pie club

...mince pie mayhem

 

Pie Club 2016

It's still a knockout

Mince pie tastings are usually conducted professionally, by an uninspired panel, trotting out bone dry statistics that feed the need of opinion factory magazines, and other fettered institutions.

Wouldn't you rather enjoy a rogue one?

Pie Club's return as inexorable as an English football crisis or a paternal Star Wars melodrama, should bring fire to the belly of Christmas scrutineers everywhere.

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.

Someone warn the internet, the maelstrom of mixed fruit starts here!

Quarter Final - Morrisons The Best vs M&S Luxury - 5th Dec 2016
I have to say, there have been some lovely things said about Pie Club this year. Literally everyone on Twitter loves this stuff. You’d imagine. Lewis Hamilton, no doubt, enjoys the contest but finds the level of excitement unbearable, and Tim Peake was recently quoted as describing the Readers’ Pies as “out of this world”, I think.
Anyway, the third of our quarter finals pits our first ever ‘6 star’ pie against the reigning champion (of two years). Morrisons The Best has fought off every challenge since its last defeat, back in 2013, when they were edged out by the eventual champions from Lidl.
M&S Luxury were put to the sword in Morrison’s first successful campaign of 2014, and their Classic pies were one of the victims during their 2015 defence. Is today the day that Marks strike back?
Morrisons Best fending off criticism M&S Luxury - no nuts allowed
Morrisons Best fending off criticism M&S Luxury - no nuts allowed
Morrisons The Best M&S Luxury
Still no explanation forthcoming from the Bradford boys regarding the veracity of their pentagonal snowflake motif. I’m not sure if they think my emails are some kind of ‘hoax’. They must enjoy my love notes to their shiny new business box, surely. On the topic of ambiguous titles and brand, apart from these ‘six star’ mince pies I’ve found: First Place Mats, Best Practice Mats, Number One Potty Wipes and Pole Position scaffold clamps. Enough said on that perhaps. For now.
Match Report
To ensure the safety of today’s verdict, I have enlisted the help of two willing tasters, as a form of server back-up, if you will.
Virtual white smoke goes up from MozBest’s ghostly pastry, but we have become accustomed to such ethereal fayre, and the counter doesn’t convince either, as MSL proffer a limp wristed handshake instead of a snappy comeback. The flavour takes it though, and MSL edge ahead. Tasters were espousing the virtue of a well buttered pastry and a semi-rustic look. Nods all round
Defending champions rarely have a penchant for surrender, and so it proves as MozBest slaps my cheeks full of yuletide notes – both rich and tart, just how some people like them.
MSL remind us that they have some tricks of their own as a building sharpness stifles the gentler nuances of MozBest. Bells and whistles abound and tasters agree that the fruity port has shone through alongside many other star turns, but the absence of nuts has not gone unnoticed…
Happily, all are in agreement, for now, this Christmastime.
And the winner is: M&S Luxury have found another gear, and ended the dominance of MozBest. Yorkshire’s last hope…vanquished.

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Quarter Final - Iceland Luxury vs M&S Classic - 1st Dec 2016
Hopefully, you have found door number one on your advent calendar, and cleared a space on your drinks shelf for the traditional litre of Croft Original, as December launched successfully this morning.
To continue our breathless charge towards Christmas, we have an intriguing match-up today. Iceland’s brand new creation meets the veteran of at least 17 seasons – M&S Classic.
Having experienced the ‘six star’ mince pies M&S have out this term, I can now see a resemblance – not between stablemates, M&S Classic and M&S Luxury, but to this young upstart from the Icy wasteland of the high street. The ‘brothers from another mother’ share a familial starry expression, and girth. Can Iceland now see off their stepbrothers and take a giant stride towards an unlikely semi?
Iceland Luxury, harbouring rebel cider M&S Classic, smudged lippy but still classy
Iceland Luxury, harbouring rebel cider M&S Classic, smudged lippy but still classy
Iceland Luxury M&S Classic
Another crumbshot sporting a pastry fork. Did I miss a public service announcement about this? What next, chopsticks to eat a pepperami?
If this tie goes well, they could probably afford to promote their miniscule Iceland logo (bottom left) to a more prominent position. You’ve nothing to be ashamed of (any more).
I’ve not warmed to M&S’s geometric paper-folding livery for their standard fayre this term. Top marks for originality, but I’d like them to bring back the glamour of the mid-noughties. they are supposed to be magic & sparkle after all.
Match Report
One pie has pastry stars plonked atop, the other has star shaped holes. Who will win this though, the positive or the negative…
A refreshing reminder of how far Iceland have come, arrives in a crisp and sweet kick-off bite with a foundation of buttery mellowness. MSC waste no time in response by snapping off a genuine biscuit doppelganger complete with the level of stiff crystal sugaring you can feel throughout the chew. This tie is worthy of a final.
Such is the quality of the full bites that it is hard to concentrate now. Iceland put me in a hazy mood with their concentrated yet smooth boozy idyll, then MSC elicited a purr of intense joy with their idiosyncratic spice mix (which had been mostly absent in their first round tie).
This may need to be settled by taking bite after bite, making my way through both boxes until I can’t bear the sight of another mince pie – and whichever one I pick up must be the winner.
I’ve had to call it, after the sixth pie. Suffice to say there are no losers here today (myself excepted, obvs).
And the winner is: M&S Classic have edged a game that could truly have gone either way. The real winner today was Christmas. And Barclaycard.

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