chicken

The 2019 Meaties: The Meat Filled Pastries Awards

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Happy New Year! I wish you all a happy and adventure filled 2020. It’s the 1st of January 2020 and whilst this day signifies the start of a new decade for those that recognise that to be the case it also, more importantly, signifies the day that we find out the winners of the 2019 Meat Filled Pastries Awards, now dubbed The Meaties!

There are five categories this year, with the addition of a Meat Free Pastry Award as well as an award for Outstanding Achievement in the field of Matchday Pastries, given to a pie that year on year continues to deliver recognising the pastries that I can’t help but go back for.

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As always I preface these awards by saying that these are the opinions of Meat Filled Pastries and thus subjective and if I haven’t eaten it, then I can’t give it an award. The awards are given to those pies reviews reviewed for the first time in 2019 and if you’re thinking of one that you feel is better then get in touch and I’ll see what I can do for 2020.

For now though, let’s get straight into dishing out some pie-gh fives!

Best Non – Pie Pastry 2019: Pie 161: The Glenafton Athletic Sausage Roll

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In what was a fairly disappointing category this year it is perhaps fitting that a sausage roll that I suspect was thrown together at short notice by those who supply hot goods to Loch Park has risen to the top of the miscellaneous meat filled marvel pile. A generous wrap of golden pastry snuggled around a slab of well seasoned Lorne sausage. It was huge, it was good value and after much perusing of my year in pie it was the only candidate to win this first award.

I find myself wondering as I write whether or not this is a pastry you can even buy in the here and now.

Best Meat Free Pastry 2019: Pie 184: The Irvine Meadow XI Macaroni Pie

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A squat little pie that had a strong cheesy kick. Not only was the sauce delicious but the texture of the pasta was exactly what you would want from a macaroni pie, toothsome and intact meaning that with each bite you got a little pop as the air rushed through. The thing that made this pie stand out over the others was the moreishness to the bite, if the kiosk under the stand at Meadow Park hadn’t been the other side of the ground from where I was situated I may have gone and got another that day.

Honourable Mention

Pie 180: The SWNT Macaroni Pie (c/o Hibernian FC) – A well constructed and generous macaroni based pastry.

Best Luxury Pie 2019: Pie 177: The St. Johnstone Steak & Chorizo Pie

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There was a lot of agonising over this one in what was an exceptionally strong and far reaching category in 2019. Eventually it came down to which first bite I remembered with the most clarity, the taste that still lingers in my mind and the review that seemed the most gushing in praise of the time, and so with those criterion in mind St. Johnstone are awarded the 2019 Best Luxury Pie Award. The gravy was luscious, the steak tore tenderly as I ate with an undertone of paprika provided by chorizo which itself added another texture. The pastry was golden and that day I also got an empire biscuit too. A worthy winner.

Honourable Mentions (There’s a Few)

Pie 182: The Forres Thistle Steak Pie – A huge pie packed with lots of steak and tasty gravy.

Pie 166: The Bohemian FC Chilli & Chorizo Pie – The first ever international entry into the Meat Filled Pastries Hall of Fame. The Irish side’s Chilli & Chorizo behemoth served with mash, peas and gravy was a rare pie treat from the League of Ireland.

Pie 173: The Linlithgow Rose Curry Pie – The finest curry pie to grace these pages, delicately spiced with chicken present in every bite.

Pie 185: The Port Glasgow Steak Pie – Whether you decide to use the wooden fork provided or not this generously proportioned steak pie has lots to love with a flaky golden top and layers of steak and gravy housed within.

Pie 165: The Clydebank Maryhill Breakfast Pie  Initially brought to my attention during the Bankies tenure at Lochburn Park if this award was to be dished out for concept alone it would be hard not to give it to this offering based in Glasgow’s West End. It might not have won this year but it is still a tremendous match day bite.

Best Scotch Pie 2019: Pie 171: The Kello Rovers Pie

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They say that controversy creates cash and for some this choice will prove to be somewhat controversial but for me in 2019 no scotch pie had me grabbing for more quite like this savoury little number from one of junior football’s most southerly outposts. Demolished in just a few bites this may not be a pie that fits into the most lauded of aesthetics with it’s misshapen casing and puddle of grease but it truly was a taste sensation.

Honourable Mentions

Pie 187: The Linlithgow Rose CFC Pie (c/o Linlithgow Rose) – Gentle with pepper and well textured, part of the excellent trio of pie options available at Prestonfield.

Pie 189: The Whittletts Victoria Pie – Packing a peppery punch this pie was well baked with a tasty filling and well complimented by a dod of Daddies Brown Sauce.

2019 Outstanding Acheivement in the field of Matchday Pastries: Pie 29: The Beith Chicken & Haggis Pie

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First reviewed five years ago now, there is no pie I look forward to more on a Pollok away day than the Beith Chicken & Haggis Pie. Chunks of chicken breast mixed with peppery haggis in a creamy well seasoned white sauce. The golden pastry egg washed and crimped on top lovingly finished with a piped swirl of mashed potato. Its year on year consistency making it a worthy winner of the first Outstanding Achievement Award.

