pie club

...mince pie mayhem

 

Pie Club 2014

It's still a knockout

Following on from the roaring success of 2013's event, we have retained the knockout format (take note UEFA), and welcome back one of Pie Club's founding fathers to take the reins. Thanks to JC for helming us so splendidly since 2009.

The sixteen finalists in our tournament draw have been selected by applying a comprehensive formula, based on variables including but not limited to: historic performance, number of previous appearances, and likely availability.

Look out for misfiring motifs, boozed-up inners, acid indigestion and shattered dreams...Bring on the pies!


Grand Final - Morrisons Signature vs M&S Classic
19th Dec 2014
Can you believe weve reached the finale of 2014s Pie Club already? It feels like we were just getting started. But then how fitting that the winner has been announced on Black-Eye Friday, allowing pie supporters everywhere to get this season out of their system with a good honest drunken brawl.
Sixteen pies have been whittled down to our two worthy finalists in a flurry of foil, fruit and fun. Weve had abstract cover art (Co-op Truly), death by nutmeg (Heston) and no end of Extra Pies™. Theres no David and Goliath about these two specimens of top level pie making perhaps Id accept comparisons to Anthony and Cleopatra, as neither can be considered an underdog. And in another time and another place, they could be very happy together. Even bring up mini-tartlets together, but I must get back to business. This ends right now.
 Morrisons Signature: Dead [mince]Meat?  M&S Classic: Lady in Red
Morrisons Signature: Dead [mince]Meat? M&S Classic: Lady in Red
Morrisons Signature M&S Classic
Their deep purple people pleaser affords only the merest snatch of lid view from their modest pane, but the darkness within and without engenders foreboding amongst both competitors and those seeking to avoid rich food, having spent the best part of six weeks stuffing dried fruit and buttery surround into what one consultant gastroenterologist has gone on record as calling a heinously embattled digestive tract. If MozSig is all about purple, MSC have stolen the rouge from Moulin Rouge, to create a sensual yet playful theme, although in fairness my legal representation have argued that I am a man with an almost unique attraction to pastry goddesses. The precedent in law having been set by Vizs Fru T. Bun in years gone by.
Match Report
With quite enough of that kind of talk now, the first nibble is only moments away.
MozSig open with an accomplished semi-crunch from their edging, followed swiftly by MSCs simple but effective biscuity retort. You may be surprised to learn that MSC arrived in a double foil kit (as per the semi).
Full bites reveal MozSig have not rested on their laurels since yesterdays tie. They have found an extra gear from somewhere, and their port-peel combo feels more polished than previous rounds. MSC have gears coming out of their ears though, and shove their perfectly formed spice craft right down MozSigs throat. Have they an answer to this brown sugar based assault?
Did someone say super-concentrated orange tang? Moz Sig certainly didin their vicious citric attack on the delicate Vostizza Currant heartlands of MSC. No one should have to rule on the righteous winner of this clash of cultures, but rule I must.


Before the grand winner is revealed, wed like to thank everyone who has helped us along the way, from procurement (esp. my wife) to publishing (esp. Simon Wilson), and Mr Callow for his continued support. Anyone who has spent their precious lunch hour with us has my lifelong admiration, which may not be as grand as it sounds given my cholesterol level being what it is, and all pie lovers everywhere have a wonderful Christmas, see you when next The Mincemeat Force Awakens.
And the winner is: Morrisons Signature. Hit its top form at the perfect moment, leaving a stunned MSC wondering what it has to do to impress.

