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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Expat Solical Life - Whiskey Dinner

Doug and I recently attended a Burns Whiskey Dinner at friends of ours in the expat compound we live in... We had no clue what was in store for us.  About an hour before we were due to arrive, I received a text that said "white shirt and jeans are best for tonight."  I immediately thought this must involve black lights, to our surprise it was much more cultured than that.   We are arrived and greeted by our hosts, I was given a tartan sash and Doug put on a tartan plaid skirt - yes - this was a Scottish Whiskey Party.   We moved through the villa to the hallway, were a tray of whiskey samplers were labeled "#1."   Doug was given a score sheet for each of the eight whiskey's we would be tasting that evening.   Down the hatch, for me it tastes like gasoline, burning my nose hairs off and singeing my throat for minutes after I swallow.   So it would be up to Doug to represent - tasting and plotting our answers on the score sheet.    Up the stairs to the second floor terrace which was illuminated with candles and lanterns, Scottish music booming.    The rest of the guests were in their complimentary Scottish sashes and skirts, while a few real Scotts wore their real kilts.   

As the night went on, we tasted number 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6.    As #6 was passed we were told to hold on to this one as we would be toasting the Haggis.   Doug and I had no idea what was in store until a plate of bulbous dirt colored balloons were brought to the terrace.    I really didn't ask, but I could tell it was a stuffed intestine.   As our expat friend David, a real Scott in a Kilt and all, began the toast of the Haggis - I didn't understand much until he stabbed the Haggis and squeezed out the meat - Dinner was served!

The Haggis cooked and ready for the toast

The Haggis after the toast, stabbed and ready for eating
For your reading pleasure I have included the recipe below, and normally, this would repulse me.  As one of hosts put it so nicely, you take all the prime cuts of the lamb and through it away... everything that is left goes into the Haggis. I found the Haggis to taste like meatloaf with a nice gravy, accompanied by mashed potatoes, whipped squash and Shepherd's pie it was the comfort my body needed after several shots of whiskey.   

Haggis Recipe from the BBC
  • 1 sheep's stomach or ox secum, cleaned and thoroughly, scalded, turned inside out and soaked overnight in cold salted water
  • heart and lungs of one lamb
  • 450g/1lb beef or lamb trimmings, fat and lean
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 225g/8oz oatmeal
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground dried coriander
  • 1 tsp mace
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • water, enough to cook the haggis
  • stock from lungs and trimmings
I also learned that the Scotts deep fry everything, so our dessert consisted of Baskin Robbins Vanilla ice cream and deep fried Mars bars.  Quite heavenly and a nice compliment to #7.    As we passed over the dessert and onto #8, the final round of toasts began.  One for the Lassies and one for the blokes.   Humor and wit dominated the night, those with too much to drink missed the punch lines.    Wobbling home at 1 am, my insides felt warm for the whiskey and friends.
As a thank you to my hosts, I sent a Burns thank you.   Robert Burns (1759-1796) is known as Scotland's Poet.  A drunk at that, his words of wisdom held true for a group of Anglos and Anglo Indian expats in Bangalore.  So here is my attempt at a Burns thank you from a local lassie:
A Burns Thank You

I’ve learned a lot about the flavors of whiskey
Thanks to our friends Andy and Dixie.
If you test me on the names, I am sure to fail
As my taste buds are accustomed to the flavors of ale.

The night was divine
Although I was chasing my whiskey with wine.
Our attire was complete with a Scottish theme
However men in skirts was a site to be seen.

As dinner was served, the toasts began
David, Toby, Martin and Susan
The hosts selection of speakers was superb
Even if many words sounded a little slurred.

Next year my goal has been set
Learn about whiskey and score high on the test.
Hoping for a few trips through duty free
To collect the bottles that suit me.


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