Now if I’m being honest my hand was forced a little so this new aspect to the blog is perhaps debuting a little earlier than I had anticipated. As a 5th week of non-league fixture call offs rolled in I found myself wrapped up in the magic of the cup and a trip to Edinburgh to see if Spartans or indeed Berwick Rangers could continue to defy the odds as for either of these clubs to be Scottish Cup quarter finalists is a feat not to be sniffed at. On my arrival to Ainslie Park I was greeted with a sea of humanity draped in red and white or black and gold. A crowd of over 2500 to see a game that in normal circumstances would be luck to even see a fifth of that. This is where the problem arrived. Usually I like to arrive early to the ground to ensure a pie is destined for my belly but on this, the most busy of days, the fates conspired against me. The incredulousness in my voice when I was offered a hot dog instead was perhaps a tad too far but it was then matched with relief that my trip to Edinburgh had not been in vain and a Haggis and Neeps Pasty was on offer.
So with a meat filled pastry in hand, all be it in a slightly altered format, let’s rate some pie! Eh, I mean pasty!
Where: Ainslie Park, Spartans 1-1 Berwick Rangers, Scottish Cup 5th Round
Price: We enter new territory here, as I have no point of reference for pasty prices. My inclination would be to say that these goods should be no more or no less than the humble pie but we’ll see how things pan out. This offering was £1.50 a relative bargain and certainly nothing to complain about.
Presentation: This was curiously placed on a paper plate with no accompanying napkin. Now I’m willing to let the absence of a napkin slide as a table just beside the hatch could well have been housing a batch of mouth cleaning softness but I have a small issue with the plate. For all the benefits it gives in gathering any meat and pastry spillages it is also an awkward thing to hold whilst juggling a drink and programme. You’re also unable to roll a plate into a ball and put it in your pocket should no bins be present thus resulting in a bit of impromptu origami. This is just personal preference, but unless you know what you’re providing has a high moisture content then wrapping your pasty round a napkin is fine by me.
Meatiness: It’s still a meat filled pastry so we shall still be assessing the meatiness of this offering and boy what a treat this was. Once you got to the filling, more on this later, you were greeted first with a lovely warm hit of smooth peppery haggis, spiced as you expect with the occasional pop of oats as you chewed through. Surprisingly though the real stars here were the small squares of neeps (in this case I’m guessing using swedes to take on the mantle, both by the colour and taste) tucked in and around the haggis adding little bursts of sweetness to cut through the spice. The filling here was sublime, an absolute triumph and lingered longer after completion had been completed.
Pastry: One of the good things about a pie is that by in large the pastry to filling ratio is pretty consistent aided by its hot water crust foundations with other pastries however, such as this pasty, the pastry will tend to be puff in nature and so the balance can vary quite significantly dependent on where you go. In this case there was perhaps a little too much pastry as my first, vegetarian friendly, bite would suggest with me unable to reach its meaty core until bite two was completed. Don’t get me wrong the pastry was flaky and tasted as golden as it looked it was just a little bit much although I’m pleased to report that it stayed together well at my mouths command.
Brown Sauce: With no obvious well for the sauce to sit in, as found atop a pie, no sauce would be forthcoming to this pasty.
Overall: A bit heavy on the pastry but wowsers what a filling, a helluva introduction to the world of non-pie based pastries.
Gravy Factor: Burns Night Gravy. Worthy of a national bard.
Well that is how you set the standard when you’re the first of a new breed, I look forward to seeing how others rise to the challenge. Next up though we will be returning to where it all started with a scotch pie offering from Airdrieonians.
Until next time go forth and eat pie! Or a pasty!
Chris Marshall, is a BJTC accredited Radio Journalist with an honours degree in Communications & Mass Media from Glasgow Caledonian University. He has contributed to prominent football sites including Pie & Bovril, The Terrace Podcast, The Football Pink and The FBA’s as well as featuring in The Scotsman, STV and a number of other media outlets. A perennial Scottish Sporting Optimist with a passion for food that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.
Guess what? It’s time for another entry into the Meat Filled Pastries Hall of Fame. Yay! Before we get started I want to share one of the many reasons why I enjoy venturing to football down the leagues on a weekly basis. My first game of football was part of generational tradition, my dad was taken by his dad, he then took me and, if I ever screw the nut and stop gibbering on about pies, I would like to keep that tradition going. We always stand in the same place, with the same people around us, different ages and backgrounds all gathered to take part in the joy of a Saturday afternoon at the football.
A lot of the time, the discussions would continue long after the final whistle had gone in the pub round the corner leaving me with people who have been watching football for 50, 60 years and regaling stories of a time when the team were so much better than they are today. I love that. The unity that football brings amongst those who would more often than not be strangers. Unfortunately this past week, one of those friends passed away, but instead of being sad about the life that’s been lost I’m thankful that I took the opportunities I had to listen to the stories he told and for the continual enjoyment that this ragtag group of football fans bring me. I’d strongly advise that if you’ve sat or stood beside somebody for years and never said hello then get your thumb out your bum and fling out a wave, if all else fails you can always talk about the football.