So that’s it, the 2019 Meaties are over. What do you think? Do you disagree with any of the choices made? Where should I go next? What have been your pie-lights of 2019?

2020 will start as 2019 ended with a review from Whitletts Victoria as I look to close in on Pie 200 by taking on their Onion Pie, however until next time, go forth and have a smashing year as you maybe eat a pie or two!

Chris Marshall, is a BJTC accredited Radio Journalist with an honours degree in Communications & Mass Media from Glasgow Caledonian University. Editor of Leading the Line, A Scottish Women’s Football writer and a contributor to various football websites, podcasts and publications. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ and part-time Madrileno with a passion for food and football that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.

Pie 168: The Cumnock Chicken & Haggis Pie

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We’ve reached the business end of the season and whilst I’ll be big game hunting over the next couple of weeks my side, Pollok, still have a few games to go in their pursuit of third place in the West Region Premiership.

It’s a trying time of the season for football fans whose sides have nothing to play for or no trophies to be won. For some the habit never goes away whilst for others a game without anything to play for is really no game at all. For me, a Saturday spent on the terraces is as much about catching up on the weeks events with your chosen few as it is pursuing glory. Fortunately with the nights getting lighter I’m still able to juggle the habit with the search for games that matter.

Last time I was at Townhead Park, home of Cumnock Juniors, I managed to nab myself one of their Steak & Haggis offerings so I was secretly quite pleased when they said that these had sold out and there was only Chicken & Haggis to go by. So, without much further ado, let’s rate some pie.

Where: Cumnock 1-4 Pollok, Townhead Park, West Region Premiership

Price: I think, this was £1.50, hands up here on my part as I totally lost track of what this pie cost but, using some algebra, I think this pastry came in at just a pound and a half, a bargain price for what we class here as a luxury pastry.

Presentation: Classic presentation style coming as it did on top of a single medium sized white napkin. Nothing to grumble about at all.

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Meatiness: No misnomers, this pie was most certainly chicken and haggis based. There were good sized chunks of white chicken meat surrounded by a generous portion of gently spiced haggis. The balance of flavours in this pie were spot on, the haggis not overpowering the chicken and although there was no real gravy to speak off it wasn’t necessarily needed here with sufficient moistness coming from the two component parts. It was very tasty.

Pastry: Oh this pie looked a mess, not that it had any detriment to the overall taste of the pie or the pastry but this one would definitely not go down as a looker. The puff pastry top had flaked away quite a bit from some rough handling and the sides may have had a couple of gaps but sometimes in the pie game it’s important to remember that looks aren’t everything.

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Brown Sauce: None mate, luxury pie.

Overall: Putting aside the rough and tumble nature of the pastry this was a really tasty pastry with it perhaps moving into pole position when it comes to Chicken & Haggis pastries on Scotland’s terraces.

Gravy Factor: None needed, just lots of lovely meat.

I suspect this might be my final junior pie review of the season but I’m not entirely sure at this stage. What I do know though is that next time out I will have not one, but two reviews from Galabank as Annan Athletic took on Stenhousemuir in the League One play-offs.

On last thing before I wrap up and that’s to point you in the direction of my piece for Pure Fitbaw assessing Scotland’s Women’s World Cup Squad. Linked it up right here for you so go have a look.

However 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. Editor of Leading the Line, A member of the SWPL Media Team and a contributor to various football websites and publications he also currently acts as Heart & Hand Podcast’s resident Iberian football expert, hosting “The Isco Inferno” a weekly take on all things Spanish football. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ and part-time Madrileno with a passion for food and football that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.

Pie 160: The St. Mirren Curry Pie

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Hello pie fans, it’s been a while since a review has dropped from the desk at Meat Filled Pastries Mansion so I think it’s only fair I share an update in relation to what’s been going on and reassure you that the end has never been further away for your favourite Scottish football pie website.

Firstly, the fixture gods have not been my friend. Whilst I try and watch as much football as I can I still have a team I follow every Saturday. Pollok’s recent stability in the league combined with some over familiar cup pairings means that I haven’t been furnished with many opportunities to review new pastries.

Secondly, I have revived Leading the Line and have been focusing more on features in particular relating to Scottish and Spanish football including statistical analysis, opinion and retrospective pieces. The statistics in particular is an attempt to marry my day job to my passions and I’m quite pleased with how some of these pieces have progressed.

Thirdly, and for me this is the most exciting, I have joined the SWPL Media Team. I have been a long time advocate of women’s football in Scotland and after finally getting annoyed enough to start promoting it myself I was approached by the league to join the team. As well as covering match days for the SWPL website I have also provided statistical match previews and I am brimming with ideas about how to help the game grow at a time when the interest levels have never been higher fuelled by the national team’s upcoming appearance at the Women’s World Cup which, of course, I’m heading to.

So yeah, lots going on, and I’m willing to admit that the pies may have probably taken a back seat whilst I’ve been getting other things on the go but it’s good to be back with this curry offering from the stands of The Simple Digital Arena. So without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!

