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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.

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Pie 141: The Renfrew Pie

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Welcome to the latest edition of Meat Filled Pastries, Scotland’s only premier football pastry reviewing website. The season is now fully underway in Scotland and given the sun is still shining that little bit later I’ve been able to build up a bank of pastries for your perusal over the next few weeks.

But for now a question for your consideration. When do you have a pie?

Do you have it at the start to help soak up some pre-match beverages safe in the knowledge that you won’t miss any of the game or do you wait until half time and gamble on the queue going down quick enough so that you’re back in your spot before the action re-commences? Some, the most gambly of gamblers, will wait until after half time, avoiding the queues but also running the risk that there will be no pastries to be found.

Routines exist across the globe. When I lived in Spain I was often amazed about some aspects of a fans match day repertoire but perhaps none more so than the tradition of “El Bocata por el Descanso” – the sandwich for the break – where even the mere suggestion of eating your jamon or chorizo piece before the mid game interval would be met with utter contempt. However as soon as the referee has removed the whistle from his lips to signal the end of the first 45 minutes en masse the crowd will go into their polybags brought from home, unwrap the tinfoil and tuck into the sandwich of their choice, no doubt explaining during each chew how much of a “puta” the referee is because nothing excites a Spanish fan more than being antagonised by the arbitro’s performance.

For me, I prefer the before match approach, it almost always guarantees receipt of a pastry which is helpful when you run a website reviewing them and – on a Saturday at least – it will double as my first “meal” of the day. So on arrival at New Western Park, that’s exactly what I did.

Which means, without much further ado, let’s rate some pre-match pie!

Where: New Western Park, Renfrew 1-1 Pollok, West Premiership

Price: At £1.50 this pie was once again in the junior pie pricing sweet spot. As an aside, I noticed that the steak pie, usually deemed as luxury on these pages, was exactly the same price. Bargain.

Presentation: In a recent review of the Kelty Hearts pie I had commended the Fife club on their use of colour coordinated napkins. At Renfrew, who’s large napkin was of substantial size to hold and mop with, it was not blue or white (the team’s colours) but a bright sunflower yellow. Given the proximity of IKEA to this ground, would I be wrong to speculate on the influence the Swedes may have had here? Almost certainly but I’m doing it anyway. Good napkin though.

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Meatiness: This was a pie that, for me anyway, hit all the right notes. The meat was of the right texture with a nice moistness to the fill meaning that it both held together but also broke away quite easily. It was also very savoury with a slight pepper kick to it as you went through without the heat ever building to anything more than a hum. I thought it was pretty good.

Pastry: This pie had a smooth top with no steam hole present. The edge was crisp on top and the base solid. There were a few cracks in the side of the pastry bringing it’s overall structural integrity into question and the top was perhaps a little thick but in general I would say that it was more than satisfactory.

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Brown Sauce: After the Cumbernauld Colts debacle we returned to routine with a splash of brown sauce to help enhance those spiced meat flavours.

Overall: Tasty meat that I did find myself keen to take another bite of with pastry that did the job despite a couple of small flaws. Feels like a while since I’ve been able to review a good solid scotch pie, but I would say this was one.

Gravy Factor: Ahhh, Bisto.

So a decent effort from Renfrew and the junior pie adventures continue as next up we have a behemoth of a steak pie from Troon FC before something a bit different from the senior ranks.

Until next time 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 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 140: The Cumbernauld Colts Pie

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Welcome to another edition of Meat Filled Pastries and my first foray into the Lowland League this season but before we get into that let’s talk about the Fringe. Edinburgh’s month-long festival of comedy, music, dance, arts, cinema etc. is not somewhere you would usually associate with the humble pie. I mean, there will almost certainly be a food stall or two offering you this meaty staple and the word pie itself is rife with the kind of innuendo that an easy joke is made for – I should know – but all in all, barring a rather grisly murder reference in the Shakespeare tragedy Titus Andronicus where two victims are baked into a pie, it isn’t necessarily renowned for its theatrical prowess. Enter The Pieman Cometh. A Scottish football comedy that I took a trip to see during the week.

