we thought it rude not to pick up some zebra meat (and a few other steaks too – you’ll hear more about these in the coming weeks and months!)

So with the horse and zebra steaks having arrived and been defrosted, Pierateers RAS, SJL and ARL met together to celebrate RAS’s birthday with some pie. Here’s the video to find out how they looked coming out of the oven:

And so on to what the horse pie and zebra pie actually tasted like, in the equine frenzy which the punters dubbed “The Pierate Steaks”:

Horse Pie
The meat was quite chewy, with a strong flavour (which several Pierateers likened to kidney). In trying to compare it to a more commonly eaten meat, it had quite a beefy kick to it. You could see why, texture wise, it could easily have been mistaken for beef in the previously mentioned beef ready meals. It was not bad but not as nice as the Zebra. However the Pierateers would buy a horse pie in a shop if it was being sold commercially.

Horse Pie
Horse Pie
Zebra Pie
All the Pierateers agreed the Zebra pie was really good – a pleasant surprise for those who had not eaten Zebra previously. The meat was a lot tenderer than the horsemeat, with a texture likened to pork and a very nice meat to eat pieces of – complementing the pastry nicely. The Pierateers would certainly be tempted to buy more zebra for a special occasion or African themed pie party, and definitely have it again if it was being sold in a pie shop.

Zebra Pie
Zebra Pie
The summary was that the horse was outdone by its stable mate, leaving the zebra to be the reigning champion in the "Pierate Steaks". There was no need for a photo finish, as the zebra won by far more than a nose. Perhaps the horse was dazzled by its equine competitor?!

One thing’s for sure, the zebra zigzagged, left us zonked and outstripped its neigh-bour.
continue reading "Stop horsing around! What do horse pie and zebra pie ACTUALLY taste like?"

Saturday 30 March 2013

Do they stock pie in this joint that will make us Fuller’s?

Fuller's Ale and Pie House Pie Review from The Old Joint Stock Pub in Birmingham City Centre

The three Pierateers descended on the Old Joint Stock pub, part of the Fuller’s Ale and Pie House chain, on a rainy Birmingham evening. While not a factor in the pie reviewing itself, it was a great setting for the Pierateers to enjoy a pie together, on the upper mezzanine overlooking the main bar. While the weather outside was miserable, the Pierateers were in good spirit following a highly productive two hour Pierate AGM. Many great ideas had been discussed and shared, with the mission still clearly to not stop eating and reviewing pies until every pie had been added to the blog. But however high the spirits were, this was not to bias the reviews. So let’s get eating:

Chicken, Mushroom & Silver Onion Pie (£9.75)

Fuller's Ale and Pie House Chicken, Mushroom and Silver Onions Pie
Fuller's Ale and Pie House Chicken, Mushroom and Silver Onions Pie
Fuller's Ale and Pie House Chicken, Mushroom and Silver Onions PiePierateer RAS went for a Chicken, Mushroom and Silver Onions Pie. The chicken, mushroom and onion content in a light white wine and cream sauce was a delicious mix which was filling and complemented each other well. The chicken and mushroom were perfectly cooked through, tender and not at all chewy, with a slight crunch provided by the Silver Onions present. The creamy sauce was perfect, keeping the content moist and lightening the overly solid sides and base of the pie. That turned out to be the main flaw in the pie, as the puff pastry lid was very light and tasty, but the sides and base of the pie were very difficult to cut through, let alone chew on. All in all, a very nice pie filling and glad to be served a pie that was fully encased in pastry, but a slightly less firm base and sides would be preferable.

Fuller's Ale and Pie House [Old Joint Stock] Chicken, Mushroom and Silver Onions Pie
Score: 5.75/7 (RAS)

Chicken, Chorizo & Sun-Dried Tomato Pie (£9.95)

Great pie, unusual tomato taste sauce which I liked, good quality meat, could have been more chorizo. This pie was really let down by the solid pastry base as were all the pies in this establishment.

Fuller's Ale and Pie House [Old Joint Stock] Chicken chorizo sundried tomato Pie
Score: 5.57/7 (SJL)
[colour 7 consistency 6 capacity 6 chewiness 3 cheapness 5 content 6 condition 6]

Old Joint Stock House Pie (£9.75)

old joint stock fullers house pie
Old Joint Stock House Pie
 I opted for the Old Joint Stock House pie, which is a pie consisting of "diced gammon, hard boiled egg and sweet corn in a creamy wholegrain mustard & white wine sauce." Certainly a novel addition of the hard boiled egg there - apart from the Jumbuck's Bacon and Egg pie, I'm not sure I've seen egg featuring so prominently in a pie before. Is it an under-rated pie ingredient? No! It works well! As do all of the ingredients in this delicious house pie. The sauce was creamy, and the mustard complemented the gammon well.

I also like the look of this pie. The square lid juxtaposed against the round base gives this pie a quirky appeal. Sometimes you get the feeling that chefs put a pie on the menu because they have to. This doesn't seem to be the case in the Old Joint Stock. Here, the puff pastry bursts out flamboyantly, as if this pie really is proud to be a pie after all. There's an interesting array of pies available in this establishment - enough to keep a Pierateer coming back for more.

My only qualm really is that the pastry base was pretty solid. I found it difficult to cut without accidentally tipping the pie up onto its side and spilling the contents.
old joint stock fullers house pie
You can really see the egg.

Fuller's Ale and Pie House [Old Joint Stock] House Pie (Gammon and Egg)
Score: 5.68/7 (TJP)

continue reading "Do they stock pie in this joint that will make us Fuller’s?"

Tuesday 26 March 2013

Gillingham FC have a pie shaped heart!

Here at Pierate HQ we're all for the humble pie review in a big way. But we also like to bring you the latest pie-litical headlines (such as how the pie tax might affect you), big name pie-artnerships in the world of sports advertising and sometimes, just simply a story that will warm your pie-shaped heart.

