Thursday 30 January 2014

A Cheesy (Pie) Buffet

Homemade Cheese Pie Review

Just before Christmas I was – out of the blue - provided with a cheese pie by Rhi, a colleague at work, who had obtained a homemade cheese pie at a work Christmas buffet. Not sure where she got the idea from that I liked pies?!

Anyways, unfortunately the maker of this pie has remained elusive, despite Rhi’s best efforts, but I thought it was a very nice homemade pie and worthy of review. While it won’t make it onto the pie rankings due to not being a commercially available pie, it was very nice! So thank you mystery pie baker!!!

Cheese Pie Review

Condition - 5 - clearly homemade - not quite circular and a bit of filling leakage from out of the lid, but excellent crimping on the pie edge and lid edge

Colour - 5 - slightly pale but pretty good colour

Capacity - 4 - rather too much air inside, though that said the ratio of crust:filling in the mouth was pretty spot on!

Cheese Pie Review

Content - 4 - The cheese was nice - had a good strong, distinct flavour without being overpowering. However it did get a little boring after a while - could have done with something to compliment the cheese (e.g. ham)

Cheapness – 6 (estimated) - Technically free for me - as an item at a buffet - but could not determine the actual price. I imagine this was not to expensive due to the filling just being cheese

Chewiness - 6.5 - Not chewy at all. Had a nice bite to it

Consistency - 5 - Quite a nice consistency to the pie, though the flavour did get a bit boring after a while.

Total = 5.07 / 7

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Wednesday 29 January 2014

Pie-thagoras Theorem

You may already be aware of the mathematical equation a2+b2=c2 – which of course is Pythagoras’ famous equation regarding the relationship between the sides of an equilateral triangle. But we’re not that interested in maths here on – well, unless we’re using our maths ability to count up how many pies we’ve eaten that week (or day!) We did, for example, eat 50 pies in British Pie Week 2013 and will certainly be looking to beat that number in British Pie Week 2014!!!

But if you’re up for a pie challenge what about this? Here’s Pie-thagoras Theorem:

Pie-thagoras Theorem

That "Pie for breakfast + lunch + dinner = a happy Pierateer" (surely something Pythagoras himself would have encouraged!) e.g. We followed the Pie-thagoras Theorem and had pie for breakfast, lunch and dinner

Of course the eagle pie-d of you will have seen this definition in our Pie Dictionary for months, where you can find lots of pie puns and our definition of a true pie. We Pierateers are of course pie-pros, so we quite regularly complete Pie-thagoras Theorem, like Pierateer TJP did just three days ago when he had 3 pies on Sunday 26th January!

Probably the most famous example of someone completing Pie-thagoras Theorem was when Pierateer RAS ate pie for all three meals (and 5 in total) on 12th November 2013, which was International Pierate Day (and our 4th Birthday!) The pies have all been reviewed and can be found below:

5 Pies for Pie-Thagoras Theorem
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Pudding - 5 Pies for Pie-Thagoras Theorem

Breakfast: Mr Kipling Apple Pie

Lunch: Pukka Pies Steak Pie

Dinner: Marks and Spencer Pies

Pudding: Mr Kipling Mince Pies

We hope this may ins-pie-re you to get your pie on and enjoy pie for breakfast, lunch, dinner or all three! Just remember – eat pie as part of a healthy balanced diet (if possible!)

This article was inspired by discussion of pie for breakfast, lunch and dinner by Catherine Farinha and Alexandra Duncan on The Food Show on bcfm radio.

You can listen to the The Food Show by clicking here.
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Mad Not to Try this Scrum-ptious Pie

Phil Vickery & Mad About Pies - Wild Boar & Cider Pie Review

Phil Vickery was a character that confused me for a long time. It gives away my interests but to me Phil Vickery is a Rugby player. A few years ago I discovered that there was another Phil Vickery that was a chef. However, then I realised that these were both the same person, Phil Vickery the Rugby player having won Celebrity Masterchef in 2011. I was then pleased to find out that Phil Vickery loves pies which led to him being a judge at the British Pie Awards. After the British Pie Awards I saw the photos, quickly realising it clearly was not the Rugby player Phil Vickery, there must be two after all! As if this wasn't already confusing enough, it turns out that Phil Vickery the Rugby player turned chef also has a love of pies, in fact you could say he was Mad About Pies. The Rugby legend has teamed up with Gloucestershire's own Mad About Pies. They have produced a range of gourmet pies which claim to have been recipients of the aforementioned mentioned British Pie Awards. The confusion was enough to drive me mad...

mad about pies phil vickery wild boar cider

But would having the Gloucester legend on board make me go mad for these pies? Initial impressions are good, you can see from the picture that the pie had an interesting mottled brown Colour and the letters 'WB' printed on the top. This lettering system on top of pies is becoming ever more popular with Paul's Pies, Lovett's, Farmcafe Food Market (and others) trying between them to create the world's tastiest alphabet using only pies. Condition was nearly perfect although the pie had a small amount of sagging in the lid and base. The Capacity was good with this being a fairly large pie at 270g although it could have been a bit taller. There was no air gap at all with it being full to the brim. I was impressed by the fact that I could cut a section out of this pie without it falling apart.

mad about pies wild boar cidermad about pies cross section

But now onto the taste and texture. I was delighted by the Content of this pie, the cider and mustard made it a flavour sensation. It was great that you could really taste the cider, often these sorts of additions get lost amongst the other flavours, I often find this with ale in a steak and ale pie. In this instance the cider gave the pie a slightly sour taste which complemented the wild boar. The Wild Boar meat itself was great quality, tender and not at all Chewy. Much better than the other wild boar pie I previously tried. The inclusion of carrot added a nice variety to the taste. So far so good but this pie was not Consistently brilliant, but only due to some minor criticism. The shortcrust pastry tasted nice, especially on the sides and base. However, the lid was slightly dry and tasted a little doughy in places. There was a nice crispiness to the pastry, I appreciate it is difficult to get pastry with a nice crunch which avoids dryness completely.

