The humble ‘pastie’ is the iconic and much loved staple of every Northern Irish chippie and holds a special place in the hearts of locals.
Not to be mistaken for its Cornish cousin, the NI pastie is unique to Northern Ireland; traditionally packed with sausage meat, potato, onion and herbs, then deep fried and served in a soft white bap or with chips and your choice of sauce.
Originally, the pastie was one of the only ‘spiced’ snacks available in Northern Ireland for years.
While its origins are fairly ambiguous, you know it’s pretty iconic when ‘Van the Man’ immortalised it in his song, ‘A Sense of Wonder’.
Despite being about for over 100 years, its popularity hasn’t faltered; in fact, it has ‘cult food status’ and is adored by locals and tourists alike.
Like most of the world’s best loved foods, pasties were initially seen as the ‘poor man’s meal’; a cheaper alternative to fish. Times have changed since then and pasties are now loved by people from all walks of life and of all ages.
It’s the perfect comfort food to fortify you on a cold, damp Northern Irish day, as well as enjoy as a summer treat at the coast, with chips doused in salt and vinegar.
John Longs, Belfast’s longest established fish and chips restaurant has been making the savoury treats for over 100 years. Owner, John Copeland is an avid fan of pasties and is immensely proud of the heritage associated with them.
“People of all ages love pasties, particularly in the Belfast community. We make them fresh every morning and they seem to be growing in popularity. We experience a lot of tourist trade, people coming to taste what all the fuss about and they never leave disappointed.”
“Our pasties are made of potatoes, onions and herbs, dipped in batter and deep fried until golden – so vegetarians can also enjoy them. I particularly love them fresh first thing in the morning; piping hot and crispy, with curry sauce.”
Castlewellan company, TS Foods has seen to it that we can also enjoy the tasty treat in the comfort of our homes. The family owned company has been producing pasties under the Tony’s Chippy brand for over 37 years so we can get that chip shop taste straight from the oven.
And while these ones may come from your fridge or freezer, their beginnings are no less credible.
Now under the charge of the second generation of the Steele Family, daughter Joanne Molloy, Commercial Director of TS Foods tells us:
“My mum and dad, Tony and Ann, started our company TS Foods over 37 years ago – in a chip shop! They owned The Dolphin in Castlewellan and perfected their pastie recipe there with the help of a good friend, James Agnew from Lisburn. The demand grew very quickly and eventually it was so strong that they took the plunge and set up a factory in Mary Street, Castlewellan – where production still happens to this day!”
Hot, crispy, chewy and savoury, the pastie is arguably one of Northern Ireland’s best products – one that is missed sorely by those no longer living here.
Whether you enjoy a pastie at home or from a chippy, in a bap or with some chips, you can be certain that you are enjoying something very special and totally unique to us here in our wee part of the world! The curry sauce is a must too, surely?!