queens park

Pie 126: The Queens Park “Cheese & Onion” Pie

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Welcome back to another edition of Meat Filled Pastries where we’re always on the hunt for some meaty thrills whilst holding back on the spills because a spilled pie leads to a sad guy.

Now unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last couple of weeks we have seen the dawning of a new year and with it the thoughts of new hopes and expectations that it will bring. I’m not one for the phrase “New Year, New Me” philosophy that blights social media for those first few days of January but I do see it as an opportunity to set some goals and try new things.

It’s also the time of year where people declare their body a temple and health boards and charities across the country champion well-meaning campaigns such as “Dry January” and the awfully named “Veganuary”. Now this may perhaps come as a surprise to some but I am quite happy to eat a meal without meat, in fact when you consume the volume of Meat Filled Pastries that I do it is somewhat of a treat. However with that being said I cannot get on board with replacements such as “Facon” and “Tofurky”. I’ve got in to many a debate about this with non-meat eating friends before but for me if you don’t want to eat meat why are you then replacing it with things that look and (supposedly) taste like the things they don’t have any interest in eating? It’s an endless riddle to me. Most vegetarians are sound and rational people. Most vegans however, are in my experience (bar the odd exception), raving lunatics who must burn all of the 150 calories they consume a day telling the world that if you eat meat you deserve to burn in the depths of hell for having the audacity to like the occasional chicken nugget. It’s not my fault you’ve chosen a life of cauliflower “steaks”. I accept that as your life decision so don’t come preaching, and I mean preaching, to me because I don’t agree. All of which, kind of ironically, brings us to today’s pie review; The Queen’s Park Cheese & Onion Pie, a veggie (but not vegan) friendly option at the much debated home of Scottish football Hampden Park.

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

Where: Hampden Park, Queen’s Park 2-2 Albion Rovers, Scottish League One

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Price: A whooping £2.70. For a pie with zero meat in it. Now I’m making an assumption here but I’m guessing that pie prices for Queen’s Park games are dictated by someone other than the club as history has shown that a pie at a Scotland game will cost you exactly the same for a (supposedly) much higher level of football. I’m not even going to begin to claim to the understand the economics behind Queen’s Park playing at Hampden, and for what it’s worth I think they should continue to do so, but £2.70 for a pie definitely needs looking at when compared with their League One peers.

Presentation: The tin foil case of potential doom accompanied by a large white napkin for mopping up at this point the unknown treasures within.

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Meatiness Cheesy-Onionyness: Sigh. This was fairly rubbish. Always a disappointment in the pie game. Inside this pie was a mushy yellow and white paste that I presume was meant to be rich and cheesy with a strong onion linger in the background oozing as you pull away each bite and where you try to stop a small string of cheese getting stuck in your beard. Positively dreamy.

What actually happened was the appearance of a bland blob that tasted more of uncooked roux and a hint of cheese tainted with a pepper kick so offensively strong that the acrid burn stabbing at the back of my throat resulted me going and having to get a second beverage. On review fairly rubbish seems far too genteel. This was looking to be a bit of a disaster and then there was the pastry…

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Pastry: I have often talked about the pit falls of the tin foil case. A Sophie’s Choice of a decision for butchers and bakers between the appearance of uniformity and the risk of the pie sticking to the bottom of the case. It’s a risk that often backfires and in this instance the result was no different as half my pie stayed glued to the bottom as I lifted it to take my first bite. The pastry on the top edges was golden and crisp but at the base was as near to raw as I think I’ve ever had at a football game. So raw infact, that I could actually leave a thumbprint in the bottom with the mixture of filling and pastry creating a texture that I’m sure could be used as a Play-doh substitute at a nursery. I can’t think of the last time I thought, “I might not even finish this” but it was really that poor. I am however a trooper, and so I powered through like any good pie muncher should.

Brown Sauce: Regular readers will know that a luxury pie (i.e. a non-Scotch Pie) does not get dotted with some of the brown stuff but given how consumption had gone to this point I thought I’d grab a sachet to try and save it. Sadly, even this most wondrous of condiments couldn’t prevent me from experiencing culinary doom.

Overall: This was not very good. The filling was bland but yet somehow offensive and the pastry was near raw and stuck to the case. If you go to a Queen’s Park game I’d avoid this and stick to your traditional Scotch or Steak. If you’re feeling fancy wire into a Chicken Curry but if you’re a vegetarian I’d just settle for a Mars Bar.

Gravy Factor: Literally better off eating a spoonful of unwatered Bisto.

Well that was disappointing. It’s often said it’s easier to criticise than praise but for me the purpose of this site is to champion the best pies around the grounds and beyond and so when I’m met with something bad it’s a chore to break it down. That said, if I’m not honest and go about proclaiming every pie as the greatest I’ve ever had then I lose all credapie-ility.

