...mince pie mayhem
Never before has the pursuit of pastry distraction felt so important. With little to cheer in a stormy world of bullish nonsense, we can steady the ship and import joy to your desperate dockside (no offence meant).
Join us for the internet equivalent of drawing the curtains, popping on the Bagpuss boxset and settling down with a nice cup of tea. You are in a safe place here. The pies, however, had better watch out, Father Christmas is coming for you!
Sixteen pies start the season with high hopes (see our tournament draw), but only one will prevail. Ready the annals, 2017's dream is about to come true...
|Round 1 - Co-op Irresistible vs Mr Kipling - 15th Nov 2017
Those of you who can bear to watch are about to witness the meeting of last year’s bridesmaid and the perennial weird uncle. Today’s plated wedding sees poor Co-op Irresistible having to nod politely and feign interest at Mr Kipling’s wild claims and exaggerated stories. To be fair though, Pie Club may never have been conceived without the existence of weird uncles (evidenced by the @PieClubPC Twitter feed), so I have a certain sympathy for the exceedingly good losers. And anyway, he has made very plain that he cares not what the self-appointed arbiters of festive treats think. At least, I get that sense by the kind of Christmas lines he knocks out. “Judge me on my french fancies!” he, perhaps, bellows through tears and snot after his family Christmas meal inevitably turns sour towards the end.
|Co-op Irresistible - 2016's bridesmaid||Mr Kipling - crying tears of joy?|
|Co-op Irresistible||Mr Kipling|
|Box and lid remain from 2016, once again channeling a Game of Thrones battlefield, only this time the snowy sugar dusting has a greater resonance as winter is truly here. The eviscerated crumbshot pies will no doubt join the undead horde attacking our colonic wall this yuletide.||A return to red after a predictably unsuccessful dalliance with white sleeves, but no let up in those questionable boasts. Not only are these anti-heroes ‘merry’, exceedingly good’ and ‘deep filled’ but we must stomach the claim that they are ‘Britain’s Favourite’ too. If, by not adding ‘mince pies’ to that final claim, their legal team are satisfied, then so are we.|
As you may expect from last year’s runner up, Coop’s pastry doesn’t make any silly mistakes. Mid level firmness and sensible sweetening put down a good marker.
Kipling can match the initial dental sensation, but within moments the lid has metamorphosed into wallpaper paste. A trick worthy of drunken bluster.
Coop’s ascent through the gears gives delight at each clutch touch. Cherries lead us off, then our drive is smoothed by appley almond until butter-brandy notes signify that top gear is reached. I fear the writing has been on the wall for some time, and Kipling’s final retort comes in the shape of a chew saved by the fluidity of its inner. The hideous outer blends with a potent tang slop to create something that was implausible moments earlier - a mince pie worthy of the name.
But not worthy of a place in anyone’s quarter finals.
|And the winner is: Co-op Irresistible have displayed the kind of form that troubled the top table last season. They could be starting to believe this is their year.|
|Round 1 - Morrisons The Best vs Asda Extra Special - 13th Nov 2017
There will, almost certainly, be a great number of people shocked to see 2012’s victor facing off against a recent two-time champion at such an early stage. A quirk of the slapdash seeding, or a sinister plot to thin out the Yorkshire pies? Commentators worldwide have hypothesised that when Asda waved goodbye to Prue Leith’s mincemeat management, they became rudderless in a crowded, choppy sea of spiced apple pulp, and that 2016’s round one defeat to Iceland was their festive nadir. Can they recreate their glory days, or will Morrisons The Best extinguish their flickering comeback flame? Hold on to your flat caps, this could get reet proper.
|Morrisons Best - needing a hug||Asda Extra Special - pastry pac-person|
|Morrisons The Best||Asda Extra Special|
|A bigger pane you could not wish for this Christmas. Virtually every corner of the black-sleeved inner tray reports for inspection, which may have been suitable for the happy be-snowflaked pies of last season, but this mob appear to have arrived after a full 12 hour shift collecting trolleys. Loosely applied stars with burnt tips reach out for a saviour before having junior versions thrust upon them, inverted, as if to cause maximum offence. And frankly, the meagre jumble of second tier decorations swooshing across what was a plain black panel last year was definitely not what the head of marketing meant by ‘adding pizzazz’.||Still a fun-time purple slip on, giving just a glimpse of what lies within to pique the interest of people identifying as male, female or confection. The second crumbshot in 2017 to reanimate the memory of Pac-Man, with a clever cutaway at the top right of the viewing panel. The horrors inflicted on the crumbshot’s focal pie can only be guessed at, but at least they have a jolly star motif after the unsuccessful blank canvas of 2016’s lid.|
Fears of MozBest not only masquerading as a cheap Lyon’s titbit, but also having the same distinct emptiness are quickly scotched. True, there isn’t a hard kick from the pointy outers and the walls shrink under impactful gaze but having a neutral aftertaste will allow the rich gizard to spill across the palate.
AsdaES wave away the thought of supporting acts and whip up a buttery semi-crunch, which could compete with any other lid so far this yuletide.
On the big bite MozBest come out of their shell, finding a pitch perfect sloppiness which keeps a loose grip on raisin matter and an even looser grip on the purse strings. A round of ciders with a brandy chaser soften the tang comedown and serenity takes hold.
Inner peace is a hard act to follow, although you wouldn’t notice any signs of pressure from AsdaES as they find issue their own saucy mix of port and brandy to the gathered viners. Crumbly times ensue that threaten spice but never reach the expected warmth of character.
|And the winner is: Morrisons The Best have kept the bragging rights, but I can well imagine that the debate will rage in the streets of Pudsey and its neighbouring Leeds-Bradford border towns.|