Rheged Centre Pork and Black Pudding Pie

By |2021-09-10T13:33:18+01:00September 10th, 2021|Categories: Pork Pie|Tags: , |

The Rheged Centre is a shopping complex just off junction 40 of the M6 by Penrith, and has a great little deli counter which is actually in the petrol station. As you’d expect, it also serves a fine range of craft ales, gins and jams and sauces, so I am more than in my element.

There are hot options available, but the cold pork pies are what I have been craving, after a failed trip to Pooley Bridge (I’ll be back!!) So I opt for the Gloucester Old Spot pork pie and the pork and black pudding pie, both selling at £2.30 each.

They are average sized for a single pork pie, and definitely hand made, given the uneven shape, delivering an intriguing looking crust.

The crust feels a little tough so upon arriving home, I pop it in the oven for 15 minutes, before letting it cool back down to something like room temperature.

It enables the aroma of the light brown hot water crust to breathe. It softens it up for the chomp and it smells excellent, almost fruity. Upon cutting in half, the black pudding is equally as prominent as the pork meat

The pork is moderately seasoned and the black pudding is both sweet and fruity, and both fillings consist of a gentle texture. There is no blood aftertaste with the pudding, just a herby, moist flavour. Though if I have a small criticism, it is the absence of jelly which will always add a bit of moisture to any pork pie, if we discount the adding of additional condiments, such as brown sauce or mustard.

The Rheged Centre filling station also has a range of hot pies, I noticed minced beef and onion and meat and potato pies. Plus it also sells those ridiculously fat sausage rolls which have a good inch and a half of meaty goodness in the middle.

Of course, the Rheged Centre is just a few miles up the road from Tebay, and the Gloucester old spot pork pie, definitely leads me to believe they are part of the same chain, but fortunately I bought one of those as well…

The old spot is a rare, geographically protected type of pig, which predictably is white with dark spots. The pork meat is traditionally fattier and sweeter, due to the tradition of pigs munching on apples falling from the orchards where they graze.

Again, I warm it up gently to soften the pie and the soft crust glistens gently as I bite into it. The pinkish grey sausage meat is exceptionally tender. It’s soft, sweet and tangy, only broken up with the occasional peppery after kick. There is a thin layer of jelly sprinkled around the edges, which moistens the crust interior. For a dinky pie, it certainly is a rich and filling experience.

The finer details

Date: 30th August 2021

Price: The price was £2.30 for an individual sized pork pie, cooling on the deli counter

Address: Redhills, Penrith CA11 0DQ

Website: https://rheged.com/filling-station/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Rheged/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rheged_centre/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/rhegedcentre

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The Crofters Tavern Steak and Ale Pie

By |2021-09-01T15:25:28+01:00September 1st, 2021|Categories: Blog, Good Pie Guide, Steak Pie|Tags: , , , , , , |

We spend a lot of time up in the Lakes, and whereas, on a good day, it is only an hour or so up the M6, on a bank holiday weekend, it can take three hours of snarly traffic each way. Upon getting kicked out of our accommodation mid morning, we first stopped at the Rheged Centre for pork pies (more on those later!) and by the time, it hits early afternoon, we had barely got past Lancaster.

So, time to pull off the M6 onto the A6 to find a random place that feeds children. We stopped in Garstang on the way up and paid a trip to Booths, and the drag from Lancaster to Preston usually has a smattering of decent pubs on it’s course. With the time gone 2pm and the kids (and me) getting tetchy, we pulled over and called upon The Crofters Tavern, with a wide, open front and pleasant looking terrace outside.

It is part of a hotel complex but the interior has some low hanging wood beams and is highly decorative. I am impressed by the beer range, with Camden’s, Goose Island, Budvar and Lowenbrau on tap along with a range of hand pulls, including some from the local Bowland brewery. However, it is food we are here for, and a man with my reputation can’t be seen to go too long without a pie, so I am delighted to see “HAND CRAFTED TAVERN PIES” available in a highlighted box.

There is a choice of steak and ale or cheese and onion, so I plump for the former and a pint of Goose Island Midway pale ale to accompany it. Well, I am on my holidays!

The service is good and the food arrives in reasonable time, and it is visually appealing. It is, as advertised, hand crafted with a plait-style crust formed by hand.

The pie, or the Cumbrian Steak and JW Lees Ale Hand Crafted Tavern Pie to give it it’s full title, comes with some plump, golden chips, a mound of garden peas and a ramekin full of gravy.

