Slice of heaven

left: original artwork, right: the tea towel itself (creased, stained and used)
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My love of pies started at an early age. Being a born and bred Bermondsey gal, Manze’s pie mash was a staple part of my diet. It is the one food I am always in the mood for and I’m pretty sure I could just nurse a cup of liquor on its own. And don’t even get me started on the variety of pie type treats Greggs has to offer - can I get the Christmas slice all year round please?!

I remember as a kid, mum would cook us these lush chicken and mushroom lattice pies, the perfect amount of sauce to crisp ratio. But for some reason, the older I got, my love of pies waned. Except for the almighty pie mash.

Fast forward to 2016 and I was packing my bags to move to New Zealand - a country that does pies better than any other. Sure, we have beautiful landscapes and excellent wine, we’ve got incredible culture, history and the legendary flightless bird the Kiwi - but pies are New Zealand’s true calling.

You can buy them almost anywhere. We have these wonderful little things called “dairy’s” which are essentially off licences - but they’ve swapped out the budget vodka and £1 tinnies for hot food.

My first real pie experience was in my new home Queenstown. It is something that has stuck with me this whole time and is a tale I relay to people probably a little too often...

The night had ended, everyone had consumed all the alcohol Queenstown had to offer and the evening had run its natural course to finish up in Night ‘n Day (the biggest chain of dairy’s we have here in Aotearoa). I was debating what to order, would I go for my usual sour cream and sweet chilli wedges? Or perhaps some chicken chips? Too many options for my drunk brain to fathom.

As if by magic, a lady appears. My guardian angel? She leans in close and asks me something quite personal, which as a new honorary kiwi, I was quite embarrassed to answer.

“Have you ever had a Jimmy’s mince and cheese pie?”

That question changed my life. Since that first bite - Jimmy’s has been my drunk food AND my hangover food AND a winter warmer for morning smoko. The versatility this dish has; *chefs kiss*

It is by far the most basic pie you can get in NZ, but it’s a real fan favourite. The crinkly paper bag it comes in, the struggle to scan it at New World when I can’t find the barcode because of aforementioned crinkly paper bag, but boy do you reap the rewards.

If this is how passionate I am about the lower tier pies, imagine how I feel about the top tier pies.

Top tier pies are as follows (but not limited to this list);

  • Ferg Bakery Pies
  • MacKenzie Steak, Mushroom & Ale
  • Arrowtown Bakery Pies
  • Fairlie Pies - these are a fan fave and South Island treasure
  • Any steak and blue cheese pie I can get my hands on

I still have so far to come on my quest to devour every pie I can find.

I’m that passionate about pies I decided to get a tattoo of one. My homage to New Zealand, combining the legends that are pies and Dave Dobbyn.

Once Covid is over, I implore you to book a flight and come and enjoy some of the best pies the Southern Hemisphere has to offer.