Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Countdown to Burns Night

Piping in the Guests & Welcome

Hello, good evening and welcome to my virtual Burns Night. I've got a lot of prestigious guests and auld acquaintances to introduce so please come in, make yourself at home and enjoy the skirl of the pipes. 
Lets say grace before we begin
Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it, 
But we hae meat and we can eat, 
Sae let the Lord be thankit.
Piping in the Haggis
Bet you thought I was kidding about the pipes? Alas that's not the case in this house. Foodie Loon is a piper with Newtonhill Pipe Band, boy is learning the snare drum and girl the chanter.  I wear the earplugs. Haggis and Cracked Black Pepper Crisps from Mackie's are already a hit in this household. Yup the folk that make Ice Cream also make crisps. According to girl, and with apologies to Charlie and Lola, they are "my favourite and my best". Spicy, peppery and very moreish.
Mackie's Haggis Crisps and Bagpipes
The Address to the Haggis
I'm a big fan of Macsween Haggis so was very intrigued to see their latest limited edition offerings. Venison Haggis and Three Bird Haggis (Grouse, Duck and Pheasant). I was equally keen to try out their Microwave in 60 seconds packs. These were so convenient. Remove the outer cardboard wrapper, pop the pack in the microwave (no need to pierce) for one minute. The plastic covering puffs up, you peel it back and serve. Perfect solution for haggis for one.

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his walie nieve a blade, 
He'll make it whissle; 
An legs an arms, an heads will sned, 
Like taps o thrissle.


Toast to the Haggis 
Confession time. I'm not actually a fan of Whisky. I have been told that I've just not found the right one for me yet. Admittedly I've not been trying too hard. So to toast the Haggis we have Gran Stead's Ginger Co. Fiery Ginger. I'm informed it works equally well as a mixer with Whisky but I've been having it straight or on the rocks. Boy is it fiery. Certainly packs a punch and cuts through the richness of Haggis. Slàinte Mhòr!

The Meal
Time for the main event. Haggis, Neeps and Tatties. Girl stuck to the traditional Macsweens whilst we sampled the limited editions. The Venison was the ultimate winner. Perfectly encapsulating "warm-reekin rich!". Perhaps it was the inclusion of Port and Juniper which swung it for me. Three Bird was also very special but the quince and lavender made it a wee bit too floral for my taste. Get these indulgent versions while you can and keep an eye out for more limited editions from Macsweens throughout the year. 
Tam O' Shanter
Oh Tam had'st thou but been sae wise to stick to taking Whisky only in your Marmalade rather than getting fou and unco happy. Mackays have been making Marmalade for over 70 years still by the traditional method using copper pans. From the dark thick cut Vintage Dundee to the original Dundee Orange. Our luck was really in the day that a Spanish Ship full of Seville Oranges took refuge from a storm in Dundee Harbour. Even sulky sullen Kate would surely approve of a liberal spreading of whisky infused oranges to "toast" the Bard first thing in the morning.
The Immortal Memory
How would Rabbie have us remember him in these modern times? I reckon he would very much approve of his inclusion in the Gillian Kyle local hero's range. Rubbing shoulders with the likes of Andy Murray, Mary Queen of Scots, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Alexander Graham Bell. A romantic red mug bearing his legacy as "Poet and Heartbreaker". But whatever would he make of a Haggis Buttery? For the uninitiated a Buttery/Rowie/Roll is a bakery product specific to the North East corner of Scotland. Like a squashed dense croissant. Lard, Salt and Flour being the traditional main ingredients. Add Haggis to the mix and you have something truly special from craft bakers J.G. Ross
Holy Willie's Prayer 
A Haggis pie would surely be the answer to Holy Willie's prayers. Especially if accompanied with Maw Broon's Kitchen Broon Sauce and a Mug of Tea. The pie from J.J.Ross contains the ubiquitous Haggis topped with bashed neeps and chappit tatties. Fit Fine. Maw Broon's Broon Sauce is braw. Prepared in small batches with the very best ingredients from Glebe Street.
Toast to the Lassies
What better way to toast the ladies than with a Cranachan Cupcake from J.G. Ross. Fruity, sweet, pink perfection with a toasted oat topping. Washed down with a cuppa in a Gillian Kyle Mug. Alas the lassie doth prefer carnations to red red roses. Rabbie should have picked up a bunch at the petrol station forecourt.

Toast to the Laddies
How to respond to a Cranachan Cupcake? With inuendo and smut of course. Maw Broon is a saucy lady but I think she missed a trick. She's called her Brown Sauce Broon but surely her Tomato Ketchup should have been Red Sauce? Red or Broon its all good and a wee bit spicy. But what would Rabbie have made of a foot long Haggis Roll? J.G. Ross again aiming to please with 12 inches.
A Red, Red, Rose
Helen Dean must have thought that the Huntly Pipe Band played sweet melodies in tune as the Dean's empire sprung from her baking melt in the mouth shortbread at home as a fundraiser for them.
O my Luve's like a red, red rose, 
That's newly sprung in June: 
O my Luve's like the melodie, 
That's sweetly play'd in tune.
Their latest product line are Shortbread Thins. Lemon, Vanilla, All Butter and Earl Grey Tea. The perfect way to round off the evening. Crispy, crumbly, buttery and oh so Scottish.


Vote of Thanks

Thanks to Macsween's Haggis, J.G. Ross, Gillian Kyle, Mackie's Crisps, Maw Broon's Kitchen, Dean's, Mackays and Gran Stead's Ginger Co. for providing the above products. I was not obliged to review positively in return. All views expressed are my own.


Auld Lang Syne
Time to join hands say a fond farewell in the time honoured tradition. But my adventures in Burns are not yet over for 2014. An intriguing parcel has arrived from the 2014 Food & Drink Campaign. Contained within was a nest with a hibernating haggis and an invitation to be #InspiredByBurns

Suggestions on my Facebook page as to how to rouse it from its slumber have included - treat it like a lobster, shoogle it, tempt it out with Malt Whisky, play the pipes, sing to it and address it. 
I have plans for this wee beastie. Ready, Steady, Invent!

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