Hello and welcome to the second of two reviews from the terraces of The Falkirk Stadium. Last time out Pie 156: The East Stirlingshire Steak Pie went under the piecroscope as not only did we get to taste a new pastry sensation but also dished out the first ever Meat Filled Pastries Awards for 2018. If you want to know who won the key awards of Best Scotch Pie, Best Luxury Pie and Best Non-Pie Pastry then please go have a look. It stirred up the kind of debate between fans on Twitter that only a pie could do.
Before we get into the meat of this pie matter I wanted to take a little time to talk about East Stirlingshire. The first club to fall victim of the Scottish Pyramid promotion system they lost out to Edinburgh City at the end of the 2015/16 season bringing to a close a 61 year association within the current national league set up. Having left Firs Park, a ground I unfortunately never made it too, they moved to Ochilview home of Stenhousemuir before taking up residence at The Falkirk Stadium at the start of the 2018/19 season.
As I stood towards the back of the main stand on a pretty chilly December evening I was taken once again by the commitment that we as football fans show. Now to be fair, and to not over-romanticise, the crowd wasn’t that big and there was an air of apathy on the pitch that was permeating into the stands. An air that lifted when the on park casualness started to rile those watching on. It was even bugging me and I was a neutral! Don’t assume that this is reference to apathy is designed to diminish the support, all these supporters should be (and I have no doubt are) valued but instead probably more of an indication as to how their season had gone to date, sitting as the club did in the lower half of the Lowland League table. It’s not easy supporting a club at this level but there are always people that will bleed the colours when cut clean but for The Shire who – on the face of things – have been battered about as much as anyone has been over the past few seasons the support is even more impressive. From the 8 point season of 03/04 to the threat of losing full SFA member status after many a 42nd place finished in the league. They had to leave Firs Park, their home, due to rising costs and of course you cannot ignore the aforementioned relegation in 2016. It truly is testament to the commitment fans have to their teams that they continue to carry on.
The move to The Falkirk Stadium has been viewed positively and the ambition very much remains to see the club promoted back to League Two and always with any club I wish them the best in achieving their goals.
For now though let’s get back to the pies and so, without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!
Where: The Falkirk Stadium, East Stirlingshire 2-2 University of Stirling, Lowland League
Price: At £2.20 this was 20p cheaper than the previously reviewed steak pie. I should note here that the picture above highlights the presence of a Steak & Stornoway Black Pudding Pie however my excitement soon disappeared as it became apparent that a trip to see East Stilringshire’s landlords would be required to take on board this potential tasty treat.
Presentation: Identical in nature to its steak filled brother. Inside a silver tin foil carton and atop of some large white napkins.
Meatiness: This pie was laced with that unmistakable scotch pie flavour with the spicing adding a smidgen of heat and a dash of both sweet and savoury. There was a little peppery kick which I always enjoy at the terminal point of consumption. Not loads to say here but that doesn’t mean that this wasn’t a decent little filling.
Pastry: You could almost see the fingers of the baker as they hurriedly pushed the lid against the pastry walls and on top of the filling. It meant that it looked a little ragged but those undulating sides added a layer of crispness to the bite that a neatly tucked in lid wouldn’t have. The pastry was a little soft underneath with a dusting of flour again helping to prevent a sticky situation but overall it was well-baked.
Brown Sauce: The sachets of sauce on offer were tangy and a little sweet adding some more notes of flavour to the overall experience. They were also an appropriate size to get a good coverage on top of your pastry. To often these sachet’s are tiny, and require multiples of to make them worth their while.
Overall: Not a looker, but a pretty decent example of a scotch pie.
Gravy Factor: Crispy Bisto
The pies at East Stirlingshire may not be particularly groundbreaking but you can do a lot worse than just offering up good, honest tasting pastries. I’m back to having an empty basket of which to draw reviews from but I’m keeping my eyes peeled for some hot pie action to take on board. I will be attending the World Scotch Pie Awards on the 15th January and I’m hoping to be able to speak to some of the winners and do a bit more in-depth coverage on one of my favourite days of the year.
