But a pie competition begs the question – what makes a truly great pie? That is up for debate. But in this race, there are some criteria to be considered:
Outside of that, it’s anyone’s game. We’ve seen the list of competitors slugging it out to the top and it’s going to be a tough one.
Ballarat is just over an hour west of Melbourne, and with plenty on during Plate Up Ballarat, there’s plenty on to make it an easy autumn getaway. You can check out the full program here.
Here’s our guide to some of the weird and the wonderful, but don’t let us sway your decision. The only way to pick your winner is to try them!
The not-so-little piggy
Pork & Cider Pie by Café Sidra, 321 High St, Learmouth
Cider brewed with heritage apples grown just 3km away, and local Learmouth spuds and Nelson Springs pork from just 5km away make this a hyper-local and seriously delicious contender. Slow cooked with a gorgeous grave and fluffy puff pastry lid, this one is satisfyingly simple.
Cider match: 321 Cider Traditional Still
Mushroom & Leek Pithivier Pie by Craig’s Royal Hotel, 10 Lydiard St, Ballarat
Local produce at its finest from Ballarat Mushroom Farm, Mount Prospect Produce and creamy Holy Goats Cheese. Tastes as good as it looks and is sure to be filling Insta feeds everywhere.
Beer match: Red Duck Beer Kolsch Bright Ale
The Nanna Norma
Moroccan Lamb Shank Pie by The Forge Pizzeria, 14 Armstrong St, Ballarat
Nanna Norma knows her way around a good pie. Her recipe combines slow-cooked Victorian lamb shank, Meredith Goat Cheese and local baby spinach in a traditional crust. Hand cut beetroot chips and a little feta make a plate that echoes the Mediterranean. Thanks Nanna!
Beer match: Red Duck Beer Amber Ale
Cheesy Brisket Mac & Cheese Deluxe Pie by Freight Bar & Restaurant, 49 Mair St East, Ballarat
Not for the faint of heart, the motto for this pie seems to be ‘go big, or go home’. Slow-braised brisket is smoked and combined with local mushrooms and topped off with a mac ‘n’ cheese lid made with Inglenook Dairy Milk and Goldfields Farmhouse Cheeses. You’ll probably want a nap after this one.
Beer match: Athletic Club Brewery Amber Ale
The Local Comfort Pie by the Local, 313 Lydiard St, Ballarat
We love a veggie option that doesn’t make us feel like we’re missing out. Perfect shortcrust pastry is filled with sweet and sticky caponata and white bean with local olives. All the flavour and heft of its meaty counterparts, this one will be a hit with the most dedicated carnivores.
The sweet one
Pear, Blackberry & Rosewater Pie buy The Lane @ the George Hotel, 27 Lydiard St North, Ballarat
Local fruit is encased in a sweet citrus shortcrust pastry and served alongside Inglenook Dairy clotted cream and Il Piccolo gelato vanilla bean ice cream.
Confit Duck & Mushroom Pie by RACV Goldfields Resort, 1500 Midland Hwy, Creswick
Local Ballarat mushies and duck from Nhill are topped with a smooth truffled mash in a bold little package that will keep pace with even the richest of beef pies. A smoky tomato relish made from local Yendon Gourmet Tomatoes cuts the richness of the pie perfectly.
Beer match: Red Duck Beer 1851
Lamb & Rosemary Pie by the Western Hotel, 1221 Sturt St, Ballarat
Fall-apart tender Waubra lamb, creamy mash and mushy peas: a classic done right. Nuf said.
Beer match: Cubby Haus Brewing, ESB – Extra Special Bitter
‘Banh U’ Pie by Saigon Allee, 30 Armstrong St North, Ballarat
This might be the dark horse in the race, but its unusual appearance and flavours might just make it a surprise winner. This Vietnamese pie is made from glutinous rice, roast almond, shredded coconut and mung bean. Wood ear mushrooms are the hero here. Everything is then wrapped in bamboo leaves and cooked for four hours. You might not recognise its unusual shape but it’s warm, hearty and filling, just like any good pie.
Beer match: Athletic Club Brewery Pale Ale