steak pie

Scottish Football Histories: Pie and Bovril

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It’s just hit quarter to three on a Saturday afternoon and I’m hungry. I’m always hungry at this time on a Saturday. Years of conditioning have meant that my arrival on the terraces is almost immediately followed with me presenting the questions, “Pie?’, “Bovril?”, to those around me. They are after all, to quote one of the country’s most well known fans website, “The staple diet of Scottish Football”. I have seen the devastation should one, or even both, drop to the floor. The joy and disappointment of that first bite and, on one occasion, seen them sent flying towards an official after a disagreement about an offside decision. For many, myself included, no match day experience can be complete without this humble pair, but how did they come to be so intrinsically linked with our national game and what is it about them that has seen them endure?

Given how ubiquitous they are to each other it is perhaps no surprise to learn that references to both in the newspaper archives come from the same time over 120 years ago. In the Friday 23rd September edition of the Glasgow Evening Post from 1892 an advert for a “Grand Football Match” at Ibrox promised “Bovril Served Hot”, accompanied by the sub heading, “Guard yourself against the possibilities of the chill or cold by drinking Bovril.” A description that seemed to suggest a cup of Bovril, taken either before or after the match, could have the same kind of health boosting properties that would be much later attributed to a bottle of Lucozade and a punnet of grapes. The Ibrox chiefs hadn’t stopped there though. In the same week an article in Scottish Referee boldly announced the news of An Innovation” as cups of Bovril were to be accompanied by hot pies with Rangers Secretary Mr. McAndrew accredited with “looking after the football public by placing within their reach refreshments of the best kind.” The spread at Ibrox was again gaining praise in a 1902 edition of the Dundee Evening Post with Bovril Hot Chocolate now available, “vended by a small army of boys smartly dressed in chef’s uniforms.” The drink was so popular in Glasgow’s south side that for a while one of the stands at Ibrox would become affecteonality knows as the Bovril Stand thanks to the large advertising presence within it. Bovril, along with the increasingly present scotch pie, had been a hit, with a further article in The Perthshire Advertiser from the same year proclaiming that the beverage “crowns the enjoyment (of a football match), with thrilling, warming, sustaining and invigorating comfort”. The marketeers had struck gold.

I realise that at this point, for some, knowing both what Bovril is and what constitutes a Scottish football pie will be in themselves the revelations of this piece. For those in the know, of which I am sure there will be many, then view this next paragraph as a quick history lesson to help provide some further context.

Bovril is, when put in simple terms, a beef tea, however to simplify it would be to undermine the complexity of this highly salted beef extract. Originally developed as a paste by Scotsman John Lawson Johnston in the 1870s his Johnston’s Fluid Beef was created as a solution to the task of having to supply Napoleon’s French Army with one million cans of beef without having the meat to do so. It would prove to be a huge success and in 1889 the Bovril company was formed. The name Bovril translating itself to mean “strength of an ox”, derived from the first two letters of the word “Bovine” and the letters “vril” taken from the electromagnetically charged “Vril-ya”, a superior being in the Edward Bulwer-Lytton novel The Coming Race.

With the brand now established it was often used to substitute meat during the war years and in the 1960s a granular form would hit the shelves to challenge more traditional stock starter products. A recipe change by current owners Unilever in 2004, means that Bovril is now vegetarian friendly however the taste remains the same and it’s that product that still hits the terraces to this day.

The history of pies is far longer but in some ways much easier to surmise as the concept of producing portable and time hardy meals date back tens of thousands of years. Even if we focus solely on the scotch pie, the quintessential match-day pastry, the date of first conception still remains fairly vague with a common consensus that they first appeared around 500 years ago, although whether they were first conceived in Scotland or England is still up for debate, much like all good Anglo-Scots origins stories.

Scotch pies are traditionally shaped into a round hot water crust shell and then filled with mutton and highly spiced with pepper, each butcher and baker in turn having their own variations on the theme. This variety led to the announcement of the first ever World Scotch Pie Championships in 1999 – founded by the Scotch Pie Club, an organisation itself formed just three years previous. The competition has grown considerably since with over 500 products entered at the 20th anniversary judging across 11 categories including, Best Football Pie and I am very fortunate that for a number of years now I have been part of these judging days as a result of my own pie obsession. It is also a commercial boon for any category winner. During an interview I conducted at the 2019 Awards, 2018 World Scotch Pie Champion Alan Pirie from the tiny village of Newtyle in Angus, told of how the day after he won the World Championship he received an order for 8000 of his winning pastries.