Where: The Simple Digital Arena, Scotland U17 0-2 Portugal U17, Euro Qualifier Elite Round

Price: At £2.70 this is at the top end of the football pricing spectrum in Scotland. Whilst in the junior ranks this kind of price point would be baulked at in a Scottish Premiership context there are some far worse out there as well as some better priced offerings too.

Presentation: In a large, round and shiny tinfoil case that was a lot shallower than you initially thought it was going to be. The encased pastry sitting securely on a single large white napkin.

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Meatiness: This pie was criminally under filled with so much space between filling end and pastry top that you could almost squeeze another pie in there! Putting aside the fact I burnt my tongue (my mouth filled with a plume of roasting hot steam on first bite) this pie was…alright. Initially your mouth welcomed what was a fairly generic curry taste but as you ate notes of sweetness and heat did pop their heads in from time to time. There was nowhere near enough chicken in it but as it wasn’t billed as a Chicken Curry Pie I suppose I have to let them off that one on a technicality.

Pastry: The pastry was a bit peely-wally and as the picture shows the lid flapped off the base as you ate which meant some juggling was required. It was however just crisp enough, very neat on presentation before that first bite and there was no sticking to the tin foil. Serviceable.

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Overall: I’ve yet to have a curry pie that has blown me away in a football setting, this was perfectly edible but the lack of filling really holds it back.

Gravy Factor: A half cup of gravy.

Ah, that felt good, a new pie review done. The nights are getting lighter so I’m hoping to get out and about a bit more for some midweek action over the coming months. I also am currently acting on an idea I’ve been sitting on in relation to pies so keep your eyes peeled for that when it finally drops.

However 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. A member of the SWPL Media Team and a contributor to various football websites and publications he also currently acts as Heart & Hand Podcast’s resident Iberian football expert, hosting “The Isco Inferno” a weekly take on all things Spanish football. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ and part-time Madrileno with a passion for food and football that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.

 

Pie 158: The Troon “Chicken & Haggis” Pie

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Hello and welcome to the latest edition of Meat Filled Pastries as we delve back into the world of junior football with a Chicken & Haggis offering from a fairly dreich January afternoon at Portland Park in Troon. Before we get to that though a couple of things have happened since my last review.

Firstly I attended the World Scotch Pie Championships Awards Lunch where a new World Scotch Pie Champion was crowned. Whilst some well-earned congratulations should be sent to The Little Bakery based in Dumfries on being the 20th World Scotch Pie Champion on the pages of Meat Filled Pastries the real news was that Darvel FC based in Ayrshire won the Diamond Award for their Steak & Gravy Pie supplied by Browning’s the Bakers. As a vocal supporter of non-league football I was pleased to see the big boy’s given a hiding in this category but if you want to see how your club did then you can do so by clicking the list of winners across all categories here.

Whilst I was there I was also getting my latest project off the ground and recorded the second ever episode of The Scrancast where I spoke to some of the nominees, winners and men behind what is one of the biggest days in the Butcher/Baker calendar. If you would like to listen to what I hope will be the first of many tales about food and drink from Scotland and beyond then you can listen here. The website is just about up and running which includes a feature on why I’ve decided to do it and you can subscribe on iTunes and all your usual places by searching for “The Scrancast”.

Back to more pressing matters though and that is the quality of pie on offer at Portland Park. Will their Chicken & Haggis offering match up to the Steak Pie which got an honourable mention during the first ever MFP Awards? There’s only one way to find out, so without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!

Where: Portland Park, Troon 1-1 Pollok, West of Scotland Cup 2nd Round

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Price: There was a little bit of confusion around the price of this pie as I went to pay at the counter. To your average punter this pie would have appeared to have been £2.20 given the sheet saying as much stuck to the window however at point of payment the price quoted was £2.50. A quick chat later showed that the price list the girls behind the counter were working on was different from the one front in centre for all to view. I paid the £2.50 but I’m not sure I was entirely happy about it.

Presentation: A double duvet of large white napkins provided a solid and soft base for this large tin foil encased pie to sit on quite comfortably.

Meatiness: Chunky. I think that’s a good way to describe this filling with more than one piece of chicken requiring multiple bites to consume. It’s an odd thing to point out I know but this is a handheld snack, eating stood up with very few places to lean, so it made for a challenging bite. I was a little bit disappointed in the quantity of haggis but I liked the use of a stock based gravy. My main concern though was the use of pepper in this filling. It was too much, a little too spiky and killed the flavour of the haggis. That said it was an incredibly generous portion of pastry.

Pastry: The pastry was pretty perfect. Slipped easily out of the tin foil case without even a whiff of it sticking to the sides or bottom. It also had a lovely golden tinge to it with the necessary substance to hold what was a fairly moist filling whilst still providing the light crunch a good pie pastry should.

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Overall: There were things to like about this pie. Generously filled with an excellent job on the bake but for my taste I could have done with a few less cracks of pepper.

Gravy Factor: Percy Piper picked a pie of pickled peppers.