So, overall this was a pie I really enjoyed eating, I would buy it again so it is fully deserving of 'Pierate Recommended' pie status. I purchased it for £2.99 from my local Gloucestershire co-op and I think this price is decent with other premium pie options, such as Higgidy, also pricing at this level. Phil Vickery seems to have worked his magic again and I am pleased to see that Mad About Pies have plenty more pies in their range as I think this could be the start of something special!

Mad About Pies is owned by the same people as The Farmers Boy Inn in Gloucestershire where the pies originated from. They have a wine and pie shop; a visit to which is now high up on my pie-orities!

Wild Boar & Cider (Phil Vickery & Mad About Pies)


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Tuesday 28 January 2014

I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday!

Sainsbury's - Mince Pie Reviews

The problem with being a Pierateer is that there are just so many delicious pies out there to review. Often a Pierateer will be found grumbling about their 'pie backlog' which is the list of all the pies we have eaten but have yet to review. Mine currently stands at about 8 'must do' reviews, some of which I have been planning to write for about a year. You know how it is, there is just too much to do in life and if there isn't too much to do then you're just too tired! If only Pierate was a paid job then we might just about have time to write all the reviews! I am currently trying my best to not eat any new pies so that I can get through my backlog, which is extremely difficult!

The reason that I am saying all this is because I am trying to build up my excuses for why this review is so late. Normally I can get away with taking a month or two to write a review, no one will know when it comes to reading it! However, in this case I am trying to review some mince pies of the spiced fruit variety. The trouble with mince pies is that they are far too seasonal. A month on from Christmas and no one is going to believe I just picked these up from Sainsbury's. Indeed I didn't actually pick them up at all. @SainsburysPR on Twitter were kind enough to send a box of pie boxes for us to review. But it is never too late to say thank you to them and add another mince pie to our pie rankings.

Sainsburys Taste the Difference Pie
This is a sight for sore eyes!
And I certainly do owe Sainsbury's a thank you. These were not just any mince pies, Sainsbury's had spared no expense by sending two boxes of Taste the Difference mince pies, one box of Gluten Free iced mince pies and one box of Taste the Difference Ecclefechan mince tarts. I will say straight away that despite not being pies the Ecclefechan mince tarts were actually delicious! They had a lovely mix of flavours which included nuts making them a bit different to mince pies.

However, of course, the tarts were not really something I can officially review what with this being PIE-rate. The Gluten Free iced mince pies were also tarts really. They were intriguing creatures being somewhere between a mince pie and Christmas cake. The icing made them very sweet and was nice for a change. For Gluten Free pastry our Gluten Free reviewer Pierateer ALE said this was a decent attempt, but we would have liked to see more pastry by giving these a lid!

Sainsburys Mince Pie
Sainsburys Taste the Difference All Butter Mince Pie
You will see that the other two boxes are genuine pies so get official scores. Firstly the regular TTD mince pies. The butter pastry was lovely and crumbly but at the same time not at all dry. The mince meat was amongst the best I had tasted all season with some nice variation to both texture and taste throughout. This kept the pie interesting from beginning to end of the consumption process. They looked every bit the festive treat they are supposed to with great packaging, Colour and Condition. These were tall pies so had good Capacity.

Sainsburys Mince Pie
Sainsburys Taste the Difference All Butter Mini Mince Pie
For the mini versions they looked a bit different due to the star-shaped lid which made them quite appealing. The pastry to filling ratio was very decent despite these pies being small and not quite fully encased in pastry. The pastry tasted a bit different in these, it was more crumbly and tasted a bit more like shortbread than pastry. In this sense I think I preferred the pastry on the full sized version because the mini version was just too Crunchy. The mincemeat was again very good, I couldn't Taste the Difference between the two TTD fillings.

What made me realise that these were very good pies was the fact that everyone wanted to eat them. I shared them at work and they were gone within a matter of moments. The mini versions went down particularly well, given their small size people are more likely to be tempted. I would certainly consider buying them next year, despite the higher price for these premium pies. They would be ideal for any Christmas gathering. We have given the larger version 'Pierate Recommended' status. Good work Sainsbury's!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!

TTD All Butter Mince Pie (Sainsbury's)

TTD All Butter Mini Mince Pie (Sainsbury's)


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Monday 27 January 2014

Don’t skip this kangaroo pie

Nice Pie Kangaroo Pie Review

You may recall that yesterday Pierateer RAS went nuts for a squirrel pie from Nice Pie. But you’d be hopping mad not to try this kangaroo pie from Nice Pie too!

