Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Pork Pie Year 2008 Review

What a cracking pie year 2008 turned out to be – sampling 49 different pork pies (counting the two cheese topped “novelty” pies)! Now we have all the scores in, I can announce our top 5 pies of 2008:
  1. Gloucester Old Spot from Picnic Fayre Deli sampled on 11th May
  2. Graves of Briston, sampled on 9th March
  3. E.E. Pratt & Co., Drayton, sampled on 27th April
  4. Hewitt's, Mattishall, small pies, sampled on 8th June
  5. Dickinson & Morris of Melton Mowbray, sampled on 6th April
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 2007
  3. Gloucester Old Spot from Picnic Fare Deli sampled on 11th May
  4. Graves of Briston, sampled on 9th March
  5. Tavern Tasty Meats from the Sausage Shop, sampled on 18th November 2007
That’s it for 2008, an excellent pie year, with two of the tastings making it to the All Time Greats. All it leaves me to do is wish you a good pie munching New Year.

Pie Master

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Jim's Peak District Pie

Staci supplied the last pie of the year: from New Close Farm Shop in Derbyshire. But before we could start munching on this Peak District, Porky Delight, we had six miles of yomping to do around “Kett’s Country”. Starting from Bracon Ash village hall, our first port of call was St. Nicholas church, Bracon Ash, without tower or scratch dial. We then ventured on towards Hethel, passing ' Hethel Old Thorn' observing a hunting barn owl, before coming to All Saints church with its mausoleum to the Branthwaite family and monument to the USAAF 389th Bombardment Group. Onward, passing near the Lotus car factory then turning south, passing a field with a fox mawkin, to Wreningham via Penny’s Green, eventually reaching our lunch stop at another All Saints church. Unfortunately locked, but it did have a scratch dial to add to our collection. Fortified, we headed back to the car, resisting the temptation of the 'Bird in Hand' however, the Walk Master again produced another “bar in a car” with a different selection of tipples including “Prune Brandy” from Transylvania! This was supplemented by the Pie Masters Blackberry Whisky. Now onto the pie... a uniform pie with glossy pastry, its large vent hole revealed that this pie was nicely jellied. Cutting the pie revealed a good-looking pink interior with little aroma. The meat filling was pleasant and not improved by the addition of mustard. Unfortunately the pie was let down by the chewy, non-lardy, piecrust, perhaps the result of storage in its plastic wrapper. The pie therefore, only scored a spot on 7.5 with a reasonably high standard deviation of 0.86603. Quality Street & Italian Amaretti biscuits concluded the last pie munching of 2008.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Christmas Pies

What do pie munchers do at Christmas? Munch pies of course! Josie had provided festive pies from the pie emporium at Bakers & Larners. Just as on other weeks of the year, we could not sample the pies until we had gone for our stroll around the countryside. Starting from the Victorian St. Peter's church at Haveringland, with it's round Norman tower, we headed westwards across the old wartime, Swannington aerodrome to St. Nicholas church at Brandiston. On past Guton Hall and Little Witchingham Hall to Ketts Lane – Robert Kett was captured in Swannington after the rebellion. We passed the lumpy bumpy yew hedging of the 1675 Swannington Manor as we approached our lunch stop, the church porch of St.Magaret. After recoding the church's fine scratch dial and eating our sandwiches we headed east, past Swannington Hall (scene of many Bystander parties, hosted by Bob Wyles, in the 60's). We continued passing fields of pie filling, before returning to the cars. No pub on the route this week, but our Walk Master soon got us into the festive spirit, producing a “bar in a car”,
to provide a tipple to go with mushroom quiches. Two types of “novelty” pork pies this week: Pork pies with Leeks and Stilton and Pork Pies with Smoked Lancashire cheese and piccalilli both from Lune Valley Real Foods – Yummy! No scores as these were just festive foray into non-mainstream porkie delights. Shortcakes completed proceedings.
Pork pies with Leeks and Stilton and Pies with Smoked Lanc. cheese & piccalilli

Sunday, 14 December 2008

R T Harvey Ltd

Our first pie of the month was from R T Harvey Ltd, last sampled at Ormesby St. Michael on the 25th February 2007. The highlight of our pre-pie walk from North Tuddenham, was the return of Giada, who last walked with us on the 28th September after being diagnosed with Kidney failure on the 26th June. We headed north in the mist to Elsing, observing a hare hossing across a field at break-neck speed and three deer. It was not all plain sailing, as a dike crossed our path; a detour to where it was not quite so deep provided a very muddy and slippery crossing. Arriving at the church of St. Mary for lunch, a note on the door requested that we did not enter as it was awaiting police inspection. It appears that this was one of the churches that were ransacked this weekend – several windows had been broken. A short walk over the road took us to the warm and welcoming Mermaid Inn, where a good pint of Golden Jackal or Wherry was served. We returned to the cars via footpaths that took us over fields of heavy clay soil that even stuck to Giada’s paws! We arrived at Poppy’s Wood to be reunited with the cars in failing light at just past 4 O’clock, for Sweet potato and Coriander & lemon Houmous, to be sampled on nairn’s mini oatcakes. Then on to the pies that could be barely seen – the fine looking pies released no aroma when cut and revealed a dark filling with a hint of jelly around the edges. These pies hit the spot, even more so with the addition with a dab of mustard. The pastry was good and crisp, the filling having a good meaty texture, lightly seasoned with a gamey flavour. They scored a very respectable 7.57143 with a high standard deviation of 1.17 gives Harvey’s their third normalised score of 7.5. Shortcake appeared to completed proceedings before we headed home in the dark.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Bystanders Christmas meal

Sunday 7th was the Bystanders Christmas meal at the Marlingford Bell, so no Pork Pie tasting this week. The Walk Master provided some of the entertainment... staring as "the hole in the Elephant's bottom"!