Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Charlie Bigham pies - Will I bigham up?

Charlie Bigham chicken and ham pie review

I have had my eyes on these pies for a while now. Charlie Bigham's pies, available in Waitrose, have always looked very appealing, but until now I had been put off buying them. The first reason was the fairly hefty £7 price tag (although that is for 2 pies), and the other is that I had always assumed - by virtue of their ramekin dishes - they would just be a top-crust pie (and hence not a proper pie).

But finally the time has come for me to give one a try. I bought a pack and took them home. As my friend remarked when I opened the box, the pies (which come wrapped in a bit of attractive paper) look "amazing" and "super-deluxe". As I feared, though, these are indeed just top crust pies (TOP CRUST ALERT)! 

However, the presentation is excellent, and the pie does look very homely and inviting with its criss-crossed floured pastry draped over the pie dish. I dash it with some milk and put it in the oven.

charlie bigham pie

charlie bigham pie

Oh yeah! That's what I'm talking about! The light puff pastry has risen well, creating beautiful golden brown hills gorged with pale pastry canyons. This is beautiful stuff.

charlie bigham pie

It's hard to do a cross-sectional view of a top crust pie (as I can't really cut the dish open), but here's a sneak peek inside anyway.

You can see there are some good chunks of chicken and oodles of tasty ham. The sauce is creamy and delicious - however I think its consistency would be too runny to put in a standard fully-pastry-encased pie. This filling is very tasty, and the pastry is light and puffy. The meat is not chewy and seems high quality, with no gristly or chewy bits. I would have liked a bit more chicken in there.

Overall, the pie tastes nice and would be a sure-fire winner at the table for a dinner-for-two. However it looses marks for not being fully encased in pastry, sauce a bit too runny, and a bit low on chicken. Based on this experience, however, I am tempted to try some of the other pies in the Charlie Bigham's range - so that can only be a good thing.

Charlie Bigham's Chicken and Ham pie
Score: 5.2/7
TJP
continue reading "Charlie Bigham pies - Will I bigham up?"

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Marks and Spencer Mince Pies go head to head

Marks and Spencer All Butter Classic and Luxury Mince Pie Reviews


Marks and Spencer All Butter Luxury Mince Pies Review
Marks and Spencer All Butter Luxury Mince Pies
It seems every supermarket likes getting into the festive pie spirit and Marks and Spencer are no exception. With a fantastic range of mince pies in store, it was hard to decide which pies to pick up, particularly as a lot of the boxes of pies looked very similar to one another. We’d already had our gluten free Pierateer ALE rate the gluten free Marks and Spencer mince pies, so – finding the descriptions on the box of the Marks and Spencer Classic and Luxury mince pies almost identical – Pierateer RAS decided to try and work out what the difference was between the two in a pie-off.

So what were the Marks and Spencer Mince Pies like? And what was the difference? Well, the most noticeable difference was the price. The classic pies cost £1.80 for a box of 6 mince pies or 30ppp, compared to £2.50 for a box of 6 luxury mince pies at 41.6ppp, which makes them some of the more expensive boxes of supermarket mince pies this Christmas time. However at Pierate HQ it’s not all about the price – it’s about whether the pie is worth the price!

Marks and Spencer All Butter Classic Mince Pies Review
Marks and Spencer All Butter Classic Mince Pies
The pies came in good condition, though the classic pie had a rather plain lid compared to the more elaborate design of the luxury pies, which incorporated a snowflake. However the lid of the luxury pies were quite inconsistent, with some lids slightly uneven and sticking to the foil casing, thus breaking the lid off the pie when trying to eat them.

The colour was quite good for mince pies – though there was a significant contrast from the darker, crisper edge pastry that created a reasonable overhang to the lighter, central pastry. The pastry was nice and crisp without being dry, crumbling easily in the mouth.

Marks and Spencer All Butter Luxury Mince Pies Review
Marks and Spencer All Butter Luxury Mince Pies
Inside both pies there was a reasonably strong capacity of mincemeat, with clear fruity pieces and a nice moist filling. The content wasn’t too chewy, which was good, and was consistently well filled throughout the pie. The filling tasted very similar between the two – very fruity sultanas, currants and raisins.

All in all, both were nice Christmas mince pies which I’d certainly want to eat again, even if they were a little more expensive per pie than most other supermarket pies. With a full 11.6p per pie difference between the two, I’d say there isn’t a noticeable enough difference to warrant paying the extra for the luxury pies, even if they do look a bit nicer. But two more Pierate Recommended mince pies none the less!

Marks and Spencer All Butter Mince Pies – Classic Recipe
Score: 5.56/7
[Colour 5.5, Capacity 6.25, Consistency 5.75, Condition 5.8, Chewiness 5.6, Cheapness 4, Content 6, Total: 5.56/7]

Marks and Spencer All Butter Mince Pies – Luxury Recipe
Score: 5.23/7
[Colour 5.5, Capacity 6.25, Consistency 5.75, Condition 4.5, Chewiness 5.6, Cheapness 3, Content 6, Total: 5.23/7]

RAS


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.

Make sure you 
and let us know your thoughts!
continue reading "Marks and Spencer Mince Pies go head to head"

Friday, 26 December 2014

Should you hurry to Harrods for mince pies?

Harrods Luxury Almond and Brandy Mince Pie Review


When it comes to the big names in shopping, few can beat Harrods. One of London’s premier stores – if not the world’s – means that any food which comes from the store’s huge food hall will get savoured across the globe and put on a pedestal of divine deliciousness. Or at least that’s the theory. And hundreds of you have read our review of the Harrods mince pies we rated last year to find out how good they were. But how would these full-sized Harrods mince pies withstand the Pierateer’s 7 Cs as I ate one on Christmas Day? Let’s find out...

