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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