It hasn’t always been plain sailing for the scotch pie though as a recipe from a 1940 edition of the Daily Mirror showed. With meat supplies diminished during the Second World War, homemakers were encouraged to substitute mutton for beef and stretch their protein rations out even further with the addition of a can of tomato soup. A part soup/part beef pie would certainly raise a few eyebrows on the terraces these days but the scotch pie is not the only pastry vying for real estate on the tastebuds of Scottish football fans. Steak, haggis, curry, macaroni, vegan and novelty offerings such as The Breakfast Pie, a full Scottish breakfast wrapped in pastry, are just some of the variations that can be found in kiosks across the country but it is the legend of the Killie Pie that perhaps most endures.

Ask a question about pies in Scotland, and almost everyone will tell tales of The Killie Pie. A marriage of steak and gravy that transcends the terraces and has made its way into Scottish popular culture. When asking a fan the question, “Who does the best pies?” it will be often answered with a strong “Kilmarnock” despite the respondent having sampled a mere handful of its contemporaries, if any at all. Buyer beware though as The Killie Pie of today is not the same pie of Rugby Park Saturday’s past. A 2016 trademark dispute between Kilmarnock FC and suppliers Brownings the Bakers (who originally produced the two time Best Football Pie award winner) over the use of the word “Killie” meant that the original is no longer available with the Ayrshire side since changing supplier. The rebranded “Kilmarnock Pie” from Browning’s remains readily available outside of the KA1 postcode though and can even be bought in some supermarkets as well as popping up at a number of non-league venues in the region. Pies in Scotland mean business.

As does Bovril, especially in a country where football is usually viewed through a shivering lens, and there are more than a few idiosyncrasies that keep what constitutes a good and bad bovril distinct in the eyes of the consumer. For some, it isn’t complete without a few shakes of the pepper pot, done to add that little extra kick. For others there’s a kind of masochism in getting a really poorly mixed beverage. The paste or powder forming a ridiculously salty gloop at the bottom of the cup that you can’t help but stick your finger in before inevitably recoiling as a result of the over-exposure of savouriness that your taste buds have just undergone. Whilst big stadiums have high pressure water taps and scientifically costed measurements to do the mixing for you, the real joy of a Bovril comes from drinking it from an open polystyrene cup on a freezing cold day with the aroma visibly wafting across your cheeks and up your nostrils as you take those first few sips.

You can’t talk about the traditions of pie and bovril without acknowledging what the potential future may hold. The battle that clubs face in ensuring that their ground is where fans spend their free time has never been more contested, not just in a sporting context, but also when competing with lower cost, family friendly alternatives. In the 2018/19 Scotland Supporters Network Survey both cheaper catering and the sale of alcohol featured amongst the top five most suggested improvements to the match day experience and the presence of chips, burgers and hot dogs have long been a match day eating consideration. Whilst traditional tastes will always have their place it’s fair to ascertain that this diversification of the match day menu can only help to appease the demands of the fans. The same survey revealed that only 18% of them believe that Scottish Football is committed to a “high-quality fan experience.” and catering will be a significant consideration within that. For clubs to ignore this feedback would be at, best careless and at worst, ignorant.

I suspect though, that despite the competition, these items with over 120 years of history will continue to endure. In a 2012 interview with the Harvard Press author of The Omnivorous Mind, John Allen stated that, “The taste, smell, and texture of food can be extraordinarily evocative, bringing back memories not just of eating food itself but also of place and setting.” It’s a statement that resonated with me as I thought about my own experiences on the terrace.

The exchange of coins, followed by a squirt of sauce and that first joyous bite. The solidifying of the grease that has dribbled down your thumb on a freezing December afternoon. Taking a couple of blows on a piping hot Bovril before taking the tiniest of sips to condition your mouth and then the inevitable scalding that will ruin your tongue for the days that follow. Those disappointments when the sold out signs go up and the excitement you feel when striding towards an away day pie hut you have been waiting all season for. For this fan at least, those old familiar feelings, will never be replaced.

Chris Marshall, is a BJTC accredited Radio Journalist with an honours degree in Communications & Mass Media from Glasgow Caledonian University. Editor of Leading the Line, A member of the Scottish Women’s Football Media Team and a contributor to various football websites, podcasts and publications. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ and part-time Madrileno with a passion for food and football that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.

