Monday, 31 December 2007

Pork Pie Year 2007 Review

Now we have all the scores in, I can announce our top 5 pies of 2007:
  1. M & M Rutland sampled on 29th April
  2. Tavern Tasty Meats from the Sausage Shop, Holt, sampled on 18th November
  3. P&S Butchers, Holt, sampled on 12th August
  4. Massingham Brothers, Hoveton, sampled on 3rd June
  5. Brays from the Prefect Pie Company, sampled on 8th July
Our all time top 5 pies are:
  1. Mrs. King’s Melton Mowbray pie sampled on 26th November 2006
  2. M & M Rutland sampled on 29th April
  3. Tavern Tasty Meats from the Sausage Shop, Holt, sampled on 18th November
  4. P&S Butchers, Holt, sampled on 12th August
  5. Massingham Brothers, Hoveton, sampled on 3rd June
So an excellent pie year, with four of the tastings making it to the All Time Greats list, but non toppling Mrs. King.

Pie Master

Sunday, 30 December 2007

Budgen’s Deli

On final Sunday of the year, we prepared for our last pork pie, walking around Seething taking in views of the 245,000 gallon water tower at Loddon Ingloss. Budgen’s Deli counter provided one of their own make pies and it was surprisingly good, having the appearance of being hand raised and had a good aroma when sliced. This pie scored 7.71429 with a standard deviation of 0.69664, so that’s a normalised 7.5 for Budgen.

Sunday, 23 December 2007

Tesco Finest* Christmas Extra Large Hand Finished Melton Mowbray Outdoor Bred Pork Pie

Sunday 23rd December we walked from Gunthorpe around Briningham passing near to Bellevue tower built in the 1770’s and later converted into a water tower, now a private residence. Returning to Gunthorpe green we sampled, Canapés followed by Tesco Finest* Christmas Extra Large Hand Finished Melton Mowbray Outdoor Bred Pork Pie – good job we’ve a slim December News. This good meaty pie scored a favourable 7.75 with a standard deviation of 0.6892, so that’s a normalised 8 for Tesco’s pie. If that wasn’t enough for us pie lovers, Liz produced her superb mince pies and Ricky supplied some fine port to wash them down. A score of 10 for Liz’s pies – we needn’t take a vote.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Bystanders Christmas meal

Sunday 16th was the Bystanders Christmas meal at the Barford Cock, so again no Pork Pie tasting again this week.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

No pies at Kirby Cane !

We ventured out the following week to Kirby Cane however, it being close to Christmas, Charles and I took the executive decision to skip the Pork Pie tasting this week!

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Rain washed out pie munching!

The first tasting of the month, scheduled for the 2nd of the month was cancelled as we wimped out of walking in the rain! It was a pretty rough day initially, though it did ease up a bit after dinner.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Thornton’s Chocolate Birthday cake

Sunday 25th November we walked from Honningham and as it was Josie’s birthday, she bought beers at the Ugly Bug – the Ugly Bug Ale was quite a hit. On returning to Honningham, we had Canapés and Cava followed by Thornton’s Chocolate Birthday cake rather than a pie (at Josie’s request) much to the disappointment of Paul Pac-Soo.

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Tavern Tasty Meats

A wet walk on Sunday 18th from Rollesby, thankfully produced a dog friendly pub in Martham, where we enjoyed a good pint and Giada got treats from the landlady. The walk unfortunately did not provide good views of the futuristic “space rocket” water tower at Martham, just 40,000 gallons at TG 45926 19003. Returning to Rollesby we sampled a pie from the Sausage Shop in Holt, who sell “Tavern Tasty Meats”. We actually tried one of these pies a year ago, on the 17th of November 2006! This was sourced from Wymondham Farmer’s Market by Ricky. Our pie scored a very respectable 8.9 with a standard deviation of 0.65912; previously Tasty Tavern’s offering scored a spot on 8.5 with a standard deviation of 0.83666 (we sampled smaller pies last year, so a higher pastry to meat ratio). So a consistent showing for Tavern Tasty Meats with a normalised score of 9. The 1960's “space rocket” water tower at Martham that we didn't get a good view of. A small, 40,000 gallon tank, at TG 45926 19003.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Banham’s of Gloucester Street

