Happy birthday, Robert Burns!

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Yesterday's Times had an interesting and often amusing article about how haggis in America has mutated into something rather tastier than one can gets in Scotland, thanks in part to the fact that FDA regulations and other factors prevent the use of much of the offal that traditionally gets used as ingredients.

The article was strange to see when Laura pointed it out to me, because just Tuesday night we had met Paul and Kim for dinner and scotch—lots of it—at what purports to be the only Scottish restaurant and pub in the city, St. Andrews on 44th Street near Times Square. We had a fabulous time, and the haggis was very tasty indeed. (Not that Laura and I are afraid of traditional haggis, which we have eaten in Scotland and more or less enjoyed.) So was the other delicious food, which for me and Paul both included an entree of fresh brook trout stuffed with crab meat and oatmeal, in a whisky-maple sauce. Dessert for Laura and me was the cranachan, which is essentially whisky and whipped cream with berries and oatmeal.

Take note that it was painfully easy to get a table on a Tuesday night.

But while it was the prospect of haggis that drew us all there, it was the amazing scotch selection that had us arrive early and stay late afterward. I mean, 200 whiskies? Please. The bar at St. Andrews is our new favorite place in the world.

I have a receipt from the bar for our pre-meal baccanalia, so I know exactly what we drank then between the four of us:

Some of those were tasting sizes rather than full drams. And I should mention our wonderful bartender Andrea, who helped steer us toward interesting and well-suited selections we might not have picked otherwise, and who steered us away from the flyte of the month owing to what she called the "dreadful" Welsh wisgi that was included.

With dinner, I had a dram of Inchmurrin 20yr, together with a bottle of a thick, creamy, fairly dark Scottish ale called Orkney Skullsplitter. Paul's dinner beer was Harviestoun Old Machine Oil, but the variety aged in whisky casks.

After dinner, Laura went home to care for the dog, but Paul, Kim, and I had another one at the bar with our favorite bartender (well, she only tasted a bit). Andrea steered us toward a brand-new bottle of a new Ardbeg called Airigh Nam Biest, which was smooth as silk and peaty and smoky like nobody's business. My all-time favorite scotch is Ardbeg Uigeadail, so getting to taste what she called "The Beast"—in fact, getting the first drams from a bottle she opened before our eyes—was a real treat.

Believe me, Laura and I plan to return to St. Andrews again and again, and to work our way through the list. What a find.

[ original post:  http://shunn.livejournal.com/362495.html ]

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This page contains a single entry by William Shunn published on January 25, 2007 5:02 PM.

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