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Semi Final - Asda Extra Special (Pru Leith) vs Morrisons Signature
17th Dec 2014
Whilst we are all familiar with the low-brow supermarket giants in action today, we are much less accustomed to seeing their wares championed this late into the season. In fact, this is the furthest a Morrisons pie has gone since the stunning 2007 competition which saw the one-hit wonder from Somerfield perform an unlikely smash and grab based entirely on cherry charm. Asda ES have a more successful recent history as winners in 2012, but their only other title came in 2002, seeming then, to wait a decade between each serious challenge. Will their Force Awaken so soon, or will it be Revenge of the Sig?
 Asda Extra Special/Pru Leith  Morrisons Signature. The knives are out...
Asda Extra Special/Pru Leith Morrisons Signature. The knives are out...
Asda Extra Special (Pru Leith) Morrisons Signature
Using a picture of Leiths School of Food and Wine must have seemed way too pedestrian until the bright spark from PR suggested enlivening the photoshoot by asking the least smug smileophiles to jump in To give us a relatable face, yeah, or like relate humanity to pastry . Not my words. Im glad we are seeing a lot more realistic crumbshots this year. MozSig have allowed their inner darkness to shine next to a modest viewing pane. Dont expect rainbows in our walls, they under-promise, leaving their humble filling plenty of room to over-deliver.
Match Report
Theres a pleasant moment to be had from spotting AES star shaped gap sat next to a near identical star adornment embossed onto MozSig. It almost looks as if theres been an incident of bullying at playtime.
That antagonistic theme is taken into the first par-bite, as MozSig pushes AES aside with a sweeter and cleaner butter pastry. AESs stale biscuit outer is definitely unsuited to the edge nibbler.
Standing up and pushing back, AES find their stride on the full bite. Spiced apple pulp envelopes smooth viners with a back end peel and port flourish. MozSig have a trick or two of their own and retailate with a cherry brandy wedgie fronting a simpler, but no less effective spice assault.
Blows are being traded, and insults exchanged, or at least thats what my small intestine suggests. And it has come down to the earthy charm of MozSig versus the more refined blend of Pru Leiths titbits.
And the winner is: Morrisons Signature. They are a better all rounder, and have shown good character. Asda ES suffer from insipid pastry, even if their inner workings are arguably the most delicious of 2014.

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Semi Final - Tesco Finest vs M&S Classic
15th Dec 2014
Despite their ever-presence in Pie Club history, Im struggling to recall a knockout tie between todays semi-finalists. Form then, particularly in head to head, is hard to gauge. TesFins march to the semis has been much simpler, on paper, so they should be fresh even at this late stage. MSC have seen off some big name pies from Aldi and Sainsburys, but they could consider themselves fully tried and tested.
Luckily, we dont have to make odds for you punters. We leave that to SkyBet and Paddy Power. Ladbrokes and Hills have refused to take money on mince pies, labelling the competition just a bit of fun. Well no ones having fun right now, rest assured, theres too much at stake.
 Tesco Finest - out of this world  MSC - She's got legs.
Tesco Finest - out of this world MSC - She's got legs.
Tesco Finest M&S Classic
Paddington Bears suitcase would probably have lining in the same design as the cover of these toff bites, which isnt a criticism. It can become an instant classic if this is the season they break their duck. I hope they soften the alien face motif for next season, while it unsettles opponents, it could ruin the atmosphere at a Christian gathering. Still wowing the paparazzi, this glamour puss shimmers from any angle, until the box pops and gasps abound at the sighting of that industrial injury atop. Theyve made a fair attempt to dress the wound, but all that sugar can never fully obscure such an unholy aperture. Stunningly, I find the MSC player has arrived wearing two foil cases. Well it was snowing earlier, I suppose.
Match Report
The edgy nibble to kick us off yields good depth from TesFin, gracing us with their consistent port-led crunch, and brown sugar bobby-dazzling from MSC. This tie is already a feast for the purist.
Its hard to fault TesFins performance in the full bite blended vine men plus spice girls burst into the cheek without ever forcing their drink on us, even though it has bought the good stuff this year. MSC dont give up without pinging a few characterful fruit cocktails our way, and do not suffer for being tea-total, as their long spiced finish has stood the test of time.
Going into the final chews, it is literally impossible to pick a loser, as everyone has been a winner tonight. Either of these pies, despite their differences, are perfect for rounding off our 2014 turkey dinners.
Itll have to be Extra Pies!
No outward signs of tiring from either team, and MSC have sent one out without the extra thermal foil this time. The only way to go at this stage is to demolish both pies and see if I can mange a third of either varietyIts all got a bit Cookie Monster, but I have my answer.
And the winner is: M&S Classic. They just shouldnt be this good.