Seriously though, this pie contains kangaroo meat. Are Nice Pie courting disaster with this one? Do they need to buck up their ideas?

kangaroo pie
Wow, look at that pastry! I really wallaby eating this pie right now. It would be rood not to try it! The pastry is a little crumbly round the edges, but that’s more my fault than anything. I’m sure if I wasn’t so clumsy then the Condition of this pie would be excellent. I especially like the added touch of the pastry kangaroo silhouette on the lid - just in case you forgot you were about to eat kangaroo.
At £3.50, this is really quite the bargain for quite a sizeable pie that contains quite an exotic meat. It’s not like these guys popped down to the wholesalers and bought some cheap beef. Skippy the Bush Kangaroo is quite hard to catch.
But £3.50 becomes even more of a bargain when you open up the pie and view the cross-section:
Pure, unadulterated meat. They’re certainly not joeyking around here. There’s minimal airgap in this pie. The pie has good Capacity and they’re filled it to the pastry with Content. But how does the Content taste? I’ve never eaten kangaroo before, and after eating it it’s quite hard to describe. It’s a bit like venison. It has a nice flavour, and was very tender although a little dry in the mouth.
Nice Pie certainly give you copious amounts of meat, which is brilliant. I would have personally preferred a bit more gravy, as the kangaroo seemed naturally quite dry.
The pastry was very tasty and obviously of very high quality, although perhaps a little short and the lid was quite crumbly. I do like a lid that you can break, but I think it should have been able to hold itself together a little better than it did.

So with a bounce in my step, it’s time for the final score. Plus points were the condition of the pie (especially the kangaroo cut-out), the tasty pastry, the inventiveness of the content, the cost and the fact that the pie was filled to capacity. For me, this pie was slightly let down by the fact that there wasn’t enough gravy to compensate for the natural dryness of the kangaroo.

Nice Pie Kangaroo Pie Review
Score: 5.8/7

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Sunday 26 January 2014

Squirrel Pie: Will I go nuts for a Nice Wild Squirrel Pie?

Nice Pie Wild Squirrel in Red Wine Gravy Pie Review

Some might argue you’ve got to be a bit nuts to call your company “Nice Pie” – for it is surely a potential rod for your own back! Are the pies really that nice? Because if not, you’re surely going to get some stick for having a name like “Nice Pie”. However rest assured; no need to panic - I can confirm these pies are very nice indeed!

We sampled a range of pies from Nice Pie – three exotic (at a bargain of £3.50 each) and three from their more traditional range (at just £3.00 each) – and they will all be reviewed shortly on the web’s premier pie reviewing website

So onto the wild squirrel in red wine gravy pie. I’m sure the first thing you’re wondering is “Squirrel – really?!” Yes – really! The grey squirrels are shot near to the farm that Nice Pie operates from and they pack plenty of meat into these pies, which makes me think they must take down a large number of these critters to make all these pies! After all, there can’t be much meat on each one. And sure, you may think I’m a nutcase for trying one, but on board the Pierate Ship we are always looking for new pies to rate and new flavours to try.

On 13th February 2015 the Nice Pie makers were featured on Jamie Oliver and Jimmy Doherty's Friday Night Feast on Channel 4, talking about their squirrel pies! Check out a clip on the Channel 4 website.

Wild Squirrel Pie from Nice Pie Review
Wild Squirrel Pie from Nice Pie

So what did the squirrel pie taste like? Well, before I dig my claws in, I think you’d have to agree with me that this is one of the most beautiful pie decorations I’ve ever seen. It’s amazing that with just a little extra pastry a nice, but rather dull, pie lid can be transformed into a beautiful work of art! The pie arrived in top condition, and while a little crumbly around the edges, this pie gets a near perfect score for condition.

But what about the meat? Well, as you’d probably expect from an animal like a Squirrel this meat tastes quite gamey. It was quite light and not at all chewy, but was in quite small pieces within the pie, as you would expect for meat from such a small animal. The meat content was therefore consistently spread throughout the pie. The capacity was very strong, with only a small amount of potato and carrot to bulk out the pie filling. It was pretty much full capacity and at no point was I left feeling “there’s not much meat in this!” In fact, almost the exact opposite! I was quite surprised at how much Squirrel meat was in this pie, considering this pie was just £3.50 to buy! Very high scoring on cheapness for an exotic pie.

Wild Squirrel Pie from Nice Pie Review
Wild Squirrel Pie from Nice Pie
The main thing for me that stops this pie from quite reaching pie-fection is that the pastry was a little bit dry and crumbly. I certainly don’t think it is bad pastry, by any means. It held together well and was nice and golden. But having sampled so many pies, it was a bit too dry for me. This certainly didn’t affect the pie content, which was actually very moist and succulent despite there not being much noticeable gravy in the pie. It just resulted in a noticeable contrast between the moist, succulent content and crisp, drier pastry.

Let me clarify that this should not in any way stop you buying the pie, for the pastry was good, held together well and when eaten with the lovely moist content was a very nice meal, but when you are looking at the very fine margins between a recommended and highly recommended pie on, this is the sort of constructive feedback we look to give. I am sure that Nice Pie are looking to improve their pies even more and with such a great range of exotic pies on the menu we will definitely be rating more!

Finally, the red wine gravy also added an interesting twist to proceedings, which made the meat moist and succulent. I would have personally preferred a bit more gravy in the pie, which would have possibly counter balanced the outer pastry too, but it was certainly very flavoursome!

It certainly won’t take much to shoot this Squirrel pie to the top of the tree, with the succulent meat and packed content I could go nuts for! And the pastry was good too, just a tad dry so holding the score back a little but still resulting in this being a great pie – not a drey-dful one!

In a nutshell, this is a Pierate recommended pie!