Read the full story on the BBC Sport website at:

Yes, for those who missed the big sporting headline this weekend, all three points go to Gillingham Football Club for their generous gesture of providing free pies to the 28 fans from Accrington Stanley (Who are they? Exactly!) who braved the snowy weather on a 270-mile trip to watch their football team lose. All credit to Gillingham FC, who I'm pleased to see have made a big turnaround from the last time they made the headlines following a fan's altercation with a Wycombe Wanderers footballer during the Chairboys 1-0 win over Gillingham earlier in the season.

Let's just hope the pie they served hit the back of the net!

And while we're talking about pies, why not check out the pie chart BBC Sport produced a few months ago?


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Wednesday 20 March 2013

At the next Junction take the cheeky ox pie to the right...

Ox Cheek Pie Review from The Junction Pub in Harborne

It may not feel like it, but winter should be on its way out and spring should truly be beginning! Which is why I thought I best get a nice winter warmer of a pie from a local pub before they changed their menu. And with a recommendation of The Junction Pub in Harborne, Birmingham, when out for a meal with my pie friends Caroline and Justin, I wasn’t going to say no! The research had already been done and a cheeky pie was on the menu.

Ox Cheek Pie Review at The Junction Harborne
Ox Cheek Pie Review at The Junction, Harborne
It must be pointed out at this point that the busy hustle and bustle of the pub was a great sign of good quality food and a nice welcoming atmosphere. We just about managed to find a free table and with a slight vantage point over the kitchen wall we could see some of the meals being made. It was sadly at this point that the evening took a slight downturn as, unfortunate to say, before the pie was even presented onto my table it could be seen that they were in fact making me not a proper fully encased pie, but instead just a casserole with a puff pastry top crust. This was disappointing to say the least and would have to be reflected in the final score, but I’ve had to eat plenty of top crusts in my time and as they say in show business, the show must go on! So what about the pie...

Ox Cheek Pie Review at The Junction HarborneI delved through the nice, golden flaky puff pastry crust and got my first taste of ox cheek. And it was definitely worth the wait! The meat was deliciously tender and mixed beautifully with the red wine gravy inside the bowl. Flavoursome and not at all chewy, the ox cheek was delightful and certainly worth the price, for this was more on the high end of the cost scale. However as mentioned, the quality of the meat made it totally worth every penny. The pie was very filling and the content was packed to capacity, but sadly without it being a fully encased pie it did leave me wishing what could have been. I certainly was left with a lot of meat and no pastry to eat it with quite early on, and while the meat was delicious this pie was screaming out for more pastry! Certainly a recommendation for the chef there, as this could have been one of the highest ranked pies had it been fully encased!

All in all, this pie was at the higher end of the price market, but worth every penny for a great atmosphere and filling to enjoy. There’s not much I can fault with this pie in terms of the delicious filling. It’s just a shame they didn’t execute on the fully encasing pastry to turn this from being one of the best top crusts I’ve eaten, to one of the best pies I’ve eaten.

The Junction Ox Cheek and Red Wine Pie
Score: 5.95/7

continue reading "At the next Junction take the cheeky ox pie to the right..."

Saturday 16 March 2013

The elusive Pietanic Pieminister pie

Pieminister 'Pietanic' pie review

My quest to try every pie in the Pieminister range led me to their Pieminister Leather Lane store. Here they have a lovely wide range of pies, albeit at a bit of a premium price of £6 for a pie and gravy. So you think you've tried the full Pieminister range in the supermarket? Think again. Their supermarket offerings are just the tip of the iceberg. The great thing about the store is that you can find some of their rarer pies that you're less likely to come across in the high street supermarket.

One such 'rarer' pie is the Pietanic fish pie. It contains smoked haddock, salmon, pollock and prawns in a creamy sauce - but the BIG selling-point of this pie is that, unlike most other fish pies that are topped with mashed potato, the Pietanic has a filling that is totally and wholly encased in pastry. Of course, according to the British Pie Awards, this makes it a true pie.

As I've already mentioned, it's £6 for a pie and mash. But seeing as we're a "pie review website" and not a "pie-and-mash review website", I'll tell you that the price for the pie alone is £4.20. This seems to be only a modest mark-up from the £3.50 you'd expect to pay in a supermarket - and you can buy the pies from the Leather Lane store cold for £3.50 too. So £0.70 to have the pie heated and boxed for you seems quite reasonable actually.

Pieminister Pietanic Pie Review
Crispy crunchy pie crust
I really like the look of this pie, and I love the fact that it comes in a take-away box that feels warm in my hands (it's cold outside). The pie is golden, and the condition is good. As I cut through the pie with my wooden take-away knife, I note that the pastry is crispy and crunchy - in true Pieminister style.

I was quite intrigued as to what fish encased in pastry was going to taste like, but it was very nice. The fish tasted fresh, and the sauce was creamy. The pastry was nice and crunchy, and not chewy. The pie was well filled and had good capacity. The consistency Pieminister have shown in producing enjoyable pies is really quite commendable. I have to give them extra points to for not being tempted to top their fish pie with mash.

Pieminister Pietanic Fish Pie
Score: 6.03/7

and let us know your thoughts!

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Friday 15 March 2013

Apple Pie Cookies - A new pie/cookie hybrid?

apple pie cookies
A strudel is not a pie
I saw these Apple Pie Cookies (image coming soon) for sale in a Nisa in King's Cross and couldn't resist trying them for Pierate - especially at the knock-down "special offer" price of £1.00. Anticipation was high. Are they cookies wrapped in pastry? Will I find a gooey apple pie filling hidden away beneath the cookie crust? Are they more cookie than pie?

They're made with "the famous apple strudel recipe", with apple, cinnamon and raisins. Now, last time I checked, an apple strudel was NOT a pie. And a pie was NOT a cookie. So what am I to make of an apple pie cookie made with that "famous" apple strudel recipe?