I was back for the second tasting session after the wombling good walk around Great Hockam, finding quite a few cans along the way. Stopping at the Eagle public house where they didn’t allow the dogs in, their outside bin yielded another ten cans. As we got back to Great Hockam Forrest the can collecting notched up a couple of gears, filling the first carrier bag and requiring a second. Don also found a car battery – luckily for Don this was near to the end of the walk and had a carrying handle. We were well served for the pie tasting by the provision of a picnic table. The pies this week were small pork pies with a good appearance from Banham’s the butcher in Gloucester Street. The pastry was very good and the greyish filling did the business but not exceptional giving an average score of 7.88888 with a standard deviation of 0.65085, so that’s a normalised 8 for Banham’s.

Sunday, 4 November 2007

G. Morris and Sons, Fat Cat public house

While I was in search of non-existent Water Towers in sunny Jersey, Don did us proud and produced two different pork pies! He also did an excellent job of recording the scores. After a walk around Bacton wood, the pie munchers gave their verdict at Briggate on a pie from G. Morris & Sons on the Heartseas: This scored 7.916666 with a standard deviation of only 0.37638. The second pie from the Fat Cat public house did slightly better scoring spot on 8 with a slightly higher standard deviation of 0.44721. So that’s a normalised 8 for both the pies. (A G. Morris & Sons pie was last sampled on 21st January this year, scoring a 7.5 and we sampled a Fat Cat pie on the 20th May when it scored an 8).

Sunday, 28 October 2007


Sunday 28th October’s walk started wet and we started by searching the church at Chedgrave for scratch dials, of which we found two. Meanwhile Don Warman assumes we’ve started the walk and heads off down the footpath by the side of the church. We realise we’ve lost Don and return to the cars and search around but can’t find him. Don returns to the cars and doesn’t find us… We continue our walk to Hardley for the lunch stop. On returning to the cars, there is no sign of Don so we head to the pub to find him (that’s our excuse) after a pleasant drink we return to the cars to find Don with a big bag of cans! At last we can start the serious business of judging this weeks pie from Pickerings. A very pleasant pie that scored well on all counts and for the first time everyone gave the same score - an 8, even Josie tasting it at home after the walk gave it an 8. We had a Pickerings pie last October, on the 15th, where it scored a normalised 7.5 at Alby. A short Pork Pie News this month, so I’ve space to congratulate Dr. Manola of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for winning the Nobel Peace Prize – well done!

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Trafalgar day - Archers (Est. 1929)

Trafalgar day saw us taking the train from Reedham Railway station to Berney Arms and walking back to the Railway Station. We called in for a pint at the Ship – unfortunately, the Lord Nelson wasn’t on the route. The good news was that we did have enough pie munchers to form a quorum and we had two medium pork pies from Archers the butchers (since 1929) recent winners of the best Norfolk Banger competition for the second time in a row. The pies had a good external appearance and released a lovely bouquet when cut. The piecrust was very good, perhaps due to the fact it was fresh – pies were still slightly warm when purchased on Saturday. The filling lacked oomph… and it wasn’t helped as the mustard had disappeared! I think mustard would have helped this pie achieve a higher score than the 7.1 on this occasion; the standard deviation was high at 0.89443. So quite an average normalised score of 7 for Archers

Sunday, 14 October 2007

Fungus Foray

October the 14th was the Fungus Foray, so no pies but Risotto and Mushrooms expertly cooked by David Atkinson back at the Volunteer bar in Charles’ basement. So time for another Pie Interlude: Last month A hand-made pork pie made by Walter Smith’s butchers of Staffordshire won the top prize in a competition to find the best food product in Britain, reported the Independent. The 450g (what’s wrong with a pound?) pie made from cuts of belly and shoulder of free-range pork was named the supreme champion of the Great Taste Awards, which judges more than 4,000 food products submitted by artisanal producers from across the United Kingdom. The competition was run by the Guild of Fine Foods.