Nice Pie Squirrel in Red Wine Gravy Pie
Score: 5.89/7
[Colour 6/7; Consistency 5/7; Cheapness 6.25/7; Chewiness 5/7; Condition 6.5/7; Content 6.25/7; Capacity 6.25/7; Total: 5.89/7]

Pierate is a pie review website charting a course to find the ultimate pie. For all the pies we have reviewed have a look at our Pie Rankings or find pies of a particular flavour under Pies: Categorised.

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Saturday 25 January 2014

Fortnum and Mason Three Kings Mince Pies

Fortnum and Mason "Three Kings" Mince Pies Review

"We three kings of Orient are, bearing gifts we traverse afar, field and fountain, moor and mountain, following yonder star..."

“On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.” (Matthew 2v11, The Bible)

Some famous words there from the Christmas Carol "We Three Kings" and the Bible remind us of the three gifts that were presented to baby Jesus in the Bible's account of the Christmas story. I'm sure many of us will remember the three gifts presented - Gold for a king, Frankincense for a Priest and Myrrh for someone who would ultimately die on a cross - but what if these gifts were given a bit of a pie twist? After all, wouldn't you be intrigued to try a gold topped pie, a Frankincense Oil infused pie and a Myrrh Oil infused pie?!

Fortnum and Mason "Three Kings" Mince Pie Review

Fortnum and Mason "Three Kings" Mince Pies

So in keeping with the Christmas tradition, we at Pierate have given the "Three Kings" mince pies - inspired by the nativity and produced by Fortnum and Mason in central London - a pie rating:

These Fortnum and Mason "Three Kings" Mince Pies feature in our '12 Pies of Christmas’ video!

Gold topped pie

These pies were quite potent when it came to flavouring, with quite a bit of nut in the mincemeat filling. That said, there wasn't a great deal of filling in them. They were about 75% pastry and 25% filling, which for us Pierateers is not at all satisfactory as a filling:pastry ratio. With the pastry being quite crumbly and dry, this further took away from the score this pie would achieve, as the filling that was in there was not very fruity and not very tasty.

While the novelty factor of the gold topping was great - they would certainly create a real talking point at your Christmas pie party - the rest of the pie failed to live up to the golden billing. I'd not want to eat one of these again.

Fortnum and Mason "Three Kings" Mince Pies: Gold
Score: 1.46/7
[Colour 3, Capacity 1, Consistency 1, Condition 2.75, Chewiness 2, Cheapness 0.25, Content 0.25, Total: 1.46/7]

Fortnum and Mason "Three Kings" Mince Pies

Frankincense Oil infused pie

The frankincense oil infused pies certainly gave you a minty kick that was hard to miss. It did feel slightly like I was eating some minty toothpaste in a pie but I didn't dislike this unusual factor. Sure, I wouldn't want to eat a large pie of this flavour, but for a mini pie bite, and the fact I was eating a frankincense infused pie, I couldn't really complain. The filling certainly tasted nicer in this pie than the gold one.

However once again the pie was about 75% pastry and only 25% filling, which was probably a good thing in this pie because the filling flavour was so strong that I really needed that extra pastry to cope with the intense filling flavour. While I wouldn't regularly go for it, I might eat this pie again if given the option.

Fortnum and Mason "Three Kings" Mince Pies: Frankincense
Score: 1.57/7
[Colour 2, Capacity 1, Consistency 1, Condition 2.75, Chewiness 2, Cheapness 0.75, Content 1.5, Total: 1.57/7]

Myrrh Oil infused pie

Again the Myrrh pie suffered from poor filling:pastry ratio syndrome! There was a lot of quite dry pastry surrounding quite a thin layer of filling. It was again very spice heavy and the strong flavour meant I wouldn't want to eat much of it. Similar to the Frankincense pie - edible but not really enjoyable.

Fortnum and Mason "Three Kings" Mince Pies: Myrrh
Score: 1.57/7
[Colour 2, Capacity 1, Consistency 1, Condition 2.75, Chewiness 2, Cheapness 0.75, Content 1.5, Total: 1.57/7]

In summary, all these pies suffered from being heavily pastry focused and therefore having a very poor filling:pastry ratio. In some of them, this did at least help balance out the intense filling flavours you got from the pie but at £1 a pop, for a pie you could easily consume in one little bite, these really were far from good value for money. I'm not saying I'm surprised - they were from Fortnum and Mason after all! - but if I were to buy them again, it would certainly be for the "Three Kings" novelty factor rather than the edibility factor, and for me that is not a good enough reason to give these pies anywhere near a good score!

This means these pies unfortunately really aren't fit for a king – so I think the Three Kings were very wise in choosing their gifts for baby Jesus. A great, novel idea by Fortnum and Mason, but not well executed and I would say these really are only for decorating the Christmas table.


