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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Happy New Year from Meat Filled Pastries! My apologies for a lack of activity recently, a fixture list that saw a string of home games for Pollok along with weather conditions that obliterated almost every game I had lined up to go and see meant that things have been rather quiet on the pie front so far in 2016 and my first offering of the year has not a drop of pastry in sight.
Before the review though let me share with you the outcome of this year’s 2016 Scotch Pie Awards hosted at the Westerwood Hotel, Cumbernauld on the 13th January. Once again I was honoured to participate in the judging process to find the best pies and pastries from across our fair land, first judging in the hot savoury category and then taking part in the second round to find the World Scotch Pie Champion who this year is found at The Kandy Bar in Saltcoats. A full list of winners can be found at http://www.scotchpieclub.co.uk/ as well as by following me on Twitter (@MFPTasty). As always I had a blast both on the judging days and attending the awards themselves meeting numerous individuals who make my passion for pie look paltry. I left the ceremeony thinking that there is work to be done to promote pastries at our football grounds and with that in mind I thought I would share with you the 2016 Football Pie Winners, headed by Bruce of Broch’s steak pie offering, available at both Fraserburgh in the Highland League and Fraserburgh United in the North Region Juniors. The full list is below, I’m writing this on the move so apologise it’s only in picture form:
Congratulations again to everyone involved. So with that covered off, without much further ado, let’s rate some pie! (Or in this case a burger!)
Where: Broadwood Stadium, Clyde 0-1 Queens Park, Scottish League Two
Now usually I’ll go through a series of ratings before summing up my feelings on the quality of pastry I have been provided with but as this is ‘not a pie’ and has some key elements like pastry missing then the following is more of a long winded monologue (for ‘long winded monologue’ read as rant) on the state of non pie based catering at Scotland’s football grounds. I have no idea where this is going to go so I’ll try not to ramble.
I have always been one to build my Saturdays around a game of football, it’s always felt wrong to sit in the pub and watch Soccer Saturday, however since I have started this little venture a new variable has been added; have I reviewed a pie there before? In the case of Clyde I had not and with the Scotch Pie Club Awards ceremony happening just around the corner the following week I smelled the opportunity for a tie in.
Imagine my disappointment then as I walked into the main stand to find the shutters down and a steward ‘helpfully’ pointing me towards the corner of the stadium in the direction of a burger van. This isn’t the first time this is happened this season and my apologies to Clyde that they are getting the ones that have unleashed my ire but going to a ground and being able to get food, but not a pie, makes me sad and a little bit angry.
Now before people start getting defensive I understand a couple of variables may have been in play in this situation:
- It was January 2nd. A Scottish Bank Holiday. A day where the whole of Scotland sit in their pants and watch a Wallace and Gromit marathon whilst eating the remaining left over turkey and steak pie.
- Maybe the butcher wasn’t able to provide pies that day.
- As it is such a day of rest maybe wee Betty who runs the pie counter didn’t fancy hauling herself down to Cumbernauld to feed a bunch of folk for a fiver.
You know what? If any of the above are true then fair enough, everyone deserves a holiday. Maybe a bit of better planning would help in the future and I can almost, ALMOST accept the contingency of a burger van coming into play if the quality of the fare offered in the place of pastry is of an equivalent or higher standard. Sadly though, in this instance, and in many others, you are presented with a crunchy frozen burger heated up on a griddle and topped with a slice of limp processed cheese and some barely warmed through onions. Don’t believe me look at below:
Scotland, renowned for nurturing some of the best produce in the world, and this is what you get presented with. Then after discovering the one place where you always expect to ‘take a pie’ doesn’t provide one you are stung with the fact you have to pay more (£3!!) for the privilege to eat something that you wouldn’t look twice at it in the frozen meats section of your local supermarket.
I understand some people don’t like pies, these people are beyond help but understandably football clubs, in a bid to boost revenue streams, often provide alternatives. I don’t particularly like it but I don’t object to it. Burgers, fine. Hot Dogs, OK. Chilli, stovies, curry all easy to prepare in large quantities and warming to the soul on a cold day, I’d rather they weren’t there but they serve a purpose. All of them, all of them bar one: Chips. Sh*t chips. Really sh*t chips. Think about it, have you ever went to a game and walked out the ground thinking, ‘my, those chips were right braw!’. Football chips are an abomination and fall into one of two categories:
- Canteen style mass-produced tatties, usually found in larger stadiums. Available already sitting lukewarm under the heater for your tasting pleasure accompanied by sachet’s of sauce that are impossible to open because the smallest amount of grease on your fingers turn the small tear you need to pick at to get into the condiment of your choosing into some kind of water torture.
