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
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.
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.
It’s pie time baby! Welcome to Meat Filled Pastries where once again I continue to get elbow deep in my search of the sweetest symphonies of meat and pastry the Scottish football world can offer. But first…
I’ve knowingly followed football for over 25 years. In that time social media and the way that fans interact with their clubs, players and fellow terrace dwellers has changed to an almost unrecognisable level. Whilst big clubs have had the “benefit” of national media coverage football down the leagues often relied on the support of the local paper, word of mouth or the odd post match conversation over a pint or two. Nowadays though clubs of all levels are in the search for greater reach latching onto anything that makes them stand out from the crowd and searching for ways to attract new followers at a time when the telly seems to rule all. Whilst Social Media Officers at “big” teams can themselves alone attract thousands of followers at the lower levels there is no media team. No budget for high-definition graphics and elaborate signing videos and in some cases no real expertise of any note to call upon, but you know what? The content still comes. The goal flashes, the signing news, the websites, the match day posters, the new logos it’s all there to see. All keeping people informed whilst maintaining thier clubs relevance in an ever smaller world. This work can sometimes be even better than those that earn a living from it and it should be commended. Whether it be keen fans who volunteer, students looking to hone their media craft or inwhatever form that the content is produced it’s it’s fair to say that the profile of these clubs would just not be the same.
It cheers me even more to see that in recent times clubs – with the budgets to do so – are now recognising these individuals with paid full-time opportunities. Most recently this was demonstrated at Dunfermline Athletic where long time Club Photographer Craig Brown has been rewarded with a permament contract to act as the club’s Media & PR Officer. Even more famously Alan Burrows has seen his role on a Saturday at Fir Park change from punter to Chief Executive a fanciful thought during the SPL years. Recognition is often hard to come by when the time spent goes unseen so I wanted to take this chance to say thank you to all those folk who make trying to understand what’s going on in the strange little world that is Scottish football just that bit easier.
I’d like to think that my pie reviews help to promote those clubs a little too and I always make sure to give a shout out to the teams I visit when spreading the good word. So let’s get to it, without much further ado, let’s rate some pie.
Where: Portland Park, Troon 1-1 Pollok, West Premiership
Price: At £2 my initial reaction was to say that this pie, even for a luxury offering, was expensively priced as a junior pastry but then it was presented to me and the volume of pie you got against the amount you had to spend had me thinking that this was a bit of a bargain.
Presentation: Has there been a special sale on coloured napkins this pre-season that I don’t know about? For the third review in a row my pie was presented on something other than a white coloured napkin. This time blue, in keeping with the home team colours. Good size for holding the pastry which on this occasion was housed inside a tinfoil case.
Meatiness: Jesus this was meaty. It was dense with meat and more than one chunk took a couple of bites to get through. This was the good stuff. The meat tearing forgivingly as I ate. There was also an ocean of well seasoned and highly flavoured gravy, wrapping itself lovingly around the mini steaks with its viscosity allowing it to kiss the sides and gently flow out its pastry tomb ready to awaken your tastebuds. There was the presence of pepper throughout each bite. Not a semi-acrid burn that can sometimes build whilst eating a scotch pie but a consistent, almost sweet, tingle that just added to the total flavour profile. This was good.
Pastry: The good news continued with the pastry. Although it was a little soft, no doubt as a result of the ample treasure it was concealing, there was no sticking to the tin foil case and falling apart as I lifted it. It was a lovely golden brown colour and although the top layer puff pastry disc was a little off centre this still felt like one of the neatest pies I’d seen in a long time.
Brown Sauce: I think it would have been near blasphemy to put a condiment on this bad boy.
Overall: Generous filling and size. Tasty meat, unctuous gravy, golden pastry. Belter of a pie!
Gravy Factor: Give me another ladle full.
An absolute triumph of a pie from Portland Park. I’ve not had one that good in a long time and I would recommend a trip to Troon just to eat it. Will the streak continue next time out with the intriguing sounding Bacon Mac & Cheese Pie from Ibrox?
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. He has contributed to prominent football sites including Pie & Bovril, The Terrace Podcast, 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.