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Australia Day – Best Aussie Pie

Australia Day 2014

Australia Day this year falls on Sunday January 26, 2014. To celebrate, we here at Pierate have compiled some of the best Australian pies that we’ve eaten. On Australia Day itself, we’ll be getting our hands on a kangaroo pie to see how it rates. In the meantime, here are some of our favourite Australian pies:


Pieface australia day

There are Piefaces aplenty in Australia. They’re practically the Starbucks or Pret a Manger of down under! We loved the weird squiggly faces on the pies. It almost makes you feel bad about eating them. Until you eat them, of course. Then you have no regrets at all. Read more >


Pieface australia day

Check out this slice of pie! We bought this badboy from Rhumbas in Melbourne’s Crown Food Court. It’s a hefty tuna pie, and the excellent quality of the pastry and spiciness of the tuna makes this Australian pie so memorable. Read more >


There’s something about London’s Jumbucks that keeps us coming back for more. The Shepherds Bush establishment seems to always dish some pretty inventive and tasty pies. They’re all great to eat on the move – perfect for busy lifestyles! (Although obviously we had to take quite a detour each time we wanted to visit…)

Jumbucks australia day

We were egged on by this Bacon and Egg pie from Jumbucks. It’s a fairly awesome breakfast that you can take with you on the underground! Read more >








Jumbucks australia day

If you fancy eating a rare bird, but don’t actually want to eat a rare bird (likewise, a New Zealander), have The Kiwi instead. Containing mince and cheese, this pie was a delicious success. Read more >




Jumbucks australia day

If you like mash with your pie, why not just have mash in your pie? That’s the philosophy behind Jumbucks’ Bushranger Deluxe. Containing minced beef, mashed potato, bacon and cheese, it’s a feast for the senses – mainly taste but also some visual, textural and olfactory pleasure. Read more >



So there we have it. Some top pies for a top Australia Day! Have a great weekend!

Don’t forget to see our Pie Rankings for more top pies, and have a look at our Treasure Map for more pies geographically located near you. Oh, and follow us on Twitter! @pierateers

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Friday 24 January 2014

British Pie Awards 2014 – We’ll see you there!

british pie awards
L-R: Mark Beeston, Matthew O’Callaghan & Stephen Hallam of Melton Mowbray Pork Pie Association organisers of the British Pie Awards launch the 2014 Awards.
Roll up! Roll up! Entries are now open for the British Pie Awards 2014!

Yes, that’s right. The British Pie Awards – who famously coined the definition of a pie as being ‘‘a filling totally and wholly encased in pastry” – are now open for entries. And rumour has it that they’re hoping for the grand (thanks) total of 1000 pie entries. Hey, what’s more, Pierate are thrilled to be a judge at this year’s event!

Last year’s pie extravaganza – which Pierateers RAS and SJL both volunteered at  - attracted a stunning 983 entries. Melton Mowbray Pork Pie Association (MMPPA) will be hoping to smash that record again at the event on Wednesday 30th April 2014 in St Mary’s Church, Melton Mowbray (although apparently the provisional limit is 1,000 pies due to “the logistics of tasting that many pies in one day”…). This really is the festival of pie, if ever there was one.

There will be 19 different categories (we didn’t even know that was possible) this year, including a specialty class of “Pie fit for a hero” to commemorate the 100th anniversary of WW1. The specialty class is in recognition of the great food produced by the chefs and caterers associated with the British Armed Forces - who the Awards are also encouraging to enter this category this year. According to the British Pie Awards website, entries into this category don't need to be commercially available - so the pie's the limit with innovation!

Matthew O’Callaghan, Chairman of the MMPPA said in press release that “The British Pie Awards allows pie makers of all sizes from all parts of the industry to demonstrate the quality of their produce.  It is a fantastic celebration of British tradition and a great way to protect our pie heritage.”

We couldn’t agree more, Matthew.

And let’s not forget that last year’s Supreme Pie Champion of 2013, The Pie Kitchen, was reviewed recently on Pierate. Representing The Pie Kitchen, Sally Lewis said in a press release for the Awards that “We have been really astounded at the impact winning this award has made to our business.  Not only do more people recognise our brand they are more inclined to try our pies when they see we have achieved this Award.  I would really encourage everyone in the industry to get involved.  It is a great way to be recognised as well as a lot of fun.”

Check out the second-to-bottom judge on their list! We’ll see you there!

The important details:
Full details of all of this year’s classes and the entry form are available on line at or by contacting Emma Sparks via email  For all the latest updates please follow us on Twitter @britishpies and Facebook

Entry deadline for 2014 is Friday 11th April 2014

Just in case you were still in any doubt about whether to attend, here's a video we made of the event last year, including the epic pie hymn!

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Thursday 23 January 2014

Morecambe FC Apple Pie scores at half time

Morecambe FC Apple Pie Review, following on from our pie review of 4 meat pies served to us at the Morecambe v Wycombe Wanderers match

Clearly not satisfied with hitting the back of the net with their meat pies, the Pierateers returned to their VIP (Very Important Pie-eaters) table at Morecambe Football Club at half time to find a six-piece apple pie and two custard jugs awaiting them! Having looked round and found no such pie on anyone else’s tables, we assumed it must be for pie rating and got to work digging into the apple pie.

Morecambe FC Apple Pie Review
Hos-pie-tality at the Morecambe FC match

Placing the slices of pie into our bowls, you could not possibly miss how packed full of fruit this pie was. It was top capacity at its finest, with no room for anything else! This pie really was deep and had no chance of being reprimanded like some of the supposed “deep” fruit pies we’ve eaten lately. In fact, it scored a perfect 7 on capacity! The appley content was very good too, with it not being too sweet or too sour, but just a perfect blend. It meant you got a bit of tang and knew you’d been hit with a good fruit hit, but it enhanced rather than detracted from the fruit pie experience.

This fully encased apple pie had some delicious pastry which made it immediately stand out too. It was quite light, soft and airy pastry, which could have perhaps done with being a tad crispier in Pierateer RAS’ eyes but which was pretty much spot on for Pierateer SJL (who likened it to almost being sponge-like). The one main downside to this pie was that it was a bit pale in colour. We would have liked to have seen it a bit more golden in colour, which might have made it a slight bit crispier too. However there is no doubt this was a top pie and at £3 for a restaurant desert (for this would be sold in the restaurant area, rather than to the football watching public) this seemed pretty spot on for cheapness too.

