Sometimes, just sometimes, I wonder if my pursuit of pastry goes a little too far. Three years ago I found myself sitting on a sofa talking to a former Miss Scotland and the artist formerly known as DJ Romeo about how I was darting about the country eating pies and reviewing them. Two things struck me immediately when I re-watched that mental few minutes. One, I had more hair. Two, the question about whether or not I had eaten all the pies was fairer than I was willing to admit at that time. It had been the culmination of a week where I’d also featured on websites and radio stations and afterwards I had found myself sitting in my car thinking, sometimes, just sometimes, my life is a little bit strange.
I found myself questioning the sanity of my pie pursuit once again last week as I looked out on the arctic tundra masquerading as the pitch at Scotstoun Stadium. I had left on the Sunday morning via bus and then train(s) more in hope than anticipation that the game would be on, regularly checking social media channels for the inevitable. I was therefore amazed that I had got to the point where I had settled down with a pie and a pint in my hand ready for some hard hitting rugby/ice hockey action. Alas though, that inevitable did come, as no sooner had I taken my last bite the stadium tannoy declared the game off. You would think I would be annoyed but I wasn’t, it had got me out the house, given me a story to tell, and of course, most importantly, gave me a new pie review. The fact that this is the conclusion reached tells us all that when it comes to pie, you can never go too far.
So with that in mind and without, much further ado, let’s rate some pie!
Where: Scotstoun Stadium, Womens Rugby International Scotland A-A Spain
Price: Four smackeroonis (£4 for the unintiated)! Oooft, that is indeed a pricey pastry.
Presentation: This was a large pastry in a tin foil case with an equally ample napkin. It’s worth noting here taking a picture of a pie under the cover of a stand against a bright white snowy background is blinking difficult!
Meatiness: I dubbed this a Steak Surprise Pie as when making my purchase I had simply asked for steak but as I munched my way through it the texture suggested something else was lurking within. My first thought was mushroom or potato as the texture was soft and forgiving on the bite but the taste just didn’t match up. I then wondered if I’d happened across some really soft pieces of fat but it’s taste was too different from the generous steaky chunks surrounding them. I had inspected the filling thoroughly but to be honest, it wasn’t until somebody on Twitter asked if I had gone for the “Steak & Sausage” pie did everything fall into place. Now does that mean that the sausage wasn’t good? Not at all, in fact it added an extra meaty layer that had me nodding my head in pleasure on more than one occasion. The gravy was also of the right consistency to provide the necessary ooze without risk of spillage. This pie was £4 but I was starting to understand why.
Pastry: The pastry was where I think there was some space for improvement. Not in the nature of the bake which was solid. Golden and crisp without any hint of this sticking to the tin foil case but for the amount of pastry on the crimp. One of the great pleasures of eating a pie is that glorious first bite, where pastry and meat come together in a hopefully glorious unison of savouriness. On this pie, my first bite was all pastry and I had to pick some of it off before getting to the good stuff. It’s a minor complaint on a pretty tasty pie but it’s one worth mentioning.
Brown Sauce: Luxury Pie here so no brown sauce, and it was certainly not needed.
Overall: Yes it was £4 but it was bloody tasty. A bit of better advertising on what was in it would have been nice and bringing in the crimp a few millimetres would have enhanced that all important first bite experience but that’s a minor complaint on a very tasty pastry.
Gravy Factor: Luxury Gravy. Expensive but sometimes you have to treat yourself.
I think that was my first rugby pie which is a bit of a surprise as I’m known to land at a rugby ground fairly often. Next up will be a return to the Scottish Junior football scene with Rossvale, who are sponsored by one of Scotland’s biggest bakers, McGhee’s, so no pressure lads.
But 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 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.
Hello and welcome to Meat Filled Pastries. Now STV approved, don’t believe me? Then just follow this link:
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!
Where: Hampden Park, Queens Park v Arbroath, Scottish League Two
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.
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.
Needless to say if I want to get back to the 2016 World Scotch Pie Championships then I must plough forward on this journey and so without much further ado let’s rate some pie!
Where: K Park, East Kilbride FC v Preston Athletic, Scottish Lowland League
Price: Priced at £1.50 it was 50p cheaper than my only other Lowland League review to date from Stirling University but more expensive than a top end junior scotch pie. I find myself wondering if the increased cost of pie at these games is a consequence of SFA licensing costs as clubs strive to break into the closed shop that is the Scottish Professional Football League. Good luck to them all I say.
Presentation: Although East Kilbride FC are a club in its infancy it’s good to see that the ever classic medium-sized white napkin is king of the K Park terraces when it comes to presenting your pastry wares.
Meatiness: This pie had a contrasting, almost sweet, and savoury flavour. The filling was just about moist enough without being greasy but was also quite crumbly in texture meaning that a bit of jaw gyration was required to ensure that you didn’t lose any meaty morsels. As followers will know I like a peppery kick to my pie and although there was only a very faint linger of pepper heat in the background as a counter to the ever-increasing sweetness it didn’t mean that this pie wasn’t a tasty treat. A different kind of scotch pie.
Pastry: The pastry was soft, perhaps too soft as when lifting it from its paper napkin bedding it stuck a little leaving small blobs of pastry which then made it a bit difficult to use when it came to wiping your mouth on completing consumption. The pastry was however incredibly buttery, well from what I could tell anyway, and this added some extra moisture that perhaps the filling was lacking.
Brown Sauce: HP. From a bottle so cold that I’m surprised it didn’t come squirting out in little brown ice cubes it is still the king of pie condiments none the less. Maybe keep it inside the hut next time the snow’s falling.
Overall: An almost sweet pie with a buttery finish from the pastry, a welcoming hit of warmth on a bitterly cold day.
Gravy Factor: Bog Standard Bisto with a teaspoon of sugar.
15 away from a ton. A ton of pie, how’s that for a mental image. Next pie up will most likely be from a venue with a different shaped ball as Meat Filled Pastries heads to Scoutston to watch Glasgow v Montpellier in the European Rugby Cup.
However until then, go forth and eat pie!