When it comes to pies, one does not immediately think – New Zealand, so we were surprised to learn that pies are as common of a staple as sandwiches and hamburgers are here in Canada. In New Zealand, you can find pies just about everywhere, from gas stations to convenience stores. Usually, they are clean, finger friendly snacks, that don’t require a plate, fork, and knife.
Our evening of pie tasting was courtesy of North Shore Pie Co. at Hemingway’s – a popular, non-pretentious restaurant that has been serving New Zealand fare for over three decades. The evening started off with a short introduction of the company by founder Anthony Spinley. The company bought out a local bakery called Wiseys Pies & Bakehouse and has future ambitions of making it in the frozen food market.
The first sampling included 3 kinds of mini pastries: Sausage Rolls, Spinach and Cheese Gems, and Quiche. The Sausage rolls were not amusing, the kind you would expect from a frozen “Schneider’s Pie” sampling. The dry pork sausage had the consistency of paté and had an overwhelming amount of a certain spice (one that we could not quite put our finger on). Next was the Spinach & Cheese Gem, which had a corn muffin texture. The spinach was lost in the gem, but the cheese on the top and inside were quite nice. The strange part of this item was the large glob of cream cheese that was hidden inside of each gem – something we could have gone without. Next was the quiche, the highlight of the meal at that point. It was moist, loaded with flavor from the veggies, bacon, egg, and cheese, and the most impressive part was how the delicious pastry managed to stay dry despite the moist interior. We couldn’t help but treat ourselves to several more. We later found out there were a few other varieties such as Butter Chicken, which tasted more like Curry Chicken.
Sausage Rolls: 2/5
Spinach & Cheese Gems: 3/5
Butter Chicken: 2.5/5
The next part of the tasting – the main course. This included two types of pies: Steak & Cheese, and Potato Top. The Steak & Cheese pie was a nice flaky pastry that one would expect from a fresh baked pie, however the interior was quite dry and flavorless. We were expecting a more “saucy” and savory beef filling, with smaller cut pieces of beef as it was quite difficult to eat without a knife.
The Potato Top looked a whole lot like a Shepherd’s pie, so that was exactly what we were expecting (in a pie crust). Diving into the pie, we were quite surprised to learn that it was very similar to Shepherd’s but it was lacking one key element; savory, sauteed, vegetables. Any type of vegetable would have been welcome: onions, carrots, peas, anything! Because of our expectation of it being similar to “Shepherd’s Pie”, we were a tad disappointed when it was simply mashed potato served over minced beef.
Steak & Cheese: 3/5
Potato Top: 3/5
The last part of the meal were an array of desserts – including Afghan Cookies, Laminations, and Pavlova topped with fruit – we tried the latter (only because our table was not served the other two). We found the fruit to be under-ripe so it had a sour taste to it. The interior meringue was rock hard however the soft inside was quite nice.