An offering with a lot of potential from the Ayrshire coast but one for me that didn’t quite hit the heights I hoped it would. I’ll hopefully be back again with another pie review in the not too distant future but for now please go follow and subscribe to The Scrancast. If you’re into pies there might be something right up your street coming very soon.

However until next time from Meat Filled Pastries, 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. A contributor to various football websites and publications he also currently acts as Heart & Hand Podcast’s resident Iberian football expert and hosts “The Isco Inferno” a weekly take on all things Spanish football. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ and part-time Madrileno with a passion for food and football that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.

Pie 147: The Rangers “Chicken & Chorizo” Pie

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Hello it’s not only time for another pie review but it’s also time for another pie of the month from the house that staunch built, Ibrox Stadium. When I turned up at Ibrox on Armed Forces Day I had told myself that no pies would be passing my lips as I had been well and truly burned out by not only the price but also the quality of pastries in Glasgow’s big three grounds over the years.

This came to a head at Hampden the other week. I had first reviewed the Hampden Steak Pie a long time ago now. In fact it was one of the very first pies I reviewed and it seemed to do OK under scrutiny however since then I have been subjected to a number of overpriced travesties with a particular shout out to the Queen’s Park Cheese & Onion Pie – still possibly the worst pie to ever pass my lips. My last Steak Pie at Hampden though was quite frankly taking the piss.

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At £2.90 this…this thing(!) masquerading as food has almost certainly forever left me scarred in regards to the catering efforts at the current – and now future home – of Scottish football. The pastry was welded to the case so hard that I could turn it upside down without fear of it falling out. The lid came clean off and the filling was so sparse and dry I can only assume that when this was made that is was not so much as baked but chewed up and spat out into it’s pastry shell. It was an absolute liberty, and I hope when that whatever the renovated Hampden ends up looking like that a new catering contract with somebody who actually gives a f*ck about what they’re producing is dished out.

It made me proper angry and with it’s memory still scratched across my taste buds I turned up at Ibrox knowing that it was highly unlikely that I would be purchasing a pie, and I love pies! But then it happened. I fell into their trap. A new Pie of the Month was there to be had and so with some reluctance I cleaned out my savings and purchased, what was a promising sounding, Chicken & Chorizo Pie. Did I make the right decision though?

Without much further ado let’s rate some pie.

Where: Ibrox Stadium, Rangers 5-1 St. Johnstone, Scottish Premiership

Price: It was £3.50. I’ve already ranted about the price of pies at the top table of Scottish football in this post and many times before so I think you know my feelings on this by now.

Presentation: Having had August’s pie of the month – The Rangers Bacon Mac & Cheese Pie – I was struck with how this month’s edition looked exactly the same presented as it was in a round aluminium tin and on a fairly large white napkin. Before I attempted a first bite things were actually looking pretty good.

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Meatiness: There’s no hiding it, the filling of this pie looked like spew. It was that off white colour that years of television vomits has told us a right good whitey should be. There were some small chunks of chicken accompanied by smaller studs of chorizo sitting in a very thick paste-come-sauce. To be fair it actually smelled pretty good but given its appearance as the lid of the pie came clean off when I ventured to take my first bite (more on that shortly) I found myself debating whether or not I really wanted to dive in. A feeling that I sensed was being felt by the person sitting diagonally behind me as I tried to figure out what was going on inside this pastry.

Continuing with the flavours and I would challenge anyone to add chorizo to something and not manage to draw some kind of flavour out of the final culinary masterpiece. In this instance it was the saving grace as at one point I genuinely had to check that the chunks of white in the pie were indeed chicken due to the paucity of flavour they provided. It was also a little heavy handed on the salt meaning that somehow the final result was a filling that tasted of everything and nothing all at the same time.

 

Pastry: An anaemic looking disaster. The base so raw that it not only stuck to the bottom of the tin but that it could also be rolled up into wee balls between your thumb and index finger. Once mashed in with the paste masquerading as gravy it was not good. Whilst under baked pastry is a common fault the way in which the lid of my pastry came clean off was a novelty I hadn’t yet experienced. I’m not talking a little loose either, I’m talking about the fact the two parts were never stuck together in the first place. Whilst this would go down like a lead balloon in pie judging circles I was strangely grateful as it meant I had a full disc of pastry to try and spoon the filling out with. A relief given it was impossible to lift the thing from it’s shiny shell.

Brown Sauce: I think brown sauce would’ve actually made this pie even weirder.

Overall: A marketing masterstroke for a mug pie punter like me – yes. A tasty pie – afraid not.

Gravy Factor: Sigh.

I genuinely want to know what kind of checks gets done by these large scale event caterers on the day of the match because if they check some of the riots that I’ve mentioned in this post and say that they are good then clearly I’m in the wrong business.

Anyway I have another pie review lined up for next time from Ayrshire junior side Kilwinning Rangers and their eponymous “Buffs Pie”. Until then though, 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 and  The Football Pink as well as featuring in The Scotsman, STV and a number of other media outlets. He currently acts as Heart & Hand Podcast’s resident Iberian football expert. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ and part-time Madrileno with a passion for food and football that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.

