Save the Bard! Virtual Burns Night 2021 January 12 2021
Robert Burns is kind of Scotland’s patron saint, mascot and poet laureate all rolled into one, and I’m going to be celebrating his birthday on January 25th as I often do, but this year it'll be virtual. I hope you’ll join me for a one-of-a-kind virtual event ... I mean, what else are you doing on a Monday night these days? Bring your own whisky and haggis ... my friends and I will supply the poetry (and other entertainments).
- Abram Goldman-Armstrong, founder of Portland's Cider Riot! and the man who introduced me to Burns Night
- My friends from Aberfeldy Distillery
- Stuart MacLean Ramsay, unofficial Scottish ambassador to Portland
- Greg Swartz, Director of Water of Life
- Lee Reeve, Scots owner/operator of InCider Japan, importer of ciders to Japan
- Grant Hutchison, owner of Re:Stalk, Scottish cider distributor, co-host of the Neutral Cider Hotel podcast, and Frightened Rabbit drummer
- Margarett Waterbury, author of Scotch: A Complete Introduction to Scotland’s Whiskies
- And featuring live music from Portland's Famous Unipiper!
The event will be live on Zoom, so you'll need to RSVP here to get your invitation. Slàinte Mhath!
What to Drink
If you'd like to join us with a traditional dram or three of whisky, my guests and I will be sampling Lagavulin 16, Aberfeldy 12, Dewar's 12, Talisker 10, and Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 10-year-old, as well as Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt (from Japan).
Additionally, I'll be sampling some UK cider with my friend Grant. You may find that difficult to find outside the UK, so I'll suggest any dry cider with the word "Farmhouse" or specifically "Oliver's" on the label, should you be lucky enough to find it.
What to Eat
Haggis! This is the typically resourceful/parsimonious centerpiece of a Scottish Burns Dinner, which is made by filling a sheep's stomach with oats and odd bits of meat and suet. It sounds ... odd, but is actually quite nice. You can make your own (Vegetarians and vegans beware for obvious reasons), or buy one. Those in the United States who wish to order in a haggis can do so by phoning Lamb's Haggis in Roseburg, Oregon at (503) 673-7463 - be prepared for a short history lesson with your order!
Tatties and Neeps. Allow me to translate this colloquial spelling for my American readers: "Tatties" are "potatoes." And "neeps" are "turnips," though Charles Lamb (of Lamb's Haggis above) tells me that what we in America call rutabega is most similar to the 'neeps' used in Scotland. Boil and mash them up, adding a bit of carrots for sweetness and color if you like.
Scotch Eggs. My kids (11 and 7) unexpectedly love Scotch Eggs, and yours might, too. It will certainly be easier to explain than the haggis. I can vouch for this recipe.