meatfilledpastries

Pie 125: The Greggs Pie

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Happy New Year from MFP Towers. I hope you all had a smashing time bringing in the bells whether you were out partying or having a quiet one. I hope that 2018 brings you all the joy you can handle and the success that you desire. I spent the bells on the top of a hill watching Reykjavik come alive with fireworks for a genuinely jaw dropping hour or so but now I’m back and it’s time to kick 2018 off with a bang by reviewing the one pie that has ruled the high street for as long as I can remember. It’s time to rate The Greggs’ Scotch Pie.

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

Where: Greggs. They have over 1750 locations throughout the UK but mine was purchased on Victoria Road, Glasgow.

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The Social: Website, Instagram, Twitter.

What’s it all about?: The largest bakery chain in the UK, Greggs is synonymous with providing you an array of pastries, sandwiches and sweet treats to go. However for every glorious Festive Bake there has been a not so glorious Chicken Katsu version has followed. But the big question is, as the UK’s favourite purveyor of pastry, how does their Scotch Pie fare?

What was on my plate: No plates at Greggs, instead it comes in a paper bag, with this particular bag still sporting the festive colours of red and white. Something which I had never considered until now was how odd it was that they never give you a napkin to capture the cascade of crumbs, grease and sugar that many of the bakers snacks cover you in. It’s actually kinda baffling.

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Price: £1.15. Inflation, rising costs and a little bit of greed may have meant that the cost of a Scotch Pie at Greggs surpassed the £1 mark a long time ago but it is still a relative bargain for a hot (more on that shortly) meal.

Let’s get some eats: Now before we go into the meat of this pie matter I think it’s important to address something that is very much specific to Greggs: the temperature of your pastries. I have purchased the majority of my Greggs in the Greater Glasgow area and over the years I have learned that there are not one, not two but three different temperatures in which your pie can come in:

  • Furnace Hot: This is where your pastry has gone straight from the oven and into the glass display cabinet, sometimes if you are lucky you will see this very action take place among cries of “WATCH YER BACK AGNES I’VE GOT A HOT TRAY HERE!”. Whilst there is no doubt heat can be good pie munchers beware as that first bite will strip the skin from your lips and burn a hole in your soul. No amount of blowing on it will prevent you from escaping this fate. You just have to suck it up and do your best monkey impression as you take your first few tentative bites.
  • Wee Bit of Heat in it: This pastry will be a victim of one of two sets of circumstances. Either the branch of Greggs you visit is outside and the door left open, no doubt letting whatever apocalyptic weather is raging outside in to instantly cool anything that has come from the aforementioned furnace. Or scenario two, where the pastry has been sitting out for a while perhaps as a result of an overbake ahead of the lunch time rush. You will know if your pastry has a “bit of heat in it” as the person behind the counter will touch the pastry with the back of their palm and ask you this eternal poser, “It’s only got a wee heat in it, is that alright?” Even if you think it’s not you say it will be.
  • Staun Cauld: When you get presented with something that you wouldn’t hesitate twice to cool yourself down with on the beach. These pastries feel like they have been taken straight from the heart of a glacier. If a pastry is “staun cauld” there’s a high chance that it’s been sitting there since time began and could be used as a blunt instrument in battle as well as providing a disappointing pastry experience.

My pie had a wee bit of heat in it, which for me is the best for speedy consumption. The first thing I noticed about my pie was the heavy dusting of raw flour on top of the pastry lid which itself had been subjected to some boil out from the meaty contents below adding a darkly shaded puddle to the floury snowfall.

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The next thing that became apparent was that the pie was overbaked, or to use regional parlance: well fired, particularly on the bottom and on the edges. Whilst this wasn’t blackened it did make for a super crispy and somewhat difficult bite. As I took my first chomp, dabbed with the traditional squirt of brown sauce, I looked forward in anticipation to the taste sensation from one of the UK’s biggest selling pies. The crescendo of expectation soon turned into instant disappointment as this was perhaps one of the most one note pastries I ever did try. No notes of sweet or savoury. No pepper kick to warm the cockles and tickle the taste buds just a fairly banal but perfectly edible block of meat (beef and mutton, although I’m not sure you’d know). To be honest I suspected as much, this after all is one of the most mass produced pies on the market, but it was still disappointing not to have a single flavour peak or trough to pass comment on.

