address to a haggis

January 23, 2009

haggis

Just the word haggis can inspire mistrust at best and grimaces at worst, but few non-Scots will be able to tell you what it actually is. We were among the chosen few invited to Special K’s early Burns Night dinner, with the most velvety, rich and flavoursome haggis I have ever had the pleasure of tasting.

For those wanting the low-down, here it is: liver, lungs & heart of a sheep, minced and mixed with chopped onions, toasted oatmeal, salt, pepper, rosemary, sage and thyme, all stuffed into a properly cleaned sheep’s stomach. An English chef educates himself and us on haggis making here (don’t miss the tee-hee captions in the accompanying – and very enlightening – photo series).

Surely the highlight of any Burns Night dinner has to be the Address to a Haggis, written, amazingly, in 1786.  Special K did the actions as we all took turns reading in our best Scottish accents. (Mr. Snow’s was quite convincing for once, as opposed to the Indian-Jamaican cross that usually emerges whenever he does any accent.) I think my favourite bit is the stab at the French. Seems like the rivalry was well and alive already back then.

I leave you with Burns’ poem,  with the English translation below. Happy Burns Night!

‘Address To a Haggis’ by Robert Burns

Broad Scots Dialect

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’ the puddin-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o’ a grace
As lang’s my arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o’ need,
While thro’ your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An’ cut ye up wi’ ready sleight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like onie ditch;

And then, Ach! what a glorious sight,
Warm – reekin’, rich!
Then, horn for horn, they stretch an’ strive;
Deil tak the hindmost! on they drive
Till a’ their weel-swall’d kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;

Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
“Bethankit!” hums.
Is there that owre his French ragout,
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad made her spew
Wi’ perfect sconner,

Looks down wi’ sneering, scornfu’ view
On sic a dinner?
Poor devil! See him owre his trash,
As feckless as a wither’d rash,
His spindle-shank a guid whip-lash,

His nieve a nit;
thro’ bluidy flood or field to dash,
Ach! how unfit!
But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,

Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He’ll mak it whissle;
An’ legs, an’ arms, an’ heads’ll sned
Like taps o’ thrissle.

Ye Pow’rs, wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o’ fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware,
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu’ prayer,
Gie her a Haggis!

English Translation

Good luck to you and your honest, plump face,
Great chieftain of the pudding race!
Above them all you take your place,
gut, stomach-lining, or intestine,
You’re well worth a grace
as long as my arm.

The overloaded serving tray there you fill,
Your buttocks shaped like a distant hilltop,
Your wooden skewer could be used to fix a mill
if need be,
While through your pores your juices drip
like liquid gold.

His knife see the serving-man clean,
And then cut you up with great skill,
Making a trench in your bright, gushing guts
To form a ditch,
And then, Oh! What a glorious sight!
Warm, steaming, and rich!

Then, spoonful after spoonful, they eagerly eat,
The devil will get the last bit, on they go,
Until all their well-stretched stomachs, by-and-by,
are bent like drums,
Then the head of the family, about to burst,
murmurs “Thank the Lord”.

Is there a pretentious soul who, over his French ragout,
Or Italian cuisine that would make a pig sick,
Or French stew that would make that same pig ill
with complete and utter disgust,
Looks down with a sneering, scornful attitude,
on such a meal? (as Haggis)

Poor devil! See him over his trash!
As feeble as a withered bullrush,
His skinny leg no thicker than a thin rope,
His fist the size of a nut,
Through a river or field to travel,
Completely unfit!

But look at the healthy, Haggis-fed person!
The trembling earth respects him as a man!
Put a knife in his fist,
He’ll make it work!
And legs, and arms, and heads will come off,
Like the tops of thistle.

You Powers who look after mankind,
And dish out his bill of fare,
Old Scotland wants no watery, wimpy stuff
That splashes about in little wooden bowls!
But, if You will grant her a grateful prayer,
Give her a Haggis!

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fettbrød

January 22, 2009

takke

Being at the cabin over the holidays meant that we could use the takke or griddle there. Mr. Snow is trying his hand at making all kinds of traditional flat breads, with much success so far.

This was the second Christmas he baked up a very high stack of delicious fettbrød, from a huge ball of dough that threatened to take over the whole kitchen at one point. They’re his hands you see rolling the dough out above, all according to Aunty Else’s treasured recipe.

The breads themselves are flat with a light criss-cross pattern from the patterned rolling pin, a little crispy, have a bit of bite to them and spread with butter and syrup make for the perfect after-ski snack.

Now, all we need is someone French to make a couple of huge crêpes on the griddle, and its baptism will be complete.

fettbrc3b8d

Update: I finally managed to remember get the recipe to a place where there is also internet! For those looking for their Oppdal roots, here it is (in Norwegian). It makes enough to feed a cabin full of people over the whole Christmas and New Year period (that standard international unit).

500g smult

500g margarin

2 – 3 kopper sukker

3 kg byggmel

1 l H-melk

litt hvetemel

La smult og margarin ligge frem i romtemperaturen et døgn til det blir litt mykt.

