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In Fairly Faint Praise of Burns Night
Every Nation – not least England – is given to occasional, unconscious self-parody. Five minutes exposure to the Last Night of the Proms will put a dampener on any Englishman’s patriotism. Similarly, any seasoned Irishman abroad will be spending the evening of St Patrick’s Day at home lest he encounter green-tinted lager and the inevitable leprechaun costume. Your Scotsman will endure his own nationalistic disgrace with his customary good humour, a straight face, a well-judged pinch of pride and a strong stomach.
Though it may seem that a Burns Supper is the culinary corollary of a cold morning the kirk spent cocking a pious ear toward the pulpit and being told that this freezing damnation is actually salvation, the annual haggis-fest need not be as ghastly as the ingredients list suggests.
So, for anybody North of the border who doesn’t hanker for the sweet, sweet taste of minced up lungs, liver and heart stuffed into a sheep’s stomach, for anyone who might be doubtful of the deliciousness of finding one’s main course turned inside out and served up alongside its own food, a word of advice: come to London this Thursday. Please. Not because we’re great but because we’re such gastronomic cowards that the chances are you’ll find the meat to offal ratio far more satisfactory, because we never - but never - go the full eight verses of ‘Address to a Haggis’ and because a lady loves a man in a kilt.
More specifically, book a spot at one of the following.
For the full-fig, full-bore, bag-piper-and-poetry recital experience, try Mr Fogg’s Residence on Bruton Lane. If the prospect of the English playing at Scots chills the soul, the special libation menu courtesy of Glenfiddich will warm it right back up again.
For something with a bit more of a twist that’s still Scottish through-and-through, Andy Waugh and his gang at Mac & Wild have more than just pipes and drums on offer throughout this week: think cullen skink, venison Scotch eggs, the finest plate of haggis, neeps and tatties you’ll find this side of Gretna Green and plenty of Talisker. The Devonshire Square venue promises to be just the civilised side of rowdy if the Irn Bru daiquiri is anything to go by, whilst the Great Titchfield Square HQ will be a touch – but only a touch – more traditional.