Pie 118: The Carluke Rovers Chicken Curry Pie

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Hello pie fans, let’s get straight to business. I am aware that in the past I have, on more than one occasion, intimated that this is the end of the road for Meat Filled Pastries only to then be drawn back in with spiels dedicated to that holy trinity of meat, pastry and gravy however this time, this time is different. I mean take a look at this review for example, this game took place in April, it’s July now and this is me just getting round to ticking it off. Something had to give and at the moment it seems to be the pies. That’s not to say I haven’t been at games and continued my adventures to  the back of beyond to watch 22 men(or women) kick about a polyester sphere whilst getting my pastry fix, it’s more the aftermath that has suffered. Whether that be an increase demand in work, to learning Spanish, from wanting to see the world and just generally hanging about with my friends and family all have taken precedent over a few hundred words about pie.

More relevantly, to those of you who have kept with me during this, I really do want to put this all together into one coherent collection of my journey. From the first foolhardy bet, to the awards and media appearances up until the right here and now where I’m stealing 30 minutes from my lunch to type up this review. I think it’s a good story to tell, but an impossible one to do if I don’t step back, take a breath and look what it’s achieved. So there you have it this is my swansong, not a forever goodbye, more I’ll catch you later.

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

THE SURROUNDINGS

Where: The John Cumming Stadium, Carluke Rovers 0-3 Pollok, Central League Cup 2nd Round

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Price: Dropped the ball here. This was somewhere between £1.20 – £1.70 and so if anyone want’s to correct me then please feel free. Given it’s chicken curry nature we can class this as a luxury pie and as such anywhere within the bracket I’ve just quoted is more than acceptable.

Presentation: This is a direct copy from my last review. Same place, same presentation. Medium sized white napkin that was bigger than the circumference of the pastry that sat on it. It’s all you need really.

THE PIE

I think this might glow in the dark...
I think this might glow in the dark…

Meatiness: Chunks of tender chicken breast awaited my gob replacing the normal crumbly mutton that a scotch pie possesses. Cubed into properly bite size chunks they were coated in a luminous yellow curry sauce that you would often find smattered on the pavement outside Central Station on a Friday night. As I discovered at the most recent edition of the World Scotch Pie Championships chip shop curry sauce is very much a controversial subject. For some it offers the comfort of home, providing that pick me up on a hungover Sunday evening as it’s smothered over a poke of chips. For others it is an atomic bomb to the senses, an overheated day-glow paste that stains everything it touches from your teeth to you trainers. I fall somewhere in the middle, appreciative of the joy it brings others whilst the food wanker lurking within wants something more complex and ‘real’. Stripping it back to what this pie is; a matchday snack. It does an amicable job of satisfying hunger whilst being slightly different from the norm.

Pastry: The pastry was interesting and perhaps a consequence of the different filling this pie offered. First thing that struck me was how pale it was, perhaps not subjected to the same boil out and fat that a scotch pie normally has meaning it was almost white in colour. Secondly was it’s texture, almost bread like with a biscuity crunch as opposed to buttery and flaky. With the pie filling it worked quite well although to this day I’m still not sold if it’s something I liked or not.

Brown Sauce: Imagine tangy brown sauce on a curry pie, that would be a sensory overload for even the most adventurous of palates. It didn’t happen here.

Overall: Nothing flashy here. Chicken that was well cooked and wrapped in a sunny wash of chip shop curry sauce contained within a biscuity base. When looking at all the elements it is perhaps the least luxurious luxury pie you might ever come across.

Gravy Factor: Ravy Gravy. Split this bad boy open, and raise it high in the air. It’s 1991 and you’re giving it large with this spicy yellow pastry.

So that’s it, no more…well except one more. An encore if you will from the Falkirk Stadium courtesy of the Scottish lassies. I hate goodbyes so just wanted to get that out the way now.

So until the final 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.

Pie 105: The Rangers ‘Seasonal Chicken & Ham’ Pie

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To really focus on writing a book something you need is time. That, or the ability to generate time by re-organising your life. Unfortunately time is something that is in short supply for me at the moment, well I say unfortunately but I don’t mean it. In the last few months I have been buzzing about visiting new places, working and generally having a good time all the while trying to get my life going where I want it to go. I’m pretty confident I’m going about things in the right way a sure sign of which can be identified in the fact that I have totally lost track of the plot lines and character intricacies found down Hollyoaks way.

Anyway the point is I’m aware the book isn’t coming along at the pace I first predicted but I can happily justify it with everything else that is going on. Which nicely brings me to this years World Pie Championship Judging Day. Once again I have the honour of being asked to judge at the championships and I want to do my bit to make sure the football category is the biggest one yet!

So if you think you have the best pie in town details on how to enter can be found at the following link: http://scottishbakers.org/news/search-has-started-2016-world-scotch-pie-champion. Last year there were 49 pies to judge and I would love to get my chops around some more.

However until then I still have a website to run so without further ado, let’s rate some pie!

