Sunday, 27 September 2009

Wombat Pie

Sixteen Privileged pie munchers were in for a treat this Sunday; there was the highly praised Wombat pork pie - specially baked for the pie munchers. But Wombat's hospitality did not end there... Together with Flounder, her other half, having obtained permissions from all relevant parties, they took us on a guided four mile tour of the private grounds of Gunton Park. We met at the Sawmill at 10:30 and walked clockwise through the beautiful grounds with sheep around Saw Mill Pond to the bridge that takes you over the stream coming from Great Water. Here we took in the views and saw that Canadian pondweed had established itself, and was causing a major problem. Passing the magnificent south wing of the hall, we then headed north to St. Andrew's church - all magnificently decked out for the Harvest Festival service. After inspecting the church and noting the Lead ties holding blocks of stone together, forming the entrance steps, we retraced our path south a short distance. Continuing east, passing friendly horses and a Melon House in the distance, then into a vast area with many deer. On the horizon was the splendid north gatehouse complete with lookout. Continuing east to Elderton Lodge where our hosts had ensured was stocked with real ale for our visit! Originally built as a shooting lodge, where Lillie Langtry was a regular guest, when the Prince of Wales - the future King Edward VII, stayed at the hall. Here, we were refreshed with pints of Wherry in good condition. Eventually we extricated ourselves from the pub and headed south, down a wooded track that then turned west after half a mile. Then we left the main path to go round a pond, through the woods to a metalled road through Suffield Wood and back into the park. We headed west with more stunning views complete with many deer, passing the south end of Saw Mill Pond,pausing by an old oak tree to admire a bright yellow caterpillar, believed to be that of the Pale Tussock moth. We returned to the Sawmill where we had our sandwiches and were given a short history of the Sawmill's restoration by Barré Funnel of NIAS. The Sawmill was celebrating it's 21st Re-Birthday - the mill made its first cut after it's restoration on the 18th October 1988 and there was Re-Birthday cake for all visitors to the mill.After sampling the cake and viewing the mill in operation we gathered outside for the Main event: the sampling of the pie. Now in fairness, this wasn't a blind tasting - the large round pie had the Wombat insignia prominently crafted in pastry. Slicing the pie released a little aroma and revealed the crust was a bit crumbly. Although slightly let down by the crust, the contents were seen to be substantial and marvellously meaty with some jelly. Munching was a delight, the real meat filling finding favour with the munchers, resulting in a score of 8.28125 with a standard deviation of 0.81586 meaning the Wombat pie scores a high normalised 8.5. Chocolate & vanilla thins supplemented the Shortbread that followed.

The pie munchers and the Pork Pie News thank Wombat & Flounder for their hospitality and the owners of the park for granting permission for our visit.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Cumpstey’s large pies

The Walk Master being poorly, the Führer and other regulars unable to walk, seven of us went to South Walsham to sample a pie previously sampled this year, from Cumpstey’s of Acle. Parking at the car park by South Walsham Broad, we followed Fleet Dike north until it met the River Bure, whose south bank we followed east, passing St. Benet’s Abbey drainage mill, then the remains of St. Benet’s Abbey on the other side of the river. Fortunately we had planned to turn south, to walk to Upton over the Marshes, as the footpath that continued along the riverbank was Closed. Just before we left the river, a Norfolk Trading Wherry, the Albion, sailed by. Following the concrete track across the marshes, we were afforded good views of three windmills and saw our second Harnser fly in. Half way along this track we came to free fruit – masses of Blackberries and Bullace growing together, begging to be harvested. We obliged, eating quite a lot and taking home even more. At the end of the track, we deviated onto another footpath where we reclined to take lunch at 3.85 miles. We then headed into Upton and to the White Horse. Arriving at this establishment with horses tethered out the front, we retired to the back garden with Sundew and Nelson’s Revenge from Woodforde’s brewery, just along the river. Rejuvenated, we headed south then west a short distance, along roads before following a pleasant footpath through Upton Fen Nature Reserve. Short stretches of alternating road then footpath reunited us with the car after 6.42 miles. After some changed footwear, the tea and feast were carried to our munching location by the broad. Here we first sampled Smoked Salmon Crescents, then Cumpstey’s large pie, last sampled on the 13th February. The pie had a good appearance and when sliced revealed a well-jellied dark interior, low on aroma. The pastry was good and the filling flavoursome, attracting criticism from some, for lack of texture, resulting in the high standard deviation of 1.06849 and a score of 7.58333, so another normalised score of 7.5 for Cumpstey’s. Hobnobs once again replaced the usual Shortbread.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

