Good to Go Meat Pies
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
The journey from Bellingham to Everson isn’t a dauntingly long one, but for one reason or another, the time between when I thought about revisiting the small Whatcom County town to the cloudy fall day I actually pulled up in front of Good to Go Meat Pies seemed to stretch on for quite a while.
Owner Holly Bevan-Bumford didn’t seem concerned that the invitation she’d first extended to me in mid-August was only now being acted on. Instead, she urged me and my chauffeur to come in from the cold and proceeded to tell us the story of how she went from being a stay-at-home mom to the head honcho of an ever-growing eatery specializing in half-moon-shaped meat pies, traditionally called pasties (pronounced pass-tees).
Although she spent most of her youth in Everson, Bevan-Bumford, 50, was born in Michigan, where the making and serving of the savory offering is closely connected to the turn-of-the-century copper-mining industry. In fact, the pasty first originated in Cornwall, England, when the wives of miners would tuck the portable meals away for their husbands to eat while they were stationed below the earth’s surface. Since their hands often carried traces of arsenic, the miners would hold the pasty by the tip of the crust, then throw the crusts away (so as not to poison themselves).
“The tradition came with the British,” Bevan-Bumford told us, before sharing that when it came time for her to find a new adventure in her life, family and friends in Michigan pointed the way toward helping her decide on utilizing the pasty as Good to Go’s main staple.
“It continues to be a really good traveling food,” Bevan-Bumford noted. “I also wanted to offer working families in the area something other than pizza for a quick dinner.”
It’s worth pointing out that, since she first opened in January 2012, Bevan-Bumford has done what she could to integrate local ingredients into her recipes. The beef pasty ($7.50) is made with Farmer Ben’s grass-fed ground beef, and if the potatoes, carrots, onions, rutabaga and fresh parsley needed to round out the meal are available from nearby farmers, she’ll buy what she can from them.
Looking around the small storefront, it’s easy to see the edible ethics aren’t just limited to the pasty menu. The turnovers available the day we visited were made from Cloud Mountain Farm Center apples, the barbecue sauce was created by (and named after) her nephew Ty, and the bags of Casey’s Coffee for sale were sourced from a friend down the road.
“It’s amazing how small town this small town really is,” Bevan-Bumford said with a laugh. Still, with cross-border traffic coming from Canada, she and her staff hope that at least a few of the thousands of cars that travel through Everson every day will make a stop at the Main Street hub.
We’d skipped lunch, so by the time we’d been filled in on the background of Good to Go Meat Pies, my date and I were pretty hungry. We’d been told the pot roast pasty and the pork empanada pasty were the bestsellers, so we opted to try them both, plus added a beef pasty for good measure (all meat-filled pasty menu items are $7.50, and the veggie pasty and broccoli cheddar pasty are each $6.50. Both can be purchased fresh or frozen).
Although a bowl of gravy and sides of barbecue sauce were also provided, we’d soon learn that, although they added richness to the bites of gustatory goodness, we could do just fine without them—especially if we happened to find ourselves at the bottom of a mine.
“I don’t know why anyone would ever throw the crust away,” my companion said in between mouthfuls. And, when asked to provide a favorite, she shrugged and quickly said, “well, all of them.”
Although I greatly enjoyed the zing of the jalapeno-infused empanada pasty and the rich, ale-braised chuck in the pot roast pasty, it was the beef pasty that stole my heart—maybe because it reminded me of the shepherd’s pie my mom used to make.
Later, when I’d returned home with the leftovers and a still-warm chicken pot pie for my boyfriend, he took the unmarred pasty and dropped it on the butcher block from the height of a couple feet.
“It didn’t break!” he said before grabbing it with both his hands and taking a big bite. He proclaimed it to be delicious, and said he wished Good to Go Meat Pies would’ve been around years ago, when he was working in Everson at a nearby mill.
“That really puts a bristle in a man’s beard,” he added, promptly clearing his plate of both the leftovers and the chicken pot pie pasty. “Probably a few crumbs, too.”
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