It really did taste homemade and was certainly one of the best apple pies we’ve rated. A surprise to find it sold at a football ground, but then finding out Head Chef Graham’s background in restaurants we weren't surprised he had a top apple pie up his sleeve! Delicious and well worth doubling up on pie for!

Morecambe FC Apple Pie
Score: 6.11/7
[Colour 5.5, Condition 6.25, Cheapness 6.5, Capacity 7, Consistency 6, Chewiness 5.5, Content 6, Total: 6.11/7]

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Wednesday 22 January 2014

You're So Cold, But I Lovett

Lovett Pies - Beef, Stout and Horseradish Pie Review

We have previously reviewed a few Lovett Pies, one of which fell into our 'Pierate Highly Recommended' category. We also chatted to them on Bristol's BCfm 93.2fm about their pies so it is about time we reviewed some more! Before we were impressed with the Capacity of these pies. They were small but mighty, being packed with Content. One intriguing thing about these pies is that they can also be eaten cold. This is an often overlooked feature of a pie. As if a pie wasn't an already convenient, portable snack it is even better when you can shove one in your bag for later when you feel a bit peckish.

Why this was especially interesting in the case of Lovett Pies is that they have a brilliantly firm pastry. This made me optimistic that it would hold together well. To test this out I shoved a Beef, Stout & Horseradish pie in my backpack for a train journey from Gloucester to Wakefield. As you would expect, the pie got bounced about a bit. As a Pierateer an occupational hazard from transporting pies is that they crumble up in your bag. However, upon alighting at Wakefield this pie was still in fantastic Condition, despite only being wrapped in cling film. Surely one of the most durable pies on the market!

Taking a bite, I found that this is what cold pies should be like. It really was a perfect snack! As with the other Lovett Pies there was no runny gravy which in this instance made the pie even more suitable as food on the move. This one still had plenty of moistness to it preventing it being at all dry. Despite being cold the pastry tasted great. Softer than the cooked version but somehow it still had a bit of crunch in places.

The filling was fantastically meaty, being absolutely packed with beef. However, there was still room for veg with some pieces of carrot adding a bit of sweetness. The Stout added plenty of flavour whilst the horseradish taste wasn't strong but gave it a slight kick. It was nice that this made it a bit different, certainly not your standard steak and ale pie. Lovett Pies have a knack of doing things a bit different. This is probably the best cold meat pie I have ever had, I really recommend trying this option out.

Beef, Stout & Horseradish, cold (Lovett Pies)
Score: 5.87


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Monday 20 January 2014

Do they bake pie well at Thurlwell’s?

Thurlwell’s 'Potato and Meat' and 'Blackberry and Apple' Pie Reviews

As we were heading to the Globe Arena in Morecambe to watch the match between Morecambe FC and Wycombe (and review the Morecambe football pies pre-match), we couldn’t resist popping into a bakery or two on the way. One such bakery we stopped off at was Thurlwell’s Bakers and Confectioners, which is just off the main road leading up to Morecambe FC’s ground.

Thurlwell's Bakery Morecambe Pie ReviewThe shop is on a reasonably quiet side street and while the appearance of the shop may not be overly flash, they know their stuff and focus on what they do well – which as a craft bakery means baking everything in the kitchens there on site. There are no nonsense signs in the window, like ones reminding people that the pies and cakes in the window display are just for display – and that there are plenty of fresh pies and cakes to purchase in the chilled cabinets inside. We were informed that they sell a lot of their pies to local takeaways, so are well known within the Morecambe area.

We purchased a fruit pie (blackberry and apple) and then very generously got given a potato and meat pie to review (a classic pie from the North). It was clearly pointed out to us this was a potato and meat pie, by the way, rather than a meat and potato pie. You’ll see why when you read the review.

So how did the Blackberry and Apple pie rate?

Thurwell's Blackberry and Apple Pie
This pie left me wondering why I don't eat and review more fruit pies. Despite being Cheap at £1.15 I still managed to serve three people (small portions). The pastry was nice and sweet, with a little crumbliness to it but not too much. The blackberry and apple combo left it deliciously fruity. Thurwell's hadn't gone over the top with the sugar which is nice at a time when excessive sugar intake seems to be a hot topic. The pie was a great Colour and as you would expect for a fruit pie. I bought it in excellent Condition. (It was my own fault that it was squashed by the time I got home!)

A slice of the action, plenty of filling in this pie.

The only thing that let this pie down was the fact that it was quite shallow. This deprived it of a large Capacity and was really all that stopped it achieving a very high score. Despite the lack of Capacity the pastry was fairly thin and with the full flavoured Content it still achieved a decent pastry to filling ratio. But overall this is a great score from Thurwell's for a great pie which achieves 'Pierate Recommended' Status.

Thurlwell's Blackberry and Apple Pie
Score: 5.06/7 

[Colour 5.2/7; Consistency 5.5/7; Cheapness 4.5/7; Chewiness 5.5/7; Condition 6/7; Content 6/7; Capacity 2.7/7]

So how did the Potato and Meat pie rate?