Upon cutting it, I am hit with a sweet, hoppy smell as the braised steak is infused with dark ale. There are amply quantities of thick chunks of soft meat inside and you really can taste the ale marinated in the meat.

After a while, I pour over the gravy and there are plenty bits of meat and stock remnants in there, this has clearly not come from a tub of Bisto granules. It is definitely a “knife and fork” pie. Due to the curious shape of the crust, it breaks up into slithers, so that you can pair it up with a piece of meat and soak it up with the gravy.

In any case, I’m not brave enough to pick up a pie and eat it with my hands, whilst having a meal with my wife and children in a pub. I get enough stick when I pull my phone out to take a sneaky pic.

Overall, a very filling and satisfying meal. I still nicked a load of my daughters’ chips which they didn’t finish but that is not because I wasn’t full, it’s just WHAT I DO 😊


The finer details

Date: 30th August 2021

Price: The price was £11.95, which is about standard for a sit down pub meal of pie and chips

Address: Crofters Hotel, A6 Cabus, Garstang, Lancashire, PR3 1PH

Website: https://www.croftershotel.co.uk/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/croftershotel/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thetaverngarstang/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/CroftersHotel
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Cheers!

McGraddie’s Scotch pie

By |2021-08-26T12:24:18+01:00August 26th, 2021|Categories: Good Pie Guide, Scotch Pie|Tags: , , , |

John W McGraddie’s Butchers Scotch pie

Scotch pies are popular in the central areas of Scotland. They have a distinctive tin shaped side to them and a loosely placed top crust. They are usually made with mutton and heavily seasoned with salt and other spices. In some senses, they are not dissimilar to the pies of my youth in North west England and originate from working class roots.

I’ve got four of these and I have been advised that they should be eaten with Beans or Marrowfat peas on top but this one is going to be done au naturelle, so that I can actually examine and review the pie closely as to what it tastes like.

Firstly, I am eternally grateful to Paul aka @NorthernCasual for picking these up for me on a trip up North, and also to Glaswegian @BarcaJim for the recommendation. The only downside to me not being there myself, is that I don’t get to savour the on premise ambience of a traditional butchers.

According to Jim, they are not hugely famous, just a very well respected local family butcher. Their steak pies are exceptionally good and hugely popular around New Year when it’s the traditional Hogmanay scran. As you’d expect, they do square sausages, indeed the full lorne, which Jim used to get imported to Barcelona when he lived there (I had to ask for the picture below….LOOK AT IT!!!!)

Back to the Scotch pie and as I pull the pie out of the oven, I get a glorious waft of buttery pastry. The pie is a bit on the smaller side but as mentioned, standard protocol is to double up and add your choice of topping.

I love the look of the pie, with it’s uneven top and sides, and razor sharp crust lip. Probably not the best idea to stick your teeth directly into that, I reckon, if eating by hand, it is best to approach it at a right angle.

Even if it is made in a tin (and I’m not sure to be honest), that lack of uniformity shows something that is traditional, home made and unique.

Inside there is a healthily thick slab of minced mutton, pinkish grey in cover and the meat is rich, chewy and juicy, with a slightly salty aftertaste. Easily eaten by hand, though it is best to turn on the side to get a bit of the crunchy side crust.

Obviously, I have gone a bit off track by not adding sides or condiments, but there is plenty moisture inside to not need that at all, and a gentle sprinkling of salt on the top crust and inside.

My biggest regret is not putting two in the oven as my mouth is watering for more as I polish the first one off. Just as well, I’ve got three more in the fridge then really.

The finer details

Price: As I didn’t buy this myself, I’m not sure of the exact price, but I am told that most standard sized pies retail between £1.00 and £1.50 each

Address: 8 Minard Rd, Glasgow G41 2HN

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/John-W-McGraddie-Butchers-611777682173656

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mcgraddiebutchers/

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Topping’s Chilli Pork Pie

By |2021-08-03T11:43:47+01:00August 3rd, 2021|Categories: Good Pie Guide, Pork Pie|Tags: , , , , , , , |

Let me come clean from the start, I was heading to Booth’s primarily to get a La Trappe glass to pour my La Trappe keg of beer into. I’d had a tip off, that they had some nifty Benelux based glassware in. However, a trip to Booth’s always seems to mean buying more than I came for. Booth’s are a supermarket, predominantly based in the North of England, and mainly found in quite affluent market towns. This means it isn’t cheap but the produce on offer is absolute quality throughout.