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Bison Jerky

October's first walk around Foxley and Foulsham was without dogs and pies! However thanks to Paul Pac-Soo’s recent visit to Canada, we had Bison Jerky with our pint at the Queen's Head. Then it was 2 miles back to the car with the 60,000-gallon, 12 legged Bintree water tower to guide us. Canapés and tea were taken at just outside Foxley woods.

Sunday, 30 September 2007

Sausage Shop, Holt

Finally, four of us had an interesting walk around Kenninghall, on the last Sunday of the month. Despite having the very tall, 265,000-gallon water tower as a reference point, we ended up walking through someone’s garden, we later thought we shouldn’t have! We did have an excellent pork pie to end with from the Sausage Shop in Holt (with an indicative score of 9.125) however too few pie munchers to form a quorum, so not included on the score sheet – I look forward to judging this properly at a later date!

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Pâté en Croûte Cocktail and Carters of Acle

The penultimate September walk from Little Barningham was quite uneventful, but the highlight was at the end when we had two pies to sample! The first offering was provided by Gilly Hudson and was a French “pork pie” – actually a “Pâté en Croûte Cocktail”. This had a soft pastry with a pâté filling. Although tasty, this was judged, rather harshly, as a pork pie, unsurprisingly it only scored a 4.75 with a high standard deviation of 1.6046807. Josie hoping to repeat her good pie selection of earlier this month produced three small pies from Carters Family Butchers of Acle. These pies were badly let down by an exceptionally lardy pastry, the meat filling itself was quite acceptable, though not a great pie with only a score of 5.571429 and a standard deviation of 0.8380817. So that’s a normalised 5 for the Pâté en Croûte Cocktail from France and a 5.5 for Carters of Acle.

Sunday, 16 September 2007


On Sunday 16th, we walked around Alburgh (Norfolk) coming across an old David Brown tractor and gathering lots of sloes & blackberries. We crossed the oldest concrete bridge in Britain, to enjoy a very pleasant pint of IPA, but this was not followed by a pork pie! We didn’t have enough pie enthusiasts to form a quorum, so I present the following Pie Interlude: In the town of Pisov in the Urals, there is a tradition that the suitor for a maiden's hand, bakes a great pork pie in the shape of a true lover's knot. This he cuts in half. He keeps one half. Riding by night with his companions he tosses the other half into the chamber of the beloved, as she lies sleeping. If the maiden is up for it, her half is paraded at the Pisov, Great Pork Dripping Fair and she becomes betrothed to her suitor on production of the matching half. Now it’s no good reading the Encyclopedia Britannica or searching Encarta or Wikipedia for such Pork Pie traditions - you need to consult the Bystanders web site at

Sunday, 9 September 2007

Arthur Howell

Josie produced the goods on the second outing of the month: A large pie from Arthur Howell Butchers of Wells-next-the-Sea. After an eventful walk around the Raynhams, where we stumbled upon Raynham Hall’s, Grade II listed, water tower & Giada decided to go swimming in a ditch she couldn’t get out of on her own, the Pie tasting commenced: The pie had a very good appearance but the proof of the pie is in the tasting and it did not disappoint, scoring 8.2 with a standard deviation of 0.4472136 - so that's a normalised 8 for Arthur Howell of Wells-next-the-Sea.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Pork pie brings home the bacon in food awards

The Independent reports today, that the pork pie is one of the world's leading delicacies... You can view it online by clicking here. The pie that came top of 4,000 food products was from Walter Smith's butchers in Staffordshire.

