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Pie 156: The East Stirlingshire Steak Pie

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Hello and welcome to the first pie review of the new year. 2019 will see me continue to try to find the best match day pastries around. One of the questions I often get asked is who makes the best football pies. I’ve often shied away from it as I’m not sure what the right answer has been, but with a new year comes new ideas and for the very first time I present to you the 2018 Meat Filled Pastries Awards.

I’ve split this into 3 categories – Best Scotch Pie, Best Luxury Pie, Best Non-Pie Pastry. I should note that at this point that this is for only new pies consumed in 2018, to include pies tasted more than a year ago just doesn’t feel right. So here we go:

Best Scotch Pie 2018 – Pie 131: The Bathgate Thistle Pie

A former World Scotch Pie Champion this offering had all the key components a good scotch pie should have all just fine tuned and turned up a little. Honourable mention to Pie 153: The Partick Thistle Pie for keeping the senior flag flying.

Best Luxury Pie 2018 – Pie 151: The Cumnock Steak & Haggis Pie

A surprise winner here. Not because the combination of steak and haggis shouldn’t have been delicious, it definitely can be, and it was but because I turned up at Townhead Park with zero expectation of having a new pie to review. To be then greeted with this beauty was truly something wonderful. Honourable mention also goes to Pie 142: The Troon Steak Pie, a pie that could feed a million people quite easily such was its generosity in size and flavour.

Best Non-Pie Pastry 2018 – Pie 130: The Girvan Sausage Roll

This was a tough one to call as it easily could have also gone to Pie 153: The Ardrossan Winton Rovers Bridie but this sausage roll just edges it with its size and neatness in construction tipping the balance in its favour. The smear of mustard inside the pastry an inspired addition.

A strong showing for the Scottish Juniors here. I had a slight concern that I was viewing these with a non-league bias but when I read back through the reviews the words really did speak for themselves. I’m writing this on the 1st January 2019 and so I thought it would be remiss of me not to welcome in the new year with a new steak pie review, this time from the Lowland League as I spent the Friday night between Christmas and New Year at the Falkirk Stadium as East Stirlingshire took on University of Stirling.

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 £2.40 it feels like this pastry pricing was a victim of its surroundings being as it was right at the very top end of the non-league pastry pricing structure whilst also being higher than many SPFL pastries.

Presentation: Presented in a tin foil case which sat on top of a super large double layered white napkin which helped to protect your hand from the oven fresh pie.

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Meatiness: There was a fairly decent filling held within this pastry. The gravy was well-flavoured and had a nice consistency to it that when you took a bite it popped up through the hole in the pastry. A little dark brown chimney of savouriness to help you power through a cold December evening. There perhaps could have been a bit more meat distributed throughout, and perhaps what was there could have been distributed a little more evenly but it was tasty enough nevertheless.

Pastry: One of the things I often reference when reviewing a pie that has been presented inside a tin foil case is that it’s often a challenge to both keep the pastry in tact and also ensure it is properly baked. One of the method’s of stopping this sticky situation is to line the bottom of the tin with a floury layer. This was what was applied here and whilst it meant the pastry didn’t stick the layer was a little too thick giving a slight raw flour taste to the bite and although it didn’t stick it was perhaps a little soft too although it did stay entirely intact which has to be commended.

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Brown Sauce: It’s a new year but the same rules apply. A luxury pie should provide you all the saucey substances you ever need.

Overall: A decent effort. Everything tasted fine but I would have liked to have seen a little more meat in the filling and a little more bake on the base.

Gravy Factor: Decent gravy.

This is the first of two reviews from East Stirlingshire, with review two focusing a bit more on the match day experience at the Falkirk Stadium as well as on another meat filled marvel.

