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Pie 164: The Carlisle United Steak & Ale Pie

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I’ve gone rogue! That’s right I’ve infringed on rival turf and this last Good Friday I took a train down to Brunton Park to take in Carlisle United v Lincoln City in the race to escape League Two.

I have to say as footballing day trips from Glasgow go the hour long train ride from Glasgow Central to the populous heart of Cumbria is a pretty good one. The journey is relatively cheap, there are a good number of pubs in and around the city centre as well around the ground with Brunton Park itself a short twenty minute walk from the station. I’d recommend it and as I found on the train back to Glasgow later that evening I wasn’t the only visitor from north of the border to the Cumbrian’s that day.

The rugby club beside the stadium was busier than usual with over 2,000 Lincoln City fans in attendance hoping that The Imps would lift the title and so, after deciding to not wait in a massive queue for the second time, I headed into the stadium where I continued my supping as well as, of course, having a meat filled pastry.

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

Where: Brunton Park, Carlisle United 1-0 Lincoln City, English League Two

Price: There were two pricing options for this pastry. Option 1 was to buy the pie on it’s own for £2.80 or Option 2, to buy a pie and a pint (I’m not going to get deep into the booze at football debate here) for £6. Obviously I like the economics behind option number two and so promptly set myself up with a Steak & Ale Pie and a pint of Strongbow because it was sunny and sunny equals cider. The BBC Price of Football survey recently calls this out as one of the cheapest pies in the English Football League which, considering this game was in the bottom tier of this set up, is quite frightening.

Presentation: This was weird as after putting away my change I was presented with one of those white silver lined heat retaining bags which I was assured had my pie within. After finding a spot to watch the end of the Sheffield United v Nottingham Forest game, I opened the bag to then find my pie wrapped in plastic. I remove the plastic to finally have in my hand a fairly large pie housed with a silver tin foil case. So odd.

Meatiness: Well once I got to a bite with some filling in, my first couple of bites heartbreakingly shy of both meat and/or gravy, this was a fairly tasty mouthful. The gravy was viscous and plentiful enough with the right hint of ale to the overall taste but for me the steak was a little sparse and the chunks a little small which meant they didn’t add that meaty tooth feel that really pushes a pie onto greatness.

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Pastry: It and nice golden tinge to it but it was too soft. Soft, almost spongy, on the bottom and soft on the top with the flakes of pastry a little soggy. As soon as you got through your initial bite every one that followed there after resulted in the gravy squirting out all over the shop. Pastry on a pie, on the top at the very least, should be crispy. With it being hosted in this multitude of bags the pie had clearly steamed under the heat lamps and so the pastry for me was all wrong.

Brown Sauce: None for a luxury pie. Them be the rules.

Overall: The filling tasted pretty good but the wasteful nature of the packaging and the softness of the pastry really holds this pie back. I was surprised to learn as I entered the Pioneer Stand that this was an “Award Winning” pie and my concern is that once again a pie that wins prizes on the shelf of a butcher’s or baker’s shop had been compromised in the face of mass catering.

Gravy Factor: Spongy Gravy.

Would love to have this pie without the heat bags and plastics but this site designated to the best pies you can have at the ground and as long as the pie continues to be presented in this way it will remain a fairly tasty but slightly wrong take on the wonder that is a meat filled pastry.

Next up, I have a first for the site as I get elbow deep into a Breakfast Pie from Scottish Junior side Clydebank as they took on Pollok at their temporary home of Lochburn Park in Glasgow’s West End.

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. A member of the SWPL Media Team and a contributor to various football websites and publications he also currently acts as Heart & Hand Podcast’s resident Iberian football expert, hosting “The Isco Inferno” a weekly take on all things Spanish football. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ and part-time Madrileno with a passion for food and football that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.

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Pie 159: The Petershill “Steak Pie”

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Hello again pie fans and welcome to the latest pie review to beat the big freeze. This week I venture to Springburn in the north of Glasgow to take in one of only four junior games to beat the weather as Petershill took on junior football’s current standard bearer’s and Scottish Cup giant killers, Auchinleck Talbot.

I had actually turned up at Petershill Park not expecting to have a new pie to review. I had been up to see the Peasy, Rossvale and various women’s teams over the last few seasons and only ever been furnished with a standard scotch pie or, as was the case on one occasion, a bridie. However as I stood in the queue the murmers were that a steak pie could be in the offing. As I approached the counter my curiosity heightened and with no menu in sight, I asked, “Can I get a steak pie please, pal?”…

“Aye love, anything else?”. Yes, success! I had a new pie. A pie I wasn’t expecting to taste and savour but there in lies the key question, was it indeed, a pie I was looking to savour?

Well there’s only one way that we’re going to find out, so without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!

Where: Petershill Park, Petershill 0-7 Auchinleck Talbot

Price: I’ve totally dropped the ball here. I couldn’t see a price list and I had eaten yet that day so had bought some other things (a can of Diet Bru and a bag of cheese & onion in case you were wondering). I know that my final bill was £3.40 so the price of this pie is £3.40 minus the cost of a can of Diet Irn Bru minus the cost of a bag of Cheese & Onion crisps. One for all you algebra fans out there, if you know the cost of a can of Irn Bru and a bag of crisps at Petershill Park.

