Are the world’s best pork pies made in Norfolk? Quite possibly…
By Louisa Sugden, Norfolk editor
Above: Bray’s Cottage pies. Pic: http://www.foodfad.co.uk
Long before I moved to Norfolk I discovered Bray’s Cottage pork pies on Twitter. It seemed that everyone in Norfolk was talking about them. On a day trip to Norfolk I then stumbled across Bray’s Cottage at a farmers’ market and I could instantly tell what all the fuss was about. Sarah Pettegree, founder and owner of Bray’s Cottage, is a firm believer that food is for sharing and that you should eat the best you possibly can. Sarah is proud to produce something that has famously been called the perfect pie.
I visited Sarah at Bray’s rural HQ. It’s in the most idyllic setting within a farm complex on the Bayfield Estate surrounded by fields, overlooking the sea above Cley and Blakeney in north Norfolk. I spotted several bird tables outside and could see that even Bayfield’s squirrels and birds get to enjoy Norfolk’s finest pies. HQ is efficiently laid out with a making room, a baking room and a large office. Handpicked wild flowers in jars are just a small indication of Sarah maximising the surroundings of her rural Norfolk enterprise.
Bray’s Cottage celebrates all things Norfolk, relishing sourcing and foraging local seasonal ingredients. Only best quality pork is used from a local Norfolk farmer. Wild garlic is foraged in spring and apples picked from the Sandringham Estate, further along the coast, in autumn.
Speaking to Sarah I could feel her passion for great food. We shared our favourite cookbooks and chatted about the abundance of fabulous quality producers we have in Norfolk. I was not surprised to learn that even though Sarah makes pork pies daily, she still occasionally craves one for her supper. As an ex-accountant, Sarah entered into the business with a very firm eye on the figures. A great business idea has flourished into a successful artisan business, a local employer and a local brand that is recognised far and wide.
My visit coincided with pork pie baking: the aroma wafting through the air was all consuming and heavenly. Sarah had been making a number of personalised celebration pork pies, an area of the business that is popular and growing. A personalised pie is a far more original idea than sending birthday, anniversary or Fathers’ Day cards. Far tastier too. And I can think of nothing more romantic than receiving a ‘marry me’ pork pie. Bray’s pork pie ‘wedding cakes’ are popular for brides and grooms looking for a more relaxed, non-traditional approach. Each tier is a different flavour and feast for the eyes as well as the tummy.
Bray’s Cottage pork pies are available throughout Norfolk and around the UK in cafes, tearooms and farm shops – see the website for a full list of stockists.
Next time you see a hot-water crust pork pie in Norfolk, I bet it will be a Bray’s cottage pork pie!
Bray’s Cottage HQ, 3 Bayfield Brecks, Holt, Norfolk, NR25 7DZ, 01263 712958