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Pie 177: The St. Johnstone Steak & Chorizo Pie

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Look, I know. You’re reading that heading and screaming at me to avoid the pre-amble this week. You want to know more about this delectable sounding double meat masterpiece. Patience my friends, the words will be flowing shortly but for now I need to do another little bit of self-promotion. I mean, what’s the point of having your own website if you can’t do that?

So what is it? Well, I have a new podcast project via Leading the Line. Episode One dropped this Tuesday where I interviewed women’s football journalist and co-author of “The Making of the Women’s World Cup” Kieran Theivam.

The pod has been set up with two aims in mind. One, to promote women’s football, particularly in Scotland, interviewing those within the game and those that pass comment on it and two, use the pod to help people promote their own projects and passions, giving a platform to those who are fulfilling a long held creative football based dream or project.

There are already four pods in the bag at the time of writing and I’m hoping over time to see it grow and make things more interactive. The link to subscribe on iTunes is here and you can also access it via all the usual podcast channels including Soundcloud where it’s hosted. I hope you enjoy it, and if you do, find the time to drop a wee five star review saying so. At some point I’m sure I’ll find a way to get a pie themed interview in there too.

Shilling done let’s get into the meat of this week’s footballing matters as we head to Perth where St. Johnstone took on Ross County in the Betfred Cup Group Stages. So without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!

Where: McDiarmid Park, St. Johnstone 1-2 Ross County, Betfred Cup Group Stage

Price: This pie was the match day special and was billed at a slightly higher price point than the standard scotch and steak pies on offer. At £2.80 this was one of the more extravagantly priced pastries to be entered into the annuls of Meat Filled Pastries but as I was soon to discover, sometimes, you get what you pay for.

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Presentation: The pie was housed in a large tin foil case with a substantially sized white napkin present to prevent the palm from any potential burn. That said it was still absolutely roasting!

Meatiness: Oh my. This was a delight. I’m not sure where to start! First the gravy, fluid but still thick, wrapping itself around a melange of steak and toothsome chorizo cubes, with the flavours of meat marrying with undertones of paprika from the seasoning within this widely known Spanish sausage. The chorizo used wasn’t cooking chorizo though but instead the air dried ready to eat version. Not that was a bad thing, in fact it was somewhat of a masterstroke as it added wonderful texture in amongst the tender steak and luscious gravy occasionally popping with a little burst of chorizo flavour.

Pastry: It came out clean from the pastry, itself a cause for celebration, although I was deliberately gentle to ensure so. The sides were baked just enough to hold but did require a little juggling to ensure the filling stayed within and the top was smooth and golden. Tin foil cases and pies with moist fillings aren’t always a match made in heaven but credit the Saints and Yorke’s their suppliers as this held together adequately.

Brown Sauce: It would have been highly disappointing had I seen anyone splashing this pastry. Definitely not needed.

Overall: Tasty gravy, well textured proteins and good pastry made for a fiesta of flavours.

Gravy Factor: Super Salsa!

I’m glad I took my detour home to Glasgow via Perth as this was a wonderful treat. As a little bonus, and to round off a smashing match day feed, I had some pudding in the form of an Empire Biscuit. It was just the ticket although controversially adorned with a cherry as opposed to a jelly. So as well as your pie thoughts, let me know what goes on top of your dream Empire Biscuit?

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That’s it for this week so until next time, remember to support your local side, big up women’s football and of course go forth and eat pie.

Chris Marshall, is a BJTC accredited Radio Journalist with an honours degree in Communications & Mass Media from Glasgow Caledonian University. Editor of Leading the Line, A member of the Scottish Women’s Football Media Team and a contributor to various football websites, podcasts and publications. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ and part-time Madrileno with a passion for food and football that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.

Pie 175: The Kelty Hearts Steak Pie

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Hello and welcome to the second review of the 2019/20 season as we head to Fife where Kelty Hearts hosted Penicuik Athletic in the final of a pre-season tournament held at New Central Park, home of The Maroon Machine. A venue that is beyond recognition from the side’s junior football days.