If I was to get imprisoned in a building with no escape, then so long as it was the food hall at Booth’s, I think I’d survive. The beers, wines, cheese and deli counters are simply stunning, and that is where I find myself today, politely pointing at the pie I want.

It is a chilli pork pie from Topping’s Pies, a long standing supplier to Booth’s over the years. Doncaster based Topping’s do a wide range of pies, both wholesale and retail. They have carved out a niche in this supermarket for their pork pies, both standard ones and pork plus something else: pork and black pudding, pork and chorizo, pork and scrumpy, pork topped with cranberry or, in this case, speciality chilli pork pie.

The pie costs £2.50, and is wrapped and chilled, and that is how it stays as I pop it into the fridge as I get home.

Topping’s Chilli Pork Pie
Purchased from Booth’s Supermarket, Burscough
Price £2.50

The first thing that I notice is that this is a deceptively heavy one! The dark brown crust has a decorative leaf and a little porthole, giving us a glimpse of what hides inside. Is it a pork pie with chilli? Or a chilli con carne pork pie? Would that even work served cold?

It requires a big knife to cut open, as it is solid throughout, with a firm, well cooked base. There is a thin layer of jelly in the casing but otherwise it is wall to wall, fine sausage meat, with a few red flecks of chilli moulded into the filling. I was perhaps a little surprised to see red and green pepper in the ingredients, I want hot peppers!! I can’t even taste them as it transpires, the spice is underlying and subtle rather than distinct.

From the very first bite, once I munch into the sticky crust, I encounter a pleasant bit of heat. It’s not so overpowering that you can’t taste the succulent pork filling though. In fact, the two combine well to melt in the mouth, along with the juicy jelly. As mentioned, there was little doubt this pie was going to be good. You don’t get onto the deli counter at Booth’s unless you are half decent.

This is a deceptive, generous pie which perhaps could be shared, if indeed, you approve of such things. I find my bites getting smaller even as I finish the first half of it. The flavour continues it’s consistency with the chilli tickling along and without ramping up the in-mouth temperature. In summary, served and eaten at room temperature from the fridge, it is a little firecracker of an effort from Topping’s, who are long standing masters of the pork pie game.

The finer details:

Topping’s Chilli Pork Pie purchased on Saturday 31st July 2021
Price £2.50 from Booth’s Supermarket, Burscough, Lancashire, L40 8AD

Website: https://www.toppingspies.co.uk/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/toppings_pies
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/toppingspies/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/toppings_pies/
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Greenhalghs’ Butter Pie

By |2021-04-02T10:21:44+01:00April 2nd, 2021|Categories: Blog, Butter Pie, Good Pie Guide, Life of Pies, North West, Pies|Tags: , , , , , , |

Ah yes, the butter pie: talk about a pie which divides opinions.

My personal opinion is that they are pleasant, but I’d always rather have a bit of meat in there if possible.

For the uninitiated, this is a pie made with butter, potato and onion. In much the same way as Friday is “chippy tea” day, the Butter pie was conceived as a way for all good Catholics to get a filling meal on the days when eating meat was forbidden. Good Friday, therefore represents the Holy Grail of all Fridays, if you’ll pardon the pun.

It’s origins appear to be in Preston or at least within Lancashire and I have written previously also about the “affordability factor”, namely that the pies around here are usually generously filled with potato mash and pepper and only sparsely populated with mincemeat, due to the expense, in a tradition that holds to this day.

Whereas the concept of a “butter pie” can repulse some people, even down the road in Wigan, as it sounds a bit too sickly, it is still much revered by Prestonians and the surrounding areas as a traditional treat. There are lots of bakers in the Lancashire areas, who are fine exponents of this delicacy including Galloways, Bowens and Rounds.

Today I’m sampling the Greenhalgh’s Butter Pie which costs £2.50 and, whereas Greenhalghs’ pies aren’t the cheapest, they are always of a very generous size. They also do a nice line in one off quirky flavours and a range of tasty soups too. A hefty vat of soup used to be my regular order from the Greenhalgh’s van that used to come to my office at lunchtime. Oo remembers offices, hey?

Anyway, the pie consists of a solid, shortcrust pastry with a soft, almost lattice style top crust. Inside, you will fine plentiful, large slabs of potato, laced with butter, seasoning and a bit of onion in there.

The best compliment I can give here is that it didn’t feel like there was something missing and it is intensely rich and filling, plus it keeps you in the good books, down at the local church.

