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Pie 129: The Girvan Pie

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Finally after what feels like eons, it’s time for a new pie review. Well that’s not strictly true as last month I once again dusted off the net lined hat, tow my white coat down from it’s trusty hook on my bedroom door and headed to my second Scottish Baker of the Year Judging Day in the Kingdom of Fife.

WHist the Scotch Pie Championships focus soley on the pie and is very much incumbunt on the piemaker deciding that their pie is the best of the best Scottish Baker of the Year relies on over 22,500 customers to pick their favourite baked goods from across the country. Split across seven categories I always worry about the early on-set diabetes that the cakes and biscuits sections will bring the judges there, whilst the idea of judging 100’s of loaves, looking for a grain even slightly out of place to differentiate between good and excellent, is to daunting a task for this man.

Luckily though, I was placed on home turf in the savoury pastry section and over the course of 4 hours me and my fellow judges heated, cut, fondled, sniffed and tasted 151 savoury treats all in the hope of finding the ultimate in Scottish savoury pastry cuisine. It’s always a fun if somewhat filling day and I think the winner is a belter, but to tell you what that is I’d have to kill you so whilst we wait for that announcement next month let’s get elbow deep into a pastry I can talk about, the latest entry into Meat Filled Pastries catacombs, the Girvan FC Scotch Pie.

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

Where: Hamilton Park, Girvan 0-5 Pollok, West Superleague Premier Division

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Price: £1.20. As this journey of pie enters its fifth (yes fifth!) year it’s still heartening that you can find a pie that won’t break the bank. £1.20 for a hot meal will always be a bargain.

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Presentation:  A classical presentation style with the pie being presented on a medium-to-large white napkin. Ample room to hold the pie and dab the corner of your mouth at the same time.

Meatiness: As the small sign on the heater proclaimed this was very much a butchers pie. The fill was generous to the point of bursting with the meat well textured and perhaps just a little bit coarser than you would normally expect from a scotch pie. Whilst scotch pies are usually kissed with pepper and mace, along with what ever other secret spices the producer decides to use, this pie was seasoned simply with salt and pepper allowing the flavour of the meat to really sing. The meat was savoury and although it took a couple of bites for my palate to tune in to this filling, once it did, I found myself nodding along with every bite, a sure-fire sign that this was indeed a tasty pastry.

Pastry: The good news continued with the pastry, I mean look at it! Not only incredibly neat but also golden around the bottom, top and sides with not a hint of under-baking where the meat meets the pastry, something that was strangely all too prevalent on the aforementioned judging day. It held up well to the bite and at no point did I feel a juggling motion was required to prevent spillage.

Brown Sauce: HP. It appears there really was no messing about with this Girvan Pie.

Overall: Now maybe because it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these reviews but this was a really good scotch pie. The filling was meaty and tasty despite not having my favoured pepper kick. The pastry was near as perfect as I’ve seen at a football ground and overall I contemplated on more than one occasion getting another one.

Gravy Factor: Fit as a Butcher’s Pie.

Yes, that was some good pie, and as I mentioned I very nearly went and got a second but then, the next item down piqued my interest and it’s gargantuan golden glint caught my eye which is good news for you dear reader as next up I will have a second review from Girvan in the form of a, rarely seen on these pages, sausage roll.

I also have another edition of the International Soccer Scran Series I’m working on so the content will keep on coming before the seasons over. But until next time, go forth and eat pie!

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.

 

 

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International Soccer Scran Special: Club Portugalete

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I’ve been hitting a bit of a wall recently in my search for new pastries to review. Partly because of the world’s longest run of home fixtures for my local team, partly because the weather has been atrocious and partly because over the last few weeks I’ve had my passport out doing a bit of travelling. What that travelling does mean is that I have a couple of editions of the International Soccer Scran Series in my back pocket to play with which brings me to today and my trip to the Bay of Biscay to see Club Portugalete of the Spanish Tercera Division. So without much further ado let’s get elbow deep in a world of tiny sandwiches, pre-midday beers and a whole lot of rain.