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Sainsbury’s Melton Mowbray Lattice pork pie

We started September as we ended August, with an offering from Sainsbury’s: A Melton Mowbray Lattice pork pie. This was consumed in Harleston (Norfolk) library car park, after an anti-clockwise walk around Harleston - it’s 1939, 200,000-gallon water tower acting as a central reference point. Following the “music” accompanied walk (a rave was going on near by) and an indifferent pint at a very welcoming pub with two dogs, we got down to the serious business of judging the pie! Not a bad appearance with a pinkey grey filling, the flavour was nothing inspiring and a little salt, reflected in it’s very average score of 6.9 or 7 after “normalisation” with a standard deviation of 0.547722558.

Sunday, 26 August 2007

Sainsbury's Taste the Difference, Hand finished pork pie

The last outing in August was an all male (Giada excluded) around Coltishall, visiting the very interesting & well-documented Belaugh Church and the Red Lion in Coltishall. We returned to our cars at Coltishall railway station, where we consumed Mediterranean delights followed by a Sainsbury's Taste the Difference, Hand finished pork pie (I believe this to be a different offering to that presented on the 22nd of last month (score 7)). This pie had a rather hard pastry, but a good pie, reflected in the score of 8.1 but with a standard deviation of 0.821583836. So, that's it folks – Charles’ Mrs. King's (since 1853) still keeps her first place, and his P & S pie takes Pie of the month – a true Pie Master!

Sunday, 19 August 2007


On Sunday 19th we didn’t have enough pie enthusiasts to form a quaruem, so I present the following Pie Interlude: The Water tower at Shelton, near Shrewsbury is known locally as the “Pork Pie”.
Photograph ©2006 Andy Crouch BA ARPS

Sunday, 12 August 2007

P and S Butchers of Holt

Charles supplied the second offering of the month: Two large pies from P & S Butchers of Holt, located in Bull Street – formally Tower Street due to there being a 56ft high, 15,000 gallon, brick water tower at the end of it on Shirehall Plain (1885-1957). Only four of us, the Führer being awol (plus Coffee and Giada) walked around Winterton-on-Sea on the hot Sunday, where we took refreshment at the Fisherman’s Return before returning to the cars, to sample Canapés, Pork & Pickle balls, the Pies and some sampled Liz’s Lemon Cake!!! The pie (we only sampled the one) had a good external appearance and a nice pink pork filling – just as I think a pork pie should be. There was a small amount of jelly and little air space within the pastry. The pastry was pleasant and light and the filling flavoursome benefiting from the addition of mustard to bring out its full potential. This wonderful pie scored a stonking 8.75 with a standard deviation of only 0.288675135 - so that's a normalised 9 for P & S Butchers of Holt.

Sunday, 5 August 2007

Waitrose Lattice pork pie

We opened the batting on Sunday the 5th with a Waitrose Lattice pork pie after a shaded walk round West Runton, on a very hot day. This pie was tasted “naked” – I forgot to bring the mustard! The pie’s appearance was good, having a pleasing pink meaty filling. The proof is in the eating though… a very lardy pastry let this pie down and I’m sure the addition of mustard would have levitated its score… however this pie scored 6.857142857 and with “normalisation” scored a 7 on the pie board – I don’t think the mustard would have pushed it up above a 7.5. For the statisticians the score had a standard deviation of 0.748013242.

Sunday, 29 July 2007

Dickinson & Morris of Melton Mowbray

The last walk for July, where we collected chanterelles and wild plums concluded at the site of the former Swanton Abbott Railway Station, where we sampled a previous pie - a Dickenson & Morris of Melton Mowbray (I thought it was Morris & Dickinson) due to me not going to a new supplier soon enough - something for August. Dickinson & Morris produced a pie with a good aroma, tasted very porky, leaving a peppery after taste. This pork pie scored a very respectable 7.642857143 with a standard deviation of 0.55634864 - so that's a normalised 7.5 for Dickenson & Morris. We consumed a Dickinson & Morris pork pie at Wood Norton, near Guist on the 3rd September last year where it scored a normalised 9!

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Sainsbury's "Taste the Difference"

Sunday 22nd saw us sampling a Sainsbury's "Taste the Difference" pie at Wells-next-the-Sea after a walk where we spotted a Natterjack Toad. This pie had a good aroma, but was a bit dry, it's jelly was good, scoring a respectable 7.125 with a standard deviation of 1.026436276! - so that's a normalised 7 for Sainsbury's.