It’s safe to say that I may have been one of the few people to fit into the middle part of their target audience Venn diagram, given my love for both football and pies, and if I didn’t know better then I would have thought this play had been wrote specifically with me in mind. Like most shows of which I have no prior knowledge of I went in with fairly low expectations but I am pleased to report this was actually pretty enjoyable. The story is an often told one around the pitfalls of football finance and for some it will be all to familiar. Although there was nothing overly ground-breaking the perspective and narrative were both good. Some of the characters especially the elderly fan were strong and in this instance particularly relatable. The jokes came round often enough to keep you going and although the ending felt a little abrupt I’d recommend it as a decent way to spend an hour in Edinburgh especially if you have a fondness for football.

Arts critique out the way let’s move on to some more familiar ground, and so without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!

Where: Broadwood Stadium, Cumbernauld Colts 3-2 Kelty Hearts, Lowland League

Price: A fairly substantial £2 for a scotch pie sees this pastry priced more at a Scottish Championship level. It’s also extremely prudent for me to mention that I had to wait until just before half time for my pastry which – given the Friday night kick off – was also doubling as my dinner. I also noticed that they ran out before the half time interval was over, always a bone of contention for football fans.

Presentation: Presented on a medium-sized, if perhaps a little thin, white napkin. Just enough to support the pastry during consumption and mop up your face afterwards.

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Meatiness: On first appearances I had my suspicions about where this pie came from, but what my meat filled trails have always taught me is always to take each pie on its individual merits. This pie was pretty good. The meat was well textured and had a good hit of pepper on the after bite. It was also the first pie in a very long time that had a little greasy dribble fall down my fingers. Not necessarily a bad thing, and in some ways it was weirdly nice to see the fat almost instantly harden in the ever Siberian-esque Broadwood conditions. It was perhaps a little flat in terms of quantity when checking the ratios against the pastry but all in all was tasty enough.

Pastry: This pie had a perfectly smooth top and the trim had earned itself a nice golden colour in the oven. Both the lid and base though were perhaps a bit too thick and as a result were slightly under done and a little bit doughy to the bite. It was however incredibly sturdy and I had little fears about losing and filling to the cold stone terracing below.

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Brown Sauce: Yes, the pictures don’t lie. There was no sauce options on offer here. I don’t think in over six years of reviewing pies this had ever happened before and I’d hope it doesn’t happen again.

Overall: This pie tasted pretty good but the pastry was a little thick and the lack of condiments and running out are both match day catering faux pas’. Having managed to get one though I was happy enough.

Gravy Factor: I missed my brown sauce.

So a decent pie with a few teething problems on review of the overall pastry eating experience. Next up a return to the juniors for the first day of the new West Premiership season and a review from Renfrew.

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 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.

 

 

 

 

 

In Search of the SWPL

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The second half of the Scottish Women’s season is about to get underway following the traditional midsummer break. Hibernian and Glasgow City sit head and shoulders above the rest with the Edinburgh side looking to end City’s 11 year run of domestic dominance. Both sides on 35 points with 11 wins and two draws to their names with an end of season showdown already feeling inevitable. I often attend women’s games, choosing real life entertainment against whatever Premier League fixture have cobbled together under the guise of “Super Sunday” but for many a stigma remains, one that dictates that the quality isn’t very good and that nobody really cares. But what’s the cause of this and is there a resolution to be found?

A first attempt to find a list of women’s fixtures instantly flags an issue. Whilst the Scottish Women’s Football (SWF) website is a reliable source, including regularly updated kick off times and locations across all senior women’s leagues it’s a resource that is only known to those that know. Google obviously helps but statistics dictate that your average fan is more than likely to head to one of the two behemoths of web/app based sports coverage in the UK, namely the BBC and Sky Sports. The problem is should you rely solely on these then your search for Scottish women’s fixtures will be ultimately fruitless.

