All Hail the Mighty Haggis
Haggis the national dish of Scotland and to an extent it’s almost got the ‘marmite effect’, you either love it or hate it, as some do fathom how is it even edible? Many tourists from around the globe flock here to try it in its homeland. It's actually illegal in some countries, like the United States.
But just what exactly is haggis? It's made up of sheep intestines or to be precise a sheep’s heart, liver and lungs are mixed with onion, oats, suet, salt, stock, and spices. Traditionally, these items are blended together inside the casing of a sheep’s stomach, nowadays sausage casing is used. Despite it sounding absolutely disgusting, haggis has some great flavours and is very enjoyable, if you like it that is.The dish can be found at various Scottish restaurants, pubs, Burns Supper and even at local chip shops (the haggis is often deep fried in batter). Usually, the dish is served with neeps and tatties however in recent years, haggis has found itself being served in many unique ways. Nonetheless, the traditional haggis, neeps, and tatties still remain as Scotland’s national dish.
So with all that being said, whether you’re currently in Scotland or coming to visit, why not try some haggis in a few of these places….
In Edinburgh and perhaps looking for an excuse to go into the grand and iconic Balmoral Hotel on Princes Street, then haggis at Hadrian’s is the perfect opportunity. Hadrian's offer a relatively inexpensive dining experience despite the hotel’s 5 Star grading. The traditional haggis, neeps (turnips), and tatties (potatoes) with whisky cream is definitely good value for money. The experience as a whole may be more sophisticated than traditional, but with an executive chef that has held a Michelin Star for 12 years, you know it will be a scrumptious treat!
Moving away from Edinburgh, we have the city of Glasgow and one of its restaurants putting a very exotic twist on their dishes, even haggis. The restaurant name itself ‘Stravaig’ means ‘to wander’ and it’s safe to say that your taste buds will definitely be taken on a journey. The ethos of the restaurant is ‘Think Global, Eat Local’. Blending in beautifully amidst the otherworldly dishes, Stravaigin’s haggis comes with the classic neeps and Maris Piper mash with a whisky sauce and sage crisps. Since 2012 the restaurant has been awarded the Michelin BIB Gourmand on numerous occasions. Think of Stravaigin’s haggis as being the ultimate gourmet star of the show.
Cafe Gandolfi is known for great and friendly atmosphere and its Scottish cuisine. Haggis is a signature dish that can be found on the Classics Menu. The cafe prides itself on its use of honest and locally sourced Scottish ingredients. An example of this is the haggis from Cockburn’s of Dingwall (one of Scotland’s finest producers). Many visitors here actually label the haggis as the best in the world and often say that it’s the perfect combination of tender meat and spice. Whenever you come here, I can guarantee you’ll be stuffed full of hearty goodness.
If you’re heading up north, to the likes of Inverness then make sure to stop off at the Castle Tavern. Not only does it overlook the River Ness, the Tavern sits across from the Inverness Castle and the start/finish of the Great Glen Way trail. You can enjoy some delicious food and some stunning views too. In terms of the portion sizes, they are very generous here and great value. There’s even a traditional ale bar, beer garden and even a ‘Malt of the Month’. The Castle Tavern is a much-loved place to visit by the locals and tourists alike, many returning year after year for the delightful food and atmosphere. Of course, if you are driving then please arrange for a designated driver and drink responsibly.
Since 1996, Fiddler’s in Drumnadrochit has been owned by the Beach family and to this day still continues to be. This popular local restaurant is just a stone’s throw from Loch Ness and offers a selection of Haggis dishes. Many recommend trying the Highlander Chicken main, which consists of grilled chicken on a bed of Cockburn ’s of Dingwall Haggis, served with mashed potatoes, carrots and neeps with a dijon cream sauce. or opt for Or you can opt for the Haggis for the Bagpiper option which promises “locally bred haggis” with a whisky cream sauce. Add a dram of Fiddlers matured whisky to this meal and the restaurant will donate 50p to the Drumnadrochit Piping Society! Doesn’t get more Scottish than that!
As we’re in Scotland, it would be wrong to mention, our beloved bard Robert Burns and his very famous poem ‘Address to a Haggis’. This is often recited across the globe at Burns Supper’s before everyone tucks into their meal. Burns wrote this poem to celebrate his appreciation of the haggis and a result Burns and haggis have been forever linked. And where better to have this fine delicacy, than in Burns country itself! The Cavens Arms, Dumfries is a traditional pub in style serving eight real ales on hand pump and of course haggis.
Now, I don’t know about you but I’ve got a pretty good idea of where I want to go and try some haggis now! If any of you reading happen to go to any of these restaurants or know of any better than please let me know!
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