Friday, 31 December 2010

Pork Pie Year 2010 Review

2010 started with more new pies to sample and it looked as though we were going to beat the bumper year of 2008. However, events and very bad weather towards the end of the year, resulted in a rather poor score of only 29 different pies being sampled, but of this number, 17 were sampled for the very first time. Now we have all the scores in, I can announce our top 5 pies of 2010:
  1. Jarold's Deli, sampled on 5th September
  2. Waitrose Large Melton Mowbray, sampled on 2nd May
  3. Pickerings Medium pies, sampled on 24th October
  4. “Butlers Choice” R.A. Cawdron & Son, Stalham, sampled on 1st August
  5. Laurels Farm Butchers, Eye, sampled on 4th July
Our all time top 5 pies are:
  1. Mrs. King’s Melton Mowbray pie sampled on 26th November 2006
  2. M & M Rutland sampled on 29th April 2007
  3. Gloucester Old Spot from Picnic Fare Deli sampled on 11th May 2008
  4. Clarkes Quality Meats, huge pork pie sampled on 26th July 2009
  5. Jarold's Deli, sampled on 5th September
R.A. Cawdron and Pickering swapping places from last year and Jarolds Deli pie makes it onto our all time top 5, displacing Graves of Briston, sampled on 9th March 2008. That concludes 2010's pie munching.

Pie Master

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Pat Gorman

This week we returned to Horsey to see the seals and to sample a new pie: A Pat Gorman “Unique award winning hand made pork pie” purchased from Aldi. It was our intention to repeat the walk we did earlier in the year, on the 24th January, however on reaching Horsey Corner, we found that the footpath from Brograve drainage mill to Horsey Mere was closed, so we retraced our path a little and then headed south to All Saints church. We had a look inside and a good look around the exterior, finding no scratch dials to add to our collection. We set off south east along a track, and then by a road passing the pub we turned south into a field. We did this part of the walk in the opposite direction last time, at the field corner we then turned left onto a boggy field towards Horsey drainage mill. Here we had our sandwiches, with an olive entrée, kindly provided by Manola. Now it was full steam ahead to the “Nelson’s Head” by road and permissive path. After being shepparded by the landlady, we enjoyed pints of Woodforde’s Wherry and Nelson’s Revenge in excellent condition. Refreshed, we headed for the coast to see the seals with their pups. There were no Seal Wardens about when we arrived, and the 355 seal pups had taken liberties in the absence of authority - plonking themselves well over the blue polypropylene rope boundary!
We returned to the cars parked at Horsey Gap to sample this weeks delicacies: Manola did us proud with Scottish Lochmuir™ Smoked Salmon mini terrine slices, that were very yummy and M&S Spicy Red Houmous and Olive crackers. To refresh the pallet a cheese course: lightly smoked Polish cheese made from mountain ewes’ milk with Scottish oatcakes. Now the pie: The good-looking glossy pie was low on aroma when cut, but revealed a promising dark pink filling, nicely jellied. The munching revealed the crust to be good and the filling to be flavoursome. This pie tasted far better without the addition of any mustard. The pie munchers were impressed and it came in with a spot on score of 8 despite some one giving it a 6, hence a rather high standard deviation of 1.18322. Just in case we had not replaced the calories burnt off on our 5 mile walk, the Walk Master produced Highland Shortbreads!

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Pork Pie Virgin Cured!

