Saturday, 18 September 2010

Not just any Fray Bentos...

As you can imagine, I get lots of recommendations for eating at fine places throughout the country (mainly in East Lancs at the moment). Just recently people have been sending me pies to sample at home in front of the TV, so it seems logical to document my PIE TV Experiences on the Norths best pie blog. And if we believe that there is only one place to get good pies (North of England) then we are talking about the best pie blog in the whole pie eating world, as we know it.

So anyway, the first Pie TV experience is from the great British institution that is Marks & Spencer.
Its sold as 'Prime British Beef in a rich 'Batemans Ale' sauce topped with a Thyme & Rosemary Puff Pastry'.
I got the missus to stagger the delivery just so I could capture the process.
The overhanging discs of pastry draped over deep dishes ready to bake didn't look that appetising.
They rose quite well and reminded me of late nights and Fray Bentos suppers.
As instructed, we flipped off the pastry tops and poured out the filling: lots of red sauce, a few chunks of meat and some bacon lardons.
Once on the plate, things started to look like a decent pair of pies.
The sauce was very tasty with the bacon adding a positive kick to the tomato sauce.
The pastry kept some of its chewy elasticity (just like the old days) and wasn't dry at all.
It really has got lots and lots of flavour this posh Fray Bentos and it went well with a simple tin of peas for a quick TV pie supper.
There was plenty of room for more steak in the dish but the flavour and quality of the meat contribute to an overall experience of 5, which is very good for a ready meal pie in a tin. Well done M&S, just need to add some mushrooms (large enough to be picked out by non mushroom lovers of course) and this will be a great pie.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Homemade Heritage

A surprise stop in Barrowford, near Nelson led me to sample the homemade pie on offer in the local cafe at The Heritage Centre.
There is no doubt whatsoever that its all homemade, as I witnessed them cutting into huge pies and delivering it onto my plate with lots of fresh veg.
It is good old fashioned, honest and down to earth winter grub. I went for the 'Minced Pie' at £6.25 which was tasty and accompanied by boiled and roast potatoes, carrots, broad beans and peas.
The pie itself had a rather thick pastry and was alittle out of balance with the ratio as it also contained potatoes and carrots in the pie itself.
The staff are pleasant and it was busy with gentle folk who (I reckon) would no doubt go elsewhere if standards were to drop.
An average pastry/pie ratio offset by a very affordable price makes this experience a 6

Monday, 13 September 2010

The Fence Gate

And now to a pub with a big reputation in Pendle, East Lancs.
The Fence Gate is owned by a local butcher and Sausage Guru so I was expecting big things and I wasn't dissapointed. For a start, the price is the most expensive pie todate at £11.25 for the 'Bowland Beef & Mushroom' with either (massive) chips (arguably roast potatoes) or creamy mash and savoy cabbage, topped with a thyme and onion pastry.
The pie is a decent portion with such a pile of chips and goes well with the cabbage.
The special recipe pastry topping is tasty and attractive enough to warrant further investigation.
The filling to pastry ratio was very good with some nice chunks of steak and the odd mushroom and a nice consistent gravy.
The huge chips were excellent and a real accompaniment to the pie.
The staff are pleasant and the pub is clean, tidy and has a relaxing atmosphere too.
Overall, its up there with some of the very good experiences but is kept out of the top two by the price.
If the pie was as hefty as the chips, it would arguably be worth it but its still a very good quality pie and scores 7.7

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Gun & Doggit Again!

First impressions are everything and I was greeted by an aroma of distant dirty dishcloths and obnoxious staff, not just one but several members appeared hasty, unable to look me in the eye and few managed a smile throughout the pie experience: perhaps they had just received some bad news?
Its a dark venue with an air of Santa's Grotto about it but I was prepared to look beyond my first impressions and try the 'Pie of the day': Steak, Ale & Potato'.
I opted for the chips in anticipation of boiled potatoes being in the pie itself, a strange pie to be served with either chips or boiled potatoes really but I was intrigued enough to try it.
I wasn't at all surprised to see a puff pastry lid on the dish for only £5.75 but to see the dish only half full was indeed disappointing.
The potato and steak filling also included onions and was tasty enough but lacked any real competition to fall on the good side of any pie to filling ratio.
If you want a pie on a budget then this is the place for you... or you could buy yourself a Fray Bentos, let your mum fry up some chips and enjoy a decent pie experience with the family and watch TV at the same time, and probably enjoy it more.
I think they could improve their Steak, Ale & Potato pie experience at The Dog & Gun by making it much more substantial to the extent that diners don't need chips, only peas. So the pie becomes a complete dish itself... Pie & Peas!
Overall, the price of this small portion of pie is the only good point but then you only get half of a real pie portion.
The experience does not compare in any way, to the pie at The Calf's Head at Worston and for that it scores a 4.5 on the pie chart.

Friday, 3 September 2010

To sum up...

The Craven Heifer at Kelbrook is still the pie to beat and leaves all others in its wake, a tremendous experience!

I have a few recommendations sent in by fellow pie lovers, which I now plan to visit and enjoy in the coming months.
I don't want to list them as the venues may be on the lookout for a rather large pie lover and it may blow my cover.
So it looks like I've got a busy schedule ahead and can't wait to get stuck in.
Please keep sending in your recommendations and by all means do leave comments about your own visits, I'm interested to know how my taste buds (and dining experience) compare to yours.

I also plan to make my own pie in a bid to understand why some things work and others don't. So if you've got special recipes etc. pass them on and I'll have a bash.
Watch this space.