Wednesday, 7 March 2012

The Robin Hood, Durley, 23rd February 2012

Joe, Nick, Trev and new member Paul (welcome) duly met at the bus stop in Bishops Waltham to catch the number 7 bus for the short ride to The Robin Hood, Durley. Doug had sent his apologies and Si was on a mission in Bali at an organic yoga retreat to find the best Balinese pie.

The bus was on time so arrived at the pub to allow plenty of time to sample the beers before tucking into the pies.

We received a friendly welcome when entering the pub and we were all highly impressed by the extremely pleasant ambience!

There were a good selection of beers : Black Sheep Bitter 3.8%Timothy Taylor Landlord 4.3%,  Old Speckled Hen 4.3%, and for Paul, Becks Vier 4%

Joe, Nick and Trev all started off with the Black Sheep Bitter which was excellent and went down very well. Trev then switched to the Timothy Taylors Landlord which is one of his favourite beers of all time and it didn't disappoint.

After a couple of beers we decided it was time to tuck into the pies! After some excellent but tough earlier negotiations by Joe the chef had agreed to prepare a game suet pudding for us - the game was a mix of venison, rabbit and pheasant. We all ordered the same which arrived on a bed of mashed potatoes with a few green beans sprinkled on top.

Everyone agreed the pie was very good with a good portion of filling which was very tender and the suet casing was very tasty. As we are a healthy bunch of Gents and fully committed to getting our 5 a day (veg that is) a selection of veg would have been welcome - maybe we could have ordered that separately from the menu?

After a short break and another pint we shifted our attention to the excellent choice on the desserts menu. Joe and Trev both opted for the cheese plate which had a good  choice of local cheeses.

Nick opted for the Coconut and Raspberry tart for the high fruit content to fit in with his diet!

Paul went for the traditional Apple Crumble with custard.

By the emptiness of the plates afterwards everyone seemed to enjoy their desserts!

We then paid up and caught the bus back to Bishops Waltham - where feeling tired after all the travel we popped into the Barleycorn for a reviver!

Scores (max. 5 in each category, 25 overall):

  • Pastry 3.75
  • Filling 3.875
  • Beer 4.0
  • Ambience 4.375
  • Value 3.625
  • Overall 19.625

Pieman's Australian tour, February 2012

Pieman recently completed a 6-week trip around Victoria, Australia. Having been to Australia before, he knew that the chances of finding the perfect pie/pint combination in Australia were slim, but he couldn't resist his natural inclination to sample a few pies while he was out there. Here are his impressions.

Let's deal with Australian beer first, and let's be quite clear about this: It's all rubbish. Overpriced, cold, gassy, tasteless rubbish.  Another problem is that you don't often get pies served in Australian pubs. It seems that Aussies would rather gamble than eat in their pubs. (What a good idea! - let people get drunk while they're gambling, and even provide atms so that if they run out of money they can always get some more!). So Pieman was, for the most part, limited to eating pies in restaurants, cafes, bakeries, etc.

The first pie that Pieman sampled was excellent. It was at the Dunkeld Gourmet Pantry, in Dunkeld NW Victoria (a small sleepy town on the way to the Grampians, in the middle of the outback, with not a lot to commend it except this restaurant, which was rather a good find:

This was an individual Chicken and Leek Pie, served with some find home-made chips and the usual token rabbit food. Note the fine pastry-work. For once, this place lived up to its name. This was a gourmet pie, probably one of the best that Pieman has ever tasted. It's a shame that you have to travel so far to try one.   

After finding such a good pie, Pieman was encouraged to sample another pie in a delightful little cafe ("Apple Annie's") in Castlemaine, Victoria:

It was an individual Beef & Burgundy pie served with chips, salad, and (rather unusually) a dollop of vegetable curry. This was quite a pleasant pie, and the curry accompanyment was actually rather a good idea. Pieman's alter ego does have a fondness for curry, so this meal actually combined two of his favourite meals in one, and he left Apple Annie feeling very satisfied.

So far so good, but from here on things take a turn for the worse.

Australian cricket and footie fans go all dewy-eyed whenever the pies at the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground) are mentioned, often going on at great length about how wonderful the Four'N Twenty Pies are. So Pieman felt obliged to try one when he went to the MCG to watch an Australia v India ODI.

Pieman wishes that he hadn't bothered. This was without any doubt the worst pie he has ever tasted. He felt ill for 24 hours after eating it. His partner (Mrs Pieman) tried one and claims that she was ill for the next 2 weeks. Pieman was so traumatised by the experience that he still refuses to say anything more about it. These pies should carry a health-warning. Avoid at all costs. If we assessed pies on a Celsius scale, this pie would score -273c. It represents absolute zero on our pie scale. At least it provides us with a baseline, against which to measure all other pies.

Having resolved to avoid Australian pies for evermore, Pieman wandered into a bakery in Echuca, in far-north Victoria, and his eye was caught by a Ned Kelly Pie:

Now, Pieman really should have known better. He's been into Australian bakeries before, where they often have dozens of different types of pie on offer (see below), and he should have remembered from his earlier visit to Australia that bakery pies are nearly always bad. Plus, these particular pies look suspiciously like quiches, and he should have remembered Pie Club Rule #8 ("Any member who ever suggests eating a quiche may, by a majority vote of the founder members, be dismissed from the Club"). Nothwithstanding any of this, he succumbed to temptation, and persuaded himself that they are not quiches because the solid congealed mass on top (made of egg, bacon and cheese) forms a solid barrier, and isn't soft and mushy like a quiche. The pie was served hot, but beneath the congealed mass on top  lurked a cold mass of (allegedly) minced beef.  It sounds bad, but Pieman was starving at the time, would have eaten anything, and at least he didn't feel ill afterwards. So it wasn't as bad as the MCG pie.

Sample Australian Bakery Pie menu (don't ever be tempted to try any of them):

At this point Pieman had learned his lesson, and decided to avoid all Austalian pies in future. And so should you.