This, along with coverage in general, been a constant source of bemusement to me for some time, with BBC Scotland particularly culpable such is their perceived lack of ability to cover the mere basics. A deficiency made even more stark when you look at the coverage the women’s game gets south of the border on the very same site. While an entire subsite is dedicated to the women’s game direct from the BBC Sport home page this is very much an England centric proposition. Here you can find latest news from the clubs, view fixtures and league tables. It would be remiss of me not to mention that Scottish football does feature but the aforementioned basics are nowhere to be found.

Then there is the Women’s Football Show a regularly scheduled look at the going on’s within the Women’s Super League (WSL) including match highlights and interviews with prominent figures. The Women’s FA Cup Final is now a key part of the BBC’s May Bank Holiday schedule, broadcast in full HD and with over 45,000 in attendance at this years final. It feels like a big deal. Meanwhile in Scotland fans are treated to BBC Alba and picture quality that would have raised cries of derision twenty years ago. At least you’ll get to brush up on your Gaelic. There will be some people who read this and automatically go into defence mode, how it’s not Scotland’s fault and how we are forever marginalised on a UK scale. There is a smidgen of merit in that, anybody who has lived in the south of England particular will have had at least one conversation about Scotland that has left you dumbfounded in its ignorance but are the people that should be held for account not those in charge of the BBC Sport Scotland mandate? Is it not their job to be that voice?

There is some evidence they are trying though, albeit in a near typical backwards fashion. During the World Cup a common consensus formed that Alex Scott – by taking the rare approach of combining enthusiasm and research to her football punditry brief – was a welcome addition to the coverage. Sportscene had already followed that path somewhat and have had current and former Scottish Women’s footballers appear on Sportscene and Radio Scotland to pass comment on frequent occasion although the coverage itself on these outlets can sometimes leave a lot to be desired. There is also, usually, a couple of articles buried on the Scottish Football section of the website giving a summary of the weekend’s action although it’s regular brevity leaves you wondering how much pressure is put on to produce high quality content. BBC Alba does at least play the game a little, not only showing the Scottish Cup Final but regular coverage of both international women’s football and the odd Glasgow City European adventure, though once again you do have to ask if this really is the best way to get new eyes on the game?

I’m not sure that the blame should be left solely at the BBC’s door though. Imagine if you will that you have somehow made your way to the SWF website and now find yourself looking at the upcoming Sunday’s fixtures. The likelihood is that you will already support a men’s side and so naturally you peruse the page looking for their female equivalent.

Unfortunately that doesn’t always work.

Let’s take this weekend for example. Not only is it the return of the women’s season but it is also kick off time for the SPFL. On Sunday, Aberdeen play Rangers in the stand out fixture of the weekend as Steven Gerrard makes his league debut away to one of the teams his side will be looking to overhaul. With a 1pm Sunday kick off to allow for TV coverage you would think that this would provide you the perfect opportunity to get yourself down to your first women’s match. Well, I’m sorry to report, you would be wrong. Whilst the seagulls at Pittodrie look on in hungry anticipation of that first flung pie in the SWPL Aberdeen travel to Dalkeith to take on Hearts at 2pm whilst Rangers travel to Station Park to take on Forfar Farmington. The kick off time there? 1pm. So I ask, as a fan with a stronger connection to the men’s side than women’s of one of these two sides, what choice are you most likely to make? For many it’s an easy decision.

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This isn’t confined to same club conflicts though and often top women’s games are forced to clash with the best that Scottish football offer. For example, the 2017 Scottish Women’s Cup Final was played at the same time as the men’s Scottish League Cup Final. I mean give yourselves a chance! Now there’s reasons for this, pitch availability I have seen often cited but when the SWPL, and in turn the SFA, don’t make the game a priority how can they expect a fan too?