THE SURROUNDINGS

Where: Rangers 1-3 St. Johnstone, Scottish League Cup 3rd Round, Ibrox Stadium

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Price: As can be seen from the table below the Seasonal Pie (remembering at this point of my purchasing experience this pastry could have had anything from caviar to a combine harvester inside of it) was a whopping £3.40. The highest priced pie consumed in Scotland to date and a full 20p more expensive than the previous holder of this title The Queens Park Chicken & Tarragon Pie. This pie cost the equivalent of 3 junior scotch pies or two and a bit luxury offerings from the same level. Expensive.

Pies. Still cheaper than a burger.
Pies. Still cheaper than a burger or a CHICKEN WRAP!?.

Presentation: As is often found in senior Scottish football this pie was presented in a large aluminium foil container with the option of a small white napkin from the self-service dispenser on the counter. The kind of size where really you need 2 or 3 to get full mop-up-ability.

THE PIE

Let's be honest, that's not looking very bonny.
Let’s be honest, that’s not looking very bonny.

Meatiness: On the discovery that this was indeed a Chicken & Ham I got quite excited. I enjoy a chicken pie, in fact I’m still partial to a Roll and Chicken Bake often purchased from a well-known high street bakers and ham, of any kind, adds a salty meatiness to pretty much anything that I never fail to enjoy. I took a bite and was instantly disappointed. It was not filled with generously portioned large chunks of ham and chicken wrapped in a luscious creamy gravy. No, instead there were, from what I could count on my tongue, 4 pieces of smallish chicken and a half-dozen or so small cubes of ham lacking in both texture and flavour. Then there was the gravy a claggy mush of water and I assume flour again lacking in flavour.

I don’t often go for the jugular in these reviews as I like to find the good in every pie but this one really annoyed me. It wasn’t even well filled look at the gap there, LOOK AT IT! You could fit in another pie it’s so cavernous! This (for a premium price remember) is simply not good enough.

Pastry: The pastry was short crust on the sides and puff on the top of which I had no real issues. It would have greatly benefited from a proper gravy to help moisten it a bit as during consumption it did become dry but in honesty the pastry was not the issue here.

Brown Sauce: With it being a luxury pie I didn’t use any brown sauce, in retrospect perhaps I should have.

Overall: Yes it was massive, but it was bland, lacking in meat and not generously filled all whilst being rather pricy.

Gravy Factor: Like a melted down Smart Price Quiche but three times the price.

I should put a caveat at the end of this by saying I love the idea of seasonal pies but the execution in this instance wasn’t very good. Hopefully next time the seasonal offering from Ibrox is more of a taste sensation and this is not merely a tick box exercise to get more money out of fans. I’m still sussing out my next review at the moment. In Faro sustenance was provided in the form a hot dog topped with crisps, it sounds good but it wasn’t and I wished there was a pie instead. I love a Tartan Army trip but so far the ‘in-stadium’ dining experiences have been a bit of a let down.

These stories though are for another time so until then, go forth and eat pie! Oh, and remember to get those entries in if you think you are indeed the king of pies.

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 VanCan ScranVan Diaries: The Roaming Dragon

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Hello and welcome to the third, and final, instalment of the The VanCan ScranVan Diaries, a short experiment in food writing where the words meat, filled and pastries have been in short supply. I’m writing this final instalment in the bowels of the maze that is Heathrow Airport as I wait for my connecting flight home. If I hadn’t been on my holidays this could have turned into a far grander project but as it is it’s been nice to test the waters with something a little bit different.

Today’s review comes from The Roaming Dragon. As I’ve mentioned before Vancouver has a ‘booming’ food truck scene and my final review could have come from any number of places, there was Tacofino, which sold, well tacos obviously which many people had raved about and the ever elusive ‘Yolks Breakfast Company’ who I swear were never at the location they claimed to be each time I tried to visit. Eventually though, on my flinal morning, I plumped for The Roaming Dragon.

So with the intro done, let’s have some Van Scran fun!

Where: Corner of Robson St. and Burrard St.

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I had been curious to see just how the Asian influence, that was clearly prevalent throughout the city would translate to the food truck scene especially after two stonkingly good Asian inspired meals in a day (A Dim Sum brunch which included my first taste of BBQ chicken’s feet and a multi-plate Chinese sharer that opened my eyes to a whole new world of vegetarian cookery). Initially I had been drawn in by their online promise of Korean BBQ Tacos however I was more than a little disappointed to see that they were not on the menu come my arrival.

Where's my Korean BBQ Taco's?
Where’s my Korean BBQ Taco’s?

However never being one to turn down a good scran I scanned the available options. My eye was initially drawn to the Beef Rendang Poutine but my poutine experiences both at home and in Canada had been such a let down, despite the abundance of cheese and gravy they often provide, that I decided to play it relatively safe with a Chicken Noodle Box for CAD$12 (Approx. £6.75).

Chicken Noodle Box
Chicken Noodle Box

I was instantly glad I opted for the Chicken over the tofu, not because I dislike tofu (I actually think well done tofu can be quite tasty), but because as I started revving the engine on my chopstick fingers it became apparent that the Tofu option would have been exactly the same except without the addition of chicken on top.