This week, as a small tribute, this review is for Bill. So without much further ado, let’s rate some pie.
Where: Cliftonhill, Albion Rovers v Berwick Rangers, SPFL League Two
Price: £1.50, a price that I couldn’t see but one that the ladies behind the pie counter at Cliftonhill were happy to provide. About average for the level of football on offer in Scottish League Two.
Presentation: A break from the classic white napkin…well kind off. It was a bit smaller than usual and it appeared to be pulled from a larger roll as opposed to an individual offering, but it was most definitely white. I think the next pie I have that does not come wrapped in a white napkin of sorts, I will nominate for entry into Le Louvre.
Meatiness: I would call this a proper mutton pie, well filled without being overly so. The meat was moist from it’s own juices and fell apart like a good pie should once bitten, almost perfect in texture. There was a lovely hit of pepper, not spicy but enough to notice it and the taste itself was totally changed once a bite was taken with the incredibly tangy brown sauce that was provided to squirt on top. If I hadn’t already had my lunch I most likely would have got another one.
Pastry: The pastry was a standard crust, contributing to the overall pie eating experience without blowing me away. It held up well and there was no spillage as each bite was taken although the top was a little loose which meant the last two mouthfuls involved using both left and right hands. The pastry shouldn’t have to be the star of the show and in this case it wasn’t but deserves an honourable mention as part of the supporting cast in this mouthful of meat.
Overall: A tasty pie, with the right mix of meat, pastry and spice. The brown sauce, as I said earlier, was extremely tangy and I imagine for some palates would be a bit too much but for me added another dimension of flavour that my taste buds enjoyed.
Gravy Factor: Jolly good gravy with an optional brown sauce inspired tongue tingling kick.
One more thing before we scrunch up the napkin of pie 47 and set our sights on more meat filled pastries. I have often said that pie makers at football grounds should do more to advertise their meaty wares. Well, I’m happy to report that at Cliftonhill there was advertising a plenty championing the name of JB Christies, who after a bit of research turn out to be quite the pie makers. If you make the pies, then make sure we know about it.
Next stop for Meat Filled Pastries, weather permitting, will be Penicuik Athletic from the East Region of the junior football scene but should that fail then the next stop on this tour of pie could be you!
Until next time, go forth and eat pie!
My latest piece for www.thefootballbloggingawards.co.uk looks at the new found tradition of kicking the ball out of play when a player goes down ‘injured’ go have a look it’s almost as good as all the pie chat.
Did you know you can Subscribe to Pie? Simply go to www.meatfilledpastries.com and hit the ‘Follow’ link on the right and you will get an email advising of the glorious news that a new pie blog is ready for your consumption and while you are at it why not have a look at ‘Leading The Line’ a blog not based solely on Pies, crazy I know! The link is on the left hand side, and remember to visit ‘MeatFilledMerch’ for all your pie fashion needs where any personal profit made will go to The Grambler: Kick Cancer’s Backside Fund’ a truly worthwhile cause.
The Pie Rush continues.
One of the joys of the early season is that the fixtures come thick and fast and as such so do the meat filled pastries. Now for those amongst you asking where Pie 14 has gone, it was the second pie consumed at my last footballing adventure but doing a review on the same type of pie is not the game here. If I start getting really adventurous some kind of ‘Pie Totalizer’ may materialise but for now number the pie’s I review is the best way to keep count.
This is ‘Meat FIlled Pastries’ first venture into the SPFL so without further ado, lets rate some pie!
Where: Ibrox Stadium, Rangers v Berwick Rangers, Ramsdens Cup 2nd Round
Price: A stand alone price of £2.20, I’d missed my dinner so got mine as part of a Meal Deal with a drink and a bar of chocolate (Double Decker) for a whopping £5.50! The price you play for a ‘higher’ standard of play, plastic seats and the inability to move about I suppose.
Presentation: Encased in a silver tinfoil case with a small plain napkin. Not really a lot to say here to be honest.
Meatiness: A nice meaty scotch pie, with that all important hit of pepper, making the most of the mutton inside. As can be seen in the picture there seemed to be a cavity in the middle where more meaty goodness should have been hiding for my delight. No gravy but the pie was suitably moist.
Pastry: The edges were slightly on the teeth-breaking side in some places, although as can be seen I still managed to get a good bite out of it at the second attempt. The base held up well and avoided the dreaded undercooking, turning your tinfoil case into a soup bowl and leaving you cursing the size of your napkin.
Overall: The first brand attributed Pie, as the menu board helpfully advised the supplier as McGhee’s. A nice pie, but for £2.20 you would want better than nice. It is worth noting that HP was the Brown Sauce provided here and that in itself is a rare treat.
Gravy Factor: To give it any more than a Bog Standard Bisto rating when it costs £2.20, for something that is not out of the ordinary, would be doing other pies on this journey a massive disservice.
Did you know you can Subscribe to Pie? Simply click on the ‘Follow’ link on the right and you will get an email advising of the glorious news that a new pie blog is ready for your consumption.