Tuesday 16 August 2016

Chicago Pie Tour

Chicago, the Windy City, was only incorporated as a city in 1837 but is now the third most populous city in the United States with 2.7 million residents. Its location on the shore of Lake Michigan made it an important location for trade and saw the economy expand. This massive growth in population and economy saw people arrive from all over the world. The question we wanted to answer to was what affect has this had on the pies that they have on offer? Indeed are pies common in Chicago? Being based in the UK we have not had much exposure to American pies, in fact we have not reviewed any before. I was aware that apple pies were popular but have often found that what American's call pies we might refer to in Britain as tarts, i.e. a fruit pie without a top pastry lid.

chicago pierate

Work took me to a conference in Chicago (yes, sadly pie reviewing is not quite a full time job yet!). Afterwards I took a day off to do some sightseeing, having never been to Chicago before. It was a packed schedule, I wanted to see some of the tourist sights such as the view from the John Hancock Center but also wanted to try at least a few different pies. When trying to find the best pies in a new city it often seems that they won't be in convenient central locations and will be spread around the city. This indeed was the case in Chicago. High up my itinerary was Pleasant House Pub (home of Royal Pies) and Hooiser Mama, both seemed to be highly regarded. I was also intrigued by First Slice, a charity who use their profits to provide free meals to those in need. Pleasant House Pub was conveniently situated to the south end of the city, where I was based. Hooiser Mama was to the west with First Slice miles out to the in the north.

I found that Chicago had a cycle hire scheme called Divvy, similar to the one in London and used this to travel around. It was slightly dangerous for a few reasons; I didn't understand the rules of the road, the bendy buses seemed keen to take cyclist out and the road resembled the surface of the moon. However, it was great fun as it meant I saw diverse parts of the city I wouldn't have gone to if I had just stuck to the tourist trail. The lakefront in particular was beautiful and had segregated cycle paths. I would have enjoyed it even more if I wasn't melting in the 35C heat. It's just not what I am used to on the hunt for pies in England! Fortunately some of the pies came with ice cream so all was okay.

The pies didn't let me down after all my efforts to track them down. I am pleased to say that Chicagoans seem to be into their pies, there were many more that I didn't have a chance (or occasionally the appetite) to eat in my short visit to such a large city. My worries that none of the pies would have top-crust lids were unfounded based on what I saw. I always found what we would call 'proper pies' available although some options like pecan pie (without a lid) were also present.

Overall I have reviewed 5 pies from my trip to Chicago, see the rankings below;

1. Pleasant House Pub/Royal Pies - Steak & Ale
2. Hoosier Mama Pie Company - Chicken Pot
3. Hoosier Mama Pie Company - Apple
4. First Slice - Apple
5. First Slice - Balsamic Raspberry & Pear

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Monday 15 August 2016

American Pie Season

The Pierateers head stateside to pillage some American Pies 

Over the years we have had many request to rate pies from the USA. However, given that the Pierateers are based in Britain this has not proved easy, the op-pie-tunity has not come up and to get a pie shipped all the way over would not be pretty, much better for the Pierate Ship to head over there itself!

We are pleased to announce that Summer and Fall of 2016 will be American Pie Season at Pierate. Just like London buses you wait a long time for a Pierateer to head stateside and then three go over within a couple of months! Pierateer Rob has been planning a holiday to New York in October for a number of months. Then in August work took Pierateer Sam and Pierateer Tim to Chicago and LA respectively. Have a look at our Chicago Pie Tour to see where Pierateer Sam went. If you have any suggestions for Pierateer Rob in New York or other areas of the East Coast then let us know on Twitter or Facebook.

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Saturday 13 August 2016

Piefest UK celebrates a summer of pie fun!

This weekend (13th-14th August) marks the first ever "Piefest UK" celebration of pies in the one and only capital of pies - Melton Mowbray! From 10am to 4pm on Saturday and Sunday you can sample the many pie-lights of the UK pie scene all in one place - the Melton Mowbray Cattle Market (LE13 0HS)!

We would have loved to have been there this weekend, having been invited along to do a talk on "How to rate a pie" - something we are of course the pie-fessionals at, having been on BBC One's hit show Rip Off Britain as pie experts, among other highlights. However "proper work" - as pie rating is sadly not yet a full time profession! - has got in the way this time, but we hope to be there next year!

In the meantime, however, we very much hope people enjoy the first ever Piefest UK and look forward to hearing how it went! For more information on this first event, in the same town that hosts the annual British Pie Awards, check out their website!

The Ship's Cook made this amazing Birthday Cake Pie!
This official pie extravaganza follows hot on the heels of our very own Pierate Piefest 2016 just a few weeks ago, which was the first time in a long while we'd managed to get all the Pierateers under one roof. We sampled a range of lovely pies, including a crocodile and a game pie donated to us from Pierate Recommended Pie & Ale Manchester! They were both very nice and full of flavour, although split between 4 hungry Pierateers we will need to give them a proper review when we have a whole pie each during our next visit to the shop in Manchester!

However the undeniable pie-light of our very own Pierate Piefest was the Birthday Cake Pie, made by the one and only Ship's Cook! This amazing construction was a vanilla, strawberry and chocolate cake layered into and fully encased in sweet pastry - with a few pirate decorations just for good measure! And it tasted just as good as it looks! Amazing work! The only question we were left asking ourselves was why had we never had one of these before?!?!

This Birthday Cake Pie (a cake in a pie) was followed the next day by Pierateer Rob going to an event hosted by Matt Williams of www.ratemysnack.co.uk - a food website that celebrates giant food and allows people to rate the snacks they see (and even submit photos of their own efforts!) Matt himself had decided to make a "pake" - which is pie in a cake. Although his colossal effort was actually loads of pies in loads of cake!

Matt Williams Pake Pie Cake Review
Matt Williams and his "Pake"

Matt ended up using 10 fruit pies in five layers of cake/pie - with 3 layers of chocolate sponge with cherry pie inside and 2 layers of vanilla sponge with apple pie inside. I personally went for the vanilla cake/apple pie combo and it tasted very good! Great work Matt!

The summer is always a bit of a quieter period for the Pierateers, this summer even more so. Work and life commitments come to the fore but don't worry - there are still some very exciting posts that will be hitting the world's number one pie blog soon! Firstly, if you've been following @pierateers recently you will know that Pierateer Sam has been checking out some pies Stateside!

Yes, our Pierate Ship finally set sail to America, as Sam visited some pie shops in Chicago! However, like London buses, it won't be long until our second visit to America, as Pierateer Rob will be visiting New York in October! Look out for some awesome American pie reviews coming your way soon!!!

And hot off the press is news that on 23rd October the Pierate Highly Recommended firm "Nice Pie" are hosting a Melton Mowbray Pie Eating Competition! We look forward to finding out more about that soon!

As always, keep your pie suggestions coming in, enjoy some summer pies and we hope to review more pies soon!


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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