Month: May 2014

Pie 66: The Fulham ‘Steak’ Pie

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Down by the Riverside...
Down by the RiversPie…

It has taken nearly 16 hours of sleep and general slovenliness today but finally it is time to say welcome back to Meat Filled Pastries and Pie 66 on my quest to tell you about the best pies around. Today’s malaise has been brought as a result of a couple of days spent in London with the Tartan Army. This particular adventure took me to Craven Cottage a ground I have always wanted to visit for its refusal to turn itself into a cantilever carbon copy of so many grounds in the Premiership. The cottage in the corner with its 72-seat capacity, its sudden emergence from the heart of west London’s leafy suburbia and the river bubbling by at the side of the stand all designed to endear the ground to football traditionalists everywhere. At this stage I should probably confess this review may come across as a little fuzzy as a 7am flight from Glasgow meant that come kick off time at 8pm the same day I was rather well lubricated. I’ve also made the assumption that this pie would be the same pie provided should I attend an actual Fulham game, as I’m not sure if there is a long history of meat filled pastries in Nigerian culture.

So without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!

Where: Craven Cottage, Nigeria v Scotland, International Friendly

Price: Considering Craven Cottage’s location in one of the more affluent areas of one of the most expensive cities in the world it should come as no surprise that this pie left a sizeable dent in your wallet. That dent was to the tune of £3.80, the equivalent of about 3 Scottish Junior Pies! Despite my suspicions being proven correct it still prompted an ‘Excuse Me!?’ (the language may have been tidied up a bit here), as the young chap behind the counter opened the till.

Presentation: I wonder if they would have knocked a pound of the price if I had just asked for a napkin?!? This pie was pimped. First at the base was a small cardboard holder producing additional shielding from the heat generated at the base of the pie transferring itself to the tinfoil case it was sitting within. Slotted between the cardboard holder and the tin foil case was a square of picnic-like greaseproof paper, totally superfluous to the consumption of the pie itself in that it did not help to hold the pie nor clean your face after its consumption, however, this was not the most ridiculous thing about it. Oh no, that was reserved for the plastic fork plonked, and I mean plonked, directly into the middle of the pie!

A B#**@@”ING FORK! Do the delicate digits of the nearby Belgravians not appreciate getting down and dirty when it comes to eating a pie? Look girls, take off the silk gloves, tuck in your pearls, get your hands on this meaty marvel and get right set about it, if you get a bit of gravy on your chin then wipe it off with the napkin provided and then touch up your make up in the closest WC. DO NOT EAT A PIE AT THE FOOTBALL WITH A B#**@@”ING FORK. I challenge anyone to try to eat a pie with a plastic fork and see how long you last before your throwing it away in anger and getting elbow deep in your pastry.

Meatiness: This is probably where this review is going to go downhill a bit as it is at this point that my review notes stop and my memory will have to come in to play, so I apologise for what may be about to follow. Reviewing my notes I am able to tell you that the meat inside was formed by large chunks of steak, my preference when eating a luxury steak pie, but from here though it’s a struggle. I’m assuming there was an abundance of gravy as when I woke up in the morning a gravy smattered napkin was in my jumper pocket and I do remember thinking that the pie was well seasoned within. Whether or not it was £3.80 worth of well seasoned? Well, a second trip may be required.

Pastry: Now for some reason I have a pretty good memory of the pastry. The top of the pie was a thick-ish layer of puff pastry, the kind of puff where you can noticeably see the layers and it flaked nicely as I bit down. The top of the filling and the bottom of the top crust mixed well and although there were a couple of spillages more than likely down to my compromised dexterity the pie held together well throughout. The edge of the crust where the walls and top met were a little thick for my liking, a minor grumble but that thick edging would have no doubt broken any plastic fork that attempted to break it down.

Overall: A good but pricey steak pie that kept this drunk man’s hunger at bay. It was presented like a box of chocolates and it would be remiss of me not to say that eating a pie by the riverside was how I’d like all my pie tastings to be. There was no scotch offering but that was to be expected.

Gravy Factor: Look, you just don’t eat gravy with a fork no matter how luxuriously it’s priced!

Another pie done, I’m almost tempted to call this a bonus pie, purely on the basis that I wasn’t expecting to remember it sufficiently for a coherent review but I think I’ve done a pretty good job considering. There’s still a few more pie reviews to come before things kick off in Rio at which point I’ll be taking a break from the pie chat for a few weeks.

However until, next time go forth an eat pie!

Pie 65: The Scottish Cup Final ‘Steak & Ale’ Pie

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But that's not a Pie!
But that’s not a Pie!

