Taylor’s Pepper Pie

By |2021-03-30T12:23:06+01:00March 30th, 2021|Categories: Blog, Good Pie Guide, North West|Tags: , , , , , , |

Well, well, we are still in lockdown so my movements are so limited, I can’t even get across to Leigh. However, with a bit of improvisation, it was possible for a few pastry shaped pieces of Leigh to come to me.

Cook & Foragers is a butchers based in Appley Bridge near Wigan who also sell pies. They sell them from the fantastic Bowen Pies (more on them here) but they also stock pies from a bakery called Taylors from Leigh.

I am unsure whether I have sampled these before. I once went on a mission around St Helens’ market and picked up a few pies from a stall called Cottams, and from what I understand, it may well have sold Taylor’s produce. What with me being a greedy get, I pointed at the biggest pie on display and bagged it.

It was only when I opened it up on a layby on the East Lancs, I noticed it appeared to be a touch bereft of a fully encased crust. It was, in fact, a Lancashire hot pot. It was a beautiful hot pot too, large and juicy inside and full flavoured.

But it wasn’t a pie. Time to rectify this matter.

As I hadn’t visited the bakery shop to pick these up due to lockdown, they were handed to me refrigerated. Nevertheless, I give the dome shaped crust a good old sniff before putting it in the oven  and the pastry smells magnificent, clearly composed of light, sweet, buttery texture that I can’t wait to get my hands on.

Leigh and Wigan are around eight miles apart, but if Wigan is home of the meat and potato pie, Leigh it seems is the home of the pepper pie.

And Taylors have made traditional meat and potato pies and pepper pies the same way since 1938.

The concept behind the pepper pie is that meat and potato pies were often filled with cheap meat, so they required a bit of extra seasoning to take away the taste, or enhance it if you prefer.

These days of course, we all like a bit of spice in our food regardless so whereas the mince meat is of great quality, a bit of extra pepper is an added delight to warm you up on a cold spring day.

I remove the pie from the oven, and gently ease it out of the foil tray, with the casing still fully intact. The crust hem is remarkably sturdy but the top crust is delicate and has a fine aroma coming off it. Inside, there is a good inch so layer of potato mash, interspersed with mince meat.

There is a bit of airspace at the top, but as I am eating the pie the way that nature intended (i.e. by hand), the crust is holding it’s shape well and absorbing the filling with each mouthful. If any of the juicy, light coloured gravy looks like going rogue, I simply suck it up before it escapes on to the plate / floor / fingers.

I’m getting good hints of salt and pepper in there, adding a pleasant layer of extra flavour in there but not so much that it is too overpowering. The mince is tender and the potato is soft and golden, and the pie is piping hot throughout, after twenty minutes in the oven.

This is a substantially sized pie which does enough to fill me up and takes a while to get through even though I’m loving it. The pepper content seems to ratchet up even further as I finish off the last few pieces!

The details

The price is outstanding at just £1.40 for a large meat and potato pie and £1.50 for a steak and ale pie (to follow!).

You can pick up Taylor’s pies from their shop at Leigh: Hill St, Leigh WN7 4DT, or for many stockists across the North west.

Website for more details: https://www.taylorsofleigh.co.uk/

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/taylorsbakeryleigh/

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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

 

 

Bowen’s Meat and Potato Pie

By |2020-12-24T12:37:28+00:00December 24th, 2020|Categories: Blog, Life of Pies|Tags: , , , , , , |

Time for another North West fave, although as with Turners Pies, Bowens Pies now serve the whole country.

I didn’t know much about them, when I started my research in Life of Pies, just that they had supplied the pies for the annual Wigan Pie Eating awards. Little did I know that both then and now, they supply a large number of pubs and shops throughout the Wigan area and beyond.

Although based just outside Wigan, in nearby Adlington, they have built up a wide distribution network across the town, in a classic “coals to Newcastle” stunt. But trust me here, Bowen’s pies are every bit the Wigan pie and I was taken aback by the quality when I first tried them.
Since then, I have used them for numerous functions, including my first book launch and the cover of the draft for my new book, also features a platter of their produce. Magnificent isn’t it?

Anyway, let me take you back and set the scene, way back to my first time in August 2012….

116. Bowen’s Meat and Potato Pie

It’s 25 degrees outside and, whereas it might be splendid weather for a jaunt around middle England, there’s no bloody way I’m sitting in a car for four hours with the family in tow.

So I’m checking out Bowens of Adlington. I chanced upon them mainly because I saw a van go past me the other day. I also noticed that they were the suppliers for last year’s World pie eating contest (held in Wigan obviously!)

Their website features gratuitous full frontal minced beef and potato pie photos with no 9pm watershed, and they also do their own steak puddings, another fine Lancashire delicacy. I need to refrain from making any disparaging comments about Adlington or its’ natives however, as my wife teaches there.

A brief canter up Chorley Road, past the infamous Duxbury Park golf course, where I once shot an impressive 120. I took so long to go around, that they’d shut the place by the time I finished and I had to get a taxi home wearing my golf shoes. I wouldn’t mind but I’d cheated on a number of holes too.

It’s heavy going on the roads, due to the sheer volume of middle aged fat blokes, wobbling down the road on flimsy looking bicycles. It’s as if a local lad has just won the Tour de France or something!

