So, that Scotch Pie. I was heading from Edinburgh to Glasgow - Mrs Lambshank was flying into the airport, you see, for the final leg of luxury living - and, after that pretty rubbish attempt at Eggs Florentine from a hotel that really should know better, I was quite peckish. And, frankly, in desperate need of a wee.
The thing is, when you're driving a car the approximate size of a barge and when you've also scratched it just a couple of hours before (look it wasn't my fault, someone was swinging into the car park the wrong way, I had to swerve and all things considered, even BMW think the little plastic panel under the passenger door is a better scratchable option than the entire front wing)... er, where was I? Basically, I was looking for a huge parking space with access to a toilet and then this odd little side street appeared with a bookies (always a good bet for a loo) and, as it happens, this bakery.
The smells emanating from the place were too tempting to ignore, and I popped my head round the door to see what was on offer. And there, lurking at the back of the shop, was a little hot cabinet that was the source of my olfactory joy. And there, lurking in the hot cabinet, was the little pie I showed the photo of yesterday. It didn't, of course, stay in that state for very long and soon looked like this
In a matter of wide-eyed seconds, the pie had vanished but for some buttery crumbs and, at that point, I did what any self-respecting foodie would have done when confronted by something so gleefully fatty and peppery and meaty and award-winning for a quid: I bought another one and demolished it at roughly the same pace. My excuse - aside from the value - was the poor breakfast and also the need to line the stomach a little before my long-anticipated to WEST.
Ah WEST... Have I waxed lyrical about St Mungo beer before? I think I might have but here's a quick background story. I first encountered WEST with Will of The Boy Done Food fame and various other writers on a press trip to experience Gourmet Glasgow. Oi, stop sniggering at the back, there's a LOT of good food in Glasgow that's never seen a deep fat fryer. Anyway, on our final day, we were shown around WEST, Petra Wetzel's Bavarian-style brewery in an old carpet factory on Glasgow Green. Petra and her dad had decided a while before that there were no decent German beers available in the UK and summised that perhaps the purity of the Scottish water might benefit German expertise and ingredients.
They were right and, earlier this year, the marvellous Ms Wetzel collected three gold medals at a German beer competition. That might sound insignificant but hang on. Before WEST got involved, no brewery outside of Germany has even been acknowledged, let alone pick up a prize. Nobody's ever had a sniff of a bronze... and along come WEST and they pick up three golds.
It is then quite good beer. The last time, Will and I had managed to swig down three all-too-brief samples on that whistlestop final day, thanks to our taxi being delayed for 10 minutes. This time, I had a more leisurely trawl through the range. The St Mungo is glorious and I'll wax lyrical for hours over its malty crispness and lingering flavours (hell, ask me nicely, I might even give you a bottle...) but I think I have a new love: the Hefeweizen. I can usually take or leave the wheat beers but the Hefeweizen is fruity, refreshing and packed with flavour and pleases from first drop to last.
Food at WEST is hearty and beer-absorbing and, as much as I love the place, I can't help but think there are a few things that would improve the dining experience. After my recent beefcheeks experience, I would say the stew needed another hour in the pot - a shame as the gingerbready gravy is bloody lovely - and the dumplings should go in around the same time to absorb some gravy. Still, puddings are spot-on and the beers are the best I've had in many a year of drinking. At the moment, if I die tomorrow in a strange toast-related incident, I want Jaipur and St Mungo at my wake. Yeah. They're that good. If you go to Glasgow, go WEST young man (or woman). And seek out Petra and tell her I sent you, because she's a sweetheart.