Harrods Mince Pie Review Box
The beautiful Harrods Mince Pie box

You may remember that last Christmas we rated the Harrods Luxurious Mini Mince Pie Selection, which contained nine mini pies of three different flavours and featured in the “12 Pies of Christmas” music video we made. This year we were back in Harrods and picked up their Luxury Almond and Brandy Mince Pies. These were full-sized mince pies this year – in fact, probably slightly larger than the average supermarket mince pie, but at a whopping £9.50 for a box of six – that’s 150ppp and easily the most expensive mince pie we’ve rated! – can the Harrods pie really live up to expectation?

Harrods Mince Pie Review
Harrods Mince Pie Review
Well the mix of the fruity filling and almond made this pie taste significantly different in filling to many mince pies out there. You also definitely get a bit of a taste sensation with the brandy, providing a bit of a late kick. One of the issues with this flavoured pie last year was that the ratio of pastry to mince meat was too much on the pastry side, and while the larger pie this time did improve the balance, it was still too pastry heavy. The pastry was rather thick and too dry, not quite balanced well enough by the fruity filling. The filling needed to be a bit moister to balance the pastry better. The capacity was not perfect but pretty good, and with a nice fruity filling it was really just lacking a bit of moisture in the content to be even better.

Altogether the pie tastes nice, the crunch from the almond was good, and the flavour lingered nicely after eating. That said, it was again rather expensive for the privilege at £1.50 for a standard sized mince pie. A posh alternative, but I wouldn’t rush back to get these on my Christmas dinner table again next year.

Harrods Luxury Almond and Brandy Mince Pie
Score: 4.07/7
[Colour 4.5, Capacity 5, Consistency 4, Condition 5, Chewiness 4, Cheapness 1.5, Content 4.5, Total: 4.07/7]
RAS


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

Make sure you 
and let us know your thoughts!
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Boxing Day Pies - Pieday Friday - 26th December 2014



It's Friday! It's Pieday!

Merry Christmas to all the wonderful pie fans who read our Pierate blog!


Boxing Day Football and Pies

If there's two things you think of on Boxing Day, it's a full day's football fixtures and a good leftovers pie! Well for all our Football Pie Reviews, why not check out our Pieremiership Football League table!

But for all those leftovers from Christmas Day, what better plan than to stick them in pastry and make a pie?! There are plenty of Boxing Day pie recipes out there, so whatever you have leftover from Christmas, we hope you find the right recipe for you!


Partridge in a Pear Pie!

Partridge in a pear pie review
Partridge in a pear pie!
You'll no doubt have heard the 12 Days of Christmas song, which concludes with the "Partridge in a Pear tree". But have you ever wondered what a partridge tastes like? Surely your true love would rather receive a pie, than a partridge in a pear tree?! Or better still, a Partridge in a pear pie?

Yes... incredibly this pie does exist and we were grateful to Nice Pie for sending us one to rate this Christmas time! It certainly is a novelty flavour and you can find out how it rated in our Partridge in a Pear Pie Review.

And if that ins-pie-res you, check out all the exotic Nice Pie reviews we have already done, including camel, squirrel and crocodile!

Pie Tweet of the Week!

The 'Partridge in a Pear Pie' certainly proved a talking point on twitter!




Pierate on BBC Radio's The Mark Forrest Show

We were delighted to once again be able to chat pie on BBC Radio's The Mark Forrest Show last week, having previously been on the show back in May!

Listen in to the show on catch up here - with Pierateer Rob chatting pie with Mark for several minutes from 47 minutes in.

Mark kindly called Pierate "one of the best websites out there" and recommended callers take a look and find out if their favourite pie was on our pie rankings list!

Among other things, we discussed the Beef Bourguignon Pie at Manchester City FC - which rated very well - and the crocodile pie we had from Nice Pie.


If you have a story you think would be good to feature in next week's Pieday Friday, send us an email at pierateship@yahoo.co.uk or contact us on Twitter @pierateers 
continue reading "Boxing Day Pies - Pieday Friday - 26th December 2014"

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Duchy wish your mince pies were just like these?

Waitrose Duchy Originals Organic Mince Pies review


It is the season to be merry and eat mince pies, so you might have been wondering whether it's worth splashing out £4 on these 6 Duchy Originals all butter pastry organic mince pies from Waitrose - especially when you can pick up other packs of mince pies for less than half that price.

waitrose mince pies

waitrose mince pies

Out of the packet, these mince pies are in excellent condition and have a lovely golden colour. The all butter pastry is obviously of high quality, as the pie feels solid in the hand and unlikely to disintegrate like cheaper mince pies. The pastry is crispy, crunchy and yummy.

waitrose mince pies

Slicing open the pie, there is a noticeable air gap. I therefore felt these pies needed a bit more mincemeat filling, especially for the price paid. The mincemeat is fruity and tangy, and complements the pastry well. This pie is really delicious, and goes well with some vanilla custard (which is needed as I felt the pie was a little dry otherwise). I would buy them again, even if they are a bit of an extravagant expense.

Waitrose Duchy Originals Organic Mince Pies
Score: 5.65/7 - Pierate recommended
TJP


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.

Make sure you 
and let us know your thoughts!
continue reading "Duchy wish your mince pies were just like these?"

Monday, 22 December 2014

And a Partridge in a Pear… pie?!

Nice Pie Partridge in a Pear Pie Review


You can probably imagine my surprise when, having joked to Nice Pie on twitter “I don’t suppose you do a ‘partridge in a pear tree’ pie for Christmas, do you?” that the answer was yes – yes they do! But perhaps I shouldn’t have been so surprised! After all, Nice Pie have provided us with a whole menagerie of exotic pies that have rated very well on the 7 Cs of pie rating!

