Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Steak Pie , Edwards of Conwy

Steak Pie, Edwards of Conwy

"I didn't know Cow could taste so nice" 

The last time we had this pie this comment was freely given within a few moutfuls of tasting this, almost, pie perfection. We are a big fan of Edwards of Conwy and any excuse to visit we take.

Recently returning from Holyhead we stopped in anticipation, eager to see the new shop layout and try some pie perfection. We chose a variety to eat and take home but the Steak Pie was the one we were looking forward to. 

This is good. A very good pie, with great colour, great quality chunks of meat and delicious tasty gravy. But it is no longer almost perfect. Something has changed  and specifically the pastry top. It's become thick and ...sticky? The pastry on top was at some points quite thick, dry and stuck to our teeth. We bought two as the Pie Tribe are not good at sharing !!! Both were the same.

Don't get me wrong it wasn't bad but Edwards of Conwy are way above your average purveyor of Pies. It's still an 8.5/10 but this has changed and it's not close to perfection any more.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Steak & Ale Pie, Valley Butchers...Best Pie Ever?


Possibly the best Pie ever?

The Pie tribe have been lucky this week to spend time on Anglesey one our favourite places and home to master purveyors of all things meat, Valley Butchers.

The weather was not kind, blowing a gale and lashing it down. So back to our accommodation and sit it out with a glorious Steak and Ale Pie to devour. 

What a delight from start to finish. The selection in the shop was poor but only because they were selling out as fast as they can make them. The pastry was excellent, no air gap, great gravy, noticeably ale punch and chunks of meat to savour. It was definitely something to savour leading one Pie tribe member to offer a score of 10/10 for it.

Whilst this is a top Pie, easily in my current top 5, I cannot bring myself to offer 10/10, otherwise I may stop dreaming of pies. So on this occasion we will give it a 9.2/10. To test for consistency we bought two and neither disappointed !!! Service was great in the shop, pies are freshly made on the premises and can't wait to go again.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Basement Light


Just over a week ago I sat alone in the dark of a basement in a house in a residential area of a small town. A low wattage light cast a very low light on the room and with a few minutes of adjustment little was to be seen apart from the embers of a small brazier. 

A dog began to bark in the distance, footsteps, some hurried, are heard and muffled conversations as individuals pass the small rectangular windows above my head at pavement level.  

The lights percolating through from the street outside flickered slightly and unevenly. A dull muffled bass sound could be heard intermittently. The pace of steps outside increased, a low rumble in a slowly gathering crescendo is perceived and the crack of gunfire can be heard as the voices outside begin to shout with some urgency.

The noise overheard gathers pace and the light in the basement imperceptibly twitches in response. At street level vehicles race by and there is a lull in the crescendo briefly but then breaks to be overtaken by a noise I’m not really familiar with. It doesn’t sound like a lorry, more like a steamroller clanging across some cobbles. As it gets closer and eventually passes the house it is obviously a tank. Its massive tracks squeal and vibrate the house causing the light to dance about creating patterns on the ceiling. 

As this thunderous noise begins to abate the rat tat tat of anti-aircraft fire takes over to add to the volume of noise. The level of noise increases as approaching planes and their payload arrive ominously closer.  The basement is loud, dark and vibrating with a deafening roar the like of which I’ve never heard. Then as I wondered what would happen next and ask myself can it get any louder or intense without the walls crashing down, it begins to recede. 

The light in the basement begins to stop swinging gently, as the noise seems to ebb away, the dog isn’t barking anymore and a baby begins to cry………..


I was sitting in the basement of a house in the town of Bastogne in Belgium. The basement was part of a recreation provided by 101st Airborne museum to be found there. I couldn’t help think of the people in the Gaza strip and basements in other conflicts all over the world. I can’t attempt to appreciate the hell they endure but I hope the lights are still tonight in their basements.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Anchored In Worthing: Piefest South

Not Mrs Miggins, but the lovely Debs with Pie
Georgio and I last weekend enjoyed the delights of the Goodwood Festival of Speed. We stayed in Worthing about 20 miles away. On our last visit to Sussex we found the delightful Anchored in Worthing, our first micropub and run by the bewhiskered genial host Nigel. Small in size but big on hospitality.

