The name Carlin is synonymous with pies for many Beijingers, so we were delighted to have an opportunity to sample his wares for this week’s Shunyi Family Foodie.
“I’ve been a chef and restaurant owner, originally in Melbourne, for 36 years,” Chris Carlin told us. “I came to Beijing just over three years ago, and started a restaurant serving western food, in Changying, east Beijing. We kept trying to find things that worked with Chinese clients, and finally found the pie niche. We started selling them to expats, now we also send our pies to Shanghai, Wuxi, Shandong, and lots of other areas in China, to expats and to Chinese customers.”
My family all picked a pie to try. Joseph (age 9) went for the Chunky Beef and Cheese, while older brother Noah (12) braved the Mexican Chili. My wife opted for Italian Saged Lamb, and I decided I had to road test the classic Aussie Meat Pie. I also couldn’t resist finding out what a Bacon & Egg Pie might be, and finally we couldn’t miss out on his hugely popular Ham & Cheese Pasty.
I had hoped to serve them with chips; not french fries, but proper English chips, big, fat, and seasoned with salt and vinegar. As is so often the case though, the potatoes from our local supermarket weren’t up to chipping, so we went for the traditional mash instead, with stir-fried leeks, beans, and asparagus. An Aussie wine seemed the only appropriate choice, so we plumped for a Merlot, not wanting to overwhelm the more subtle flavor of lamb.
The lamb was indeed flavorsome, the chunks tender and the herbs well judged. Noah pronounced the Mexican Chili not too hot – I tried a bit, and the spices were warming rather than mouth-numbing. Joseph scoffed his beef and cheese pie with great enthusiasm.
The meat pie, meanwhile, gave me a Proustian moment, where I flashed back to the pies of my childhood. The pastry is firmer than that of 2 Guys and a Pie, crumbly rather than soft; which style you prefer is a matter of taste. It was the filling though, rich and utterly satisfying, which brought a nostalgic mist to my eyes.
The Bacon and Egg Pie turned out to be nothing more exotic than a quiche Lorraine – which at least explained the comment on the menu that “real men would eat this.” It was certainly a robust and manly take on the recipe. And it was easy to see why kids would wolf down the Ham and Cheese Pasties, which deliver their favorite flavors in a handy package without all the additives a shop-bought equivalent would contain.
To sample Carlin’s tasty, affordable teatime treats, scan the QR code below.
Photos: Karen Killeen