big pies

I marked my 40th birthday by cooking up a couple of gargantuan pork pies. These meaty beasts each contain fifteen pounds worth of prime English pork and Spanish pancetta, plus the usual smattering of herbs and spices (sage, thyme, peppers white and black, mace and a smidgen of chili powder).

The most interesting thing about the celebrations, however, was how neatly pigeonholed people have me. Of the 15 birthday cards I received, 11 featured pictures of cats and kittens, while the bulk of my presents were food related, apart from the two cat-a-pult sets I received from completely different people: scorpion vodka, weasel coffee, foie gras, several very nice bottles of wine (including one of 1966 vintage) a personally signed copy of HFW’s River Cottage Diary, a lovely set of crockery, and a wonderful chocolate recipe book from Green & Blacks.

Am I really that predictable?

Given that today I seriously considered spending £85 on a sandwich, then probably.

Given that tomorrow I’m going to eat in a pitch-black restaurant with blind waiters, then definitely.



  1. Reading this post made me hungry.
    A happy 40th to you!

  2. I’m having that superexpensive sarnie this week I tell you. It’s got all my favourite ingredients in it. IF I’m brave enough. If not I’ll just nip into Pret on the corner of Victoria Station. My favourite Pret…

  3. The millionaire’s sarnie was featured on ‘London Tonight’ tonight. Alastair Stewart, the veteran idiot, claimed it was delicious while his unsophistimicated co-anchor Some Woman complained about the smell. (Of the sandwich, not him)
    I had Kobe beef in New York last year and it was nice, but not all that. (I wasn’t paying obviously)
    I can’t believe you can’t make this sandwich yrself for a tenner. Seriously. I mean, what’s in it- Poilane bread- that’s a quid’s worth max, Foie Gras- won’t break the bank, posh brie- no more than two quid and about four ounces of beef. And something green, which would surely be optional in yr case.

    What was yr 1966 bottle BTW?

  4. Jelb, you have spoilt the surprise – of course I plan to make the sandwich.

    The wine is a Château Beau Site Bordeaux from the St Estephe region.

  5. I quite like the look of that Dan le Noir. Not that look is quite the right word in this case, but you know what I mean. Let us know what it’s like if you go.

  6. I missed that, but you’re quite right: the pork pie is a great cultural leveller.

  7. Sydney also has a version of the restaurant called ‘The dark side of Hyde Park”. I’ve been to go for a while but nobody else seems overly keen.

    The blind waiters is a nice touch.

  8. Dining in blackout conditions, eh? I can dig it, but I wonder how many extra napkins, bibs and/or eye-shields are provided. You know, for those who can’t get the airplane into the hangar without at least a glimmer of light.

  9. If any claret (outside a first growth) has survived it’ll be a St Estephe. Bonne chance!

    I have yet to read a review of Dans Le Noir which hasn’t commented on how foul the smoked salmon course is. Is it off, or just odd in the dark?

  10. What lovely presents Fraser, you must have some very thoughtful friends. However, I now cant stop thinking of black truffle mayonnaise.
    I’ve got the River Cottage book and also the Green & Blacks (which I approve of because they dont plug their own brand through it).
    On the subject of chocolate in recipies, an essential in my Chili Con Carne is at the final stages to stir in a bar of finely chopped Green & Blacks organic Bittersweet chocolate. Mmmm, watch it turn gravy-tastic. And dont forget the cumin.

  11. does this pitch-black restaurant have any connection with british war food and the blitz?

  12. You fucked the ‘4’ up.

  13. God i love pork pies.

  14. Hellfire, I’ve been out with some rough birds, but none so bad that I had to take them to a pitch black restaurant.

  15. The Green & Blacks cookbook has some great looking recipes in it. Yummy, yummy!

    My dog turned her nose up at G&B’s the other day. I had left 2 large bags of Cadbury’s Buttons, a tub of M&S choc mini rolls, 3 bars of G&B’s milk chocolate plus 1 large bar of G&B’s butterscotch chocolate (very tasty and not too sweet, surprisingly) in a bag whilst I went to work. It was gathered together as presents to take to the US for friends.

    She ate all the mini rolls, which required opening the top plus the two bags of Buttons but left all the G&B’s chocolate. This seems really suprising as the packaging is little more than wrapped paper. Needless to say, she suffered for her chocolate fest including (but not limited to) drinking loads of water.

  16. i like it very much.

  17. Hmmmm – Pork Pies. Back in the days before I went veggie (hey, twenty years on it still works for me) it was the mixture of pastry and meat filling that got me. It seems to me that with super-large pork pies the balance between the two would be skewed to far towards the filling. (NB pork pies are one of the few things that I occasionally miss.)

  18. Pork pies !! Yuck I m a veggie. But still sugary. Everything so sweet. Recieving 15 cards at 40 sounds great.
    Anyways Happy Birthday! u foodie u recieved all the nice stuff. Feeling hungary.

  19. I am wayyy hungover and ate a Quarter Pounder from McDonald’s (I’m in Chicago, fyi). Pork Pie? Hmmm sounds gross but I’m sure it’s quite tasty.

    Happy 40th!

  20. 2 weeks later an no blog, I’m guessing you didn’t make it to sefridges.
    They look a lovely set of pies though. Grats on the big 40.
    If I remember you tried the civit coffee a while ago, is the weasle coffee any more of a taste explosion? Picked from weasle sick rather than civit poo, yum! I’m off for a cappuccino!

  21. Educate me – what kind of spice is ‘mace’?

  22. Thanks! I wonder if it has any relationship to mace-in-a-can. Although “Hold it, I’ve got a close relative of nutmeg and I’m not afraid to use it!” doesn’t sound very scary.

  23. So had a blast on your 40th birthday. Cards,pork pies and lot of food related gifts.
    Belated happy 40th to you!!

  24. Man, you must have had the biggest grog bog after eating that. I can’t believe anyone could chow down on such big pies.

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