On Saturday afternoon I headed over to Deal to celebrate the launch of Paramour Pie Club's new Pop Up Pie Hub at the back of The Jolly Gardener pub on Golf Road. Do you remember all of those beautiful, intricate and imaginative pies at the Walmer Food and Drink Festival? They now have a permanent home Thursday to Saturday where you can go and buy (and eat in and enjoy a cup of tea if you'd like) pies (and they're launching sides soon), talk about custom orders, attend pie workshops and enjoy one off supper clubs.
In a simplified version of Paramour Pie Club's back story, Cherry, a theatre designer and art director and Peter, a stand up comedian (among other things in the acting world) met in London, but swapped city life for theatre quieter life on Paramour Street in Ash. They used to run a supper club in Brixton, and all of the farm shops and farmers markets stuffed with local produce here in Kent inspired them to get into pies made with local, imaginative fillings. Starting in the wind (and probably the rain!) on Margate sea front at their first pitch at Cliftonville Farmers Market, they quickly started popping up all over East Kent, and sometimes back in London at some of their food markets, too. Within a few months they were already getting nominated for (some pretty prestigious) Kent food awards, and now the Pie Hub is their first permanent home.
Their offerings are varied and seasonal; a mix of their core classics and fan favourites, and whatever they've come up with showcasing the very best of local products from farm shops, suppliers, and right from the growers. You'll also always find something meaty, vegetarian, vegan, gluten free and sweet on the menu. I can guarantee you'll find something you fancy if you just stop by, but you can also find out whats cooking on their website. They have also listed their prices and delivery charges on that page, too. Personally, I think that their mini taster pies would make the best canapés for an alternative garden party.
Shall we try some of the pies? First we have mini taster versions of my absolute favourite pie Peter and Cherry were serving up at their launch party, a little, open topped pork pie topped with apple sauce. The pork was rich and packed with flavour, the apple sauce both sweet and tart (essentially, perfectly balanced) and the pastry crisp. I must take this opportunity to apologise to some of my other launch attendees because I think I may have had a few more than my fair share of these! Also here we have their award winning Mr. McGregor's pies, a great mix of chopped rabbit and leek. Even if you've never had rabbit before, I urge you to try one.
Down the non-traditional route, these vegan and gluten free Root and Nut Pies really turned heads. I just saw them as delicious mouthfuls of carrot and beetroot (breaking all negative expectations of free-from foods), but in fact they're polenta flower pots, filled with a roast beetroot and garlic cashew ream, topped with a carrot kofta and a fennel frond. I think more pies should be this stylish.
Another favourite which I think everyone was piling in to make sure they got a slice of was their fan favourite of a wild boar plait, studded with pickled damsons, drizzled with local Kent honey, and sprinkled with Kentish hop flowers. I'd really recommend buying a few slices of this for a picnic; I'm sorry to say it, but this is so much better than the ham and quails egg studded sausage plait I usually make to take to the Easter Point to Point.
As the Pie Hub is on the back of a pub, you can also open up into the bar for a local pint and a bit more seating with your pies. The Jolly Gardener is under new ownership so worth a visit even if you've been there before; on the days when Cherry and Peter are not serving up their pies, you'll find authentic, Italian style stone baked pizza on the menu instead. The same owners have also taken over one of my locals, The Hare and The Hounds in Northbourne with an all Italian menu which I'm also keen to try.
Heading back to the pies, lets look at some of their sweet offerings. I did not get a chance to try the pear and cobnut, but I was head over heels for their rhubarb and custard pie/ tart. Each slice of crisp pastry is filled with a sweet, set, golden custard, studded with pretty pink, tart rhubarb chunks. The crumble topping just finishes the whole thing off; you'll want to save space for dessert.
Paramour Pie Club's Pie Hub may be just over 20 minutes walk from my office, but I'm still going to head their on a sunny day as I can't wait to try more and more of their offerings. If you're local, I urge you to pop down and check out the hub, seek them out at local markets, and keep an eye on their website for news of upcoming classes and supper clubs. Also, for more about the launch, check out the website of our local paper, the East Kent Mercury.