Contributed by Doug Doughty (First Dude of Western Canada) …
For the last few years, I have been attending the Burns Night Supper held annually by the St. Andrew’s Society in Montreal. It is held in the University Club, which is the kind of place heavily steeped in tradition and history. This year’s Burns Night was held on Friday January 22.
I arrived at the University Club all kitted up in my Prince Charlie jacket and of course my MacAulay of Lewis kilt. I walked in, found out at which table I was sitting, and then I walked into the bar and asked what they had for single malt whisky. I was escorted from the main bar into the single malt room, which left me looking like a kid in a candy store. So much whisky, so little time.
As I sipped my Glenfarclas 21 (which I reviewed for the whisky section to appear next Sunday), the president of the St. Andrew’s Society of Montreal, Brian MacKenzie, introduced himself to me and we talked briefly about the St.Andrew’s Society and what they do.
As people arrived and mingled, they were offered a selection of crudités and the University Club homemade potato chips.
We were called to dinner by Piper Alexander McGuckin, and we all took our seats. The piper then piped in the Head Table and we were greeted by the evening’s chairman Cameron Stevens, who then introduced President Brian MacKenzie who presented his welcome message to the audience and Campbell Oliver delivered the Selkirk Grace:
“Some hae meat, and canna eat;
And some wad eat that want it;
But we hae meat and we can eat;
And sae the Lord be thankit.”
Then came the moment we all were waiting for. The chef David Capel brought in the ‘guest of honour’, aka. the haggis and Jeffrey McCarthy delivered the address “Tae the Haggis”. If you have never been to a Burns Supper and seen this amazing spectacle, you really are missing something. There are videos on Youtube, but I doubt if they could match Jeff’s intensity.
Our meal was served in six courses, and all of them were incredible. The Menu for the evening was:
Duo of Salmon Mousse with Horseradish Dressing
Lamb and Barley Vegetable Soup
Haggis, neaps and tatties (of course)
Braised Beef Rib served with Ardberg whiskey sauce, fingerling potatoes, carrots and green beans
Assorted Scottish cookies (shortbread, of course)
Coffee and tea
The food was amazing, and the best part was that each course had enough food to sate your appetite (more haggis would have been nice) so you did not feel overly stuffed. The University Club staff service was also on top of their game; the wine steward showed up just when your wine glass was emptied.
The evening’s program was very engaging and the speakers entertaining. The presentation to the Immortal Memory was given by Verdun City Councillor, Sterling Downey. Lots of tongue in cheek humour with lots of laughs.
They also had the Burns quiz. Here is a heads up, if you go to this meal, and you bring out the cell phone to Google any of the answers, you will be caught and it will be pointed out. Also, answers like “in the ground” or “Scotland” to the question “Where is Robbie Burns buried?” is not accepted, even though they are technically correct.
The end of the program came with the ‘Toast to the Lassies’ by Jeff McCarthy and the response to the toast by Heather MacNabb. The head table was then piped out, and we gathered in the bar for a few more drinks. It was an incredible evening, with good food, good company and a very entertaining program. If you have never been to one, I highly recommend attending a Burns Night Supper.