The details
You can pick up Greenhalgh’s Pies from their shops across the North West or in Booths supermarkets. (Like you need an excuse to go to Booths!!)

Or they now have an online shop here: https://www.greenhalghs.com/savouries/pies/
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/GreenhalghsCraftBakery/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Greenhalghs
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/greenhalghscraftbakery/

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Wrights Meat and Potato Pie

By |2021-03-02T12:07:24+00:00March 2nd, 2021|Categories: Life of Pies, Meat and Potato Pie, North West, Pies|Tags: , , , , , |

Wright’s Meat and Potato Pie

It is British Pie Week, and it feels a little subdued, with a nation still in lockdown. There are still lots of pie suppliers out there offering a delivery service though, and often a discount should have fancy getting your gums around some golden pastry.

For now, let me take you back to chapter three of Life of Pies, with a rare excursion to the most northern bit of Stoke-On-Trent, and it doesn’t take long for this correspondent to get confused once he departs from his North West homelands…..

Wright’s Meat and Potato Pie

Got to keep up the batting average: now, where can I reasonably get to within my lunch hour without anyone noticing I’ve disappeared? I often do 12 hours days so if I take longer than an hour it’s not a huge deal but then there’s the side effects. Having a pastry heavy pie for lunch often lays a bit heavy on the stomach; I may as well have six pints I’ll be that lethargic. Like the IT developers who go to our canteen and polish off a full curry and apple custard and crumble for dessert. If I did that I’d be have my head on my desk all afternoon.

I’ve no idea how we managed before the internet. Yellow Pages I suppose. A couple of mates of mine used to go on pub crawls in towns and villages armed only with Yellow Pages, not knowing whether they’d get a warm welcome or stabbed upon entering each establishment. A great idea indeed, possibly even more fun than gallivanting around the country eating pies, but I won’t be going down that route. Some pubs are great, some pubs are lousy but pubs like pies deserve love. I do need to try and push it a bit given the missus hasn’t yet OK’d it for me to bugger off to Scotland for the weekend.

I decide on a bakery who are based in Crewe and serve the Potteries. I identify a place called Biddulph and it’s just the other side of Congleton, which I know is just a few miles away from work: 25 minutes each way, ten minutes to scoff a pie. Piece of piss. Plus I can probably cut a few minutes off that with a spot of demon driving down country lanes. It’s on Biddulph High Street, I’ve never heard of the place so it can only be a little village and will be a doddle to find once I get there.

Needlessly to say my naivety quickly finds me reversing down country lanes. I’ve got two sat Navs on my phone but they are both shit. Sheer panic sets in once or twice as I get hopelessly lost in places of Cheshire which I didn’t know existed. When I do find myself on the right track, I get stuck behind all manner of tractors, salt gritters and gun toting Farmer Palmers in Land Rovers, not to mention four Police motorbikes flying past, just as I am studiously waving the map about on my phone, in front of my seriously agitated little face.

Forty minutes and I’m still nowhere near and I consider that this might have to be an abortive mission but at that point the roads veers upwards to a viewpoint giving me a scintillating view of the whole of Staffordshire. I still haven’t a clue where I am but it’s a real Planet of the Apes moment.

Biddulph is massive and upon parking up in Sainsburys, I discover the High Street is at least half a mile long. Now to ascertain which way to walk: I’m looking for the big orange sign of Wrights but nothing jumps out at me. I then see a lad walking down the street with a couple of brown wrappers with writing on them: he’s been getting the pies in, GOOD LAD!! I trail his recent path. It’s only as I get closer that the truth is revealed by virtue of a large POVEYS OATCAKES sign above the window. I’m in Stoke country and I’ve just been had!

Some other time perhaps. I head back the other way past a Wetherspoons, with a few likely lads hanging about outside and it crosses my mind to ask them. I don’t and it’s just as well as I can’t tell a word they’re saying, as one shouts his head off to the other in that daft Potteries brogue.

I still can’t smell pies but keep walking, just as I look close to getting to the other end of the High Street, I find it. Except it’s not: it’s another pie shop, called bizarrely New Cooks. This is an interesting development and I’m torn. What now, do I go to both? Have I got time to do both? Pie shops like gift horses should not be looked in the mouth, their products should be placed in the mouth.

Maybe I just go to New Cooks, as it’s less of a chain than Wrights with their fifteen shops across Stoke and more likely to produce a better, more independent pie? Is it fair to represent two bakers from such a confined area only for me to potentially miss out a large city completely later down the line like Bristol or Portsmouth if I can’t find anywhere to procure a decent pie from? These early moral dilemmas will shape my mission and my instinct tells me to stick to Plan A, in order to fully absorb myself in the Wrights Pie experience and make a note of the other one in my pie master spreadsheet as one for the future. Time is on my side.

