‘Gie her a haggis’ | VailDaily.com

‘Gie her a haggis’

Cassie Pence
Special to the Daily Robert Burns is Scotland's most celebrated poet. His country honors his birthday every Jan. 25 with a traditional supper featuring haggis, music and poetry readings. Remington's Executive Chef Richard McCreadie is partnering with the Vail Symposium to bring the party to the Vail Valley Wednesday.

BACHELOR GULCH – Scotland’s national bard Robert Burns (1759-96) cherished whiskey, women, poetry and a good time. With common-man endearments such as those, it’s easy to see why Scots have been celebrating Burns’ birthday, along with his poetry, with a traditional supper for more than 200 years.Hailing from Scotland, Richard McCreadie, executive chef at Remington’s in The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch, in conjunction with the Vail Symposium, is bringing the Robert Burns Supper tradition to the States Wednesday (Burns’ actual birthday). The evening can range from a formal gathering of scholars to an uproariously informal bash of drunkards. Seeing as it’s the first year for the Vail Valley, McCreadie’s party will most likely fall somewhere between. It will adhere to the supper’s time-honored form, which includes eating haggis, drinking whiskey, joking about the sexes and reciting poetry in the Burns’ country fashion.”We relate to his poetry,” said McCreadie of the Scots. “He’s a witty poet. He loved life and merriment, and he loved to party.”Robert Burns historyBurns was born in Alloway, Ayrshire, to a poor farming family in 1759. He was the eldest of seven. In spite of his poverty, Burns was extremely well read. His father, William Burness, made education a priority, hiring a tutor for Burns and his brother, Gilbert. The time arrived when Burns was the principal worker on the farm, which he hated. He was more interested in the romantic nature of poetry than plowing fields. Burns’ dislike of his destined occupation inspired him to write, and he penned his first poem, “My Handsome Nell,” at age 15. The verse was an ode to women, subjects he came to know quite well. According to http://www.rabbie-burns.com, Burns’ ventures with the ladies led to several illegitimate children, including twins with Jean Armour, the woman he would eventually marry. But at the time, Burns wanted to escape. At the thought of leaving farming forever, Burns penned his first collection, “Poems – Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect – Kilmarnock Edition,” which was published and received critical acclaim. His recent success paired with a warming to parenthood led Burns to stay in Scotland and marry his love, Armour.”He was a dedicated family man,” McCreadie said. “He wasn’t a philanderer.”Burns devoted the last years of his life to writing and penned some his most famous works, including “The Lea Rig,” “Tam O’Shanter” and a “Red, Red Rose.” Burns died of heart disease at age 37, and 10,000 people showed to pay respects. It was on the first anniversary of his birth that people began celebrating Burns with a supper, and the poet’s popularity has grown ever since. “It’s a good excuse to have a party,” McCreadie said. Robert Burns Supper itineraryThe supper has a very traditional format. It begins with a grace and a few words from the emcee of the evening, in this case it’s the bag piper. Then McCreadie presents the haggis, the Scottish chief of all puddings, made of the lungs, heart, intestines of a sheep or calf mixed with suet, seasoning and oatmeal and then boiled in the animal’s stomach.”You have to try it before you condemn it,” McCreadie said. “It was originally made for the shepherd. It’s a hardy food for the cold, long winter out in the field.”McCreadie said that the haggis is the star of the show, and when the chef brings it out to the table, it’s very much like a sacrificial offering. Raising the haggis on a platter, the chef parades about the room with the piper close at his heals. McCreadie then reads Burns’ “Ode To A Haggis” and slashes the dish open. A toast of whiskey follows, and everyone dines. McCreadie’s menu also features some modernized versions of Scottish food for those squeamish of haggis.Next an invited guest will deliver a speech on Burns, following the men will toast the lasses in the room, poking fun at those quintessential female characteristics, and in turn the women will detail the men’s foibles.”It has to be in good fun,” McCreadie said. “There’s nothing serious about Burns night.”The night continues with music by a traditional Scottish band and poetry reading. McCreadie said he will set out Burns’ poems to read or people can bring their own or make up their own.”As long as the poems are in the Burns dialect,” McCreadie said. “Countryish and down to earth.”

McCreadie said he hopes this Robert Burns Supper will inspire other dinners surrounding poets, although Burns, he admits, is by far his favorite party poet. The dinner at Remington’s costs $80. For more information, call the Vail Symposium at 476-0954.========Robert Burns SupperAppetizersPartan Brie White Crab Soup with Rice and VermouthCock-a-Leekie SoupChicken and Leek BrothShrimp Imperial EggShrimp Crusted egg Served on Bull’s Blood Greeens, Mulligatawny Sauce Scottish Oak Smoked SalmonDill Sauce & Oatmeal CookiesSaladsScottish Oatmeal Cabot Cheese

With bouquet of Baby spinachLavender Honey DressingLambs Lettuce, Braised Brisket and Roasted Winter Beets Whole Grain Mustard and McEwans Ale VinaigretteOrganic Baby Greens and Herb Salad Cucumbers and Grape TomatoesSlocum Castle VinaigretteEntreesThe HaggisClapshot or Tatties Nd Neeps Roast Sirloin of Angus BeefAyrshire Tatties and Brussels SproutsLaphroaig Whiskey Sauce Stuffed Speckeled Brown Trout

With Rainbow Chard,Burdock and Green Lentils Roasted Breast of PheasantBraised Red Cabbage in Goose JusClaret SauceDessert Craneachain Toasted Oatmeal and Raspberry Drambuie CreamChcolate- Orange Whiskey MoouseCloutie Dumpling ParfaitAssortment of Gaelic Coffee And Warm Sipping ChocolateShortbread Cookies to Sweeten the night========Arts and Entertainment Editor Cassie Pence can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14640, or cpence@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado

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