Thurlwells Potato and Meat PieWell the first thing you notice when cutting through the pie is that there’s no room for air in this pie! It’s packed to the rafters, so gets a good score for capacity. However looking more in depth at the content, there was a large proportion of potato to the mince meat. You could see why they sold it as potato and meat, rather than visa versa. While in and of itself it didn’t taste bad, I was left wishing there was a bit more meatiness to this pie. We all know that mince meat is generally less chewy and a cheaper filling product but it doesn’t always wow the taste buds, and this pie could have done with a bit more of a meaty oomph! Still, the potato was nice and soft, without being mushy, and the taste was good despite being a bit too potato heavy. It could have just been a bit more exciting in my mind. The filling of the pie was also a bit dry, with absolutely no gravy oozing out at all. The potato was quite soft and moist and so was the meat but I would certainly have expected something a bit more to lubricate the pie.

Thurlwells Potato and Meat Pie
Thurlwell's Potato and Meat Pie

The pastry was a bit mixed – a little dry and crumbly on the top and a bit light and soft on the bottom, though certainly not soggy. While quite nice and clearly homemade, it did lack that sparkle that some other pies in the area had given, so it detracted a little from the score. However I would certainly happily eat another and it was very good value for a homemade pie.

Thurlwell’s Potato and Meat Pie
Score: 4.21/7
[Colour 4/7; Consistency 3.75/7; Cheapness 4.5/7; Chewiness 4.5/7; Condition 4/7; Content 3.75/7; Capacity 5/7; Total: 4.21/7]

Thurlwell's Bakery in Morecambe

It certainly seems they do thurl-y well with their pie making at Thurlwell’s and it’s great to see some nice, friendly local craft bakeries still surviving in the tough climate of supermarket com-pie-tition. Well worth a friendly visit when in Morecambe.

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Saturday 18 January 2014

Wandering How Good the Pies Are at Wycombe?

Wycombe Wanderers/Peter's Pies - Chicken Curry Premier Pie Review

At Pierate we well know that football and pies are a match made in heaven, just have a look at our pie football league table. However, all too often the pies can be mass produced sub-standard fare, not living up to the excitment on the pitch. That was why it was so good to see the Morecambe Football Pies score so well in our recent review. But you can get good pies even if they aren't as hand crafted as those offered by Morecambe. The quest to find these took me to Adams Park, the home of Wycombe Wanderers Football Club.

In the past Wycombe pies have suffered from 'dry pie syndrome' where, despite potentially being decent pies I have found them to have sat around in a heater too long and hence dry out. This seems to have improved with myself and Pierateer ARL both picking up pies in good Condition. I opted for the Chicken Curry and ARL opted for the Steak which we have reviewed before. Both of these were from the 'Peter's Premier Pies' brand. I can tell this because they are much taller than the shallow 'oval' pies in the standard range (we have also reviewed these). For some reason the chicken curry pie came in a very plain packaging and didn't say 'premier' on it. However, according to their website, Peter's don't do a standard chicken curry pie so it must be 'premier'.

The choice of the premier range by Wycombe is a good one. The two offerings from the Welsh company that we have reviewed before both scored very well (Steak 5.75 and Steak & Fullers 5.20). At Wycombe they are retailing at £2.70 for just the pie. This may seem high compared to other hot pies, but of course football grounds tend to be more expensive so we take this into account. If you look at the BBC price of football raw data this is about average for League 2.

The pie looked quite good, standing tall which gave a good Capacity. The Colour looked a bit pale in places which hinted at soft pastry, which was indeed the case. I would like to see more of a golden colour. The pie passed the 'hand held' test which is vital for the perfect football pie. The pastry held together and the filling was thick. The Content was vibrant, not overly spicy but just enough to give it some flavour. It didn't do anything particularly special given that it was similar to standard chip shop curry sauce. The small amount of onion was a welcome addition. The chicken did retain some bite although it was suspiciously homogenous and of course tasted a bit mass produced. However, I still really enjoyed this as a change from steak pies which have been really in form for me. The pastry was a little too soft in my opinion, it was nice that it slipped down so easily but there wasn't much to get your teeth into. It also felt a bit stodgy.

Overall, this line up of Wycombe and Peter's is a good partnership. They have a bit of creativity going for the chicken curry pie option which hit the back of the net. It was vital that the pie was good because it was an otherwise disappointing game and result for Wycombe, losing in the last minute of injury time 1-0 at home to Accrington Stanley.

Chicken Curry (Wycombe Wanderer/Peter's)

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Friday 17 January 2014

Pinning our hopes on a World Record

World Record attempt for most people to review a pie in one sitting and the awarding of our first “Pierateer in Training” Badge!

This weekend our very own Pierateer RAS is being seconded from the Pierate Ship for the weekend to cook for City Church’s Student Weekend Away. Cooking for approximately 100 people – predominantly University students – our Pierateer will be once again looking to cater for the masses with classic mass-catering dishes such as sausage casserole, lasagne and a Roast Chicken dinner!

But alas, you say... what about the pies?!

Well don’t you lose any sleep over it guys and girls! The pies are definitely on the menu – for Saturday night is pie night as we rate some apple pie! While the exact brand and type of apple pie being consumed is still a closely guarded secret, we can confirm that this is a new pie that the Pierateers have not yet rated! How will it fair under the 7 Cs, we wonder, at the first #PieFest of 2014?! Where will it end up in the Pierate Pie Rankings?! All will be revealed!

