Friday 30 August 2013

We Try The Pie Before You Buy

Square Pie Canapies Reviews

Square Pie are the friend of the pie fanatic, especially those who find themselves loosing their minds amongst the retail madness of the twin Westfield shopping centres London now finds itself with. What's more, you will find these pie establishments open until 10pm on some evenings. At this time there are unlikely to be any other restaurants still serving pies. The score of a pie is somewhat relative. For example a very hungry pie fanatic would find an average pie much more satisfying than normal. It is like this for Square Pie. When theirs are the only pies still available they are much more valuable. After all some pie scores infinitely more than no pie.

So a late night trip to Stratford meant I naturally had to pay Square Pie a visit. I had been before of course as they were the location for our 100th pie review. Something new caught my eye this time. It seemed that there were some new mini pies on offer. They were called Canapies - which is so punny I am surprised we didn't come up with it.

For sure these mini pies were cute but were they going to be satisfying? I picked up a Steak & Guinness and a Chicken & Mushroom at the £2.80 for two price. Quite good for London restaurant prices but these were very small pies.

However, the Steak and Guinness seemed to have far too much pastry, in my opinion, which meant I could hardly even taste the filling, let alone tell you how good it was. It was also quite dry. The chicken & mushroom was fortunately a quite a lot better. It wasn't so dry and I could taste both the chicken and mushroom. However, I think format just doesn't work with these pies; there is just too much pastry to filling. Maybe if Square Pie made these slightly bigger we could have an ideal snack pie. No doubt the filling is very tasty when you have enough of it.

If you do find yourself desperate for a late night pie, we think it's better to just go for the full sized options, which we have already found not to disappoint.

Chicken and Mushroom Canapie (Square Pie)


Steak and Guiness Canapie (Square Pie)



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

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Thursday 29 August 2013

Suffolk-ate In Pie Leaderboard

Suffolk Pie Reviews 

Click here for the latest 'Best Pies In Suffolk' Leaderboard

I am really glad to have had the opportunity to spend some time living in the Suffolk countryside. I grew up on a farm in Buckinghamshire and had always felt I was from the countryside. However in Suffolk the countryside is so much quieter, you can spend hours walking or cycling barely seeing another soul. It was here that I feel I discovered the quintessence of English countryside. Thatched cottage, medieval villages, windmills, cricket matches outside the castle, Suffolk has everything I expected, but never really found, England to have.

Cricket outside Framlingham Castle

Suffolk was recently given an award which recognised how well it embodies Englishness. The Pie Kitchen from Bury St Edmunds received the best pie award at the British Pie Awards 2013. The Pie Kitchen are a small producer and this seems to be typical of Suffolk, there are many different small producers in butchers, bakeries and farm shops all making ‘craft pies’ which is great to see. I have gathered a few of these pie reviews together to see which pie can win the title of Pierate Suffolk Pie Champion.  

Country Pies

Suffolk not only produce award winning pies they are also famous for fantastic beer. Broadside is brewed by Adnams to commemorate the battle of Sole Bay in 1672. It is one of my favourites so I was delighted to find a Steak & Adnams Broadside Ale pie made by Country Pies in a local farm shop. It weighed in at £2.75, the most expensive of these Suffolk pies. It was also one of the smallest, being a bit too shallow for my liking so it would have to do a lot to make up for being relatively bad value. This pie had the best Colour of any in this Suffolk review and a nice pastry cross on it. I liked to think this was an ‘X marks the spot’ for where to start digging for a pie filling to treasure. As I started to dig with my fork I found tender and tasty meat and the filling took up all the (relatively small) Capacity. However, the filling was just a little too bland to make up for this pie being so expensive. Such a shame as the Adnams ale should have left it bursting with flavour.

Steak & Adnams Broadside Ale (Country Pies)


Country Pies

Steak & Adnams Ale

Jackson's Bakery (Saxmundham)

I was pleased to find a traditional bakery in my local town of Saxmundham and even more pleased to find that they sold a range of pies. I had my eyes firmly fixed on the last Steak and Kidney in the shop. However in grabbing the pie the proprietor promptly dropped the pie on the floor. Given that she picked it up quickly and within the ‘3 second rule’ for food being on the floor  I said I would eat it anyway. However she wouldn’t take any money for it so this pie was technically of infinite value! However I am scoring it based on the standard, fairly cheap, price of £1.10. You can see from the picture it was only slightly squashed and certainly better Condition than many pies I have paid for. Upon cutting into this pie there was a delicious thick gravy which stayed in the pie because it had such viscosity. There did seem to be a bit of a lack of meat, with only small pieces being visible. The pastry was nice, however, for some reason there was a bit of an overhang of pastry at the top. This part was a bit dry and, given that this pie was quite shallow, it meant that there was a bit too much pastry compared to filling. Still, this pie was decent value.