I eventually find Wrights another hundred or so yards down the street, right at the far end. Pie procured, tempted though I am by the offer of Staffordshire lobbies (hot pot) with peas and gravy and on my way. The pie is raging hot, if Art Garfunkel walked in here he’d probably sing “Wrights Pies, burning like fire”

Sorry. By this point I need a wee and pop in the bogs by Sainsburys, a very sleek cylindrical affair. As if I didn’t have enough of a phobia already with public conveniences, there’s grunting coming from one of the cubicles and a bloke with a flat cap comes and has a wee next to me, immediately initiating conversation about the weather. I need to get out of here!!

 

3.

Purveyor: Wrights

Premises: Crewe

Purchase: Meat and potato pie £1.30

Place: 7 Pastry: 6.5 Presentation: 8 Package: 8 Palate: 7 Price: 7.5 Portion: 8

OVERALL: 52/70 An above average size pie, with a crust which had a lovely feel to it, but wasted no time introducing me to Mr Heartburn. A delightful, powerful aroma came off it which veritably stunk my car out. A fine mix of fresh, almost green potato and generous meat content, which retained its heat superbly. Slight amount of airspace at the top giving it an aircraft hangar type effect but overall a valiant effort.

 

The finer details:

The original review took place on Monday 23rd January 2012. It transpires that the shop is still there but has been sold to Woods Catering. I took the liberty of ringing the shop and they do still sell meat and potato pies and use a combinaton of Wrights Pies and their own.

I have also sampled Wrights Pies at the DW Stadium, as they were official pie supplier for a while and the chicken Balti pie is indeed a cracker, albeit it was priced at considerably more than £1.30 in a football ground!

Current pricing (March 2021)

Potato and meat pie £1.70 (Woods Catering in Biddulph)

Website: Wrights: Wholesale Pies | Pastries | Quiches | Pastry And Shell Supplier | Wrights Food Group

Twitter: Wrights Food Group (@WrightsFoodGrp) / Twitter

Facebook: Wrights Pies | Facebook

Click here to add a pie review of your own: https://goodpieguide.co.uk/add-pie/

As you can see, I am slowly in the process of adding the hundreds of pie reviews I captured over the years. If you don’t want to wait a while, you can read all 314 reviews in Life of Pies for the bargain price of just £4.99 & P&P here

 

 

Steve’s Chicken Curry Pie

By |2021-02-05T13:31:39+00:00February 5th, 2021|Categories: Blog, Good Pie Guide, North West, Pies|Tags: , , , , , , |

Now then. Time for a little something different. A mate of mine, Johnny Stafford, who acquired my previous book, the Life of Pies, some years back, had a neighbour who makes his own pies.

What started as a hobby turned into a passion with Steve taking them into work for his colleagues to try. I have got to say I’ve tried five of them now and they are all fantastic. The man has a talent!!

Here is a review I did for Steve’s steak and veg pie, which was the first one I tried: Steve’s Steak and Veg Pie

I have actually eaten three more different ones since then, with the tasting notes saved somewhere but while this particular one is fresh in my mind, let’s dive in…..

The first thing that takes you back is the size and weight of it. In truth, it is possibly enough for two people. But the first rule of pie club is that WE DO NOT SHARE PIES!!

This also rules it out of entry to the British Pie awards, not only because it is not commercially available but as Steve has confirmed it is over the regulation 600 grammes in weight.

Being a professional, well, a dedicated amateur, he has been in touch throughout, checking on the status of the pie. What with it being in his freezer for a few months due to lockdown, then also in mine for several months, Steve was concerned the pie might no longer be at it’s best. I can confirm this was not the case, it was absolutely fantastic, in many ways, just like all of his efforts.

The pie is of a familiar shape, flat sided with a sturdy top crust. You may notice that the top crust has fallen away a wee bit at the sides, probably due to minor freezer degradation. However, after 20 mins in the oven, the texture is perfect, with that all important crunch I’ve so missed*, clearly evident. Closely followed by a softer, doughy shortcrust interior which is gently infused with the moisture from the filling.


*Yeah I did the whole “it’s January, best get a few pounds off after consuming three times my bodyweight in food, alcohol and snacks over the festive period”. Sorry.