For £1.15 it’s hard to grumble too much but really this should be better.

Pros

  • Cheap
  • Easily available
  • I got my favoured temperature profile

Cons

  • Just a bit dull

So a Greggs’ Scotch Pie, not the culinary delight my heart would desire but it won’t be going anywhere any time soon so if you’re in a bind you could do a lot worse than a pie. But then, I like pies. Anyway, next up is a return to the football field and a review of the Queens Park Cheese & Onion Pie.

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. He has contributed to prominent football sites including Pie & Bovril, The Terrace Podcast, The Football Pink and The FBA’s as well as featuring in The Scotsman, STV and a number of other media outlets. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ with a passion for food that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.

Pie 124: The Whitburn “Steak” Pie

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You know what I’ve always wondered? Why on New Year’s Day do we Scots, especially in the west, go mad for a cheeky steak pie? Well OK, that’s not strictly true. I’ve literally just started wondering this about 20 minutes before sitting down to write this latest Steak Pie review from Whitburn Juniors but it has posed a bit of a puzzle. You see when I think about growing up the correlation between a Steak Pie and New Year doesn’t immediately come to mind. Sneaking up to my Gran’s for the bells before finding a party and then nursing a hangover the next day with a Chicken Chow Mein and The Mighty Ducks trilogy yes. Steak pie, not so much.

The reasons seems to be fairly sparse and prone to speculation. One theory harks back to the good old days when New Year’s Day wasn’t a holiday and so a pie was an easily prepared celebratory treat after a hard day at the (in some cases literal) coalface. There’s also a rather, seems-far-too-hippy-to-be-something-a-Scottish-person-would-have-come-up-with, idea that steak pies are round to signify the cyclical nature of the year. The romanticist in me likes to think a wee Granny somewhere made a banging pie and everyone else just decided it was a good idea. Whatever the reason it’s a tribute to the enduring nature of the steak pie that whilst Christmas Day continues to bring an ever increasing kaleidoscope of culinary adventure the humble steak pie forever remains.

And remain it continues to do so, which brings us to our latest review The Whitburn Steak Pie. So without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!

Where: Central Park, Whitburn 4-1 Benburb, Scottish Junior Cup 3rd Round

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Price: £1.40, which even compared with 2015/16 prices is an absolute bargain in the luxury game day pie market.

Presentation: Much like its scotch pie compatriot from the same venue this was lovingly wrapped in a medium sized white napkin, a true staple of the match day pie presentation scene.

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Meatiness: When I have a pie I like to type a few notes on my phone. Firstly to help capture my instant reaction but also to help when I finally get round to writing up a review as time has been known to get away from me. On reviewing my notes on this, The Whitburn Steak Pie, I was amused to find one of my instant reactions around its meaty content was, and I quote “generous as fu*k”. It really was, with large chunks of steak, plentiful in nature and of the texture you’d really hope for when buying such a pastry. There was a couple of drawbacks though. After a few bites it became a little over salty, a gradual build of sodium drawing moisture out my mouth quicker than licking a hairdryer ever would, whilst the gravy wasn’t as plentiful as possible (more on that very shortly). That said there was a good volume of steak and whilst salt heavy it was still a tasty bite.

Pastry: It’s safe to say this pastry was a bit leaky. Whilst a perfectionist will bemoan the presence of boil out (a key measure when officially judging a pie) for me sometimes it adds a new and interesting dimension to a pie, which in this instance was certainly the case. Due to the holes a lot of the gravy (as referenced above) had escaped during the cooking process leave chewy little sheets of brown attached to the base. It sounds odd but was actually a nice wee treat and the pastry itself was actuality fairly well baked and held the filling sufficiently.

Brown Sauce: It’s been a while so I’ll let you off but never should you dress a luxury pie with brown sauce. The gravy should be plenty and if it’s not then your pie just isn’t quite right.

Overall: Generous steak, leaky pastry with an interesting gravy jerky type affect caused by the boil out makes this pie an interesting, if slightly, salty addition to the MFP encyclo-pie-dia.