Presentation: Unusual in junior pie circles this steak offering was presented in a silver tin foil case and on top of a large white napkin although given the temperatures on the day I would have quite happily let the pie warm my hands and cool down naturally before I tucked in.

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Meatiness: This pie filling was pretty decent. There was a suitably fluid meat flavoured gravy wrapped around some various sized chunks of meat, from the size of dice to almost mince like in texture. The first bite revealed a little bit of a gap as can be seen in the accompanying picture but no bite was bare of meat and in a match day pastry that is something to be commended.

Pastry: A pie of two halves here. The top was well coloured with a little steam hole present to let out the heat. It slid out the pastry case with ease and without any sticky situations occurring. However the bottom was a little on the raw side meaning that it was a little bit claggy after a couple of bites. Luckily though the gravy and crispy side wall combination meant that it was still a perfectly serviceable mouthful.

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Brown Sauce: Luxury pies mean naked pies, however on surveying the kiosk area surroundings I couldn’t immediately spy anything to go condimental about if that was your desire.

Overall: Decent filling, decent gravy, decent pastry, even if it was a little under on the bottom. Yeah, decent.

Gravy Factor: Better than a KFC Gravy scented candle (and yes that is a thing!)

Bonus pie reviews are often the best pie reviews, especially at this time of year where fixtures can become a little scarce. I am potentially (Saturday night exploits dependent) going to make my way yo Tynecastle next weekend to see if The ‘Bot can repeat their exploits from the previous round whilst also gain some revenge for a 1-0 defeat to Hearts in the Scottish Cup seven years ago.

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. A contributor to various football websites and publications he also currently acts as Heart & Hand Podcast’s resident Iberian football expert and hosts “The Isco Inferno” a weekly take on all things Spanish football. 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 158: The Troon “Chicken & Haggis” Pie

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Hello and welcome to the latest edition of Meat Filled Pastries as we delve back into the world of junior football with a Chicken & Haggis offering from a fairly dreich January afternoon at Portland Park in Troon. Before we get to that though a couple of things have happened since my last review.

Firstly I attended the World Scotch Pie Championships Awards Lunch where a new World Scotch Pie Champion was crowned. Whilst some well-earned congratulations should be sent to The Little Bakery based in Dumfries on being the 20th World Scotch Pie Champion on the pages of Meat Filled Pastries the real news was that Darvel FC based in Ayrshire won the Diamond Award for their Steak & Gravy Pie supplied by Browning’s the Bakers. As a vocal supporter of non-league football I was pleased to see the big boy’s given a hiding in this category but if you want to see how your club did then you can do so by clicking the list of winners across all categories here.

Whilst I was there I was also getting my latest project off the ground and recorded the second ever episode of The Scrancast where I spoke to some of the nominees, winners and men behind what is one of the biggest days in the Butcher/Baker calendar. If you would like to listen to what I hope will be the first of many tales about food and drink from Scotland and beyond then you can listen here. The website is just about up and running which includes a feature on why I’ve decided to do it and you can subscribe on iTunes and all your usual places by searching for “The Scrancast”.

Back to more pressing matters though and that is the quality of pie on offer at Portland Park. Will their Chicken & Haggis offering match up to the Steak Pie which got an honourable mention during the first ever MFP Awards? There’s only one way to find out, so without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!

Where: Portland Park, Troon 1-1 Pollok, West of Scotland Cup 2nd Round

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Price: There was a little bit of confusion around the price of this pie as I went to pay at the counter. To your average punter this pie would have appeared to have been £2.20 given the sheet saying as much stuck to the window however at point of payment the price quoted was £2.50. A quick chat later showed that the price list the girls behind the counter were working on was different from the one front in centre for all to view. I paid the £2.50 but I’m not sure I was entirely happy about it.

Presentation: A double duvet of large white napkins provided a solid and soft base for this large tin foil encased pie to sit on quite comfortably.

Meatiness: Chunky. I think that’s a good way to describe this filling with more than one piece of chicken requiring multiple bites to consume. It’s an odd thing to point out I know but this is a handheld snack, eating stood up with very few places to lean, so it made for a challenging bite. I was a little bit disappointed in the quantity of haggis but I liked the use of a stock based gravy. My main concern though was the use of pepper in this filling. It was too much, a little too spiky and killed the flavour of the haggis. That said it was an incredibly generous portion of pastry.

Pastry: The pastry was pretty perfect. Slipped easily out of the tin foil case without even a whiff of it sticking to the sides or bottom. It also had a lovely golden tinge to it with the necessary substance to hold what was a fairly moist filling whilst still providing the light crunch a good pie pastry should.

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Overall: There were things to like about this pie. Generously filled with an excellent job on the bake but for my taste I could have done with a few less cracks of pepper.

Gravy Factor: Percy Piper picked a pie of pickled peppers.

An offering with a lot of potential from the Ayrshire coast but one for me that didn’t quite hit the heights I hoped it would. I’ll hopefully be back again with another pie review in the not too distant future but for now please go follow and subscribe to The Scrancast. If you’re into pies there might be something right up your street coming very soon.

However until next time from Meat Filled Pastries, 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. A contributor to various football websites and publications he also currently acts as Heart & Hand Podcast’s resident Iberian football expert and hosts “The Isco Inferno” a weekly take on all things Spanish football. 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.