Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Burns Night Dinner Dance: The Dinner

With my kilt on, we headed off to the Robert Burns Dinner Dance & Ceilidh Event last Saturday night. Naturally, the night began as you might imagine: a happy hour with drinks at the bar. After about 45 minutes (enough time for all the later comers and kilt-wearing-challenged people to arrive fashionably late), we were called in to dinner. 

The dinner began with the ceremonial presentation of the haggis. Three men came in. The first was a bagpiper. The second carried the haggis on a plate. The third followed him with two bottles of scotch (at least I assume it was scotch) which he would rotate in the air as if cranking a bicycle pedal. Arriving at the presentation table, the second man recited from memory Burns's Address to A Haggis. Burns calls the haggis "Great chieftain o' the puddin-race" among other praises in this poem. Check the link above for the complete text (which also provides a "translation" into contemporary English). He then cut it open with a great slash of his sword. The three men each had a shot of scotch. They then marched the haggis back out, presenting it to the delighted crowd.

Address to a Haggis

Exit of the haggis, smelling nice

Next came grace, also composed by Burns:
The Selkirk Grace

Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
And sae the Lord be thankit.
The meal was served in three courses. The first course had a choice of Scotch broth or Scottish smoked salmon. My wife and I both chose the salmon. It came with a salad and brown bread and was excellent.

The second course was the main entree. We had a choice of chicken breast stuffed with haggis or braised beef in rich onion gravy. We wimped out and got the beef. I feel justified since I had haggis in Edinburgh a few months back. Following on my principle of trying out new things at least once, I had fulfilled my haggis duty back in November (I also had it five years ago on a previous trip to the British Isles). It tastes alright but conceptually it's, shall we say, hard to swallow. We might buy some this week to serve on Wednesday, but I wouldn't bet anything valuable on it. A medley of vegetables were served, along with boiled potatoes and roasted potatoes.

The final course was dessert, with a choice of chocolate and macaroon flan or the more traditional cranachan (toasted oats, raspberries, honey and whiskey bound with cream). My wife had the flan and I had the cranachan. We shared tastes of the desserts. The usual coffee and tea was provided.

The meal was excellent, though for us it took too long because we wanted to get to the dancing. For a three course meal, I thought it was served quite efficiently considering the size of the crowd (about 150 people).

If you want to host your own Burns Night supper, check out the guidance here. They have recipes for the menu and advice on music, poems, toasts, and tartans.

1 comment:

  1. Please don't ever write about haggis in this blog again. I just lost my appetite!
    - Nate