– Guest post by Paul Simeon –
After seeing Stonehenge with a large group of friends, we went in search of a place for lunch. We were looking in a nearby village and happened upon a nice-looking place called The Ship Inn in Upavon. I don’t know how it got its name, being far from water and not resembling a ship. It did have a castle right behind it, which provided a nice setting for a midday lunch in the back patio of the place.
Let’s get down to business, the food. Many people got hamburgers. Someone ordered a ploughman’s lunch, which was a big chunk of bread with large wedges of cheddar and brie and a few slices of ham. Apparently cheddar is uncommon in some parts of Europe as some hadn’t heard of it. I was in England, so I had to get something distinctly British — steak and kidney pie. It looked like a quarter of a full pie, with a side of vegetables and mashed potatoes. It was good, nothing unexpected, nothing disappointing. There wasn’t much kidney, but that wasn’t a problem. I much prefer the steak to the muddy texture of kidneys. It set me back about 8 or 9 pounds. If I went again, I’d get the same thing, unless I were not that hungry. Then, I’d get the ploughman’s lunch, which comes with or without ham.
Back in Oxford, I asked a local for a good place to eat near the Covered Market. She replied with a sandwich-and-panini shop and Pieminister, a good place for pie and mash. I decided to scope them both out before I made my decision. I walked the crowded Saturday streets to the crowded Saturday market. There were shops of all types, including fresh meat and fish markets. I feel bad for the creperie directly across from the fish market. Somehow, they still had good business. The panini place didn’t seem too interesting; it seemed like the type of place I would go to for more regular, everyday meals where I don’t want too much unhealthy food.
Pieminister was a place that served just one thing: pie and mash. That’s meat pie (and vegetarian pies), not dessert pie. They had about 10 types of pie with beef, chicken, pork, potatoes, cheese, and other fillings. I wanted the chicken and tarragon pie, but they were out. I settled with the Heidi Pie, filled with sweet potato, goat cheese, spinach, red onion, and roasted garlic. I got the student special, which was advertised to come with “pie, mash, minty m’peas, and groovy.” In other words, it came with the pie placed on a heap of mashed potatoes, and covered in a scoop of mashed mint-flavored peas, all smothered with gravy. It was 5 pounds, but it was 6.50 without a student ID. I think a pie alone would be around 3 quid.
Where do I begin? I guess it has to be with the peas. The mint flavor didn’t go with the rest of it, in my opinion. It was strong enough to taste it through a big bite with everything mixed together. Mint doesn’t seem to mix well with other things, except chocolate. The pie was good. Sweet potato was the most abundant filling, by far. The crust was great, as usual. Everything was savory and blended well, except the mint. I could barely finish it all. If I came again, I’d go for the chicken and tarragon pie with mash, no peas.
Other bites in England:
– Oxford dinners – part I and II
– Cheap Moroccan grabs from Cous Cous Cafe, Oxford
– Indian food in Oxford: Mirch Masala and Fire & Stone’s Bombay pizza
– England’s healthy fastfood chain: Pret A Manger