Gravy Factor: Salt “n” Steak.

So that’s another review in the books, I plan to try to get to a game this weekend but I’m also acutely aware that I have a pre New Year’s night out planned that may impede my driving ability so a saunter to Hampden may instead be on the cards. Either way I will return, but until next time, have a happy new year, and of course, go forth and eat pie!

2018 is going to be a goodie!

Chris Marshall, is a BJTC accredited Radio Journalist with an honours degree in Communications & Mass Media from Glasgow Caledonian University. He has contributed to prominent football sites including Pie & Bovril, The Terrace Podcast, The Football Pink and The FBA’s as well as featuring in The Scotsman, STV and a number of other media outlets. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ with a passion for food that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.

Pie 123: The Whitburn Pie

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Well here it is, as promised, my first match day pie review in over 16 months. A nod back to the old school ways of brown sauce and Gravy Factors. I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and your New Year Steak Pie plans are well underway.  I started Meat Filled Pastries as a way to settle a bet, talk about my love of pie and champion local football. During the winter though that can be challenge. As is often the case at this time of year finding a game of football to go to in Scotland is often fraught with danger. Reasons ranging from last minute call offs to high winds and biblical rains and to the fact that other plans take precedent at this most busy time of year. Well after two weeks without some live soccer action I decided it was time to venture forth in search of some new pie and so it came to pass that I ended up at Whitburn Juniors bracing a wind-chill of around -12 and wearing more layers than a well-made batch of puff pastry.

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

Where: Central Park, Whitburn 4-1 Benburb, Scottish Junior Cup 3rd Round

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Price: £1.20. In 16 months it’s good to see that the price of a junior pie hasn’t fluctuated greatly.

Presentation: Medium sized white napkin, wrapped lovingly around this pie like a blanket protecting it from the harsh winter winds.

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Meatiness: This was a deep filled scotch pie with almost no space untouched by its muttony goodness. Being my first new scotch pie in a long time it was interesting to note that it didn’t have its usual peppery kick that I so often crave. Instead this pie had a hint of sweetness that I quite enjoyed. There were definite savoury notes but the spice was very minimal and as such it made for a fairly unique experience. What really helped this pie was the level of grease in each bite. Not dry so that the meat just crumbled and spilled but not too wet so that you could end up with a hardened fat stream down your hand akin to that found on a moodily lit candle in a late night bar. All in all I was into this.

Pastry: The pastry was just baked enough. It was a little pale in colour but held well against the meat and the force of the first bite. There was a gap where the top hadn’t quite sealed against the side meaning that the heat escaped quickly but given I hadn’t had any breakfast by this point it wasn’t hanging around in my hand long enough for it to matter. A couple of flaws but overall it did the job in securely holding its meaty parcel.

Brown Sauce: I think this may be a first but there was not one, but two types of brown sauce on offer. HP, the often (self)vaunted pinnacle of the pie condiment world and an own brand version from what looked like Iceland, Farmfoods. Either way the choice was easy as I squirted a circle of brown sauce on top of my pastry adding that little touch of spice the pie didn’t have before.

Overall: Generously filled with a slightly sweet not spicy filling. Pastry was a little under and had a couple of gaps but bore no detriment to the overall eating experience. With a squirt of HP Sauce this was a tasty match day treat.

Gravy Factor: Sweet, sweet meat filled pie.

So there you have it, as promised the pie wagon is well and truly back on the road. Next time up I have a second offering from Whitburn in the form of a Steak Pie (fitting for the time of year I think) as we start the next chapter in these pie-ventures covering all the bases. I’ll aim to have it up before the bells as I made an impulse decision to spend my new year in Reykjavik.

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 and The FBA’s as well as featuring in The Scotsman, STV and a number of other media outlets. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ with a passion for food that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.

Pie 118: The Carluke Rovers Chicken Curry Pie

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

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

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

THE SURROUNDINGS

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

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

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

THE PIE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So until the final time, go forth and eat pie!

