Allow me to introduce you to Project Pies Nottingham. They are, as the name implies, only available in the Nottingham area currently but they surely have a bigger future if there is any justice in the world.
As it happens, I was sort of passing there on the way back from the British Pie Awards in Melton Mowbray. I had been following their pie creations and stunning photos on Instagram for a while now, and it was a pleasure to meet Dan, the man behind the pies, at his home in the Colwick area of Nottingham last week. He kindly gave me a bag of pies, in exchange for a slightly tatty copy of my book. I know who got the better deal!
I have always banged the drum for traditional bakers, such as Greens of Barrow, or Muffin Man and Galloways in Wigan, as they remind me of the pie shops that I used to see (and smell) on every street corner as I was a young boy in Wigan.
Nevertheless, the world moves on and I have to say, following Baldy’s Pies and Willy’s Pies (yet to try them!) the new and emerging “lockdown baker” genre is increasingly smashing it out of the park and Project Pies are no exception.
Dan currently works full time in hospitality and makes and sells pies at evenings and weekends, delivering to homes locally and hosting pie nights in pubs, and what can I say but, based on the evidence I have before me, he is bloody good at it!
I got two bagfuls of pies, one headed straight to the freezer for later features and a second bag containing a large pork pie and three sausage rolls I put in my fridge.
Now, in my head, as I collected them, I thought “I’ll have that pork pie at lunch tomorrow” and the kids can have the sausage rolls for their dinner on Saturday. I do unfortunately (and erroneously) associate sausage rolls with being kid’s food, or an item on a buffet plate. I was wrong on both counts.
The sausage rolls are HUGE and I, let alone my kids, would struggle to eat a full one and upon inspecting the pork pie, it is also very heavy and of a family, sharing size. There will be none of that here of course, I will eat it all myself. It might just have to be half at a time.
So to the pork pie and the crust is a wonderful russet brown colour. The shape of the pie is incredibly sturdy and well crafted and easily on a par with many professionally produced efforts. It reminds me of the pork pie I got from Walter Smith’s in Birmingham a few years’ back, and upon checking my photos, it even looks like it.
By the way, that is the Walter Smith, who has only been making pork pies since 1885 and is one of the leading food and meat purveyors in the West Midlands, versus Dan, who makes them in his converted garage as a side venture.
I doubt Walter even still makes them himself unless he’s 136 years old! I guess what I am saying is this is a truly professional pork pie, made by someone, who by his own admission is something of a novice based on his journey so far.
Anyway, back to the pie. The crust is crunchy and tasty with a solid, consistent base. Inside, well firstly, there is an all important layer of salty, silvery-gold jelly encasing a thick, modular filling of coarse pork meat standing close to two inches tall. I’d expect nothing less when I’m still only 20 miles from Melton Mowbray than the slightly tougher, greyish-pink meat filling but it is soft enough in the mouth and just the right quantity of pepper to give it a bit of oomph.
The main problem I have now is that I have chomped my way through half of it and I want more. That little voice inside my head pops up “you’ll not want your tea” but quite frankly, I don’t care. This is a sensational pork pie, and should have been on that table in Melton Mowbray last week getting very highly commended.
I had a chat with Dan about where he plans to go with Project Pies and it is not fair for me to say any more than that. I’ve still got a lot of his produce to get through in the coming weeks, but if the starter is anything to go by, then these pies need to be tried by a MUCH wider audience as they are exceptional.
NOTE: I have been overwhelmingly positive in my reviews recently, and you may be starting to wonder whether I’m being paid off. However, when I went to Google to look for Dan’s social details, there’s a load of reviews on YouTube, like this one whereby he used the words INSANELY GOOD. But they are!! Oh and unlike this guy, I didn’t give my wife any of mine!
Oh and the clue is in the title, I only seek out GOOD PIES!!
Review date: 16th March 2022
Price: A small pork pie is £3 and a large one is £5.75. I think the one I had was a large, if not I NEED TO SEE HOW BIG THE LARGE ONE IS!!
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