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Cow biscuits!

On Sunday 15th we didn’t have enough pie enthusiasts to form a quaruem, so “Cow biscuits” (Malted Milk) were substituted… We endured a cloud burst travelling home – a result of such blasphemy?

Sunday, 8 July 2007

Champion public house, Gloucester Old Spot

At the end of our July 8th walk, I produced at Weybourne Station, full of high expectations, some Gloucester Old Spot pork pies from the Champion public house. These appeared raw and tasted no better! So they scored Nil points - taking the booby prize away from Fryer's on Norwich Market who scored a normalised 5 when we sampled them in South Pickenham in August last year. I returned to the Champion with remaining pie, they claimed, "Yes, that's how they are. We cook them ourselves and ensure the filling reaches 80 degrees centigrade before they come out of the oven." They were still raw in my eyes - I cooked the remaining pie for 40 mins @ gas mark 8 and it was then quite palatable, but nothing special.


The first pie consumed in July, on the 8th, was the wonderfully Gamy Brays pork pie, that Paul produced in Sheringham Park mid walk, made from Saddleback rare breed pigs with a touch of onion marmalade, this scored a very welcome 8.5625 with a standard deviation of 0.678101341 - so that's a normalised 8.5 for Brays. We had consumed a Brays pork pie in Binham on the 22nd April where it scored a normalised 8 - we're developing a taste for them...

Sunday, 24 June 2007

Pork Farms

After a very wet walk from Warham, where Giada laid down in almost every puddle - her perfect walk! The 2 pies from Pork Farmswere very different, one very salt the other bland... the combined scores averaged 6.3 with a standard deviation of 0.670820393 - so that's a normalised 6.5 for Pork Farms.

Sunday, 3 June 2007

Massingham Brothers of Hoveton

Spotted by Charles, Massingham Brothers of Hoveton looked the sort of butchers that would produce a good pork pie. Pies were purchased on Saturday and consumed the next day at Wheatacre, they had great pastry and the filling must have been good to as they scored 8.75 with a standard deviation of 0.96362, giving Massingham Brothers a normalised score of 9.

Sunday, 27 May 2007

No pies today !

Some pie muchers were on holiday the rest had marched down south in the rain on the orders of the Führer without the pies!!! We didn't wish to join them making an early start, so ventured to Winterton-on-Sea with Giada and walked down the coast dodging the rain until the last 5 minutes when a little rain started. Once in the car the heavens opened - The Führer & Co. had been walking in this!
Josie and Giada with foamy feet on winterton beach

Sunday, 20 May 2007

Fat Cat public house

Pies from the Fat Cat public house were to be sampled today. This was consumed at Bradenham and scored 7.91666 with a standard deviation of 0.37639. So the Fat Cat scores a normalised 8 on this occasion.

Sunday, 6 May 2007

Frank Spurgeon

We sampled pies from Frank Spurgeon today after our pre-pie amble from Irstead. This is what I call a pork pie, nice pink meat with jelly on top. The pie munchers agreed, awarding Frank Spurgeon 8.14286 with a standard deviation of 0.24398. So a normalised score of 8 for Frank Spurgeon.

Sunday, 29 April 2007

M and M Rutland Butchers

Gelderston was the location to try these fine pork pies that Paul had purchased from M & M Rutland Butchers, in an attempt to provide the best pork pie. Not only had he chosen to source his pies from a quality butcher, he had an accomplice in Liz - he'd bought them frozen & Liz had cooked them just hours before they were sampled for optimum freshness... it paid off, for these pies with a little onion marmalade came in with a stonking score of 9.28571 with a standard deviation of 0.56695. This gives M & M Rutland a normalised score of 9.5, the same as Mrs. King but she had a lower standard deviation and higher native score, so appropriately, retains her crown.

