food writing

Pie 143: The Rangers “Bacon Mac & Cheese” Pie

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That’s right Bacon Mac & Cheese! I was excited, but more on that later. Welcome to Meat Filled Pastries and another instalment in this quest to search out the tastiest match day treats around. Over time I have learned to balance the consumption of pies – which aren’t actually that bad for you in moderation – with regular exercise to ensure the boy who eats pies doesn’t turn into one. I thought I was doing alright until a small child in the supermarket last week turned around to his mum, pointed at me and shouted, “Look Mummy, a fat man!”. Cheers kid…

In all seriousness though over the last couple of years I’ve ran some proper distances, completed a Kiltwalk, climbed a thing or two and generally tried to make sure that I live a little bit healthier. Luckily I have some pals who were that way inclined already which helped so when my mate suggested helping somebody out who was doing the same thing – with the added incentive of helping them to raise money for a good cause – I was more than up for joining in.

I’ll let Tony’s story speak for itself (click here) but at 62 he has set himself the target of Walking the West Highland Way whilst also climbing an Everest worth’s of munros as he goes all in aid of the Glasgow Children’s Hospital. The thing is he needs help, which is where me and my mates have come in and so next week we’ll be climbing Schiehallion along with Tony as he continues his preparations. It’s never easy to set yourself a goal like that, especially when you decide to do it on your own, so if you think you can help Tony out with either a donation or by giving him somebody to walk with then why not give him a shout. I’m sure he’d appreciate it.

You know what else I’m sure Tony would appreciate at the end of a climb? A pie. But would he fancy this Bacon Mac & Cheese offering from Ibrox? Well let’s find out?

Without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!

Where: Ibrox, Rangers 2-0 St. Mirren, Scottish Premiership

Price: At £3.50 this was the most expensive pie on the menu, and to date, the most expensive match day pie I have ever eaten in Scotland. This was part of their “Pie of the Month” range where each month (unsurprisingly) a new and exotic pastry gets added to the menu. It’s an utter gimmick, and why it justified the price hike mystified me but it was a pie I hadn’t had before and so of course I dug deep and paid for this pastry.

Presentation: This pie was presented on a large white napkin and the pastry itself was contained in a fairly large circular tin foil case that’s diameter narrowed a little towards the bottom.

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Meatiness: Now anybody who has read a Macaroni Pie review before will know that meatiness is usually replaced by the far more convoluted CheesyPastainess but given that this was a BACON Mac & Cheese Pie I’m comfortable that normal rules should apply. What I was not comfortable with though was how bereft of bacon this pastry was. Yes there was the odd, and I mean odd, fleck of pinky-brown in amongst the cheese sauce but if you’re charging me £3.50 for a motherporkin’ pie you better have a higher quantity of bacon than what was on offer here. The meat that was there did provide a subtle smoky taste to proceedings and the macaroni cheese itself was fairly decent boosted by the rather unattractive looking layer of not quite fully melted cheese on top but to call this a BACON Mac & Cheese Pie and have such of a paucity of swine within is near criminal. See picture below.

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Pastry: Along with the part melted cheesy top the pastry also made for a fairly unappetising sight. It was near white in colour and didn’t wrap itself snugly round the filling like a good case should but to its credit it was just about cooked enough to support the filling even if it’s contribution to the overall taste of this pie was negligible.

Brown Sauce: No brown sauce here as technically this is a luxury pie but after a couple of bites to get a pure taste from it I added a squirt of tomato ketchup for an added spike of flavour.

Overall: I’ve gone in hard on this because it was three blinking fifty but if it was the price of a normal macaroni pie without the audacity to call it a Bacon Mac & Cheese Pie then it would be just about passable, not good, passable.

Gravy Factor: Not Bacon Gravy. Bacon Scented Gravy.

The search for a big ground pie that justifies it’s price tag in Scotland continues. I haven’t got anything in plan as I enter the sticky part of the season where the mid-week fixtures start to dry up and so we may be in for a spell of pie differentiation but what that actually looks like we’ll have to wait and see.