Nice Pie Partridge Pie Review
Nice Pie Partridge Pie Review

Of course the Partridge in a Pear Tree is famed as the first and most repeated line in the Christmas tune “The Twelve Days of Christmas”. The partridge in a pear tree was in fact the kick start to what the true love gave over those 12 days of Christmas. But surely what your true love would really want for Christmas is a pie – rather than a tree with a bird in?! The question is… could the partridge in a pear pie be that ideal pie? Could the novelty flavour work in a pie? Is this what we’ve been missing from the Christmas table the last few years?


Last year we turned the “12 Days of Christmas” into the “12 Pies of Christmas”, making our own music video after rating twelve new pies!

Check out the pies and the video here!



The partridge in a pear pie contained – as you might have guessed – large pieces of partridge within a pear and pear cider filling. The pieces of meat were spread through the pie, surrounded by what was like a pear puree with some small crisp pieces of pear. The pastry was crisp and lightly golden, holding well considering how packed to the capacity the pie was with content. There were a few crumbly bits but on the whole held together well and could be picked up too.

Nice Pie Partridge Pie Review
Nice Pie Partridge Pie Review
There were some very big pieces of partridge in the pie, which could have been cut a little smaller and distributed across the pie to spread the flavour a little more, but you certainly couldn’t miss the meaty content of this pie! The partridge itself was a dark meat, a bit chewier than your typical chicken or turkey meat, though it reminded me more of the latter. It was just a little dry in places, probably due to the filling of the pie being more of a moist, pear filling than a gravy-style consistency.

The content was certainly weighted more towards the meat, which I for one wasn’t complaining about! The pear had quite a sweet tang to it, which is a bit more of an acquired taste and not something I had really sampled in much cooking, let alone a savoury dish! It infiltrated the meat and pastry, flavouring the whole pie. While making it quite a sweet dish as a result, this pie certainly lived up to its billing as partridge in a pear pie!

I’d certainly sum this pie up as a novelty pie, rather than one I would regularly want to eat (but then this is very much a Christmas pie!) The sweetness of the pie was a little too much for me to have a large portion, but it would be a real talking point on the Christmas dinner table! To be honest, I still can't believe this pie actually exists! And for such a large meat-filled pie, containing partridge, this was very impressive and unique for just £6.50. For fans of the ‘meat and sweet’ combo I’d certainly recommend giving it a try, however I would also be intrigued by a partridge and gravy pie. Still, that wouldn’t make such a good line in a song…

Nice Pie Partridge in a Pear Pie
Score: 4.64/7
[Colour 5.5, Capacity 6, Consistency 3.5, Condition 5, Chewiness 4, Cheapness 5, Content 3.5, Total: 4.64/7]
RAS


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.

Make sure you 
and let us know your thoughts!
continue reading "And a Partridge in a Pear… pie?!"

Sunday, 21 December 2014

More Merry Christmas

Morrisons Pie Reivews

I love this time of year. I love the Christmas trees, the twinkling lights, spending time with family, turkey, etc, etc. But what really make me excited are the special limited edition festive pies. Sometimes these are bizarre flavour which wouldn't stand a chance of being served on The Pierate Ship dinner table at any other time of year. But at Christmas the rules of the game seem to change slightly. It provides a great chance to tear open the familiar pastry wrapping paper to find the present of a never before tasted flavour. For a Pierateer there seem to have been particularly rich pickings this year. Whilst I feel Morissons have perhaps had more than their fair share of pie reviews (see our list of Morrisons pie reviews), I just couldn't resist when I found no less than FIVE festive pies. But will they leave me wishing it could be Christmas everyday or just a bah humbug? Let's see if Morissons think I have been good this year with a range of mini pork pies, mini meat pies and a winter fruit pie.

Apple and Winterberry (Morrisons Pie Counter)
6.03/7
I don't often review lattice topped pies. I have been known to comment that the filling seems a bit 'naked', but hey, it's the season of good will to all pies. Especially when they taste this good. Similar to the individual apple pie reviewed before.
Condition - 5.0 out of 7 - A great looking pie, I forgive and forget the lattice top lid but it fell apart when going for the cross-section which was disappointing.
Colour - 6.5 out of 7 - Vibrant reds, a crispy golden brown, dusted with icing sugar like the first snow fall of winter.
Cheapness - 5.0 out of 7 - At 65p this is a reasonable price for a desert or snack for one person. Twin pack is cheaper.
Capacity - 6.0 out of 7 - Even a flea wouldn't survive very long if it was left to breath only the air in this pie. It was jam packed.
Chewiness - 6.5 out of 7 - A triumph of texture. A mix of a crunchy biscuity top crust and soft bottom crust. The fruit was soft but had a bit of bite. The berries had some crunchy seeds which I enjoyed.
Content - 6.5 out of 7 - In terms of taste, this is one of the best fruit pies I have eaten. The sweetness of the sugar and apple was counter balanced by the rich and sour flavour of the unidentifiable Winterberries. It didn't get full marks as there could have been more chunks of fruit rather than the fruity jelly padding it out slightly.
Consistency - 6.7 out of 7 - Worked well as a pastry package, the sweet pastry complementing the filling.