Well actually they're pretty tasty. They don't really taste like apple pie to me, but they're nice and cinnamony. Unfortunately they don't really represent anything to do with pies at all, given that there's no pastry involved. This is a bit disappointing, as I was drawn in with the hope of finding some exciting pie/cookie hybrid. Nice cookies, but not a pie.

apple pie cookies
A pie is not a cookie

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Thursday 14 March 2013

Life of pi(e) - Mr Kipling Apple Pies on Pi Day

It will probably come as quite a large surprise to hear that the Mr Kipling Apple Pie has not actually been formally reviewed on (it certainly came as a surprise to the Pierateers themselves, when they were trawling trough the archives to celebrate 150 pies reviewed and found only the Mr Kipling Apple & Blackcurrant listed!) and for that, we’re sorry. We’re sorry that we’ve let you, the pie blog reading public, down. We realise you want to know the score when it comes to top pies and for too long we have not informed you whether the apple variety of Mr Kipling’s range really are exceedingly good. I can assure you – they are!

Mr Kipling Apple Pies
Mr Kipling Apple Pies at the Aston University
Charity Cake and Pie Sale for Comic Relief
After all, there’s a reason why they are called the nation’s favourite apple pies (their branding and claim to fame, not mine). Packed full of crisp apple-y goodness, and surely one of your five a day, the Mr Kipling Apple Pie ticks all the boxes and ensures it is the premier portable snack sized fruit pie.

Whether on a roadtrip, at a cake and pie sale, having just played sport, or at a friend’s leaving meal... the possibilities for cracking out a top tasting Mr Kipling Apple Pie are almost endless! And rest assured, while this may be the first time we have officially reviewed this pie, there has certainly been no lack of consumption of this pie in the past 10 years or so (easily pre-dating the creation of the Pierate Blog!) I would make a relatively safe guess that between the Pierateers there have been well over 200 Mr Kipling Apple Pies eaten (often all 6 in a pack eaten in one group sitting), which make this surely the most eaten pie in Pierate history!

Mr Kipling Apple Pies
Pierateer RAS ate 3.14 Mr Kipling Apple Pies for Pi(e) Day
And to ensure we could give you the thumbs up again, Pierateer RAS celebrated National Pi(e) Day in America (14th March - i.e. 3.14 if you write the date American-style) by eating 3.14 Mr Kipling Apple Pies! They sure tasted good! After all, they are exceedingly good pies!

Mr Kipling Apple Pie
Score: 6.42/7

continue reading "Life of pi(e) - Mr Kipling Apple Pies on Pi Day"

Tuesday 12 March 2013

British Pie Week - Day Seven

The final day of British Pie Week aimed to cap off a fine week of pie consumption for Pierateer RAS by also celebrating National Butchers Week, which happened to coincide with British Pie Week (4th to 10th March 2013). Having already picked up a pork pie from his local butchers, Berry Bros in Selly Oak (Birmingham), he was set to give the local produce a rating. We’ve no doubt all heard about the various controversies in the news about supermarket meat produce not always being what it was labelled as, so I was assured to get straight to the source (or at least as close as possible!) buy going to my local butchers for pie, who informed me that it was a local farm seller who produced the pork pies they sold.

However before I review, let me just point out that the final couple of Morrisons Apple Pies went down a treat on Sunday, having one for breakfast and then another to celebrate the end of a fantastic Yonex All England Badminton Championships in Birmingham, hosted once again by Badminton England.

Have a butchers at this: Would it be a Berry good pie?

Going to your local butchers, you hope to have a bit more confidence in getting exactly what it says on the tin, or in the case of this pork pie from Berry Bros in Selly Oak, exactly what is says on the sticker! Unfortunately it didn’t have anything on the sticker, but I was assured this was a locally sourced pork pie from a farmer near the Birmingham area.

The pork pie itself was golden brown, a little soft pastry-wise in places but still nice and fresh. The meat was on the whole very nice, not too grisly but a tad spicy (certainly left a bit of a kick after eating it, unlike some other pork pies I have tried recently). There was also certainly a layer of jelly around the cured meat in the pie, which I wasn’t too fond of but I recognise some pork pie fans would have enjoyed. All in all, a nice and fresh pie option from Berry Bros, but just a shame that they don’t sell meat-in-gravy pies too. I’m Berry disappointed as their pork pies are nice!

Berry Bros Butchers Pork Pie
Score: 4.0/7 (RAS)

So there we have it for Pierateer RAS: seven days, twenty pies and a whole lot of pastry boosted calories! Still, it was worth every second of it! More reviews to come, but for now, I hope everyone had a great British Pie Week and look forward to reviewing more next March!

RAS Pie Count Day Seven: 3
RAS BPW Total: 20

SJL started day seven with another Co-op Apple Pie and a cup of tea for pre-breakfast. A trip to Waitrose the day before meant lunch was planned. A Waitrose Essentials Beef & Onion pie in the same shallow shape the same as the 50p Asda ones reviewed on Day Three and Day Five. This pie cost a fair bit more at 89p but this meant that it contained a whopping 20% meat. The soft puff pastry was very much the same as the Asda ones. The extra meat certainly made a difference and the filling was more noticeable, but not much more. It didn't justify it's extra price tag and so sadly this pie will be left languishing in the bottom of the pie rate rankings. Not bad, but not great for the price and certainly not recommended to bother buying if at all possible. It tasted very similar to a Pukka Pie only not as good. It is interesting but not perhaps surprising to note that the Waitrose cheapest range is more expensive than the Asda standard range and also slightly better.

Later in the day to celebrate the end of British pie week SJL embarked on some pie baking. This time he opted for a much more normal type of pie in the form of a chicken and chorizo pie. The technique adopted was to boil the whole chicken for some hour and half with some onion, celery and seasoning. This made the meat nice and soft and also provided some stock for the filling. The stock was mixed with some fried chorizo and white sauce and a pie filling was born. Gluten free pastry was made especially for the pie. While this tends to be more crumbly and the texture isn't quite as good the taste is fine and the pastry did a fine job of containing the filling. All in all we were quite happy with this pie and the time put into it's preparation was worth it. There was also plenty of pie left over to ensure that while British Pie Week might have come to an end the pie consumption certainly has not.