As for the filling, well it is packed to the rafters with chicken, peas, onions, peppers and herbs, all mixed in with a lightly moist gravy. That alone, is arguably enough, but Steve kindly provided me with an individual pot of home made curry sauce to pour on, which he makes using the juices from the meat.

The curry sauce is out of this world, it knocks most chip shop curry sauces into a hat, and it has a fair kick to it as well. I pour it on half to try and get a with/without taste but basically end up dipping my fork in it throughout.


The whole pie is cleared up in a matter of minute but it is intensely tasty and satisfying. I have mentioned previously that these pies would go down a storm if they were made commercially, Steve like most of us, has a day job to contend with.

So in the meantime, all you can do, is join our Facebook group or get in touch with me, and beg him to make you one if you are based in the North West. They are WELL WORTH IT, trust me.

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Sayers Meat and Potato Pie

By |2021-01-12T11:51:46+00:00January 5th, 2021|Categories: Blog, Life of Pies, Meat and Potato Pie, North West, Pies|Tags: , , , , , |

Hampson’s Meat and Potato Pie

NB Now trading as Sayers

Today we go right back to the start. To be honest, we had been reviewing pies informally for years in the fanzines I was involved with but Monday 16th January 2012 was the first day that I consciously went out to buy a pie and review it.

It took place in one of the poshest areas of Knutsford, close to where I was working at the time and I am lucky I didn’t get arrested. I visited a Hampson’s Bakers in the town, subsequently re-branded as Sayers. They also include the Pound bakery in their stable, more on them later.

Enjoy, as your then thirty-something pie reviewer made his first foray into (semi) professional pie eating, totally unaware of the monster he was about to unleash….

Hampson’s (Sayer’s) Meat and Potato Pie

I’m sat in my car in a leafy lane near Knutsford town centre. I have carefully assembled a digital camera and have got a white chopping board laid out on the passenger seat, with the box underneath to prop it up level to the seat’s curvature. There’s a load of white van men working on a big house across the road and a postman has just walked past, whistling. Because all postmen whistle.

I lay the pie out on the chopping board and I produce a large shiny carving knife out of my Asda bag, lift the pie out of it’s foil tray and proceed to sever it in half with one almighty, glee-filled blow. Just as a pair of ageing pedestrians walk past with their dog.

“Police are trying to trace a man seen acting suspiciously in a silver car in the area around the time of the crime”

Those are the words ringing through my head right now. I’m not right in the head am I, let’s face it? This is ODD behaviour; or at the very least OCD behaviour. It makes perfect sense to me though: this is the first stage in a quest I have believed in for quite some time now.
It is the duty of a Wigan man to sample as many pies as is humanly possible from around the world.

I want to find the best there is. It may be in my home town of Wigan, or further afield. I need a plan, a map, an understanding wife and some healthy working organs. Can I travel the UK, albeit ever so slightly skewed towards the North to find and review the best pies and try and find the ultimate pie? It’s time to find out…..

My first review is in Knutsford near work. It’s posh. The local MP is George Osborne. This might well be where he comes when he wants to rough it and stick a meat pie down his grid. I doubt it though.

It’s nearly 1pm when I wander in to break up the chit chat as two ladies turn and stand to attention.
“I’ll have a meat and potato pie please”

You’ll be hearing me say that an awful lot. It’s my staple diet for 700 days, although I’m prepared to mix it up a bit in the interests of research. I mean they do a CHIP SHOP CURRY PASTY in here for God’s sake, who wouldn’t want one of those?

There are a range of pasties from chicken tikka and cheese and onion but it’s the pie I’m after, which comes in a Sayers wrapper. Confused? Hampsons are part of the Sayers group and they also own the Pound Bakery (more on them later). They have sensibly opted to retain their prestige brand name for the residents of the Tatton constituency mind you.

 

1.
Purveyor: Hampsons Bakers
Premises: Bolton
Purchase: Meat and Potato pie £1.05

Place: 7 I get a smile which is a start! Attentive and seemed genuinely pleased to see me. They offered me a fork which blotted their copy book a bit mind you.
Pastry: 7 The pie possesses perfect portability and holds together throughout. The crust edge is a tad thick, which often sets the heartburn alarm bells ringing, but the whole pie is eaten by hand and there is zero, I repeat zero spillage
Presentation: 7 It’s scorching hot like a hand grenade, yet once the foil tray has been dispensed with, it’s almost the perfect room temperature to chomp into
Package: 8 A deep mix of meat and potato chunks, full to the brim with hardly any airspace
Palate: 7 This lot churn out the pies by the van load so it’s a quality, solid performer if a little generic
Price: 8 Slightly above average sized pie for a slight below average price
Portion: 7 A standard size
OVERALL: If I had the best pie in the whole wide world first, it would be a very short book. The Hampsons pie is a good, solid performer but not spectacular. It sets a benchmark that some will exceed but many will fall short of and gets a respectable 51 out of 70 marks.
Now, I need to get a plan together…..

