Look into the window of this Harborne High Street pensioners favourite, and the display of bright red beef untroubled by marbling, pre-marinated meat and the frankly terrifying/hilarious lamb “long-boat” might make you wonder why I have sent you here ….
Don’t be scared dear reader, such off-putting wares are to protect the shop from any influx of foodies/food bloggers/hipsters/Southern shandy drinkers from getting to the prize on offer: the legendary Walter Smith Pork Pie.
It’s like the bit at the end of Indiana Jones and the Holy Grail.
If you have braved the display and have come inside, elbow past the trolley-wielders waiting to blow their still warm post office cheque on half a pound of stewing steak and a couple of kidneys and fight your way to the cooked meat counter.
Try not to worry too much about corned beef and haslet. Instead, in your best Brummie – ask for a large pork pie. Those are the ones adorned with a ‘Great Taste Award’ sticker, and for once the judges are bloody spot-on.
Before eating, take a good look at your treasure. Marvel at its reassuring dark, burnished exterior of perfectly baked short-crust pastry. Cut into quarters, or simply sink your teeth in. Note how the filling is made of just the right proportions of pork meat and fat. Enjoy the hit of black pepper and spice at the back of your throat. Delight in the correctly judged jelly component which hardly ever reminds of dog food.
So then, truly a king of pork pies, and certainly better than any I have tried in the East Midlands (Yes, I am trying to start a second civil war in the Midlands, bring it on Melton Mowbray!).
Whilst you are there, you may wish to note the availability of plentiful ham hocks, usually at giveaway prices. Their pork sausages are also way above average, and if you are in the mood to BBQ they can usually rustle you up a few racks of pork ribs or a whole pork shoulder on the bone.
Just don’t get between the elderly and their tea.
There are other branches of Walter Smith across the midlands, check their website for details.