Waitrose Essentials - Beef & Onion - 3.17

SJL Pie Count Day Seven: 3
SJL BPW Total: 24

Day Seven Total: 6
British Pie Week Total: 50
continue reading "British Pie Week - Day Seven"

Sunday 10 March 2013

British Pie Week - Day Six

The weekend of British Pie Week gave even more time fore pie eating. Upon taking a trip to a Co-op in Ipswich SJL was pleased to find they stocked pies made by a local Suffolk pie company called Hollybush Farm. There was a great selection of pies to choose from but SJL decided that the one that would be best to eat cold was the Onion Marmalade Pork Pie. A bit of a twist on the classic pork pie this pie was a delight to eat. The pastry was crumbly and soft. The filling was not at all chewy or fatty and the onion marmalade gave it a lovely sweet edge. This was one of the best pork pies SJL had tasted and at 99p it was quite good value for a sizeable pie.

While in co-op SJL also grabbed a box of apple pies in order to compare them to their contemporaries in other supermarkets. The day involved a long shopping trip in Ipswich to buy things for a new house which SJL had moved to. SJL was hugely thankful he had the pies as they gave a much needed energy boost. Three were consumed and it must be said they were pretty good. For once these pies actually looked better in real life than on the box! The pastry was soft, the filling sweet and full of apple and there wasn't much air gap in the pies. They also arrived in good condition unlike some of the Morrissons pies reviewed recently....

Hollybush Farm Produce - Onion Marmalade Pork Pie - 5.60/7
Co-op Bramley Apple Pies - Bramley Apple Pies - 4.55/7

SJL Pie Count Day Six: 4
SJL BPW Total: 21

With just two days of British Pie Week remaining, there was no time for Pierateer RAS to start resting on his laurels! However following a nice lie in, there was no need to have a breakfast pie on day six, as RAS went straight into lunch. Of course, the lunchtime menu contained pie. A Tesco Chicken and Bacon Lattice Pie, to be precise. But as much as he would have liked to eat the family sized pie all himself, RAS used this pie eating time as an opportunity to spread the love of pie with his new Italian housemate, Vincenzo. While Vincenzo had eaten a pork pie already in his first month of living in the UK, now that he had just moved in to live with a professional pie eater this was his first op-pie-tunity to try out a full meat and sauce/gravy pie. Vincenzo wasn’t to be disappointed!

Vincenzo and Pie
Vincenzo's "Deliziosa" Pie!
The Tesco Chicken and Bacon Lattice Pie was very good (full review coming soon) and Vincenzo described his first proper pie experience as being “Deliziosa!” Here’s to many more delightful pies in the weeks and months to come!

Following the dinner, Pierateer RAS continued his Morissons Pie consumption with pie number 9 of his boxes of 12, before submitting the review of those pies (which became the 150th and 151st pies to be reviewed on the world’s premier pie blog –!)

 But possibly the highlight of the day was the opportunity that Pierateer RAS had that evening to share the joys of pie blogging with about 200 other volunteers at the Yonex All England Badminton Championships. Following the conclusion of play on Saturday, the volunteers had a buffet and drinks reception, put on by Badminton England. And to his delight, Pierateer RAS was asked to say a few words about pierate as he handed a prize out of official pierate merchandise – a bag of goodies which included a pierate t-shirt, mug, pen and book! The 60 seconds to promote the blog and some useful networking after the event helped make it the biggest audience to date for promoting pierate. It was good networking experience for when the Pierateers go to the British Pie Awards later this year (which we all have down in our diaries for Wednesday 24th April 2013.)

Pierateer RAS then caught up with two university friends (Stu and Helen), to hang out and chat pie, and then met another old university friend at the end of his sponsored 100 mile bike ride. Well done Dan! To celebrate this amazing achievement, Pierateer RAS had his own celebration with a Steak and Kidney Pukka Pie and chips! This was RAS’s 5th Pukka Pie of the year, as part of the Pierateers joint attempt to eat 50 Pukka Pies in 2013 to celebrate 50 years of Pukka Pies!

RAS Pie Count Day Six: 3
RAS BPW Total: 17

Day Six Total: 7
British Pie Week Total: 44

continue reading "British Pie Week - Day Six"

Pork Pie by Pork Farms

This pie review is of a medium sized pork pie from Pork Farms.

Here's a short video on the unwrapping and assessment of the pie in question:

Traditionally, of course, pork pies are served cold, so my quest for pie was not impeded by having to heat the oven up!

As you can see from the video, this Pork Farms pork pie (which I bought from Sainsburys for about £1.80) is a pretty solid affair. Pork pies always seem to deliver highly on the air:filling ratio of the content - although I did note a pocket of air at the top of the pie where the jelly seemed to be absent. The photo below also highlights this fact quite well:

The colour is good, and the crimping is quite pretty. It's hard to assess the quality of the meat because of the mushed nature of the pork that is inherent to pork pies. Overall I enjoyed it, especially with some pickle. I wouldn't be saying anything special about it, however.

Pork Farms Pork Pie
Score: 5.23/7

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Saturday 9 March 2013

Best pie in the world? 150 pie reviews!

Love pie? The pie review food blog has reviewed over 150 pies! Including pies from Pieminister, Pukka PiesMcDonalds, Tesco, Sainsburys, ASDA, Morrisons, Peters, Marks & SpencerWaitrosePiebury CornerMr KiplingUrban Pie, Pieface, Square Pie, Jumbucks, Paul's Pies and many many food outlets...

Pie Blog Reviews Pies Food Pierate

And we certainly have no intention of stopping there - not until we've tried every pie on the planet! 

We've eaten apple pie, steak pie, chicken pie, chocolate pie, venison pie, popcorn pie, fruit pies, pork pies, all kinds of pie crust and even tried our own recipes for pie. We did just celebrate British Pie Week, which was epic, but there's also the British Pie Awards coming up which should tell us the best pie in Britain. However, we want to find and eat the best pie in the world - maybe you can suggest the best pie in the world?

Click here to learn about how we rate our pies according to the Seven Cs...
  1. Colour
  2. Consistency
  3. Capacity
  4. Chewiness
  5. Cheapness
  6. Content
  7. Condition

...and here to see how all 150 pies rank in our pie rankings.

For all the instant pie updates, follow us on Twitter: @pierateers
continue reading "Best pie in the world? 150 pie reviews!"

British Pie Week - Day Five

Another morning, another two Morrisons Apple and Blackcurrant pies for pudding as Pierateer RAS kept up his #piepledge of having a pie a day. However with the Badminton not kicking off until 5pm that evening, there was op-pie-tunity to get a cheeky pie in town with his friend Adam before they went to the National Indoor Arena. And with it being Friday Pieday, there was no excuse for buying anything else for lunch. So after having been out of the pie-eating circuit for a long three hour stint between 10am and 1pm (following dental treatment which involved having a numb mouth for a few hours – not ideal for eating hot pie with!!!), Pierateer RAS was looking for a good pie to test his new filling out on!

Being in the centre of Birmingham, there was really only one option when wanting a top quality pie eating establishment! Urban Pie it was! Heading over to the Bullring, Pierateer RAS noticed that he had the added bonus of being able to cash in on a free pie, as he had eaten enough pies at Urban Pie to qualify for their “eaten 7 pies, get your 8th free!” promotion. Bonus! Choosing the Lamb, Potato and Veg pie with wedges, it sure filled the hole after a long few hours without eating a thing. While it certainly wasn’t the best pie flavour he’d had at Urban Pie (and believe me, he’s had a lot of them!) it was another fine example of fine Gourmet Pie dining with a takeaway edge. The full review will be added in the coming few days.

However there was further pierate news later in the day, as in the evening Pierateer RAS got handed a copy of “The Voluntary View” newsletter produced each day by a guy called James, aimed at summing up the day’s news at the YonexAll England Badminton Championships at the NIA. And low and behold, what should be the main headline of the day?! I’ll leave you to read it yourself!

RAS Pie Count Day Five: 3
RAS BPW Total: 14

With it being PieDay Friday on British Pie Week, Pierateer TJP found it easy to assemble 5 work colleagues and head to Pieminister Farringdon (for the second time this week) for a pie. To attempt to try the whole range, TJP opted for the 'Deerstalker' venison pie. This was a lovely lovely pie, and will score highly when I post the review up soon.

TJP Pie Count Day Five: 1
TJP BPW Total: 6

Using up some of the left over mash and veg from the Piezza SJL took a pie meal to work using an Asda Steak and Kidney shallow puff pastry pie, similar to the Chicken and Vegetable eaten on day three. Again the shallow shape worked against this pie, meaning there seemed to be a lack of filling. The only pieces of meat that SJL could find in this pie seemed to be kidney. At just 50p this pie is cheap but that really is the only thing that is going for it.
To raise his pie spirits and to up the low pie count for the previous two days SJL also finished off two of the mini pork pies from the #onlypiesallowed challenge on Tuesday.

Asda - Steak & Kidney - 2.95/7

SJL Pie Count Day Five: 3
SJL BPW Total: 17

Day Five Total: 7
British Pie Week Total: 37
continue reading "British Pie Week - Day Five"

More-reasons to buy pie at Morrisons?

Morrison's Bramley Apple Pie Review

Morrisons Bramley Apple Pies
Morrisons Bramley Apple Pies
I’m sure we all remember that classic marketing campaign giving us “more reasons to shop at Morrisons” (yeah, I know, it kinda only works when you say it right). Well sadly I don’t ever recall them focusing on their pie provision during that marketing campaign, but it sure would be a reason why I’d visit my local Morrisons store! And that is exactly what I did during British Pie Week, to sample their Bramley Apple and Bramley Apple & Blackcurrant pies. But what could I possibly do with 12 pies all to myself?! Well, eat them all of course! So I’ve slowly been munching my way through all 12 (and also bought a couple of extra boxes to share with friends), meaning these are potentially the most tried and tested pies on to date! Here’s my pielog:

Monday 4th March 2013: 6 Bramley Apple and 6 Bramley Apple & Blackcurrant pies were purchased at Morrisons, on New Street in Birmingham
Wednesday 6th March 2013: 2 Bramley Apple & Blackcurrant pies were consumed for breakfast, followed by 1 Bramley Apple Pie for “elevenses” when I helped at Mums & Tots group and another Bramley Apple Pie when I got back in from the Badminton
Thursday 7th March 2013: 2 Bramley Apple & Blackcurrant pies were consumed for breakfast
Friday 8th March 2013: 2 Bramley Apple & Blackcurrant pies were consumed for breakfast (sadly all gone now!)
Saturday 9th March 2013: 1 Bramley Apple Pie consumed for lunch pudding (3 still to eat)

So with 9 pies consumed before writing this review, I hope all can see that I’m taking no chances with ensuring that the consistency throughout the box of pies is also considered, not just basing my decision on a one-off pie. Here goes then:

My initial reaction when opening my box of 6 Bramley Apple & Blackcurrant pies was sadly one of horror! And you can see why from the photo of these pies (which has also been added to twitter as part of a “spot the difference” exercise in comparing the picture on the box to what I actually got served!) My initial thoughts turned to “pielid-gate” being the potential next issue to hit UK Food Retailers – however you will be pleased to hear that the Bramley Apple pies were in tip top shape.
Morrisons Bramley Apple & Blackcurrant Pies
Morrisons Bramley Apple & Blackcurrant Pies
So once I got over the initial shock of being able to see what was in my pie before I’d had a chance to cut it open with my spoon – perhaps Morrisons were taking the idea of showing you exactly what is in their food a bit too literally! – I have to say I did rather enjoy the pie set before me. The pastry was crisp and not overly sweet, the filling had a delicious balance of berries and puree and the capacity was pretty good for the pies that actually had their lids in the proper place (meaning their filling hadn’t smeared all around the inside of the pie box!) The Bramley Apple pies were likewise very nicely filled, perhaps with slightly overly crunchy pieces of apple at points but generally very well received. I slightly preferred the Bramley Apple & Blackcurrant flavour, however as one of the 7 Cs is condition, I settled on 4.25 for both pies.

