Sunday, 25 January 2009

Tesco Melton Mowbray medium pork pie

The last pie of the month was a Tesco Melton Mowbray medium pork pie - another new pie, as we've only had their Finest* Melton Mowbray pies before. But first we had to survive another of the Walk Master's "Extreme Walks": Setting off from a lay-by on the A1075, Dereham Road, just north of Shipdham, we headed north then eastwards, to face into the strong winds and rain that made feel even colder than it already was. To add a little spice to the walk we had to climb over a barbed wire fence then cross an active runway. We were fortunate that on this instance, we didn't have to dodge any aircraft - probably due to the weather conditions. Passing the museum of the USAAF 44th Bombardment Group, we came to other obstacles to test us, including a cow poo "lake" to cross and slippery bank & fence to climb. Making it back to civilisation, we took refuge in the church porch of All Saints, Shipdham. The church has a wonderful cupola on its square tower and inside has two fonts and a very old lectern amongst other items to note. The rain that had abated prior to reaching the church, once again started as we finished our sandwiches, we headed off to find solace in the Kings's Head. Here we had good pints of Black Sheep & Wherry by an open fire and an interesting mardle with the locals. Onward, to the cars, a non-challenging mile-long hike along footpaths at the edge of fields. Pâté on oatcakes was passed over due to worsening weather and we went straight into pie tasting. The pies, with rather straight sides, revealed a well filled pie with little jelly, when cut. A slight aroma was present, a "fresh" smell, rather than appetising. "A confident little pie, almost cheeky, if somewhat minimalist" a pleasant pie with not much flavour, helped by the application of mustard. Despite having "Authentic Melton Mowbray Pie" on the wrapper, the pie was lacking in pepper and could not easily be identified as such. The blind tasting resulted in a respectable score of 6.64286 with a rather high standard deviation of 0.98802. A wee dram of 46% Islay Malt, to mark the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns, washed down the pie. Shortcake appeared to accompany any remaining tea. So Tesco scored a normalised 6.5 for its standard Melton Mowbray pies.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

M. Newitt & Son's

A new pie for us this week; small pies from Oxfordshire family butcher M. Newitt & Son's, distributed through Budgens. Aparently Newitt's were voted Britain's Best Butcher's Shop 2002 by the Meat Trades Journal. The location for the pie tasting and the start of our pre-pie walk was St. Swithin's church, Frettenham, with three scratch dials! We headed east towards the B1150, North Walsham Road, taking in some cracking views of the unique 6-lobed, 500,000 gallon water tower at Horstead, built about 1973. Crossing the B1150 and heading south we came to St. Peter’s church, Crostwick. This was our lunch stop, no scratch dials, but it did have snowdrops in the grounds – the first we’d seen this year. Crossing the B1150 again, we headed northwest through Hillside horse sanctuary with many frisky horses romping in the fields, our destination being the Rose and Crown in Frettenham. Here we enjoyed a very pleasant pint of Harviestoun's "Bitter & Twisted". A three quarter of a mile trip back to the church and on to the munching... First on the menu was an offering from Manola, bursting with flavour: Tomato & Basil King Prawns and Parmesan Grissini for dipping in Spicy Red Pepper Houmous. Our pies had a lot to live up to after that, slicing the pies revealed a well jellied, pink meat filling. Lacking aroma, the filling was tasty, but sadly let down by a soft pie crust – I would imagine a baked-on-the-day pie, from the shop, would be very good. However, despite the poor pastry, the pies returned a respectable, spot on 7.0, with a standard deviation of 0.95743. We ended with the customary Shortcake.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

G. Morris & Sons

Pies from G. Morris and Sons were today’s porkie delight, to be sampled in Foxley Wood, once our woodland promenade had been completed: Heading off in a south westerly direction through the wood, eventually turning west along Common Lane towards Bawdeswell. Five red deer were spotted in the distance, along with the top of the 60,000-gallon Bintree water tower. We stopped at the new (built 1953-55) All Saints church for lunch. The old church had been destroyed by a Mosquito bomber during the war. Next stop was for a pint of Adnams in The Old Workhouse, the only surviving pub in Bawdeswell. After a pleasant pint we had to leave this cosy pub and continue our walk on to the locked St. Thomas church in Foxley, where a dubious scratch dial was found by the priest’s door. Returning to the cars for Salmon roulades and Premium Orkney crab terrine on nairn’s rough oatcakes. The pies bursting with aroma when sliced, revealed a pleasant pink filling, complete with a little jelly. The outstanding feature of this pie was the very crisp and tasty crust. The filling had a good meaty texture and lightly spiced, so not delivering a big punch, the application of a little mustard complemented this pie and it romped home with a very healthy score of 7.9375 with a standard deviation of 0.62321. Shortcake completed the grazing. So a normalized score of 8 for G. Morris pies.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Pork Farms Christmas Pie

Shortly after sampling Pork Farms medium pies in November, we start the year with Pork Farms Christmas Large Pork Pies, promising “Succulent well seasoned pork, baked in a flavousome rich pastry”. However, on arriving at this weeks tasting location, the only pies in evidence were pied-wagtails! The Pie Master had left the pies at home! So we marched off without the lure of a portion of pie back at the cars... We set off from Horsey Gap inland on a very bracing day; some would say “it was cold enough for a walking stick with a wheel on”! It was then pointed out that the Pie Master had his shoes on – the trauma of finding ourselves pieless had thrown him and he’d left his boots in the car! Arriving at our lunch location, Horsey mill, a photographic opportunity arose, only for the Pie Master to find his camera was sans memory card! After a prompt lunch stop, we headed off eastwards from the mill and then north to the welcoming warmth of the Nelson Head and a good pint of Woodforde’s Wherry or Nelsons Revenge. Buttoning up, we headed for the coast to view the seals on the beach. A few seals remained and after brief viewing and a mardle with the Seal Warden, we made hasty tracks back to the cars and a warming brew from Josie, who was acting tea lady this week. Shortcake accompanied the tea. We then returned to chez Pie Master & Josie to sample Sardine stuffed Cherry Peppers and then the pies... The dull pastry was not at its best, the filling having a good pink meaty appearance was reasonably tasty, though not enhanced by mustard. They scored a respectable 6.77777 with a high standard deviation of 0.93912 that gives Pork Farms an enhanced rating, with a normalised score of 7.0.