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Quarter Final - Tesco Finest vs Co-op Truly Irresistible
9th Dec 2014
If pies could have nose bleeds, then Co-op Truly would surely be reaching for the Kleenex right now. Always a friend of the bridesmaid, never even related to the bride, Co-op won their first ever knock-out match to reach our Close-Shave Quarters™ and overcome their lifelong Pie Club Poo-Pooh.
In the opposite corner stands a regular in these end of season skirmishes, although without a title to their name. Tesco have long craved the adulation of our esteemed organ, I imagine, and have put together some spectacular crumb architecture. Who can forget the famous dome of their 2005 Finest?
I have a modicum of concern that both TesFins claret sleeve and Co-op Trulys ivory jacket share the same measurements and offer an equal widescreen window. Intrigue on offer today then as our semis beckon for one lucky nibble. Game on.
 You're my wife now!  Co-op: The thoroughly modern lifestyle choice
You're my wife now! Co-op: The thoroughly modern lifestyle choice
Tesco Finest Co-op Truly Irresistible
Classy lines and early 20th Century patterns adorn their grown-up box top. Theyve let the kids play with the side panels though a garish crumbshot and playground boasting take the shine of what was nearly a high brow affair. That three pronged alien visage atop feels ever so clinical, but TesFin are not in the business of cosy. We are all still agog at that swinging cover pie arent we? Is this what Vanity Fair photographers do when they get sacked for turning up in unironic Primark pumps? The questions will probably never stop. Out pops the foppish filler with identical edging and girth to his foe, but a steadier holly motif and a touch more sugar.
Match Report
Lifting these pastry twins from their foil homes it becomes clear that TesFin have a weight advantage, which flies in the face of the pre-match box talk. Co-op reckons its fighter is 1g heavier.
Obviously, I had to get the scales to back me up and TesFin is indeed the mightier by a good 3g. And he immediately backs that stat up with a sweet crunch that just outperforms the smoother crusted Co-op prince.
Co-ops dainty feel abides through the big bite, providing a fair swish of spiced apple tang, but little in the way of a brandy finish. No such power vacuum can be found in the TesFin mouthful, as cognac tags port in a death match with the candied peel boys.
Its a shame for all at Co-op but their hero from last week just hasnt turned up today, and sadly it has been as blunt an attack as we have seen from the luxury level.
And the winner is: Tesco Finest. Experience at this level is worth a one bite start, and TesFin seems like hes in the mood to dish out a lesson or two.

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Quarter Final - Morrisons Signature vs Heston's Spiced Shortcrust
8th Dec 2014
It is with some trepidation that I approach the third Close-Shave Quarter™ today. Pressure is mounting on the Club from all sides; the purist party are enraged at the admittance of Hestons weird science snack, the hipsters are like totally losing it for Blumeys gear (could be the tangerine sugar sachet), many of our weight-watching readers are enamoured with the 20% lighter intake from each pie, and Dexter Morgan thought hed slaughtered away the last stain of Waitrose from this honourable competition (see Readers Pies page).
The most compelling argument Ive heard for its inhumanity is that it takes a couple of days to stop your flatus functioning as a Febreze Apple and Spice Air Spray.
With each clamouring lobby hammering on the walls of our internet, and my duodenum fearing the next rumble in the jungle, lets play on
 Morrisons Signature Dish  Heston's Spit the Dog Terrine
Morrisons Signature Dish Heston's Spit the Dog Terrine
Morrisons Signature Heston's Spiced Shortcrust
Bradfords dictionary corner have given the thumbs up for a double use of infused on this stylishly-lit, purple pleaser. Someone should have told the pie lid, as his faded dcor remains humble, but likeable all the same. On closer inspection I see these quirky, flat, divisive fellas hail from the lowlands of Holland. That little bag of sugar is starting to make sense. Since I last exposed myself to these pies, I have rarely stopped tasting them, but that could be halluncinatory. As could the small arms and legs they appear to have evolved in the last 5 days.
Match Report
Perfectly nice MozSig pastry seems almost sorrowful when forced to clatter into their electrically engineered flavour foe.
Unabashed, the Yorkshire battlers throw out some lip-smacking port tones to inform their exemplary mouth mash. Their punch is as accurate as it is festive, Black-Eye Friday in a foil case.
Hestons faces up to the impressive retort with a soft and insistent chin-mover, undeterred in its pursuit of rewriting the mincemeat bible with crazily-mixed spice instead of Moses and a rose water Red Sea. In the end though, how much you like this Dutch master depends very heavily on how regularly you enjoyed that Dentyne Cinnamon Gum and its Dr Peppery ilk in the 1980s.
Ploughing on to pie end, the heady mixture of MozSigs liquors and Hestons medicinals leaves me giddy and ultimately satisfied by both modern Colossi.
And the winner is: Morrisons Signature. A fine figure of a pie. Hestons fascinates at first, but once the initial excitement wears off you are left with nothing in common.