Steak & Kidney (Jackson's Bakery [IP17 1AG])


Jackson's Bakery - Steak & Kidney

Hollybush Farm

I was quite excited to find a Hollybush Farm Steak and Ale pie in my local co-op as I had tried one of their Pork & Onion Pies during British Pie Week and found it to be excellent. This pie had a lovely gooey pastry, which was nice and soft and was probably the best pastry in this review. The gravy was also fantastic, lovely and thick, similar to the Jackson's Bakery pie. This pie seemed to be onto a winner if only the meat had been better quality. I found a big piece of gristle in mine and in general it was a bit too chewy. Such a shame.

Steak & Ale (Hollybush Farm)


Hollybush Farm

Steak & Ale


This Chicken & Ham pie was £1.85 from Goulborns in the lovely town of Bungay. It was one of the better ones in this competition because the filling was so nice. The ham must have been smoked because the filling had a very smokey, satisfying taste and was anything but bland. There was plenty of good quality chicken which filled the Capacity without leaving much air space. However, what stopped this pie from winning the Suffolk competition was the fact that it was slightly dry. Not a lot of gravy, combined with crunchy pastry stopped it sliding down quite as smoothly as it should have done. Again, like the Johnson pie there was a bit of an unnecessary overhang of pastry at the top. However, it was a good value pie and one I would buy again in a flash.

Chicken & Ham (Goulborns)



Chicken & Ham

C. A. Palmer & Son
Halesworth is a lovely town which has national cycle route 1 (from Dover to the Shetland Islands) passing right along the high street. This is the perfect place to stop and pick up some pies from the local Butchers C. A. Palmer & Son. One of the great things about pies is that they seem to have cross over between the skills of bakers and butchers and are often available in both. C. A. Palmer pies do actually come frozen in a pack of two for £3. I was a bit sceptical about the fact they were frozen, but then my colleague RAS did find some iced gems in Iceland recently. I was reassured by the fact that these pies were advertised as being hand made on the premises. I picked up a couple of Steak & Stilton pies which has a nice ‘SS’ shaped vent which made them look a treat. I was glad that I wasn’t above buying frozen pies because these were excellent . The pastry was (mostly) gooey and soft, the meat tender and the gravy lovely and thick. It reminded me of my favourite pie from Kings Farm in Buckinghamshire. I have only minor criticism of this pie which stopped it getting the same kind of score as Kings Farm. Firstly, I couldn’t really taste the Stilton although it still tasted great. Secondly, some of the pastry around the top was a bit dry. This doesn’t stop it from gaining a high score.  

Steak & Stilton (C. A. Palmer & Son [IP19 8AH]

C. A. Palmer - Steak & Stilton

So the scores in the table below show that C. A. Palmer are the clear winner with a highly recommended and great value pie. This makes them the current Pierate Suffolk Pie Champions. However, the real winner here was pie. There were no pies which were actually bad and it is so good to see so many small pie producers around in Suffolk. If you know of any other small pie producers in the county then let us know by tweeting @Pierateers, they still have the chance to get onto the Suffolk-ate In Pie Leaderboard!

Suffolk-ate In Pie Leaderboard

Pie Producer Flavour Score
C. A. Palmer & Son, Halesworth Steak & Stilton 5.94
Hollybush Farm, Buxhall Onion Marmalade Pork Pie 5.60
Goulborns, Bungay Chicken & Ham 5.47
Hollybush Farm, Buxhall Steak & Ale 4.96
Jackson's Bakery, Saxmundham Steak & Kidney 4.75
Satis House, Yoxford Rabbit & Bacon 4.29
Country Pies, Capel St Mary Steak & Adnams Broadside Ale 4.03

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Tuesday 27 August 2013

The gift of a Tesco Steak Pie

Tesco Pie Review for their individual Steak Pie

It’s lovely to receive gifts. And better still, to receive the gift of pie! So after a busy period at work, what a delight to find on my desk a thank you card, some chocolate and – most intriguingly – a pie to eat and review, as a thank you for the work I’d done. Of course there was a slight catch... my colleagues wanted me to post up the review of the pie ASAP on! But they know me well enough to know that wouldn’t be a problem! So a big thank you to Anne, Claire, Millie and Rhiannon for the generous pie gift, which was an individual Tesco Steak Pie.

