Charlie Bigham’s new ‘Swish Pie’ costs a small fortune at over £300. Stylist's Features Writer Lizzie Pook tucks in.
I’ve never had a meal that arrived in a silver briefcase before. Or one that was handcuffed to a security guard (ok, strategically employed male model with an earpiece and important-looking suit.)
In fact, I don’t think I’ve actually ever owned anything that’s worth more than Charlie Bigham’s ‘Swish Pie’ which, at £314.16, costs approximately the same as 200 Tesco’s cheese sandwiches.
The dish is essentially a ‘normal’ fish pie, but its ingredients have been substituted with the most up-market produce on offer. The fish is poached in Dom Perignon champagne, the bulk of the pie is made up of scallops, hand-caught oysters, Balik Salmon, fresh Turbot and white Alba truffle - all topped with Cornish lobster tails, gold crumb and two mother-of-pearl spoons holding Beluga caviar. Even the salt has been extravagantly sourced: harvested from the Piran Salt Pans in Slovenia.
I often buy my lunch from the reduced aisle in Sainsbury’s down the road, so the meal looked rather odd sitting on my desk for the day, next to my bottle of orange squash and Cadburys advent calendar.
A lack of oven in the Stylist office meant I had to eat the meal at home. After cooking it for 10 minutes or so, things started getting a little smoky; the lobster shells were burning. However, after another 20 minutes, at a slightly cooler temperature, the most expensive meal I’ve ever eaten was ready.
To be honest, most really ‘posh’ things I’ve tried in restaurants have been bizarrely small and oddly tasteless. And I certainly don’t have a refined palate (my ‘Death Row’ meal is a stuffed crust pizza from Pizza Hut), but I am a fan of lobster, so I gleefully tucked in.
Unfortunately, the tails were a bit chewy and bland, and crunched in unwelcome places, but as soon as I sliced into the pie I could see it was packed with warming fishy goodness. There were reassuringly huge hunks of tender lobster and delicious scallops (some of the best I’ve eaten). The salmon was succulent and the potato was beautifully creamy too.
But I would have preferred the dish to have a lot more seasoning. I like my fish slathered in garlic or butter; the overall taste of this was just a bit mild. Also, and apologies to all you great foodies out there, I just don’t know the difference between good truffle, and bad truffle; or between gold crumb and little bits of cut up Quality Street Wrapper. So to me, all this fussiness was a bit unnecessary with a simple comforting meal like fish pie.
Overall, I felt a bit uncomfortable eating something that costs as much as a Marc Jacobs handbag when there are people over the road who can’t even pay their gas bill. Even the wrapper is covered in gold - part of me couldn’t help thinking that this money could have been better spent on something a bit more charitable this close to Christmas. But hey, some people like to splash out, as is their right.
The remains of this lavish ready-made banquet are now in my fridge. And I think I still have a piece of gold leaf stuck in my throat. It wasn’t the tastiest fish pie I’ve ever eaten, but at least it’s not something I’m going to forget in a hurry.
Charlie Bigham’s ‘Swish Pie’ is available online at bighams.co.uk