Pie time, winter in the city…
A few years ago, if a chef on TV suggested people make and eat a pie, the viewers would have had a coronary. You may as well have suggested they melt lard in a frying pan and then inject it intravenously into their bodies.
But it seems the humble pie (no pun intended) has been forgiven, rather like the biblical prodigal son.
Perhaps it is a backlash against people being told what to eat, perhaps it is about a relatively cheap yet filling meal during a time of economic shit/fan interfacing. Who knows.
Tacked onto this is the rise in popularity of pies as fast food. I’m not talking about Pukka Pies chomped as you slurp a bovril at the football, I’m talking pies that are being served at food festivals, with decent ingredients and local pedigree.
You may be familiar with Bristol behemoth Pieminister and Devon’s own Tom’s Pies – maker of an excellent vegetarian pie with mushrooms and spinach incidentally.
Now the Cornish have decided to get in on the act. Two self-proclaimed “grumpy old men” have launched a new range of savoury pies.
Grumpies of Cornwall was founded in January 2011 by Trevor Shea and Mark Carne at their bakery in Launceston and they launched their range at the Cornwall Show in June, with boxes adorned with their cartoonish alter-egos.
The pair already run the Cornish Patisserie, which supplies cakes, gateaux, and desserts to hospitality establishments across the UK.
According to their press spiel, the pair live by their ethos of “serious about food” and use the best Cornish ingredients including local vegetables, Cornish ale, and meat from Philip Warren’s, a prize-winning Launceston butcher.
The range of six pies also avoid artificial additives, preservatives and processed ingredients to “create products with a home cooked quality”.
So, have they succeeded?
Well, what is “home-cooked quality”? In my case it means the pastry is burned and the lid doesn’t fit the rest of the pie.
But the Grumpies pies are good, both as a party food or as a quick and easy supper on a Friday. Twenty minutes in the oven from chilled and they are done, served with a lie of mash the size of North Korea (mentioned only for the search engine hits from fruitloops).
The current range includes four meat options: steak and ale; lamb, mint and potato; chicken, gammon & leek; and pork, apple & cider.
There are also two vegetarian varieties: homity pie, an open pie topped with potato, mature cheddar, fresh parsley, leek, onion and garlic; and a blue cheese, mushroom and walnut pie with tangy lemon and a béchamel sauce.
Of the six, four stood out: the two veggie pies and the pork and chicken and gammon ones.
The blue cheese pie was tangy and well balanced and was a great example of non-dull veggie food. The homity pie gets a mention because it was good but also because it was great to see it in the range in the first place.
The pork pie, as it were, was also well balanced, not too overpoweringly appleish and the leek, gammon and leek was really very nice, merging all three flavours well.
As for the other two, there was nothing wrong with the steak and ale pie but perhaps I am just too fussy and eaten too many of them in the past, because I couldn’t get excited.
The lamb pie, sadly was a disappointment. I have to hold up my hands and say this is partly my fault as I hate mint sauce with my lamb. So you can work around that. But there was also the fact that a large chunk of the lamb in the pie was gristle, which was a shame as it rather put me off.
Overall though, a good addition to the range of pies being made by producers in the South West.
The pies are available from selected farm stores and delis across Cornwall and online at http://www.foodfromcornwall.co.uk, priced at 6 pies: £6.50, 12 pies: £7.50 and for 18 pies: £10.00.
Christmas party food anyone?