Chris Marshall, is a BJTC accredited Radio Journalist with an honours degree in Communications & Mass Media from Glasgow Caledonian University. He has contributed to prominent football sites including Pie & Bovril, The Terrace Podcast, The Football Pink and The FBA’s as well as featuring in The Scotsman, STV and a number of other media outlets. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ with a passion for food that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.

Pie 117: The Carluke Rovers Pie

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My apologies to the good folk at Carluke Rovers, I should have done this two weeks ago but as my fellow supporters of junior football know at this time of the season free time comes with an even greater premium as clubs play 2,3 or even 4 games a week! It can be a bit of a slog for players, managers and supporters alike as you jump from town to town in the mad dash to get the season wrapped up before the summer really comes. Whilst arguments cold be made about summer football and artificial pitched in truth the junior calendar doesn’t really help itself to begin with as cup after cup are played until even wee Jimmy the groundskeeper has won a trophy too.

In some way’s I understand it; the Sectional League Cup give fans guaranteed derbies whilst bigger clubs get to boost the coffers of their less fortunate neighbours every second season whilst the Central League Cup at the end of the season gives teams with not much to play for some meaningful fixtures to get their teeth into. At the same time though what is the need for a cup where the exact same participants take part in it twice, all be it with slightly altered formats. I’m coming at this from a Glasgow based perspective but I know that the same problem abides both west and east of the place I call home. As you may have gathered by now I’m not one to turn down a game of football but even I, as an individual who breaks out in a cold sweat at the thought of a Saturday afternoon in Homebase, think something needs to be done to jazz up these perceived ‘diddy’ cups.

With all that being said, and to stick to my wholly contrary roots, today’s pie review comes from one of them and the Central League Cup 2nd Round, so without much further ado let’s rate some pie!

THE SURROUNDINGS

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

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Price: At £1.20 this pie was bang on message with the rest of junior football as a whole although it would be fair to say that it was perhaps a littler more expensive when compared to some of their previously visited divisional rivals.

Presentation: Medium sized white napkin that was bigger than the circumference of the pastry that sat on it. It’s all you need really.

THE PIE

Meaty!
Meaty!

Meatiness: This was a substantially sized meat filled treat with coarsely ground mutton populating nearly every cavity of its pastry tomb. The meat was well-flavoured and if ever I was to describe mince as succulent this would be it. That said, with succulency (pretty sure I’ve just made up a word) comes grease and in this case the dreaded drip test very nearly put paid to a new pair of trainers. Luckily my time spent in St. Petersburg as Galloping Horse #2 in the Russian National Ballet production of Calamity Jane meant I tip toed my way around the fatty splashes trouble free. Grease never harms the flavour unless it’s excessive but it does make eating it that little bit more treacherous.

Pastry: The pastry was well-baked and sturdy enough to support this fairly moist pie. There was a little rim of boil out on the top but the base was near perfect in its cooking. To be honest not a lot to say here as it was a solid, if unspectacular, effort all round.

Brown Sauce: The bottle had all the hallmarks of being found in a popular high street frozen food chain, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t good though. Zingy, spicy and fruity like a good brown sauce should be.

Overall: Nice flavoursome meat, solid pastry and a decent brown sauce makes this a good effort. A little less grease and you’re on to a winner.

Gravy Factor: Moist.

This is the first of an unintended double-header from Carluke as their Chicken Curry Pie gets ready to go under the Piecroscope.

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 and The FBA’s as well as featuring in The Scotsman, STV and a number of other media outlets. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ with a passion for food that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.

Pie 114: The Gartcairn Juniors Pie

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Sometimes I get accused of taking my love of a Saturday afternoon on the terraces a little too far. Most of the time I will fight my corner simply stating it’s my Saturday routine, I don’t judge others for their choice to spend a few hours in a superheated cesspool of screaming children and bargain shopping. Taking enough of a break just long enough to sit on half a Big Mac that the person who was sitting there beforehand has left behind, a smear of mustard yellow and gherkin indelibly left on your backside for all to see. No I would never judge you for that, that sounds just wonderful.

That said there is (very) rare occasions where I will be standing, shivering and drenched. Rain driving into my face so hard that I can’t even look up to watch the game in front of me. No cover protecting me from the elements and my umbrella lost to that big council bin in the sky that I go, maybe, just maybe I should have stayed at home or gone to the pub.

