In Scotland, you can find the local delicacy inside samosas and spring rolls, or frozen like meatballs, stacked in towers, rolled into bon bons and even sold by the can. Plunge your dagger into that, Robbie Burns
1. TRADITIONAL Common haggis is a sort of sausage, made with leftover bits of lamb innards (the offal) mixed with oatmeal and onions, seasoned with lots of black pepper and stuffed into a sheep's stomach. Along with the traditional haggis, the Urban Angel café in Edinburgh offers the ultimate culinary oxymoron, a vegetarian haggis. When the dish arrives, a rich meaty version (the specialty of Findlay's, a local artisan butcher) is freed from its casing and piled in a bowl in a puddle of creamy leek sauce, with “clapshot mash” (potatoes and turnips). It sits alongside the veggie facsimile by MacSween's butcher shop. The latter was a combination of beans, lentils, carrots, mushrooms, chopped mixed nuts and the obligatory oats – sort of a deconstructed veggie burger – and delicious enough to make one think about creating vegetarian haggis at home.
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2. AS PUB FOOD Haggis, like fish and chips, is typical pub food, and I had a warm slice of it topped with a big quenelle of potato/turnip mash at The Ship Inn pub in Elie, a beachside town across the Firth of Forth. After a chilly late fall walk on the broad sandy beach, it was the perfect way to warm up, with a drink of Scottish ginger wine.
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3. AS AN APP At the Mains of Taymouth, a luxury self-catering condo set-up near Aberfeldy, the gourmet food store had Ramsay's and McSween's regular and vegetarian haggis in the cooler – in baseball and golf ball sizes for small dinners and appetizers.
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4. LEANING TOWER OF HAGGIS The haggis at the Mains of Taymouth resort's Courtyard restaurant is more refined. It serves a “haggis tower” appetizer – a round of haggis perched artfully atop a layered stack of mashed potato and golden mashed rutabaga, in a pool of Aberfeldy whisky sauce.
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5. A SCOTTISH BALL In North Ballachulish, at a quirky old hotel overlooking Loch Leven, chef Dieter Hoffmann-Rollauer bakes individual-size haggis balls in a puff pastry crust and serves them with a savoury sauce. The presentation was his own but the haggis was from a local village butcher, a story you will hear at almost every stop.
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6. JUST A SLICE At the upscale Monachyle Mhor, the haggis comes from the award-winning Aberfoyle Butcher. And like many presentations, it arrives stuffed into a synthetic casing to be sliced and broiled or fried. For more information, go to eatscotland.visitscotland.com. Special to The Globe and Mail
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