Monday, 3 September 2007

Variations on the theme of pie

The steak and ale pie I had this weekend, at the Betsey Wynne in Swanbourne, was yet another variation on the broad theme of Pie. It was, essentially a stew served with a kind of puff pastry biscuit.

The stew itself was delicious; the steak was extraordinarily tender, in a thick, peppery gravy. The consistency was rich and thick. The puff pastry lozenge laid on top was buttery and perfectly crisp - an advantage of it being cooked separately from the "filling".

Despite all of this tasty goodness, I felt somewhat...disappointed. For me, part of the joy of a pie is the unwrapping, the broaching of the covering, the digging around inside for the rich rewards to be found. This particular "pie" (and I am even less sure of the meaning of the word now) offered none of those delights. From the start, it was laid bare, a pie that revealed its inner workings. If it was a pie at all. Oh deceptive food!

It struck me that this is yet another example of the kind of deconstructed style of cooking that has been a feature of the menus of the top-of-the-pile restaurants for sometime, and is beginning to filter down into the mainstream. It is playful, for sure, and when the food tastes as good as it did at the Betsey, who am I to argue?

But I would like to see the essential characteristic of the food being retained. For me, this was outside the definition of pie.

Damn tasty though.

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