Saturday, July 16, 2011

Pie July 2011: the halfway point. Perhaps you will recall last year's very important charity event, Pie July – the charity being "me really liking to eat pies". I am doing it again this year, but I'm afraid it has been much more desultory – no home-made pies this time. However, here are some pie-lights:

Friday 1 July – Kicked Pie July off in a depressing fashion with a steak, bacon and cheese traveller pie from the Sev, which I wolfed while walking down the street to a meeting, dusting crumbs off my clothes as I walked in the door. Some people don't like the cheesiness, but I enjoy it.

Monday 4 July – Spinach pie from Big Harvest. They have reformulated their spinach pie since last Pie July. It used to have quite thick, flaky filo pastry and thick chunks of feta visible within. Now it is much thinner, with quite a thin, shortcrust sort of pastry, no visible feta and it is very salty. Also, it is now round as opposed to rectangular, and I feel as though the slices are smaller and not as good value for money. Points go on for the thinner pastry (the thicker pastry made the old version quite dry) but go off for the saltiness.

You are also at the mercy of which side salads they have on a given day. I didn't really want the rice salad but the only other alternatives were a heap of grated carrot, a heap of grated beetroot or a heap of white beans. My favourite Big Harvest salads are the lentil, feta, mint and sundried tomato (shown), the risoni with parsley and a yoghurty dressing, the mega-couscous and the ordinary couscous with tandoori chicken pieces (they never fail to inform me that this is a dollar extra, even though I am in there at least once a week).

Tuesday 5 July – Steak and onion pie from Pie Face on Swanston Street. Pie Face is that chain where the pies are stupidly expensive and have little facial expressions on them; on the plus side, they seem to be open all night. My pie's facial expression was quixotic to say the least; it didn't even look like a face. I got this pie while hurrying to the MIFF program launch at the Toff, because I hadn't eaten all day and couldn't be sure whether they'd have food at the launch.

I ate the pie out the front of Curtin House with scant regard for dignity. It was really tasty, full of nice chunks of beef, but very hot and the gravy was too liquidy and difficult to eat while standing up and using the bag it came in as a plate. I had to suck on it like a Sunny Boy.

Later that night, after free MIFF booze… I had an apple pie from McDonald's. I figured that this would compensate for not having eaten any pies over the weekend.

Thursday 7 July – Chicken and vegetable pie from the bakery at Coles Fitzroy. I brought it back home where I ate it while perusing the MIFF program and planning coverage for the Thousands. It was quite tasty, unexpectedly.

Sunday 10 July – Dinner at parents' house. Dessert was a frozen deep-dish apple pie with a crumble topping. I had it with custard and it was delicious for a frozen mass-manufactured pie. The topping was especially tasty.

Wednesday 13 July – Mexican pie from Williamson's Pies in Chapel Street. Big Harvest had seriously let me down earlier in the week with its terrible lack of spinach pie – I had to have soup instead. However when I went to collect mail from The Enthusiast's PO box in Prahran, I stopped off at Williamson's afterwards and decided on this pie because I was curious about what it might involve.

The filling looked much like a regular beef pie – not especially reddish like chili con carne – but it had extra chilli and capsicum in it and was quite spicy. It tasted good and I enjoyed it, but later it made me burp gross Mexican-flavoured burps, which I didn't like nearly as much.

Thursday 14 July – Beef and burgundy pie from Il Fresco, which is a café in Lygon Court shopping centre. I picked it up on my way home after seeing the French film Beautiful Lies at the Nova, because I knew I had to go straight home and write it up for that day's Thousands. I had forgotten that 'beef and burgundy' implies 'beef bourguignon' which implies mushrooms. It was a nice surprise to find these in the pie.

Later that night, I had several Portuguese tarts. Michael Pham brought a bag of leftover baked goods from his cafe Tiny to the Thousands relaunch drinks, and I couldn't stop at one because they are goddamn delicious!!! Also, I was drunk.

So there you have it – Pie July. I told you it was desultory. I'm thinking next year I'll do "Dry & Dry July" (ie, cocktails made from dry vermouth and dry ginger ale) which is a nicer riposte to Dry July because it actually involves drinking alcohol.

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