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26 January 2015

Burns Night

As I'm sure many expats feel when living in another country, it's nice to occasionally have a little of something familiar from home no matter how long you've lived abroad. We got to go to a Burns Night at Rabbit, Carrot, Gun on East Coast Road at the weekend which did the trick for me, even if I'm English and not Scottish.

I've written previously about Rabbit, Carrot, Gun and the Trenchard Arms next door to it and since writing this post they've become firm favourites with us when we decide to go out locally.  My husband spotted they were hosting a Burns Night a while back and we decided this sounded like something that could be a lot of fun to go along to.  For anyone who doesn't know Burns Night and suppers are held in honour of the Scottish poet, Robert Burns and are celebrated in Scotland around the 25 January.  They are becoming more common in other parts of the UK too and I've previously been to one or two events but this was the first time I'd been aware of anything happening in Singapore.

At a Burns Night supper the guests are traditionally served haggis with neeps and tatties.  For the unsure, haggis traditionally consists of sheep's heart, liver and lungs with onion and a variety of spices encased in the sheep's stomach, though it is often now in a sausage casing rather than an actual stomach.  Neeps is Scots for turnips and tatties Scots for potatoes.  Luckily just because we were in Singapore this didn't stop us enjoying a traditional supper, though I have to admit it was possibly the most posh presentation of a haggis I'd ever had!  That said though it was very good and the haggis had a lovely warming spiciness to it.  The vegetables with the haggis were also a little different in that they were much more crunchy than is perhaps typical (see my photo below) and not as mashed up as neeps and tatties tend to usually be in this dish.  Alongside the haggis there were two other dishes on offer, the haggis, black pudding and poached egg salad which we got to try ahead of the night's events.  This was really interestingly flavoured with the slight spiciness of the haggis complimenting the black pudding and egg really well.  Secondly the Black Watch Scotch egg which was also interesting with the casing for the eggs being a mixture of black pudding, pork sausage meat and breadcrumbs.  The black pudding giving the casing a much darker colour than normal and a bit of a twist on the typical flavour.


haggis, black pudding and poached egg salad - which we got to sample a little of before dinner

The evening kept true to tradition and the haggis, once ready to be served, was piped in by a piper in full regalia.  He looked great but must have been very hot!  There was also a small collection of Scots at the event all looking fabulous in their kilts.  The haggis was then placed on a table in front of everybody and one of the Scots (with a real talent) read out the Address to a Haggis, a poem by Robert Burns.  If you want to read the poem for yourself I've attached it below.  We then all drank a 'wee dram' of whisky to toast the haggis and shortly afterwards the feasting began, and while we dined we were entertained a little more by the piper.  Finally we finished off our meal with a return to England for dessert and a delicious Eton Mess, sweet and incredibly filling!  By the way Rabbit, Carrot, Gun is currently serving black pudding on their regular menu, so if you're a fan and are missing it or fancy trying it for the first time get yourself there asap before it runs out.

Black Watch Scotch egg

It was a really fun night, the food was delicious despite, as I mentioned, it being the poshest haggis, neeps and tatties I've ever eaten.  All the little extra touches, such as the piper made it an even better evening and all the more enjoyable.  Whilst I may not be Scottish it was lovely to have this opportunity to celebrate something close to home.  Hopefully perhaps they'll do the same again next year, and if they do I suggest it will be well worth going along for the evening if you can.

Haggis with neeps and tatties

Address to a Haggis


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 of 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 you up wi ready slight, 
Trenching your gushing entrails bright, 
Like onie ditch; 
And then, O 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; 
The 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 mak 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 bloody flood or field to dash, 
O how unfit!


But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed, 
The trembling earth resounds his tread, 
Clap in his walie nieve a blade, 
He'll make it whissle; 
An legs an arms, an heads will 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!

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