THE CASK WHISPERER
Blog by Nigel Walsh
Two Pie, Two Mash, Eel Liquor
People are never sometimes always asking me:
“Cask ale? Is that it? Is that all there is to life that matters?”
So, I have to set them straight, every now and then:
“Of course not, that would be silly, you have to have pie too!”
And it is a fact; the very best thing to have with a fine pint of the real stuff is a meat pie…
… a proper meat pie.
… with mashed potatoes.
And where would one purchase such a pie around here?
It just so happens that Jones Wood Foundry has you covered there.
Not only is it the epicenter of cask ale on the UES, but they make a wicked meat pie of the day, with chips or mash… go for the mash for the authentic Cockney experience.
Well, it would be authentic if I could persuade Jason to cook up some eels in parsley sauce to go with it.
Ewwww, I hear you saying:
“Isn’t the sauce going to be slimy?”
Of course not, (except when it is), it will be saucy… and green… and luminescent.
And don’t call it sauce, it is liquor.
Back in the day, there used to be three Pie & Mash Shops (oh yes, there is such a thing) in Upton Park in East London, each a mere throw-in distance from West Ham United’s old Boleyn Ground; one right opposite the tube station, another in the covered market between the tube and the stadium, and the last and best, Nathans on Barking Road, two doors down from the Boleyn pub.
What they sold was almost exclusively pie and mash (one pie one mash, two pie one mash, two pie two mash… you get the idea) with eel liquor, although the locals and brave adventurers could also opt for jellied eels if so desired, all washed down with a pot of strong tea… unless you took it down the road to the Boleyn, to wash it down with a pint.
Sadly, all three are gone now as is the stadium, but the Boleyn is still there and is still a fine-looking pub with fine tasty cask ales.
But, enough of that misery stuff, we should celebrate instead with a proper pie and a pint.
But what is a “proper” pie?
For the answer to that, the Cask Whisperer (CW) will be consulting with the Pie Whisperer (PW) – he will know.
CW: What makes a proper pie?
PW: Well, it needs two crusts to start with?
CW: So, a pot pie is not a proper pie?
PW: Nope, just a stew with a lid.
CW: And those big steak pies with a flaky mountain on top?
PW: You are kidding, right?
CW: What about shepherds’ pie?
PW: Okay, so there are exceptions, but make sure that there is lamb in it, unless you are going to call it cottage pie.
PW: Oy, the number of places that mis-label this.
CW: Any other criteria?
PW: Glad you asked… a proper pie has two different pastry crusts.
CW: Go on…
PW: The bottom crust should be a suet crust, light but strong and elastic; you don’t want it to fall apart if you decide to pick it up with your hands to eat.
PW: The top crust should ideally be a rough-puff but you could get away with a short crust sometimes.
And now you know, and yes, the pie of the day at Jones Wood is always a “proper” pie.
I should know, it is my meal of choice whenever I pop in the pub for my weekly weekday session.
I was in JWF after work last Tuesday and had three pints of Winders and a pint of Avalon, all on cask, and lumped it all down with…
… bangers and mash.
Well, you have to mix it up sometimes.
Scorecard w/e 09/26/23
In the past week, The Cask Whisperer has enjoyed the following casks:
- Dutchess Avalon @ Jones Wood Foundry
- Old Glenham Winders @ Jones Wood Foundry
Upcoming Cask Festivals
11/4/2023: 19th Annual Blue Point Cask Ales Festival