Next up is a first review from Clydebank, something I couldn’t quite believe when checking the archives before the game so hopeful we see a return to pie glory. 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.

 

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Pie 111: The Clyde ‘Not Pie’ Pie: A Call to Arms

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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!
Congratulations!

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!)

THE SURROUNDINGS

Where: Broadwood Stadium, Clyde 0-1 Queens Park, Scottish League Two

Disappointment awaits...
Disappointment awaits…

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:

Not a Pie.
Not a Pie.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Pie 86: The Queens Park ‘Chicken & Tarragon’ Pie

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Hello and welcome to Meat Filled Pastries. Now STV approved, don’t believe me? Then just follow this link:

http://glasgow.stv.tv/articles/307195-chris-marshalls-blog-meat-filled-pastries-judges-nationwide-pies/

In fact, that’s not the end to this quasi-madness as on Monday 26th January I’ll be on The Riverside Show on STV Glasgow telling my story of pie. It’s a 7pm kick off, so if you’re reading this before it goes out live then why not have a swatch, it’s bound to be noteworthy. If you’ve missed it, then you might get lucky if you scout about the STV Player. Given my media exploits over the past week I’ve not really had time to let anything in the world of football really grind my gears, although if you’re into that kind of thing then I highly recommend The A-Z of Football Hates by Richard Foster it pretty much hits the nail on the head in every possible way. If I’m lucky I might get some input in a second edition.

But for now let’s focus on the pastry. Today a visit to the home of my first football memories, Hampden Park, and a chance to watch every romantics favourite team, Queens Park, playing for the sake of playing since 1967. So without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!

THE SURROUNDINGS

Where: Hampden Park, Queens Park v Arbroath, Scottish League Two

It finished 2-1 to Queen's Park, but the Arbroath goal was so late they didn't bother updating the scoreboard so you have this shot instead.
It finished 2-1 to Queen’s Park, but the Arbroath goal was so late they didn’t bother updating the scoreboard so you have this shot instead.

Price: Get ready for this. A whopping £3.20. Equivalent to 3 junior pies in some cases and a massive jump in price when compared with the Spiders League Two rivals. Now the thing is I have reviewed pies from Hampden before during my Tartan Army visits and so I spent a wee while debating whether to dub this another Hampden Pie, but as my mantra for this project is just as much about the teams I visit as it is the humble pie Queens Park get a shout out on this occasion. I have no doubt in my mind that if this wasn’t a Hampden this pie wouldn’t be £3.20. It doesn’t make it right but it does, in part, give an explanation.

Presentation: The pie was placed in a heat retaining tin foil case with a small(ish) white napkin for after consumption dabbing. On a sub-zero Saturday I was grateful for the retained heat.

THE PIE

There was more than one bite to this expose
There was more than one bite to this expose

Meatiness: I was looking forward to this pie, partly because its always good for the cholesterol to see a chicken pie on offer and partly because I reckon my Chicken, Bacon and Tarragon Pie is the best in my repertoire. I’ve always loved that slight aniseed kick that the tarragon gives. Sadly I found this pie pretty disappointing, Firstly as I made my way through it I felt no pop of chicken flavour in my mouth, in fact I was so concerned about the lack of flavour I had to tilt my head back to have a look for the meat inside. It was there but it’s flavour remained weak. The gravy wasn’t as unctuous as you would expect but more like an underdone roux and if I’m being honest at some points I felt I was eating a frangipane such was it’s sweetness. There would be the occasional burst of tarragon but its presence was oh-so fleeting. I applaud the courage of the folk at Hampden for diversifying their pie menu but I think in this instance it needs a lot of work, perhaps my judgement was clouded by own attempts at making such a pastry. The filling wasn’t unpleasant but I wouldn’t be in a rush to have another one.

Pastry: Without doubt the pastry was the best part of this pie in that it was golden and flaky. It didn’t have a soggy bottom and stayed strong under the pressure of even the most greedy of bites. It was a solid foundation to a pie.

Overall: A bit off the mark but should be commended for being something different, I really do think a salty hit of bacon would lift the flavour of this pie exponentially. It’s also worth noting that the price may be a stumbling block for some.

Gravy Factor: Not quite ready gravy. A little more seasoning and some time spent on creating an unctuous mouth feel could have this pie on the path to pastry superstardom.

It’s always tough to write a review for a pie that doesn’t quite hit the mark, and this review should not be taken as an indication that the Hampden scotch and steak offerings are not up to par as previous reviews have shown these more than make the grade.

The plan was to do a Glasgow Warriors Pie but a couple of pints of Best soon put that idea to rest. Next up we return to the juniors and a pie from Central League side Rossvale.

However, until then, go forth and eat pie!

Oh, and tune in tomorrow, it may be the only chance you’ll ever get to see my face.