Thursday, 31 December 2009

Pork Pie Year 2009 Review

2009 was another great pie year, though petering out in the final month, however we sampled 45 different pork pies (counting the two Christmas “novelty” pies)! Trailing the 49 of last year, though of the 43 bona fide pork pies, an incredible 29 were sampled for the very first time. Now we have all the scores in, I can announce our top 5 pies of 2009:
  1. Clarkes Quality Meats, huge pork pie sampled on 26th July
  2. Bray's Cottage, "Naked Pie", sampled on 11th October
  3. “Butlers Choice” R.A. Cawdron & Son, Stalham, sampled on 5th April
  4. Pickerings large pies, sampled on 1st February
  5. G. Morris & Sons - Mega pie, sampled on 26th 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 2008
  4. Clarkes Quality Meats, huge pork pie sampled on 26th July
  5. Graves of Briston, sampled on 9th March 2008
That’s it for 2009, an excellent pie year, with lots of good pie munching. All it leaves me to do, is wish you a good pie munching New Year. Don’t forget your new year’s resolution to regularly visit the Pork Pie News - we have welcomed 3,758 visitors from 58 nations!

Pie Master

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Mince Pies 'n' Port

The third outing of the month was looking in doubt and Mince Pies and Port were purchased in worsening weather conditions. In the event, with a lack of available munchers and a lot of snow, we decided to have a warm day at home. Readers can guess the fate of the pies ‘n’ port... Hic!

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Pie and Paella

Our second pie this month was a Festive Pork Pie with Cranberries, from Wm Morrison. However, the main attraction was to be Paella cooked by José Luis. Since we were to return to the Führer’s for the grazing, it was decided to head out to Tacolneston without pies or tea, as the weather was a bit dodgy. Parking at the village playing field and ignoring the sign that said “car park would be locked following the final game”, as it had been OK the previous time we used it. We made our way south, via footpaths, to Forncett End and then east towards Forncett St. Peter. A short stroll up Aslacton Road brought us to the church of Forncett St. Mary. The grounds had recently been cleared and there were plans to restore this church. We had our sandwiches here, and despite the church having a north-facing porch, we found a scratch dial – upside down and facing west! We headed back west, first along Chenney’s Lane and then by footpaths to return to Tacolneston. We thought we’d give the Pelican a miss in favour of the welcoming Woolands Club. After checking they were open, we retrieved our cars from the, still unlocked, car park and drove back to the club. Some of our number then returned to Norwich in search of paella rice, while the rest of us savoured pints of Polly's Folly from Buffy’s brewery - served by gravity. Suitably refreshed we returned to the Führer’s, where José Luis, aided by Manola & Juan Luis, were cooking the paella. While the paella cooked, we sampled the Festive Pork Pie with Cranberries. This again was a pleasant pork pie with a very good crust. The smooth, bright pink filling had little aroma but was tasty, with the cranberries providing a good accompaniment. Again this “fun pie” will not go on the year’s score card but it was scored in the usual way with a score of 7.625 with a low standard deviation of 0.44320 – so a normalised score of 7.5 for Morrison’s Festive Pie.Manola then took on the role of “Queen Canapé” producing Spicy red pepper Houmous and Orkney crab and prawn layered pâté to be consumed with oatcakes. Margaret & Co. had laid on a fine spread: We had a nicely laid table for the wonderful paella containing seafood, duck and venison with bread and additional mussels. Then for dessert, there were profiteroles with a hot chocolate dipping sauce and Margaret had cooked us a Delia Almond dessert, all followed by Mince pies!