Irrespective of the challenges above you’ve thrown caution to the wind and picked a fixture, the next thing you need to know is where you need to go. Most women’s clubs will have somewhere that they call “home”. Teams with affiliations to their male counterparts will often ground share such as Forfar Farmington (Station Park) and St. Johnstone (McDiarmid Park). Some clubs will host their women’s fixtures at local junior or lower league ground such as Rangers at New Tinto Park just a ten minute walk from Ibrox and Hibernian at Ainslie Park home of Lowland League Spartans. The recurring theme, and by association the problem, is that while these teams will have a “home” none of them are a place that they could call their own and so on occasion they have to go on the move. Where they move to though is often telling of the challenges the women’s game in Scotland faces.

Let’s take a look at the 3rd Round of the SSE Scottish Women’s Cup. Scottish women’s football most successful club and current SWPL champions Glasgow City host league counterparts Stirling University. The dominant force in Scottish women’s football for well over a decade have been most recently based out of Petershill Park in the north of the city. For this tie, arguably the pick of the round, they find themselves based at St. Mungo’s Academy, a school linked sports complex close to their spiritual home. They’re not the only ones though, Hearts usually based from Kings Park, home of Dalkeith Thistle, host Spartans at Glencorse Community Centre. It’s hard for critics to take the women’s game seriously when you’re watching teams being hurried off the park because the local men’s amateur game is next up.

So you’ve managed to find a fixture, you’ve mapped your path there and triple checked the kick off time. You walk up to the venue and find yourself wondering just what should you expect from your first women’s football experience? The honest answer is pretty much anything.

Much like at any level or grade of football the quality of play in show could be anything from utterly mundane to totally ludicrous with the majority falling somewhere in between. For example, a Scottish Cup tie between Blackburn United and Ayr United that I attended earlier in the season finished 10-9 after extra time, it was a mere 8-8 after 90 minutes. The quality wasn’t great but the drama as the game ebbed and flowed would be the stuff of TV executive wet dreams. An hour later I was back in Glasgow watching a fairly tame 2-0 win for Queen’s Park against Morton. You are probably more likely to get the odd 15 goal procession as the standard varies greatly from top to bottom but even those sometimes provide their own strange little spectacle.

Quality of play aside, what else do you need to know? Well, it’s a bit of a bargain with even the top sides rarely charging more than £5 although I would suggest that you have low expectations around catering facilities. Scotland games aside I am yet to find a women’s game where a pie can be had although usually there’ll be a way to at least find a beverage. Also whilst modern football stadia confines you to just one seat, given the relative sparse nature of the crowds and the types of venues these games take place at, you will be free to roam the terraces looking for the perfect spot. You will also invariably end up in a conversation with someone who is usually a friend or relative of one of the players.

All that being said the experience you have will be very much dependent on your mindset going into it. If you go with expectations of seeing the female versions of Messi and Ronaldo duelling in front of a packed stadium then I suggest you have a re-think. If however, you turn up with an open mind then I suggest the experience you have will be considerably better than lying flat on your couch as Huddersfield and Southampton do battle in pursuit of 15th place in the Premier League.

In a country where the women’s national side is infinitely more successful than their male counterparts it seems strange to say that the domestic game hasn’t really progressed all that much. Whilst Hibernian have emerged as real challengers to Glasgow City’s monopoly on the SWPL title, a recent top of the table clash between the two had an attendance no more than a couple of hundred and was delayed due to a lower league game being played on the same pitch running late. Top Scottish players now in the main play abroad and I have no doubt that some of the challenges covered here will have played a part in that.

Taking all things into consideration though it is important that you don’t let the sparse attendances make you think that the SWPL doesn’t matter. That you don’t use the occasional sloppy pass as a trigger to question it’s quality. Don’t let a 12-0 win let you think it isn’t competitive and don’t let a lack of media presence let you think that it’s not worth talking about. So why not take a chance one Sunday afternoon, you just might like it.

Pie 138: The Dumbarton Steak & Gravy Pie

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Those three days between the end of the World Cup and the start of my football season were some of the most challenging of my life. Yes, it was almost certainly the best tournament I had lived through but nothing ever really beats being at an actual game. I was excited to start at a new ground in Bo’ness and of course with a new pie review as I followed my team Pollok east for some friendly action. Imagine then my disappointment as I scanned the terraces of Newtown Park to see that my post work dash to West Lothian was not going to be rewarded with a meat filled pastry dinner. I really hoped this wasn’t going to be a sign of things to come.