First thing I noticed was that the portion was huge, I mean the picture probably doesn’t do justice to the depth of this box but it took me a good 15/20 minutes to eat it all. As well as the chicken the noodles were topped with chopped cashews and peanuts which added a lovely nuttiness that is so often attributed to South-East Asian cuisine. It was also garnished with fully sprouted bean sprouts, a pretty rare occurrence when Iv’e been out and about in the UK. These added a freshness and in the flavour stakes were certainly a ramped up version of the thin white bean sprouts commonly found at home with the leaves adding a slight peppery note. The chicken had been cooked separately and placed on top of the noodles bringing with it a slightly overbearing taste of white wine, initially fine but slowly building as I went. I know the flavour boost that a couple of dashes of shaoxing rice wine can bring to meat but this definitely focused more on the tartness of a white as opposed to the subtle hum of shaoxing or it’s commonly used western alternate sherry.

There is no doubt that the noodles were very tasty heady with soy and flashing hints of ginger, garlic and five spice. The use of fine egg noodles was particularly pleasing for this guy as I think these are the best type to use when it comes to any kind of stir fry dish. The noodles were also dense with vegetables, a concoction of carrots, spring onions and highly-flavoured shitake mushrooms with little pockets of broccoli poking through every so often. The tofu had been stir-fried just long enough to give a crisp texture to a couple of the sides on each small cube whilst still remaining soft enough to eat.

For me though the real skill in this food truck dish was the use of the chopped nuts and fresh bean sprouts adding another dimension to what was a very good, if not a bit safe, chicken noodle dish. If somebody was to offer me it again I wouldn’t turn my nose up at it, although at the same time I wouldn’t rush to ask for the same again.

VanScran Rating: 7/10. Solid.

And so with that this wee adventure ends. Vancouver is a lovely city and if you are super energetic and have acquired a taste for artisan microbrews then there isn’t really anywhere else you should be looking to be.

Until next time, Find a Van. Eat Some Scran!

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 86: The Queens Park ‘Chicken & Tarragon’ Pie

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Hello and welcome to Meat Filled Pastries. Now STV approved, don’t believe me? Then just follow this link:

http://glasgow.stv.tv/articles/307195-chris-marshalls-blog-meat-filled-pastries-judges-nationwide-pies/

In fact, that’s not the end to this quasi-madness as on Monday 26th January I’ll be on The Riverside Show on STV Glasgow telling my story of pie. It’s a 7pm kick off, so if you’re reading this before it goes out live then why not have a swatch, it’s bound to be noteworthy. If you’ve missed it, then you might get lucky if you scout about the STV Player. Given my media exploits over the past week I’ve not really had time to let anything in the world of football really grind my gears, although if you’re into that kind of thing then I highly recommend The A-Z of Football Hates by Richard Foster it pretty much hits the nail on the head in every possible way. If I’m lucky I might get some input in a second edition.

But for now let’s focus on the pastry. Today a visit to the home of my first football memories, Hampden Park, and a chance to watch every romantics favourite team, Queens Park, playing for the sake of playing since 1967. So without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!

THE SURROUNDINGS

Where: Hampden Park, Queens Park v Arbroath, Scottish League Two

It finished 2-1 to Queen's Park, but the Arbroath goal was so late they didn't bother updating the scoreboard so you have this shot instead.
It finished 2-1 to Queen’s Park, but the Arbroath goal was so late they didn’t bother updating the scoreboard so you have this shot instead.

Price: Get ready for this. A whopping £3.20. Equivalent to 3 junior pies in some cases and a massive jump in price when compared with the Spiders League Two rivals. Now the thing is I have reviewed pies from Hampden before during my Tartan Army visits and so I spent a wee while debating whether to dub this another Hampden Pie, but as my mantra for this project is just as much about the teams I visit as it is the humble pie Queens Park get a shout out on this occasion. I have no doubt in my mind that if this wasn’t a Hampden this pie wouldn’t be £3.20. It doesn’t make it right but it does, in part, give an explanation.

Presentation: The pie was placed in a heat retaining tin foil case with a small(ish) white napkin for after consumption dabbing. On a sub-zero Saturday I was grateful for the retained heat.

THE PIE

There was more than one bite to this expose
There was more than one bite to this expose

Meatiness: I was looking forward to this pie, partly because its always good for the cholesterol to see a chicken pie on offer and partly because I reckon my Chicken, Bacon and Tarragon Pie is the best in my repertoire. I’ve always loved that slight aniseed kick that the tarragon gives. Sadly I found this pie pretty disappointing, Firstly as I made my way through it I felt no pop of chicken flavour in my mouth, in fact I was so concerned about the lack of flavour I had to tilt my head back to have a look for the meat inside. It was there but it’s flavour remained weak. The gravy wasn’t as unctuous as you would expect but more like an underdone roux and if I’m being honest at some points I felt I was eating a frangipane such was it’s sweetness. There would be the occasional burst of tarragon but its presence was oh-so fleeting. I applaud the courage of the folk at Hampden for diversifying their pie menu but I think in this instance it needs a lot of work, perhaps my judgement was clouded by own attempts at making such a pastry. The filling wasn’t unpleasant but I wouldn’t be in a rush to have another one.