But it would be crazy when buying 20 family sized pies and catering for 100 people not to think “Why don’t we go for a world record attempt here?!” Sadly the Guinness World Records organisation were unwilling to accept my proposed category of “Most people to review a pie in one sitting” (see email below), so we are instead going for an unofficial World Record attempt this weekend and – when time allows – all those who respond to the opportunity to complete a 7 Cs pie rating card will see their name and comments put up on in what we hope will be the World Record for “most people to review a pie in one sitting!”

And as a little incentive, we will be awarding prizes to those who provide the wittiest summary comments, as well as our first “Pierateer in Training” Badge for one of the attendees of the Weekend Away. We have @NikSpeller to thank for the idea of creating some “Pierateer in Training” badges to indicate that person has received some expert coaching from the Pierateers on how to rate a pie and is well on their way to becoming a Pierateer themselves. Nik himself will hopefully be undertaking some training in just over a week and we have already seen Ashleigh and Olivia from Ashleigh Auld Consulting meet with the Pierateers to review pie at Canteen London. They too will receive badges in due course!

We look forward to revealing the pie of choice for the first #PieFest of 2014 and will keep you posted on the event on Twitter via @pierateers and the follow up review of the pie and everyone’s comments coming soon!

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Hungry for pie-eating success? Pie eating Competition!

A pie eating competition of any sorts sounds pretty exciting. Imagine the glory that your feats of pie eating would bring if you won? The chance to gorge on pies while people look on and cheer is the stuff that dreams are made of. But what if you could stuff your face full of pies AND raise money for charity?!

Well with Peter's pies you can do just that! Peter's pies have teamed up with George Thomas Hospice Care in Cardiff to bring you a charity pie eating competition!

There are men and women’s challenges in two categories: fastest pie eaten and the most pies eaten in ten minutes.

The competition is free to enter; all challengers have to do is raise sponsorship for the hospice before they compete.

The event will be held at 7pm on Monday 24th February in Walkabout on St. Mary’s Street, Cardiff.

To request a fundraising pack, call Nicky Piper on 02920 524150 or email

Good luck from the Pierateers to all who enter!


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Thursday 16 January 2014

Best Steak Pie in Scotland

Brownings the Bakers - Steak Pie Review

Everyone wanted to be a winner at the Scotch Pie Club Awards 2014 and for Brownings the Bakers the dream came true twice, with them winning the best Steak Pie and Best Football Pie awards. The craft baker in Kilmarnock has quite a reputation, having won numerous awards for the 'Killie' Pie sold at Kilmarnock FC. Unusually for Scottish Football the Killie pie is not a Scotch Pie but a Steak Pie so it seems they know a thing or two about steak pies.

We have here the steak pie rather than the football pie and you can see from the outside that it already looks like a winner! The pie has a lovely golden brown Colour and an artistic crinkled edge. The pie is in perfect Condition and stands tall giving it a great Capacity for a hand held pie. It retails around £1, so not bad Cheapness for it's size.


Delving into the interior Content of the pie it was a delight to see such big chunks of steak. The smells coming from this pie were amazing, really rich and meaty. The steak was sat in a lovely thick sauce, so viscous it was almost like jelly. The pie was well seasoned with quite a peppery taste and the steak was tender. Unfortunately as you can see there was a bit of an air gap with this pie, but not very significant.

The pastry tasted nice but the big thing that let this pie down was that the pastry was a bit too thick. This meant some of it was a bit doughy and did spoil the Chewiness. However, as a consequence the thick shortcrust pastry held the pie together well, so ideal as a portable snack.

Overall, only some minor criticisms of this pie which mean it wasn't Consistently brilliant but a pie I would certainly buy again. The pie gains the status of Pierate 'Recommended' pie for scoring over 5 out of 7.

Steak Pie (Brownings The Bakers)


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Tuesday 14 January 2014

Bon Bon Ap-PIE-tite

Bon Bon Cake Shop - Scotch Pie Review

When it come to pies I always have a good ap-pie-tite. I just can't get enough which you will know if you have ever read the poem 'Memoirs of a Pie Addict'. Scotch Pies are no exception to this, I have reviewed a few in order to build up our list of the best Scotch Pies. The Scotch Pie Awards are the obvious place to start when searching for the best, we have reviewed the 2013 World Scotch Pie Champion and the 2011 Champion. Now we review yet another World Champion! Albeit one which is slightly living on past glories. I give you the 2006 World Scotch Pie Champion produced by Bon Bon Cake Shop in Airdrie! It might be a bit last decade but they still proudly remember their award on the signs both inside and outside of this small bakery.

It was a nice place to visit, despite the name it isn't primarily cakes, they do specialise in pies too with a range on offer. The lady in the shop assured me that they still make them on the premises. I part with 90p in order to get this pie to take away hot, which is decent compared to most hot pies but you can get Scotch pies Cheaper in these parts. However, this pie does seem fairly small compared to some Scotch Pies. It has quite a decent Condition although verging on looking too handmade with quite a wonky lid. The Colour is varied, golden in places but anaemic in others.

Biting into this pie I found the pastry to be excellent. It was lovely and crisp on the outside and softer on the inside which made each bite feel really satisfying. The Content was less seasoned than some, especially compared to JB Christie down the road. This was a beef version so avoided the fat of a mutton pie. It tasted nice, however, it was a little mushy so missed the optimum texture. There could also have been a bit more of it, while the Capacity of the pie was acceptable, there was a bit too much air in the pie for me.

Overall, a decent effort from Bon Bon, although they are a way off from the standard of more recent world champions.

Beef Scotch Pie (Bon Bon Cake Shop [ML6 6DE])


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