Fast forward to the following Saturday and a message exchange with my Kilmarnock supporting mate from uni saw me off to Dumbarton. Going “undercover” as an away fan is always a unique experience, the fans tend to be that little bit more boisterous, fuelled by a travel beer or two, the characters slightly more eclectic and the whole day just that little bit more enjoyable than taking seat with some of the home team regulars.

Despite the pies selling out at half time due to the volume of travelling fans I had snagged a pie just past the half hour mark, and with it securely wrapped inside my paw I welcome you to Season 6 of Meat Filled Pastries with Pie 138: The Dumbarton Steak & Gravy Pie.

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

Where: The C&G Systems Stadium, Dumbarton 2-4 KIlmarnock, Betfred Cup Group Stage

Price: As it was the first pie of a new season I thought I would treat myself to a little bit of luxury but at a whopping £2.60 – a full 70p more than a scotch pie – I was slightly aghast. Now maybe it’s because this was the first game of the season but when I looked up at the price board an audible “whit!” could be heard coming out my mouth. Remember this is Scottish League One fayre, not Ibrox or Parkhead. I was quite taken aback.

Presentation: A common presentation style for a steak based pie of a tinfoil case and medium-sized white napkin although the mis-shapen nature of the case (more pear shaped than round) should have hinted about the taste experience that was about to follow.

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Meatiness: The meat content of this pie was dispersed in some what of a higgledy piggledy manner meaning that at one side you were biting into some pastry lightly tickled by gravy whilst at the other there was a wealth of meaty treasure to be found. Various sized chunks of meat wrapped in a well seasoned if not particularly mind-blowing gravy. The meat was cooked well but didn’t leave you yearning for more nor wishing you’d never took a bite. It was just there.

Pastry: The pastry was on the surface fine. A nice golden tinge to the edges although the top was perhaps looking a little under-baked. The side walls had cracked quite a bit leaving its structural integrity in question but all in all it was holding and seemed passable without being in any danger of making it on “the best pies I have eaten” list. Then I took a bite. A bite of raw, sticking to the tinfoil bottom layer of something that  was…well it was awful. Claggy to the bite and with the ability to roll it up in a ball between my fingers. By the time I had finished my pie I needed more than a few slurps of fizzy pop to wash my mouth clean and seperate the paste from my teeth. Poor.

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Brown Sauce: Just a reminder that luxury pies require no brown sauce although in this instance it may have helped with the pastry.

Gravy Factor: We were on our way to an OK steak and gravy pie, with a golden if under-baked top and a decent filling however that base. That mush of paste masquerading as pastry was the definition of, no nice.

Overall: Not a fan.

Well I hope that’s not the season standard going forward. Luckily we have an early shot at redemption as I headed to Fife to take in a pre-season friendly between Kelty Hearts and Brora Rangers and of course scran a pie. I’ll keep you posted if anything interesting happens along the way, however, until next time go forth and eat pie.

Just maybe not this one.

One last thing. If you like football and scran then follow me on Twitter @MFPTasty and for a more food and travel based experience then have a look in Twitter for @mershdoes.

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’ and part-time Madrileno with a passion for food that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.

 

 

International Soccer Scran Special: 1. FC Nürnberg

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With the regular football season now officially over, and the World Cup in Russia upon us now seemed as good a time as any to add another chapter to the International Soccer Scran Special Series, a long overdue summary of my trip to Bavaria and in particular the Max Morlock Stadion in Nuremberg, a footballing stop off during a stag weekend that took us to Munich and Augsburg too. In fact the initial plan was to head to the Bavarian Derby between the two aforementioned clubs but an imminent Bayern title party in Swabia coupled with the German fans renowned for selling out grounds meant that tickets were hard to come by and whilst some were acquired there was not enough to facilitate the entire group and so Plan B was formed and a day in Nuremberg awaited us. So without much further ado let’s get elbow deep in a world of pretzels, tiny sausages, beer and some coverage in a local news outlet.