Hello and welcome to Meat Filled Pastries, all about the pastry of all pastries the humble pie. This latest review comes from The Scottish Cup Final at Celtic Park between St. Johnstone and Dundee United and as you may have already noticed I have had a camera related mishap when it comes to the capturing the one bite expose that graces every review I do. Put simply I haven’t saved it. I took it. I know I did because I remember looking at the picture and thinking what a tiny looking bite I had taken but alas as I went to upload it there was no picture to be found. That however doesn’t mean there will be no pie review.  I ate a pie and you need to hear about it so instead of a pie glistening in the sun you have my view from the stands as Dave Mackay lifted the trophy for the first time in St. Johnstone’s 130 year history.

The other thing to make you aware of is that I have broken my own rules by not having a simple scotch pie on my first visit to Celtic Park since this blog has started. Instead as a fitting tribute to the celebratory feel that the cup final provided I dived head first into the luxury market safe in the knowledge that I will return to Celtic Park soon as a member of the Tartan Army.

So it’s a luxury steak and ale offering this time round, so without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!

Where: Celtic Park, St Johnstone v Dundee United, Scottish Cup Final

Price: At £2.90 this pie certainly had a price that matched its luxury status with only Pie: 36, The Hampden Curry Pie, being more expensive on my journey so far. There was an option to combine as part of a meal deal which would save you 10p or so overall but I ignored this option. Even with a potential 10p deduction this pie had some pricey expectations to meat, and yes I am aware I’ve spelt ‘meet’ wrong but sometimes a pie pun is too good to miss. Moving on….

Presentation: Before I actually get to the pie itself I feel I should let you know how this pie arrived in my paw. Whilst standing in a queue that was clearly going nowhere fast I noticed a refreshment hut solely devoted to pies. I booming love this idea as I approached the counter there was no queue and I was served straight away. Obviously I was delighted to have my hands on some hot pie but saddened that the chips, burgers, hot dogs and even pizzas (which looked rotten by the way) brigade continue to force their way into the football snacking market. It wasn’t just that though there was also indian and mexican food stands each offering their own alternatives to our grizzly pie faced veteran. Some will say variety is the spice of life and, in general, I wholeheartedly agree with that statement but a football ground is not where you should experience your first taste of cuisines from around the world, it was all just a bit annoying. As for the pie itself it was presented in a tin foil case with a slightly larger than normal napkin, pretty standard although I couldn’t hep but notice the sheer size of it and suddenly £2.90 didn’t seem too bad at all.

Meatiness: Recently I have found the steak pies I have been offered have shied away from the tender meaty chunks approach of pie preferring a texture closer to the cheaper scotch pie equivalents, on this occasion however I am happy to report the return of the meaty chunks. It’s these chunks of pull apart tender steak that really make these pies worthy of the luxury name. There can be no debate about the fact you are eating meat and it means the gravy, that was well seasoned with a lovely malty background taste from the ale, can truly wrap itself around the chunks and be assessed independently in its own right as i have jsut done. This was a really tasty pie and as I have alluded to earlier the filling inside was generous to the extreme, this was no four bite wonder but a full ten minutes of happily nibbling away.

Pastry: The pastry was a classic puff all the way round with the top hanging over the edges of the tin foil case in which it resided. This however caused a problem with the lid coming clean off after a couple of bites, something which I will do if a pie is presented to me on a plate but not the most convenient of things when standing in a football ground. Luckily my years of pie eating experience meant that I could strategically place each bite so that by the end I was left with only a small mound of meat to scoop up with my fingers. The pastry was lovely although a few knobs of butter short of being truly great but given the volume of the meat it provided a well judged counter to the richness within. This pastry was far more than a receptacle for the meat inside.

Overall: I really liked this pie, especially the additional of ale in the gravy. The malty notes it gives when mixed with the chunks of gravy are a taste sensation that all pie lovers should at least get to try once. It was huge and  although still a bit pricey by the time I finished eating I certainly didn’t feel short-changed. The top was loose but what was inside more than made up for it, maybe not quite the best ‘Steak & Ale’ pie I’ve had but as an overall package I would certainly have it again.

Gravy Factor: Chunky Ale Gravy! Yum!

A pie certainly worthy of a cup final, my next review, alcohol intake permitting, will be from Craven Cottage as Scotland take on Nigeria. I’m disappointed that the Michael Jackson statue will not be there to pose beside but a Tartan Army trip away is always an adventure not to be missed.

However until nest time, go forth, and eat pie!

Pie 65: The Hamilton Accies ‘Steak’ Pie

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STEEEEAAAAAK!!!
STEEEEAAAAAK!!!

Not much of a pre-amble to this latest addition to my ever growing pynasty. It’s another pie review from that 12 goal extravaganza at New Douglas Park and a return to the luxury market. As it stands there will be at least 3 more reviews before the season ends but I’m going to keep their locations a secret for now.

So, without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!

