Unlike St. Patrick's Day (its over-hyped, beat-to-death second cousin once removed) Burns Night is a holiday that could use a little PR boost. A quick intro for the uninitiatied -- every year on poet Robert Burns' birthday (January 25th) lovers of all things poetic and Scottish come together to share a meal and toast (many times over, and make it a single-malt, please) the man himself. At least a few of his colorful poems are read aloud, preferably in a deep, rollicking Scottish brogue.
While haggis is the most traditional star of the show, we aren't always up for tracking down a sheep's stomach last minute, and as we assume you aren't either (bully for you if you are, though!). In light of that, we've lined up some crowd-and-cook-friendly ideas for your own Burns supper, inspired by Scotland's enviable bounty of salmon and shellfish. Salty nibbles of Smoked Salmon Mousse on hearty rye toasts kick things off, a lovely foil for your favorite firey whisky. Silky Bay Scallop Chowder warms and comforts, while Salmon Kedgeree brings a much-needed jolt of fresh cilantro and ginger spice. Merrill's gorgeous Black Tea Jelly ends the night on a refreshing and delicately tannic note.
Whether you're tired of winter and find yourself longing for the warm celebratory hum of the holidays, or simply want to see all of your friends in kilts, we think that hosting a Burns night is a marvelous winter tradition worth taking on.
And if you're feeling particularly generous, it wouldn't be a bad idea to send guests home with a little treat for the morning after. Something oat-filled and hearty enough to pick them up from their whisky haze and make them feel burly enough to go off stomping through the Highlands!