Gartcairn v Glasgow Perthshire in the Central League Second Division was one of those rare occasions. First of all no offence intended to the participating teams. It could have been another edition of El Clasico that was raging before my eyes at MTC Park but the fact remained that I was watching a game I had no real interest in for the sake of a match to go to and a new pie review. For the first time since I started this adventure, the need for pie had become a chore and one that I wasn’t particularly enjoying.

Now this is not to say I have fallen out of love with the pie or the game that has thrust these pastry delights into my consciousness but more to say that when something stops becoming fun you have to ask yourself is it really worth it. I’ve hinted many times in the past that I have a number of other interests. Things that I want to do, see and achieve, and so, it is with these things clear in my mind that I hereby give notice that 2015/16 season will be the last I spend reviewing pies, at the football at least.

So with that out the way, let’s make the final few count. Without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!

THE SURROUNDINGS

Where: MTC Park, Gartcairn Juniors 1-1 Glasgow Perthshire, Central League Second Division (A not insignificant game as this was Gartcairn’s first at their home ground and with that the first competitive junior match played at the ground)

It was too mingin' too even consider taking in the view.
It was too mingin’ too even consider taking in the view.

Price: £1.50. Towards the top end of the junior spectrum, but considering this was Gartcairn’s first match at their true home AND the fact it was clear the SJFA had made them jump through some rather odd hoops to get there (including introducing crowd segregation and moving the change rooms to a school further away than the clubhouse was from the ground) I was willing to pay my way.

Presentation: A large white napkin, it would have benefited from having an umbrella built into it on this particular day, but unrealistic expectations aside this was a solid effort in the presentation stakes.

THE PIE

Take #2
Take #2

Meatiness: OK, so before I start here, truth time. Because the weather was so severe I couldn’t actually get my phone out my pocket to take a picture of my first pie so when one of the few brief breaks in the clouds occurred I rushed to get the pie pictured here, pie number #2. I’m glad I did. The filling was very tasty indeed, it was seasoned well and had a proper peppery linger, something that I feel has been long missed on my recent pie travels. The pie was generously filled and overall the taste was worth going back for another bite.

Pastry: These pies were perhaps a little bashed about by the time they got to my mouth. Now this could be due to the delivery method, a man rocking up in his Vauxhall Corsa to drop off his meaty bounty at the shipping container that was doubling as pie stall but more likely was my heavy-handedness whilst protecting it from the elements. The pastry was golden, perhaps a little soft at the sides but fell apart as it should. There was a slight saltiness to the pastry that I quite liked and overall it did a spot on job of keeping the meat within.

Brown Sauce: As it was the competitive game to be held at this ground I got the great honour of opening the HP bottle for the very first time. HP always does the job.

Overall: Soaking aside, this was a very tasty pie, well-flavoured meat with a peppery linger balanced out with a salty and soft pastry.

Gravy Factor: To be consumed on sunnier days.

Well that’s another pie down, what number this journey will finally end on I’m not sure but I promise you that I will see this through until I have my final bite.

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 and The FBA’s as well as featuring in The Scotsman, STV and a number of other media outlets. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ with a passion for food that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.

 

Pie 82: The Dundee Violet ‘Steak’ Pie

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Hello and welcome to Meat Filled Pastries your one stop shop for sporting pie reviews with bells on, jingly bells if you will. This time out we have a second pie from Dundee Violet, this time of the luxury variety. But first…

Winter is here and as such fixtures up and down the country start to fall by the way side as ice, wind, rain, snow and everything in between cause the groan of thousands to echo deeper into the galaxy than any man has groaned before. The way I see it you have two choices when it comes to dealing with the tragedy of a Saturday morning call off:

1. You accept the inevitability that is a Saturday afternoon traipsing around Marks & Spencer, Homebase and Primark with bags hanging from every limb like baubles on Christmas tree. The promise of a duvet day a distant memory as you find yourself biting your lip watching aghast whilst wee Chantelle screams at her mammy that the Peppa Pig she wants has a nose ring and not the diamante encrusted tail version the bedraggled woman has picked out instead.