Pastry: Without doubt the pastry was the best part of this pie in that it was golden and flaky. It didn’t have a soggy bottom and stayed strong under the pressure of even the most greedy of bites. It was a solid foundation to a pie.

Overall: A bit off the mark but should be commended for being something different, I really do think a salty hit of bacon would lift the flavour of this pie exponentially. It’s also worth noting that the price may be a stumbling block for some.

Gravy Factor: Not quite ready gravy. A little more seasoning and some time spent on creating an unctuous mouth feel could have this pie on the path to pastry superstardom.

It’s always tough to write a review for a pie that doesn’t quite hit the mark, and this review should not be taken as an indication that the Hampden scotch and steak offerings are not up to par as previous reviews have shown these more than make the grade.

The plan was to do a Glasgow Warriors Pie but a couple of pints of Best soon put that idea to rest. Next up we return to the juniors and a pie from Central League side Rossvale.

However, until then, go forth and eat pie!

Oh, and tune in tomorrow, it may be the only chance you’ll ever get to see my face.

 

 

Pie 83: The Thorniewood United Pie

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It’s Meat Filled Pastries Time! Let’s. Get. Meeeeatyyyy!

Hello, hope you’re well, I thought today I’d address just a couple of the most commonly asked questions I’ve received since starting my journey of pie. Just a couple though, I wouldn’t want to be struggling for words when it comes to writing my memoirs. I thought the best way to do this would be to answer the two questions that are asked by 90% of the people who hear my story, namely, “Who Does the Best Pies?” and “Don’t You Ever Get Sick of Pies?”. Consider it an end of year treat for you all.

Firstly let’s address the number one question I’m asked, “Who Does the Best Pies?”, but to be honest it’s far more complex than blurting out a name or venue. For starters there are lots of different types of pie available, some scotch, some steak and some completely different. To pick one, as a solo muncher of pies, when there is a multitude of parameters to consider would be reckless on my part. Secondly I like to think the best I’ve ever had is always the next one to pass by my lips, call it part of my relentless optimism to do with all things related to pie. That not a good enough answer? Sounding a little too measured and political? Well OK then, some standouts for me are ‘The Beith Chicken & Haggis Pie’ and one I haven’t ever reviewed on the pages of Meat Filled Pastries ‘The Burghead Thistle Mince Pie’. Two that still to this day linger long in the taste buds.

Secondly, ‘Do I Ever Get Sick of Pies?’ Course not silly, pies are awesome.

Seriously though, not really. Due to the volume I find myself consuming at football matches it’s not something I tend to have for my dinner or lunch. My favourite item from Greggs is a Roll and Chicken Bake and the amount of effort that goes into making a really good pie, pastry and all, means that they tend to get made as treat (usually for the amusement of others) as opposed to being a regular item on my homemade menu. I like pies but I love food and to limit myself to one item would be just too much to bear.

That said this one item has gave me a lot of stories and brought me a lot of fun, so without further ado let’s rate some pie!

THE SURROUNDINGS

Where: Robertson Park, Thorniewood United v Pollok, West of Scotland Super League First Division

Pretty sure I got trench foot...
Pretty sure I got trench foot…

Price: £1.20. Slap bang in the middle of the junior price range for a scotch pie. Can’t really have too many complaints with that.

Presentation: Aside from the ever classical medium-sized white napkin this scotch pie was presented in a tin foil case a somewhat unusual style for a scotch pie, even more unusual for a junior pie. Perhaps I have been doing this too long already but when I noticed its shiny silver surround a little part of me actually went, ‘oh, that’s new!’, and you know what, it was!

THE PIE

Oooooo silver, fancy!
Oooooo silver, fancy!

Meatiness: This pie was very moist but as I sit here typing this latest review I find it hard to remember anything standout about it, reviewing my short notes on the day moist is all I had written. Moist and pleasant (Mind out the gutter please folks). Something I will admit, and is apparent as I write this review, that if a pie filling is relatively tasty, has nice seasoning and doesn’t leave a waxy trail of grease glued to my arm then it’s fine by me. It just doesn’t give me a whole lot to write about. This pie is an example of that. Absolutely nothing wrong with it but not one to be stored in the vault.

Pastry: It had a nice crispy top with an even thickness of pastry all around. It was perhaps a little soft underneath. A consequence of the tin foil case it sat within but nothing went where it shouldn’t be as I ate. Did a job.

Brown Sauce: This brown sauce was a lot lighter in colour and was almost apple sweet, it had a gentle tang to it and was a nice complimentary flavour to the pastry and meat underneath.

Overall: Nice enough, but won’t live long in the memory.

Gravy Factor: Bog Standard Bisto.

A solid if unspectacular effort from Tannochside, the junior pie bandwagon rolls on with an offering from Ardrossan Winton Rovers and it’s something that is a little bit special.

However until then though, go forth and eat pie!