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Fredrick's Fine Foods

For the first of festive pie munching in December, José Luis had sourced a Cheshire Belle Old Spot Pork, Apple & Stilton pie for us to sample, from Frederick’s Fine Foods of Diss. King Canape and the Walk Master were not present, but we welcomed the Führer back into our ranks, who led us on this week’s 6 mile march around Haveringland. To enable us to take in the pub at a suitable distance, we parked by the side of Swiffer’s Lane, at the east end. From here we set off north, up Mill Lane, before heading west along footpaths towards Swannington. Here we found beautiful, well cared for pie filling and sheep in fields. As we arrived at the farm buildings, we were greeted by two vocal, but friendly, Border Collies. Then turning south, we passed Swannington “Farm to Fork” Farm Butchery, which looked as if it would be a source of quality pork pies. We headed east along a footpath, meeting a local with his exceedingly friendly two-year old Cocker Spaniel. He advised us that the farm shop did not sell pork pies, despite requests. We continued east passing the cars, and then south towards Felthorpe. As there was no church on this walk, lunch was taken “on the hoof” as we passed through woods, before we reached the The Street. We then made for the Mariners Arms and enjoyed Adnams in good condition. We retraced our footsteps along The Street and up Hall Lane, before turning left to walk along pleasant footpaths that were rather wet, so large planks of timber provided a path across the boggy bits. These were rather slippery, as our leader found out – landing in one of the bogs! In an instant, José leapt to the rescue and extricated the Führer from a paparazzi scoop! Washing the mud from her glasses, wringing the water from her hair, and a quick wipe down with a couple of tissues, she was once again in command, leading us further north. José Luis, made an equine friend, before we marched up Shooter’s Hill. Crossing the bridge from Green Lane to School Road, we then headed south back to Haveringland and the stocks by the village sign, and walked along Abbey Lane back to the cars. No canapés today, so straight in to the Pork, Apple & Stilton pie. This huge flat pie had a high gloss lattice crust with a layered filling. This was quite different from any previous pies, the Stilton being quite prominent. A very tasty pie, though it could not be directly compared with our traditional pies. However, we did score this pie and it romped in with a score of 8.35714 with a standard deviation of 1.21499 – so a normalised score of 8.5 for this festive offering from Frederick’s Fine Foods. Oaties accompanied any remaining tea.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Martins Farm

Not content with a “hat trick” of new pies to munch this month, the Pie Master produces yet another new pie: from Martins Farm in Hindolveston, purchased at Thorpe Farmers’ Market. Only five pie munchers turned up to sample this delicacy, with forecasts of more rain this Sunday. A four and a half mile walk around the south of North Walsham, incorporating some of the Weaver’s Way, would get us in peak pie munching state... Parking at the Weaver’s Way car park in Station Road, we set off south west, along the Weaver’s Way, and then south, along Drift Lane that then turned east. Passing woods with holly bushes in berry, we continued along footpaths with the 1933 & 1953 North Walsham water towers in the distance, on our left, and the site of the 1381 battle of the Peasant Revolt on our right. Crossing the B1150, Norwich Road, we came upon one of the three crosses erected by Bishop Henry Despencer after he had won the 1381 battle. We continued east, passing Piper’s Pit and crossing the railway line. We then started making our way north, with the Happisburg water tower clearly visible on our right. We re-joined the Weaver’s Way, after a short walk along Field Lane, taking us into North Walsham. Here we visited the huge church of St. Nicholas, and noted it’s scratch dial. Lunch was taken at the 16th century Market Cross. A post lunch pint of “Fat Cat” bitter was consumed in the cosy Kings Arms. A short walk through the town then reunited us with the car and pies... King Canape had produced some fine Smoked Salmon canapés before the pies. The small tin baked pies released a good roast pork aroma when cut and revealed a coarse, pale textured filling with no jelly. The pastry was crisp and tasty, the filling was good and very lightly seasoned, as described on the label. I think the pie was let down a bit by the lack of seasoning, but a quality pie nonetheless. It was very pleasant on its own or with a small addition of mustard and came in with a score of 7.7 with a standard deviation of 0.75829. So a normalised score of 7.5 for Martins Farm of Hindolveston.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

