Given that our run over the previous week took us up and down the country, eight meals in as many days in some of the most established and revered restaurants, if someone would have told me that one of the best things I would eat would have come from an unassuming spot in Macclesfield town centre, I would have laughed in their face. Hard. Yet here we are, sat in Lord of The Pies looking at empty plates and discussing how much space we have in the freezer. Answer; lots. We stock up. More on this later.
There is something very special about a pie when done correctly. Golden pastry encasing a steaming hot filling; not a pastry lid on a stew like some would have you believe. Lord of The Pies isn’t just a great name, it’s a great pie shop, serving undoubtably some of the best pies I have ever eaten. A beef and ale pie has long braised meat in a sauce so lacquered you could paint your walls with it. Or your nails if you want to look extra pretty for me. It’s ordered with a mash potato with black pudding that makes the colour as filthy as it tastes. Gosh, this is heaven. Likewise a chicken balti pie that has plenty of meat and even more attitude, clearly made by someone who gets spice more than my local curry house. Fat wedges accompany this time. It just makes more sense. They have crunchy edges, and a centre that offers no bite. Price wise all of this is around 20% cheaper that Pieminister and 400% better. I’m no accountant, but even that is math I can get on board with.
And so we’re back to those empty plates, Claire looking at her untouched Forest Gin, me my local beer. We’ve barely said a word to each other for twenty minutes. She eventually exhales, nailing it with the simple description that these are everything that you imagine a pie could be, but never are. She’s right, but then she’s always bloody right. We get to the counter and chat to the charming server, asking for reccomendations and then ordering them to take home. Some two days later and I’ve eaten two so far; a pork and black pudding one, another of wild boar and apple: Claire is fully aware she needs to get more before she is welcome back in Brum. I’m not prepared to wait until Christmas when I’m next in Macclesfield at the in-laws, Lord of The Pies is now my life. I’m in this for the long haul.
My history with Pieminister goes back some way. I used to buy them so frequently from Waitrose that a former colleague of mine, a lady by the name of Penny Stubbs, wrote to them and got me a signed cookbook for my birthday. I was the original groupie, a V.I.Pie whose purchase was always one Chicken of Aragon for me, and always a Heidi for the former vegetarian former partner (*shakes fist in jubilation/anger*). The girls in Harborne Waitrose used to poke fun at my inflexibility. I once ate six of their pies in four days at Isle of Wight festival. Cut me back in those days and I bled pie. I like pie. More particularly, I like Pieminister.
So this is a difficult one for me, because by all accounts my relationship with Pieminister should have led to it being the greatest opening in Birmingham since my mothers legs parted and I popped out back in ’82. The reality is that it left me yearning for my own pie, with my own accessories, in my own home.
We cut straight to the chase and dive in with the main event. My dining companion likes her Moo pie, which is generous in beef filling. She does not like the mash which is oddly floury and bland, or the beef and port gravy that is bitter and gloopy.
I try one I have not eaten from the supermarket. A green Thai chicken curry pie that is oddly muted in flavour. It needs more punch of seasoning, more kick of chilli, an elbow to the head of vibrancy. It basically needs a Thai boxing lesson. I take fries at a supplement with chilli seasoning that are the best thing on the plate. A jug of chicken gravy should never have been there (it was supposed to come with tzatziki which eventually arrived when I asked), and I wish it hadn’t. It was acrid and destroyed anything it came in contact with. Jalapeños are ordered as an addition that I don’t require in hindsight.
We skip dessert and finish off the cocktails that are good value if you catch them at the 2-4-1 period like we did. I leave a little jaded. Like the moment I have dreamt of for the last six years ends with this. The fact is I still love a Pieminister – they are easily the best pie in any supermarket. I will just stick to eating them at home with my overly buttery mash and thick caramelised onion gravy. I have safety there, where I know that the salt pot is easily within reach and I have two firm hands on my potato ricer. That’s where the good stuff happens. But for now the dream is over. Only a shut supermarket and a craving would see me go back.
Pieminister sent me a voucher to cover a proportion of the bill
And now the plug. I am up for Best Food Blog at the forthcoming MFDH Awards. If you are reading this before the 4th June please give me a vote here http://www.mfdhawards.co.uk/vote-now/