Where to find Suffolk's best pie

IT is better known for the quality of its fish and chips rather than the high standard of its pies.

Craig Robinson

IT is better known for the quality of its fish and chips rather than the high standard of its pies.

But now hungry visitors will have to add one more gastronomic highlight to their list when visiting the seaside resort of Aldeburgh.

For Lawsons Delicatessen, which can be found in the town's High Street, has just been crowned Suffolk's supreme pie champion.

The inaugural competition was part of this year's Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival and attracted around 17 entries from delis, pubs, hotels and farmers across the county.

There were two classes - pork pies and raised pies - and all entries had to be made in Suffolk and as far as possible from local ingredients.

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The winners from each class then went head to head to be crowned “Pie of Pies” - an accolade that eventually fell to the pork pie of Lawsons.

Runner up was Metfield Bakery in Snape, which created a raised pie of veal, ham and egg.

All of the ingredients used by Lawsons were sourced locally - right down to the seasoning which came from the garden at Aldeburgh's Red House, the former home of composer Benjamin Britten.

Claire Bruce-Clayton, who runs the deli with her partner Richard Lawson, said: “To be honest I didn't expect it at all - I knew the meat was lovely but it came as a big surprise.

“There were some really good contestants and when I looked at the pies they were all fantastic.

“As well as the right balance of flavours I think we also got the texture right. A lot of the pork pies that are made commercially they tend to mince up - it's almost like a paste in your mouth. However I made a point of producing something that was a little meatier.”

Caroline Cranbrook, president of the Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival, said the aim of the competition was to put Suffolk on the pie map.

“It was a very nice competition,” she said. “What was interesting is that I had emails from pie enthusiasts in the north of England saying they wanted to know more and we even had a gentleman from Sheffield who came especially to see.

“Claire was very meticulous - the ingredients were all sourced locally, right down to the herbs. I was very encouraged and I hope we do something similar next year.”

Prizes for the competition were donated by Adnams and also Ipswich Town Football Club, which supplied the prize for the overall pie champion - an opportunity to go along to a match and present the winning pie for tasting in the press lounge to all the media.

The competition was the brainwave of Bob Foyer at Saxmundham's Bistro at the Deli and was judged by food writers and journalists Matthew Fort and Rose Prince, together with Julie West, chief executive of Tastes of Anglia.

She said: “Congratulations to Claire Bruce-Clayton at Lawson's Deli. The range and scope of recipes entered was amazing and the pies were stunning - a meal in themselves.”

Mr Fort added: “Britain leads the world in pies. At their best, they are one of our national glories and the pies in the competition showed just how good they can be. I ate myself to a standstill and still wanted more.”