Monday, 9 February 2015

Burns Night Feast 25th January 2015

Dee:  “I’d been looking forward to this feast, as it felt like a continuation of what we had begun on New Year’s Eve.  It was great to find some more Scottish beers to accompany the food, and we were both happily full by the end of the evening.”

To Eat:  Burns Supper

Starter:  Scottish Oatcake Biscuits with onion marmalade
Dee:  “The inspiration for the starter came from one of my favourite Graze boxes; ‘Bonnie Wee Oatbakes’.  I loved the pairing of the oatcake biscuits and sweet but caramelised onion marmalade, and wanted wanted to see if I could make my own version.  I am grateful to Sarah Bailey for providing the recipe for the oatcake biscuits, which worked well.  I baked the dough in a single layer, which I then broke into pieces, rather than diving it up into individual biscuits prior to baking.  The dough was much easier to manage than the previous version, and I liked the idea of flipping the dough at regular intervals during the baking process.  I was pleased with the finished product, which retained a slight chewiness and flavour from the oats.
The onion marmalade was superb.  The key was to cook it slowly at a low temperature.  We were pleased that we made enough to bottle it and use it in future meals but we both agreed soon after tasting it that we were going to keep a fairly regular stock of it in our kitchen.”

Main Course:  Haggis, Neeps and Tatties
Home Cooked
Dee:  “We kept the main course simple as it didn’t need a lot of fuss to prepare it.  The haggis, which was made by Ramsay of Carluke Ltd, Link to Web Site was of very good quality and didn’t need a lot of spices or seasonings to help deliver on taste.  For the neeps and tatties, we simply peeled them, cut them into cubes, boiled them and mashed them, adding a little butter to the potatoes.  No messing about: just a good hearty plate of food, worthy of the toast of single malt whisky which preceeded it.”

Dessert:  Cranachan
Dee:  “This was the first time I’d tried cranachan, so was pleased that it was fairly straightforward to prepare.  I liked the toasted oats, which complimented the softer whipped cream and raspberries.  We mixed the honey and whisky together to make one of the sauces, and mixed sugar in with the crushed raspberries to make the other.  We assembled it in layers; cream, oats, raspberries and sauce, before finishing with the last of the oats.  On reflection, the glasses that we used were too large, but that didn’t detract from the taste.  A classic dessert, deservedly so.”

To Drink:  Four Scottish Craft Beers

Beer 1:  Vital Spark
Tasting Notes said:  “A very dark ale with a glorious reddish glow.  A full bodied ale which is rich in taste with a dry finish.”
Dee said:  “Nice mahogany colour.  Bitter, rich and flavourful.”
Jay said:  “Nice beer.  A little bitter on the finish.”

Beer 2:  Fyne Bank
Tasting Notes said:  “Fyne Bank is a peat smoked golden ale that has been brewed in collaboration with Springbank Distillery.  Springbank’s malt is lightly peated and provides a subtle earthy smokiness to the beer.  Mount Hood hops add warm spiced orange to thearoma that’s balanced with toffee notes from the malt ”.
Dee said:  “Clear golden in colour.  Unique earthy taste.  Definitely more peaty than smoky.  It was a perfect pairing with our haggis, neeps and tatties.”
Jay said:  “Subtly smoky tasty ale.”

Beer 3:  Red Rocker
Tasting Notes said:  “Why Red Rocker? Well the Black Isle is famous for its masses of red rock through its soils, and also it has some really cool bike trails right next to the brewery! With an awesome name like Red Rocker we had to devise a beer to match – what better than a red rye based beer hopped to hell and back with American hops in the kettle and the dry hopped with a mix of American and New Zealand hops after fermentation for good measure!  With a malt base containing rye to create a subtly sweet and solid backbone we were able to use some big resinous hops in this beer. We used a mix of Columbus, Summit, Cascade, and Nelson Sauvin to give big bold flavours and a solid bitterness to the beer.”
Dee said:  “Another mahogany coloured beer.  This one was heavy on the hops.”
Jay said:  “Woah! That’s got a lively first taste.  Definitely bottle conditioned.  Needed a careful pour.”

Beer 4:  Panacea
Tasting Notes said:  “A rich stout made with a Belgian yeast strain and aged in whisky cask (Speyside) for four months.”
Dee said:  “Black as pitch. With a strong, sweet aroma.  Smoother tasting than I was expecting.  It had a strong flavour of espresso coffee, followed by a vanilla-like sweetness.  Because it was so big on taste, I would recommend drinking it on its own.”
Jay said:  “Sweet, then malty, then whisky.”

Soundtrack:  Nazareth – No Mean City
Dee:  “A slice of awesome late 70s hard rock to celebrate Burns Night in style.  I haven’t heard all of Nazareth’s albums, but I certainly remember this one, and what a classic it is.  Dan McCafferty’s high pitched yet gritty vocals work brilliantly with the twin guitars of Manny Charlton and Zal Cleminson, and a tight rhythm section underpinning the whole sound.  There are many standout tracks; the laid back semi acoustic ‘may the sunshine’ is probably my favourite, but the anthemic ‘Star’ and piledriving rhythms of ‘claim to fame’ are also highlights.  The six and a half minute title track closed the album off in fine form, making for a good eatin’ good drinkin’ and good rockin’ evening all round.”

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