Mini Pork & Cranberry (Morrisons)
5.33/7
Condition - 4.8 out of 7 - Again an unnecessary lattice top which was sneakily hidden behind the packaging. It looked decent despite the unnecessary holes in the top.
Left to Right - Stilton, Apple and Cranberry
Colour - 6.1 out of 7 - Amazing glossy brown colours. Filling seemed slightly too pink to me.
Cheapness - 5.1 out of 7 - £1.89 for a pack of six ain't bad even for mini pies.
Capacity - 5.5 out of 7 - For a small pie it fit in a lot. Small gaps for a bit of jelly.
Chewiness - 5.1 out of 7 - Not any chewy bits to the filling but it could have been less mushy. There was a good crunch to the pastry.
Content - 5.3 out of 7 - For me I found this ideal as there was a subtle amount of the festive berry. If you are a big fan of cranberry you might find it lacking. The tang of the berries made this stand out from the average pork pie.
Consistency - 5.4 out of 7 - Different and would work well as part of a Christmas buffet.

Mini Pork & Apple (Morrisons)
4.87/7
Condition - 5.5 out of 7 - Topped with poppy seeds, this made it look a little bit better than standard versions.
Colour - 5.0 out of 7 - Again, some wonderful hues to the outside but the inside didn't look great...
Cheapness - 5.1 out of 7 - Same as cranberry.
Capacity - 2.5 out of 7 - Not sure what Morrisons had done here, terrible cross section, it seemed like a species of termite had burrowed holes in the filling leaving lots of gaps.
Chewiness - 4.5 out of 7 - Slipped down pretty well. It wasn't dry, like it looked.
Content - 6.0 out of 7 - The flavour of this pie blew my mind. Not just a standard pork and apple, it was actually flavoured with CINNAMON! Somehow it worked, in this small dose it wasn't overpowering and gave the pie a refined taste.
Consistency - 5.5 out of 7 - Whilst the amount of filling let this pie down it tasted great and would get the guests talking at a Christmas party as it was delightfully different. Just don't let them look at the filling...

Mini Pork & Stilton (Morrisons Deli)
5.07/7
Condition - 5.1 out of 7 - Dusted with a crumb topping this pie again stood out on appearances.
Colour - 4.8 out of 7 - Not quite such a perfect golden brown like the other pork pies.
Cheapness - 5.5 out of 7 - At £1.29 it is similar price to the others and good value as Stilton isn't cheap.
Capacity - 4.8 out of 7 - The photo looks decent but I found some of the pack had dodgy air gaps.
Chewiness - 3.8 out of 7 - Decent performance from the filling although it was a little mushy. The pastry was unfortunately dry and crumbly in places.
Content - 6.0 out of 7 - For me this was wonderful, the very small amount of Stilton gave it a rich aroma. The mouldy cheese can often be overpowering, but not here. It may disappoint if you like cheese so much you get tempted to steal it from mouse traps.
Consistency - 5.5 out of 7 - Again, whilst this wasn't consistently great, I would get some for a festive feast as it is worth trying.

Mini Beef & Onion (Morrisons)
3.13/7
I was very happy to see these mini meat pies which could be eaten hot. There really is a gap in the market for small hot pies. I would say it was a shame these aren't available all year but they are barely worth eating given the lack of filling.
Condition - 5.0 out of 7 - These critters actually looked half decent, I might even go as far as to say they looked cute, I don't think I have seen a smaller pie.
Colour - 4.8 out of 7 - Good but not special.
Cheapness - 2.7 out of 7 - £2.49 for 6, you don't get much for your 41.5p here. These are tiny and lack the value of the pork pies. You could almost get one of the pie counter pies for how much these tiny things cost!
Capacity - 1.4 out of 7 - Abysmal, these reminded me of the air pie. They were quite tall so could have got a morsel inside but they were all largely empty. Just a smear of filling at the bottom.
Content - 4.5 out of 7 - What there was of the filling tasted nice. Pretty standard meat and onion with a bit of carrot.
Consistency - 3.5 out of 7 - These didn't taste bad but didn't really work. It was just like eating a fairly average and slightly dry shortcrust on it's own.

A mixture of presents in the Morrisons christmas stocking. Most of them I would recommend to try but not necessarily pies I would buy regularly. Perhaps the fact that they are temporary makes them all the more desirable and special.

SJL
continue reading "More Merry Christmas"

Saturday, 20 December 2014

What is it with this weird rectangular lid thing?!

ASDA Boozy Beef Pie Review

If you've been keeping a close eye on your ASDA frozen section, you'll probably have noticed some new enticing additions to the pie section. One of these new additions was this 'Pub Classics' Boozy Beef Pie. Let's see how it rates.

beef and ale pie

beef and ale pie

What is this?! Oh no! Another top-crust pie with a strange rectangular lid embedded with machined-like dimples? Argh! This reminds me of this "pie" from Kershaws. It's most bizarre. Now that ASDA are getting in on the act, it does make me wonder - am I missing something here? Is this actually some sort of traditional type of pie that I don't know about? One where you get a pool of slop and lay a weird pastry sheet on top of it? Please comment below and put me out of my misery.

Anyway, it's very clear that this is not a pie. There are no definable pastry base and sides - it doesn't even come in a pie dish. Bit of a shocker here from ASDA. But there was one saving grace: at least it was better than that Kershaws pie I had. I felt the lid was a bit thicker and crunchier than Kershaws, and was also a nicer golden brown colour. The pie filling actually tasted really quite nice - a good hint of ale, and also quite herby. The consistency was, as you can see in the photo, far too runny, with not nearly enough chunks of meat, but at least the meat was there didn't come in creepy meat cubes like in the Kershaws offering.

At £2, this is a reasonable price I suppose, considering you get the mash too. However, it barely meets the definition of a pie and so loses a tonne of points there, plus it also didn't do anything to fill me up. And finally, I am not a fan of this rectangle lid thing that ends up swimming on top a pool of fibrous gravy. It's not a good look and it doesn't make for a good meal.

ASDA 'Pub Classics' Boozy Beef Pie
Score: 2.6/7
TJP
continue reading "What is it with this weird rectangular lid thing?!"

