BURNS NIGHT AT THE OLD QUAY HOUSE
Burns Night is celebrated on 25 January by Scots to commemorate the life of the bard Robert Burns, who was born on that day in 1759. The day also celebrates Burns’ contributions to Scottish culture; his best known work is Auld Lang Syne.
The Old Quay House’s Scottish-born head chef, Richard Massey, moved to Cornwall from the Isle of Skye two years ago. For the hotel’s Burns Night dinner this year, Richard created a refined, modern take on traditional Scottish dishes, with a seven course feast. Each course was carefully paired with a matching whisky.
The traditional haggis, neeps and tatties were elegantly combined in the superb canapés, enjoyed in the smart new bar area of the hotel. The guests ranged from whisky-afficionados, Cornish-based Scots, locals, and those who’d lucked in when booking a night at the hotel for 25 January.
Dundee-born David Lorimer, who runs Fowey interiors shop Brocante with his partner Kieron Cockley (the pair are also responsible for the interior design of the hotel) was Master of Ceremonies for the evening, and cut a dash in Highland dress.
Once we’d taken our seats, the haggis was brought to the table on a silver salver. David read Burns’ poem “Address to a Haggis” with his beautiful Scottish lilt, before the traditional, and rather theatrical, cutting of the haggis, after which the meal could begin.
The first course was a take on kedgeree. A meticulously prepared egg shell contained a smokey haddock foam, under which were a few succulent pieces of smokey haddock, and a soft boiled quail’s egg.
The accompanying whisky was the Classic Laddie from Islay, an unpeated single malt, light and refreshing so as not to overpower the delicate kedgeree flavours.
Next we were served a refined version of Cullen Skink, a traditional thick Scottish soup containing smoked haddock, potatoes and onions. (Cullen is the village on the Moray Firth in NE Scotland from where the soup originated, and “skink” is the Scottish word for “soup”.)
Richard’s version of the soup was rich and creamy, savoury and moreish. The smokey Caol ILA 12 years from Port Askaig was the perfect foil to the haddock in the dish.
The subsequent course was probably my favourite. On lifting the lid of the smart little serving dishes, smoke spilled out, creating a wonderful aroma and atmosphere around the table.
Beautifully soft hot smoked salmon sat upon wafer thin slices of sweet, cooked beetroot, and then topped with sharp, crunchy pickled beetroot. This was a gorgeous combination, matched perfectly with the Haig Club from Leven in Cameronbridge.
The main event – Stovies – was amazing, and a long way from usual Stovies, traditionally a stew made with leftover meat, potatoes and vegetables.
Richard’s version was melt-in-the-mouth slow-cooked beef, neatly packed around a fondant potato, with a rich jus. On top of this were a few tiny pickled onions, the acdidity cutting through the richness of the meat, as well as carrots, and a sprinkling of deep-fried potato puffs. This was paired with Glenfiddich 12 year old from Dufftown.
The pre-dessert (sorry, no photo of this) was a take on a Rusty Mule cocktail. The cocktail ingredients (Drambuie, ginger and lime) were combined to create a fairly punchy, yet refreshing, sorbet.
At this point in the evening we were rather full, but the seventh and final course was demolished by all, so delicious was it.
The Cranachan-inspired dessert was a fabulous combination of raspberries, cream, and whisky-soaked oats, complemented by the honey and malt tones of the Glenmorangie Original, from Tain in Ross-shire.
Our final treat was a glass of Champagne, with which Richard and his kitchen staff were toasted, before we all joined hands for a rousing rendition of Auld Lang Syne.
For more information about The Old Quay House, to book a room or to reserve a table in the restaurant, please visit theoldquayhouse.com.
All food photography, and portrait of Richard, by Jim Michell.
Dining room interior image by Chetwode Ram Associates.
Hotel image by The Old Quay House.
Disclaimer: The Old Quay House invited us to attend the Burns Night dinner as their guests. The seven course dinner, with whisky tasting, was priced at £55pp. Thank you to all the staff for looking after us so well.