However until then, go forth into 2019 and eat some 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pie 149: The Stirling Albion “Steak” Pie

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Welcome to another edition of Meat Filled Pastries as we induct the 149th baked good into these hallowed pastry halls. This week’s offering comes from Stirling Albion but instead of seeing the Binos do battle I was present for semi-final one of a SSE Scottish Women’s Cup semi-final double-header. I had got out my bed fairly early for a Sunday to take in Glasgow City and Hibernian as the two dominant forces in Scottish women’s football went head to head at noon before Motherwell and The Spartans kicked off four hours later for a place in the final to be played on Sunday 4th November at Firhill. A two game semi-final double header at the same venue on the same day. Can’t think where I’ve heard that before…

I’ve talked at length about what I think needs to be done to really capitalise on the success of Shelley Kerr’s World Cup bound national side and the need to move the domestic game in Scotland forward. If you haven’t read those then conveniently there is a link right here where I gave my opinion a couple of months ago. At this point though I want to commend some of what I saw at Forthbank Stadium that certainly seem to suggest things are moving in the right direction, especially after the introduction of the new entry criteria for the 2019 season.

Firstly, whilst the announcement that the 4 semi-finalists in the Betfred Cup would all play on the same day had people proclaiming the end of days, the idea of a Semi Final Super Sunday works in a Scottish women’s football context and although the announced attendance of 364 sounds meagre it is considerably higher than your average SWPL match day turnout. They had also struck a deal with the BBC similar to the one currently being exercised for the early rounds of the FA Cup to stream both games live on the BBC Sport website accompanied by some proper english speaking commentary. There were team sheets available for each game and whilst it was good that these were free there was perhaps a missed opportunity for a double edition programme to be sold. The historic problem of kick off times clashing with big games on the men’s side did rear its head again though as the crowd appeared noticeably smaller as I watched game two in my flat prior to Scotlands’ 1-3 defeat to Portugal “B”. A game that kicked off only an hour after Motherwell and Spartans did so making it impossible to properly engage in both.

The biggest thing though, and the one that is most relevant to this site, is that there was some hot food to be had and national team aside this feels like a bit of a first. So without much further ado let’s rate some pie!

Where: Forthbank Stadium, Glasgow City 1-2 Hibernian Ladies, SSE Scottish Women’s Cup Semi Final

Price: At £2.50 this was perhaps a bit pricier than I was expecting given the Scottish League Two surroundings. The price becoming a greater bone of contention as I started my consumption.

Presentation: Presented in a tin foil case, the napkins were a self-service job from the table beside the counter. Plenty of large white napkins to choose from so you could go wild in a totally environmentally friendly way.

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Meatiness: Ooft, this was dry, which was a little upsetting. There was some large chunks of steak present but these meaty morsels were quite tough which – coupled with the lack of gravy – didn’t make for the most joyous of bites and an overuse of your jaw muscles. The seasoning wasn’t much cop either and it’s fair to say that I was a little disappointed when I looked at the empty napkin and foil tin that sat in my hand. I know this is a luxury pie but I wish I had whacked some brown sauce on it.

Pastry: The pastry was a bit weird. Whist the scotch pie shell with puff pastry lid has been seen before the puff had seemed to forget to do its growing thing and the shell had a strange grey-brown-yellow sheen to it. Structurally it was sound but again it wasn’t much of a taste sensation.

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Overall: This wasn’t a classic. The meat was a little tough and the paucity of gravy meant that it was all just a little dry, especially when paired with the slightly odd pastry combination surrounding it. I’m not going to lie, part of me thought that these were left over from a Saturday somewhere, and that’s not a great sign.

Gravy Factor: Just a mirage of gravy in this pastry desert.

Well with us one pastry away from 150 there is some pressure to be had on our next hosts after this underwhelming effort. Who that host will be I genuinely don’t know but what I can assure you of is that there will be a pie celebration to be had and maybe I’ll knock something up a little bit special too.

Until next time though, 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 and  The Football Pink as well as featuring in The Scotsman, STV and a number of other media outlets. He currently acts as Heart & Hand Podcast’s resident Iberian football expert. 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 77: The Stirling University Pie

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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:

http://www.scotchpieclub.co.uk/index.php?ID=2255&CATEGORY=6-News+and+Events

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!

THE SURROUNDINGS

Where: Forthbank Stadium, Stirling University v Albion Rovers, Scottish Cup Second Round

Love a view of the hills in the background
Love a view of the hills in the background.

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.

THE PIE

Told you it was on a paper bag.
Told you it was on a paper bag.

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!