Location

When I initially booked my trip to the Spanish north coast I banked on at least one of Athletic Bilbao, Real Sociedad or Alaves having a home game as I looked to check off another team in my quest to complete the La Liga set (a quest that is still a good distance off completion at the last check I should add). So it was with a tinge of disappointment that my review of the always late to announce jornada schedule revealed that none of the aforementioned teams were at home during my stay in Bilbao. Ever one to flip a negative into a positive I reconvened and started searching the Segunda B & Tercera divisions of the Basque Country looking for a fixture. The result? An early Sunday morning metro from Bilbao towards the coast to watch Club Portugalete v Alaves B.

Situated around 35 minutes north of Bilbao from the city centre on the super cheap metro it is a short five-minute to walk to the game, and just another ten minutes further away is the Puente Colgante (or if you prefer the Vizcaya Bridge) one of the world’s oldest suspension bridges with a hanging cable car to take you across it in no more than minute. The walk up to the ground is highlighted by passing by a few Athletic Bilbao Peñas and aided by outdoor travellators to help those who feel that the hill is just that little bit too steep. There is no grandeur here or a stadium looming large over the distance, just a small ground in suburbia. It felt a little bit like home.

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Eating Outside of the Ground

From what I saw eating outside the Estadio La Florida, Club Portugalete’s home wasn’t really the done thing. There were a few bars close by where I’m sure a few zurrito’s (think a caña except even smaller) could be had with the ubiquitous pintxo of your choosing but in the main the eating and drinking at for this football food fan primarily took place inside the ground.

Eating Inside the Ground

Eating inside the ground was a very similar experience to eating and drinking at one of the many bars I spent my time in during my few days in the Basque Country. At least from a service perspective. There was however two differences. One being the obvious exception that most bars don’t have 22 men running about a big grass field within them and number two…the rain. Sweet Jesus did it rain, and rain, and then just when you thought it was over it would rain again.  Suddenly the reason I appeared to be the only person in the ground not holding an umbrella in my hand became all too clear. It did stop every now and again but I digress and at roughly 11:15am on a Sunday morning I tasted my first beer of the day.

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On arrival at the bar/food stall beside the main entrance you were greeted with a sea of basqueness. Pintxos, a little rougher round the edges than you would see in a Bilbao bar but more in keeping with the football theme. An array of bocatas (small sandwiches), tortillas, snacks and various hot items. I had arrived in Bilbao late the previous night so I was immediately drawn to a Bocata de Jamon and it was everything that’s right with simple Spanish food. Soft white bread with a crispy crust enveloping a couple of salty slivers of wonderful jamon. The fat wilting a little in its natural surroundings.

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These can be a little dry though once the meat is gone but my beer, of which I seem to have lost its name, helped to wash it down. It was hard not to look out at the pitch and the rolling green hills of the Basque countryside behind the ground and think, this is how Sunday’s should be.

The first half over of a competitive if not particularly entertaining game I made a move for my second bocata of the day this time choosing a Lomo, Salsa Brava & Queso number. This was again the perfect accompaniment to a cold beer. In my head I often liken the lomo-salsa brava union to the Spanish take on the Chinese char siu both of which are slices of pork brightened by a flavoursome and sometimes spicy coating around the edge and well cheese just goes with everything so there was little to complain about here. A bocata and a beer came in at a more than reasonable 3,50€ and for the more adventurous amongst you there was more than one occasion where I saw pints of vodka being drunk in three gulps or less.

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As great as it would have been to go to San Mames, Anoeta or Mendizorrotza, I was happy that for this weekend the fates had led me to this little town on the Bay of Biscay to watch the kind of football I love. If I closed my ears and squinted just a little as the rain bounced off my shoulders I could’ve swore that I was standing on the terraces at Newlandsfield Park back home.

Club Portugalete Soccer Scran Top Tips

· Don’t be afraid to grab for what you want and pay later.

· The beer is full fat and eminently drinkable so treat yourself, you’re probably on holiday.

· Bring a brolly.

· Once the game is done stick around the towns of Portugalete and Las Arenas for a pintxo crawl through the streets, across the Puente Colgante and out onto the bay itself.

I really did enjoy my few days in Bilbao and the surrounding areas, if my numbers were right by the time I got my flight home back to Scotland I had managed to knock off around 25 bars in 72ish hours without ever once feeling like I was anything more than pleasantly tipsy or mildly full.

I hope you enjoyed this take on Basque football cuisine, the Madrid version is turning into a bit of an epic but I also have recently returned from Bavaria so will share my matchday experience from Nuremberg in the not too distant future. Also, (with all my fingers crossed) a trip to Girvan beckons at the weekend for a new pie review. Either way something will be on it’s way shortly.