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Quarter Final - Asda Extra Special vs Lidl Luxury
4th Dec 2014
In an absolute treat for Pie Club aficionados, the last two Pie Club champions meet today in our Close-Shave Quarters™. You may recall that this is a repeat of 2013s last quarter-final in which Lidl only managed to edge it by virtue of neither manager wanting the game to go into Extra Pies.
Will the eventual winner come from this match-up this time around? Will the tie go into Extra Pies? Will Daniel ever get fired by LordSirAlan? Will I ever get round to my Christmas shopping? Sorry - ignore the last two questions, I shouldnt lose focus like that. Its the cholesterol talking.
 Asda Extra Extra Special  Lidl Luxury, economically stable
Asda Extra Extra Special Lidl Luxury, economically stable
Asda Extra Special Lidl Luxury
Purple of box and playfully punctured, AES shows enough to warrant a couple of minutes just staring. What has happened to all the pastry stars that have been removed? There arent many denizens of the deep fill that stand as broad shouldered as LidLux. An imposing figure this year, given the substance in their recent historic performances. Hes looking a touch pale, but that could just be the time of year.
Match Report
Port impacts on the nose at the foot of a long and buttery AES mouthful, but LidLux eschews such frippery on the first bite, preferring to solicit cheers from the sweet-tooth crowd.
The very same gormless candy-caners are bewitched by AES once the toffee level chew gets into second gear. Glucose syrup seems to be on everyones arm at this ball, but if it keep the vines, apples and spices content, then I say play on.
LidLux arrive with their own syrup courtesan, and this time shes spread even thinner, chasing the usual suspects plus glace cherries and the odd aloof almond.
The extra work for LidLuxs sugary sweetheart certainly reduces the depth and power of each fruity moment, and AES may have saved their big gun to use at this perfect opportunity. A thunderous volley of heart-warming ordnance slams into this dance hall crystallized ginger has arrived. The analogy is in tatters, as are my tastebuds.
And the winner is: Asda Extra Special. Despite Lidls bandwagon being in full flight, my instinct for genuine pleasure doesnt often desert me, barring that Hale & Pace box set, and I stand by my man Pru Leith.

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Quarter Final - Sainsbury's Taste The Difference vs M&S Classic
3rd Dec 2014
Welcome to the Close Shave Quarters™! After upwards of seven knockout ties, over 60+ bites and nearly 100,000 raisins, we arrive at the business end of Pie Club 2014.
Being awesome today, we have two veterans of the competitive nibble game Sainsburys Taste The Difference (STTD) and M&S Classic (MSC). There may even be a little niggle in this one after the unforgettable whitewash dished out by MSC in a 2011 semi-final and the Extra Pie victory in 2005s Porkins Memorial Grand Final. Although a little of that pain may have been ameliorated by STTDs run to the final in 2012, edging out MSC at the semi stage. We shall see.
 Sainsbury's Taste Makes All The Difference  M&S Classic - hello boys.
Sainsbury's Taste Makes All The Difference M&S Classic - hello boys.
Sainsbury's Taste The Difference M&S Classic
Familiar golden livery with purple trim, the nearly square viewing pane gives a good gander at the burly Scotsmen massed inside. The first clansman out is almost too perfect in appearance. Clean lines, neither pale nor scorched, and a confidence about the holly motif that says Anyone ready for a ruck just now?. Glitz all the way for MSC, as the unbagged six slip out of their twinkly boudoir sheath, to display an abundance of sparkle from their Tiffany sugar bib necklace. The mood is only marginally spoilt by those gruesome slits atop. A little more sugar and a pad of rouge should cover them for now.
Match Report
Punching through their tangy waft, STTD provide a stern crunch backed up by richness on first bite, in contrast to MSC who caress the teeth through their silky outer leaving only butter notes.
Out come STTDs idiosyncratic powerhouses of apricot puree and mixed peel, leaving vine fruit tradition in their wake. MSCs measured response balances festive spice with premium currants et al to take the pace off this tie. I dont think MSC would do well in fist fight here, but they are using their wiles to good effect.
STTD is starting to come off as brash and one dimensional, whereas MSC have found a more subtle route into our hearts. Big, citric and breathing booze in your face versus elegant, calm and persuasive.
And the winner is: M&S Classic. Still a golden girl after all these years on the scene.