Where: New Douglas Park, Hamilton Accies v Morton, SPFL Championship

Price: Breaking the £2 barrier at £2.10 not the cheapest steak pie that has been offered up to me but by no means the most expensive. A 30p upgrade on the standard scotch version at the home of the Accies.

Presentation: Much like Pie 64, (The Hamilton Accies Pie), this was presented in a tin foil cases and wrapped in a medium sized white napkin. There was no severe heat coming from the aluminium foil which is always a sweet relief when handling a pie presented in this nature. A point of note, something which may be present in all tin foil cases but has so far alluded my eyes, is that in the base of the cases there was 3 small holes pricked in the bottom. No big deal you would think but in actuality this is a rather ingenious way to prevent the pastry steaming and sticking to the bottom of the case, thus ensuring that your pie maintains it’s structural integrity. Something I will certainly be keeping my eye out for in the future.

Meatiness: A steak pie that was from the coarse mince school of luxury as opposed to earning its stripes with meaty chunks or a mixture of both. Personal preference dictates that I love a meaty chunk, the additional texture it provides is always a winner, but the benefit of getting a more mince like consistency within your pastry is that the sauce feels more oozy and generous. It was maybe a spoonful short of being filled to its optimum level but the taste was perfectly pleasant and well seasoned. It was however rather no frills, and although the extra 30p was worth it I was again left with a slightly generic memory of this pie.

Pastry: As is so often the case with a footballing steak pie this had  standard case with a puff pastry top.  The pastry fell apart a bit as I was eating it but that was more due to my appetite cajoling me into taking bites that my mouth clearly could not handle. Whilst the ceiling of the pastry was lovely, soft and flaky it did not mingle in as great as volume as I would have wanted with the gravy inside. Soft pastry kissed with meaty gravy is truly one of life’s pleasures and I felt in this instance I was a little robbed.

Overall: Once again my belly was full and my taste buds were suitably appeased but I felt this was a pie that was lacking in a bit of sparkle and pizzazz, although the discovery of holes in the tin foil is certainly something worth keeping an eye out for.

Gravy Factor: It’s a steak pie at the end of the day, and who doesn’t love a steak pie. Sustainable Gravy.

As the season comes to a close I have to admit to a bit of pie fatigue, it’s a hard thing for one man to write about on a weekly basis but the compliments and words of encouragement from those that read it drive me on to eat more pies. Such a hardship!

Anyway my next pie might taste like silver polish and confetti…..

Until next time go forth and eat pie!

Pie 64: The Hamilton Accies Pie

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A Pie for Scholars or Academics if you will
A Pie for Scholars or Academics if you will

 

For me there is nothing worse than the football season to still be running and then waking up in the morning with the realisation that your team is without a game. Sometimes you have some forethought and a Plan B is well and truly in place and other times it just creeps up on you. The other week it just crept up on me and I found myself at 12 o’clock on a Saturday scouring the fixture lists for something meaningful to attend. The hash tag #helicoptersaturday led me to New Douglas Park and to perhaps one of the most remarkable games I have ever seen. Needing an 8 goal swing and for Dundee to drop points I watched on with my jaw genuinely on the floor as goal after goal flowed in and the pipe dream became a distinct possibility. Alas it was not to be as at Dens Park Dundee claimed all 3 points but for me and the couple of thousand fans at Hamilton on that Saturday afternoon we all left with a story to tell. A story of Hamilton Academicals 10 (TEN) Greenock Morton 2.

My point? If you have a choice between a day in the pub watching Soccer Saturday or actually going to the game then the smell of the grass and the ringing of the tannoy should always win out because at the end of the day you could end up being there to witness a little piece of history.

Anyway, the other benefit of attending NDP on Saturday was a chance to consume yet another pie, or 2 as it happened and so, without much further ado, let’s rate some pie.

Where: New Douglas Park, Hamilton Accies v Morton, SPFL Championship

Price: Focusing more on my belly than this here blog my initial pie purchase was done without taking a single bit of notice about the number of gold nuggets that had left my hands to pay for this meaty morsel. Luckily a cursory glance at the price list on a second trip to the refreshment stand revealed this scotch pie was priced at £1.80, competitively so for an SPFL Championship level pie.

Presentation: As classical as the medium sized white napkin is at non league level in Scotland the addition of a tin foil tray for your pie to sit in is the classical interpretation of presentation often presented to fans in the upper echelons of the game. Nothing ground breaking here.