Friday, 19 December 2014

Pierate on BBC Radio again - Pieday Friday - 19th December 2014



It's Friday! It's Pieday!


Pierate on BBC Radio's The Mark Forrest Show

We were delighted to once again be able to chat pie on BBC Radio's The Mark Forrest Show last night, having previously been on the show back in May!

Listen in to the show on catch up here - with Pierateer Rob chatting pie with Mark for several minutes from 47 minutes in.

Mark kindly called Pierate "one of the best websites out there" and recommended callers take a look and find out if their favourite pie was on our pie rankings list!

Among other things, we discussed the Beef Bourguignon Pie at Manchester City FC - which rated very well - and the crocodile pie we had from Nice Pie.

Pie Tweet of the Week!

Following the above mentioned appearance on BBC Radio's Mark Forrest Show, were were delighted to be called some of the country's biggest pie fans!



World Pie Eating Championships Controversy

You just could not make this stuff up! There has been reported turmoil at the World Pie Eating Championships - held where else but Wigan. Over-sized pies were sent to the venue, meaning competitors were asked to eat half a pie in record speed, something that was then not accepted as an official result. You can read more about the rules and regulations in this BBC News article.


Partridge in a Pear Pie!

Partridge in a pear pie review
Partridge in a pear pie!
You'll no doubt have heard the 12 Days of Christmas song, which concludes with the "Partridge in a Pear tree". But have you ever wondered what a partridge tastes like? Surely your true love would rather receive a pie, than a partridge in a pear tree?! Or better still, a Partridge in a pear pie?

Yes... incredibly this pie does exist and we are looking forward to rating it! We're not quite sure what to expect here at Pierate HQ but we're grateful to Nice Pie for sending us one to rate this Christmas time!

In the meantime, check out all the exotic Nice Pie reviews we have already done, including camel, squirrel and crocodile!


Wycombe's Football Pie Summer Transfer

The Pierateers have rated pies in grounds up and down the country - even appearing on the BBC to offer our pie advice! - and are looking to expand the number of pies in their Pieremiership table! But in amongst all this, they also keep their eyes on the pies for significant summer transfers, which includes changing pie suppliers at our country’s football clubs.

One such club who have made a substitution this summer are Wycombe Wanderers, who you may already know are the local club of the Pierateers following the Morecambe pie visit earlier this year.

Find out how we rated the new pie offering at Adam’s Park – made by Phat Pasty Co. – as Wycombe Wanderers took on Southend United.


If you have a story you think would be good to feature in next week's Pieday Friday, send us an email at pierateship@yahoo.co.uk or contact us on Twitter @pierateers 
continue reading "Pierate on BBC Radio again - Pieday Friday - 19th December 2014"

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Do pies make it all better at Hoxton Pastry Union?

Hoxton Pastry Union chicken pie review

Introducing to you the new eatery in Shoreditch - the Hoxton Pastry Union. This sizable pie establishment has been open near London's Old Street for little over a month, but I felt it was definitely time I walk through its doors and check out what pies are on offer. 



Okay, so the menu actually only has 4 pie options on it. For a shop called the "pastry union" you might expect a slightly wider variety of pies - but I guess I'm just glad they're serving pies in this joint and not pasties, slices or other non-pie pastry goods. 

The description of each pie is rather brief. "Beef", "chicken", "vegetarian" - these aren't particularly descriptive or enticing terms. I would prefer the pie filling is described to me in a little more detail - perhaps with a name for the pie - so I can be excited by it. When I'm spending £5 on a pie, I'd like to know what's in it without having to ask the bar staff. I'm tempted by the fish pie, quite simply because I'm curious to see whether it is actually a full pastry pie, but on the waitress' recommendation I opt for the chicken pie. No sides, thank you. Yes, gravy please but in a separate container.

As I wait for my pie to be cooked, I spot a wonderful sign on the wall. That's brightened up my work day. Pies do make everything better!
And here is the pie, in a take-away container. I would eat it in the shop on one of their funky tables, but I must dash.





The pie is golden in colour - a little more yellowy than I am used too. The lid has a nice shiny glazed surface. The pies are obviously hand-made, which is good, but I would have liked to have seen a bit more attention paid to the condition of the pie - some nice crimping, for example, would have been a good addition.

When I cut the pie open, I note that there is a rather underwhelming amount of filling. The photo below shows one half of the pie, showing you the lack of filling. The other half of the pie was more filled than that, but I struggled to get a good photo as my hands were full. However, this photo does highlight the rather disappointing amount of filling. There were only a few chunks of chicken in my pie - personally I would have expected more filling for the price I paid for this pie.


On tasting, I noted a lovely taste of tarragon and mushroom along with the chicken. In my opinion the filling that was there certainly tasted nice, and the chunks of chicken were high quality with no gristle or chewy meat..

The pastry lid was nice and crispy, but the base and sides were rather soggy and floppy. I initially tried picking up this pie with my hands but I had to put it down again as it felt as if the base was going to break apart.

This pie initially looked large, but actually it felt like this was an illusion - once you got past the pastry lid, the pie was rather shallow and underfilled. My appetite wasn't sated after one pie. You can make up your own mind, and maybe their other pies are better (and I got a dodgy one), but I personally won't be rushing back to Hoxton Pastry Union. That said, the gravy was actually delicious! Some of the best I've had.

Hoxton Pastry Union Chicken Pie Review
Score 3.9/7
TJP
continue reading "Do pies make it all better at Hoxton Pastry Union?"

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Will the Wycombe pies be a phat lot of good?!

Phat Pasty Co Steak and Potato Pie Review


It’s a tough job keeping track of all the comings and goings in football’s summer transfer window, especially with the distraction of the World Cup (and our World Cup pie blog) this summer! But one transfer we Pierateers did spot was a change in the pie supplier at Wycombe Wanderers FC, who are the local club of the Pierateers.