The finer details:
The original review took place on Monday 16th January 2012. Hampsons (now all Sayers branded) continue to have a range of shops across the North West stocking a wide variety of pies, pasties and probably some more healthy stuff, we’re not going to plug here.

Little known fact: Some time after publishing the Life of Pies, I was approached by a marketing consultant to do some work with them and become the face of Sayers / The Pound Bakery. I politely declined as it may compromise my impartiality. Looks like they went with Ken Barlow instead.

Current pricing (Jan 2021):
You can expect to pay around £2 for a fresh, hot meat and potato or steak pie from Sayers these days, though prices may vary slightly.

Website: Sayers the bakers
Twitter: @sayersthebakers
Facebook: Sayers the Bakers
Click here to add a pie review of your own: https://goodpieguide.co.uk/add-pie/
You can buy a copy of Life of Pies here for just £4.99 plus P&P

 

 

Turners Steak and Ale Pie (142)

By |2020-12-20T13:39:11+00:00December 20th, 2020|Categories: Blog, Life of Pies, Pies, Uncategorised|Tags: , , , , , , , |

Time for another pie from the archives and today, I am going to move out of the North West all the way down to sunny Sussex. I don’t know how I first came across Turners’ Pies, but I am very glad I did. And they have been very hard to avoid since, given their meteoric rise up the pie charts.

They are a multiple British Pie Award supreme pie winner (the biggest accolade any pie maker can get!) So it is only fair that I accelerate and acknowledge their presence in the Good Pie Guide.

Turners Steak and Ale Pie

Bognor Regis, a place so sleepy it’s twinned with the Land of Nod. It does possess Turners however, a specialist family run pie shop with a very smart exterior, if a little bit marooney in colour.

As soon as I get out of the car, that unmistakeable waft of pastry comes heading my way, I’m like a geriatric Bisto-kid. The lad serving is a chirpy Cockney geezer, with a mop of hair and therefore bearing more than a passing resemblance to Charlatans front man Tim Burgess. All about the pies in here, chicken and steak of various dimensions, served on their own or you can chuck in peas, mash and gravy for a couple of extra quid.

142.

Purveyor: Turners
Premises: Bognor Regis
Purchase: Steak and ale pie £2.30

Place: 8 The hot pies and mash are pulled down from a serving hatch which is a nice touch
Pastry: 8 A highly decorative crust, crisp in the mouth but uneven and artisan in its form, suggesting it has been crimped by hand. Highly portable as well, not that I’ve seen many Sussex folk walking around eating pies with their hands like they do where I’m from
Presentation: 9 Amazing aroma and piping hot
Package: 9 A dangerously overcrowded population of prime steak lies within
Palate: 8 Mighty and meaty
Price: 7 Over £2 takeaway but this is no average pie
Portion: 8 Deep and oblong shaped

OVERALL: 57/70 A splendidly well filled pie from a passionate vendor dedicated to fine food

The finer details:

The original review took place on Tuesday 16th October 2012. Obviously with Turners being a good 250 miles from my house, I am yet to pay a repeat visit, or indeed, try their Pies by Post service. Though I should add that I have no doubt unknowing eaten their pies in my role of judge at the British Pie Awards. Given their 2020 success with it, I reason that the next pie of theirs to review for the Good Pie Guide will be the Steak and Stilton pie, the 2020 BPA Supreme Champion. Can’t wait!

Current pricing (December 2020)
A steak and ale pie is currently retailing at £3.80 via Turner’s click and collect service. Or you can of course buy in bulk using their Pies by Post service.