2. You put on your big boy (or girl) pants, stick an extra layer on and find a game that has survived the harshest that winter could throw at it from Links Park or Cappielow. It may not be an instant classic, in fact it might turn out to be downright terrible but at least you’re out the house doing the thing that the footballing gods decreed you do on a Saturday afternoon.

There really is only one option and with that option there is usually the promise of a nice hot pie, so with that in mind, let’s rate one of these pastry beauties, let’s some pie!

THE SURROUNDINGS

Where: Glenesk Park, Dundee Violet v Pollok, Scottish junior Cup 3rd Round

The many Faces of Junior Football
The many Faces of Junior Football

Price: At £1.40 this is 30p more expensive than the scotch variety from the same venue but in the luxury market a relative bargain costing much less than some of its senior scotch contemporaries.

Presentation: A single fold of jaggy blue paper towel left me aching for the classic simplicity of  the softly layered medium-sized white napkin. There was however no tin foil case surrounding this steak offering, a rarity when it comes to pies of this nature, meaning it could be held comfortably in the hand without having to juggle your snack as a way of shielding yourself from the scolding heat these cases often provide.

THE PIE

Steak!
Steak!

Meatiness: This pie was formed of large chunks of steak, perhaps a little too large as it wasn’t as tender as it could have been feeling a little chewy in the mouth. The gravy was thick but perhaps a tad salty for some, personally though I think it managed to stay just the right side of well seasoned. Although well seasoned it wasn’t amazing to eat. The main problem being its temperature with it being just a little cold, no doubt a subsequence of the demand far outmatching the supply with pies coming out of the oven almost as soon as they went in. A bit more heat and everything could have been that little bit more unctuous.

Pastry: As previously stated this pie was a little cold and as such the pastry was a little soft and pale although there was still a touch of crispness to the very top edges. In actuality the fact this pie was a little cool helped keep it together as a crisper pastry and thinner gravy could have resulted in a right old mess without the safety of a tin foil case to hold it all.

Overall: A nice pie taste wise but the cooking of the meat somewhat let it down, it also could have been hotter but I’m not going to hold that against it too much. At the end of the day though it was just nice.

Gravy Factor: Bog Standard Steak Gravy.

Pie 82 has now been reviewed for you, I actually had to do this twice as my first draft got lost to the gremlins lurking within my laptop that won’t deter me from soldiering on though and next up is an offering from another junior outfit, Thorniewood United, but until next time go forth and eat pie!

Pie 68: The Camelon Pie

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Collin Samuel, Hands Aff!
Collin Samuel, Hands Aff!

Hello and welcome to this penultimate presentation of my pastry passion, pies! The World Cup is here and as such the end of the regular football season is nigh and whilst their professional counterparts have been on holiday for a couple of weeks junior footballers are winding up their seasons. Todays review comes from the East of Scotland Super League side Camelon. One of the quirks of going to a game of football pretty much anywhere is sometimes you see the occasional familiar face that you haven’t been expecting. Junior football has been littered with ex=pro’s over the years but the foreign contingent whilst a little harder to find are still relevant. For example former St. Mirren, Hamilton and Hearts winger Jose Quitongo played for as many junior clubs as he did senior and the Angolan is now manager of Ayrshire district side Muirkirk whilst former Swedish international Robert Prytz lit up the junior game in the late 90’s playing for Pollok despite being closer to collecting his bus pass than starting his first day of school.

These are just two examples of which I know there are many more which brings us nicely to the subject of today’s pre-pie diatribe, former Trinidad & Tobago international Collin Samuel currently leading the line at Sauchie Juniors. He was in surprisingly good shape although it would not be preposterous to suggest that he enjoys a little bit more of the good life than he would have done so as a pro. I always wonder how players of his ilk end up playing where they do. Is it a case of diminishing powers? A desire to just play for the love of the game or the love of a good party preventing them from reaching their full potential? It’s perhaps a case of picking one of these three but whatever the reason it always brings much joy and chatter to the terraces when a splash of international colour is present at a junior game in Scotland.

But for now, and without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!

