Sweet victory for savoury skills

The Piehole Challenge

BY MATTHEW DALLAS
Last updated 14:15 12/11/2012

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The Village Bakery in Tawa has come out on top in a Kapi-Mana News taste quest to find the best mince pie in town.

Following lively debate on our Facebook page over where the best mince pie could be found locally, we decided to put the classic Kiwi lunch option under closer scrutiny. We called it The Piehole Challenge.

Over two months four staff members sampled and rated the mince pies from 10 bakeries in Porirua and Tawa, assessing pastry, filling flavour, filling consistency and value.

The Village Bakery pie finished first overall, edging out Brumby's in Porirua and Nada Bakery in Tawa. Read our evaluations.

Village Bakery owner Garry Moore said news of his pie's strong showing had made his day.

"I'm just delighted."

Judges praised the Village Bakery mince pie's rich flavour and level of gravy. Its pastry was a little darker than those from other bakeries, but still very scrummy.

Brumby's and Nada also scored highly on flavour and pastry, but at $3.60 The Village Bakery was a good 50 to 70 cents cheaper.

"We try to make a good product at a reasonable cost. I encourage staff to do the best with their abilities and I've got a very good team," said Mr Moore, who has owned The Village Bakery for 23 years.

He says ingredients are key to a quality pie.

"Good meat, not too fatty. Being accurate with ingredients is essential ... A lot of people are now buying ingredients based on price, not quality."

Mr Moore, who has been a baker since he was 15, said he valued the method of our pie contest.

He had never entered national competitions as he did not consider them a fair indication of what bakeries produce in their shops.

"I can't afford to have a baker spending three months on one pie. This is the way to do it. Come in and buy what we make every day, and judge that."

The pies from several bakeries, particularly in central Porirua, were let down by their fillings.

"Too much jelly stuff" was a regular complaint of judges.

This probably came down to the type of thickener some bakers were using, said Mr Moore, who preferred a traditional mix of cornflour and flour.

THE GUTS OF IT

* We wanted to find and acknowledge the best pies in town. Mince pies from 10 bakeries across Porirua and Tawa were tasted and rated by four of our team.

* Filling flavour was rated out of 10, filling consistency, pastry flavour and value were each rated out of five. This meant each judge scored each pie out of 25, for a total score out of 100.

* The bakeries had no knowledge of The Piehole Challenge. One pie from each bakery was purchased, returned to the office, quartered and gobbled.

* Only editor Matthew Dallas, who bought the pies, knew where each pie came from, the other judges were 'blind'.

* No tomato sauce or other condiments were used during judging.

*  It is not our intention to promote mince pies or other pastries as an everyday lunch option. They should be considered a treat - and a Kiwi institution.

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THE MOUTHS:

Richard Gordon: Manager. Though better known for scoffing sausage rolls, he is nevertheless enthusiastic about any grub he doesn't need to cook or buy himself. A generous scorer.

Kris Dando: Reporter. A meat pie aficionado who established the practice/religion of 'Friday Pie-day' many years ago at our office.

Andrea O'Neil: Reporter. Bit of a pie snob, would normally use a knife and fork, but resorted to fingers for the challenge after jeers from fellow judges.

Matthew Dallas: Editor.A native of Hawke's Bay, known for its fine bakeries and award-winning pies. For a high school term, ate a meat pie every day, earning the nickname 'Pie-beast'. He didn't like it.

- Kapi-Mana News

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