While the bigger towns and cities offer the visitor every type of world cuisine which they could possibly desire, some of the local delicacies should be tried too. If you are crazy enough to try your hand at bagpipe playing and ceilidh dancing, then haggis will be no problem at all, or will it? Perhaps you shouldn’t read any further if you genuinely do want to try it, or maybe the thought of eating another animals vital organs has your mouth watering already. Yes, I’m afraid that is exactly what you will be doing when you sample the world renowned national dish. Haggis is made from sheep’s offal (known locally as pluck). The windpipe, lungs, heart and liver of the sheep are boiled and minced. This is then mixed with beef fat and oatmeal and placed inside the sheep’s stomach. Following this, the stomach is sewn up and traditionally is boiled for anything up to three hours. Today, however, to prevent the stomach from bursting and spoiling, part boiled haggis can be transferred to the oven. There is also a vegetarian version but somehow I think the idea is slightly nonsensical, vegetables cooked in a sheep’s stomach is hardly vegetarian.
Scotch Broth, known locally as Hotch Potch, is another favourite. This is a stock made by boiling mutton, beef or chicken. Apparently the neck is the best part, it would be. A selection of vegetables is added; carrots, peas, leeks, cabbage, turnips or celery as well as a handful of barley. It should be thick and served piping hot.
Finally, one for the vegetarians among you. Colcannon, a dish found in the Western Islands of Scotland and in Ireland, is made from boiled cabbage, turnip, carrots and potatoes. This mixture is then drained and stewed for about half an hour in a pan with some butter, salt and pepper. Sorry guys, cabbage, I know.
Other favourites include the local cheeses, venison from the Highland Estates, game birds including grouse, pheasant and partridge and the wide variety of seafood available locally – mussels, scallops, shrimp and some of the world’s finest lobster and crabs.
And, of course no meal would be complete without a local drink as accompaniment. Several breweries are now setting up in competition with the four main companies in the area so you should try some of the local lagers. But, if you are a whisky drinker, then you have come to the right place, hot or cold you will certainly enjoy your nightcap.