Sunday, 22 April 2007


Organic Saddleback pork pies from Brays were sampled at Binham today. These were quite gamey, but hit the spot scoring a high 8.16666, just beating last weeks pie from Sillfield Farm. The standard deviation was a low 0.25. A normalised score of 8 then for Brays.

Sunday, 15 April 2007

Sillfield Farm

Great Yarmouth was the venue to savor another great pork pie delicacy that Charles sourced from Borough Market. This large pie was from Sillfield Farm in the Lake District, who specialise in amongst other animals free range rare breed pigs. This probably accounts for the pies filling having a nice meaty texture scoring a tasty 8.23636 with a standard deviation of 0.74468, so a normalised score of 8 for Sillfield Farm.
Born in 2005, no two piglets were alike, the mother is a black and white Saddleback.

Sunday, 18 March 2007

Heath Farm Foods

A pleasant walk around the wilds of Wymondham worked up an appetite for a medium pork pie from Heath Farm, following a pint of Canary in the Railway Tavern. It was raining, so that probably accounted for the fact that I did not record any details about the pie other than it scored 7.85714 with a standard deviation of 0.69007. So that's a normalised score of 8 for Heath Farm medium pies.

Sunday, 11 March 2007


After some fresh sea air, we sampled a couple of pies from "Samphire" at Blickling Hall that Liz had kindly purchased, after our walk at Blakeney. These had a nice light crust with a crumbly meat filling scoring 7.875 with a standard deviation of 0.51755, so a normalised score of 8 for Samphire.

Sunday, 25 February 2007

R T Harvey Ltd

Today we had another gamey pork pie from R T Harvey Ltd. Our pre-pie walk started at the church in Ormesby St. Michael, that boasted a scratch dial. From here we walked via Ormesby St. Margaret, where the church there also had a scratch dial, to the King's Head for Birthday beers. Returning to Ormesby St. Michael, we had canapés and champagne (supplied by Josie), pork pie, judged to score a normalised 7.5 (the same score as it received on the 17th of December at Gunton) followed by birthday cake! Meanwhile Don had gone into the church yard to let off a few celebratory fireworks!!! Is it any wonder I can't recall too much detail about the pie!
Scratch dial at Ormesby St. Michael                        Scratch dial at Ormesby St. Margaret

Sunday, 18 February 2007

G. F. White

Today we walked from Salle, home of an elegant 12 legged, 100,000 gallon water tower, to work up our appetite for our pies from G. F. White, traditional family butchers of Aylsham. I'd sampled one of their superb sausage rolls the day before, so was sure these would not disappoint... They looked good, but the pastry was very hard and the meat filling didn't have the wow of their sausage rolls, so only a normalised 6.5 for G. F. White.

Sunday, 4 February 2007

Bakers and Larners

Bakers and Larners of Holt provided the pork pie this Sunday. It was tasted following a walk from Baconsthorpe near by. The pie had a very good appearance and was very tasty scoring a normalised 8.5 - stealing the title of "Pie of the year" from Walkers fluted pie, last week.
The 1950's, 200,000 gallon water tower at Baconsthorpe, note unusual octagonal windows

Sunday, 28 January 2007

Walkers fluted pie

After a walk round Mattishall and a pint in the Swan, a Walkers fluted pie from Tesco Deli was sampled, this had a nice peppery meat filling and scored a normalised 8. This makes it "Pie of the month" and of course "Pie of the year" (so far).

Sunday, 21 January 2007

G. Morris and Sons

Pies from the Pie Master's local butcher, G. Morris & Sons were sampled at Bunwell, where they scored a normalised 7.5.

Sunday, 14 January 2007

Dickenson and Morris mini pies

Following the bracing air of Sea Palling and a pint in the Old Hall Inn to celebrate Spencer's birthday, we sampled another Dickinson and Morris pie - this time mini Melton Mowbray pork pies. The pork pie munchers rated these at 7.5.

Sunday, 7 January 2007

Waitrose pork pie

We started the year with one of Waitrose's own pork pies which we sampled at Worstead. All I know about this pie was it scored a normalised 7 out of 10.