"Norfolk" Pies

The month’s third new pie - “Norfolk” pork pies from the “pie heaven” that is the Black Olive deli in Southwold, listed in the Independent’s “50 Best Delicatessens”. Eight pie munchers, without the Weather Wizard, set out on a 5-mile Boldero walk, extended to 5½ miles to take in a church for lunch. A short walk was thought a good idea as heavy rain and wind gusts of up to 50 mph were forecast. Parking on some hard standing by Alburgh Road, Hempnall, we set off west, in good weather, along a footpath that did not follow the course on the map. Soon we were heading south along Lower Lane where Shaggy Parasols were found and duly harvested. Further on, many Wood blewit” were found and added to the Mushroom Master's haul. Turning left as we passed Lundy Green, storm clouds were gathering in the south. On reaching Spring Lane there was a few spots of light rain. We turned north, up the lane a short distance and, much to José’s disappointment, then turned left along a footpath. José had wanted to continue on to the “Three Horseshoes”, but it was deemed prudent to press on along the Boldero walk before the weather worsened. Walking past a Nursery, the rain increased and it looked as if it would get worse - so those not in waterproofs, donned rain gear. Before we reached Rookery Lane a storm lashed us – gale force winds drove hale stones into us, standing upright was difficult and José Luis had his spectacles blown off his face and into a bush! The firm surface of Rookery Lane was very welcome, and we headed north up it, with the wind behind us gradually abating. We deviated from the Boldero walk to visit Topcroft parish church of St. Margaret, for lunch in the porch. The church was locked and yielded no scratch dials. Leaving the church we noticed a mound of fungus, but not edible. The weather was now bright sunshine and almost no wind – if only we had followed José’s recommendation and had gone to the pub, we would not be soggy and cold. We retraced our steps for quarter of a mile and then we were soon walking along footpaths and finding more Wood blewits. Then across a field of heavy clay and onto a quiet road for the last leg back to the car. Stormy weather again was imminent and canapés were skipped – hot tea and coffee were eagerly consumed, despite the fact we’d forgotten to bring any milk with us. Straight on to the pies, it was now raining again, with a fantastic complete double rainbow, so a case of cut, snap & munch. The good-looking, hand raised pies when cut reviled a dark interior with a very small amount of jelly. The piecrust crisp and the filling nicely seasoned, a hasty consideration of these pies turned in a score of 7.57143 with a standard deviation of 1.17006. With that, we dashed into the cars for shelter. A pie worth re-visiting when climatic conditions permit a more considered verdict.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Select Meats

Another new pie for us this week, from Select Meats of Loddon – source of the Aberdeen Angus and Stilton pie last month. This week the Pie Master had to double up as Walk Master and tea boy. A Boldero walk from Wacton common to Great Moulton and Wacton was extended to six miles to take in the two parish churches. The Pie Master missing the details about parking by the common, elected to start by Wacton church.
All Saints church was locked and had no scratch dials, so we set off south towards the common, with views of Long Stratton water tower on our left. We crossed the common with cows grazing, then continued south towards Pulham Market water tower. At about the two-mile point, we turned west for about a mile and then turned north up Narrowgate Way. We reached Great Moulton and had lunch by the village sign, at just over four miles. A short walk to the lovely Fox and Hounds, where the Adnams was in exceptional condition. Now our troubles began, as we headed for the church and the group of 12 + Bert and Harris got spread out: The speed-walking girls and dogs at the front (with no map), the can collectors at the rear, and the rest of the group spread out in-between. The Pie Master’s very loud whistle came out several times! We reached St. Michael’s church finding it open and having one scratch dial. When it was time to move on, we were two people short – the can collectors had walked past the church and had decided to turn south! The group retraced its steps and the Pie Master gave blasts on his whistle – the can collectors made their way back to the group. Making our way north east back to the cars, we crossed meadows with horses and in a meadow without; Bert caught and killed a rabbit! Tea was taken in the churchyard, a bench seat acting as a table - we had parked by the road and on the huh. Moroccan style and a Lemon & Coriander Houmous, Scottish Smoked Mackerel and Scottish Crab Pâté with celery formed our first course. The pies when cut revealed a nicely jellied pink filling. The crust was tasty and crisp, being wrapped in paper bags rather than plastic. The filling was very smooth – almost Pâté like and flavoursome. Although I personally thought this was a very good pie, some however were disappointed, resulting in a mediocre score of 7.13636 with a high standard deviation of 1.26671. So a normalised score of 7 for Select Meats of Loddon. Shortbread followed the pies as the final course.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Butches Shop Swanton Morley

