Sunday, 22 February 2009

Wm. Morrison Large Melton Mowbray pork pies

The delicatessen at Wm. Morrison provided the last pie of the month – large Melton Mowbray pies. We hadn’t tried these before – Melton Mowbray, hmmm... they didn’t look like Melton Mowbray’s, appearing to have been baked in fluted moulds, rather than free standing as tradition dictates. But before we could sample these, we had one of the Walk Master's interesting walks – you cant say he doesn’t have stile – this walk had at least ten! (A rupture of stiles?) Setting off from the car park at New Buckenham Common, we headed for St. Martin's church to look for scratch dials, of which we found none. We then headed east to Old Buckenham, skirting round the rampart and moat of the New Buckenham castle. Heading north as we walked around Warren Plantation, we eventually came to the 1818 Old Buckenham mill – the widest tower mill in the country. Onwards to sandwiches in the porch of All Saints, Old Buckenham. This church had been extensively rendered so no scratch dials were visible. We then visited the “ Ox and Plough” for a pint of their very acceptable “Ox Ale” at £2.20 a pint, brewed by Worthington’s. We also enjoyed the company of Barkley, a playful 5-month old Labrador puppy. Picking up footpaths on the Tas Valley Way, we headed back to New Buckenham and a return visit to St. Martin’s, then on to the cars and the pies. The two dubious looking Melton Mowbray pies were cut, revealing a pale coarse filling, with a bit of jelly. A pleasant meaty aroma was present though not abundant. The pies tasted good too, “porky and peppery” and were good both with and without mustard, this was reflected in the score with a 8.25 and a standard deviation of 0.75593. Don’s pâté was again passed over, Ricky’s Shortcake offering made a welcome return, followed by a “Quality Street” finale. So Wm. Morrison scored a normalised 8.5 for its large Melton Mowbray pies.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Cumpstey’s large pies

Large pies from Cumpstey’s of Acle for us this week, we have previously only sampled their small pies, the last time being on the 13th January, last year. In the Walk Master’s absence, the Führer marched us around Thorpe Market and Southrepps. Heading east from Thorpe Market, we came upon the first of many dogs we would meet on this pre-pie walk. With good going, we soon came upon Gunton Station and shunned the temptation of the Suffield Arms. We then headed north and onto the huge church of St. James, Southrepps, where lunch was taken in the porch. Then it was a case of dial or no dial? Charles believed he could see a dial on the tower, we could not! The masonry in question was photographed and we headed into the Vernon Arms for refreshment.
Dial or No Dial?
A short stay here, as Paul had just been invited out to dinner at Morston Hall. We made our way westwards back to the car, after Paul had purchased a local venison pie from outside the pub. We arrived back at the car just as it started to drizzle. The second instalment of pâté on oatcakes was passed over, so as not to mess up Paul’s Morston Munching. So straight into the pies... The good-looking pies revealed a good meaty filling when sliced and nicely jellied. The pies were low on aroma, but the little there was, was good and meaty. The piecrust was both tasty and light, the filling too, tasty but rather lacking in texture. This good pie was not really enhanced by the application of mustard and scored a respectable 7.25, with a standard deviation of 0.75829. The customary Shortcake finale did not occur in Ricky’s absence – “Quality Street” were handed round to complete proceedings. So a normalized score of 7.5 for Cumpstey’s large pies.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

J & N’s Butchers

A new pork pie for us this week, a large pork pie from J & N’s Butchers of North Walsham (part of Mundesley Butchers). To sample these pies we headed to Blickling via an interesting route devised by the walk master – rather than going into Aylsham and heading west, we took the bypass to the east and then would head west, cross-country. After a wrong turning, we headed west along Banningham Road, only to find the road was closed and there was a diversion. This was interesting, as this route was completely flooded. Both cars raised their suspension for wading and followed Josie in her wellies, through the water. We arrived at the pie tasting ground – the Fisherman’s car park by the lake at Blickling Hall. We started the pre-pie “warm-up” by walking by the frozen lake and along a part of Weaver’s way, then heading north through much mud and very scenic countryside. We eventually reached the road in front of the Saracen’s Head, which we followed southeast, to the church of Our Lady & St. Margaret in Calthorpe. Here we found two scratch dials and sat in the graveyard and had our sandwiches. Onwards to the Spread Eagle in Erpingham, to enjoy a good pint from Wolf or Woodforde’s in “Bullshit Corner”. We had to leave the two pub dogs and head back to the cars and pie, about two and a third miles away. Arriving back at the cars it was decided to start with the pie course. The large pie, obviously cooked in a foil dish, had an attractive glossy top. When cut the pie revealed a coarse pinkie-grey filling and a little jelly. This pie was rated very diversely: although it lacked an appetising aroma, to me this was a top-notch pie, with its coarse meat filling and tasting spot-on, both with and without mustard. One thought it lacked flavour and some criticised the crust, resulting in a very high standard deviation of 1.55265. It did come through with a very respectable score of 7.625. Now it was time to sample the Venison Pâté on oatcakes, donated by Don Warman. This was pleasant though not remarkable, shortcake completed the grazing experience. So a normalized score of 7.5 for J & N’s Butchers pies.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Pickerings Large

Pickerings pork pies were to be sampled this week after 66 weeks since we last sampled them. To ensure we had a prime pie palate, we had a bracing 6-mile walk. Parking by the side of the road on Wash Lane, near Hales Green, we crossed the A146, Beccles Road and headed towards Raveningham, with the 260,000-gallon water tower in the distance on our starboard side. We passed the late 18th century Raveningham Hall, arriving at the parish church of St. Andrew in the grounds of the hall. The church has a round tower with a later octagonal top and importantly, a scratch dial at its southeast corner! Inside, the chancel has canopied recesses on each side, containing commemorative tablets to the Bacon family. After we had admired these, and had eaten our sandwiches, we exited the church into a blizzard – the Walk Master & Weather Wizard had not inflicted another of his extreme walks upon us - the snow was coming from behind. Exiting the park, we past the cast iron monument built in 1831 by J. T. Patience – showing mileages from London and Norwich. Heading westwards to Hales, we stopped at the Garden House to ensure that our mouths were not too dry to sample pies, Woodfordes Wherry & Norfolk Nog at £2.00 a pint. Onward into another blizzard and to the church of St. Margaret, Hales, the most complete Norman church in the county - a scratch dial fanciers delight, boasting no less than 9 dials! A short journey back to the cars and onto the pies. Pâté on oatcakes were again passed over due to the Siberian weather coming from the east. The good looking pies with a dark, beautifully marbled filling, low on aroma and nicely jellied were very tasty despite being so cold, though not enhanced by mustard. They scored a spot on 8.5 with a standard deviation of 0.70711