B. Robertson Family Butcher

We headed down to Thetford Forest to sample a medium pie from B. Robertson, Family Butcher of Reepham – a new pie for us. Parking at the picnic site on the B1107 Brandon Road, we headed for Thetford Warren Lodge. After examining this, we should have headed northwest – but the road noise was getting louder – finding an alternative path, we got back on course. Then picking up a track we headed back to the B1107 and walked a short distance north beside it. Crossing the road we then walked down a track through Warren Wood with Hare Bells in bloom, pausing a while to observe deer in the distance through binoculars. We continued down the track to the Little Ouse, crossing it by a wooden footbridge. We followed the St. Edmund Way south, by the river, passing the 38.5MW Biomass Power Station with operatives in white protective clothing on the superstructure, looking like a scene from a James Bond movie. Getting down wind of the power station we were treated to the whiff of its fuel... We continued south, passing an Anglian Water pumping station and crossing the river over Abbey Heath Weir. We then had a mile walk through the forest and over the B1107 to be reunited with our cars. Lightly salted tortilla chips accompanied lemon & coriander Houmous and hot spicy salsa dip. The medium pie had to be carefully divided into eight, due to incorrect information regarding pie munchers! The squat, bulbous pie released no aroma when cut and a revealed a dark coarse filling. The piecrust was tasty but rather soft – this was probably my fault - having kept the pie for two days in the sealed plastic bag in which it came. The filling was good too, well seasoned and sage was much in evidence. This resulted in the pie scoring 7.1875 with a standard deviation of 0.70394 – so a normalised score of 7 for B. Robertson. Shortbread returned as the final course this week.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

G. Morris & Sons

With the Walk Master unable to walk and King Canape in Strasbourg, I was concerned that there would not be a quorum for pie judging, so this week we returned to an old staple, pies from G. Morris & Sons. In the event, ten turned up for our over the border expedition. We headed to Carlton Colville in Suffolk and parked at the Community Centre. From here we headed south, first by pavement then by footpath to Holy Trinity church, Gisleham. Here we found two scratch dials. Now heading east along a road, we were afforded views of the new (1959) Pakefield water tower. After travelling towards it for half a mile, we headed south again for half a mile along footpaths, passing White House Farm, then followed some debate as to which way we should be going. We continued south down the side of a field of stubble, with many junior frogs – leaping as our footsteps disturbed them. Now we had a good view of Kessingland’s redundant water tower. We then turned left and headed away from the roar of the A12, west to Black Street and a conveniently located seat and shelter for lunch. Replete, we continued westwards along a track towards Rushmere, then after a short length of road we headed north by footpath. Don had now got his secateurs out and proceeded to attack virtually every bramble bush along the route, consequently falling way behind the group. We arrived at St. Michael’s church, Rushmere, some way from the village and on the edge of Carlton Colville. The church was locked but had one scratch dial. Continuing along roads to the Community Centre, we passed a garden where windfall fruit was being offered free to any one that wanted it. Stocking up on fruit we made our way back to the cars, harvesting a good number of aluminium cans. No canapés this week straight into the pies... The pies when cut, revealed a pink filling with little jelly and the aroma was of the pastry. The pie was lightly spiced and lacked flavour, mustard helping a little. The crust was good though, the pie scoring 6.3125, down from the 7.1 they scored the last time we had them on the 24th May. The standard deviation was very high at 1.81142, so a normalised score of 6.5 for G. Morris this time. Hobnobs replaced the usual Shortbread finale.