I strongly believe and maybe can confirm that I'll retire in Scotland. I'm in love with the people here, admire the greenery, scenery and vast lands the country boasts, their whisky is something else and their tradition is something to definitely appreciate. Tonight was a special night, a dinner prepared the Scottish way from scratch.
7pm was meeting time, when we all gathered wearing real kilts, black shoes, white socks and a black jacket. It was a first for me, touching and feeling what traditional Scottish clothes are all about. A heavy wool kilt, a belt, a sporran, thick leather shoes and a neck tie. Lovely, I was transported into a world of dreams.
After a photography session we entered the living room where we enjoyed local tunes. Three violin players and an organ master enchanted us with their music. The bagpipe was on the menu as well.
Whisky started flowing... My favorite this trip, my latest discovery, and one I recommend you all try, is called Scapa distributed in Lebanon by Nexty (Fawaz Group).
Inside, the dining table was already set. Three knives, three forks, a spoon, a bread plate, a dessert twin set and the traditional Scottish whiskey cup.
- Jacob's creek, Steingsrten, Riesling, 2011
- Campo Viejo, Rioja, Gran Reserva, 2007
- Seared Moray coast scallops with asparagus, black pudding and a lemon butter sauce.
- Haggis, neeps and tatties.
- Baked best end of Cabrach lamb with bread dough and fleur de sel crust. Aubergine caviar, butternut squash and chickpea cassoulet, pearl barley risotto and an Arran mustard sauce.
- Cranachan ice parfait with strawberry and Lochan Ora compote, raspberry coulis.
A small definition before we start:
- Haggis is a savory pudding containing sheep's pluck (heart, liver and lungs); minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, traditionally encased in the animal's stomach. Although its description is not immediately appealing, haggis has an excellent nutty texture and a delicious savory flavour.
Let's enjoy dinner:
- A round plate on which was centered a circle of black pudding topped with two scallops and decorated with two asparagus. A tender pudding full of taste, a lemony sauce and lightly crunchy asparagus. The scallops were so nice, tender and flavorful. A plate inspiring finesse and style. A good introduction and a tasty start.
Now was the haggis ceremony.
The bagpipes started playing as the chef brought in the haggis. We all stood as the main course was brought in on a large dish. It looks like a stomach filled with a mix of meat. Our host Eric took the floor for a long ceremony, reciting the story of the haggis, stories from the land of myths. Haggis was then served to all.
- The haggis was served on a round plate using something like ice cream scoops. A scoop of haggis, a scoop of neeps and one of tatties. It's a bizarre mix of minced meat with an overdose of pepper. It's like the filling of hotdogs but cooked very well. Alone it's too strong and bizarre, especially the first bite, but mixed with the two other sweet ingredients, yellow potatoes and orange neeps it works. It's a famous tradition in Scotland one should try at least once, but it's surely not a culinary plate to savor calmly. I personally couldn't finish all my plate.
- A beautiful plate on which there was a chunk of meat on a skewer like a kebab next to a piece of bread emptied on the inside and stuffed with a tender piece of meat. With that came barley risotto, a first for me, and a caviar d'aubergine. A very complicated dish indeed, but the work of a master, with many colors, many ingredients and many textures. Not only that, but the plate also hosts a chickpeas cassoulet and a butternut squash. Best for last, the touch of finesse that is the mustard sauce. I really hope I can enjoy the chef's food again one day.
Dessert followed. Cream, ice cream, biscuit and sweet compote. A fine plate.
I was amazed, I enjoyed yesterday's and tonight's dinners so much and believe the chefs deserve a star. Can anyone let the Michelin institution know about them?
Linn House, Keith, Moray, Scotland