Food. TV. Scotland. Three of my favorite things.
Scotland’s been on my mind lately. Primarily because of my Outlander obsession, but also because of the upcoming independence referendum this week. It’s not my place to explain the issues or to take a side, but I do feel sad. England or Scotland — it’s like watching your parents fight. I love them both. I don’t really want them to separate, even if that might be what’s best and healthiest for everyone.
But back to Outlander. Are y’all watching this show? If not, drop what you’re doing (well, after you finish reading this) and get a Starz subscription, or at the very least run to a bookstore. The story is seriously, beautifully, wondrously epic.
To commemorate the series premiere a couple of weeks ago, I hosted a premiere viewing party with a menu full of Scottish favorites.
I’m not the best entertainer — I love the planning, but I seem to overdo it and end up stressed and overwhelmed. I haven’t found that sweet spot of ease, calm and order that inhabits most great hostesses. If you are one, please share your secrets. I’m learning lessons, though. One of which was to prep well ahead of time. It took me all week.
For menu planning, I conducted heavy, serious research with help from my good ole friends Google and Pinterest. Usually I am paralyzed with indecision when it comes to menus, but I can get behind a party theme. And Scotland didn’t let me down. I was going for more appetizery, hand-held food, but I ran across some quite interesting options.
Trying to translate metric recipes is always a culinary adventure, and with British food there’s an added layer of hilarity. Though we speak the same language, we don’t speak the same language at all.
Take this recipe.
Title: “Neeps and Tatties”
Ok, sounds confusingly authentic.
Description: “‘Neeps’ are better known as swedes.”
Well, that’s helpful.
Ingredients: 1 swede, about 1 1/2 pounds, peeled and chopped.”
And, I give up.
(What the heck’s a swede?!? I still don’t know.)
Needless to say, no neeps nor tatties graced my table.
After a fair amount of research, I narrowed my selections:
Outlander Premiere Party
Smoked Salmon Dip with Crudites
Cheese Plate with Fruit
Bacon, Leek & Cheddar Tarts
Earl Grey Shortbread
Tipsy Laird Trifle
The Scottish punch is basically Sangria with a load of whisky. Bridies are beef sausage rolls — seasoned beef wrapped in puff pastry. I understand bridies must be served with HP sauce, which is A-1 sauce adjacent. Tipsy Laird, aka “the drunk Lord (head of the clan),” is a traditional raspberry custard trifle spiked with whisky, in my case Drambuie.
For decor, I hit the motherlode at a beautiful local Scottish store — I found tartan and thistle napkins, mini flags, bunting, the HP sauce and even some delicate tartan scarves to serve as table covers. Festive.
Surrounded by Scottish bunting, with mouths full of Scottish food and holding glasses of whisky punch, we settled in, eyes glued to Jamie and his kilt. Oh, and Claire was there too.