As you may well know, the Pierateers have rated pies in grounds up and down the country and are looking to expand the number of pies in their Pieremiership table! But in amongst all this, having already rated last season’s pie at Wycombe, we rated the new offering at Adam’s Park – made by Phat Pasty Co. who we also rated at Portsmouth FC – as Wycombe Wanderers took on Southend United. Would they hit the back of the net?!

Phat Pasty Co's Steak and Potato Pie Review
Phat Pasty Co's Steak and Potato Pie Review
First things first, let’s remind ourselves that a football pie is one of the hardest pies to get right. And we should know – having been pie advisers to the BBC just a few months ago and even featuring in a video on the BBC Sport website as part of their “Pies of Football” review.

Not only do we want tasty pastry and a fabulous filling, but the pie needs to be able to be eaten by hand and have a not-too-runny consistency to save spills on your football shirt! It can also be difficult to get value for money when in a sports arena, but we take that into account when looking at the cheapness. The steak and potato pie by Phat Pasty Co certainly looked appealing, with a good depth to it and cleverly including the word “phat” into the top pastry. However when Pierateer RAS went to take his pie out of the foil, there was a monumental collapse of the pastry, resulting in the lid and parts of the side being completely separated from the rest of the pie.

Phat Pasty Co's Steak and Potato Pie Review
Phat Pasty Co's Steak and Potato Pie Review
The weight of the pie seemed too strong for the pastry to hold, which was rather surprising given the thickness of the pastry. What seemed to be the issue here was that the pastry was thick and the capacity very strong, but the pastry is not crisp and firm enough to hold the weight properly. This may be partly due to the cooking technique for a football ground, in a deep foil casing, but if it being sold at a football ground it does really need to hold the contents better to get a good score from us. Unfortunately neither of the Phat Pasty Co pies we've had at football grounds have matched the colour and crispy looking texture of the pies on the Phat Pasty Co pie website page.

The content itself was on the whole pretty good, though it was noted that a meat pie – rather than meat and potato – would most probably have scored higher. The potato in this pie though was cooked well, and nice and flavoursome. There could have certainly been a bit more meat and there was a bit of chewy meat in there, but overall the flavour of the filling was enjoyed. The capacity was pretty much spot on and at £3 for a pie, that’s pretty good value for a hot pie of that size eaten out.

Our post match summary then: While we commend a big meat and potato pie with an enjoyable filling, the pastry on this pie sadly wasn’t strong or tasty enough for top marks. It was too thick and still tasted quite floury. For a football pie, the pastry didn’t hold together well enough to pick it up and eat it, so a longer baked and stronger pie pastry would be ideal.

Phat Pasty Co Steak and Potato Pie
Score: 3.36/7
[Colour 3.5, Capacity 5, Consistency 2, Condition 3, Chewiness 2, Cheapness 4, Content 4, Total: 3.36/7]
RAS


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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continue reading "Will the Wycombe pies be a phat lot of good?!"

Friday, 12 December 2014

12 Pies of Christmas re-visited! - Pieday Friday - 12th December 2014



It's Friday! It's Pieday!


The 12 Pies of Christmas - re-visited!

It’s hard to believe that it’s almost a year since our '12 Pies of Christmas' music video was launched! Sure, it may be an overly repetitive song and the budget for the video was not exactly breaking into the millions, but it was good fun to make and – let’s face it – a great excuse to eat lots of festive pies! Check out the 78 pies that feature in this music video here or click here to read the reviews of all 12 pies – 4 turkey and 8 mince pies! There are a few “Highly Recommended” in there too!



Pie Tweet of the Week!

Following our rating of the Marks and Spencer Gluten Free Mince Pies last week, Marks and Spencer were very flattered by Pierateer ALE's comments:



Pierate's Christmas Pie Reviews

You can once again view our festive pies all in one place, with the following links to our Christmas pie reviews:

Christmas Pies

Click for all our Mince Pie Reviews
or
Click for all our Turkey Pie Reviews


In addition, why not check out our interactive pie rankings table and click on “mince” to view all our Christmas mince pies? Just one of many recent developments on www.pierate.co.uk!


Avoid mince pies at Christmas?! Jog on!!!

There's always someone there to bring the mood down at Christmas, isn't there! Call them the Grinch or whatever else, but a top nutritionist in the Daily Mail has advised missing out on Mince Pies this Christmas because they have worked out it takes on average a 45 minute jog to burn off the calories in each and every Mince Pie! You won't be sur-pie-sed to find we're ignoring this advice - instead reminding ourselves of how Pierateer SJL lost weight over British Pie Week on a pie-focused diet!


Football Pies back under the spot light

The Pierateers have rated pies in grounds up and down the country - even appearing on the BBC to offer our pie advice! - and are looking to expand the number of pies in their Pieremiership table! But in amongst all this, they also keep their eyes on the pies for significant summer transfers, which includes changing pie suppliers at our country’s football clubs.

One such club who have made a substitution this summer are Wycombe Wanderers, who you may already know are the local club of the Pierateers following the Morecambe pie visit earlier this year. We rated their Peter's Pies at the ground in January and this Saturday we’re going to be rating the new offering at Adam’s Park – made by Phat Pasty Co. – as Wycombe Wanderers take on Southend United.

Will they hit the back of the net?! Here’s hoping for a better result than when we tried the pies at Portsmouth earlier this season!


If you have a story you think would be good to feature in next week's Pieday Friday, send us an email at pierateship@yahoo.co.uk or contact us on Twitter @pierateers 
continue reading "12 Pies of Christmas re-visited! - Pieday Friday - 12th December 2014"

Do Booths Luxury Mince Pies butter me up?