We sampled pies this week, but only just! The weather was poor – cold and more snow forecast. The munchers were joined this week by pork pie enthusiast, Manola, for a rather shorter than usual, 4½ mile, local walk. The Walk Master had incorporated a pub lunch, which he booked for 1:00 pm, rather than eat sandwiches in the snow. We parked at Eaton Park and headed west to the University of East Anglia and walked around the north edge of the lake. Here we debated the aesthetic of the accommodation, I personally like it. We continued past the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts and crossed the River Yare. We then continued south, walking along by the river on our left, and then crossing it again by the start of the UEA lake. On our journey we met many lovely dogs, including a young, mad black Labrador who had broken his lead and enthusiastically greeted us, as we approached a wooded area. Much of the footpath was on boarded walkways now as we headed further south, following the river. Our path took us under the A11 and passing the old mill house on the opposite bank, I noticed a dinosaur skeleton in the garden! Then onto the old road bridge with a plaque showing the flood level on the 28th August 1912, 5 or 6 feet above today's level. We now turned north and walked down the road to arrive at the Cellar House, spot on one O'clock. Josie ordered Cod and hand cut chips, while the rest of us had the roast. The food was tasty, with the vegetables nicely cooked. Unfortunately we only had one plate of vegetables to share amongst five of us, and service was somewhat lacking.After the meal we were joined by a dapper Don, who had walked from the city centre in his new chinos, to join us in the pub. We walked back to the cars first along Bluebell Road and then on footpaths to Eaton Park. We walked through the park, passing by the model boat lake with a little dog walking on the 2” thick ice. On reaching the cars, the Walk Master invited us back to his, for a cup of drink. Here we were joined by Jeff - a self-confessed pork pie virgin, that we cured of his affliction! We were not originally going to have pies, as we'd only just had a meal a short while ago and we had cakes. But Manola said: "a walk is not a walk without a pork pie". We had pies: an 8oz and two 4oz pies from G. Morris & Sons that had been purchased earlier in the week, to be consumed after the NIAS AGM, but never made it there. The pies were not scored, but the consensus was that the 8oz pie was superior to the 4oz. Josie then presented cakes that she had brought to celebrate her birthday last month. So definitely more calories consumed than burnt off this week!

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Snow Pies, Walk or BBQ!

Snow stops play: Don and King Canape were not walking this week, the Führer was worried about the slippery conditions and the Walk Master had just taken delivery of a new car! The consensus of opinion was that we should stay in the warm, rather than venture out to do local walk. Don had indicated that it was his intention to light fires on Mousehold Heath and have a BBQ with his BTCV group today – only Don turned up. I guess we were saved an inferno!

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Icarus Hines

The pork pies return this week with small pies from Icarus Hines' shop in Cromer. To munch these, eight of us set off through heavy rain towards Rockland St. Mary. Here we parked by the broad, where we waited about five minutes on the Weather Wizard's instruction. This was sound advice, as we then only encountered a few bouts of light showers all day. Our pre pie walk took us south to St. Andrew's church, Claxton. We had previously visited this church in April 2008 and found it to be without a dial. Our route along a muddy track and footpaths took us south east to Carleton St. Peter. It's church; St. Peter's, serves a parish of just fifteen dwellings and a pub. Here we had our lunch in the porch and then looked for scratch dials, finding none. We then made our way north through Claxton and on to the dog-friendly Beauchamp Arms where we met "Rufus" a Red Setter, before sampling pints of Tribute from the St. Austell Brewery. We then made our way west, back to the cars following the south bank of the river Yare - part of the Wherryman's Way. This afforded great views of the Cantley sugar beet factory in full steam, but not of the starling clouds that the Walk Master had hoped for. Returning to the cars, the pies were the first course, as King Canape was down the smoke. Cutting the pies released little aroma. The filling was good and tasty and mustard could not improve the flavour. The pies were let down a little by the slightly soft piecrust base. The pies scored 7.5625 with a high standard deviation of 1.14759 compared with a score of 7.22222 and standard deviation of 1.06393 back in May. The traditional Scottish Shortbread fingers then concluded the munching. Icarus Hines improves his rating with a normalised 7.5 on this outing.

Sunday, 14 November 2010


Just six pie munchers braved the elements for a walk from Fulmodeston, for the second outing in November, to sample Paul’s canapés. The Pie Master was not in their number, and the only report to come back was “Very good country with paths through woodland and a very long sheep meadow.” The churches visited were: St. Mary, Barney, St. Edmund, Swanton Novers and Christ Church, Fulmodeston - none having scratch dials.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Banningham banquet (sans pies)

