Expat Quest Cologne – Part 4: Awesome Tasty Pasties

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We have reached the final part of the Cologne expat quest.  This time it’s Cornish Pasties!  Not only will you get to meet Dan and hear all about his Tasty Pasties but you will also get to hear about the German tradition that is “Dinner for One”.  First, it’s perhaps worth having a quick recap of the what we’ve found so far in the quest.  We started off by finding a great cafe that served something other than coffee and cake .  We followed this up with the joy of a decent curry, thanks to Ajay and the rest of the folk at Ginti’s.  It took us 5 years of bad onion bhaji’s before we finally found what we were looking for.  More recently, a wonderful man called Paul opened Cologne’s first fish and chip shop.  It really was worth the wait and his fish and chips really were as good as anything we have tasted back in the UK.  Paul’s mushy peas are really worth mentioning again, they truly were outstanding.  Anyway, here we are on the home stretch of the Expat Quest in Cologne.  It gives me great pleasure to be able to introduce you to Dan and his amazing Tasty Pasty Company.  It also gives me the chance to tell you about a very unlikely German tradition that has its roots firmly in the UK.

From Teaching English to Pasties

The idea for the Tasty Pasty Company was first born in 2008.  Dan and his friend Paul were English teachers in Germany and discussing how much they missed a good Cornish Pasty.  Having agreed it would be a great idea to open a Pasty shop to solve the problem, they went back to their pints of beer and didn’t think much more about it.

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The Tasty Pasty Logo – The Name is a Play on Words – Especially if You are German

Over the years the idea kept coming back to them and in 2012 they finally decided to do something about it. At that point they began plotting, scheming and organising a world of Pasty supremacy.  Finally, the Tasty Pasty Company was officially born.  Having got to know Dan over the past couple of years (not that I’m a regular in the Pasty shop or anything), I know that the name has its origins in his life as a teacher.  When you know what a Pasty is and how to pronounce it, the name Tasty Pasty Company rolls off the tongue quite easily.  When you’re a German who has neither seen or heard of a Pasty, let alone ever said the word, it’s a little more complicated.  Hence, most Germans say the word Tasty and then just rhyme the Pasty with that.  There’s nothing more childish than listening to people ordering themselves a nice Pasty pronounced like tone of my English skin when I’m forced to go on a beach.

Armed with a name, they then set to the task of finding a bakery who could help them create the perfect pasty.  They spent a lot of time hunting for the perfect recipe.   Finally, after quite a lot of trial and error they finally found the taste that they were looking for.  The next step was to create the Tasty Pasty brand.  They did a great job as well and I always think their logo captures perfectly the look of their pasties perfectly.

The Opening of Pasty Heaven – February 2014

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Inside the cosy atmosphere of the Tasty Pasty Company

The doors of the Tasty Pasty Company opened in February 2014.  It has a great spot on Duerener Str (Number 64a) just outside the city centre of Cologne.  There’s parking spots along the road at the front.  Plus, if you are in the city centre it’s just a 10 minute stroll through the beautiful Hiroshima-Nagasaki Park.  It was shortly after Dan and Paul opened that we heard about the Tasty Pasty Company from one of the parents at school.  On our first visit we had the pleasure of meeting Dan, who was still trying to get to grips with the very awesome espresso machine they had bought for the cafe.  The range of pasties in those early days was already pretty impressive.  The traditional Cornish Pasty was just perfect with a great pastry crust and a great mix of filling.  I became a particular fan of the Steak and Ale though.

Cornish Pasties and Football

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Dan Outside the Shop in his Brighton Shirt

Over the past couple of years I have spent quite a few Saturday afternoons in the shop with a pasty and a coffee debating the weekends’ English football.  As a fan of Norwich City things are always a little up and down (more down than up recently).  Dan hails from Sussex, which means he is a huge Brighton and Hove Albion fan.  During the 2014/15 season in the English Championship our 2 teams were both close rivals for promotion (for a while at least).  We had a great discussion about the upcoming game and as I left the shop we agreed an unlikely 4-4 draw would be the fairest result.  Imagine our surprise a few hours later when our 2 teams played out a stunning game that finished 4-4.  I also spent a memorable evening in the shop watching England play out a boring 0-0 draw in the middle of the stunning failure that was Euro 2016.  The only thing that kept us going was the pasties.  More recently, when Brighton gave Norwich a good 5-0 hiding it didn’t take long for Dan to send me a message to check that I had seen the score.  That result was even worse now they have Chris Hughton as manager who was famous as the Norwich manager for being the most defensive person in the world.  Hopefully one of our teams will be promoted this year so at least we’ll have something to celebrate for once instead of the usual disappointment.

