Girl Versus Food

Reviews, recipes and thoughts from a Scottish food blogger

Tag: eat Scottish

How to Host a Burns Supper

Robert Burns birthday on the 25th of January brings a night of celebrations across the country (and further afield) in memory of the great poet. It’s a brilliant night of food, drink, verse and good company but it can be a bit daunting if you’ve never planned your own before. So here’s the Girl Versus Food guide to hosting a Burn’s Night at home.

The Food

It goes without saying that your guests will be expecting haggis, neeps and tatties! Getting good quality haggis is important; I’d suggest ordering one from your local butcher. For something a bit different, Servus Venison Haggis is very good.

Will you be serving your haggis traditional style with champit tatties and bashed ‘neeps? Or will you look to incorporate the national dish into your menu in another way? I’ve previously created these Haggis Scotch Eggs and will be posting a recipe for Haggis Beef Wellington later in the week.

Last year for my Burns Supper, I went classic with a haggis main course and designed the rest of the menu using as much fantastic Scottish produce as possible. The full menu was as follows;

Amuse Bouche:

Lobster Tail with truffle

Starter:

A Plate of Game – game terrine, venison tartar served with a quails egg, game pate

Le Trou Normand (palate cleanser):

Edinburgh Raspberry Gin Sorbet

Main:

Haggis wi’ bashit neeps an’ champit tatties

Pudding:

Heather Honey and Whisky MousseBurns Supper

 

The Drinks

It’s traditional to serve the haggis with whisky. With it being our national drink there’s plenty of options to choose from and each has its own unique characteristics. Food and drink writer Fiona Beckett has an article here https://www.matchingfoodandwine.com/news/pairings/which-whisky-pairs-best-with-haggis/ about which whiskies pair best with haggis, but a Talisker 10 year old would be a safe bet.

Not a big whisky fan? How about a lovely Scottish gin instead? Just like whisky, each gin is very different depending on the botanicals used. A few of my favourites are Rock Rose, The Botanist and Strathearn. Rock Rose have distilled this beautiful limited edition Lassies Toast Gin for Burns this year.Lassies Toast Gin

The Toasts and Poems

It’s great to get all your guests involved in the fun. You might want to ask them to pick out a favourite piece by Burns in advance that they would be happy to give a rendition of on the night (since nobody likes to be put on the spot). You could have guests reading their verses between courses or after the meal.

The Selkirk Grace is said at the beginning of the meal. This is a short and easy verse so would be ideal for someone who is nervous about reading a poem aloud.

When the haggis is brought to the table (ideally accompanied by bagpipe music) Address to The Haggis is read and the cooked haggis is cut open.

After the meal, there are three pieces performed which have been written especially for the evening by the hosts or another appointed person.

  1. The Immortal Memory is a tribute to Robert Burns where the speaker picks out interesting aspects of The Bards life or works. This is the most serious of the speeches.
  2. The Toast To The Lassies is a light-hearted performance and an opportunity to tease the female guests in a good natured way. It should always end with a genuine thanks to the fairer sex and a heartfelt toast.
  3. It’s only fair that the girls get a chance to respond and so follows The Reply to The Toast To The Lassies.

The Visit Scotland page has some great short videos with advice on writing your toasts here https://www.visitscotland.com/about/famous-scots/robert-burns/burns-night/

At the end of the night, it’s time to get your guests together, join hands and sing along to Auld Lang Syne.

Remember, it’s your night so if there are any sections you want to skip or extras you want to add in then go ahead and tailor the evening to you and your guests.

Everything Else

If you can talk your guests into wearing tartan then all the better… kilts, tartan trews and dresses will really set Burns mood.

A tartan themed table and place cards will look beautiful too! As an added touch, you might want to think about a wee favour on your guests’ place settings. Scottish tablet or an alcohol miniature perhaps?

tartan table

Too Much Hassle?

If this all seems like a bother or hosting isn’t your thing, get yourself along to an organised Burns Supper in your area. And nobody will ask you to do the dishes at the end of the night! Here’s a couple of options in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Edinburgh

Glasgow

A Pate Party

A few weeks ago, I got some fantastic news; one of my best friends got engaged. In Vegas, no less! Very exciting! So what better way to celebrate than by getting the girls together for some delicious food and wine?

Of course we got the evening started with a customary glass of bubbles!

The lovely people at Castle MacLellan had sent me out five different pates from their range to sample and have my very own Pate Party. The pates we tried out were:

  • Orkney Crab Terrine – enriched with crème fraiche, lemon juice and Galloway mustard.
  • Chicken Liver Pate – smooth creamy chicken liver pate enhanced with Scottish heather honey.
  • Oven Roasted Mushroom Pate – with full fat soft cheese, crème fraiche and a hint of garlic and thyme.
  • Scottish Smoked Salmon Pate – a blend of smoked and poached salmon enriched with cream, lemon juice and horseradish.
  • Rannoch Smoked Duck Pate – smooth duck liver pate with pieces of Rannoch smoked duck complemented by apple jelly and aromatic tarragon.img_1794

I served the pate with butter, oatcakes, fresh bread, red wine and a selection of other nibbles. The delicious selection of pates were definitely a welcome addition to our girly get together and made a change from the usual ‘crisps and dips’ cliche.

The pates had a lovely texture and the quality of the locally sourced ingredients really came through. Castle MacLellan have long term relationships with lots of their suppliers like John Mellis who produces the heather honey for the chicken liver pate.

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My guests loved the variation in the selection from Scottish seafood to the creamy mushroom pate. What really surprised me was that each of the five girls picked a different favourite. Personally, I was torn between the smoked duck pate and the Orkney crab terrine. They were both so different but equally flavoursome.

I really like that there were recipes ideas on each pack, which you can also check out over on the Castle MacLellan website.  I’m definitely going to have a go at making the Spiced Monkfish en Croute.

Oh and given that we were celebrating an engagement, it would be rude not to include a final photo including The Ring. So here we are… duck pate and diamonds!

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The Skerries Restaurant, Edinburgh

The Dunstane is a little gem of a boutique hotel that I hadn’t come across until I recently found out about the Skerries restaurant there. The restaurant is a wee piece of Orcadian heaven only a five minute walk from Haymarket station. The Mowat family who own the hotel come from Orkney and were keen to share the culinary delights of the Islands with the people of Edinburgh.

I was lucky enough to attend the re-launch night where I got to chat with their new head chef, Paul Hood, who has worked in some of the City’s finished kitchens including Prestonfield House. Paul is passionate about his Scottish menu and told me that it will be refreshed monthly so that every time you visit the restaurant there will be new dishes to sample. Here I am with Chef Paul and winner of Masterchef Professionals 2014, Chef Jamie Scott. I think you could call this a Chef Sandwich!image1b

It was great to see that the restaurant has a close working relationship with its suppliers; their butcher was on hand to talk about how the meat is sourced and prepared. I sampled some delicious canapés including mini venison burgers; why is that things in miniature always taste twice as good?  My mouth was watering at the special ‘Orkney Tasting Menu’ filled with scallops, lamb, beef and cheeses all from the Islands.

menu

I hope to return to The Skerries for a full Orkney dining experience soon so stay tuned for my full review!

 

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