Sunday, 26 July 2009

Clarkes Two Pounder!

A Huge 2lb pie, actually weighing in at 33oz, from Clarkes Quality Meats & Country Kitchen, to sample this week. We had sampled their small pies back in May of last year, where they scored a very respectable 8.15. We needed to work up an appetite so we went to Overstrand and parking by the cricket ground, we embarked on a “figure of 8” walk. We started by going east along the High Street that had collapsed into the sea; we then headed inland past the NATS Air Traffic radar and up Hungry Hill and past the Shrieking Pit. We went along the Paston Way to Southrepps, observing the radar dome at Trimmingham, butterflies and a “sleeping” rat. We took lunch at St. James church agreeing that there was no dial to be found! We then made our way by road and footpath to Northrepps, first visiting the church of St. Mary the virgin before visiting the Foundry Arms, open again after being closed for refurbishment. We enjoyed pints of Wherry and Adnams in the garden and were treated to a large bowl of complimentary roast potatoes. Heading north, Don now disguised as a bramble bush, we arrived back at the cars. Since we were not in an ideal spot for pie munching and Gunton was on our way home, we relocated to Gunton Park and invited fellow pie enthusiast, Flounder (AKA Russell), to join us. It was another sawing Sunday at the mill and Flounder had been assisting. We started off with oatcakes, caramelised onion and Moroccan style Houmous. Then the pie was carved, releasing an intense pork aroma and revealing a generous portion of jelly. The flavour was “heaven” and “as good as a pie can get” as two munchers described it, having a wonderful in mouth texture. Mustard did nothing to improve the flavour, just distracting from the experience. The munchers deemed this pie to score a spot on 9 out of 10 with a standard deviation of 0.63246. A shortbread selection completed the gourmet outing.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Sainsbury's Melton Mowbray Large Pork Pie

A lack of pie munchers this week, to sample Sainsbury's Melton Mowbray Large Pork Pie – a pie we haven’t previously had. In the absence of the Walk Master & the Führer, King Canape led us on a pre-pie walk around Botesdale in Suffolk. Parking in The Street we started by having a look round St. Botolph’s chapel of ease – after which the village was named “St. Botolph’s Dale”. We could not access the south side of the chapel, so no scratch dials were found. We headed south along footpaths passing "Bunny Hollow". The footpath crossed a ploughed field and it was decided to follow the perimeter rather than battle across the furrows. We reached the southern most point of our walk to see leverets dashing about madly. Taking a short footpath eastwards, we then made our way in a north easterly direction along Nan Hazel’s Lane for about a mile. Our route then took us along a byway near Stubbing’s Green, spotting the signpost had been knocked down, despite being on a 4” x 4” post, we propped up the sign and headed down the track only to find our way deliberately blocked by farm equipment. Some of the party clambered over the obstacle, while half of the party managed to squeeze past, after we had trimmed the sloe bushes with secateurs. Don, the last to squeeze past, managed to slip into the adjacent ditch. After wringing the water from his socks and emptying his shoes, we continued a short distance before pausing for lunch in the shade of a tree. We now followed footpaths west, spotting painted lady butterflies before heading north and passing under the A143. Coming to a Y-junction, a majority decision kept us on track back to Botesdale by footpath. Shortly before reaching road, two deer crossed our path. We journeyed up Bridewell Lane to The Street and into The Greyhound public house. We were in ‘silly Suffolk’ – the pub sign had a picture of a Springer Spaniel! However, the pub was good selling Norfolk beers - Wherry and what we all enjoyed: 3.7%, Lavender Honey from Wolf. Rejuvenated, we wandered back to the car for graze & tea: Josie was tea lady producing a brew to accompany this week’s feast: olive and anchovy Tapenade on bruschette followed by Sainsbury's Melton Mowbray Large Pork Pie. A rather uninspiring pie with a “minimalist” appearance having a dull pastry crust. Slicing revealed a pale pink filling with the merest soupçon of jelly and a faint pleasant aroma. Munching: the pastry let this pie down, but the filling tasted of roast pork with a peppery after taste. Mustard did nothing to enhance this pie – distracting from the flavour of the filling. The pie was judged to score a spot on 8 out of 10 with a standard deviation of 0.5. Cadbury’s chocolate chunk cookies completed the feast. On the return journey, we stopped by Botesdale’s water tower – a 4 x 5 x 2 panel Braithwaite tank on a brick tower that served the WWII Prisoner of War camp 56, so that the Pie Master could photograph it.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