A new pie for us this week, from The Butchers Shop, Swanton Morley. We had heard much praise of their pork pies, but it would be after 6-miles before we would know whether these pies were worthy of the praise. Parking at Barford village hall, the Walk Master marched us around the village, then off to the parish church of
St. Botolph. No scratch dials being found before, we headed north to Colton, passing the village sign and a barn opposite proclaiming “1666” in large numerals on its side. The church of St. Andrew’s, Colton was our lunch stop. We had visited this church two years ago and found it also had no scratch dials. Heading west to Bickerston, where we then turned southeast, the footpath passing through gardens, one being a “Remedial, Herbal and Holistic Therapy and Wellness Centre B&B”! We then had to mind flying balls as we crossed Barnham Broom Golf Course. Here Charles spotted Saffron milk capsLactarius deliciosus” - the first that he had found. These were gathered, as they are very good to eat. Returning to Barford, we headed for the Cock Inn. Here we were served Dave Winter’s recreation of the Blue Moon Brewery’s “Easy Life” and “Sea of Tranquillity” in top condition. A short walk to the cars where we would sample a Moroccan style and a caramelised onion Houmous with celery. Sobrassada was then produced to compliment our starter. Next, the small, hand-raised pies from Swanton Morley looked good with a glossy crust. Cutting the pie released little aroma, revealing a dark filling with a trace of jelly. Tasting was OK, a medium texture filling lacking much flavour. The pastry tasted pleasant but probably had suffered from the “plastic bag treatment” and was rather soft. So not living up to expectations, the pie scored 7.04545 with a standard deviation of 0.75679 – so a normalised score of 7 for The Butchers Shop, Swanton Morley. Shortbread followed as the final course.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Fungus Foray 2009

This week, King Canape took off his crown and donned the Harris Tweed jacket of the Mushroom Master... Three of us braved the inclement weather and headed to the Plough Inn, where the mushroom munchers were to muster. Here we sampled the Carvery while we waited for the rest to arrive. There were no takers, so just the three of us headed onto the Heath in search of edible fungus. The weather had improved but there was little for the mycologist. We did find a few examples, mainly inedible fungi growing on dead wood. None of the Chanterelles or Amethyst Deceivers – the staples of previous forays. We did find a couple of small Boletus that may have been edible.

The weekend was not completely pie-less – the Pie Master took a quality, lightly spiced pork pie from Martins Farm to Cambridge to sample as lunch, while attending the sparktacular Teslathon at the Museum of Technology. Unfortunately he did not have any Colman’s mustard to enhance the experience...