A pleasant perambulation around Banningham and Tuttington, for 7 pie-less munchers, partly due to the unexpected appearance of dogs at the Pie Master's, prohibiting a pie procurement expedition. King Canape and José were again absent us this week, so the Pie Master plumped for last minute canapés. Showers were forecast, however our Weather Wizard devised a walk that would keep us in the dry. We tried parking in the village hall overflow car park at Banningham, but were asked to leave due to a children’s party being held there in the afternoon. We found alternate parking by the green. We headed east towards the two water towers of North Walsham, but could only see one - the smaller being hidden by the larger tower. Walking by a caravan park, we passed a suspension bridge over Suffield Beck. Then, following quiet roads south, we crossed the Weaver’s Way before taking a footpath to Tuttington. Here we had lunch in the round towered church of St. St. Peter & St. Paul. This rather minimalist church had been previously visited and found to be dial-less. We headed back to Banningham with a little road walking, stopping to buy bags of cooking apples. Shortly before arriving back at Banningham, we admired the Village Sign, before pressing on to St. Botolph church with our cars parked opposite. Dumping our rucksacks, and some changing their shoes, we made a beeline to the Crown Inn for pints of Fuller's London Pride. We did not visit the church this time, as it had been previously visited and found to be without a scratch dial. We returned to the cars for Canapés: Lemon & Coriander Houmous and Spicy red lentil dip with multigrain crackers. Peanut cookies and Shortbread completed the munching.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Norfolk's Dartmoor

This week, King Canape had decided that he'd give walking a miss this week, so the Pie Master was going to pick up some canapés. But on his way to the Norwich Beer Festival, he received a call from Paul, who offered to bring canapés... After the beer festival, there was not time to procure pies. The seven hardcore walkers set off for one of the Walk Master's extreme walks. We parked at the Marsham Heath car park and set off south over Buxton Heath where the going was hampered by various obstacles: fences to climb, styles to cross and a rickety log bridge. We came upon a sign telling us that there were 10 Dartmoor ponies on the Heath, and then we spotted 4 of them. They must've felt at home, as the Heath resembled the bogs of Dartmoor. We came upon Church Lane and followed it a little way east before heading back north up a track, over a road and up Long Dick's Lane! Passing White House Farm, we were joined by a couple of very tame sheep as we walled towards Marsham parish church. They left us when we climbed a style to finish our journey over a ploughed field. Spotting the previously recorded scratch dial on the corner of All Saints church, we found the porch locked. As it was raining slightly, we walked on to the shelter by the Marsham village sign to consume our sandwiches. A short stroll up the A140 brought us to the Plough Inn for pints of Adnams. We then set off west along Fengate and Crane’s Lane eventually finding our way onto Marsham Heath and back to the cars. Here Paul presented Spicy lentil dip and Moroccan humous with crudities and Multigrain Ryvita.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Pickerings medium pies

Pies returned this week: medium pies from Pickerings, Norwich market stall (pitch 102 & 103) an old favourite, last sampled on Valentines Day. We were joined for our pre-pie perambulation, by Luna and her mum, Grace. We also had Bert & Harris accompanying us on what was to be an eventful walk from East Tuddenham Village Hall. We crossed the Norwich Road to take the footpath north that passes by All Saints church. Our next challenge was to cross the busy A47. Achieving this we continued north, the dogs enjoying being able to run free. Luna never straying far from mum, but Bert and Harris taking the opportunity to get through a hole in a fence and explore a wood at their leisure... When they eventually came back they were lead-bound for the remainder of the walk! Footpaths marked on maps failed to materialise, but after a couple of failed attempts, we found a route west. King Canape then had a bit of a funny turn – a slight dizzy spell, so had a sit down while it passed. After no time at all, the Canape King was on his feet and we continued west past noisy kennels, our three dogs not reacting. On reaching Heath Road, Charles, accompanied by the Pie Master & Liz, took the slightly shorter and easier going route to the pub via the road, while the rest of the party continued west by footpath and then south to Hockering parish church. On route, the threatening skies then unleashed a good dose of hail. The party taking the road made for the shelter of a conifer, but on reaching it, the intensity of the hailstorm increased to such an extent, most of the hail simply passed straight through our shelter. When the hail eased and we had Charles seated in the pub, we joined the remaining walkers at St. Michael’s church. Here we ate our sandwiches “on the hoof” - as the church was being renovated and surrounded by fencing. The remains of one scratch dial was visible, to add to our collection. We then made our way to join King Canape in the Victoria Inn. Here we consumed various beverages and Grace and Luna took advantage of the open fire. Suitably refreshed and warmed, it was time to head outside, Charles sensibly accepted the offer of being picked up and stayed in the pub. We made our way back to East Tuddenham, modifying the original route to utilise more quiet metalled roads, as the going was so wet. Don in his Wellingtons, made the most of the conditions; splashing his way through the puddles. We had seen numerous fungi on our walk, but as we neared the cars, Paul and I thought we’d struck lucky; spotting some fine looking mushrooms. On closer inspection they proved to be Yellow Stainers! The feasting began once Charles had been retrieved from the pub and started with his canapés of King prawns with Rosemarie sauce. Cutting the good looking pies released little aroma and revealed a nicely textured pink filling with a little jelly. The pies tasted good with a peppery after taste, scoring a spot on 8.5 with a standard deviation of 0.55902, slightly better than their last sampling.
But the munching was not over - for Grace had baked a huge carrot cake especially for us. The cake tasted good too, with several munchers giving it a score of 10 and suggesting we should have cake instead of pork pies!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Canapés on Swardeston Common

