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Robert Burns DinnerOn Saturday, February 2nd at 6pm, we’re hosting a very special dinner that comes from a long tradition. The event has all of the elements that tie together a community: good food, cultural heritage, art, song, and fellowship.

Read on as event host Helen McIver describes the rich history behind the Burns Supper.

The Burns Supper is an annual event, planned with great care and held where Scots diaspora unite in January (although our event will be held in early February). The first Burns Club was formed in Greenock in 1801, about 5 years after Robert Burns’ death. Another was formed in Paisley in 1805; 1807 in Kilmarnock.

Edinburgh joined in the celebration in 1815, with Sir Walter Scott and Alexander Boswell. London had its Burns anniversary supper in 1819. The Burns Federation was formed in 1885, with 51 Burns Club members. Burns Supper celebrations arrived in America (and all over the world) with emigrating clansmen, through their St Andrews Society, Caledonian Clubs, or individual clan gatherings.

At a formal Burns supper, once the guests are seated a piper enters the room, followed by a maid carrying the chieftain haggis (10-20 lbs) on a large ashet. A waiter follows with a bottle of whisky (singlemalt) and two glasses. The procession walks sunwise around the company, ending up at the Chief of the Clan, who pours two drams. The music ceases, the haggis is placed on the table as the piper and the chef toast the haggis. The Chief then recites the Address to the Haggis, plunging a sguen dhu, or black dirk kept in the Highlanders’ stocking, into it and cutting a St Andrews Cross on top (at the line ‘An cut you up wi’ready slight’). The Chief then turns back the flaps and inserts the serving spoon.

When the Address to the Haggis is finished, the company applauds or stands again to toast the haggis with whisky. An early version of the last verse of the Address refers to “great John Barleycorn’s heart’s bluid” being drunk as an accompaniment to haggis—two of Scotland’s most celebrated products.

At a formal event, there are often many courses, usually including some of the finest ingredients from Scotland: smoked salmon, fish, cream, cheeses, beef, etc. Before the meal begins, someone will recite Burns’ Selkirk Grace. Between each course, numerous graces or toasts from Burn’s poetry are recited, and Scottish songs often provide additional entertainment.

When the meal is over, there are toasts accompanied by whisky. Originally, the Queen was the first toast; this may be replaced with a patriotic toast to Scotland, followed by the Immortal Memory. There are other informal toasts, but there is usually a formal toast and reply to both the Guests and the Lassies (and laddies!). The evening’s entertainment continues, usually dominated by Burns’ songs; a ceilidh (Scottish dancing) can be a highlight of these gatherings.

The ending is a communal singing of Auld Lang Syne when everyone joins hands in a circle and when the 5th verse is (“and there’s a hand, my trusty fiere”), everyone crosses their arms in front and grasps their neighbour’s hands again, thus contracting the circle. As people come closer together, they move their arms rhythmically up and down and at the end give a rousing three cheers for auld acquaintances, the world o’er.

-Helen McIver

The seven-course menu for the evening will include traditional Scottish fare, such as mentioned above, with Söntés execution. Whisky flights, provided by Andy’s Liquor, are included in the ticket price of $75 per person. For the whisky list, click here–and note that dinner attendees are eligible for an extra discount on the purchase of these whiskies from Andy’s after the event!

Clan colors dress is encouraged! If you don’t have any clan colors, business casual dress will be equivalent. Seating for this event is limited, so call us soon at 507-292-1628 for reservations.

Robert Burns Tribute Dinner

On the table: Auld Alliance (pleated whisky with blue cheese & oatcakes)

Cockaleekie Soup with Prune Chutney Crostini

Salmon Lox with Toasted Caulders

Sorchet of Lemon (sorbet)

Haggis with Neeps & Tatties (rutabaga and mashed potatoes) and Rosemary Gravy (if preferred, roasted chicken may be substituted for haggis)

Mixed Green Salad with Skyr Salad Dressing, Roasted Mushrooms, and Smoked Salmon

Athole Brose (whipped cream with heather honey, toasted oats, and Drambuie)

Shortbread brushed with Whisky, Vanilla Ice Cream, and Butterscotch Sauce

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