Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Clark’s Pies, Cardiff

Clark’s Pies operate from a corner-shop in Grangetown, Cardiff. The history of Clark’s Pies can be traced back to the early years of the 20th Century and they are a Cardiff institution. The meat pies are nicknamed “Clarkies” or “Clarksies”. This week (Monday 19 Sept) a brand-new Clark’s Pies flavour was launched: Beef Tikka.

I went along to their shop today to get a selection of pies for dinner. They are all oval-shaped with a thick shortcrust pastry casing. The four flavours are now distinguished by an extra bit of pastry on top: square for Chicken and Mushroom, a circle for the Chicken Balti and a flower for the new Tikka. The Clark’s Original (available in small and large sizes) has a plain pastry top. Ever since 1934, every pie has the word "CLARPIE" stamped into the pastry on the bottom (“If it doesn’t have CLARPIE – it’s not a genuine Clarksie!”).

Clark’s Pasties - the Original (small, medium and large) and vegetarian Cheese and Onion - and a range of drinks are also for sale in the shop; along with Clarks Pies T-shirts, baseball caps, bottle opener key-rings, lanyards and other souvenirs (did I tell you it was a Cardiff institution). The actual bakery is out back, where they start baking at around 5.30am.

I was told that it was best to heat the pies for around 15-20 minutes in a hot oven; “they’re not the same in the microwave.” We ate them with chips, baked beans and some buttery cabbage.

First up was the Clark’s Large Original (it’s also sold in a smaller size), which comprises minced beef with potatoes in a gravy base. Apparently, it has remained largely unchanged for many years. It is a very tasty beef pie and got a big ‘thumbs up’ from everyone.

Next was the Chicken and Mushroom. Our youngest does not like mushrooms, so she passed on this one. The filling is thicker, and side-by-side I preferred the taste and gravyness of the Original.

The Chicken Balti pie was launched earlier this year. Clark’s describe it thus: “Chunks of chicken with tomatoes and onion in a spicy balti curry sauce…. with spice base of cumin, paprika, chilli, coriander and garlic”. The filling is like something you would serve on rice. It is very tasty. This would be good if you fancied a pie that was a little different.

Finally, the brand-new Tikka flavour. This is the original beef recipe with a spicy tikka flavouring. Described as “Tikka with Gravy” by Clark’s, this has the plus factors of the Original with a tikka flavouring, which is nicely understated. This was a hit with everyone here.

On the night, the Clark’s Original came out top, but if I was watching sport on a cold winter's day and wanted a warming pie I wouldn’t hesitate to choose the Tikka.

All the pies are characterized by a thick pastry casing, so they don’t require a tray. They are therefore very practical to eat on the move. Needless to say, many Clarks’ Pies are consumed in Cardiff on football and rugby match days.

Clark’s Pies have been made in Cardiff since around 1912. They gained in popularity during the 1920s, enabled Mary Clark to open the first Clark’s Pie shop in 1928, at 110 Paget Street in Grangetown, just around the corner from their present location (on the corner of Paget and Bromsgrove). For a history of the company and the family that has run it for four generations see the Clark’s Pies website:

Dennis Dutch, grandson of Mary Clark, opened the Bromsgrove Street shop in 1955. Here is his story on the We Are Cardiff blog:

There is a film and accompanying items relating to Clark’s Pies in the Cardiff Story museum. See my previous post on the museum:

This video on YouTube was filmed recently during a Clark’s Pies eating challenge at a Cardiff Blues game in the Cardiff City Stadium:

Clark’s Pies, 23 Bromsgrove Street, Grangetown, Cardiff CF11 7EZ
Shop opening times: Monday to Saturday 10:00am till 1:30pm

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