Where: Carmuirs Park, Camelon v Sauchie, East of Scotland Cup Semi Final

Price: At £1.40 it follows a trend of East of Scotland based pies being slightly more expensive than their western contemporaries, not excessively so and still far cheaper than top end senior Scottish pies but certainly worth a mention.

Presentation: A small white napkin that wasn’t quite big enough to have the whole pie sit on top of it.

Meatiness: The filling was pretty underwhelming if I’m being honest. It was well filled and formed but lacked the real punch of flavour a good scotch pie should. After each bite there was no real linger of flavour and, for my palate anyway, there was no peppery heat to help elevate its meaty status. Actually as I got towards the centre of the pie it was a bit cold, perhaps a side effect to the rather large crowd that had gathered at the game a point that was further illustrated to me as I watched the man behind the counter shuttling another two boxes of pies from the back. The lack of heat will have no doubt played a part in the flavour being a little lacking in this particular meat filled pastry.

Pastry: The pastry was nothing spectacular and although the top of the casing appeared loose it clung on without flipping over as I took each bite. It held the meat inside sufficiently and provide a change in texture but aside from these primary functions there isn’t much else to be said here.

Overall: A pretty average effort, disappointing that it was cold and I was certainly thankful for the bottle of HP on the counter to add some much need depth of flavour. The cold centre makes me wonder if this was microwaved before being finished in the oven but that is pure speculation on my part. Overall though, I’ve had better.

Gravy Factor: Lukewarm Bisto.

So not a stand out offering from Camelon but another pie none the less, the last pie of the season will be coming from Fir Park as I take a break from the Men’s World Cup in Brazil to follow Scotland Women on their journey to Canada 2015 as they take on group favourites Sweden in World Cup Qualifying.

Until next time though, go forth and eat pie!

Pie 67: The Rutherglen Glencairn Pie

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Mid Table, End of Season Pie
Mid Table, End of Season Pie

It’s time once again to get meaty, and after a rather long run of luxury pies we return to where this all begun and a humble scotch pie offering this time from Rutherglen Glencairn. I’m continuing to squeeze every last drop out of this season that I can before the World Cup consumes all before it and as a result I have found myself at some really important and some not-so-important games. This one most definitely fell into the second category, an end of season mid-table clash that felt more like a friendly than anything else. In fact the friendly feel was enhanced further by the fact that I managed to return home with sunburn something I more commonly associate with the start of the season not the end.

To be honest though the significance of the came didn’t bother me. The sun was shining, the game was on and I had a pie in hand so without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!

Where: Clyde Gateway Stadium, Rutherglen Glencairn v Cumbernauld United, West Superleague First Division

Price: Priced at £1, this matches the price of the cheapest pies I’ve found on this journey and after parting with nearly £4 for Pie 66: The Fulham ‘Steak’ Pie, it felt good to get a handful of change from my fiver.

Presentation: A bareback pie presented in a medium-sized white napkin sufficient in size to hold the pie and leave parts of it untainted by crumbs and grease to wipe your mouth after consumption had been completed.

Meatiness: I’m not going to lie as the pie was presented to me I didn’t have high hopes, not only because it only cost £1 but also it looked a little anaemic, perhaps underdone, however after completing my first bite I was pleasantly surprised. Now don’t get me wrong this isn’t going to win any prizes if I was an individual inclined to do end of season awards but it was pretty good. The meat was a pretty solid block but filled the case well enough. It was moist from the meats natural fats without being greasy and it had a peppery kick that almost felt alien so long it had been since I had experienced one. The flavour lingered long after my concentration had focused itself on the game going on in front of me and as such I felt no need to eat anything further. My suspicions were telling me that this was frozen, perhaps from a supermarket, but I’ll be happy to be told otherwise and if it was it didn’t stop it being a perfectly acceptable snack to have on a Saturday afternoon.

Pastry: My suspicions about the potentially frozen nature of the pie mainly came from the pastry. It was rather floury in taste suggesting it had been processed as opposed to handmade and it was rather thick all round breaking apart in shards as opposed to flaking as I bit into it. The final thing I noticed that had me wondering was the lack of a hole in the lid of the pastry to let out the steam something that would normally be placed there by a butcher or baker. The pastry didn’t feel right for a pie that should be consumed at a football ground.