Pie gift
Thank you pie!
Tesco Steak PieThe question is, how did the pie rate? Well the pie came out of the oven a dark golden brown colour, with crisp flaky puff pastry on top. There was a nice crisp cut through the top pastry which highlighted a decent capacity as the steak pieces oozed out of the pie. As quite a shallow pie you would expect a decent capacity – though it would be more pleasing to have a slightly deeper pie – however it was good to see plenty of steak and no other content to pack out the filling. The steak was very tender, which was good to see for a lower cost pie (who often suffer from poorer quality meat), though the steak was a bit chewy in places. The gravy complimented the steak well, though the “rich glossy gravy” quote on the packaging feels a little extravagant for what was provided. The main drawback was a slightly soggy bottom to the pie, detracting from the condition as the short crust pastry was slightly soft. While it didn’t affect the flavour too strongly and meant the pie wasn’t dry (in my opinion, a far worse crime!), it did let down a rather pleasing value pie.

All in all, while too small and shallow to make a proper dinner, this was a decent snack pie at a very decent price (even if paying for it, rather than it being a gift!), a great little pie gift for your pie loving friends.

Tesco Steak Pie
Score: 4.75/7


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

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Monday 26 August 2013

Not All Pies Are Created Equal

Selfridges Pie Reviews

One thing that intrigues me about the world of pies is how varied they can be and I don't just mean in terms of filling. There can be enormous variation in price too. A value, individual sized pie can set you back as little as 50p but then an individual premium pie can cost the best part of £4. How can there be such a disparity in cost? In reality a value pie is often half the size and would often have quite an air gap inside the pastry so you are getting much less pie for your money. There will also tend to be a lot of sauce in a value pie to make up for lack of meat which clearly impacts on the taste. One thing is for certain, not all pies are created equal. But does paying 8 times as much give you a pie that is 8 times better? Certainly not, there is only so much you can do to improve what is an already fine product, spending more might get something a bit better but it will inevitably follow the law of diminishing returns.

In our pursuit of pie perfection we must try them all, cheap and expensive, in order to tell you which pies are good enough for you to spend your hard earned cash on. Today I have visited the top of the food chain, Selfridges Foodhall on Oxford Street to see if they really are worth the price tag. We reviewed one of their pies before and found that it certainly offered an experience you couldn't find elsewhere due to a unique flavour.

One pie review is really just the tip of the iceburg of what Selfridges have to offer. A pie counter greets you with ample selection and someone on hand to box up whatever pie takes your fancy. There are a few different pie makers represented so quite a variety of types of pie. I like that the pie counter allows you to see exactly what Condition the pies are in before buying. However I was disappointed that the serving lady could not tell me more about where the pies were made. I decided to get two pies which promised to be quite different from the usual fare and from each other. I opted for a Spicy Cauliflower, Spinach & Lentil Pie and a Applewood Smoked Bacon & Egg.

I hadn't quite realised how much a premium pie was going to set me back. There didn't seem to be any pies below £3.49 and in total, two pies cost me £7.49 which shows inflation has hit since we last visited. These pies certainly had to be very good in order to justify their price tags.

First up, the Spicy Cauliflower. This was a text book premium pie. Unusual flavour, soft gooey pastry, a nice height to ensure good Capacity and filled to the brim with Content. It looked a fantastic colour and was even decorated with small seeds. This tasted like a proper curry from a restaurant except it was in a pie. Normally curry pies have a generic chip shop curry sauce taste and no depth of flavour. However this pie was full of flavour from the variety of different spices used. The curry flavour complemented the pastry well. The pastry seemed slightly adapted to taste more Indian, I thought it might contain gram flour. The filling was very soft so that it require almost not Chewing at all. This meant it slipped down a treat but perhaps lacked the satifying texture of a meat pie. Despite this minor critiscism I would go as far as to say it is the best curry pie I have ever had. At £3.49 this was expensive, but worth buying.

Secondly the Applewood Smoked Bacon and Egg. I didn't really understand what applewood smoked meant but it is does what it says on the tin, bacon which is smoked by burning wood from apple trees. As far as I can tell this adds pretty much nothing to the quality of the bacon and is just a marketing gimmick. That pretty much sums this pie up. It looked great, cooked well, was packed with content but ultimately it just didn't taste good enough to me to justify costing £3.99. I would go as far as to say this was a below average pie. I felt it was fairly dry pastry, which wasn't helped by a complete lack of sauce. Instead egg was used to hold the chunks of bacon together. True, the smoked bacon gave it a lovely strong flavour but because of the dryness I soon got fed up of eating it. It was a bit like eating a quiche that someone had put a pastry lid on. Not what I was expecting when paying this price. I have since found out that this is made by Timmy's Pies a local London pie producer, who probably sell it for much less at their own market stalls. However, I can only judge it as I find it and despite not tasting bad at this price it was not something I would ever buy again. Unfortunately this means a low score.