Website: https://www.turnerspies.co.uk/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TurnersPies
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TurnersPies/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/turnerspies/
Click here to add a pie review of your own: https://goodpieguide.co.uk/add-pie/
You can buy a copy of Life of Pies here for just £4.99 plus P&P

 

 

 

Galloways Meat and Potato Pie (107)

By |2020-12-11T11:48:40+00:00December 11th, 2020|Categories: Blog, Meat and Potato Pie, Pies, Wigan|Tags: , , , , |

So as I move from the old to the new, I thought it might be useful to rehash, er, provide content to the site by putting my entire works of Life of Pies online. It’s not like I haven’t still got hundreds of copies in my shed to sell (nudge, nudge, on sale for a fiver HERE)

I will probably work through the book logically but for now, I thought I’d throw in one of Wigan’s finest as nobody should have to wait two years for this to be represented in any Good Pie Guide…

Galloways Meat and Potato Pie

There were other pie shops in Wigan before Galloways popped up in the 70’s. They were by no means the first, but their pies capture the flavour and spirit of the Wigan meat and potato pie from days gone by.

As it stands, they now have a sum total of 24 shops in and around Wigan. There’s even a rumour going around that they have branched out as far away as *takes deep breath* ST HELENS.

So nowadays, you can barely visit a shopping precinct in Wigan now without seeing the garish turquoise header, black Galloways lettering and their ubiquitous little baker logo assigned to a shop front. Walk out of Wallgate station and you more or less walk into one. It is the first thing you see (and smell!) What a town!

Galloways have expertly filled some of the void left by the shutdown of several fine traditional Wigan bakers and much more importantly than that, they make amazing pies.

They are generally regarded to be the best in Wigan (although we may well challenge that theory throughout this quest). They are a real force to be reckoned with yet despite their success and growth, they’re still a very localised brand.

As I arrive in Standish, every third person seems to be carrying their uniform green bag of goodies. From glammed up yummy mummies wearing wraparound shades, fresh from their weekly spray tan, to doddery pensioners with tartan shopping trollies and as I turn the corner the queue is spilling out into the High Street.

Waiting time is around three minutes, just enough for me to survey the scene: Galloways is always a very open kitchen, with entrance doors almost as wide as the shop itself and a counter working it’s way all around the shop.

In front, is a wide expanse of pie display including several racks of potato and meat pies (called meat and potato in the meal deal above, I know it’s the regulations, bah humbug!) but anyway what that means is you can get pie, peas and gravy for a couple of quid.

There are cheese and onion, chunky steak, minced steak, party meat, pork pies, chicken and mushroom, butter pies, pasties, turnovers, sausage rolls and on it goes. There’s an impressive range of sandwiches and cakes, usually including a festive or topical theme such as Halloween or Christmas. My notes tell me that when I scribbled this review in August 2012, they were doing a fetching line in Bradley Wiggins gingerbread men, complete with novelty sideburns.

I get served and as I walk out past the dry cleaners, where the shop owner is stood outside, getting some fresh air, away from his sweltering machinery. He spots my beaming little face with a pie in my hand.

 

“You’re going to enjoy that pie aren’t you lad?”
Yes, I am my friend. I certainly am.

107.
Purveyor: Galloways
Premises: Wigan
Purchase: Potato and Meat Pie
Place: 7 SHE ASKS ME TO REPEAT MYSELF!!! Shocking! I expect that if I’m down south but in Wigan?? My Wiggin accent is hardly the broadest but if anything that should help. Mildly offended here
Pastry: 9 Beautifully soft but never soggy, with the trademark peepholes in the top, which dried gravy and filling gently oozes out of. Despite this flexible exterior, they can usually be easily eaten by hand without the contents slopping out.
Presentation: 8.5 An orgasmic smell and a volcanically hot foil tray
Package: 9 Rammed full of mashed potato and mince, which attacks me head on as I bite into it
Palate: 9 An explosion in the mouth of peppery meat and potato mush which never disappoints. You just have to try this pie once in your life.
Price: 7.5 There are perhaps cheaper pies in Wigan but you certainly get what you pay for as this is a quality offering
Portion: 8 Deceptively large in that it’s a semi-plate pie, which is wider at the top than the bottom

OVERALL: 58/70 Bar well and truly raised. Galloways simply produce a winning formula which is loved by the dozen by the ravenous locals. Britain’s best? We’ll see!

The finer details:
The original review took place on Saturday 4th August 2012. I have consumed dozens more Galloways pies since then in order to verify the accuracy of the above.

Current prices (December 2020)

Potato and meat pie £2.20
Potato and meat pie with peas and gravy £2.75
PIE BARM!!! £2.70

Website: https://www.gallowaysbakers.co.uk/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Gallowayspies
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GallowaysPies

Click here to add a pie review of your own: https://goodpieguide.co.uk/add-pie/

You can buy a copy of Life of Pies here for just £4.99 plus P&P

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