Overall: For a quid, you would be hard pressed to complain, I didn’t love the pastry but it did a job with the addition of brown sauce helping to soften it slightly but I enjoyed the filling and the return of the long peppery linger.

Gravy Factor: Cheap and Cheerful Gravy!

I think I’m going to fall just shy of the 70 pie mark for the season but all going to plan the next review will be coming from Camelon Juniors on the last Saturday before Brasil 2014 kicks off in earnest. I also feel a non-pie related piece is long overdue and with a pretty quiet week ahead I’ll do my best to get something out.

However, until next time, go forth and eat pie!

Pie 64: The Hamilton Accies Pie

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A Pie for Scholars or Academics if you will
A Pie for Scholars or Academics if you will

 

For me there is nothing worse than the football season to still be running and then waking up in the morning with the realisation that your team is without a game. Sometimes you have some forethought and a Plan B is well and truly in place and other times it just creeps up on you. The other week it just crept up on me and I found myself at 12 o’clock on a Saturday scouring the fixture lists for something meaningful to attend. The hash tag #helicoptersaturday led me to New Douglas Park and to perhaps one of the most remarkable games I have ever seen. Needing an 8 goal swing and for Dundee to drop points I watched on with my jaw genuinely on the floor as goal after goal flowed in and the pipe dream became a distinct possibility. Alas it was not to be as at Dens Park Dundee claimed all 3 points but for me and the couple of thousand fans at Hamilton on that Saturday afternoon we all left with a story to tell. A story of Hamilton Academicals 10 (TEN) Greenock Morton 2.

My point? If you have a choice between a day in the pub watching Soccer Saturday or actually going to the game then the smell of the grass and the ringing of the tannoy should always win out because at the end of the day you could end up being there to witness a little piece of history.

Anyway, the other benefit of attending NDP on Saturday was a chance to consume yet another pie, or 2 as it happened and so, without much further ado, let’s rate some pie.

Where: New Douglas Park, Hamilton Accies v Morton, SPFL Championship

Price: Focusing more on my belly than this here blog my initial pie purchase was done without taking a single bit of notice about the number of gold nuggets that had left my hands to pay for this meaty morsel. Luckily a cursory glance at the price list on a second trip to the refreshment stand revealed this scotch pie was priced at £1.80, competitively so for an SPFL Championship level pie.

Presentation: As classical as the medium sized white napkin is at non league level in Scotland the addition of a tin foil tray for your pie to sit in is the classical interpretation of presentation often presented to fans in the upper echelons of the game. Nothing ground breaking here.

Meatiness: I’m not going to lie, I had almost totally forgot to make my tasting notes about this pie and initially I felt guilty that I had let my tasting standards slip but now as I write this latest review my feelings have changed. You see, the reason why I almost forgot that I had a review to do was that this pie was almost instantly forgettable. Not to say that it wasn’t a perfectly serviceable footballing snack. It had all the right components. The meat was seasoned reasonably with a hint of pepper and it was packed snugly into its pastry surround however I found it lacked the moisture and natural lubrication that a little fat brings to your pie, praise the lord for the return of the brown knight of the pie table Mr. Sauce. As such it lacked a meaty punch and after the final bite had passed my lips I was left with that hollow feeling that only a mass produced pie could leave. It was just a little bit boring.

Pastry: The pastry was also achingly dull and sadly it also seemed incapable of holding the meat inside. As can be seen as soon as I lifted the pie to take my one crucial bite expose it felt apart limply when not supported by its shiny tinfoil shield.

Overall: Ach, it was just a bit dull. I didn’t hate it but when you consume as many pies as I do and then burden yourself with the task of writing about them then you need to find something exciting to write about these pastry jewels. In this case I was thankful for the game going on around me.

Gravy Factor: Sorry folks but it’s a Bog Standard Bisto.

Well this didn’t really meet the heights of the game I had the pleasure to attend but hopefully the next review, Hamilton’s Steak Pie offering can save the day.

Until next time though, go forth and eat pie!