As the annual round of Burns’ Suppers snaps into action this week, and restaurant menus direct their own nod towards the national Bard, many will be looking forward to the traditional meal of neeps and tatties served with haggis. After all, it was Robert Burns who, with his 1786 Address To A Haggis, ensured the humble international dish endures in modern Scottish culture.
There have been many attempts at contemporising the ancient dish of sheep liver, heart and lung mixed with onion, oatmeal, suet and spices. Some of the most successful contain venison, wild boar, beef and game birds. Haggis itself has been presented outside the usual sheep’s stomach as deep-fried bon-bons, samosas, pakora, lasagne. I’ve even seen a recipe for deep-fried sugar-coated haggis balls.
But I’m willing to bet you’ll never previously have encountered the most modern take on a Burns Supper that is set to be served to Glaswegians on Friday. The Fallachan Dining pop-up menu, entitled After Burns and organised by freelance chef Craig Grozier (pictured), features the most humble Scottish ingredients treated in sophisticated ways using state-of-the-art techniques, and is a collaboration between some of London and Scotland’s most internationally recognised and fiercely talented young freelance chefs. Tantalisingly, haggis as we know it makes only a small appearance. (Continues after photo.)
Grozier engaged NURonTOUR, a team of top young chefs lead by Nurdin Topham (formerly of Michelin-starred NUR Hong Kong, who worked as personal chef to Raymond Blanc and ran the cookery school at Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons). His colleagues James Murray and Richard Philips also worked with Raymond Blanc, Gordon Ramsay and at Michel Guerard’s three-star Les Pres d’Eugenie in the south of France. They will be joined by Glasgow-born Ian Scaramuzza, formerly head chef of Claude Bosi’s two-Michelin starred Hibiscus in London and the 2015 winner of a Roux Scholarship to Benu in San Francisco.
They’ve been working for months on their one-off menu, with a remit to “showcase how it’s possible to have a modern, lighter, approach to humble Scottish food and take it in a new direction”. For the cock-a-leekie course Topham has been collaborating with St Bride’s Poultry of Strathaven to have cock hens aged by hanging for two weeks to create the old-fashioned buttery, gamey flavour lost to so many versions.
Fallachan Barley Miso, Grozier’s own creation fermented in his Glasgow tenement kitchen, will be used across the dishes. Murray’s Humble Neep course uses fermented turnip prepared several ways with barley and seaweed, baked in a haggis crust, while Scaramuzza’s Kedgeree will consist of a set curried custard with blow-torched fish and glazed quail’s egg; and Philips’ Like a Rose dessert is composed of some well-known and some not to well-known members of the rose family, served with crowdie and laminated caramelised pastry.
Grozier himself will recreate a blood porridge, a refined version of black pudding influenced by the historic Scots Drovers’ Porridge, served with foraged preserved pickles.
Rather than dispense altogether with tradition, the aim is to encourage diners to take a new look at our national dish.
Ticket for the After Burns pop-up, at £100 a head, sold out within two hours of going on sale via social media. Wonder what Robert Burns would have say about that.
(Sorry trhere are no photos but as After Burns is a pop-up, the chefs are still wroking on it ...)