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Round 1 - Heston's Spiced Shortcrust vs Lidl Standard
2nd Dec 2014
As the last whiskers of Movember rinse solemnly away, so must the stubble of Round One be cleared to make way for our close-shave Quarter Finals. Seeing out the earliest stage today we have a couple of wildcards and there arent many wilder than Hestons Spiced Shortcrust. Obviously we arent bothering with the pine sugar debacle that his puff pastry profferings provide.
Lidl red box have been given a chance to impress following their big brothers 2013 success, lets hope they arent merely cannon fodder for Luxurys war machine.
 Unconventional Flavours from Heston  Lidl Standard, in happier times
Unconventional Flavours from Heston Lidl Standard, in happier times
Heston's Spiced Shortcrust Lidl Standard
Where to start? The usual Heston black with black trim livery affords only etheral visions of some of the ingredients, probably akin to a festive sensory deprivation tank. Once out though, theres almost too much to see. Chocolate hued, puck shaped, and almond bedecked pastry medallions shock the eye. The sachet of sugar idea hasnt yet been given up as a bad job, but at least its food flavoured this time (tangerine). Another double decker box (Iceland were the others), and another smaller pie boasting an upwards cog. Dashing reds inform the fruit make-up of the crumbshots escaping inner, which looks ever so jolly. Hope the real mincemeat doesnt resemble muddy sick.
Match Report
Lidls opening gambit in this incredibly tough looking fixture is a mouthful of dust. How that pastry made it to my mouth without crumbling away will be a matter for serious investigation. Hestons mob have barely got their lab coats on and this looks like a walkover.
The flashy spicing in Hestons reads like a nightmare shopping list, but hits like a runaway trolley full of fruitcake. This might be the most nutmeg Ive ever ingested in one evening.
Try as Lidl might to create the orthodox Christmas mood, and when they arent capitulating into a pile of broken biscuits they enjoy success with their tangy apple slop, it is going to take a big performance to out-muscle these throbbing lab rats.
How the decision was reached that Christmas wouldnt be Christmas without rose water in a mince pie is beyond my powers of understanding, but its a laugh.
And the winner is: Hestons Spiced. He really isnt kidding about the spice levels either. My ears have just popped from all that clove spirit.

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Round 1 - Morrisons Red Box vs Co-op Truly Irresistible
1st Dec 2014
Sorry for the staccato nature of these pie ties, there have been a number of supplier issuesfor my procurement team to overcome. But they didnt get to where they are today without having copious amounts of festive guile, and the resilience to return day after day to the same empty shelves. God bless them, every one.
Tesco Finest await the winner of todays dogfight, and have enjoyed their many rest days, no doubt, but once we separate these two lesser lights it will be all systems go for the latter stages (nearly - the last Round One tie should be tomorrow, and its intriguing).
 More Reasons' Red Boxer  Co-op Truly Irresistible
More Reasons' Red Boxer Co-op Truly Irresistible
Morrisons Red Box Co-op Truly Irresistible
Workmanlike red/green design work from the cover lads, and a crumbshot containing the most shy sultanas you are likely to meet. Ooze, you plump fruits, ooze! The crust of todays combatant has been browned more than might be best, and the neat leaf motif is vivid, if petite. We have a winner in the outrageously fey crumbshot category. A beige/lace/neutral masterpiece of tomfoolery complete with a mincemeat dandy aswing upon a braided ribbon. I understand why we had to wait all those weeks for these entrants now. A handsome young blighter trots out to face me too, all holly and cogs.
Match Report
A tight opening sees Co-ops powder-puff pastry just about hold its own against a perfunctory pie crust for the Yorkshiremen.
I have spotted Co-ops vast cavern of flavour vacuum betwixt lid and inner, and the sensation of missing something continues into the full chew, despite the best efforts of brandy. Moz Red cant help but show off its thick and rich stodge, which begins in a pleasant manner but moves ever nearer cloy, in much the same way as a penguin love story.
The spices of Moz Red more than make up for a lack of top shelf ingredients, but the dainty Co-op cavalier has a grander range of textures and influences. Much to ponder.
And the winner is: Co-op Truly Irresistible. Far from living up to billing, but just a tiny bit more irresistible than Moz Red Box.