So until next time go forth and eat pie (or Bocatas!)

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.

Pie 123: The Whitburn Pie

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Well here it is, as promised, my first match day pie review in over 16 months. A nod back to the old school ways of brown sauce and Gravy Factors. I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and your New Year Steak Pie plans are well underway.  I started Meat Filled Pastries as a way to settle a bet, talk about my love of pie and champion local football. During the winter though that can be challenge. As is often the case at this time of year finding a game of football to go to in Scotland is often fraught with danger. Reasons ranging from last minute call offs to high winds and biblical rains and to the fact that other plans take precedent at this most busy time of year. Well after two weeks without some live soccer action I decided it was time to venture forth in search of some new pie and so it came to pass that I ended up at Whitburn Juniors bracing a wind-chill of around -12 and wearing more layers than a well-made batch of puff pastry.

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

Where: Central Park, Whitburn 4-1 Benburb, Scottish Junior Cup 3rd Round

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Price: £1.20. In 16 months it’s good to see that the price of a junior pie hasn’t fluctuated greatly.

Presentation: Medium sized white napkin, wrapped lovingly around this pie like a blanket protecting it from the harsh winter winds.

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Meatiness: This was a deep filled scotch pie with almost no space untouched by its muttony goodness. Being my first new scotch pie in a long time it was interesting to note that it didn’t have its usual peppery kick that I so often crave. Instead this pie had a hint of sweetness that I quite enjoyed. There were definite savoury notes but the spice was very minimal and as such it made for a fairly unique experience. What really helped this pie was the level of grease in each bite. Not dry so that the meat just crumbled and spilled but not too wet so that you could end up with a hardened fat stream down your hand akin to that found on a moodily lit candle in a late night bar. All in all I was into this.

Pastry: The pastry was just baked enough. It was a little pale in colour but held well against the meat and the force of the first bite. There was a gap where the top hadn’t quite sealed against the side meaning that the heat escaped quickly but given I hadn’t had any breakfast by this point it wasn’t hanging around in my hand long enough for it to matter. A couple of flaws but overall it did the job in securely holding its meaty parcel.

Brown Sauce: I think this may be a first but there was not one, but two types of brown sauce on offer. HP, the often (self)vaunted pinnacle of the pie condiment world and an own brand version from what looked like Iceland, Farmfoods. Either way the choice was easy as I squirted a circle of brown sauce on top of my pastry adding that little touch of spice the pie didn’t have before.

Overall: Generously filled with a slightly sweet not spicy filling. Pastry was a little under and had a couple of gaps but bore no detriment to the overall eating experience. With a squirt of HP Sauce this was a tasty match day treat.

Gravy Factor: Sweet, sweet meat filled pie.

So there you have it, as promised the pie wagon is well and truly back on the road. Next time up I have a second offering from Whitburn in the form of a Steak Pie (fitting for the time of year I think) as we start the next chapter in these pie-ventures covering all the bases. I’ll aim to have it up before the bells as I made an impulse decision to spend my new year in Reykjavik.

So until next time, go forth and eat pie!

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.

The Life of Pie

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Let’s be honest, we all love a Pie.

After an aimless conversation whilst watching the first game of the new Premiership season I discovered that within the first 2 weeks of the season I had scranned a total of 11 pies or 1.4 pies per game of football I have attended. What started as a joke is now the blog you see before you:

Meat Filled Pastries: A Tour of Pies, will be a blow by blow account of any pie I encounter, whether it be at a sporting event, in a pub, in a restaurant or just for my dinner.

Each pie will get a rating on a number of criteria,, giving it a final ‘Gravy Factor’.

The criteria will be as follows:

Price: Not necessarily cheapest is best, but value for money.

Presentation: Not necessarily Michelin starred but does the pie taste represent the pie presentation.

Meatiness: Not only the quality, but the volume and gravy encasing it.

Pastry: Not too crisp you can’t eat it, but not so soft I need a spoon to eat it.

Taste: the final but most important aspect of any Pie, a tasty pie should be what any producer or provider should aim for everyday!

Before we start a bit of Still Game!

This is Pie, these are my pastries. Let the grease hit the elbows and the gravy smatter my face.

LETS EAT PIE!