King Canape was globe trotting, so the Pie Master, rather pressed for time, purchased canapés locally this week. The Walk Master had devised a walk around East Carleton. We parked by Swardeston Common to start our anti-clockwise circular walk. First we took a mix of road and paths west, to Lower East Carleton, and then we followed a mile-long footpath to East Carleton. Here we examined the church of St. Mary for scratch dials, finding none. We could not go inside as the door was locked. Beside this church are the ruins of St. Peter – little remains as building materials were scavenged from the old church. We left the churches and headed further west a little way, passing the East Carleton village sign as we followed a section of Kett's Country walk for just under a mile, before heading east to Mulbarton. Here we ate our sandwiches on the common before examining the church of St. Mary Magdalen and finding two new scratch dials. We then made our way to the “Worlds End” where we sampled beers from the new range produced by Adnams. These were enjoyed in the beer garden, sitting on the substantial garden furniture. We returned to the church to follow the footpath east that runs beside it. Then we took the first footpath on our left, to head north to Swardeston. We made our way to the previously visited church of St. Mary with its splendid single scratch dial on its south east corner. The church was open and inside we were reminded that Edith Cavell came from Swardeston – her father being the vicar. Preparations were being made for Harvest Festival to which we were invited – but we had canapés and tea waiting... We returned to the common where Ana and Josie first played on the swings & tittermatorter. With our cups of tea we had a selection of canapés: slices spiced Spanish sausage, Belgian Duck & Port pâté and lemon & coriander Houmous with Scottish oatcakes. Highland shortbread fingers completed this weeks munching.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Cookie's at last!

At last we made it to Cookie's! Arriving at Salthouse green, someone thought it a good idea to book a table for 16:30 - in the past we always booked by phone when we were a couple of miles or so away. The Führer and Staci went and caught the "Coast Hopper" while the remaining six of us moved off in an eastwardly direction, then south through the churchyard of St. Nicholas. We had explored this large church many times previously, so just passed it by and continued up Bard Hill. We continued west over Gallows Hill along Pinfold Lane to go over Silverland Hill and Warborough Hill, coming into Kelling, by the school. Here we saw a smart wooden sculpture, depicting Kelling Beach – part of the Salthouse Sculpture Trail, before our final accent of Muckleburgh Hill. So much for Norfolk being flat! Here we had lunch among the grazing cows - Norfolk Highland Cattle? We would have been at an altitude of over 200 feet above sea level! After lunch we descended the hill, passing through woods and eventually emerging on to the shingle bank, that we walked along, back to Salthouse. Reaching the cars at 15:10, we had no tea to go with Don's dips; that were to be this week's canapés, so we went to the Dun Cow for pints of Wherry. Don made enquiries at Cookie’s and established that they could accommodate us sooner than booked. But the Führer and Staci both had their mobile phones switched off! So a search party was sent out and located them in Cley next the Sea, at a bus stop. A variety of fishy food was ordered, the Royal Salads being popular. The Pie Master & mawther plumped for the Crab and Salmon Royals.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Fungus Foray 2010

The first Sunday in October was our annual Fungus Foray, a little earlier than normal. Just nine mycologists, eight having just dined at the Plough Inn, went in search of fungus on Marsham Heath... This was a 200% increase in numbers from the previous year! And thankfully, King Canape, turned Mushroom Master, led us to a much-improved haul of fungus this year, including Stinkhorns that we have not found for several years. A huge boletus was also found, but not collected, as it was old and soggy. We found a few edible boletus, masses of Amethyst Deceivers and rather less Chanterelles. Our haul was taken back to the Trafford Arms where some of our finest specimens were displayed.
Debbie then cooked up a fabulous fungus feast with our edible haul for foragers and friends, all washed down with the superb range of beers on tap. Anyone interested in fungi should visit this site:
Pen drawings © David Atkinson