Along with the renovation works it’s been an eye-catching summer for the Fife side with the appointment of Barry Ferguson as manager soon being followed by a number of high profile signings. Whilst the capture of right back Gary Cennerazzo from league rivals Spartans may have gone under the radar the landing of Forfar Athletic duo Dylan Easton and Thomas O’Reilly, East Fife’s Scott Linton and Inverness Caledonian Thistle striker Nathan Austin certainly did not, with the latter scoring 11 times in 47 appearances for the Championship side last season.

It’s not just Kelty though that have been raising some eyebrows further up the pyramid. East Stirlingshire, who in 2017 became the first side to be relegated after a 42nd place finish, have added SPFL quality to their ranks as a result of some fresh investment. Nicky Low and Bobby Barr have both dropped out of the league to bolster The Shire midfield. Eddie Malone and Willie Dyer bring over 30 years of SPFL playing time to the defence whilst 38-year-old Peter MacDonald will feel he still has the ability to score goals for the Falkirk side.

East Kilbride, the current defending champions have added to an already talented squad with the coups of former Queen of the South goalkeeper Alan Martin and former Republic of Ireland international Darren O’Dea. The former Celtic and Dundee defender marrying coaching duties at Motherwell with a playing stint at K-Park. Spartans are always contenders, whilst it will also be interesting to see how East of Scotland champions Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic fair having finally been promoted following the installation of floodlights at their New Dundas Park home. If early season results are anything to go by then it looks like Berwick Rangers are going to struggle whilst the innovative BSC Glasgow and Edusport Academy along with Cumbernauld Colts all have ambitions to grow their organisations both on and off the field.

It makes for a fascinating Lowland League campaign ahead, especially when you consider that there is only one place available in the Pyramid Play-off Finals with the obtaining of that one spot no guarantee that promotion will follow. It would be hard not to have some reservations about the financial sustainability of some of the projects currently being undertaken, especially with such a small target for these clubs to aim for but as fans, especially at this level, you have to trust the process. There is also a competitive scene bubbling underneath the Lowland League and for the other sides yet to be mentioned there will be an awareness that relegation would not lead to an immediate return.

Kelty Hearts opponents Penicuik were one of the three East of Scotland Conference winners last season. They would lose out to the aforementioned Bonnyrigg Rose in the champions play-off round and whilst I remain sceptical that for a number of clubs in the East the junior defection was a step that they maybe didn’t need to make there is no arguing that it has freshened things up with the newly restructured Conference A looking particularly exciting this season.

One thing that I will of course be keeping an eye on is whether the quality of catering on offer at the game will go hand in hand with on-field improvements which brings us nicely round to this latest review, Pie 175: The Kelty Hearts Steak Pie.

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

Where: New Central Park, Kelty Hearts 4-0 Penicuik Athletic, Pre-Season Tournament Final

Price: £2. I’d say this is pushing the top end for a steak pie in a non-league context however as it didn’t break the £2 barrier I’m happy enough to accept the pricing here.

Presentation: Well this was a little bit different. The pie was taken from under the heating lamps and placed into one of those half paper/half plastic bags that you see in canteens across the land. Inside the bag was a small thin white napkin for post consumption mouth dabbing. Functional, if a little unusual.

Meatiness: This, I’m sorry to say, wasn’t great. I feel like I can’t give a true account of how this filling tasted due to how overdone it was. There was a mix of chunks and stew but everything was over-powered by the pastry (more of that in a moment). There was a little bit of boil out even that had been blackened and I’d found myself wondering as I ate whether this was leftovers from the previous days play. I’d undergone a two hour round trip for my lazy Sunday football fix, but there will be football fans that will go even further when supporting their team, and for them to be presented with this would be a bit of a disappointment.

Pastry: It was burnt, quite badly in places. The puff pastry layer on top in particular whilst on appearances looked acceptable was dry and once I finished eating I was glad for the relief of a can of fizzy pop.

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Brown Sauce: I think brown sauce would have helped a bit here, but as this was a luxury pie none was to be applied.

Overall: Pretty disappointing, the work that Kelty Hearts have done to transform New Central Park has been incredible over the last few years and I would say as a neutral the match day experience is definitely one of the best at the level whilst things are clearly moving in the right direction on the pitch. Sadly, in this instance though, the pies need a re-think.

Gravy Factor: Blackened gravy, there’s something good lurking in there but sadly somebody has taken their eye off of it.