Location

Nuremberg is situated an approximate two hour train journey from central Munich. There is a “slow” train and a “quick” train that takes you to and from Bavaria’s biggest and second biggest cities. Unsurprisingly the “slow” train is a bit cheaper and, even cheaper still if you’re travelling in a large group, with our fare tumbling from around 80 per person to just 15(ish). Although we did eventually get the cheaper fair we hadn’t planned the journey very well and so on the slow train we arrived into Nuremberg’s main station just ten minute’s before kick off. The fates started to turn in a favour though as on exiting the station we were greeted by a thankfully quiet taxi rank and a short 15 minute ride later, which passed a game between the home town teams youth side at the side’s training complex, we had arrived at the Max Morlock Stadion.

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The ground is like many stadia in Germany serviced with a running track with the main stands to the side providing a closer view whilst the oval curves at the end providing views, that whilst a bit further away, are excellent values for money. Having taken the stairs to our seats in the top deck I was intrigued by the view through the plexiglass to an open piece of land behind the stand. Luckily somebody more up on their history than me identifed this as The Nuremberg Rally Grounds, home to a decades worth of Nazi propaganda. The stadium itself used as a hosting ground for the Hitler Youth and Nazi centric sporting competitions. When you think about the many modern stadiums built beside wasteland, industrial estates and shopping centres on the edges of cities and towns this trip to Nuremeberg led to a surprising and unexpected moment of reflection back to very different times.

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Eating Outside the Ground

The Max Morlock Stadion, as previously hinted at, is situated a decent distance away from the main centre of Nuremberg and with very little around it so if you do have a preference for snacking before going to a game then I’d suggest hanging out in the centre where you have your expected mix of Bier Halles and high street restaurants. Beside the main station there is an interesting historical looking (although I suspect very modern) little conclave with some shops, cafes and bars. There’s plenty of options to choose from but I suspect a review of Nuremberg city centre is not what you came for though so let’s get out that taxi and into the ground.

Eating Inside the Ground

Entry into the stadium is via a gated perimeter which, one navigated, presents you with a decent selection of food and beverage options. As this was a stag do let’s start with the important stuff, an item close to every Bavarian’s heart, the beer. Firstly, and this is a strange thing to have to call out, they are alcoholic and can be taken into the stand with you. Served in a rather nifty branded plastic up, emblazoned with the 1. FC Nürnberg crest. A bit of further reasearch showed that this is a fairly common theme at grounds across Germany. I found myself thinking that if it wasn’t a) so fragile and b) be absolutely minging by the time you got it home, it would make a nice souvenir of your trip. I’d love to give you a price per pint but stag do’s aren’t necessarily the place for that kind of detail although if you had to push me I think it was around the £4 mark. Expensive but about average when you are part of a captive audience.

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Your main food options were, also refreshingly traditional, pretzels and sausage. I think it’s fair to say that you’ve not really experienced a pretzel until you’ve been handed a face size Bavarian version of this baked good. There were two varieties that I could see. Plain, dusted unmistakably with salt, and cheese. Naturally, I conspired to try both and whilst each provided that combination of soft white dough and chewy dark brown crust that anyone who has ever had a soft pretzel will know the cheese version provided that extra level of flavour that the plain salt didn’t have. The flavour profile enhanced by those crispy bits that only cheese can provide when it catches on the bottom of the tray. They really are the ideal snack/hangover meal replacement to go with a beer.

Post game and with the beer hunger still rumbling on I made use of another kiosk situated on the perimeter of the stands and had a roll and sausage. Not square, as often found back home in Scotland and neither large and long like the Bratwursts and Bockwursts of your Germanic dreams but a more local speciality known as the Nurnburger Rostbratwurst. Three of them to be precise, tidily stuffed inside a simple white bread bun like a trio of meaty soldiers and (when you actually manage to locate the condiments) topped with ketchup and mustard. Like their much larger wurst brothers these are usually grilled however their differentiation in flavour is the addition of marjoram to the sausage mix. Although the sausage is much smaller, meaning that the casing to meat ratio is drastically increased I enjoyed the more regular pop that these tiny, tasty bangers provide.

