How an Italian Journalist Learned to Love Good, Honest Kiwi Pie

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As a food-loving Italian immigrant, I recently embarked on a journey to enjoy New Zealand’s humblest and seemingly most common food – mince pie.

My guide for this food learning experience was Andy MacDonald, an outdoorsman from Nelson who once owned a business that made dried food for hikers, but now works as a photographer.

Enjoying simple food isn’t as simple as one might think, especially today with contemporary cuisine reinventing all the traditional staple dishes.

But Andy convinced me that hash pie could be the closest thing to an Aotearoa New Zealand national dish – but please don’t blame him – so I took on the challenge. discover what makes a good pie.

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The first problem was that we didn’t know where to start. We live in New Plymouth, but Andy being from the South Island and me from Italy, we didn’t have a good understanding of the local pie scene.

Federico Magrin's mother will always be the best cook in the world, but the Italian has also learned to appreciate kiwi tart.

ANDY MACDONALD/Stuff

Federico Magrin’s mother will always be the best cook in the world, but the Italian has also learned to appreciate kiwi tart.

So we decided to go where everyone goes when they have trivial and seemingly unsolvable problems: the Internet.

After posting on social media, Andres Pies, Blagdon Bakery, Coronation Bakery and Smoko were the most commented bakeries, and the price range of their pies ranged from $4.90 for Andres to $6 for Blagdon.

Because I am a foodie who likes to stick to the traditional method but had my first pie in Australia only a few years ago I decided to call Peter Gordon for advice on pie appreciation puff pastry and tasty minced meat.

Peter Gordon is one of New Zealand's top chefs and knows more than a thing or two about what makes a good pie.

Provided

Peter Gordon is one of New Zealand’s top chefs and knows more than a thing or two about what makes a good pie.

Gordon, a chef who has been in love with pies all his life, said to pay attention to the golden ratio

The batter could not be too thin, or too thick, or too much sauce, or too much meat – and the color had to be uniform.

“There’s no right or wrong with flavors, and baking equals filling,” Gordon said, but the key was the balance that filled your mouth with taste.

Pies are a Kiwi staple and would give leg of lamb a good run in the race for the national favorite dish.

Chris McKeen

Pies are a Kiwi staple and would give leg of lamb a good run in the race for the national favorite dish.

Now I was brought up eating different Italian regional dishes every day (and yes, my mum will always be the best chef in the world) so you could say I have an experienced palate, but I thought I needed another notice. Just to be sure.

I phoned Bakels Supreme Pie Awards Chief Judge Tim Aspinall for help.

There were three things to look for in a minced pie, Aspinall said. These were, as you would expect, the lower dough, the filling, and the upper dough.

Aspinall, who has served as a judge of Bakels since their inception and chief judge for the past six years, recommended a two-to-one ratio for ground meat and sauce.

The results of the Bakels Supreme Pie Awards are still highly anticipated.

Chris McKeen / Stuff

The results of the Bakels Supreme Pie Awards are still highly anticipated.

Now better prepared to understand what we were eating, Andy and I embarked on our pie adventure.

We made sure to follow their suggestions and took decent bites of the rich sauce and buttery pastry, keenly aware of the textures and tastes we experienced and the sounds of satisfaction we made as we tried four of Taranaki’s best.

So which pie was the best? Well, that’s a hard question to answer because they were all very good. But we might have a winner.

Blagdon hit my foodie spot with its balanced flavors and Smoko had the best crust in town. And while Andres’ pie is as golden as an ingot and has been delighting the mouths of New Plymouth for decades, the mince pie we loved the most came from Coronation Bakery.

It’s hard to put into words what we experienced while eating this pie, but the look we exchanged after cracking it open and gobbling it down says it all.

It was the one pie we were looking for – the ultimate Kiwi dining experience.

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