And so on Seturday, th' fife an' twentieth day ay januar in th' year ay uir laird tois thoosain an' twal, Big Mike, Lash and I made our way over to Barley's Ale House to drink beer, scotch and sample the Haggis. Robert Burns wrote a poem about Haggis which concludes:
Ye Pow'rs wha gie us a' that's gude
Still bless auld Caledonia's brood,
Wi' great John Barleycorn's heart's bluid
In stoups or luggies;
And on our boards, that king o' food,
A gud Scotch Haggis!
- R. Burns
|Barley's Ale House Number Two|
|Ticket No. 68|
|Piping In The Haggis|
|Place at the Burns Dinner|
|To a haggis...|
|Haggis, tatties an' neeps|
Haggis is made with a sheep's liver, heart and lungs combined with suet, ground oats, spices and stock, then baked inside a sheep's stomach. You can read about it here if you like. Here's the first course, less the nip which vanished during the toast. Our first scotch was a Glen Moray single malt that was very smooth, and an excellent choice for the first toast.
More poetry was read during the first course, then the next shot of scotch was served and the women were toasted. The fellow making the toast elected to recite a Burns poem rather than try to make something up on the spot, which was a wise decision on his part (see update). He was feeling his scotch by then. Our second scotch was a Bulblair 1997, and was a good deal stronger than the first. Some people at the table sampled this scotch then quietly passed their portion over to a neighbor. I enjoyed the Bulblair, but it isn't for everyone.
|Brewmaster Angelo Signorino, Jr|
|Tapping the Firkin|
|Robert Burns Scottish Export Ale|
|Smoked Pork Chop|
By this time our host and emcee was having a little trouble collecting his thoughts while focusing his eyes on his book of poetry and trying to get everyone's attention. Fortunately he got a little help from a pair of entertainers, one with a guitar, who kept the proceedings moving along. He also got help from a guest at the dinner who had his own small book of Burns poetry and volunteered to read a selection or two.
|Archie, a native of Scotland|
I enjoy the strong flavor of a good scotch, but the Laphroag appeals to a very narrow audience. Anyone with a tender, sensitive palate was going to get scorched, and those of us who were feeling pleasantly relaxed promptly sat up and stopped mumbling. I enjoyed it, but I probably would have enjoyed it more with a small ice cube to chill the liquor and to add a small amount of water to it. My real desire is to buy a bottle and experiment a little, but I'd likely only drink it twice a month at most.
The Burns dinner concluded with a alcoholically enthusiastic rendition of Auld Lang Syne, which was loud enough to drown out everything in a three block radius and every bit as sonorous as any steam driven calliope. As we exited our host reminded us to drive carefully and that the bar was still open.
Our generous host only charged us $55 a plate for this Robert Burns dinner, and my feeling is that he might have broke even on the deal, or perhaps lost a little. I had an excellent time at the Burns supper and I'm planning to go again next year. My hope for next year is that our host was cognizant enough to get Archie's contact information so as to bribe him to return next year and read poetry. I think Archie could be bribed with a combination of money, beer and whiskey.
See you next year, Archie!
Our host and emcee, the founder of Barley's, is Lenny Kolada. The unknown notable whose image I failed to successfully capture is Lenny's wife Joan, AKA Saint Joan, eponymous founder of Russian Imperial Stout Saint Joan's Revenge. I'm told from a reliable source that she was having a good time that evening and it was fortune that I failed to get a good photo of her.
The gentleman who proposed the toast to the women did not read a Burns poem; he read his own work. He's introduced himself as Kilted Kieth. The quality of his writing is remarkable for its excellence, and so I doff my fedora and raise my morning bourbon glass to him - well done, sir!