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. He has contributed to prominent football sites including Pie & Bovril, The Terrace Podcast, 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.

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Pie 142: The Troon Steak Pie

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It’s pie time baby! Welcome to Meat Filled Pastries where once again I continue to get elbow deep in my search of the sweetest symphonies of meat and pastry the Scottish football world can offer. But first…

I’ve knowingly followed football for over 25 years. In that time social media and the way that fans interact with their clubs, players and fellow terrace dwellers has changed to an almost unrecognisable level. Whilst big clubs have had the “benefit” of national media coverage football down the leagues often relied on the support of the local paper, word of mouth or the odd post match conversation over a pint or two. Nowadays though clubs of all levels are in the search for greater reach latching onto anything that makes them stand out from the crowd and searching for ways to attract new followers at a time when the telly seems to rule all. Whilst Social Media Officers at “big” teams can themselves alone attract thousands of followers at the lower levels there is no media team. No budget for high-definition graphics and elaborate signing videos and in some cases no real expertise of any note to call upon, but you know what? The content still comes. The goal flashes, the signing news, the websites, the match day posters, the new logos it’s all there to see. All keeping people informed whilst maintaining thier clubs relevance in an ever smaller world. This work can sometimes be even better than those that earn a living from it and it should be commended. Whether it be keen fans who volunteer, students looking to hone their media craft or inwhatever form that the content is produced it’s it’s fair to say that the profile of these clubs would just not be the same.

It cheers me even more to see that in recent times clubs – with the budgets to do so – are now recognising these individuals with paid full-time opportunities. Most recently this was demonstrated at Dunfermline Athletic where long time Club Photographer Craig Brown has been rewarded with a permament contract to act as the club’s Media & PR Officer. Even more famously Alan Burrows has seen his role on a Saturday at Fir Park change from punter to Chief Executive a fanciful thought during the SPL years. Recognition is often hard to come by when the time spent goes unseen so I wanted to take this chance to say thank you to all those folk who make trying to understand what’s going on in the strange little world that is Scottish football just that bit easier.

I’d like to think that my pie reviews help to promote those clubs a little too and I always make sure to give a shout out to the teams I visit when spreading the good word. So let’s get to it, without much further ado, let’s rate some pie.

Where: Portland Park, Troon 1-1 Pollok, West Premiership

 

Price: At £2 my initial reaction was to say that this pie, even for a luxury offering, was expensively priced as a junior pastry but then it was presented to me and the volume of pie you got against the amount you had to spend had me thinking that this was a bit of a bargain.

Presentation: Has there been a special sale on coloured napkins this pre-season that I don’t know about? For the third review in a row my pie was presented on something other than a white coloured napkin. This time blue, in keeping with the home team colours. Good size for holding the pastry which on this occasion was housed inside a tinfoil case.

Meatiness: Jesus this was meaty. It was dense with meat and more than one chunk took a couple of bites to get through. This was the good stuff. The meat tearing forgivingly as I ate. There was also an ocean of well seasoned and highly flavoured gravy, wrapping itself lovingly around the mini steaks with its viscosity allowing it to kiss the sides and gently flow out its pastry tomb ready to awaken your tastebuds. There was the presence of pepper throughout each bite. Not a semi-acrid burn that can sometimes build whilst eating a scotch pie but a consistent, almost sweet, tingle that just added to the total flavour profile. This was good.

Pastry: The good news continued with the pastry. Although it was a little soft, no doubt as a result of the ample treasure it was concealing, there was no sticking to the tin foil case and falling apart as I lifted it. It was a lovely golden brown colour and although the top layer puff pastry disc was a little off centre this still felt like one of the neatest pies I’d seen in a long time.

Brown Sauce: I think it would have been near blasphemy to put a condiment on this bad boy.