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.
Welcome back to Meat Filled Pastries one mans journey to champion the humblest of pastries, the pie, thanks for visiting and your continued support.
So what’s been the happy haps? Well since my last entry I have been awarded the honour of judgeship at the 2015 World Scotch Pie Championships. To say I’m chuffed is a bit of an understatement, never in a million years did I think that when I started this little venture 16 months ago I would find myself responsible for helping crown a world champion in pies. I would like to thank Div at Pie and Bovril for giving me the call to arms and the Scotch Pie Club for accepting his recommendation. Judging takes place on the 11th November in Dunfermline and if you are reading this thinking you have a belter of pie to offer then you still have five days to enter at the link below:
This championship does everything I want in highlighting the humble pie as the breakfast, lunch and dinner of champions that it truly deserves to be. The winners will get announced in January and I’ll be sure to keep you posted on how it all goes.
My second piece of news involves another episode in my travels with the Tartan Army this time from Warsaw. Now I’ll save you the blow-by-blow account of whatever drunken debauchery I may or may not have got involved in but what I would like to share is my television debut on Sky Sports HQ. Accosted by David Tanner outside a rather swanky hotel after picking up tickets for the game myself and my fellow companions swiftly found ourselves in the media spotlight responding to a series questions about ticket prices and our predicted match outcome. Now in hindsight a shout to Meat Filled Pastries wouldn’t have gone a miss but it was all good fun in the end. If anybody happened to be recording Sky Sports HQ at about 3.15pm on the 14th October give me a shout would love to give it a watch.
So an eventful few days have been had. The last 3 days have been spent sleeping but here I am feeling semi-normal again so without further ado let’s rate some pie!
Where: Forthbank Stadium, Stirling University v Albion Rovers, Scottish Cup Second Round
Price: £2, double the price of the pie fare I have encountered in the lower leagues of junior football and quite a bit more than even the most expensive of junior pies. It surprised me quite a bit considering the fledgling nature of the club and the Lowland League set up that it currently sits within. I’m sure the pricing will be for economical reasons but with a target audience made up mainly of students it could be cheaper.
Presentation: Remember when you were wee and you used to go to the shop and buy a 10p mix up from the local café or newsagent and it would actually have 10 sweets in it (oh for those halcyon days) well remember the bags that the sweets would come in, that is what this pie was presented on. Not in. On, like really. What made this all the stranger was that on the other side of the counter, out of reach of your average punter was a pile of small black napkins that every pie eater’s heart would have been desiring. Stranger still some people got given one of these napkins and some didn’t. As one of the unlucky few I soldiered on with my paper poke but a consistent approach to presentation in the future would be much appreciated.
Meatiness: This pie was a tasty treat, admittedly it’s tastiness boosted by my Sunday afternoon hunger. The meat inside was moist without being greasy and was well filled. There was a gentle peppery kick, not mind blowing but with enough of a presence to add another dimension to the flavour profile of this pie. Outside of that there wasn’t a great deal to be said about it to be honest, for two quid I was hoping for something a little more.
Pastry: Now when I first went to get a pie before kick off the lovely ladies at the Stirling Uni counter informed me that none were present and as such me and fifty or so others found ourselves waiting in the half time pie queue. This immediate need for pie I think then resulted in the pastry being ever so slightly underdone. It was too soft and it missed the crunch of crispy edges. Due to the pastries softness it also splintered all the way round dividing this pie into loose wedges much like you would find on a deep dish pizza. It didn’t make it difficult to eat but stopped it from hitting any kind of pie perfection.
Brown Sauce: I’ve been a bit lax on this section I know but this seemed a good juncture to bring it back. The brown sauce provided in this instance was difficult to pinpoint as it was presented in a small white bowl in which you spooned your required dollop on with. At least it was different from a squeezy bottle or sachet.
