The beef pie I had from Marty’s Gourmet was one of the best pies I’ve had this year. On second thoughts given most pies I’ve had have been the reheated frozen kind, a voice, of my subconscious in some American accent I’ve dreamt up, yells out: ‘that’s no yardstick!’
This pie was certainly better than a Four ’n’ Twenty.
It was a pie that could’ve worn proudly a badge reading ‘Grandma’s recipe’ or ‘like Grandma used to make’. For any aliens reading this, firstly I’m honoured you’ve stopped by my blog—I’m totally pro-extraterrestrial, in case you were wondering. Secondly, it’s kind of universally understood on our planet that Grandma’s or grandma-level something means amazingly-good. I feel compelled to add to that previous sentence: where baking’s concerned. Not if you’re talking computers.
Grandmas are good at pie-making. That’s what the stereotypes tell me. Grannies have carved out a reputation for beautiful baking, and isn’t it just the most comforting imagery that comes to mind at the thought? I think hot goods seconds out of the oven and wondrous aromas wafting through the house. I think apple pies, luscious savouries, bellies finding themselves back in the kitchen right after a main meal. I think hot Milos with marshmallows on top. I think contented chatter amidst a backing of the songs playing on Curtin FM 100.1. I think cake crumbs, the only trace left of dessert.
I think it’s a great stereotype. I love the idea.
I had ended up at Marty’s as I’d been feeling very under the weather. I had made a visit to the doctor’s, right across from the café. Rest and recuperation had unsurprisingly been in the dicta of the doctor’s orders and I’d decided that a pie for lunch might be a great start to meeting that second ‘r’. Wait what am I saying? The pie just looked so very tempting I was like a bee to honey.
The pie arrived. I sat there appreciating the creation in front of me. The elements of a pie and sauce were simple and inviting.
With the hesitation of a kid at the cinema deciding between a popcorn upsize and an extra large frozen Coke, and eventually going for a pack of Smarties, I cut open the top.
Hidden under that golden pastry was a steaming filling with actual chunks of beef. Manageable, large, hack-sawed pieces of beef. Like pieces originally part of a giant slab of economy beef you’d buy at a place like Spudshed, glowing with unabashed pride at the bargain scored, only to spend a good hour at home, armed with a cleaver, splashing yourself with beef blood, in a mangled attempt to get even, mandibular-ly-agreeable portions, all the while keeping admirable goals of awesome chunky beef dishes in mind.
A lot to swallow? I’d agree.
The beef sat in a highly viscous sauce, a rich peppery concoction smacking of garlic, onion, a generous splashing of the Worcestershire, gravy cubes—best guess, there was salt from something, and a fair shake of the tomato sauce bottle (a phrase that reminds me of the former Prime Minister responsible for bamboozling us with that beauty: ‘detailed programmatic specificity’).
The sauce was thick, and held together without soaking through the pastry bottom.
The crust was a good puff pastry, cooked ’til golden, flakey, and soft. With the chunky beef, sauce and puffy pastry, let me say this was amazing.
And here she is:
I also went with a mocha; it was so-so. The pie and mocha came to $10.30.
My journey into pies continued two mornings later. I was running late on my clock—early in another universe, of course—and I was running on empty. I needed a coffee. Spying a coffee and pie deal for $9.95, I stopped and convinced myself I could do with an expensive coffee $9.95, and a bonus pie.
The pie had employed unscrupulous tactics to make its way into my life. It had coupled itself with coffee. It knew that, like pastry, resistance would crumble.
It was a pie loaded with a free serve of denial and I had lost the fight.
I sculled the coffee; JP’s do a great one. Pie in hand, I finally arrived at my desk. I went to zap my now not-extra-hot-but-still-hot pie.
‘Morning!’ came the unfamiliar voice of a man in a crisp blue uniform. He was from the other Division. The communal kitchen had a not-so-uncanny way of bringing people together and forcing conversation.
‘Hey there, morning,’ I said doing an awkward shuffle past him, hoping I wouldn’t stack myself and send the pie flying. I seem to have greater than average odds when it comes to dropping things, which in my plentiful experience generally makes awkward situations worse. Stepping into the small kitchen had increased my odds.
‘What’s that? Early lunch?’ he said reaching for the milk. I noticed the tomato sauce in the fridge behind him. It might as well have been unobtainium.
‘Nah, just a snack,’ I said with a twinge of immediate regret. He was having a cuppa and a muesli bar like a normal person. I’d already finished a coffee and I was preparing to stuff my face with pie.
‘You can’t have snacks without bringing us all some!’ he exclaimed with a hearty smile.
The beeping of the microwave, the half-awkward laughter where I managed to squeeze in a ‘yeah’, ‘sure’, ‘cool’ and multiple other filler words was the rest of our conversation. By the powers of the small kitchen, there will hopefully be future opportunities to undo this trainwreck of a ‘hello’.
For now, it was time to test out this pie.
They had included the complimentary, non-obligatory salad element. Mesclun, straight out of the Woolies pre-packs. It was a nice touch.
Inside the pie was a saucy mince meat that had a more commercial gravy taste to it. I would be mincing my words if I said this wasn’t good and I didn’t enjoy it as much as I did. The pie was very juicy. It made for a very moist experience, and I was sure it wasn’t the microwaving that had done it. I’d picked it up prior and still it had felt like a frail beast. The pastry was more a shortcrust than a puff. It was awfully soft. It was also very yellow.
Who reigns supreme? Both were tasty pies. One was just beautiful and chunky and delicious. The Marty’s Pie takes this round.
Taste verdict Pleasing pies aplenty.
In the midst of composing the above, in the wee hours of the morning, I had this paragraph on beef chunks. I was thinking about the chunky beef in the Marty’s pie and my thoughts meandered, in and out, and over and over, on the whys of beef as a product of deliciousness. (And no, while it would have been a nice excuse for staying up to write prose about beef, I hadn’t been drinking).
Beef, of all types, is wonderful.
Tearing through it is animalistic and raw.
Cathartic on a primal level.
Ravenous and impatient are those awaiting steak on the barbie.
Understandably awake and discontent is the bloke who had only salad for dinner.
Voracious are the appetites red meat inspires.
Flesh makes lions of us all, bringing out pure instinct at the sight.
It’s evidence that maybe we’re all just animals. Well, animals in clothes.
Beef isn’t elitist.
Wagyu, marbled, aged, Porterhouse are desirable attributes. But in the realm of pies, stews, and everything saucy, it’s chunky beef all the way.
Chunky beef reminds you that you’re not eating beef that’s been stitched together. Or minced to the point of no return. Or that bears a label with its percentage of beef content, because clearly that was considered necessary.
Forgive the beef spiel.
I’m an omnivore with hardcore carnivorous tendencies.
I’m chewing on starting my own Beef Appreciation Society.