Now, I am aware that it isn’t really pie-eating season, but with the weather, frankly, a goddamn disgrace for this time of year (what’s new), I’m thinking sod the bikini bod and let’s all eat pies – Lidgate pies to be precise.
Lidgate pies hail from Lidgates, one of London’s most esteemed and long-standing butchers, situated on Holland Park Road in a very posh part of west London. Run by Danny Lidgate and his father David, Lidgates has been in the family for 150 years and is famed for its meticulously selected and expertly butchered choice of free range, grass-fed and organic beef, lamb, pork and poultry. Sourced from farms and estates that include Judith Freane (owner of Brown Cow Organics), Highgrove (home of Prince Charles) and Gatcombe Park (home of Princess Anne), Lidgate meat is about as high quality as it comes – and while you might pay the price for such provenance, you really, really notice the difference.
Proper butchers, like Lidgates, are a sadly diminishing breed (from the mid-nineties to 2010, the number of butchers in the UK plummeted from 22,000 to just 6,553) but I sometimes think they could do more to help themselves. By this I mean learning to: 1) market themselves better (for example, how many butchers use social media?); and 2) cater to the time-poor modern customer better by offering ready-made (but, note, home-made) things such as pies, bologneses or lasagnes.
Now, Lidgates might not be on Twitter or Facebook, but when it comes to offering things that extend beyond the standard cuts of meat, it is on the money, providing everything from chicken nuggets (yes, proper ones) to beef stir fry, kebabs, lasagne and many other dishes that one would usually find in the ready-made section of the supermarket (the modern butcher’s greatest threat).
Its pies are so delicious that they have taken on a life of their own and are now quite famous really. I purchased my first quite recently, on my way down to Devon for a holiday with The Heid’s family. They had rented a house on Prawle Point on the South Devon coast and, feeling sure that no-one would fancy cooking on our first night there, I volunteered to bring down one of Lidgates’ award-winning chicken, ham and mushroom pies. It was expensive (£80 – £15 less if you return the dish) but easily fed 12 and made, as it was, with fresh, free-range chicken, home-cooked ham and a richly flavoursome home-made chicken stock (which soaked flagrantly into the flaky, buttery pastry), it made us all very happy indeed.
So happy in fact, that if these disappointing weather conditions persist, I have vowed to go and buy myself another Lidgate pie (it’s only £5.75 for a single portion), then – no matter if the summer’s rained off, or if the wind batters down my door – I will be happy. Yes, happy as pie.
110 Holland Park Avenue
Holland Park, London
T: 020 7727 8243