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...