A real contrast there shows that you really have to be careful when buying a premium pie. If only there was a website where someone had tried all the pies for you so you knew which ones were good before spending your money.....

Spicy Cauliflower, Spinach & Lentil Pie (Tom's Pies/Selfridges Foodhall)


Applewood Smoked Bacon & Egg (Timmy's Pies/Selfridges Foodhall)



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

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Thursday 22 August 2013

Mother Knows Best

Mother Mash, Chicken & Mushroom Pie Review

Mother Mash have created a bit of a buzz around the blogosphere so I felt obliged to check them out. Specialising in that old British tradition of mashed potato they have more varieties of mash than I knew existed. There is mash with cheese, mash with horseradish and Irish mash with cabbage called colcannon. It was great to have such a choice of mash but it is never going to be a meal in itself. The reason I was visiting was of course because of the healthy choice of pies on offer to go with the mash. They also specialise in sausages. Sausages are of course a fine institution but you’ll be pleased to know they get no further mention in this review because I have my eyes firmly focused on the pies.

The restaurant has a nice ambiance and I love the wooden booths they have, just like a traditional London Pie and Mash shop. Unfortunately our first choices of Aberdeen Angus Steak Pie and Chicken, Leek & Mushroom Pie were sold out. I guess this only goes to show how popular they are! In the end we settled for a Minced Beef Pie and a Chicken & Mushroom Pie of the day. Because they had sold out of our pie flavours they gave us some free peas, how nice.

I was very excited when I found out there was a choice of FIVE gravies which is something I haven’t seen before. This was a very nice touch as the significance of gravy is often overlooked. Choosing the right gravy to go with your pie is as much of an art as choosing a complimentary wine. It is, unfortunately, normally the case that a pie is just supplied along with very generic gravy so as to be utilised alongside a variety of dishes.  

They say the first bite is with the eye. In that case my first bite was lip smackingly delicious. These pies arrived in a wonderful traditional style without trying to do anything fancy. Presented tilted on a bed of mash with oodles of gravy these pies wouldn’t have looked out of place in an art gallery as a pair of timeless classics. They didn't have a perfectly consistent Colour but I liked this, it gave them a hand made appearance rather than a manufactured appearance. Pies like this have been served for generations in London Pie and Mash shops. Some of my ancestors are Londoners and I like to imagine they would have tucked into similar meals generations ago and it is nice to have that continuity in an ever changing world.

Okay, so these pies looked beautiful but you can’t judge a pie by it’s cover, it really is what's on the inside that counts. As I disembowelled my Chicken & Mushroom pie the large chunks of meat were as plain as the nose on my face. In fact they were a pretty similar size to my nose (which is no mean feat if you have ever met me). The sauce inside the pie was lovely and thick and had a lovely rich chicken taste. I couldn’t really taste the mushroom at all, however I am not much of a fan of the edible fungus so I wasn’t too disappointed. The outside was pastry perfection, crunchy on the outside while gooey on the inside. My pie was complimented well by the liquor I had with it with it which is a cross between gravy and parsley sauce. This was again very reminiscent of the pie I had at L. Manze in Walthamstow a traditional pie and mash shop.

Overall, at £10.50, this pie is priced competitively for central London. In terms of the quality of the pie meal it was comparable to my current favourite of Canteen. However, this pie was cheaper, hence a very high score and currently my favourite restaurant pie in London.

Chicken & Mushroom (Mother Mash) 


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

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Sunday 18 August 2013

What is a pastilla?

Essaouira is perhaps better known for its military architecture
While Essaouira in Morocco might be more famed for its dramatic coastline and 18th-Century fortifications, I took the opportunity to savour another world heritage - a pastilla. You can get them all throughout the North African country, so visiting Essaouira isn't essential to sample one - but it's good if like to eat your dinner while feeling protected from military invasion.

What is a pastilla? It's a classic Moroccan dish - essentially a sweet and savoury pie. Traditionally the pie is made of fledgling pigeons - but these days pigeons are apparently hard to get hold of (they've clearly never visited Trafalgar Square), so the Moroccans tend to use shredded chicken instead. The meat is all wrapped in thin and cripsy werqa dough and topped with cinnamon and almonds.

