Up until Monday evening I had never celebrated Burns Night before. Clearly I had no idea it basically consists of sipping on whiskey and devouring delicious food all night, and after the four course treat with Compass Box Whiskey at The Ox I may now have to make this supper a yearly tradition.
Burns Night is a celebration of the life and poetry of Scottish poet Robert Burns, which usually happens around his birthday on 25th January.
I was kindly invited to join the celebrations, kilts optional, and as a fan of this local steakhouse and cocktail retreat (you can read my previous post here) I couldn’t wait to sit down with guaranteed good company and top quality food and drink. Whilst I’m not the biggest whiskey drinker nor had I ever tried haggis before, I was looking forward to an evening of firsts. It kicked off with the whiskey based Mamie Taylor cocktail and salmon canapés…
When I first read the menu it was the mention of scallops that leapt off the page at me. Not a food I eat often so when I do it feels like a real treat and these tandoori Scottish scallops, served with spiced yoghurt, crisp chick peas and pickled cucumber, literally melted in my mouth. Washed down with Compass Box Oak Cross which complimented the flavours of the dish perfectly, we added a splash of water to our glasses and toasted to the evening ahead.
With just enough time to finish off our first whiskey, we were presented with the main dish: Charcoal roasted venison, haggis, charred onion purée, potato onion gratin and Compass Box Spice Tree whiskey to accompany it. My first haggis experience was a success! After years of convincing myself that I wouldn’t like it (mainly based on how it looks, I’m ashamed to say) I can now hold my hands up and say I’m a fan, particularly paired with the beautifully cooked venison.
The malt whiskey was sweet and rich, with caramel and vanilla flavours coming through in the nose and palate. With a dash of water it made it taste a little creamier, definitely more manageable to drink for someone like me who is a real beginner with whiskey flavours.
The Rhubarb Cranachan, a take on a Scottish classic, was incredible. The perfect pudding for Burns Night, which was really refreshing after the previous couple of courses, was brought out with Compass Box Orangerie – a whiskey that can only be described as an alcoholic chocolate orange. Yum! It was much smoother than the previous accompaniments and my favourite of the evening by far, so I just added a little water and an ice cube and sipped on it until the final course was brought out to us.
Every good evening should end with a cheese board in my opinion.
The Dunshire blue cheese, Barway original cheddar, oatcakes and chutney was paired with my least favourite of the evening, Compass Box Flaming Heart. A super smokey flavoured whiskey which is perhaps for an acquired taste so I went back to the Orangerie instead, but from the couple of short sips and a few splashes of water I could sense there was a good match of flavours. I can’t help but think a glass of red would have gone down better though…
I had a fantastic evening and the team at The Ox were brilliant as always. I can’t wait to return, hopefully for another plate of venison and haggis! You can find out more information here about The Ox and their beautiful food and drink offerings – perfect for Valentines Day coming up!