Overall: Generous filling and size. Tasty meat, unctuous gravy, golden pastry. Belter of a pie!

Gravy Factor: Give me another ladle full.

An absolute triumph of a pie from Portland Park. I’ve not had one that good in a long time and I would recommend a trip to Troon just to eat it. Will the streak continue next time out with the intriguing sounding Bacon Mac & Cheese Pie from Ibrox?

Until then, 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 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 139: The Kelty Hearts Pie

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Hello pie fans and welcome to another edition of Meat Filled Pastries home to all your football scran needs from Scotland and beyond. For this week’s review I headed east to Kelty in the Kingdom of Fife to see how the newly promoted Lowland League side are shaping up and to also get a look at how the club has transformed itself over the last couple of years since it’s decision to leave the junior ranks and seek pastures new in the Scottish senior football set up. I cover that very topic in the next edition of The Football Pink  (of course I’ll be punting that on you in the not too distant future) and so won’t dwell on it here but would like to take a few lines to share a couple of observations from my visit to New Central Park.

The first thing that strikes you is the – and I hate using this word in a football context – branding. You would have to be blind not to know that you were at the home of Kelty Hearts. Along with the name of the club and crest plastered on any free bit of space the ground itself is awash with support from local businesses. I go to a lot of lower league football and never has a ground looked more like a Mexican football shirt than the barriers and walls here. The final thing to notice, and you will notice it, is the construction of a new all-seater stand, replacing what was before a fairly small piece of covered terracing. The Kelty Hearts twitter feed shows the transformation in tweet form and the difference is clearly there to be seen. This is a team, that on the face of it, are going places.

Whilst I wish Kelty Hearts success on their new adventure, I of course am even more interested in is how good their pies are. So without much further ado, let’s rate some pies.

Where: New Central Park, Kelty Hearts 4-1 Brora Rangers, Friendly

Price: £1.50 for a scotch pie. This seems to have evolved into the pricing sweet spot for a top level non-league pie. Considering that in your local butcher these can retail from anywhere between 80p to a £1+ per pie it’s really not much to pay for a hot lunch.

Presentation: Going back to that branding for a second and the presence of a medium-sized napkin that was not white but maroon, just went to show the thought behind the Kelty project.

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Meatiness: This pie was an interesting one. Focusing on the meat first and the initial taste was very good. A savoury hit of loosely textured meat with a subtlety of spicing that was all in all a very pleasant bite. As I continued to make my way through my 3pm lunchtime snack I noticed an ever growing build up of salt in each bite. At first the strength of this was fine – I’m OK with a generous flurry of salt usually – but the closer to the end of the pastry I got the more that slight hum turned into a crescendo that eventually drew most of the moisture out of my mouth leaving me to reach for a cold beverage. I’m almost certain that this wouldn’t have been the norm and more an over-zealous hand when making the filling. Sometimes you give a pie the benefit of the doubt, and on this occasion it seems the right thing to do as up until then we were on to a winner.

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Pastry: The pastry was a lot darker than you would usually have on a scotch pie, not as a result of an overbake but of something else, that despite six seasons of doing this I am unsure of exactly what. It would be remiss of me not to mention that the pastry walls were lacking a little in structure almost splitting exactly into quarters meaning that a little juggling was required but it all tasted fairly good.

Brown Sauce: HP – best of gear.

Overall: Rein in the saltiness and sturdy up those walls and you have yourself a pretty decent wee pastry here.

Gravy Factor: Mibbe just a few granules too many.

So that’s the second review of the season in the bag. As every season goes by it becomes that little bit more difficult to find new pastries whilst also regularly following your own team especially when they become settled in a league so I’m toying with the idea of doing some re-visits of previously reviewed pies. Especially some of the earlier ones where the reviews were mere footnotes compared with some of the behemoths that now can occupy these pages. Hopefully though I can keep those new pies coming.

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, 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 Spanish football expert. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ and part-time Madrileno with a passion for food that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.