Saturday, 29 October 2011

I'm rather chuffed with this , thank you!

Pub Food Travesties (1) - Starry Gazy Pie - Starry Gazy Pie

I love Starry Gazy Pie. It’s a traditional Cornish pie, which, as you may or may not know, has the heads of the fish cooked beneath the pastry poking through it to ‘gaze at the stars’.

While on holiday, Andy and I went for a pub meal and on the menu we saw ‘Starry Gazy Pie’.  Odd for Norfolk, I thought, but it turned out it was a chain pub and the menu was probably in countless pubs up and down the country.  No matter, lets give it a look:

“The unique feature of the Cornish starry gazy pie’, says the blurb, ‘is they usually have fishheads protruding from the top so they appear to be gazing skyward. 

So far, so good:

“We think you are worth way more than these fish and have opted for a whole Scottish Langoustine, instead.”


You’ve defined what a Starry Gazy Pie is and then completely changed it?  Why?
If you don’t the heads of the fish showing, don’t do Starry Gazy Pie!   If you are going to replace the major constituent of a classic pie, call it something else!   Don’t insult an entire county by calling it Starry Gazy Pie and then replacing  it’s uniqueness with something not only from a different county, but a different COUNTRY!  How much of an insult is that to the people and traditions of Cornwall is that?   You dare to call it a Cornish product and identify why it is unique and then state that the fish in it isn’t good enough, “here have a langoustine, that has some value” you patronising arse!

What angers me about this is that I can see some brewery executive marketing meathead sitting in a boardroom somewhere thinking “Fishheads?   Eyouw!   We’ll have to change that!   No one is going to buy something with fishheads on it.  I know!   A langoustine!  They’re posh!   It’ll make our cheap knock off pie seem luxurious!”

Newsflash.   Starry Gazy pie isn’t meant to be luxurious.  It’s peasant food, moron.  It relies entirely on cheap and tasty fish, not luxuries from the other end of the UK.

Get it right or call it something else, moron.

Thursday, 27 October 2011


Watching the Great British Bake Off is always a mixed joy.  The episode on pies was particularly interesting but threw up one of my absolute culinary pet hates.

Some had the gall to make something she called a pie but was far from it.   It was essentially a stew with a pastry hat added later on.  This was a catering short cut that I first saw in the 80’s and, heaven help me, I actually did when I was working in The Porter Cottage in Sheffield.  It basically meant you could put two items on the menu but have to cook one.  All you did was make a stew and bake a load of puff pastry circles.  If someone wanted stew, you gave them stew; if the wanted pie, you gave them stew and chuck a pastry circle on top.

I must stress that I did this under duress.

As far as I’m concerned, a pie lives or dies at the point where pastry meets filling and cooks together.  The layer of gravy laden pastry dough topped by crisp buttery pastry is the sublime joy of the pie and – I’d goes so far as to say - it’s raison d’etre.  Divorce the pastry from the filling during cooking and you get a sterile joyless beast.

This leads to realization.  Fray Bentos pies in a can are actually pretty good.   Given that the joy in a pie is the point where filling meets pastry, Fray Bentos leads the pack.   If you are going to by a pre-made pie, it has to be Fray Bentos particularly if it’s been stored upside down; the filling having soaked through the pastry to produce a tin of the point of a pie.  The filling may be extraneous – and often unpleasant, but the meeting of meat and dough is possibly the best ever canned food.

Of course, being a terrible food snob, I'd never actually admit to buying them . . .  <cough>

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Potentially Suicidal Conversations Number 4

An occasionally series documenting how my mouth sometimes runs away with me.

The Scene:   An unpleasant Saturday Afternoon in Southampton;  obviously a home football match day as there are lots of people in football shirts.

One of the said people starts yelling at me:

Football Fan:   "Why aren't you wearing a red shirt, you cunt?"
Me :  "Red makes me look fat, although I see that hasn't stopped you . . ."

Andy whisks me away very, very quickly . . .