Friday 12 April 2013

When in Wales... eat Rhug Estate Pies!

Rhug Estate Pie Reviews for a range of Steak, Chicken and Cheese Pies

“When in as the Romans do” goes the old adage. Well, I wasn’t in Rome, but I did spend my birthday in Wales. At the New Word Alive Conference in Prestatyn, North Wales, to be precise. So while in Wales, I thought I’d do as the Welsh pie eaters would do and order some top Welsh pies to be delivered to me while on holiday! So having found an award winning welsh meat producer online via the “Wales The True Taste” website, a few emails and phone calls later and the really friendly Rhug Estate Farm Shop manager Ynyr Jones pulled up in Prestatyn with 12 pies for my birthday – the 10 that I had ordered, plus very kindly supplying two free birthday pies. I had to use a lot of self control in waiting for my actual birthday day to consume these pies, which had been delivered a few days prior.
Birthday Pies
Ha-pie Birthday Greetings and Pies!
So... as it was my birthday and as there was a competition at New Word Alive to decorate your chalet (#chaletmakeover), I decided “who wouldn’t want to decorate their chalet with pies?!” Of course, I had my Ha-pie Birthday banners and cards in there to, from family and friends including the awesome NWA Under 5s team I was serving with. It is also worth noting that these pies were eaten as part of a three-pie-course meal on the Monday with good friends (pie starter, pie dinner and pie dessert!) and as part of a City BBQ & pie sesh on the Wednesday.

And talking about serving... let’s get on to serving up the six flavours of Rhug Estate Pie...
Rhug Estate
Firstly, an overview of the pies as a whole, before the more specific pie flavour comments. You could tell these were top, homemade pies as soon as you took the first bite. They were – of course – fully encased, with a clearly defined base, sides and lid. The pastry was golden and the meat and/or cheese inside them were top quality. Like a few pies I’ve eaten recently, I’d recommend that the pieces of meat were cut up into slightly smaller chunks and more evenly dispersed throughout the pie, to avoid having bites of pie containing no meat and others that are overly-meaty. However I could not fault the meat itself, with absolutely no gristle and just tender meaty goodness. The pies were quite shallow though, which did mean there wasn’t as much content as I’d like. The capacity was very strong for the size of the pie, with the meat pieces bursting out of the pie as soon as you cut into it. However due to the shallowness of the pies, this did mean the filling to crust ratio wasn’t quite as strong as it could have been.

That said, the filling that I was presented with was very good. It was a reasonably thick crust (needed to hold in the tender meaty chunks) and with a bit more filling these would be challenging right at the top of the pie rankings. The price was very reasonable indeed (especially considering the delivery to) and I’d happily pay a bit more for a deeper, larger capacity filling to go with the golden crust in future.

So onto the individual flavours:

Steak and Stilton Pie – RAS – 6.10/7
This was the award winning pie amongst the batch, with it winning the Silver Award from the Guild of Fine Food (2004). The mix of cheese and steak was a very nice combination, with the stilton adding to the beef gravy flavour. The steak chunks were very tender and delicious, and with a slightly more even distribution of meat pieces this top pie would be even better, for a mouthful of stilton/beef gravy, without any steak, was certainly a lot less enjoyable! The filling complimented the golden crust well and was my preferred pie on the night.

Steak and Onion Pie – RAS – 5.95/7
The Steak and Onion pie certainly had a strong steak flavour to it and was aided by it being a family sized pie (the others were individual pies). The filling to pastry ratio was therefore a lot better for this family sized pie and the chunks of steak far better distributed. The onion was well concealed within the pie gravy, as opposed to being large chunks of onion. It added to the gravy flavour for those who like onion gravy but did not overpower the steak itself.

Steak Red Wine and Mushroom – RAS – 5.95/7
There was quite a strong mushroom flavour to this pie but the red wine gravy certainly added to this pie’s flavour. The steak was once again lovely and tender and was well complemented by the flavoursome gravy.

Steak and Ale – RAS – 5.75/7
The steak and ale pie was again full of very tender, delicious steak. The ale gravy was good, however nothing spectacular (considering the wide range of steak and ale pies available up and down the country). The ale taste was quite light which meant it did not over dominate the pie flavour, however possibly to the detriment of not really being able to taste the ale much at times.

Chicken Pie – RAS – 4.05/7
The chicken inside this pie was once again very tender and served the pie well. It was a creamy sauce within this pie, rather than the more traditional white wine sauce which frequents many a chicken pie. I personally did not really enjoy the sauce within the pie that much, hence why this flavour doesn’t score as well as the others. I did not feel it complemented the meat like the beef gravies complemented the steak. However the meat and pastry were still very good.

Ruthin Cheese Pie – RAS – 5.10/7
Featuring Llandyrnog Mature Cheddar, you certainly did not miss the cheesy kick you got from a bite of this pie, which did also include potatoes, Swede, carrot and onion amongst other things. Not having had a cheese pie before to compare it to, I was pleasantly surprised with how well it tasted, considering it was a savoury pie with no meat content. However it must be noted that this cheese pie is unfortunately not suitable for vegetarians due to containing lard as an ingredient. Overall, it was a nice tasting piece of pie, but I feel it could get a bit sickly if eaten in too large a quantity.

Overall, a very nice batch of Welsh pies and certainly worth getting them delivered for my birthday. Big thanks to Farm Shop Manager Ynyr Jones for his efforts and hand delivering the pies to me. Do pop by the Rhug Estate if you’re in the area on holiday! (A good stopping point if you’re on your way to Snowdonia National Park!)

Rhug Estate Pie Reviews – range of Steak, Chicken and Cheese Pies
Scores ranging from 4.05/7 to 6.10/7


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