- Chips at smaller grounds where invariably a man stressfully fills the deep fat fryer he’s brought in from home with enough chips to serve one person at a time as an ever increasing queue populates itself with frustrated individuals unable to make their purchases until the 17 minutes required to cook these frozen beauties to just past raw perfection.
Chips! Do one.
I’ll stop here. You know my stance by now, I want pies, have your other things but I want pies. I want to protect the sanctity of a product that is so special to Scotland and ensure that at football matches in 2055 people are still letting the gravy smatter their face and the grease run down their elbow. With that in mind, and to support Scotland’s butchers and bakers I will be compiling the first ever (I think!) Scottish Football Pie Database. Telling you what pies you can get where and who can provide them. I want football clubs across the country to really champion there pies and the people who provide them. This year there were 53 pies entered in the Football Pie category, sounds grand doesn’t it, and yet there is:
- 42 SPFL clubs
- 18 Highland League clubs
- 15 Lowland League clubs
- 17 East of Scotland League clubs
- 14 South of Scotland League clubs
- 165 Junior clubs
Plus a plethora of amateur clubs I haven’t even mentioned, all of a sudden 53 out of 271 doesn’t sound that impressive. For the 2017 Scotch Pie Awards let’s get more involved!
Right that’s me. I’m off my soapbox and next time out I will be back with the first of two proper pie reviews from Linlithgow Rose but until next time, go forth and eat pie!
Chris Marshall, is a BJTC accredited Radio Journalist with an honours degree in Communications & Mass Media from Glasgow Caledonian University. He has contributed to prominent football sites including Pie & Bovril, The Terrace Podcast, The Football Pink and The FBA’s as well as featuring in The Scotsman, STV and a number of other media outlets. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ with a passion for food that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.
Needless to say if I want to get back to the 2016 World Scotch Pie Championships then I must plough forward on this journey and so without much further ado let’s rate some pie!
Where: K Park, East Kilbride FC v Preston Athletic, Scottish Lowland League
Price: Priced at £1.50 it was 50p cheaper than my only other Lowland League review to date from Stirling University but more expensive than a top end junior scotch pie. I find myself wondering if the increased cost of pie at these games is a consequence of SFA licensing costs as clubs strive to break into the closed shop that is the Scottish Professional Football League. Good luck to them all I say.
Presentation: Although East Kilbride FC are a club in its infancy it’s good to see that the ever classic medium-sized white napkin is king of the K Park terraces when it comes to presenting your pastry wares.
Meatiness: This pie had a contrasting, almost sweet, and savoury flavour. The filling was just about moist enough without being greasy but was also quite crumbly in texture meaning that a bit of jaw gyration was required to ensure that you didn’t lose any meaty morsels. As followers will know I like a peppery kick to my pie and although there was only a very faint linger of pepper heat in the background as a counter to the ever-increasing sweetness it didn’t mean that this pie wasn’t a tasty treat. A different kind of scotch pie.
Pastry: The pastry was soft, perhaps too soft as when lifting it from its paper napkin bedding it stuck a little leaving small blobs of pastry which then made it a bit difficult to use when it came to wiping your mouth on completing consumption. The pastry was however incredibly buttery, well from what I could tell anyway, and this added some extra moisture that perhaps the filling was lacking.
Brown Sauce: HP. From a bottle so cold that I’m surprised it didn’t come squirting out in little brown ice cubes it is still the king of pie condiments none the less. Maybe keep it inside the hut next time the snow’s falling.
Overall: An almost sweet pie with a buttery finish from the pastry, a welcoming hit of warmth on a bitterly cold day.
Gravy Factor: Bog Standard Bisto with a teaspoon of sugar.
15 away from a ton. A ton of pie, how’s that for a mental image. Next pie up will most likely be from a venue with a different shaped ball as Meat Filled Pastries heads to Scoutston to watch Glasgow v Montpellier in the European Rugby Cup.
However until then, go forth and eat pie!