Overall: A bit too pricey for my taste given the comparative surroundings but a solid effort none the less. The paper poke and bowl were a novel approach to match day pie preparation.
Gravy Factor: Bog Standard Bisto with a few idiosyncrasies thrown in for good measure.
Another pie down, and the first of my Lowland League adventures complete, next up remains a mystery but until next time go forth and eat pie!
If you want to read about pies: meaty, spicy, pastry covered pies then this is the place to be, as this is Meat Filled Pastries, one man’s journey to find the tastiest football snacks in all the land. This edition sees us staying in the junior ranks with a pie from Ayrshire and Maybole Juniors but more on that in a bit.
As I am sure many of you are aware I like watching football. I especially like watching football when I get to go a place I’ve never been before,this trip to Maybole being a case in point. I can’t think of any other scenario why I would visit Maybole, it’s not noted for anything particularly famous, it’s not near the seaside and I have no known family currently residing in the area. Maybole, and no offence meant here, is not somewhere you would book your summer holidays to.
What it does have however is a junior football team and so with gay abandon I journeyed on down.
My particular highlight was the pub that was chosen for pre match refreshments by the bus committee. It’s fairly common place for our band of merry men to be found in some particularly odd wee pubs and this one was no exception. Named ‘The High Society’ on entry things looked fairly generic ‘old man’ that was however until you glanced at the fifties style motif in the window. As you entered the walls were adorned with pictures of crooners from yesteryear while the toilets seemed to be something more resembling a sauna than a urinal. Throw in a random games room, jingly door chimes and the obligatory one lady behind the bar suddenly finding her Saturday afternoon a lot busier than usual and you had all the ingredients for your traditional pre-match small town bar. I love these a little bit.
Anyway with my throat suitably lubricated it was game time and as such without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!
Where: Ladywell Stadium, Maybole v Pollok, West of Scotland Super League, First Division
Price: £1. A drop in division has certainly resulted in a drop in price. Let’s hope this isn’t a drop in tasty quality.
Presentation: A variation on the classic white medium-sized napkin. The far more cost efficient, but no less effective, one sheet of two ply kitchen roll. Actually a little bit bigger than a medium-sized napkin with the added gripy-ness of dimples. No pattern on the roll though, always slightly disappointing. Where’s my random fruit or cuddly penguins?
Meatiness: Confession time here folks, I had drunk a few beers the night before and so to ward off any potential hangover I had started my alcohol consumption a bit earlier than usual. It’s not big or clever but it is the facts so this pie review will benefit, or be hindered dependent on your point of view, by the notes made after consumption was complete. What I can tell you is this, the pie was moist without being greasy. It was tasty enough with a distinct meaty flavour and it was of a sufficient standard to warrant a second one soon after but it wasn’t outstanding. This can be attributed to the lack of any real peppery kick and so the addition of HP helped to enhance the overall flavour experience. I certainly wouldn’t begrudge spending another £1 should I ever venture to the Ladywell again so in that respect you can say meat wise this pie did a good job.
Pastry: The pastry fell apart quite a bit, not enough that there was a spillage of the muttony goodness inside but sufficient enough for me to partake in a spot of pie juggling. You know what I mean. That dance of switching your pie from hand to hand dependent on where the most dangly bit is based in the eternal hope that no meat shall hit the terrace below. The walls were caving in a little bit but I’m willing to put that down to a grip that was too firm more than anything else. As a receptacle for meat this pastry did its job.
Overall: After a few pints this filled the pie shaped hole in my belly not once, but twice.
Gravy Factor: Safe Gravy. The kind of gravy you would make for a dinner party when you’re not really sure what everyone likes.
Pie 76 is gone. Pretty short and sweet on this occasion. However do not fear as Pie 77 is on the horizon with Meat Filled Pastries first visit to the Scottish Lowland League and Forthbank Stadium home of Stirling University. The review will be done before I set off to Poland where I have high hopes that the eastern European love for meat and carbs will give me a pie based treat to behold.
However until, next time go forth and eat pie!