Look, I hate being critical of pastries. I always try and spin a review in as positive light as possible, but at the same time I’m not going to lie and say every pie I have is awesome as I also believe that if you are asking people to part with their cash then you should be providing something that merits that investment, especially when the purchase of a pie is as habitual as going to the game itself for some people. Hopefully this was just a one off.

That’s it for this week, so until next time remember to support your local side, big up women’s football and of course, go forth and eat pie!

Chris Marshall, is a BJTC accredited Radio Journalist with an honours degree in Communications & Mass Media from Glasgow Caledonian University. Editor of Leading the Line, A member of the Scottish Women’s Football Media Team and a contributor to various football websites, podcasts 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.

Pie 172: The Linlithgow Rose Steak & Haggis Pie

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Hello and welcome back to Meat Filled Pastries for the first of a double review from Prestonfield, home of Linlithgow Rose, as Tranent took on Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic in the final of the Kings Cup. A competition, that until the big junior uprising of Summer 2018, neither side had ever competed in.

As I previously mentioned these last batch of reviews from the season just done are coming out a little later than usual and that is partly due to some work on my original pet project, Leading the Line, with a view to re-launching the site with some more regular content as opposed to just dumping it on here, where really, pies should always be the princes of the page. On the revamped site there will be history and opinion focusing on Scottish, Spanish and women’s football mixed in with interviews and the odd novelty item, because quite frankly, if you’ve been reading Meat Filled Pastries for this long then novelties should really be expected.

For an inexplicably long time I have resisted the fact that being involved in football in some capacity is where I need to be and whilst I figure out exactly what it looks like going back to my writing roots seems as good a place to start as any. In my most recent piece I’ve taken a look at the news that Real Madrid are set to finally join the women’s football ranks and I’m also in the middle of a series looking at perceptions of the Scottish Women’s National Team before, during and after this summer’s Women’s World Cup.

I have a long list of ideas and concepts to work through so please subscribe to keep up to date with all the latest non-pie patter from your favourite pie rater. For now though let’s get back to business. So without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!

Where: Prestonfield, Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic v Tranent, Kings Cup Final

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Price: It goes without saying that marriage of steak and haggis will result in a heightened price point but at just £2 this is still a very reasonably priced pastry.

Presentation: A medium sized white napkin. Nothing more, nothing less required.

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Meatiness: I’ve had a few “Haggis and…” pies in my time and usually the mix is the same with the haggis put through the rest of the filling to give the occasional pop of spiced offaly goodness. This pie was different though in a couple of ways. Firstly, much like the Annan Athletic Steak Pie, the steak in this pastry was slow cooked and pull apart as opposed to the chunks that are often found in a steak filled offering. Secondly, the haggis wasn’t mixed through but instead presented in a separate and distinct layer in the base. The steaky strands were dense and meaty whilst the decision to keep the two fillings apart ensured that each bite had the hum of haggis (that sounds grim but honestly was pretty nice). Add to this the generosity of the filling and we were on our way to a very decent pie indeed.

Pastry: The pastry was a little rough in it’s constructions but it’s hard not to salute a little bit of crimping on your match day treat especially when accompanied with a couple of chevrons cut into the lid. The pastry tasted pretty good and was both substantial enough to hold the filling whilst being forgiving to the bite, an important feature when the there is potential for spillage.

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Brown Sauce: No brown sauce here. A luxury pie with lots of tasty component parts should stand on its own two feet.

Overall: Generously filled with all the tastes of steak and haggis present as advertised.

Gravy Factor: Less gravy boat but more a flavour double decker.

Strong start from the Rosey Posey but, in somewhat of a spoiler, I may have possibly left the season’s best to last. As well as looking at our final pie of the 2018/19 season I will also share my culinary experiences from my trip to France for the Women’s World Cup. Sausage in a crepe, anyone?

However until next then, go forth and eat pie!

Chris Marshall, is a BJTC accredited Radio Journalist with an honours degree in Communications & Mass Media from Glasgow Caledonian University. Editor of Leading the Line, A member of the Scottish Women’s Football 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.

Pie 171: The Kello Rovers Pie

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Hello and welcome to the first of a trio of slightly delayed reviews as I round out my 2018/19 season in pie. This time around I head to one of junior football’s most southerly outposts, Kirkconnel, where Kello Rovers hosted Rossvale in the West Region Championship with a victory for the visitors guaranteeing them promotion to the top tier of the West Region pyramid for the first time in their relatively short history.