Rør det sammen med sukkeret, så ha i melk og mel.

Happy baking!

torta imperial

December 20, 2008

torta imperial

In a previous Myyear life, I worked with Clever and Smart, who taught me everything I needed to know about lasers, and more. In addition, they did their very best to Sevillify me, and it certainly worked. From gazpacho to the sevillana, Santa Cruz to Triana, manzanilla to Andalu’, I spent every moment I wasn’t working discovering everything the city was about.

A brief email exchange about this refuge put us back in touch, and then on Friday, my very own torta imperial appeared in the post, all the way from Seville. It reminds me of the time I shocked Clever by buying turron at the height of summer. Muchas gracias y feliz navidad!

hitra scallops

December 8, 2008

scallops

Christmas party season has started in earnest here in Norway, and Team GB wasn’t about to be left out, neither on the cooking nor the eating side of things.

But top marks surely had to go to the starter you see above: pan-fried scallops drizzled with soya sauce on a salad bed. Here’s the Norway-only twist: every single one of the little creatures were hand-picked by team member Ray, off the coast of Hitra, about 10 m deep, on a sheltered sandy bottom. Not a taste experience I’ll forget in a hurry!

nam fah

November 18, 2008

namfah

There is really nothing else to be said about Nam Fah, except that they serve up the best Thai food in all of Oslo to my knowledge, possibly Norway? Their cheerful and charming takeaway place on Nordre Gate in Grünerløkka dishes out container after container full of curries, glass noodle salads, pad thais and more every evening.

It’s also turning out to be a little empire, with their affordable restaurant downtown, and the deli attached to the takeaway, which is a great place to pick up (fresh) ingredients after hours when you fancy cooking Thai.

Special K and I used to be special friends with one of the smiley staff, though sadly he has moved on to greener pastures. I miss the little pats on the hand we used to get, but the food is more than good enough to keep me going back. If anything, the portions might be a bit on the small side if you are starving (or Mr. Snow) but the quality and authenticity is on another level altogether. If you beg to differ, I would love to hear about it!

Nordre gate 15-17
0551 Oslo

boston brunch

November 3, 2008

Two bloggers, one city, 48 hours… and an Indian summer. Tulipgirl and I walked, talked, shopped, drank and ate, starting with this heavenly pile of pancakes with maple syrup, bacon, fluffed butter, orange juice, coffee and the Sunday papers at The Paramount in Beacon Hill.

coffee-roasted chestnuts

October 23, 2008

Is coffee-roasting of chestnuts special for Malaysia and Singapore? I’ve never seen it anywhere else, and Google didn’t throw anything up either. Amazing as for me the two are so inseparable that non-coffee roasted chestnuts seem to miss the point altogether.

This shot was taken at the junction of Petaling Street and Jalan Hang Lekir in KL, across from the air mata kuching stall. KL foodies will know exactly where I mean!

coolio caprese salad

October 21, 2008

Now that Jamie’s Ministry is in trouble, and Mr. Snow and I have become total Wireheads, there’s only one person left on Earth who can teach yo’ ass how to cook. This is none other than rapper, actor, fashion designer and now ghetto gourmet Coolio.

I feel your scepticism from all the way over here, but give him a go and I promise you will not be disappointed. In the video above he shows the importance of sauce girls, sharp knives and shouting, “Shaka zulu, motherfucker!” in the process of creating the best caprese salad ever.

Make sure you don’t miss the Man’s other creations, including fork steak with heavenly Ghettalian garlic bread, and Spinach Even Your Kids Will Eat. Genius.

nine cups of coffee

October 3, 2008

Came across this funky-looking guide to coffee that you can choose from at cafes these days, thanks to Lokesh Dhakar. But strange, Mr. Snow’s cuppa of choice (much to the horror of his tough-riding biking mates), latte macchiato, doesn’t seem to be there, nor is my kopi ais kurang manis.

How do you drink yours?

fårikål

September 23, 2008

Literally mutton with cabbage, this very traditional Norwegian autumn stew is seasoned with just salt and pepper. Mr. Snow’s version was enough to knock the socks even off the Columbian, who said (and I quote), ‘I never imagined such good food could come from Norway!’. Ma Snow cooked up a delicious pot of it to fill our tums for the long train ride home.

You see versions with lamb in the shop these days, but that’s for chickens. Give the true blue version below a go, and maybe you’ll see what the Columbian was on about…

fårikål for four

225g (8 oz) mutton pieces

1 head cabbage, cored and sliced

450ml (16 fl oz) water

1 1/2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns

salt to taste

Arrange a layer of lamb in the bottom of a casserole or soup pot. Top with a layer of cabbage. Repeat layering as many times as you can. Tie the peppercorns into a small piece of cheesecloth or muslin, and place in the centre of the casserole. Pour the water over all, and cover with a lid. Bring to the boil, then simmer over low heat for 2 hours. Remove the bundle of peppercorns before serving.