I ordered a pastilla from a restaurant in Essaouira which I have unfortunately forgotten the name of. The pastilla was delivered to me proudly by the chef - and what a masterpiece it was! This is certainly one of the more ornate presentations of a pie that I've seen. There is a real infusion of sweet and savoury here - and the oranges make this quite the show-stopper. Inside is shredded chicken that has been slow cooked in spices.

morocco pastilla
A pastilla

I won't be reviewing the pastilla, because it's not really a pie. However, I will say it was very tasty and I highly recommend you try one if you visit Morocco.


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Look Mum No Hands!

Today's pie review comes from the Look Mum No Hands! bar - a bicycle-themed bar in Shoreditch, London. I was there for a charity quiz, and was doing wheely badly (perhaps I was two tyred) when a pie passed across the corner of my vision. I jammed the brakes on. "They do pies here!" I exclaimed to my team-mate Ben, who knows of my interest in the pastry-based items. And before I knew it, Ben had peddled off to the bar to order me one. Thanks Ben!

The pie arrived, and here it is:

chicken pie look mum no hands
Quite an attractive pie
As you can see, the pie is not the largest but it does look quite attractive and home-made, and pleasant to handle. There is a dashing of herbs on the top, and the pie has a nice glazed pine appearance. However I would prefer the colour of the pie to be a little darker and richer.

Look mum no hands pie review shoreditch
Look Mum No Filling
My adrenaline was pumping as I punctured my way through the pastry, but I spoke too soon. It was all downhill from there. Just look at the pitiful amount of filling. There were about 3 chunks of chicken in this pie. This pie is going to have a real mountain to climb if it is to recover from such a poor capacity rating.

Already saddled with a low capacity score, does the pastry take the pie up a gear? Sort of. The pastry is very intriguing. It's neither shortcrust nor puff, and it's very light and delicate. The filling - what there is of it - does actually taste very nice.

The pastry and pleasant tasting filling are good redeeming features here, but the poor capacity leaves this pie still stuck in a rut.

Look Mum No Hands! Chicken pie review
Score: 4.98/7
Many thanks to Ben for the pie
continue reading "Look Mum No Hands!"

Wednesday 14 August 2013

Pies and Football - They think it's all over... it is now!

Best Football Pie: A review of pies and football - a match made in heaven!

With the English Football Association clebrating 150 years (and Pierate celebrating over 200 pies reviewed), we thought there was no better association in football than with the good old pie! So to celebrate the FA's historic England v Scotland football fixture and with the Premier League football season about to kick off, we thought we'd take a trip down memory lane to remind ourselves of some of those top football pies (and a few to avoid as well!)

After all, what else do you want to warm your hands and heart during half-time of a mid-winter football league battle than a meat pie? Or any other football match, for that matter! Pies are the staple of a football half-time.

Pukka Pie at Half Time
A Pukka Pie at the last match at Underhill (Barnet FC v Wycombe Wanderers)
And where else can you start than the definition of half time pies - Pukka Pies. Celebrating 50 Pukka years this year, if 100 people were surveyed on "Name a pie brand you eat at the footie", there would only be one winner. Pukka Pies hit the back of the net every time! They don't break the bank and can be seemingly found in and around most grounds up and down the country, so it's a great effort from all the lads in the Pukka marketing department!

But there are plenty of other football pies out there, as our leader board shows, so why not take a look at them? They include the top ranked (making our top 5!) football pies from down at Piebury Corner in London, which not only sell on match days but also have their own pie deli on Holloway Road and Potts' Pies, which football pie expert and author of "92 pies" Mr Tom Dickinson highly recommends, alongside the award winning pies currently sold at Morecambe FC's ground!

The full football pie leader board to date is as follows and all can be found in our full pie rankings:

1) Piebury Corner Pies - a wide range of football star flavours - 5.15/7 to 6.5/7
2) Morecambe FC Pies - a wide range of top meaty flavours sold at Morecambe FC - from 5.86/7 to 6.34/7
3) Potts' Pie - previously sold at Morecombe FC and no.1 football ground pie according to Tom Dickinson (football pie expert and author) - 5.9/7
4) Peter's Steak Pie - eaten at the Olympics footie - 5.75/7
5) Peter's Premier Steak and Fuller's Pie - 5.2/7
6) Shire Steak and Kidney Pie - 5/7
7) Pukka Pies All Steak - 4.6/7
8) Westside Heritage Steak Pie - just couldn't keep up! - 1.25/7
9) Firkin's Steak and Ale Pie - definitely relegation material! - 1/7

And who can forget these footie related pie news items?

The BBC ran a very interesting article about the true cost of your footie pie - handily summarised in the Half time pie graphic. Or how about Gillingham FC have a pie shaped heart! - showing the only way you can really commend the visiting away fans! Or reminiscing about Portsmouth's financial misfortunes in Pukka Pies await £40 from football club - one of the most bizzare football payments to get in debt over!