The home side had already been condemned to relegation a number of weeks previous but they put up a more than adequate showing in a surprisingly feisty end of season encounter. In fact on more than one occasion I had to recoil such was the ferocity of some of the tackles flying in from the home side.

Nithside Park, for reasons I can’t fully articulate or understand has long been on my wish list to visit. The only conclusions I could come to as we rattled through the countryside was that 1. it’s a bit far away (in a wet region junior football context at least) and 2. I’d never been. Having never been it also meant that I had probably, sub-consciously at least, unlocked reason three I had never sampled their meat filled goods and so it was with some relief to find that on arrival the pie stall was fully stocked which is a scenario that is not always guaranteed come season end. With sides balancing the demands of those on the terraces with the reality of having a whole load of perishables and nobody to punt them to for the next month or so I have on occasion been left disappointed on my pastry quests. Anyway, Kello Rovers did have the pies on, so without much further ado, let’s rate some pies!

Where: Kello Rovers 0-3 Rossvale, Nithside Park, West Region Championship

Price: At £1.20 this was bang in line with the standard price point for a junior scotch pie.

Presentation: Classically presented on a single white medium sized napkin.

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Meatiness: This was a very tasty squat little pie. The filling had a moreish savoury flavour profile, not so strong on the pepper but well seasoned, with a slight leaning towards the salty for some but bang on for my palate. The texture made the four or five bites in which it took me to demolish this pie some of the best bites that I’ve taken this season. An unexpected delight.

Pastry: This pastry glistened amongst the late spring showers at Nithside Park. The top edge was crisp and golden. It did look a little rough around the edges and was certainly a tad fragile to handle (especially when you had two in your hands!) but it held together just enough to ensure a safe consumption could be completed.

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Brown Sauce: A giant bottle of brown sauce was available to ensure that despite it being the last fixture of the season for the home side there would be no shortages in the condiment department.

Overall: Tasty savoury filling with good texture that very much makes this the little pie that could…satisfy my early afternoon hunger.

Gravy Factor: A little flavour bomb.

As I said at the start this late burst of reviews from the back end of the 2018/19 season are going out a little later than planned as a result of a couple of things which I’ll share in the upcoming reviews. My season in pie will round out with a double feature from Prestonfield as the home of Linlithgow Rose played host to the King’s Cup Final between Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic and Tranent Juniors. A cracker of a game on a sunny Lothian day.

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. Editor of Leading the Line, 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.

 

 

Pie 170: The Annan Athletic Steak Pie

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It’s Annan Athletic Pie 2 and with the season ending and with the volunteers who run lower league social media accounts across the country taking a well earned break let’s not waste any time and get straight into this steak pie.

Without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!

Where: Annan Athletic 2-0 Stenhousemuir, Galabank, Scottish League One Play Off Semi Final

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Price: £2. For a luxury pie that’s pretty much on the button for this level, for some it might be a little top heavy but anything under the two quid marker is usually pretty good going.

Presentation: Much like the scotch pie this was presented on an ample sized single white napkin.

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Meatiness: Now normally when you buy a steak pie you are met with a marriage of beefy gravy and chewy to meltingly tender chunks of meat dependent on ratios and overall quality of the pie. The Annan Athletic Steak Pie though was a different animal, the meat more stew like in texture with the strands of slow cooked meat melding with the gravy within. It tasted pretty good but was a little one note texturally and I found myself starting to crave a little variation from my next bite.

Pastry: There was a double layer of pastry used here. A harder outer layer with a softer inner layer that merged with the filling. This approach meant that there was no requirement for any metallic casing and also ensured a secure bite. There was also a nice little bit of decoration on the top, a rarely seen flourish on football terraces.

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Brown Sauce: Nada as this is a luxury pie but perhaps a little squirt might have been a good edition.

Overall: Generously portioned but perhaps lacking a little pizzazz.

Gravy Factor: I think I need to stew on this one.

The end of my pie season is near, and the fatigue is setting in just a little but there is still time for one more review from the junior scence as Kello Rovers took on Rossvale in a game where the visitors had to claim three points to earn promotion to the West Region’s top tier for the very first time.

However until then, go forth and eat pie.

Chris Marshall, is a BJTC accredited Radio Journalist with an honours degree in Communications & Mass Media from Glasgow Caledonian University. Editor of Leading the Line, A 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.

 

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.