GN Focus | Eat

Six of Dubai’s best... mince pies

Features Writers Gareth Kurt Warren and Thomas Billinghurst leave no stone unturned in their quest to find a store-bought mince pie that tastes home-made

  • GN Focus
  • Published: 00:08 December 16, 2012
  • GN Focus

  • Image Credit: CLINT EGBERT/Gulf News
  • The Lime Tree Café
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Festive season in the UAE means family, shopping, Christmas food and the rains flooding Sharjah. However, a new addition to the checklist has emerged over the past few years — mince pies.

Made from fruit mince, these little guys are a British Christmas fixture and have now become 
de rigueur here in the country as well. The pies are usually filled with a mixture of raisins, apricots and cherries, but sometimes also includes apples, nuts and 
spices such as nutmeg, cloves 
and cinnamon.

The recipe is simple: a small shortcrust pastry filled with fruit mince. However, shortlisting, sourcing and tasting these pies were far from easy. But we gathered them all, and then the EAT team proceeded to do what they do best: Eat.

 

The Lime Tree Café

This is a mince pie when you see it. However, it does start to confuse you when you begin to eat it. Lime Tree Cafe’s mince pie is rather rich and buttery, though extremely crumbly and dry. The pastry is soft and delicate, probably because of all the butter in it, but it is not one of the best mince pies available in the market now. It tastes like Christmas pudding masquerading as a mince pie. This might have been the intention, however, in the process, the essence of the traditional mince pie is completely lost.

Rating: 2/5
Price: Dh12 for one
Location: The Lime Tree Café
Contact: 04 349 8498 (Jumeirah Beach Road)

Spinneys

The mince pies from Spinneys are like what your mum would make. They do not taste mass-produced and have a home-cooked feel to it. The pies are not as doughy as Lime Tree’s offering and are rather crispy. The filling tastes of marmalade though it can do without the generous powdered sugar on top. Two of these bad boys and you are done. Three or more and you are the Energizer Bunny. Points for price; Dh12 is a good deal considering that you get six decent mince pies for the price of one in other establishments.

Rating: 3/5
Price: Dh12 for six
Location: Various
Contact: 04 349 9688 (Jumeirah Beach Road)

Costa Coffee

Costa’s mini mince pies are the right size and look like how mince pies should — with the star-shaped pastry hat and a light amount of powdered sugar for that calm white-Christmas feel. The crust is crumbly but sturdy enough to hold the delicious, but soft and sweet mincemeat within. The pies offer a strong cinnamon aftertaste and evoke the true spirit of Christmas. The mincemeat is not that sweet, so you can eat a few without worrying about the dreaded sugar crash. These pies are definitely one of the best available in the country. Good going, Costa.

Rating: 5/5
Price: Dh9 for two
Location: Various
Contact: 04 339 9839
(The Dubai Mall)

Walkers

These mincemeat tarts come devoid of any fancy, twirly crust or dusting of icing sugar and look fairly innocuous. You expect very little from it, but that is until you take the first bite. Then it explodes with flavour — rich, spicy, tangy, sweet, all perfectly balanced with the buttery crispness of a crust that is almost perfect — not too doughy, chewy or dry. These are easily one of the best pies available, after Costa’s little wonders. Best described as Christmas in your mouth.

Rating: 4/5
Price: Dh25.50 for six
Location: Waitrose
Contact: 04 434 0700
(The Dubai Mall)

Marks & Spencer Butter Rich Gluten-Free

This variety is the healthier of the three pie options available at Marks & Spencer, the others being the puff pastry and classic lattice mince pies. An uber-healthy lifestyle does have drawbacks, as these pies are light and tasteless compared to the rest. They are incredibly delicate (we lost two in transit and one during the photo shoot). The pastry is a lost cause, though the filling is sweet and meaty enough to redeem the entire experience. The health-conscious would love them, but there are better mincemeat pies out there.

Rating: 2/5
Price: Dh34 for four
Location: Marks & Spencer
Contact: 04 339 8890
(The Dubai Mall)

Marks & Spencer Classic Recipe Puff Pastry

These pies are exactly what you imagine them to be — fruit mince in a puff pastry. If you are not a fan of shortcrust pastry or generous filling then these will ensure you have a merry Christmas. Stating that the filling is non-existent is an understatement. This mincemeat pastry is about 80 per cent puff pastry,
10 per cent filling and 10 per cent air. So even though the puff pastry is light, buttery and does not flake much, the pastry could do with more filling.

Rating: 2/5
Price: Dh30 for six
Location: Marks & Spencer
Contact: 04 339 8890
(The Dubai Mall)

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