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Round 1 - Lidl Luxury vs Iceland
25th Nov 2014
There has been a lot of talk about the Pie Club draw favouring the big clubs, and that money has exchanged hands during the seeding process. You will be relieved to know that following a rigourous independent review of the workings, Pie Club has been given an all clear and our integrity is now beyond question.
Today we welcome back our favourite pie of 2013, pitted against a pie so obscure that it has only ever been spotted once before, and that was a brief cameo in 2010s competition. Can Iceland spring the biggest upset since Nancy snatched the Bake Off trophy from Smug and Smugger?

Before we crack on, a cursory glance at Icelands sleeve throws up that they are not suitable for freezing, and that titbit is trumped by the further revelation that they may contain traces of both Stones and Pips. Which in turn, could only be more scary/pop related if it had warned of Drifters and Pistols. Ill stop now.
 Der Kaiser (of 2013)  Best served with a Brazilian?
Der Kaiser (of 2013) Best served with a Brazilian?
Lidl Luxury Iceland
Deadly serious in demeanor, these black box boys offer up a generous viewing pane to asuage concerns engendered by such a clinical crumbshot. Im hoping the spend is in the pie not the packaging, and theres certainly enough pie, I just have to get past the graphic images my mind conjures up when faced with their star motif. But thats my problem, not yours. Couldnt be more different to their joyless German opposite number. The box is campness writ large, particularly in the choice of font, perfectly engineered to be misread, with obvious comic consequences. The crumbshot might be Louis Walshs dream, if you replace the pies with scrubbed-down X Factor wannabees. Ever so dainty in stature, might I suggest that these are produced with the knowledge that they will fill a plate on that famous buffet table, rather than fill a hole in a young parolees tummy.
Match Report
Iceland have come disguised as Tesco Deep glossy coat and all, making their firm but fair bite a familiar mouthful. Lidl Lux open their season with a light touch, showing off pastry that can hit effective flavour centres and retain structure while never approaching thick.
Thankfully, the Iceland chew is a better proposition that its doppelganger with a welcome liquidity and heavily appled mush that help it rise above its price bracket compatriots. Lidl Luxs liquidity has over-stepped the mark, for me, and Im still waiting for anything to develop from the softly spoken brandy threat.
There is a case for extra pies in this one, as Lidl Lux have failed to fire beyond their buttery outer, leaving the watery inner to fend for itself against a very competent Iceland challenge.
Extra pies it is, and Im glad to report that Ive been able to judge a winner, but only just.
And the winner is: Lidl Luxury but they should count themselves very lucky, as I think they may have underestimated the plucky Iceland, who may spring a few ambushes of their own this Yuletide.

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Round 1 - Sainsbury's Taste The Difference vs Tesco Deep
20th Nov 2014
Its like dj vu all over again. My last stint in the Pie Club hotseat (2007-08) saw Bird Flu on the rise all over the UK and the beginnings of a Justin Bieber plague.
So I can only apologise, firstly to the birds for the return of Bird Flu, and secondly to mankind for my unleashing of whatever the next dark musical force may be. May god have mercy on us all.
Two ever-presents today, and a contest that history might see as a potential banana skin for the seeded Sainsbury pie.
 STTD ruined a perfectly good Mogwai  Tesco 'Merry Christmas' Deep
STTD ruined a perfectly good Mogwai Tesco 'Merry Christmas' Deep
Sainsbury's Taste The Difference Tesco Deep
Still willing to come clean about being made by the Walkers shortbread team, the box continues the candour with a vast viewing window allowing full disclosure of any damage or discoloured competitors. A model of stout Scottish workmanship slides out, as always accompanyied by that vinegary slap from the acetic acid. Wishing me a Merry Christmas no less than three times, this box may not be a looker, but its got an honest charm I cant help admire. All six pies appear to be falling over themselves to meet me on the busy crumbshot, but in reality they might be a little over eager, as loose sugar cascades from the unkempt inner. Im a little thrown by the leftfield gloss finish, but in for a penny
Match Report
You would expect a pie crust made by Walkers of Scotland to boss the pastry bites, and this does not disappoint, leaving Tesco Deep in its buttery, and strangely orangey shadow. However, Tesco didnt crumble the way that other contestants have when put under severe pressure, affording a sensible resistance and authentic chew.
Oh dear, weve had one of those moments no one likes to see in any level of festive competition an inedible chunk.
The game is over as a contest, and thats a shame, but Im sure everyone is more concerned that any injury is not a serious one. Dont worry my teeth are back up on their feet clapping the crowd as they return to their positions, shaken but stoic.
The default winner seems to be affected, and offers only one dimensional tang from within, and a more fragile case than Ive come to expect, but they will get their chance to impress in the quarter finals.
And the winner is: Sainsburys TTD! That first bite into Tesco Deep was like jumping sockless and blindfolded into a room full of lego, which my son tells me is his least favourite part of our bedtime routine.