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German football is often championed as the crème de la crème in relation to a fans match day experience and with cheap tickets, noisy supporters, proper beer and a wide range of food options it’s easy to see why. It also, like football across the globe, gets covered extensively from the very bottom to the very top. Sometimes the local press will even grab a bunch of drunk Scottish folk in Where’s Wally outfits and ask them what they are doing there. So if your German is half-decent, and you want to see what our man Jambo made of our day then you can do so here.

1. FC Nurnberg Soccer Scran Top Tips

  • Big groups equal discounted travel from Munich, just get your timings right for kick off.
  • Take some paper towels with you so that you can take home a branded plastic cup for free.
  • If you’re sitting in the end nearest the main entrance then make sure to take a look at the Nuremberg Rally Grounds, might as well learn something whilst you’re here.

I had been to Germany a couple of times before this and somehow managed to conspire to not get to a football game so this was a good day for checking things off my footballing bucket list. Overall the version of Bavaria that I saw during my long weekend there played very much into the stereotype of beer, beer festivals, sausage, pretzels, and just when you think you can’t manage another one more beer (and sausages. and pretzels).

Next up I’ll tackle my biggest International Soccer Scran piece until last as I do a retrospective on my time in Madrid both last year and for a few days this covering games from the Bernabeu to the Polideportivo Vicente Del Bosque and everywhere in between.

However until next time go forth and eat pie (or pretzels!)

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’ and part-time Madrileño with a passion for food that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.

 

Pie 137: The Glasgow Perthshire Pie

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So here it is, my last pie review of the 2017/18 season. A season that has taken me across Scotland and Spain with some stop offs in Germany and Portugal along the way. I went to my first game back in July with no inclination to start doing the pie reviews again as I thought it had run its course but I’m glad I’ve come back to it. It’s helped to re-kindle what has sometimes felt a lost love for writing and whilst I still struggle to juggle real life with my aspirational one I feel I’m slowly starting to win the battle.

I don’t believe in recapping what I think has been the best or worst but instead reflecting on the opportunities it has presented to date and the new people that I’ve met whilst focusing on what will be hopefully forthcoming in the future, pie related or otherwise.

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

Where: Keppoch Park, Glasgow Perthshire 1-2 Pollok, Central League Cup Semi Final

Price: Advertised at £1.50 the total bill of £3.20 for two pies and a bottle of water (advertised at 50p) would suggest that this pie was £1.35 which doesn’t seem right at all. For the sake of this piece let’s call it £1.50. Maybe I got it wrong.

Presentation: It always seems fitting to book end the start and end of the season with the ever classical medium-sized white napkin. It always does the job.

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Meatiness: This was a well filled pastry. The texture was good if maybe a little loose meaning that on a couple of occasions a bite was followed by a quick juggle on the bottom lip to ensure that the meat didn’t hit the grass bank beneath me. There was a light pepper kick to this pastry that didn’t have much linger to it and overall whilst there was a hint of meaty flavour it perhaps lacked a little punch overall.

Pastry: The pastry was crisp and had a nice golden tinge to it but as can be seen in the pictures had a few cracks in the side walls meaning the structural integrity of the pie was let down a litte. That aside though there was nothing wrong with it from a taste perspective.

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Brown Sauce: Missed the brand but came in one of the large squeezy bottles you would often see at food vans and cash & carry’s alike. Did the job.

Overall: Generous filling that perhaps needed a little bit more oomph.

Gravy Factor: Just a spoonful shy of the perfect  flavour and consistency.

So that’s it, another season in the books, but keep your eyes peeled on the site during the off season as my evolution to more football and food based content continues with the next two installments in my International Soccer Scran Series. I might throw a couple of World Cup things in there too.

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 and The FBA’s as well as featuring in The Scotsman, STV and a number of other media outlets. 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.