So just before we set off some new pies were purchased from S J Bebbington Butchers, for lunch and also to introduce to Nigel/customers at the Anchored in Worthing

So we had the very new creation, Cheshire Cheese Spring Onion & Chives Pie which was delicious and well received (9/10). The other offering from Bebbingtons was the Pork Pie with jelly. Is there any other? The fact that it stated Jelly with it was slight different to give it a try. Now as with all Bebbingtons tasted so far the meat is of very high quality and the pastry is good. Not too thick and moist. I personally was just a tad disappointed with the jelly content as my anticipation levels were high, hoping it would be oozing with jelly but not so (8/10). However it is still a very good pie and better than the majority. 

Nigel MicroPub Master @Anchored in Worthing
We had arrived in Worthing pretty tired and a bit later than expected but the welcome was fantastic. Nigel and partner Debs had arranged for a fresh delivery of their own favourites from a local bakery/cafe "The Pantry Bakery" in Worthing. Handmade and fresh what a joy. So as well as the two types we had brought we had a huge sausage roll (9/10), a Chicken Wild Mushroom & Tarragon Pie (8.5) and finally  a Lamb Carrot and Thyme pie (8.75/10) to taste.  

Add to this Nigel's current menu of locally sourced beers and ciders.....OH HAPPY DAYS !! We fell in love with the Black Pig Orchards, Perry Cider. Big thanks to Nigel, Debs, regulars and irregulars for some great evenings. Pie, chat, impressions and laughter with no TV, jukebox, bandits or louts !!

Cheshire Cheese Spring Onion & Chive Pie and Pork Pie with Jelly

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Status Quo at CPOP 2014

Rick Rifftastic - Status Quo at CPOP 2014

To complete an almost perfect day the Cholmondeley Pageant of Power organisers laid on the mighty rifftastic Status Quo to end the day supported by the RPJ Band and Toseland. Our party was slightly slow to join the crowd as we were distracted by a barbecue and the odd libation. But with the weather holding off, we wandered across to a sell out, but not packed out, arena to grab a spot.

We opted to stand rather than take a chair which many had, to take advantage of the natural slope of the arena area. We arrived just as RPJ finished and they seemed to go down well. They sounded alright during rehearsals earlier on. Toseland, led by former World Superbike Champion James Toseland, were pretty dire though. 

Quo however were as ever fantastic. Mr Rossi moaning about the cold, Mr Parfitt grinning from ear to ear and the band as a whole determined to have a good time. 

This attitude coupled with some top songs makes for a great time which the crowd were happy to join in with. Sales of blow up guitars and atrocious long wigs were going down a storm, just like the band. 

They played a fairly mixed bag of songs from throughout their career including some recent stuff as well. Obviously a high spot for certain pie eaters was hearing the Chicken Song in all it's glory, otherwise known as "Whatever You Want". Listen to the intro and you'll understand !! It did rain a little bit towards the end but made back to the Beefmeister Wagon before it rained full on.

Monday, 23 June 2014

CPOP Pie Tasting

The day before CPOP we had been attending a wedding in Yorkshire and briefly stopped in Skipton en-route, following a recommendation on Pies. Spoilt for choice we bought four from two purveyors of pies ( J Stanforth Butchers and Farmhouse Fare ) and decided to have a group tasting for the best feedback.

Pie Panel limbering up for tasting session - CPOP2014
A definite plus to our visit this year was the Beefmeister Wagon in attendance , which meant that meals (inc a Barbie) were enjoyed in some comfort and libations could be had with no driving compromising any one.....Happy days !!!

