Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Haggis, Neeps and Tatties, Oh My!

When in Scotland, do as the Scots do, right? So what do the Scottish do? They eat haggis, neeps and tatties, that's what. Now you may be wondering what on earth I am talking about, or you may be thinking to yourself, "OMG, I can't believe he ate that!" For those of you in the former camp, let me tell you about haggis, neeps and tatties. Neeps are mashed boiled turnips and tatties are mashed boiled potatoes; turnips are also known as swede here in Europe in case you've heard that.

Now then, what is haggis? At it's most basic, haggis is the heart, liver, and lungs of a sheep minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices and salt, mixed with stock and traditionally boiled in the sheep's stomach for three hours. In speaking with some Scots in Scotland, I was told that the haggis served in different pubs can vary quite a bit, but usually it's either peppery or it's not.

The haggis that I had on Sunday night was peppery, and was quite good actually (see the picture below.) It definitely doesn't look great on the plate, although at Deacon Brodie's Tavern in Edinburgh, they made it look as nice as it probably can. The neeps and tatties were good, smooth and creamy, mashed really well. And the haggis was good, seriously. It had a meaty, nutty, oaty flavor, and as I hoped, was quite peppery. It was just like some tasty ground beef.

When I ordered it, I honestly wasn't sure if I'd like it. So I ordered the Bacon and Brie salad to start, it was great. Big slices of bacon, not like the bacon we're used to in the US, but more like slices of Irish bacon, grilled up nice and tasty. The brie was also great, nice and creamy, and the salad was rounded out with sliced tomato, green pepper, green beans, red onions, celery, and a sweet chili vinaigrette.

I also had a Guinness, can you see the shamrock that the bartender poured into the head? I hope so, that's a tell-tale sign of a good Guinness pour.

Deacon Brodie's Tavern - Edinburgh, Scotland

A well poured pint of Guinness

Bacon and Brie Salad
Haggis, Neeps and Tatties

My dining companion, my new friend and colleague Giulia from Italy had a pint of Stella, a "Caesar" salad, and some fish and chips (battered Haddock.) The caesar salad was SO not a caesar salad though. Imagine longing for a caesar salad, loving caesar salad, and getting a plate of shredded lettuce, diced chicken, red onions, and tomato; I'm not sure what the dressing was, but this was about as far from a caesar salad as you can get. Deacon Brodie's gets a big thumbs down for misleading Giulia on the caesar, but the haggis, that was good stuff.

So dear reader, remember when you travel to eat local. My attitude is that if it's on the menu, then someone likes it, so maybe you will too. You may have heard that haggis is disgusting, but if you don't try it yourself, how will you really know? Be adventurous, leave your comfort zone, and if you find yourself in Scotland, try haggis. If you don't like it, then you can say so yourself. At least your friends will think of you different for being so bold.

This was not my first meal in Edinburgh, nor was it my last. Stay tuned for more from Scotland.



  1. So the haggis was good, then? Something about it kind of scares the crap out of me. lmao (Mince and tatties is another story, though.) And I can't say that I'm a squeemish eater, I mean, I've eaten whole baby eels fer cryin' out loud. lol I love that the Guinness is ever so slightly out of focus...after a couple of pints of that, I would guess that everything would be. :)

  2. Hey Canarygirl, The haggis was good, definitely. I was nervous about ordering it, not really knowing what to expect. But this was my last meal in Scotland and I didn't know when I'd be back, so I had to go for it; I'm glad I did!

    I don't know why the picture of the Guinness was out of focus, but in hindsight it worked out well I guess! If you can spot it, there is an outline of a shamrock in the head!