I certainly now have more reasons to shop at Morrisons, having found out firsthand how nice their pies are. However, hopefully my next box of Morrisons pies will have their lids firmly in place!

Morrisons Bramley Apple and Blackcurrant
Score: 4.25/7

Morrisons Bramley Apple
Score: 4.25/7


Note:  Following “pielid-gate” mentioned above, I spoke to a very understanding Morrisons Customer Helpline lady for 10 minutes this morning. I went through the issues of being served a pie that didn’t have its lid firmly in place and she agreed that Morrisons would feed this back to their supplier on my behalf. I accepted their apology and the refund vouchers they decided they would send me, though this has in no way affected the score the pie got and the integrity of the blog has not been affected through this kind gesture.
continue reading "More-reasons to buy pie at Morrisons?"

Thursday 7 March 2013

British Pie Week - Day Four

SJL had set aside today as a day to try a pie experiment for British Pie Week. Rumours had circulated for some time on the Pierate Ship that such a creation might be possible but no one had actually seen one in the wild. The legendary Piezza. Half Pizza but all pie. A pie with pizza on top! Why not, it doesn't loose any of the pie goodness but has some additional tomato and cheese goodness on top. This was a vegetable and chicken pie with a pepper, onion and sweetcorn pizza on top. Have a look at the photos from this interesting experiment.

The naked filling and a cute pie funnel!
Pre-oven, from the top it could be pizza!

The depth gives away that there is a pie hidden under there!

Cross-section of the unusual mixture

SJL Pie Count Day Four: 1
SJL BPW Total: 14

Pierateer RAS was continuing his #piepledge of having a pie a day by steadily getting through his box of Morrisons Apple and Blackcurrant pies, with another two pies to kick start the day. A morning trip to the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham for the Yonex All England Badminton Championships 2013 allowed RAS to see some world-class badminton, while also eating a Sainsbury’s crusty bake pork pie for lunch. A light workout on the Badminton practice court with Joshua and Anna in the afternoon was a welcome relief from the hard graft of pie eating without much exercise this week (the sacrifices of a Pierateer!)

Have Sainsbury’s earnt their crust?

As for the pie itself, the Sainsbury’s small bake pork pie was made with cured British pork, as you would generally expect from British supermarkets these days (especially following the Europe-wide meat scandal). The pastry was golden and solid, with no sogginess to report. Inside the filling capacity was very good, with no room for air like some rival supermarket’s equivalent pork pies of this type. The cured meat had a slight kick to it, generally not too gristly and overall a pretty decent standard pork pie. It’s not going to set the world alight, but it’s certainly earned its crust.

Sainsbury’s Small Crusty Bake Pork Pie
Score: 3.95/7 [RAS]

However, perhaps the most exciting pierate development of the day was the proposal for the pierate blog to be included on the volunteer newsletter of the Yonex All England Badminton Championships 2013. This can be viewed by hundreds of volunteers each day! I will keep you posted on whether gets a mention, but following the review of the NIA Apple Pie on Wednesday, I’m hopeful for a fruitful outcome. This is also in addition to some pierate merchandise being included in the volunteers prize draw on Saturday evening, as a thank you for the many amazing volunteers who give up their time to help at the Yonex All England Badminton Championships year after year! I’ll let you know how that goes to!

RAS Pie Count Day Four: 3
RAS BPW Total: 11

Day 4 of British Pie Week and TJP is yet again delving into his emergency supply of Mr Ks. This time, however, he provides the remaining four pies for his housemates to share. TJP's pie generosity means he only scores one pie today.

TJP Pie Count Day Four: 1
TJP BPW Total: 5

Day Four Total: 5
British Pie Week Total: 30

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 "British Pie Week - Day Four"

Making a racquet for the NIA Badminton Apple Pie

Birmingham National Indoor Arena Apple Pie Review

With the world’s top badminton players descending on Birmingham’s National Indoor Arena for the Yonex All England Badminton Championships 2013, it would be a crime not to share Britain’s top pastry product with the visiting world. The fact that the Badminton Championships always coincide with British Pie Week make it an absolute certainly that pie must be served! And the smashing news is that Apple Pie made it on the menu today, providing a top English pudding when all the English Badminton players were sadly struggling to live up to expectations. But let’s not court controversy by over-hyping this apple pie: while it was a tactical display of crunchy apple and crisp short crust pastry, we certainly shouldn’t get carried away that it would be winning the title of pie of the week at the end of the tournament.

NIA Apple Pie
NIA's Apple Pie at the Yonex All England Badminton
For while the serving was packed with chunky apple content and the pastry was on the whole very crisp and tasty, there were a few service faults. Firstly, the apple did not taste particularly fresh and was unnecessarily over-sweetened in my opinion (this may have been a side effect of being sliced up and left in a refrigerated unit for a while). This meant the apple filling was not as delightful as I have experienced in other apple pies recently, which was a shame because the pastry on the whole was very crisp and tasty. There were a few patches of slightly soggy base pastry, but on the whole the pastry was good. It was just the overly crisp and sweet apple filling that let this mixed pair down.