It also meant we could give some serious attention to some pie tasting. Four pork Pies had been selected from two exceptional providers, existing no more than 50 yards apart. From both we chose a Pork & Black Pudding Pie to compare. We also had a Pork & Cranberry (Farmhouse Fare) and a Pork & Chilli ( J Stanforth Butchers) offering to taste. Below is a summary of a group impression of each

Pork and Black Pudding Pie - Good pie and the black Pudding element was tasty and moist. A frequent observation when Black pudding is in a pie, is that it is dry & crumbly which this definitely was not. However the Pork was a little bland by comparison. The pastry was ok and jelly was present. 7.5/10

Pork and Chilli Pie - The seller did, as we were leaving the shop, issue an understated guide that this was a tad on the warmish side !!! Wow it was hot. It does come with a warning on the outside as a Skull and Cross Bones is raised up in the pastry! We liked it but the over riding experience was heat which again overshadowed the Pork element, considerably in this case. An excellent Pie for bonfire night or at football match in the bleak midwinter. 8/10

Farmhouse Fare
Pork and Black Pudding Pie - A good Pie, nice pastry, tasty pork, jelly present but an underwhelming Black Pudding experience. Not a lot of it, dry, crumbly and little taste.  8/10 

Pork and Cranberry Pie - A mixed response from our panel. I liked it, it was moist and tasty, sweet and savoury. But not for everyone. 7.5/10

Overall we thought if you could combine the two Black Pudding pies you would be close to perfection. The Pork & Chilli was hot, very hot which helped build a thirst! The Pork & Cranberry is very much down to whether you like the combination. To see some close ups images follow the link to idreamofpies facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Idreamofpies

Obviously we look forward to tasting more from either emporium as the standard and devotion is high. Chatting to the guy in Stanforths he informed me that they sold and made on site 10,000 of their little beauties a week. We presume they have a thriving wholesale side to their business or Skipton residents munch more pies per person than any other place in Britain! Which is understandable after trying these.

Cholmondeley Pageant of Power 2014

Lamborghini Aventador - CPOP 2014

We had been looking forward to this years Cholmondeley Pageant of Power event, quite a lot and we were not to be disappointed. It was great to go as group but we did miss a couple of friends at the last minute. This year the weather was superb and the only problems encountered were sunburn, overheating and hay fever.

As ever the track action was great. Getting around the paddocks to get up close to some amazing vehicles, was as ever, brilliant. The theme was Italian this year hence the beautiful Aventedor pictured above amongst a number of other, 4 and 2 wheeled delights.

Chevrolet Camaro BRUT FORCE - CPOP 2014

We were particularly taken with the Classic Scrambling though, which had two sessions and was captivating to say the least. Although here as a demonstration event, it was still competitive and somewhat dangerous, including some broken ribs.

One Handed ! - CPOP 2014

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Gods Own Pie Shop, Skipton

I sat pondering as to which route to follow to go to a wedding in Ripley, North Yorkshire when a message via flickr alerted me to, it claimed,  a mighty fine Butchers that is "God's pie shop". That decided it, over the top via Skipton, with perhaps a brief stop if time permitted .......


J Stanforth Butchers, Skipton

The pie recommended to me was a Black Pudding and Pork Pie from J Stanforth Butchers, Skipton. However what this fellow Pie muncher did not tell us was that another award winning pie emporium was located just 50 yards away around the corner called Farmhouse Fare Pies & Sausages, "Supreme Champion Great Northern Pork Pie Competition".


Farmhouse Fare Pies & Sausages, Skipton

Wow I couldn't believe my luck, two mighty fine producers of pies within a hop skip and a jump of each other. Now there may be more lurking about but we didn't have time to explore further so more reason to go back to the lovely town of Skipton. As to the Pies well read on for the full report on our four purchases.

Ripley Castle with Tom & Michelle

Ripley Castle & Gardens, Beautiful
Big congratulations to Tom and Michelle, on getting married and choosing such a wonderful place as a Ripley Castle and Gardens, which was truly fascinating. 

We had a great time witnessing your special day and hope you had a memorable time too. Particularly liked the string quartet playing Bitter Sweet Symphony by the Verve, most excellent, the sweets, the view, the service, the guests ....

Tom & Michelle, Beautiful

Monday, 16 June 2014

Recovery Pie

Chatwins Steak Pie
To aid recovery after 34 miles of walking a day off was booked, which in hindsight was an excellent idea. It allowed us to keep moving slowly but moving, as sitting for any period and then moving was painful. Possibly a better decision was to call in at the local Chatwins for a recovery pie. Something reliable and tasty.

Their Steak Pie was chosen and as ever, was of an excellent high standard. A little bit on the pricey side for the High Street but it is consistently good, warm or cold and on this occasion (8.5/10).