Sunday, 25 October 2009

G. F. White

Pies from G. F. Whites in Aylsham – “Butcher of the Year” in the Eastern Daily Press, Norfolk Food Awards 2008. We had tasted their pies on the 18th February 2007, when they didn’t fair particularly well. After 6 miles of walking up an appetite around Worsted, we would find out if they had improved. Parking at the Weavers’ Way car park near Briggate Bridge, we headed east for about a mile, following the Weavers' Way along a former railway cutting, passing under the attractive iron bridge. Then going south, we crossed the disused lock on the Dilham canal. The “boys” Bert & Harris were walking with us and soon found a new friend: Max - a black Labrador who then decided to join us on our walk! After a little way, Max would not leave us and return home, so he was put on a lead and returned to the house from where he originated. We regrouped and the boys had now made another friend Bertie: a Border Terrier – thankfully this one was attached to his owner. Dilham church of St. Nicolas was visited at just over 2 miles – no scratch dials here as it was completely rebuilt in 1931. Now heading west, with Don trailing, attacking brambles with his secateurs, we sampled the last Blackberries of the season. Lunch was taken in the large porch of the church of St. Mary the Virgin in Worstead. This large church has two scratch dials, already in our collection, and after perusing the interior; we headed for the comfort of the New Inn. Here we where all made welcome and served pints of Adnams and Wherry. Even “Bisto” the pub dog came down to welcome us, but Bert and Harris were not that impressed. From Worsted, we headed north to once again join the Weavers’ Way path along the railway cutting that we followed east back to the cars. Prawns with mayonnaise were again the starter course, prior to the pies. The pies, unique in appearance with lose fitting tops, looked promising. Cutting revealed a pink filling with good texture. Aroma and jelly were both lacking, but the real disappointment was the munching. The crust was soft and bland and the filling not really tasting of anything. The pie did score 5.83333 with a standard deviation of 0.93095 so normalised to 6 – just below the 6.5 on the previous outing. Yummy Chocolate slab cake was slipped in before Shortbread that concluded our post walk munching.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Aberdeen Angus & Stilton pie!

With the anticipated absence of the Walk Master, King Canape had dug out a Boldero walk and the Pie Master had plotted it on a map. No pie had been purchased due to lack of munchers. At the eleventh hour, the Walk Master declared his availability, so four pie munchers set off for Sisland – the forth being King Can. On arriving at the small car park and finding it full, it was decided to head into Loddon and park in the larger car park in front of the church. The Walk Master deemed that starting from here, it would be preferable to do the walk the reverse direction. Following his lead, we followed and not having gone 100 yards, we came to “Select Meats” - a butcher’s shop that was open. Don popped in to see if they had any pork pies – they had sold out, so one to try in the future. An Aberdeen Angus and Stilton pie was purchased and a jar of horseradish sauce. After returning the pie to the cool bag in the car, we continued our journey through Loddon and crossed the A146 to Stubbs Green, noting three abandoned footballs in as many locations.Heading south west we crossed Stubbs Green, continued down a short length of road and then by footpath towards Loddon Ingloss water tower in the distance. We spotted the first of many hares that we would see during this walk, as we approached Manor farm. We then met a group of walkers doing the same walk, anti-clockwise, having their sandwiches – they had taken the last space in the car park! Crossing Ingloss Lane, we went through an enclosure containing two friendly horses and then made our way north to Mundham, meeting another two groups doing the same walk. Then heading east, to the walk’s start point, the church of St. Mary the virgin, Sisland. Here we had our sandwiches. The church was too new to have a scratch dial, being rebuilt in 1761 after the original church was struck by lighting during a service! From here we headed back to Loddon following the route we had previously driven, with the exception of a footpath across the corner of a field. Returning to Loddon High Street, we ventured up Bridge Street to see what refreshment the Kings Head could offer. Beers from Timothy Taylor were on offer: Landlord and Golden Best - a golden mild. Refreshed we walked the short distance to the car. The Pie Master served the tea while King Canape dished up prawns with mayonnaise. The Aberdeen Angus and Stilton pie was next on the menu with an accompaniment of either horseradish sauce or English mustard. Not being proficient at scoring beef pies, we estimated that this very good pie, with tender beef chunks, would come in at about 8 out of 10. Sausage, bacon and cheese wraps, purchased as a substitute for pork pie, were next consumed before the Shortbread finale.

  Don Warman then made a presentation of Bystanders Foundation Material to Charles – sand excavated from beneath the beer cellar at 5, Thorpe Road!


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