Pasties on the Christmas Market

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Dan and his Pasties take on the Cologne Christmas Market

As the shop grew in popularity, the Tasty Pasty Company managed to secure a spot on the 2015 Cologne Christmas Market.  They had a great location at the Alter Markt and more importantly they also had a new type of Pasty!  The Christmas Pasty is a work of total genius.  Turkey, Ham, Cranberry and all sorts of amazing Christmas flavours are fused perfectly to create something truly wonderful.  It ranks up there with the Pork and Apple as one of my all time favourite Pasty flavours.

We were lucky that Dan’s spot on the Market was close enough to the office at work to go for lunch.  Over the course of the 4 or 5 weeks that the Christmas markets were open we had the chance to introduce the joy of the Cornish Pasty to a multitude of different nationalities.  We had colleagues from France, Iceland, Latvia, Romania, Spain and Sweden all coming together to enjoy Dan’s amazing food.

We are equally excited for this year’s Christmas Market.  They are barely 2 weeks away now.  As a bonus, our office moved across the River back in June which means that we are even closer to Dan’s Pasties than we were last year.  If you are in Cologne for the Christmas Markets you really should stop by the Tasty Pasty stall and say Hi.  Even British visitors will love the Christmas special, it goes down perfectly with a Gluhwein.

Cream Teas and Beer

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Tasty Scones as well

Not content with Pasties, last summer Dan decided to branch out a little bit.  This means that now we can also get a proper English Cream Tea to go with our Pasties.  There is nothing better on a summer’s afternoon that stopping by for a cream tea.  They also have a great selection of cakes and flapjacks.  I can particularly recommend the Millionaire’s Shortbread (or caramel shortbread as some people know it).  To be able to buy it fresh here in Germany makes life in a foreign country just that little bit more satisfying.

On top of all that they also sell a selection of English goods.  Dan stocks a small but perfect selection of real ales and ciders.  There is also a selection of tea from the Brighton-based independent tea maker, the Bluebird Tea Company.    I look forward to telling you the story of Krisi and Mike’s tea journey at some point in the future.  Finally, harking back to Dan’s teaching roots, the shop also has an English book swap scheme to encourage local German’s and students who live near to the shop to improve their skills.

Introducing the Miss Sophie’s and Dinner for One

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The Miss Sophies

As well as doing a great line in Pasties, Dan is also a member of a band called the Miss Sophie’s.  To most British people, the name Miss Sophie will mean nothing.  Any British expat isn’t in Germany long before someone mentions a German institution called Dinner for One.  It’s an 18 minute, single-take comedy sketch starring Freddie Frinton.  The sketch is about the 90th Birthday Party of Miss Sophie who hosts a birthday party for her friends, all of whom are sadly now dead.  It was filmed in 1963 for German TV but apart from the initial introduction in German the whole thing is as English as it comes.  It features Miss Sophie’s butler James having to drink the toasts of the 4 departed guests for each course of the dinner.  As the meal progresses, James gets more and more drunk with particularly farcical consequences.  Before arriving in Germany, I had never heard of Dinner for One but it has been a key part of German New Year’s Eve TV schedules since 1963.  Whenever German’s do something they’ve done before someone will use the Dinner for One catchphrase “Same Procedure as Last Year?”  At which point everyone else within earshot will reply with “Same Procedure as Every Year James”.  I always find it interesting how this very British sketch is so ingrained in German culture.  It evokes happy memories of family in all the Germans I know.  It’s probably one of the reasons why Germans have such a good relationship with us Brits and it’s a perfect name for a band of Brit expats in Cologne.  If you want to watch Dinner for One for yourself, take a look on Youtube here.

From Brexit to the Future

Dan’s Tasty Pasty Company is a great place where locals and expats come together at the heart of the local community.  This was particularly true during the Brexit vote this summer.  The Tasty Pasty Company became a place where locals and Brits in Cologne came together to discuss the vote.  In the week before the vote, Dan had a daily slot on the 1Live Radio Station.  Right before the vote, the shop even hosted a Brexit debate live on the radio.  My daughter Lucy and one of her friends took part and it was great that a little Pasty shop could bring so many people together.  As us Brits in Cologne look to a slightly uncertain future, the Tasty Pasty Company shines as a great way to showcase the Best of British.  But doing so in a way that encourages a spirit of togetherness and inclusivity.  It feels particularly fitting that I am just finishing off this post in the shop itself and at the bottom here is a photo of the Pork and Apple Pasty to prove it.  With a stall again at this year’s Cologne Christmas Market and the remodelled cafe going from strength to strength, the future looks good for Tasty Pasty Company.  Dan’s just become a father recently so by supporting his business you help to put a roof over a family’s head and ensure that Cologne continues to have a ready supply of Pasties.

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Pork and Apple Pasty

 

 

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