Booths Luxury All Butter Mince Pies Review

You may remember that back on International Pierate Day 2014, alongside banging on about the 425+ pies we've rated so far, we thought we'd try and solve a mystery:



In order to answer this question, and quite frankly a great excuse to do Piethagoras' Theorem on International Pierate Day 2014, Pierateer RAS decided to try "Mince Pie with every meal", by eating a Booths Traditional Mince Pie with each meal that day.

However at the same time, Pierateer RAS had picked up some Booths Luxury All Butter Mince Pies to see if these would rate even better than their traditional counterparts. As a luxury product they did come at a bit of a premium, costing £2.49 for 6 pies. This worked out at 41.5p per pie, making them considerably more than the 30p a pie for the traditional versions, and quite a bit more than most other mince pies rated as part of the "12 Pies of Christmas" music video last year.

But would this increase in price reflect a far superior product? Having a few friends over for a Christmas lunch recently provided the perfect excuse for Pierateer RAS to try out these luxury pies, alongside James, Will and Christopher, to see which Booths mince pies would rate the best!

The first thing to note was that they had been cleverly wrapped in plastic inside the cardboard box, to give extra freshness. This was also the case for the traditional mince pies that Booths make, but is not always the case. With pies available for quite a few months prior to Christmas this seems a very wise investment if you won't eat them straight away. But how would they rate?


Firstly, the shapes of the mince pies did vary slightly - no standard production line here - which gave the pies a more homely feel. They were taller but slightly smaller in diameter than the traditional Booths pies and this helped improve their pastry to filling ratio. There was a pretty strong capacity, with just a small air gap, and lots of fruity pieces bursting out. It certainly wasn't filled with mince gloop, as a number of mince pies we've rated have been!

Pierate Pierateer Print Michlan
Our birthday print by @michlan
The shape made the pie more structurally integral too, but I did find these pies were once again rather pale and not very crisp. You could certainly taste the buttery flavours coming through the pastry, almost a bit too strongly at times, which made it a bit more of a niche taste. I'd certainly prefer a bit more bite to my mince pie, though the content again was very good and fruity for a mince pie.

These pies were very strongly laced with sugar on top of the pies, which again I felt wasn't really needed (a good pie should not need to be covered in sugar to taste good) but it would certainly please some with a sweet tooth! I think I did prefer the eating experience of the All Butter mince pies slightly more, but might get put off by the price from buying them over the traditional mince pies.

Overall, I found it hard to split the two Booths mince pies really, as they excelled and lacked in different areas. I'd suggest you go for whichever floats your boat (or Pierate Ship) based on our comments, or like me just buy both!

Either way, enjoy your mince pies this festive season!


Booths Luxury All Butter Mince Pies
Score: 4/7
[Colour 3.5, Capacity 5, Consistency 3.5, Condition 4, Chewiness 4.5, Cheapness 3, Content 4.5, Total: 4/7]
RAS

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.

Make sure you 
and let us know your thoughts!

continue reading "Do Booths Luxury Mince Pies butter me up?"

Monday, 8 December 2014

Re-stocking up on the Old Joint Stock pie

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


You may remember that the Pierateers did a joint pie review of the Fuller’s Ale and Pie House chain back in March 2013, with all three Pierateers enjoying the various pies that they ate at a very reasonable price of £9.75. Well fast forward 14 months to May 2014* and we decided to once again stock up on a pie from the Old Joint Stock to see how their pies were fairing on the 7 Cs.

Old Joint Stock Ale and Pie House - Steak Pie Review
Old Joint Stock Ale and Pie House - Steak Pie
*Please note that this is a rating of the Old Joint Stock pie eaten on 6th May 2014 and reviewed shortly afterwards, which has only recently been found to not have been posted on the blog yet! Oops! Therefore – as with any of the pies we review – the pie may well have improved since the pie was rated (back in May).

Old Joint Stock Pie Menu Review
Old Joint Stock Pie Menu
This was once again a group outing to the Old Joint Stock, though this time it wasn’t fellow Pierateers but good friends of the blog @CarolineS_Art and @justinmgardner, who also delved into the pie menu. The pie Pierateer RAS went for was the Steak and ESB pie, compared to the Chicken pie he had thoroughly enjoyed on his last visit. It was immediately noticed that the intervening year had seen a quite significant price increase of £3 on the cost of a pie to a quite substantial sum of £12.75, but seeing as pie is what this pub chain is all about RAS had high hopes for a strongly scoring pie.

As the pie was brought to the table, it was clear a lot had changed since his last visit on the pie front too. Not just the price, but the shape and the pastry lid toping too! Much smaller and thinner, but also taller, than the previous pie, they had also changed from a shortcrust base and sides but big puff pastry lid effort to a shortcrust all the way round style. The summary of this was that Pierateer RAS felt the overall consistency in quality of pastry was stronger in this new version, as it had been noted the pastry varied in quality quite considerably in the last visit, but the lack of a puff pastry lid was a slight disappointment.

However how would the capacity fair? Certainly I hadn’t rated many pies with such height before, but alas when cutting through the pie the disappointment was evident. The capacity was about two-thirds at best, and certainly not the well filled pie he had hoped for, considering it was quite a small circumference to the pie.

Old Joint Stock Ale and Pie House - Steak Pie Review
Old Joint Stock Ale and Pie House - Steak Pie Review
The content was interestingly arranged, with a bottom layer consisting of one large field mushroom, topped with a decent layer of steak and then – in my view – a slightly excessive layer of caramelised shallots. The gravy seeped through it all, with a decent moisture to the pie contents, however there was a definite need for the additional gravy boat provided. We at Pierate have nothing against providing a gravy boat with a pie meal, indeed being very partial at times to a good gravy, but when we are assessing a pie we do expect the pie alone to be moist enough. The filling certainly was, but as the content only filled about two thirds of the capacity, there was a lot of relatively dry pastry which certainly needed the addition of extra gravy.

