Three Wise Men at a Chesterfield architects’ have been on a festive mission - to seek out Chesterfield’s star mince pie.
The team at Haxton Koyander on Glumangate embarked on their own Christmas taste test - and reckon they’ve lifted the lid on the winning mince-y.
In the quest for pie-fection, they valiantly ploughed through four dozen pies over 10 days - from hand-made versions by local bakeries to supermarket luxury and budget brands.
“It was a hard task but we currant give up,” said sweet-toothed managing director Alistair Haxton.
“I adore any pie, sweet or savoury, and to me, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the mincemeat version.
“I know a good one from a bad one. The filling has got to be right - not too sweet, with a tang of candied citrus peel and the warmth of Christmas spices in the mix.
“But poor pastry can also be a pie’s absolute ruination,” he said. “It needs to be not too dry but not too claggy or crumbly.”
Alistair staged an office mince pie test last year, but for 2018 decided to take it more seriously.
Architectural technician Scott Wood, 52, was keen to get stuck into the challenge.
But the youngest member of the team, fellow technician Bobbie Risorto, took some persuading.
He had never tried a mince pie in all his 22 years.
“They never appealed to me. But I was pushed to join in and our first sample, an all-butter mince pie from M&S, made me realise what I’d been missing every Christmas. It opened my eyes to a whole new world.”
The three each gave marks out of 30 for filling, pastry and taste, and didn’t mince their words.
The unanimous winner of the festive crown? With 75 marks out of 90, perfection in a pie came from a Chesterfield outdoor market stall, courtesy of Alfreton’s Bakery.
“It was big, juicy, full of flavour and very well constructed,” said Alistair after tasting a 37.5p pie (Four for £1.50).
“A crumbly pastry with a flavoursome mincemeat,” said Bobbie.
“Looks like one your mum used to make,” said Scott.
Another locally-made mince-y, bought from the Take A Break Cafe on Glumangate, took second place with 69 points, despite being the most costly at 52p per pie.
Proving that price isn’t always a true indicator of quality, though, the cheapest supermarket version, a 79p box of six Holly Lane pies (13p each) from Aldi came in third with 68 points, while one of the most expensive - a luxury offering laced with Courvoisier brandy from Tesco’s Finest range, scored a pasty 59 out of 90.
The Haxton Koyander Grand Mince Pie Taste Off 2018 - FINAL RESULT (in order)
CHESTERFIELD OUTDOOR MARKET STALL (ALFRETON BAKERY) - £1.50 FOR 4 (37.5P EACH)
Bobbie - A crumbly pastry filled with a flavoursome mincemeat (25)
Alistair - Big, juicy and full of flavour. A mouthful of Christmas (26)
Scott - Looks like the ones your mum use to make and tastes like them, too (24)
TOTAL - 75/90
TAKE A BREAK CAFE, GLUMANGATE - £2.10 FOR 4 (52P EACH)
Bobbie - Plain-looking, but great taste. A bit dusty (24)
Alistair - Lovely flavour but a bit too much icing sugar (23)
Scott - Nothing to look at but tasty and excellent value (22)
TOTAL - 69/90
ALDI (HOLLY LANE) - 79P FOR 6 (13P EACH)
Bobbie - Excellent for the price (24)
Alistair - Pastry edge burnt. Filling a bit dry (21)
Scott - Crumbled in the hand but melted in the mouth. Lovely. (23)
TOTAL - 68/90
CO-OP (DEEP FILLED) - £1 FOR 6 (17P EACH)
Bobbie - Amazing (27)
Alistair - Too crumbly and a flour aftertaste (19)
Scott - Good value but average-tasting. (21)
TOTAL - 67/90
CO-OP (SHORTCRUST) - £1.20 FOR 4 (30P EACH)
Bobbie - Nothing special. A bit bland. (21)
Alistair - Looked promising but too much sugar on top (22)
Scott - High pastry to mincemeat ratio but both were delicious (23)
TOTAL - 66/90
M&S (ALL BUTTER) - £1.80 FOR 6 (30P EACH)
Bobbie - My first mince pie. It opened my eyes to a whole new world. A bit pricy, but worth every penny (25)
Alistair - Average but nice flavour (19)
Scott - Delicious but the price lets them down. (21)
TOTAL - 65/90
M&S (LATTICE) - £1.50 FOR SIX, (25P EACH)
Bobbie - Nice taste but sadly not enough pastry for me. (24)
Alistair - Lovely but not cheap (20)
Scott - Light and tasty (19)
TOTAL - 63/90
TESCO (FINEST )- £2 FOR SIX (34P EACH)
Bobbie - Expensive and nothing special (22)
Alistair - Expensive. Courvoisier a hint rather than a full flavour (18)
Scott - Didn’t deliver the hype (19)
TOTAL - 59/90
CHESTERFIELD MARKET STALL (ALFRETON BAKERY)