We've been planning to do a culinary competition for a while now. And what better food to get competitive about than pie. Puns all round.
There was an ample sur-pie of puns and banter. We all like puffing our chests out and won't roll over easily. Oli even went to the extraordinary, and possibly illegal, level of asking the lovely chaps at Great Queen Street for their ham and chicken pie recipe. And the bastards gave it to him - hence his awesome pastry for his game pie.
The rules were simples. 2 pies per couple. One savoury and one sweet. Both made with pastry. (You wouldn't believe how long it took to agree on these rules!)
The teams were selected carefully... but not as meticulously as the team names.
Erin and Ed: American Pie Mariana and Oli: Paela Gavella Cowie and Brown: Cow Pie
To clear up any name related confusion... Erin's American and Mariana is a proud Spaniard.
The competition took place at Erin's amazing flat in Islington. So Oli and myself were at an immediate disadvantage given that we were on foreign territory,,, albeit in the best kitchen I've ever had the pleasure to cook in.
American Pie opted for a highy creative opening dish - a chicken fajita pie. The likes of which I have never heard of before. If the taste of this bad boy is anything to go bye.. this pie could become a 21st century classic. Rich, spicy, sweet, creamy and smoky; the filling was exceptionally fun. Oli and I are really hoping that our new nickname for Ed, "EID", sticks.
Delicious filling. Great decoration.
Paella Gavella's Pie was in a different league in the pastry department. And completely stole the show from a creative stand-point. Oli nailed it. It was a game pie, cooked with pigeon, rabbit and venison with a rich gravy topped off with the most professional suet crust pastry you will ever see... probably even better than you'd find at GQS where he stole it from! But the best thing was the heat resistant board he chose to present it on. Ed and I normally try our hardest not to offer the slightest bit of praise to Oli. But unfortunately we had to eat some serious humble pie here. Fair play to Oli - this game pie was top class.
Cowie and I, in the form of Cow Pie, played it relatively safe. We concentrated on the filling. I spent 8 hours cooking a fabulous shoulder of lamb with anchovies, rosemary, bacon, red wine, dried porcini and a touch of cognac for good measure. It fell of the bone and had great depth of flavour. We topped it off with some of Sainbury's best puff pastry and hoped for the best. We were pleased with the result. Meaty and full bodied. Just how a good pie should be.
So by this stage we were completely stuffed. What better way to push on from this than to have 3 more pies! Talk about punishment!
American Pie delivered a very flavousome all American classic Apple Pie with sultanas and cinnamon. Bursting with flavour, or should I say flavor for our American audience, it was a lot of fun.
Paela Gavella yet again pulled off a masterstroke. Their pastry was exceptional and we loved the numerical reference to Pi on the lid. It was packed full of autumnal fruit that bled across our plates like some sort of masacre on a pheasant shoot. Good pie.
Cow Pie did some last minute improvisation and rustled up a pie from no-where. Imagine how tasty a mango and pineapple strudel would taste! Well that's what came out of the oven!
It was one of the most fun evenings I've had in a long time. But, the embarrassment of losing a couple of buttons from my shirt and a gentleman offering me his seat on the tube home because he thought I was pregnant mitigated against this! If oysters, sea food and sushi are good romantic foods... pie is the polar opposite!
We still love to go on trips around the UK, staying in BnBs or camping in search of a good meal or two - hence, Around Britain with a Paunch. Quite often the trips have been prompted by Diana Henry's Gastro Pub Cookbook. Here's where we've been to: