groundhopping

Pie 196: The Caledonian Braves Pie

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Bonjour et bienvenue aux pâtisseries farcies à la viande.

After a little break due to a bustling schedule, a schedule that I will soon be pining after for a multitude of reasons, Meat Filled Pastries is back as we take another foray into the Lowland League heading to Bothwellhaugh, the home of Caledonian Braves, one of the most intriguing clubs in Scottish non-league football.

Formed in 2011 the club were re-anointed as the Caledonian Braves following a spell as Edusport Academy and there remains a distinctly gallic feel to matchday proceedings with both the pie hit and the sole turnstile run by French students from the academy. Their cross channel influence is not the only driver of curiosity though as their approach to fandom is one that also raises eyebrows, especially to died in the wool traditionalists.

The super-abbreviated version of events is that in 2018 they implemented an online membership scheme called Our Football Club, changing their name and switching focus from a traditional matchday fanbase towards a far reaching global community where participants have the option, for a fee to help shape the clubs future. If it’s more depth you seek then I would recommend clicking here.

How it works long term remains to be seen. As an unbiased observer and somebody who has seen similar plans fail to fully ignite at other clubs in the past, the ambition to ascend the Scottish football pyramid and reach the Premiership is admirable but seems a stretch in their current guise.

I wish them well, I have no reason not to, and at time of writing they remain comfortably situated in the middle of the fifth tier, a level of positional sustainability that should be commended given the continuous clashing of non-league football’s teutonic plates in Scotland.

But how are the pies? Well, with hands well and truly frozen, I headed back out the ground and into the hospitality room/pie hut and got ready to chow down.

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

Where: Alliance Park, Caledonian Braves 2-3 Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic, Lowland League

Price: At £2, this is at the very top end for a non-league scotch pie, but you can always live with a little extra further down the pyramid, as long as the pastry matches up to it.

Presentation: You can maybe just see the plate keeking out under the large white napkin but if you can’t I can assure you there was one there. A bit superfluous in my opinion as the napkin was plenty, and when I went back for a second I politely said, “no, merci” to a paper platter.

Meatiness: This was a decent little pie. It was perhaps a little cool to the touch but it was well filled and had a gentle pepper kick, one that may have been more prominent if the pastry had a bit more heat. It held together well and all in all was a tasty enough bite.

Pastry: Well baked with a nice golden tinge to the edges. The top may be viewed as a little pale for some, and it definitely had a slight biscuity edge to it, but overall it did its primary role of containing the filling with minimal fuss.

Brown Sauce: If the pie was a little cool, the sauce was practically icy, with outdoor conditions playing a part for sure. One for those deviants who believe that condiments belong the fridge. Spicy enough though for a non-brand offering.

Overall: A solid if unspectacular effort from Alliance Park. I wouldn’t hesitate to have another should I manage to successfully take the right exit at the roundabout next time I’m in North Lanarkshire.

I’ve been sitting on this review for a while, for no other reason that I have been really busy with the women’s season kicking off just as the men’s one was getting to the best time of the season.

I write this now as I face the fact that I am soon set to find myself with an abundance of free time. Football has very much turned into my life and livelihood, something that an 8-year-old me would be marking the fuck out for, but just now it’s a case of battening down the hatches and making it to the other side.

Stay safe, look after one another, and if you ever feel yourself missing your football fix then remember there is a 196 pie reviews right here at your fingertips.

However until next time, and WE WILL get to Pie 200, 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 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 195: The Queen’s Park Cheesy Bean Pie

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Hello pie fans and welcome to the latest perusal of pastry brought to you by your friends at Meat Filled Pastries.

It would be easy to drone on about the weather to start this week’s blog but personally I find the discourse tedious and discarding the fact that Scotlan’s climate isn’t prone to bouts of heavy shiteness at least ten months of the year is a convenient way to fill up a few paragraphs with no match action to call on. Surely the free time that the players now have could be used to conduct long form interviews or go more in depth on previous game analysis, but why do that when you can smash the words SUMMER FOOTBALL repeatedly into your keyboard instead.

As part of this week’s introduction I want to plug the new series of A View From the Terrace, which I’m currently working on, and in particular the VT featuring BSC Glasgow from last Friday’s episode which is linked here for eternity. It’s genuinely fantastic and not only does it go behind the scenes at the club ahead of the biggest match in their short history but it also features a goal from Meat Filled Pastries very own Ross Smith. I recommend watching it.

Back to the weather for the briefest of moments and the conditions have led to me hitting the road a bit more recently although as it continued to rain sideways I decided to stay close to home a couple of weeks ago and head to Hampden as Queen’s Park hosted Elgin City in Scottish League Two.

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

Where: Hampden Park, Queen’s Park 2-0 Elgin City, Scottish League Two

Price: £2.80. As always at Hampden the surroundings come with a hefty price tag. I also had a Haggis, Neeps & Tatties Pie that was identical to the offering recently had at Ibrox, but was 60p more expensive. I would hope with the future move to Lesser Hampden the pricing will move in line with the level of competition the side are competing in.

Presentation: Pretty standard at large stadia in that it came within a tin foil case and on top of a small square white napkin.

CheesyBeaniness: I’ve spoke in the past about my lack of love for the Queen’s Park Cheese & Onion Pie, so I approached Hampden’s vegetarian offering for the day with a bit of trepidation, a trepidation that would prove to be not entirely unwarranted. The consistency was the same as on that fateful afternoon, thick and gummy. The paste accompanied with an acrid kick of pepper on the back of the throat which had my hippocampus lurching back to bites of time past. There was the sweetness of the beans to play with this time although their presence was miserly and when an ingredient as humble as the baked bean can’t be splashed about then something isn’t quite right with your pie’s construction.

Pastry: A bit smashed up on delivery the top was loose and as can be seen by the first bite images the sides bucked a little underneath the biting pressure of my jaw. It was nice and crispy though, had a decent colour and mercifully was not stuck to the bottom of the case.

Overall: Not the greatest but an improvement on the Cheese & Onion Pie that still haunts my dreams. The providers need a lot more beans and significantly less pepper in the base mix used to throw these vegetarian offerings together and I would say that non-meat eaters deserver better.

The curse of the big stadium continues, next time out we head to Alliance Park, home of Caledonian Braves, as they host Lowland League title chasers Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic.

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 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 194: The Darvel Pie

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Hello, and welcome to the latest dissection of match day pastry, this time from East Ayrshire side Darvel, a side with perhaps the biggest pie presence in Scottish football thanks to the fairly recent involvement of Browning’s the Bakers at the club.

Whilst the away dugout remains a squat little stone cover, with a bench for no more than three, or maybe four if they are particularly young and spindly, derrieres, the home dug out is big and plastic and modern, somewhat out of kilter with its modest but developing surroundings. The frame of which shouts in yellow the phrase, “Say Aye to a Kilmarnock Pie”.

Not “Killie Pie”, that particular colloquialism was removed from the Brownings product as a result of a dispute with the Scottish Premiership side however that hasn’t stopped every single person asking for one at the brightly decorated kiosk in Recreation Park from using it. If you want to read more about why that change in moniker came about then you can do so in my Scottish Football Histories piece about Scotland’s national pastry.

The Kilmarnock Pie is still big business though and it again featured well at the World Scotch Pie Championships, but I’ve had it on multiple occasions including at Rugby Park, and so instead I plumped for the original match day treat, the Scotch Pie. So without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!

Where: Recreation Park: Darvel 2-1 Petershill, Recreation Park, Scottish Junior Cup 5th Round Replay

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Price: £1.20. A price that is not too much nor too little. Just right to sway those few who dither when on the search of sustenance following a pre-match pint or two. For reference, and because I had one too, the Kilmarnock Pie came in at £2, a decent price for a slice of luxury.

Presentation: Unusually for a scotch pie at junior level this pie came within a shiny foil sheath snuggly wrapped around the pastry. Below, a single, but ample, napkin. Ideal.

Meatiness: As was the case with the Kilmarnock Pie, this too was a pastry with much previous acclaim, in fact a Scotch Pie World Champion of competitions past and it was easy to understand why as the warming hint of pepper tingled across the tongue before lingering as the teams made their way out onto the pitch. The meat, with a texture that held to the bite, was laced with enough grease to keep each morsel moist without leaving a sheen across the lips.

Pastry: It looked good, well sealed on top and with a crispness to the edge that overhung slightly on one side, however the pastry within the casing had gone soft falling apart as it was lifted out of the place that it had called home for the 35-40 minutes spent in the bakers oven. It may have been a little too supple but it was certainly cooked through although the steaming that it had undergone at some point made for a distracting bite.

Brown Sauce: Unusually for this level there was no big squeezy bottle, branded or otherwise, but a cardboard dispensary bursting with little blue packs of HP Sauce of sufficient size that meant one was plenty.

Overall: A generous and well-balanced treat that was only let down by pastry that wilted under the weight of its plentiful bounty.

A delicious wee treat from Darvel, soft pastry aside, and all in all an enjoyable first trip to Recreation Park as the home side reached the Scottish Junior Cup Quarter Finals for the first time since 1985. The pitch just about held up as the game wore on and those involved were clearly in the Scottish Cup spirit as I was also able to treat myself to very special Darvel themed Empire Biscuit, with Petershill versions also available for their Glaswegian visitors.

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Keep your eyes peeled for the next review, however 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. 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 193: The Rangers Haggis, Neeps & Tatties Pie

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Hello and welcome to a slightly delayed jaunt to the land of meat filled mirth as we once again go into the breach with a pie in honour of our nation’s bard, Robert Burns, from the house that staunch built as Rangers took on Stranraer in Scottish Cup action.

Regular readers will know that I have had a tumultuous history with the “Pie of the Month” offerings of Ibrox visits past. The wonderful sounding Pie 147: Chicken & Chorizo Pie still haunts my weekly pie queue daydreams. A filling akin to an emptying of hot sick that somehow managed to turn the usual stampede of flavour that chorizo brings into a quivering new born foal. The lid coming clean off in what I can only assume was a last desperate attempt at freedom by the chicken that had been so cruelly sacrificed as part of this pastries misconception.

It’s still not the worst pie I have encountered of my now many years of travels though, that accolade belongs to Pie 126: The Queen’s Park Cheese & Onion Pie. A pie that I described at the time as both “bland and yet somehow offensive” with pastry saw raw that even the most discerning of play-doh eating toddlers would turn their nose up at smashing it into their face.

So yes, as I ordered my latest big venue luxury offering, I did so with much trepidation. Was that trepidation merited? Well without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!

Where: Ibrox Stadium, Rangers 2-0 Stranraer, Scottish Cup 4th Round

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Price: £3.10. The first of what turned out to be a number of pleasant surprises, on an evening devoid of much on-field entertainment, this pastry came in a full 40p less than the last luxury offering sampled in Glasgow’s Southside. For a captive audience the pricing is still more than plenty but the four pound coins resting in my hand were released with just a little more ease than they had been before.

Presentation: It was a little thin but sufficient in size to keep your pastry safe in hand and the mouth clear of debris once you had taken, and hopefully savoured, your final bite. It’s tin foil housing a little loose and perhaps, from my reckoning at least, superfluous for the need.

Meatiness: There was no fuss here with no melange to speak of, just a healthy dollop of decently flavoured haggis. There was a kick spicy enough to set off a few pin pricks on the surface of the tongue but the texture was just a bit too tight, almost claggy in the mouth once you had ruminated on it for a second or two. Not unpleasant but not quite good enough to dub it as the very best version of what it could be.

Pastry: A touch pale. I wouldn’t want to leave this sitting unattended during one of those rarely seen scorching Scottish days for fear of it turning a shade of crimson that would make it appear to be inedible, but structurally it certainly held well enough. There was a slightly clumsy swirl of smooth if a little under seasoned mashed potato whilst the final flourish, a dab of neeps on top was crushed, one can only assume from transit, but the flavour and colour contrast between the two was a welcome addition.

Overall: A significant improvement on Pie of the Month offerings of light blue concessions past. It wasn’t perfect, the pastry needed some more colour, the haggis a little less manipulation into the casing and the veg an extra notch or two of seasoning but overall this was a handy little pie.

I’ve stripped back this review. For a while now there has been things that have felt convoluted and it’s sometimes easy to forget that when you are both editor and scribe that you can improve things along the way as much by subtraction as you can with addition.

The next review is yet to be confirmed, but it will be on its way, we’ve got 200 pies to eat. 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 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 191: The BSC Glasgow Steak Pie

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Hello and welcome to the latest review from Meat Filled Pastries, I hope this finds you well and that your start to the new year has been everything that you’ve wanted it to be and that your first game of the 202 has been an absolute rip-snorter.

After an hour or so at the artitist-formerly-known-as Recreation Park my first foot adventure to Clackmannanshire was looking like being anything but as BSC Glasgow and Bonnyrigg Rose cancelled each other out in this crucial Lowland League title clash. By the time the full time whistle had rung though my appetite for entertaining football had been suitable sated as the visitors from Midlothian let slip a two goal lead before snatching victory at the death, sparking wild scenes from a healthy travelling support and on the touchline, where the exuberance from Rose boss Robbie Horn and his staff saw the manager shown a second yellow card.

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Piehopping, or ground hopping if you don’t like pies (you maniac!), where you have no team to call your own can be a bit of a lottery in the entertainment stakes so to have a Friday night like this one in Alloa was a wonderful little treat.

But was the steak pie on offer a wonderful little treat too? There’s only one way to find out and so without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!

Where: Indodrill Stadium, BSC Glasgow 2-3 Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic, Lowland League

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Price: £2.50. Quite expensive for a non-league pastry but just about within range for a luxury pastry in what are currently Scottish Championship surroundings.

Presentation: Laid upon a large white napkin and uncased, a rare occurrence for a steak pie. Plenty of space to manoeuvre it on as you ate.

Meatiness: This was a well-filled pastry packed with lots of bite-sized pieces of steak, some requiring a little bit of a chew but in the main nice and tender. The gravy had the viscosity required to coat the meat, a good thing, without spilling from the shell unwillingly, also a good thing, and had the balance of salt and savoury just about right.

Pastry: The top was a little squashed at the sides meaning it didn’t look quite as neat as you would want by the puff pastry lid was well baked, golden and added that crunch on top along with a meld of sauce and soft pastry on the under layers. The botton half of the pastry was a little soft that meant a little juggling was required to ensure no mass meat departures to the ground below but all in all a pretty solid housing of pie here.

Brown Sauce: Luxury, there is none, and I think going forward I’ll just skip this section for luxury pies going forward.

Overall: Very tasty steak and gravy with pastry that was perhaps a little soft underneath but still sturdy enough nonetheless.

Gravy Factor: A steak pie worthy of a football first footing.

It would be remiss of me not to mention the second of my match day meals in Alloa here in the shape of a cup of piping hot homemade stovies. Slices of potato and onion in a gravy populated with chunks of mystery meat, a Scottish classic. Add in a blob of brown sauce and at £1.50 it was the perfect way to warm you on the terraces.

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Unfortunately Meat Filled Pastries sponsored player for the season, Ross Smith, was out injured but I did get a chance to speak to a couple of behind the scenes faces at half time. For some it’s easy to be dismissive of clubs such as BSC Glasgow and Caledonian Braves but for their supporters and those that devote a significant amount of their free time on keeping them going you can only hope for success and a sustainable future. Both of the sides mentioned above are amongst the most innovative at the level when it comes to fan engagement and content creation and they bring yet another dynamic to the Scottish game.

Next time out we will be back in Glasgow as Benburb take on Pollok in the West Region Premiership, 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 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 190: The Whitletts Victoria Onion Pie

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Welcome to the first new pie review of the roaring twenties, the roaring of course coming from the well stoked fires of pie hut ovens across the land as we continue on our quest for Pie 200. We’re back at Dam Park for a second review from the home of Whitletts Victoria where, on this afternoon, the home side who usually play in red and black played in blue and the away side, Darvel, who usually play in blue, played in red as the eccentricities of modern football showed no discrimination irrespective of the grade.

The first review from the Vics earned an honourable mention in The 2019 Meaties published on New Year’s Day where, as well as crowning Meat Filled Pastries best Non-Pie Pastry, Meatfree Pastry, Luxury Pie and Scotch Pie of 2019, the first ever Outstanding Achievement Award was issued so why not go take a look.

For now though let’s head back to the windswept terraces of South Ayrshire, and without much further ado, rate some pie!

Where: Dam Park, Whitletts Victoria 1-4 Darvel, West Region Championship

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Price: Exactly the same as the Whitletts Victoria Scotch Pie coming in at a wholly reasonable £1.50.

Presentation: A rinse and repeat when compared with it’s scotch sibling, in fact, let’s just copy that same text “Presented on a large white napkin, ample for the pasty provided and for dabbing the lips.”

Meatiness: Much like the scotch offering this was a well filled pastry with a texture that was easy on the bite. There was a little peppery kick but to be honest if I hadn’t been called an onion pie by name I might not have known it at all. There was a couple of little slivers on inspection within but the sweetness that the onion usually brings to pastries of this nature wasn’t really there. It was tasty, just not quite what I was expecting.

Pastry: This pastry was well baked with a golden edge on the crust, the two steam holes that were the present the identifier that this should be an onion laced pastry. The bottom was sturdy and held the filling whilst the top was well sealed although not quite perfect in its presentation.

Brown Sauce: In a break from tradition when it comes to an onion pie I devoured this offering without going condimental. I reckon wee a blob or two of brown sauce wouldn’t have gone a miss though in retrospect.

Overall: Tasty enough but not very oniony.

Gravy Factor: A decent ladle full perhaps just missing that extra dimension.

It was a pretty decent double header from The Dam and I have high hopes that the 200 marker will come round in the not too distant future. What happens from there? Well we’ll have to wait and see as I have a couple of big changes coming up in my life soon that I suspect are going to take up quite a bit of my free time.

However until next time, and there’ll always be a 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 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 189: The Whittlets Victoria Pie

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I hope everyone has had/is having a wonderful festive period, celebrating in whatever way leaves you with that warm and fuzzy feeling inside.

The Christmas and New Year tends to be a boom time for the fixture schedulers at the top end of the Scottish game with the games coming thick and fast ahead of a winter’s break in January. The lower leagues and non-leagues plough on through though, when weather allows of course, and it was a combination of that ability to plough through and a miserable Saturday afternoon that saw me forced to divert away from my original plan and head to Ayr to take in Whitletts Victoria v Darvel in the West Region Championship.

The wind and rain lashed across Dam Park for the near duration of the game with even the back of the large concrete stand providing little shelter and even some of the visiting substitutes decided it would be wiser to shelter under the steps in the terraces than shiver on the uncovered bench acting as dugout.

It’s a credit then to both sides that they managed to serve up an entertaining encounter with the visitors coming out 4-1 victors before heading to Dublin for their team Christmas night out later that day.

Days like these are when a tasty pie really comes into it’s own, but was it tasty? Well without much further ado let’s rate some pie!

Where: Dam Park, Whitletts Victoria 1-4 Darvel, West Region Championship

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Price: £1.50. I’ve said it a few times now but a quid and a half is excellent value for your matchday treat.

Presentation: Presented on a large white napkin, ample for the pasty provided and for dabbing the lips.

Meatiness: This was indeed a tasty treat. The pie was well filled with a distinct peppery linger throughout. A couple of people around me passed comment that they thought it was a bit strong but for me it was judged just right. It held well in the bite and had a little grease to ensure the filling was suitably moist.

Pastry: The top was crispy as were the sides and base. A very good bake with the shaping suitably round although the colour maybe was a little bit dull.

Brown Sauce: Daddies. The great pretender to the HP condiment crown, very much does the job.

Overall: Well baked, well filled with a nice peppery kick. Wonderful on a chilly winter’s day.

This is the first of a double header from the Vics with their Onion Pie next to come under the pie-croscope with the review preceded by the 2019 Meat Filled Pastries Awards which is always exciting. They’ll drop on New Year’s Day.

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 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.