We have just had this report in from Pete, one of our customers, who works for BskyB about a pork pie tasting they held in the office:
The pork pie. Pastry and meat. Sometimes part of a ploughmans, sometimes not. Sometimes served hot with peas, sometimes not. Sometimes accompanied by mustard or brown sauce, sometimes not. Who’d have thought such an innocuous dish would be the subject of such a lengthy and fierce debate, right here at Sky Betting & Gaming?
The tension was palpable as we gathered in the kitchen yesterday. Wayne couldn’t make eye contact with Steve. Hannah was shaking as she tried to open the condiments. Ken’s responsibility as independent adjudicator was visibly taking its toll. And poor Stacy clearly regretted ever getting involved at all. A small crowd formed as we began the process of deciding, once and for all, which is the best pork pie in Yorkshire.
The contenders were carefully selected through months, nay years, of thorough research. To ensure a fair test, two supermarkets were included as the ‘control cells’. The remainder were made up of independent butchers who, at some stage, had received industry accolades for their prowess in pork pie production. (I’m not making this up!) They were:
- Elite Meats of Starbeck, Harrogate
- Wilson’s of Crossgates, Leeds
- Lishman’s of Ilkley
- Weetons of Harrogate
- The Yorkshire Farmer’s Meat Company
- Sainsbury’s (premium range)
- Marks & Spencers (premium range)
The age-old method of the blind taste-test was established, with each judge awarding points for the pies based on three criteria: appearance, crust, and meat (with the latter score up-weighted in acknowledgement of its importance). As the munching and judging commenced, we narrowly avoided a major stumbling block. The independence of our adjudicator was dramatically thrown into doubt, as Ken merrily started hoovering-up the pies himself! Thankfully, Andy had been present from the outset, and he quickly assumed the role of UN inspector, to ensure that the test remained fair despite Ken’s indiscretions.
Comments were hesitantly offered by the judges, between mouthfuls: “Peppery”, “Too greasy”, “That meat is grey”, “Is it me, or has this pie been burned?”, “Consistency is key”, “Pristine” etc.
Finally, Ken dragged himself away from the tasting table to count up the scores. The apprehension suddenly mounted once again as yet another swerve ball was thrown, this time by Steve. He unapologetically informed the ever-increasing crowd that he had ordered his score sheet thus: A, B, C, E, D, F, G. (Thank god somebody with such a rudimentary grasp of numeration doesn’t play a key role in the ongoing analysis of our business). Despite this set-back, Ken kept his focus and eventually delivered the results. And incredibly, out of a possible 120 points, there was just half a point in it…
As you’d expect, the paltry offering from our supermarkets came in tied last place with a miserable 41 points each. Perhaps that posh chef-farmer bloke off Channel 4 is right?
In 5th place was The Yorkshire Farmer’s Meat Company, who triumphed in aesthetics, but were let down by their blandness of their meat.
In 4th place (and much to the surprise of the assembled pie lovers) was Elite Meats.
The bronze medal went to Wilson’s: the pie specialist that Steve had earlier claimed would: “Cr*p all over your pies”. What a bizarre concept.
The honourable runner-up was Weeton’s: the crust was indescribably good, but the meat perhaps that lacked that certain ‘je ne sais quoi’.
So, by a margin of just half a point, was our distinguished winner… Lishman’s: the butcher of choice for Wharfe valley residents – of which I am one, so I accepted the award on their behalf.
So there you have it. It was decided. Lishman’s produces the best pork pies in Yorkshire…just. The debate rages no longer. But as we returned to our desks, exhausted, did I hear someone talk about the best sausages in Yorkshire? Watch this space.