This pie maker makes a supreme effort to show me that pies are aplenty in Manila.
Aflurry and agog attending to the participants at Eat.Write.Love, I’m astounded when told that there’s someone waiting with some pies for me. Her name is Tina Raines, a most pleasant looking woman with a sparkle in her eyes. “I read your post where you said there aren’t any pies in Manila,” she begins by way of introduction, then says quite simply, “I make pies.”
Introductions aside, Tina tells me that my pies are outside and later as I’m en route to my house, I receive a text from her telling me to refrigerate the savoury pies and to freeze the meringue pie. “Sorry ha, I’m fussy about my pies,” concludes the text. I can almost hear her chuckle.
- Pictured here are the small pies, measuring about 4-inches in diameter. Larger pies are available.
I see in Tina a kindred pie soul, someone like me who can eat pie at every meal – something she does and I do. This predilection for pie began when she and her husband were living in Australia, sampling the crusty largesse of that country. While there, they wondered if pies would click in the Philippines, and “…since there’s no establishment [in the Philippines] that specializes in pies, we decided to give it a go.” She narrates. “We decided on savoury pies because we couldn’t find a place in Manila that sells meat pies made with a good crust.”
Note: Tina uses the British spelling of “savoury” (with a ‘u’) which I also adopt here for form and consistency.
Tina’s pie selection encompasses a wealth of inspired combinations tagged under headings like Gourmet (smoked salmon and prawns); Special (Callos, Chicken and Bacon); and Regular (Chicken Curry).
Her pie presents to me include Beef & Mushroom, Bacon & Potatoes, Callos, and Beef Curry. My favorites are the latter two, and I love the beef curry most of all. There’s something so fitting about curry in this pie, how it cuts through the beefy-ness of the meat, imbuing it with an added dimension of flavor. Then there’s the callos, which I would never have thought was such. But as my tongue explores the gelatinous filling with its echoes of smoke and chorizo, I realize that it couldn’t be anything but.
Of course a pie isn’t proper unless it’s got an impeccable crust; it’s just not pie otherwise. Tina enshrouds her pie fillings with a crust that defies description – it’s somewhere between puff pastry and a flaky crust. A golden brown cap conceals a cache of crust, every layer distinct and definable, precariously balancing a pocket of air and surrendering it only upon first bite. Heated and eaten while possessing a memory of warmth, every pie is a passport to pastry nirvana.
In the future, Tina hopes to personify her passion for pie with her own freestanding store. For now, she plays with new pie combinations like Chorizos with Spicy Gravy or Green Tea with Pistachios, melding them into wheat-free pastry and delving into vegetarian-friendly pies.
Tina also makes sweet frozen pies, ice cream pies really, using her own ice cream. I try the Frozen Lemon and Herb Meringue Pie which I illustrate here. I recommend it in the hope that Tina has already acted upon my suggestions to tweak the lemon level. It has the potential to be one praiseworthy pie, all aglow and aloft with its tufts of meringue and superlative homemade ice cream.