Adventures in Pie Club, Sonoma Edition
As some of you will recall, several of us formed an International Pie Club with members from New Zealand (of course), Australia, Sweden, Venezuela, the UK, Netherlands, Germany, and the United States. It’s serious. As such, we take our duties very seriously. Though proper savory pie shops are present most prolifically in New Zealand, Australia hosts a bevy of them as well. Outside the Antipodes the pie sources begin to run dry with only a trickle appearing occasionally across a vast pie desert. Gratefully, an oasis appeared in Sonoma County.
A Kiwi family relocated to Windsor, California, in the northern part of Sonoma County just off the 101, and opened a New Zealand inspired shop, BurtoNZ Bakery. In truth that means they make a lot of various baked things you could expect to find at a relatively Anglo-Saxon-descent bakery, but they also fit in a host of savory pies, and this weird Kiwi-Australian dessert I never have liked so don’t recall the name of either. But, as I said, THEY HAVE PIE.
So, a couple of us Pie Club members got together and did a proper tasting in two different visits. For one of the visits potential pie club members were invited to submit their application to pie club and demonstrate their pie club tasting and review skills. They were being vetted for their potential pie tasting prowess. In the other, actual founding members furthered the investigation. Two visits also means more pie, and the time to try a greater range of pie flavors as well.
Following are notes from the tastings.
Notes from Pie Club
9076 Brooks Rd S, Windsor, California
Pies Tasted: Mince & Cheese, Steak & Cheese, Vegetarian, Steak with Potato Top
Served: White Bag Take-Away, Eaten Outside
Mince & Cheese tasted first. Good reliable standard crust. Reasonable mince & cheese filling. Cheese well dispersed and integrated. Mince far paler than that seen in a classic Mince & Cheese served in New Zealand. In a proper Kiwi Mince & Cheese pie one would expect the mince to be finely chopped and the details of the ingredients largely unrecognizable as a result, save for the occasional addition of light tomato. No tomato found here. No secrets either. All components of the mince were visibly recognizable due to larger chop size. Even so, solid workable pie. Good enough to cope with being away from New Zealand though no prize winner when back home.
Steak & Cheese. Good reliable standard crust. Cheese a bit more apparent alongside the steak than alongside the mince. Avoids dryness while also going light on the gravy. An okay pie. Mince & Cheese, however, is preferred here to Steak & Cheese.
Vegetarian. It is good and cute and friendly and nicely Californian of them to serve a vegetarian option. Way to integrate quickly into your newly adopted culture! However, as savory pie without meat seems a misnomer it is hard to take this pie too seriously. Nevertheless, one of the potential pie club members less indoctrinated into classic Kiwi pies felt the vegetarian pie was the best of the selections and chose it as his favorite. His application to pie club is unlikely to be accepted.
Steak with Potato Top. This is a damn good pie. Excellent steak filling with just enough gravy. The absence of cheese works to the advantage of this particular pie. Very good use of potato top. As everyone knows, a perfectly delivered potato top makes every one happy. It also offers a beautiful opportunity for alliteration when eaten in the proper location.
Potato pie poised in my paw beside the Pacific!
I’ll be back to BurtoNZ for road pie next time I’m heading north. Steak with potato top was the clear winner.
For previous notes from Pie Club, Central Otago Edition: http://wakawakawinereviews.com/2017/04/21/adventures-with-pie-club-for-david/
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As an American wino living in NZ for nearly 20 years these posts have been so great. You honestly can’t beat a good pie and bad pie is nearly soul destroying. Favourite: mince potato-top.
Just a thought; do you think the visual terroir of the location you’re eating your pie in might influence your critical taste judgement? I think almost everything tastes better on the CA. and N.W. Coast, in nature, without any obnoxious tourists around. Would the Pie Club be open to trying said pies in many locations to enhance the critical judgements even more?
Respectfully and hungrily yours,
Hi Robert, Very important consideration in fine tuning the techniques of tasting for pie club, clearly! In this case the pies were actually tasted in multiple locations – far from the ocean the first round with the Pie Club applicants, and beside the ocean as reported here. Very happy for your suggestions!