Meatiness: I’m not going to lie, I had almost totally forgot to make my tasting notes about this pie and initially I felt guilty that I had let my tasting standards slip but now as I write this latest review my feelings have changed. You see, the reason why I almost forgot that I had a review to do was that this pie was almost instantly forgettable. Not to say that it wasn’t a perfectly serviceable footballing snack. It had all the right components. The meat was seasoned reasonably with a hint of pepper and it was packed snugly into its pastry surround however I found it lacked the moisture and natural lubrication that a little fat brings to your pie, praise the lord for the return of the brown knight of the pie table Mr. Sauce. As such it lacked a meaty punch and after the final bite had passed my lips I was left with that hollow feeling that only a mass produced pie could leave. It was just a little bit boring.

Pastry: The pastry was also achingly dull and sadly it also seemed incapable of holding the meat inside. As can be seen as soon as I lifted the pie to take my one crucial bite expose it felt apart limply when not supported by its shiny tinfoil shield.

Overall: Ach, it was just a bit dull. I didn’t hate it but when you consume as many pies as I do and then burden yourself with the task of writing about them then you need to find something exciting to write about these pastry jewels. In this case I was thankful for the game going on around me.

Gravy Factor: Sorry folks but it’s a Bog Standard Bisto.

Well this didn’t really meet the heights of the game I had the pleasure to attend but hopefully the next review, Hamilton’s Steak Pie offering can save the day.

Until next time though, go forth and eat pie!

Pie 63: The Glenafton Athletic ‘Onion’ Pie

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Monday Night Pastries
Monday Night Pastries

Hello and welcome back to Meat Filled Pastries. Home of the greatest sporting snacks that Mother Earth has so generously bestowed upon us. This pie review is written with more than a splodge of sadness, not for the ketchup blob you see before you, but because this pie symbolised the end of my 28 year run as a football fan without suffering the heartache of relegation.  I’ve  put a positive spin on it in my latest non-pie piece for Meat Filled Pastries, ‘Relegation: It’s Not All Bad, Is It?’ (http://wp.me/p3Q7wL-34), and the fact a whole new world of pie has been opened up to me is one of the few shining lights at the end of a pretty terrible season. However let us not dwell on such matters, I am a pie professional and as such I will give a fair and honest assessment of this Monday evening offering from the world of Scottish football.

So without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!

Where: Loch Park, Glenafton Athletic v Pollok, West Superleague Premier Divison

Price: You know what, I’m not even writing it. If you keep up to date with Meat Filled Pastries you know how much a junior football pie is………….

………OK, OK, it was £1.20 but the only reason I tell you know is because I realised half way through that previous sentence that some of you may not keep up to date with my stories of pie, and whilst I chastise you for doing so, I am nothing but a benevolent host.

Presentation: This was presented in a polystyrene try which when looking around also doubled as a chip holder. It meant that the pie’s heat was kept safe froom my palm although it also led to it not being held as securely as it would have been snugly fitted into my hand whilst wrapped in a napkin. Which brings me to the other point about the presentation, there was no napkin, meaning that I had to resort to the ‘rubbing-your-hands-together-really-fast-so-that-all-the-spillages-either-absorb-into-your-skin-or-drop-off-altogether-technique’. A slight distraction from the game going on around me. As I surveyed the pie before me I did find myself wondering that if this was a Saturday afternoon and not a Monday night things, in the presentation stakes at least, may have been very different.

Meatiness: Speaking of things that were different there was no brown sauce! No golden brown tang to smatter on my pie! Once again I put this down to it being a Monday night but it didn’t make it any less distressing. Saucing issues aside this was a tasty, well seasoned if somewhat wet pie. I say wet as opposed to greasy because although there was plenty of moisture within the pie at no point did I feel a tidal wave of grease flowing down my gullet although I did feel it crumble a little with every bite I took. As a result of this it was really messy to eat but I was enjoying it. The other thing that struck me was that despite no indication as to this being anything other than a standard scotch pie it was clearly of the oniony persuasion. It was laden with large pieces of translucent onion adding a note of sweetness I have came to expect from an onion pie. I kid myself that an onion pie counts as 1 of my five-a-day but I feel confident in saying this offering is the closest I have came to eating a vegetable on this journey. I just wish there was some brown sauce.

Pastry: As I said the pie filling itself was quite wet and as I hope you can see from the one bite expose above this caused the pie to fall apart somewhat as I ate. First the pastry walls, although crisp at the top, started to cave and then the base slowly fell apart in my hand. In the end I was actually quite thankful for the polystyrene tray as it provided a perfect boat shaped receptacle for this pastries meaty cargo.

Overall: As onion pies go this was pretty good it was incredibly moist without the flavour being washed away however I cannot condone the lack of napkins and brown sauce. A taste sensation in the mouth but more than a handful when it came to its consumption.

Gravy Factor: Can you get anything moister than gravy? If so this is it. Moist Gravy.

The next review from Meat Filled Pastries will be from New Douglas Park home of Hamilton Academicals where I had the pleasure of watching THAT game.

However until next time, go forth and eat pie!