While the meat was very nice and tender, and the gravy added a nice flavour to the pie, the lack of content in what is quite a costly pie meal does hold it back from getting the high scores of our previous visit. I would eat it again but would certainly peruse the rest of the menu first.

Fuller’s Ale and Pie House [Old Joint Stock] Steak and ESB Ale Pie
Score: 4.61/7
[Colour 5.5, Capacity 4, Consistency 4.5, Condition 5.5, Chewiness 5, Cheapness 3.25, Content 4.5, Total: 4.61/7]
RAS


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.

Make sure you 
and let us know your thoughts!
continue reading "Re-stocking up on the Old Joint Stock pie"

Friday, 5 December 2014

Petitions and Mince Pies - Pieday Friday - 5th December 2014



It's Friday! It's Pieday!


Pierateers ahead of the news!

What makes a pie a pie?! It's a question that no doubt has caused heated debate up and down the country for many a year. We have our own definition of a pie on Pierate. But this week an epetition calling on making "wrongly describing a casserole with a pastry lid as a pie a criminal offence" hit the news, being reported in the Independent among other sources.

However this isn't a new epetition... In fact the Pierateers made you aware of this epetition way back in May of this year! Once again, it appears the Pierateers are ahead of the game when it comes to reporting the pie news to you!

Pie Tweet of the Week!


A star mince pie from M and S

It was great to see the return of our Gluten Free pie reviewer ALE, who this week rated the Marks and Spencer Gluten Free Mince Pies on those 7 Cs of pie rating!

She had this to say: "To summarise, this is a fantastic pie! It doesn't just beat the other mince pies I have scored, it is in fact the best shop brought mince pie I have ever tasted, including gluten ones."

High praise indeed! Check out all her gluten free pie reviews here.


One Hull of a Pie Shop - and looking to expand!

We were delighted to hear that Matt Cunnah - founder of the Hull Pie - has plans to expand his pie making em-pie-re! In an interview with the Hull Daily Mail, Matt was sharing his dream of becoming the "Pie of the Tiger" - supplying Hull City's KC Stadium with half time pies. Maybe he'll one day join our Pieremiership Table as a result!

In the meantime, you can enjoy the Hull Pie in one of three shops at present and we would certainly recommend you do! Two of their pies were awarded "Pierate Recommended Status" on a recent visit!


Pierateers delighted with support of pie party!


The Pierateers held a big 5th birthday bash, and invited 60 of their pie-loving friends along to the event. There were pies galore, with catering provided by the London Pie and Mash Company, top pie-rizes from Paul's Pies, and some amazing homemade dessert pies brought in by the pie fans! And we are very grateful to over 400 of you who have read about our party since! You can read more about the pies here.


If you have a story you think would be good to feature in next week's Pieday Friday, send us an email at pierateship@yahoo.co.uk or contact us on Twitter @pierateers 
continue reading "Petitions and Mince Pies - Pieday Friday - 5th December 2014"

Monday, 1 December 2014

M & S shine like stars

Marks and Spencer - Gluten Free Mince Pie Review


Whilst out the other day a family member presented me with a lovely looking box of four gluten free mince pies from Marks and Spencer. At first one wouldn't think that this was a Gluten Free product as it wasn't packaged in the normal 'Free From' style that most supermarkets use. This was quite nice in a way although I suppose there is the danger that fellow coeliacs might miss them!

Upon opening the box, there were quite a few rather large crumbs which had been dislodged, however, I think this just reflects the transportation after leaving the supermarket. To confirm this I felt it was my duty to eat more than one box and the other box (transported by bicycle) was fine. Although one could argue it may not be a pie as it is not completely enclosed in pastry, I do rather like the pretty star on top instead of a complete lid. But the real question is how would it taste? Would it beat the Pierate Recommended Gluten Free mince pies from Foodamentalists and We Love Cake? See below for scores!

marks and spencer gluten free mince pies

marks and spencer gluten free mince pies

Condition – 5.75 out of 7 – This reflects the fact that the pasty is a little bit crumbly, but this is expected with Gluten Free pastry. its definitely not a pie that you think to yourself "I must not eat this in public to avoid a crumbly mess"!!

Colour – 6.25 out of 7 – Pretty much the optimum colour I would expect for a mince pie.

Cheapness – 5.0 out of 7 – At a bit over £3 this is pretty expensive even for GF products, but i must say it was worth it, especially the first box which was free to me!!

Capacity – 6.0 out of 7 – Couldn't be much better, but it would be quite hard to hide it in this instance because you can see the filling.

Chewiness – 6.5 out of 7 – Normally the mincemeat in mince pies is rather chewy. However, in these it is almost soft. It hasn't got full marks because there is some residual chewiness. The pastry was divine and melt in the mouth!

Content – 6.25 out of 7 – I really liked the taste of the mincemeat which was the perfect sweetness and complimented the pastry very nicely.

Consistency – 6.25 out of 7 – This worked well as a package, really great pie!


marks and spencer gluten free mince pies

To summarise, this is a fantastic pie! It doesn't just beat the other mince pies I have scored, it is infact the best shop brought mince pie i have ever tasted, including gluten ones (before i was diagnosed as a coeliac)!! So if you're Gluten Free, or you know someone who is, don't hesitate to go out to M&S and buy a box of these shining stars!

Gluten Free Mince Pie (Marks and Spencer)
6.00/7

ALE

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.

Click here for all our Gluten Free pie reviews by Pierateer ALE.

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