It must however also be acknowledged that the NIA cafe do a great job of providing me my fix of pie during British Pie Week year in, year out (for example, who can forget when British Pie Week fever hit the NIA in 2011?!) While there is a bit of room for improvement in their apple pie, there’s nothing there that a few hours on the practice court wouldn’t fix!

Birmingham National Indoor Arena Apple Pie
Score: 4.2/7


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 "Making a racquet for the NIA Badminton Apple Pie"

British Pie Week - Day Three

Pierateer RAS was not going to let his commitments at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham, for the Yonex All England Badminton Championships 2013, hinder his pie eating progress so far! For having the day off work (the first of three days of annual leave as part of his #piepledge to encourage pie consumption and reviewing), RAS was able to consume three new pies in a day and also promote pie eating to a number of his friend's children (more on that in a blog article soon!)

So let's start at the beginning, with a cheeky couple of Morrisons Apple and Blackcurrant pies to start the day off with. I informed Morrisons of this on twitter - still awaiting a reply - and had a rather disappointed look on my face this morning when I pulled out the following condition of pies:

Needless to say, they won't be scoring that highly on the "condition" criteria, which as we all know is one of the seven Cs.

Fortunately the Morrisons Apple Pies I shared at the City Church Mums & Tots group I helped at this morning were in a far better condition, actually having their lids firmly on their pies this time!!! Both types of pies will be reviewed shortly.

Later in the day, as part of my volunteering at the Badminton I was delighted to share dinner with a nice guy called Tony and a pretty nice pie called Apple. The full article will be added shortly.

I rounded off the day (and tried to get over the disappointment of so many early British exits in the Badminton) by having a second Morrisons Apple Pie, which again fortunately had its lid firmly in the right place!

RAS Pie Count Day Three: 5
RAS BPW Total: 8

After eating a fair few pies for Day 2 of British Pie Week SJL decided to have a bit of a tactical fallow day. It was not however completely pie free. SJL saved the mash, cabbage and gravy from the Canteen pie the day before and had it with an ASDA Chicken and Vegetable individual pie. This were in that slightly oval shape that the cheap supermarket pies always seem to be, such as the Tesco Everyday Value beef and onion pie reviewed recently. I find this shape of pie quite suspicious, they are very shallow and sometimes remind me of that other pastry product the 'slice'.

But how did it taste? Compared to the value range this is a step up. The Tesco Everyday Value pies had around 10% meat where as this standard ASDA pie had a massive 18% meat (although I am not sure if this includes the standard horse meat they include nowadays). It seemed nice enough, the gravy was thick, it certainly taste bad but to be honest I just didn't really even notice eating it. Alongside the mash and gravy there just wasn't enough filling to really discern the flavours and I certainly don't remember eating any bits of chicken. These things really must score against it. However, at just 50p each I'd say these were just about respectable additions to the fridge or freezer.

Asda - Chicken & Vegetable - 3.10/7

SJL Pie Count Day Three: 1
SJL BPW Total: 13

Wednesday lunchtime saw Pierateer TJP head to Pieminister in Farringdon, London for a 'Pietanic' fish pie. Quite often my heart sinks like the Titanic when I see a fish pie encased in potato rather than gravy, but my hopes stayed afloat when I saw that this fish pie was indeed totally encased in pastry. Full review coming soon, but it was delicious.

TJP Pie Count Day Three: 1
TJP BPW Total: 4

Day Three Total: 7

British Pie Week Total: 25
continue reading "British Pie Week - Day Three"

Wednesday 6 March 2013

A uni-versally acclaimed chicken pie

Pie and Mash Night
Pie & Mash night (though the picture is
a bit misleading as it's just a top crust!)
With Aston University’s main cafe – known as CafeTierra for the uninitiated – hosting a regular themed night on Tuesdays during term time, it will come as no surprise that the Pierateers were eagerly hoping that British Pie Week had caught the attention of the powers at be at Aston Uni. And following email correspondence with the CafeTierra manager, it was great to hear that they were all over British Pie Week, hosting a “pie and mash” night on Tuesday of British Pie Week. Naturally I was there at 5pm prompt, as soon as the working day had finished, ensuring I got my hands on a pie. There were three to choose from, but having had a beef and onion before, I went for the Chicken and Mushroom Pie this time. So, was I going to get an education in pie making or would they need to study harder before they put on another pie night? Would I be awarding a 2:2, 2:1 or even a first? There was only one way to find out!
CafeTierra in Aston University, host to "Pie and Mash Night"
 As a regular pie eater, my immediate thought was a surprising lack of golden pastry topping. Upon eating I soon discovered that this certainly did not detract from the flavour of the pie, but I was slightly taken aback by the lack of golden crust. However the pie was packed full of meatilicious content (as all meat pies should be!) and the sauce was delicious. The sauce had a really nice consistency to it, not too runny and smothering the chicken pieces well. The meat was top quality and the sauce complemented the chicken delightfully (joint honours) and was very addictive. The main drawback was that this, like all the other pies on offer at Pie Night, was a top crust and therefore lacking on the pastry front. However for what it’s worth, that did mean the content of the pie was bursting out all over my plate and filled the hole delightfully after a busy day at work.

Chicken & Mushroom Pie
Chicken & Mushroom Pie @Aston University
Overall, I’d give this pie a very high 2:1 in our pie rankings system, with the main feedback being a delicious meaty pie with great sauce, but a significant lack of crisp golden pastry. But the flavour was very nice and I’d certainly have another!

Aston University Chicken & Mushroom Pie
Score: 5.7/7

continue reading "A uni-versally acclaimed chicken pie"

Tuesday 5 March 2013

British Pie Week - Day Two

SJL decided as his pie pledge for British Pie Week to go a whole day eating only savoury pies. No food would be eaten that wasn't encased in pie pastry, which meant no veg or mash with the pies either!