E. W. Revett & Son of Wickham Market.

This week we had to yomp along the poorly signed and poorly maintained footpaths of south Norfolk, before we could get stuck into pies from E. W. Revett & Son of Wickham Market. Parking at the “ Strike School” at Burston, we visited the first of three churches: St. Mary the virgin, next door to the school. This was dial-less and locked. We headed north then east along a footpath, only to find it impassable. While contemplating an alternative route, Charles (the first) spotted a “Robin's Pincushion” – the larvae of the gall wasp causing an abnormal growth on a dog rose. An upturned plastic tub provided a “stepping stone” across a ditch and into a traversable field of wheat with very sticky clay soil.
On route to Dickleburgh, Charles spotted and harvested a few Agaricus augustus mushrooms. On arrival, a fete was in progress by All Saints church, so again lunch was taken either sitting on the grass or on the wall. Finding no scratch dial on the church, we crossed the road and headed for the beer festival at the Crown Inn, where the party tried many of the beers on offer. Reluctantly we left the beer festival and headed west along minor roads, spotting telephone boxes being used as greenhouses to grow tomato plants. We then headed north to Shimpling by a footpath proclaiming it was part of Boudica’s Way! Third time lucky: arriving at St. George’s church we found a good scratch dial. After photographing the dial, inspecting the church and admiring the cattle in the adjoining field, Don explained that a bull didn’t need to have a ring through it’s nose to be a bull! The party continued its journey, except Charles & Don who had found a buried artefact that they stopped to excavate. Being some way behind the group, they found a path on the wrong side of a hedge! We had a pause while they walked back and up the correct side of the hedge to join us. Then one final obstacle before we could start munching pies: no footpath! A field of maize was between us and the last leg of the walk back to the cars. Although it looked daunting, it was quite easy to walk through the tall crop – the stems bending as we passed between. We returned to the cars and another feast this week, starting with smoked organic salmon pâté on crostini. Then the two large hand raised pies from Wickham Market: good looking pies when cut yielded a very pleasant aroma when you got in close and a fine textured pink filling. A small amount of jelly was present in some portions. The pastry was excellent and the filling tasty too. This found favour with the pie munchers coming in with a score of 8.13636 with a high standard deviation of 1.18514. Dark chocolate all butter biscuits, organic milk chocolate & toffee biscuits and shortbread completing the gastronomic experience. So a normalised score of 8 for E. W. Revett & Son’s large hand raised pies.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Massingham Brothers of Hoveton

The return to an old favourite this week: Massingham Brothers of Hoveton, this time in the form of small pies. The chosen munching location was Happisburgh cricket ground, after completing the Walk Master’s challenge. We set off west only to be brought to a halt after a couple of hundred yards, as Margaret had received a call regarding her poorly 102-year-old mum. Determining that no immediate action was necessary, the party of 12 munchers set off again... We now entered a field of barley, with Bishy-barney-bees running all over the footpath. The 1957, 175,000-gallon Happisburgh water tower loomed on our southern horizon. The footpath continued through fields of wheat and barley, passing a field of potatoes that had purple flowers. The footpath took us to Ridley, where we headed to St. Peter’s church, where we found a scratch dial on a buttress. Ridley was having an open day with a flower festival in the church and gardens open to the public. We therefore had to eat our sandwiches sitting on the church wall at 2 ¾ miles. Then Don disappeared into one of the gardens... when it was time to move off, Josie went looking for Don, having to pay to get into one of the gardens where she found Don eating a meal! He had to “doggy bag” his chicken & rabbit pie and eat it as we walked along... We headed north along the edge of a field of treasure hunters with metal detecting equipment, then east along a quiet road to the Lighthouse Inn for liquid refreshment, at four miles. The pub served a very refreshing pint of Harviestoun’s “Natural Blonde” that we consumed in the garden. Refreshed, we headed for Walcott and then along the beach. Here Manola, José and Don decided to take a swim, Manola and José had come prepared for the event, bringing a towel – Don used his hat! Further along the beach, back at Happisburgh, the Walk Master’s challenge ratcheted up a notch: the slope up the cliff to the caravan park had gone, so scaling the cliff was proposed. Charles’ National Service commando training came to the fore and he made short work of the challenge. Further munchers followed, but the Führer led a breakaway group on a detour, further along the beach to some metal stairs. Regrouped, we visited the church of St. Mary the Virgin with swifts nesting in the porch. No dials here and we headed off back to the cars for another feast. The first course consisting of spinach bourekia, an M&S meze selection, organic houmous and Highland oatcakes. Then followed a soupçon of pork pie – due to unpunctual pie procurement, just three small pies were available at Massingham Brothers. Cutting the pies revealed a nice pink meat filling and the merest hint of jelly. No aroma was present and munching the pies was dominated by the crust, this was not particulay good. The meat filling was tasty though. Opinions differed resulting in a high standard deviation of 0.84477 with the score being somewhat lower than before, at 7.68182. The small pie portion was probably a good thing as organic dark chocolate, ginger & pear flavoured biscuits and milk chocolate florentines supplemented the shortbread! So a normalised score of 7.5 for Massingham Brothers of Hoveton’s small pies.