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Round 1 - Tesco Finest vs Sainsbury's Deep
18th Nov 2014
If Moby Dick taught us anything, its that revenge does not always bring the best out of people or pies, and also that whales are a monumental pain sometimes. For teenage whales, that is doubly true. But I digress.
Today sees an opportunity for Tesco Finest to put to bed the nightmare of 2013s exit in the first round, at the hands of the very same opponent that stands nervously before them now.
 Tesco Finest Motor Company  Sainsbury's Deep
Tesco Finest Motor Company Sainsbury's Deep
Tesco Finest Sainsbury's Deep
Nicely understated box, no doubt made with the Downton mob in mind. Although the Mitsubishi air hole configuration atop seems a little modern for such an otherwise classic look. A familiar red box, all too familiar for the slighted Tesco team, eager to ram that jaunty crumbshot back down their throats. The pie stands a touch taller than Finest, but that could be merely a swollen pride-filled chest, as the Pleb who took on the Establishment and won. The double hedgehog motif atop takes the edge off their mighty appearance.
Match Report
As you might expect, Finest comes out of the his corner full of fight and displays a sweet solidity of lid that must have been 12 months in the making. SainsDeep find themselves crumbling, beyond the expected shortness, and almost out of the competition. Only the steadying influence of currants amid a blurred chew have kept them off the canvas.
That might not be for long though, as an impressive volley of Finests nibbed nuts pound the senses allowing the cognac to wash over now defenceless tastebuds.
SainsDeep has more in its locker, but is a range of orange and lemon highs enough to hold off the triumvirate of festive liquors Finest has decanted?
And the winner is: With a comprehensive dismantling of a dangerous red boxer, this could be Tesco Finests finest hour.

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Round 1 - M & S Luxury vs Morrison's Signature
16th Nov 2014
Good luck comes in all shapes and sizes, Sven Goran Erikksons little black book is testament to that. To their eternal chagrin, the rub of the green is an unfamiliar sensation for Morrisons Signature, having narrowly missed out on the Pie Offs year after year and then being Shanghaied in 2013 by Lidls secret weapon. Can the fragile talents of M&S Luxury see off what must be an ever more determined Yorkist challenge?
 M&S Luxury on the razz  More Reasons Signature
M&S Luxury on the razz More Reasons Signature
M & S Luxury Morrison's Signature
Another sparkly M&S box, this time less boudoir more wine bar. Have those two festive voyeur fairies stopped off for a couple of spritzers on the way back to the office? The pie Ive pulled looks like shes on the back end of a hen do, pale, puffy and panda eyed with glittery remnants of sugar past. Great close-up crumbshot for the purple cover, eliciting strong emotions by putting us inside the pie. The motif printing machine may need a bit of oil as my lid dcor looks like yesterdays welly print in the snow.
Match Report
Dull first exchanges from the stout pair of pastries. MSL have the edge on bake, but this is going to be about fill.
Smooth mixology from MozSig leads the tongue into a lengthy relationship with stubborn fruit, and the port peters out before the raisin finally gives in. Small margins these, but it could become crucial. To be contrary, MSL front up their big chew without a discernible leader, and only in the finish am I capable of picking out the distant silhouette of boozy sultanas. Aloof and classy, but that is a dangerous game to play, when up against a fun-loving charmer.
And the winner is: Morrisons Signature have got too much power for the delicate flowers from M&S, and the Luxury line crumbles in the face of Yorkshire joy.