The day began with a pack of 4 Asda Mini Pork and Apple Pies which were consumed on the train into London. The train was quite packed and there was standing room only. Other people looked concerned by SJL's choice of breakfast. However, the pies were noted to be a great choice for breakfast, the sweetness of the apple stopped the pork being too overpowering. There wasn't much fat or gristle detected. The pastry was also not too solid, as it can be for hot water crust pastry. At £1.28 for the pack the price was fairly competitive with the Tesco pork pies reviewed recently.
4 pies eaten @ 50g and 184kcal each

Asda Mini Pork Pie Selection
Upon getting to the office SJL made the error of picking up some free fruit on the way in. Realising this mistake the offending banana was carefully put aside for tomorrow.
Lunchtime came and SJL had a plan. To counteract the heavy pork pies, he headed to The Little Greek Pie Company shop on Tottenham Street where the pies come in filo pastry. Upon arrival SJL was sad to find the shop had closed down, although the pies can still be brought in some other shops. Now desperate for a new pie to review SJL headed to EAT on Tottenham Court Road. What attracted SJL was that EAT proudly advertise that they serve pies, with this fact written about 7 times on the outside of the shop. A Steak & Ale Pie was ordered at £4.15, although SJL was careful to not get the accompanying mash. The pie was satisfying, with the inclusion of some vegetables which was a pleasant surprise. The meat was tender however SJL felt it tastest slightly like it came out of a tin. The pastry was firm enough to eat with your hands but still quite gooey on the inside. However did it do enough to justify the much higher price tag than a standard Pukka pie from a fish and chip shop? Two colleagues also got into the spirit of BPW by grabbing EAT pies along with SJL.
1 pie eaten @ 250g and 670kcal - Total 5 pies eaten @ 1406 kcal

EAT Steak & Ale Pie

The afternoon saw SJL open another two packs of Asda mini pies. Two Asda Snack Cheese & Pickle Lattice Pork Pies were eaten and 1 Asda Mini Pork & Stuffing Pie devoured. One pie was taken along to a meeting as 'brain food'. Both types of pie offered similar pastry to the ones eaten in the morning. However the pork and stuffing was found to be more fatty. All we considered by SJL to be good variations of the standard pork pie. Without the additional flavours this many pork pies would have been sickly. There were excess pies which were offered to colleagues although only one colleague took up the offer. At this point SJL found the taste of pie beginning to seriously repeat on him. Lots of coffee was drunk to try and suppress this.
1 pie eaten @ 50g and 199kcal
2 pies eaten @ 60g and 219kcal - Total 8 pies eaten @ 2043 kcal

The Cheese & Pickle Pork Pie
After leaving the office SJL had a sudden urge for a pie a bit more special than the others consumed so far. The others had been solid performers but there were certainly no gourmet pies. Hence SJL headed to Canteen on Baker Street which had been reviewed before and he knew they served some top London pies. However this is a restaurant so SJL was pleased when they agreed to do a take away pie for him. Unfortunately he didn't realise he was ordering a whole pie meal in a box! This unfortunately came at the standard restaurant price as well. However, this didn't stop the Canteen Celeriac, Mushroom and Leek Pie from being a fantastic pie. The Canteen pies always seem to achieve such a fantastic Colour and Condition. The pastry was gooey on the inside and crispy on the outside. The flavour was unusual but worked well. The crunchy celeriac and the soft mushroom provided good counterpoints to each other. The only downside is that the meal seems quite small for the price, especially when not eating the veg and mash!
1 pie eaten @ ~ 250g and 600kcal - Total 9 pies eaten @ 2643 kcal

Canteen Celeriac, Mushroom and Leek Pie

Arriving home the family had already been tucking into an Asda Chicken & Gravy Pie and Asda Steak & Winter Vegetable Pie so SJL grabbed a couple of slices of the action. At this stage perhaps SJL had just eaten too many pies but these failed to impress. Allegedly the chicken pie had puff pastry but this wasn't noticable as both had quite dry pastry. They were also quite thin so not a lot of Capacity. The chicken pie tasted particularly mass produced. The steak and winter vegetables at least gained some points for doing something a bit different. However there are nicer pies at this price.
1 pie eaten @ 138g and 337 kcal
1 pie eaten @ 138g and 382 kcal - Total 11 pies eaten @ 3362 kcal

The two Asda family sized pies

There were some near misses, at one point SJL accidentally ate some cabbage but this was safely spat out. One noticeable effect was a constant thirst due to the salty pies. But in the end a whole day was covered with only pies eaten and a record number of pies consumed in one day on the Pierate Ship. A learning experience, this showed that other food really isn't necessary. Why isn't everything encased in golden pie pastry?

Asda - Mini Pork & Apple Pies - 4.35/7
EAT - Steak & Ale - 4.25/7
Asda - Mini Pork & Stuffing Pies - 4.30/7
Asda - Snack Cheese & Pickle Lattice Pies - 4.35/7
Canteen - Celeriac, Mushroom & Leek Pie - 5.85/7
Asda - Chicken & Gravy Pie - 3.35/7
Asda - Steak & Winter Vegetable - 3.85/7

SJL Pie Count Day Two: 11
SJL BPW Total: 12

Pierateer RAS feels quite small and insignificant sitting next to SJL’s quite incredible #onlypiesallowed challenge today, but that didn’t stop him attending the Aston University Pie Night put on by Catering@Aston and having a very nice Chicken and Mushroom Pie (see separate review) and also providing Mr Kipling Apple Pies to another three colleagues at work. A number of colleagues had a look at the pie blog and planned to suggest good pies they’d eaten.

RAS Pie Count Day Two: 1
RAS BPW Total: 3

After the enormity of SJLs efforts on Day 2 of BPW, Pierateer TJP feels that the single medium-sized Pork Farm pork pie purchased from Sainsbury's delivered little to the Pierateers accumulated pie total. It was a decent enough pie, however, and the full review will be coming soon.

TJP Pie Count Day Two: 1
TJP BPW Total: 3

Day Two Total: 13
British Pie Week Total: 18

continue reading "British Pie Week - Day Two"