Sheffield Pie Shop, Savouries on the Highway

Meat pie is serious business in New Zealand, as it is in Australia. When one comes across a pie shop, it will specialize in meat pies, unlike in the U.S. where “pie” is synonymous with a crust filled with cooked fruit. Meat pie is so ubiquitous in NZ that it must surely be a national snack. It’s such an important adjunct to the Kiwi diet that an annual competition is staged for different categories of pie, including vegetarian—the Bakels Supreme Pie Awards.

One well regarded establishment, the Sheffield Pie Shop, is located in the small town of Sheffield along Highway 73, the major road that goes between Christchurch and Hokitika over the Southern Alps. Truckers take this route. Many stop at the shop to get a pie or two. We stopped there yesterday to pick up our lunches to have later at Castle Hill Scenic Reserve.

The shop is small, with very limited seating inside, a couple of small picnic tables outside. All the savory pies available for the day are displayed behind a glass case., several already sold out at almost noon, including steak and mushroom that I intended to get. I settled for mince (beef) pie. My wife preferred a sandwich instead.

The mince pie was quite good (☆☆☆), the mince, as ground beef is called down under, tender, moistened with an extremely savory gravy mixed with the right amount of tasty cheese (as cheddar is called). One bite and the filling oozed out and spread inside the paper sandwich bag.

Mince pie

Mince pie

Chicken tender sandwich with salad and satay was more tasty than it looked (☆☆☆). Battered and fried chicken was spread with a generous satay sauce that was interestingly tomatoey, sweet and tart, with peanut flavor. Kiwi touches included sliced hard-cooked eggs and cooked beetroot (as beet is called here), embellished with a slice of cheese, sliced cucumber and salad (as lettuce is called).

Chicken tender sandwich, salad and satay

Chicken tender sandwich, salad and satay

Sheffield Pie Shop
51 Main West Road
Canterbury, New Zealand 751
(03) 318 3876

Copenhagen Bakery (Christchurch, NZ)

Copenhagen Bakery sandwiches

Another business forced to close its doors after the September quake was Copenhagen Bakery located in the PriceWaterhouseCoopers Centre (now demolished). Known for its famous pies and pastries, it relocated to the Bishopdale neighborhood of Christchurch where it enjoys as much popularity as before. After a visit to the nearby Willowbank Wildlife Reserve, we went there for lunch.

On first visit, the selection is somewhat overwhelming. Not only is there a large choice of sandwiches, all on display behind a glass counter, but also all manner of quiches and, of course, their savory pies ($4.50 NZ). The pastry display is what you would expect of any decent Danish bakery, dazzling in its mouth-watering variety.

The sliced beef and mushroom pie was an umami bomb, thick with meat and mushroom filling made gelatinous with cornstarch, and encased in a very flaky shell. An outstanding meat pie (☆☆☆☆).

Beef and mushroom pie

The tomato soup (☆☆☆) was thick and creamy with admirable restraint on sweetness and embellished with a slight tartness.

Tomato soup

The almond and chocolate chip cookies we purchased afterward were delicious, rich with butter.

A second visit to the bakery was made three days later (July 27). The mince meat pie already sold out, the mince and cheese pie was a bit too cheesy (☆☆☆), suffering a little from a hot waxiness that typifies cheese pies.

Mince and cheese pie

The vegetarian pie (☆☆☆), filled with kumara (sweet potato), celery and bell peppers, is spicy and savory.

Vegetable pie

The daily special of mushroom soup (☆☆☆☆) was a masterpiece of mushroom flavor, thick and creamy with a touch of butter. It is a soup that should be a permanent menu offering.

Mushroom soup

Copenhagen Bakery
409 Harewood Road
Christchurch NZ 8051