Whatever you do this coming football season, don't forget your HALF TIME PIE!

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Sunday 11 August 2013

It’ll be Paul right on the night – Pierate Pie Contest

The lowdown on what happened at the first ever Pierate Pie Contest. Following the pie contest overview, a summary of all the pies and the pie contest video, the final post reviews the Paul’s Pies “Wild Venison and Mushroom” pie sampled on the night at the contest but then eaten in full the next day for this review.

Paul's Pies
Paul's Pies
There was no denying that the first ever Pierate Pie Contest kicked off in style with a main course of Paul’s Pies. With a selection of Wild Venison and Mushroom, Steak and Guinness, Chicken and Mushroom and Veggie Homity pies, there was certainly no lack of pie to whet the ap-pie-tites of the guests. Comments the guests made included “awesome pies”, “best pies I’ve eaten” and “pie-fection”. In fact, the main challenge was to remind people to leave some room as there were plenty more pies to come later in the evening!

But after the pie contest had come and gone, and the hall was returned to normal, there was one pie which had intentionally been left for a full review. And after all that pie on the Friday night, what else was Pierateer RAS going to eat on Saturday than another pie?!

Paul's Pies Box
Paul's Pies Box
So with the Paul’s Pies Wild Venison & Mushroom pie removed from its lovely purple box and heated in the oven, it was time to give the full pie a review. The condition and colour was brilliant and golden, with the Suet pastry glimmering and the trademark spikes nice and crisp. Cutting through the reasonably thick pastry, the contents slowly oozed out but you can tell from the photo it was well packed to capacity. In fact, you could see why the pastry needed to be quite thick to hold it all in, but fortunately the pastry wasn’t too overpowering. The content was very good, with a nice rich venison flavour complimented well by the mushroom, onion and gravy. There were certainly some good, meaty chunks of venison throughout the pie, though slightly over packed with alternative content.

Paul's Pies Venison & Mushroom
Paul's Pies Venison and Mushroom
At £3.75 this is a pretty reasonable price for a pie of clear quality. The ingredients were top quality and certainly worth another delivery! Thanks to Paul’s Pies for providing them for us.
Paul’s Pies Wild Venison and Mushroom
Score: 6.15/7
continue reading "It’ll be Paul right on the night – Pierate Pie Contest"

Monday 5 August 2013

A list of pie contests around the world

Our mission at Pierate is to find the best pie in the world and promote great pie making. Therefore we like to keep up to date with all the pie contests and pie awards that happen globally. Here is a list of the pie contests that are taking place around the world. If you're holding a pie contest, or know of a pie contest not listed - however big or small - let us know by leaving a comment! This list will be updated as we hear of new contests.

United Kingdom

British Pie Awards
This event, run by the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie Association, is one of the biggest in the UK. Their famous definition of a pie is "a filling totally encased in pastry." The awards aim to celebrate the heritage of the British pie.

World Pie Eating Championships
Located in Harry's Bar, Wigan (often seen as the UK pie capital), the World Pie Eating Championships tests how many pies competitors can eat in an allotted time. The contest has been running since 1992.

The Hop Annual Pie Eating Contest
The Hop in Sheffield has held a pie eating contest two years' running, in tribute to British Pie Week. Teams of four compete in a 'pie relay' to eat four pies in the quickest time.

Pierate Pie Contest
The first Pierate Pie Contest was held in Birmingham in July 2013. Following the success of its maiden event, organisers plan to repeat the event again, perhaps in the cooler winter months.

Scotch Pie Club Awards
Celebrating the traditional Scotch pie, these annual awards attract hundreds of entries. The pie competition is supported by Scottish Bakers and the Scottish Federation of Meat Traders, and the winning pie is crowned the best Scotch pie in the world.

EBLEX England's Best Steak Pie Award
These awards are for retail butchers, caterers and pie manufacturers who make steak pies. 

United States

Annual Good Food Pie Contest
2013 will see the 5th KCRW Annual Good Food Pie Contest, held in Los Angeles. "Home cooks and professionals alike will be judged by some of LA's best chefs and food writers - a list that includes Moby as one of the judges." This year there are 7 categories: Fruit, Nut, Cream/Chiffon/Silk, Savory, Vegan, LACMA Art-Inspired Pie and a children's section.

Annual Bucktown Apple Pie Contest
This year will be the 9th Annual Bucktown Apple Pie Contest. The contest is a fundraiser for Holstein Park, Chicago. The judges rate the pies according to the following percentages: Appearance: 10%; Filling & Crust 40%; Overall Flavor/Taste: 50%. Only double-crust apple pies allowed.

