Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A perfect day

The day after skiing and my spectacular face landing, everything in my body pretty much hurt and it was raining torrentially, so I decided to stay in. I spent a truly lovely day working on my wool appliqué project and watching the rain and mist on Loch Ness.
It's important to take some time on vacation and just relax. There have been so many vacations I've had that were so crazy full and busy that I was more exhausted when I got home than when I left, so I really try to take some time to just chill.
January 25th was Burns Night, which celebrates the Scottish national bard, Robert Burns (referred to as "Rabbie Burns"). I decided, when in Scotland, go to a Burns Night dinner! I found a dinner just across the street from the Abbey at the Lovat Hotel. (As a completely off track, side note, a lovely woman told me that she has nae use for him as he was a total "male chauvinist, well endowed, womanizing scalawag who had an anti-social, sexual disease." She also used the term 'gobsmacked' which totally made my day.)
Anyhoo, the Burns night dinner features the Presentation of the Haggis as it is piped in by the bag pipes. The Selkirk Grace is said:
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.

Then the host reads the 'Address to the Haggis' (which is very long, so if you want to read it, google "address to the haggis" by Burns) and stabs the haggis, making it ooze out in a completely unappetizing fashion.
After the stabbing of the haggis, you get to toast it with whisky. I completely choked, I'm not a whiskey drinker. Finally, you eat the haggis. Our haggis was served in a fancy, gourmet fashion - haggis cannelloni on neeps, tatties and puffed rice. It was really quite good. Modern haggis in not made of the intestines and other left over innards of sheep. It's main ingredient now is liver. Still not my fav, but in a pasta shell with turnip/potato puree under it and a lovely gravey, it was pretty tasty. I laughed when I saw the description 'haggis cannelloni' and said "it's a lot like Charles Stewart, the Italian Scot." I have managed to avoid the haggis on my previous trips to Scotland, but I decided it was disguised enough this time to give it a try.

The food was all excellent (see the menu and pics). The dessert had pop rocks on the top which the ladies at my table called 'star dust'. It was a fun surprise. There was bag piping and traditional Highland dancing to entertain us between the courses. The Highland Sword Dance was fun to see in person. Dinner is followed by a Ceilidh (pronounced 'kaylee'), which is dancing. One of the ladies at my table exclaimed "Oh! A Disco! We like Disco." I told her that I didn't think it would be the kind of dancing she was envisioning.

The best part of the evening was the company. The first people I met upon arrival at the hotel happened to be my downstairs neighbors at the abbey, Bridget and Otto, a retired couple who used to run a hotel in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Bridget ran the hotel and Otto did all the cooking. Otto's English is broken, and my Swiss-German is non-existant, but we were totally able to talk about food with no translation issues! I was so thrilled when they invited me to dinner at their apartment!!

I was seated with three sisters and their husbands who were in Ft. Augustus for a get away weekend from Lancaster. They were all so very nice and we had a lovely conversation over dinner and afterwards in the bar. Michelle and I also participated in the traditional dance "Stripping the Willow" during the Ceilidh. There were two lines of people facing one another, and a LOT of twirling, confusion and laughing involved. Nobody had a clue what they were doing, but all were having a great time. I now know where American country dancing comes from.

To top the evening off, I could hear the band playing "Bad Moon Rising" as I strolled home to the abbey with my super cute umbrella, in the light rain. Oh, and it was a day until the full moon.


Thimbleanna said...

Wow -- how lucky are you? How awesome to go to a Burns Night celebration. And even more cool -- to just meet up with all those fellow travelers and have a great time. Wow!

Julie said...

OMG! I absolutely loved the woman's description of Burns. I would have to hug her on the spot for being so colorful.

anotheroneopens said...

I came over from Frayed at the Edge and thoroughly enjoyed reading about your Scottish experiences. Nearly makes me want to end my exile and come home! Hope the rest of your trip is as much fun.