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Round 1 - Marks & Spencer Classic vs Aldi Specially Selected
13th Nov 2014
Since Mr Kipling went out to Asda Extra Special the other day, I cant tell you how many calls Ive had to use the new Mr Kipling with Brandy Sauce for future ties.
Yes, he may be a bigger and better brother but his artificial implant renders him inadmissible in such a pure competition as Pie Club. Honestly, youll be wanting Tescos Rhubarb & Stem Ginger Pies up in here next!


2013s beaten finalist faces the wooden spooner from 2012 today. Will it be chalk versus cheese, as the two-time winner Marks Classic faces the perennial also-ran Aldi Specially Selected?
 MSC - not just for postmen  Aldi Specially Selected
MSC - not just for postmen Aldi Specially Selected
Marks & Spencer Classic Aldi Specially Selected
Sensual red boxing makes a grown man blush. All those deep reds and twinkling decs could be seedy, but a touch of Magic and Sparkle just about raises it to glamourous boudoir. Once unsheathed, I am less impressed with the newly uniform slitting atop an earthy lid. Its an altogether more cheeky affair with the Aldi box. Milk bottle flesh is displayed for all to see through a generous viewing window and we are treated to a dazzling pile up for the crumbshot. The pie stands prouder than the M&S, and with booze in their locker, this could be a dogfight.
Match Report
Pastry bitten from the Aldi SS is approachably short and with virtually no flavour, which could be a positive if those innards want to boss this tie. MSC didnt become a double champion without knowing a thing or two about biscuity bites though, and immediately raises a smile with time-served shortbread skills.
Full bites of Aldi SS and MSC flag up how this is a real clash of styles. Aldi SS make a fluid yet languid slope toward festive warmth, and certainly get there in the end but leave an incongruously spiky brandy finish. MSC demand the mash before giving up their bounty of balanced spice and firm fruit.
It has been a decent game for the neutral, and having to call either of these pies losers is going to be harsh.
And the winner is: The rest of the pie world wish they could emulate the consistency and downright effectiveness of Marks & Spencer Classic, and they cannot be stopped, at least for today.

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Round 1 - Asda Extra Special vs Mr Kipling
11th Nov 2014
Welcome to Matchday One of Pie Club 2014, a little later than our traditional November 6th kick-off, but better late than never. You might spot a downwards shift in the quality of writing this time out due to the early retirement of Pie Club legend JC. God bless you brother, for all that you have done.


Its mostly David v Goliath in the first round matches due to the seeding structure, so this should be a formality for Asdas mighty Philistine. An impressive winner in 2012, the Extra Special was considered by many to be unlucky last year, having been dislodged by the eventual surprise winners from Lidl.


Mr Kiplings history in this competition is more akin to an Egyptian plague.
 Asda Edvard Munch  Exceedingly Kipling
Asda Edvard Munch Exceedingly Kipling
Asda Extra Special Mr Kipling
With JCs harsh words still stinging in their ears, the 2014 designers have abandoned their skeletal snowflake motif in favour of three small stars, like you might find on the jersey of a Juventus player, for instance. Plus theyve hacked out an ambitious stars worth of pastry to allow a glimpse of their dark soul. A familiar holly leaf/berry combo decorates their ample, if pale, breast. Not sure what the Two Turtle Doves box theme is all about if you expect us to sample all twelve different Kipling lines this Season, you have a lot of work to do sir. My OCD is beginning to nag now though.
Match Report
Afforded the first bite of the tournament, Kipling fails to deliver anything better than stale Rich Tea notes, and an almost embarrassed AES humbly retorts with soft butter aplomb.
At least a bigger bite of the Kipling yields a modicum of deep fruit appeal, if short in its finish. Theres no holding the AES now, as Pru Leith guides me calmly through the gears of simple vine to find spiced port with the promise of brandy when we get home.
Im only going to finish the two competitors in order to give them the respect they deserve; one for performance and the other for earnest toil in the face of history.
Bang! The brandy abounds in the latter stages of AES and you could tell me that the star shaped hole tastes nice and Id believe you.
And the winner is: Goliath finally lives up to his billing, meaning a handsome win for Asda Extra Special.

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