Bowens is across the road from Babylon Lane, not on it, hence ruining my attempts to do a poor gag about Babylon Lane being paradise. (Ed’s note: they have also moved premises since)

Nevertheless it’s bright blue sign draws me across the busy road like a tractor beam. A little girl playfully blocks my way and refuses to let me gain ingress to the premises, until a big fella with protruding teeth, presumably her dad, tells her to “gerrout road!!” I blame the teachers myself!! Whoops!

There is a huge, high silver counter, dominating the shop, containing a myriad of products and a handful of staff in aprons, beavering away in white pork pie hats. Service is brisk, just as well as I’m on double yellows.

Loads of choice of pie fillings, although I select my accompaniment from the rack of Lancashire crisps on display which includes Salt and Ellseys vinegar (an old traditional Wigan vinegar company) and Bumble’s favourite, Lancashire sauce flavour crisps.

The pie? Oh yes, it’s a blinder!!

116.
Purveyor: Bowens
Premises: Adlington, nr Chorley
Purchase: Meat and Potato Pie £1.19

Place: 8 Polite and brisk
Pastry: 8 A sturdy, solid shortcrust
Presentation: 8 Even with the window fully down, it still smells lush in my car and is still piping hot 30 minutes later, when I tuck in
Package: 9 Huge, uncompromising slabs of golden spud concatenated with lots of flowing meat and juices
Palate: 9 Hits the spot from the first bite, with a hint of pepper but natural flavour pouring out too
Price: 8.5 Good price and great value
Portion: 9 Possessing both width and girth, I mean depth

OVERALL: 59.5/70 Exceptional, we are truly spoilt around these parts. At the risk of sounding parochial, whoever’s written that top 10 pies article on the MSN website is talking out of their arse (Editor’s note: This was eight years ago, so I’ve no chance of finding it!) and needs to spend the day around the North West scoffing a few of these beauties. A truly phenomenal pie and the crisps were fantastic too.

The finer details:

The original review took place on Saturday 11th August 2012. Bowens continue to grow and thrive as a great pie business, in fact putting up this blog is making me want to jump in the car and drive to Adlington.

You can buy their pies online HERE or pop into their shops if you are local. Popular flavours include steak, pork, cheese and onion and that old Lancashire favourite, the Butter Pie.

Current pricing (December 2020)
A Bowen’s meat and potato pie is just £2.00 if you pick one up from the shops

Website: Bowen Award Winning Pies – Wigan (bowenpies.co.uk)
Twitter: https://twitter.com/bowenpies
Facebook: Bowen Pies | Facebook
Instagram: Bowen Pies (@bowenpies) • Instagram photos and videos
Click here to add a pie review of your own: https://goodpieguide.co.uk/add-pie/
If you like these reviews, there’s hundreds of them in Life of Pies. You can buy a copy here for just £4.99 plus P&P

 

Welcome to the Good Pie Guide!

By |2020-04-05T21:13:55+01:00April 5th, 2020|Categories: Blog, Pies, Wigan|Tags: , , , |

Welcome indeed to the Good Pie Guide. We love pies and our mission is to celebrate them in print and digital form!

THE WEBSITE

This site contains thousands of listings and hundreds of reviews and we are adding to it all the time. Please feel free to have a browse around our virtual pie world and see what tickles your fancy.

We want to celebrate our great nation of independent, traditional butchers and bakers alongside the more modern artisan, innovative pie makers and we are asking you to get involved.

We are asking you, as pie aficionados, to send us your pies. Whether you make them, eat them or just like the look of them.

THE BOOK

The Good Pie Guide will be the ultimate handbook for the pie lover in your life with over 100 featured reviews and 1,000+ listings, ensuring that wherever you are in the UK, you will never be far from a good pie.

Last time I put pen to paper on this topic, I embarked on a secret incognito mission whereby I travelled the country in search of the country’s best pies. I made the decision myself, based on my own personal preferences. Even though I have impeccable taste, and a lifetime of eating pies behind me, like most Wigan residents, I am understandably a sample size of one. This time, I am going to listen and compile the ultimate pie chart toppers based on the views of others and how you score them.

So if YOU think you know where the best pies are and indeed, you think you make the best pies, get in touch and you might just make it into this much prized inaugural edition of THE GOOD PIE GUIDE 2022*

We will be putting a small extract from the forthcoming book online here in the coming weeks to whet your appetite so keep checking back and subscribe to our email list below.

*Current expected publication date Summer 2021

THE PIE SHOP

Both the book and the site were conceived over 12 months ago now and we are still populating content. It has hit one, fairly obvious snag. As the author of the book, my biggest challenge right now is to finish my pie research for volume one by travelling to various parts of the country, whilst said country is in indefinite lockdown.

Nevertheless, it will be resolved in due course. However, in the meantime, if we can’t go and find the pies, the pies will come to us. To this end, we will be setting up a PIE SHOP where you can buy pies online from GPG approved suppliers to satisfy your pastry cravings. Again, if you a pie maker of some repute, please get it touch and we’d love to feature you….

There is lots more to come as we continue to build our content and community but for the time being, please follow us on social media using the links below:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/goodpieguideUK

Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/goodpieguide

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Life-of-Pies-562687713756385/

Instagram: https://instagram.com/goodpieguide

And please, please, come and share your favourite pies with us….

This is all metaphorically speaking of course. There is NO CHANCE of us actually sharing a pie with anyone here at GPG, the pies are all ours!

With best Wishes

Martin Tarbuck
Life of Pies and Good Pie Guide Author

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