American Pie Council Crisco National Pie Championships
The APC Crisco National Pie Championships take place in Orlando. The event attracts amateur pie makers alongside professional chefs and commercial pie companies from around the country and Canada. Category winners can scoop several thousand dollars.

Wayne County Fair Pie Contest
Wayne County Fair, New York state, holds an annual pie contest. Pies are then auctioned off to raise funds for the fair.

Northampton Tuesday Market Pie Contest
Northampton Tuesday Market holds an annual pie contest and pie bake sale.

Pie Town Pie Festival Pie Contest
Pie Town, New Mexico, holds a pie contest as part of their pie festival. Criteria judged include overall appearance, crust and taste.


Official Great Aussie Pie Competition
The Official Great Aussie [previously Meat] Pie Competition is held at alternating locations in Melbourne and Sydney. Run by the Australian Pie Council, the event attracts "thousands of entries" from bakers across Australia. The word "meat" was removed from the title to encompass the gourmet pie category.

New Zealand

Bakels Supreme Pie Awards
The 2013 event attracted 4500 entries - the highest number of pies to be entered in the 17 year history of the awards. 19 judges first assess the aesthetics of the pies before whittling down the numbers for the taste-test round. There are 12 categories and an overall supreme winner.
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Birmingham's Best Pie Recipes - Pierate Pie Contest

Watch the video to see some of the goings-on at the first Pierate Pie Contest, held on 26th July 2013 in Birmingham, UK. So many different pie recipes - steak pie, chicken pie, apple name it - and so much pie crust!

And of course you'll be dying to know who won... click here to find out!
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Sunday 4 August 2013

Stars in their pies! - Pierate Pie Contest

The pies of the first ever Pierate Pie Contest.
Following the pie contest overview, this post references the pies and inaugural Pierate Pie Contest winner!

Having enjoyed a hearty pie dinner thanks to the delicious Paul’s Pies sent to us for the main course, it was time for the actual pie contest itself to begin!
Pierateer TJP had already gone through the 7 Cs marking criteria with the pie contest guests and so we were ready to crack on with the pies! Who would win the Pierate People’s Choice Pie Award 2013?

Niclasen's Apple Pie
Niclasen's Apple Pie (4th & top sweet pie)
The first to be eaten were the “Meatless Masterpiece Pie” (which was impressively gluten free as well as vegetarian, to cater for specific diets) by Victoria and the Ogborne’s Chicken and Leek pie. Both made a good first impression on the pie diners. This was followed by two shop-bought pork pies eaten cold, namely the “Cheesy Pig” (Pork and Stilton) and Pat’s Pork Pie. Pat’s Pork Pie got a very decent score of 5.75/7 to win the accolade of best shop bought pie. We Pierateers will have to try and get our hands on this pie for a proper full review one day!
The wild pies came out next, produced by the Pierateers themselves and with quite an unbeknown quantity to them. The first was the “Springbok ‘n’ roll pie”, which as the name suggests included pieces of Springbok meat alongside the more traditional mixed vegetables and chicken gravy. Following that came the “Beast from the East (side of Africa) pie”, which of course contained Wildebeest meat alongside sweet potato, mix vegetables and beef gravy. These were certainly the first times that we are aware these two flavours of pie have been eaten and reviewed! The meat was purchased from and both received quite mixed score reviews, with the Springbok edging things with a 5.17/7 average (but the only 7/7 of the whole evening!) compared to the Wildebeest scoring 4.79/7. Pierateer RAS was pretty pleased with that effort considering he is certainly more of a pie eater than pie maker! As for the taste, the Wildebeest was strongly beef-like but not overly chewy with Springbok a bit lighter and more gamey. Certainly not as rich as venison (as a deer comparison) and not as beef-like but still within that meaty area!

These were followed by a filo pastry “Spinach and Goats Cheese pie” by “Chrissy the Terrible” and “Kevlaaarrgh” providing a “Poacher’s Pie” (Sausage and Leek). As well as putting in the effort with good Pirate names, they had clearly put in the effort in preparing the pies with two top scoring efforts which went down well with the pie contest guests.

Poachers Pie
The “Poacher’s Pie” by Kevlaaarrgh (2nd)
A Beef and Sweet Potato pie by Mr Harvey – highly commended for its free-standing full encasement of pastry (i.e. without the support of a pie dish) – and potato topped Gammon and Leek Pie by Gloria rounded off the savoury pie selection.

