Cornucopia

Foods From Hell: Haggis

By sanju on 10 May, 2011

The ‘hood.

We spent some time in the United Kingdom recently.  We planned the trip partly because we wanted to go somewhere different for our family vacation.  But the main reason was that it was a graduation gift for our daughter S who just finished elementary.  Part of our itinerary was a visit to Edinburgh, Scotland. The home of Haggis and Single Malt Whisky.  Edinburgh is a very beautiful city and it has so much history behind it.  A large part of it has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. We enjoyed walking around the old city, visiting castles and palaces, and of course, sampling the local fare.

LSS’ing on the resto name.

If there is one thing that all, and I mean all Scottish restaurants and pubs have in common is that they all serve different types of Single Malt Whisky, and all of them serve Haggis.  I would think that it is the unofficial national dish of the Scots.  Historically, Haggis consists of finely chopped portions of the lungs, liver and heart of the sheep mixed with some oats and mild spices for flavor.  This is encased is a sac made with the sheep’s stomach lining or intestines.  The whole thing is cooked for a few hours and served with “Neeps” or yellow turnips and “Tatties” or mashed potatoes. Not much has changed through the years except that sometimes, a synthetic casing,(sausage casing)  is used for practical reasons.  Amazingly, most of the places I visited had a veggie version available but as I always say, where’s the fun in that.

Liquid gold.

One evening, we decided to eat at a Cafe called Monster Mash, situated near our hotel, close to the George IV Bridge. I decided that this was the perfect time to sample Haggis as this cafe specialized in British and Scottish classics.  I chose the  Haggis,Neeps and Mash(£6.95/P485) entree, washed down by a bottle of Edinburgh Gold Unfiltered Beer (£2.95/P200).

Poshly plated haggis, neeps and tatties.

The Haggis had a very understated flavor with nutty undertones.  I expected a little more of the flavors of the offal to actually come out.  The Neeps were sweetish as this version had some carrot puree mixed in.  It would have been a perfect foil to the Haggis if the Haggis had been a wee bit more flavorful.  The Mashed Potatoes were quite good.  It had perfect texture and consistency and went very well with the gravy that was served on the side.

I enjoyed the meal in general and given the chance, I would definitely order Haggis again.  However, I think that I would stick to having it as an appetizer rather than as a main course. It would also work very well as one of the options of a family-style meal.  I am sure everyone understands how a dish can sometimes get overwhelming if you have too much of it.  Filipinos call it “umay”.  And I felt this halfway through the meal. This time, soldiering on was not much of a problem though, as I was quite hungry.  Also, the realization of actually eating Haggis in an Edinburgh cafe with my family, made the meal a celebration in itself.

 

 

 

 

Monster Mash Cafe
20 Forrest Road, Edinburgh EH1 2QN
TEL: +44 1312257069

 

 

 

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  • MAY 10, 2011 6:11 PM

    Anonymous Paul said...

    I actually like haggis. Like sausage meat made of bopis! But always had problems the next day because of all the fat/suet! Which probably explains the "umay" you experienced as well. Were you able to try any single malts?

  • MAY 11, 2011 9:58 AM

    sanju said...

    Yes it was definitely the suet. Tried too many single malts to mention. However I concentrated on older vintages 21 years and above as prices for these were quite reasonable compared to what you would find in Asia. So I made sure that I took advantage while I was there. Will have a post on a visit to a distillery soon.

  • MAY 14, 2011 12:45 AM

    Chinkee said...

    From your description of haggis, i think that's right up my alley. How does it look like when it's not so "posh"?

  • MAY 14, 2011 10:26 AM

    sanju said...

    Hi Chinkee, It looks pretty much the same except that the Neeps and Tatties are separate. It is good but as Paul commented, all that suet will test your limits.

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