The homemade sweet pie of the evening was provided by the Niclasens (and I am told the children handpicked the apples to go in it, so a real family effort!) and was a strong contender come the final scores. The night was rounded off with a couple of shop bought sweet pies – namely the Sainsbury’s Bramley Apple Pie (reviewed on this blog previously) and a Becketts Farm Blackberry and Apple Pie.

So with no further ado, the scores were collated (out of 7 of course) and the results of the Pierate Pie Contest 2013 People’s Choice vote are as follows:

4th Place: Niclasen’s Apple Pie (5.36/7)
3rd Place: Gloria’s Gammon and Leek Pie (5.5/7)

2nd Place: Kevlaaarrgh’s “Poacher’s Pie” (Sausage and Leek) (5.51/7)
And the winner is...

Spinach and Goats Cheese Pie
 Chrissy the Terrible's Filo pastry Spinach and Goats Cheese Pie (1st)
1st Place: Chrissy the Terrible's Filo pastry Spinach and Goats Cheese Pie (5.99/7)

In summary: 13 pies, 11 hot, 2 cold, 8 savoury, 3 sweet, 1 epic pie night!

Thanks so much to everyone who took part, particularly those who entered homemade pies which truely had stars in their pies! But whether baking, eating or scoring pies, it was a great night and we hope to one day do it all again!
And arrrgh winner is... "Chrissy the Terrible"
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Friday 2 August 2013

We ate all the pies! - Pierate Pie Contest

The lowdown on what happened at the first ever Pierate Pie Contest.
Click here for info about the pies, including the People's Choice pie winner!

“I’ve never seen so many pies!” exclaimed pie contest guest Jeremy at the first ever Pierate Pie Contest. And you’d be forgiven for having such a reaction to what was quite simply a pie-octane, stomach-filling pie extravaganza!
Guests (and wannabe Pierateers) at the Pierate Pie Contest 2013!
“But what is a Pierate Pie Contest?” I hear you cry. Well, if we’re completely honest, hosts Pierateer RAS and TJP did kind of make it up as we went along! After all, this was the first ever Pie Contest we’d hosted and I can tell you a lot was learnt from the experience. Plans were altered, judges changed, but from the reaction of the people who came, all enjoyed the night and none of the guests left feeling they hadn’t quite had enough pie...

Arriving early to set-up and decorate the hall in Birmingham, with the help of good friends Adam, Barnaby and James, the Pierate banners and amazing pie bunting (thanks Ro and Claire!) made the room feel more like a pie home from home. The old adage “I before E, especially after P” adorned the welcome sign and the trophy for the pie winner was set out in front of the judges table. The night itself kicked off with a welcome and a short recital from Gina Hyam’s fab book “Pie Contest in a Box”, which had provided some of the inspiration for hosting a Pierate Pie Contest in the first place.

While Pierateer RAS was making sure the pies were cooking nicely in the oven, Pierateer TJP was already keeping loyal @Pierateers Twitter fans up-to-date with the goings on and behind the scenes info and did a short introduction for our pie contest guests on the 7 Cs, which have become synonymous with pie rating. People would later be rating the pies out of 7, based on the Pierate judging system (click here for more info on the Seven Cs).

  It’s here that we had our warm up for the evening, having what else but pie for dinner! Pie, mash and veg – and where else could we turn for our pie dinner than the number one ranked pie on – Paul’sPies! The pies were very generously donated to us by Paul and the pie team, for which we are very grateful. And unsurprisingly Paul’s Pies went down a storm! The main problem was reminding people that they shouldn’t eat too much pie before the actual pie contest itself began – no easy feat!

What followed was what can only be described as a feat of pie cooking engineering, as 13 pies were consumed by the pie contest guests – 11 cooked pies (of which 8 were savoury and three sweet) and 2 cold pork pies. While people generally didn’t eat all 13 (big credit to anyone who did manage it!) we got a good range of pies sampled and the majority of those pies were homemade. Great effort to all the contestants! We did have a few additional shop-bought sweet pies which we unfortunately didn’t have time to cook, however some of them have been saved for a rainy day!

In the end, with the Pierateers busy cooking and serving the pies, it was taken upon the 25 guests to rate each pie that they ate. Scorecards were filled in, based on the “Pie Contest in a Box” guidelines, but with a score out of 7 given for each pie (which did make the maths at the end a bit trickier!) Once the scorecards had been collected in and scores counted up, the night concluded with prize giving for the People’s Choice pie and the Pierateers were grateful for all the help provided by good friends to help set down the venue.

It was certainly a memorable night for all who attended and we’ll be blogging more about the pie entries (including our first ever winner) in the coming few days! However for a sneak peek, catch up with the pie contest on our @pierateers twitter feed from Friday night!
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