If you read Rocky Casale’s recent BlackBook story, “The Mists Lift On a Burgeoning Scottish Culinary Landscape,” you know that Scottish chefs have finally put haggis behind them, instead focusing on the amazing bounty of meat, fish, and vegetables available in their fertile country. I happened to edit that story right before I took a trip to Edinburgh with my wife, so I decided to check out one of the restaurants it featured, The Kitchin, a favorite of author Irvine Welsh along with a few anonymous Michelin Guide agents. It was my wife’s birthday, and I wanted to take her somewhere special. I can’t pat myself on the back enough for that one, because The Kitchin was amazing, one of the best restaurant meals of our lives. But in addition to our precious little memories, the restaurant was a perfect example of the latest thinking in upscale Scottish cuisine. We decided to put our trust in Tom Kitchin and ordered the "Chef’s Land & Sea Surprise" tasting menu (I was too cheap/poor to do the wine pairings, but we had a great, semi-affordable bottle all the same). It was the right call, as we swooned over all seven courses. On the way out, they gave us a copy of the menu to take with us, rolled up and tied with a ribbon. So, for those of you wondering what, exactly, modern Scottish cuisine is, read on. (And for those who can’t make it to Scotland, I recommend Highlands on West 10th Street in New York for tasty Scottish food.)
Chef’s Land and Sea Surprise
Tasting Menu @ The Kitchin
Tuesday, 28th August 2012
Jellied chicken consommé with a leek cream, crispy bacon, and croutons.
Tartare of mackerel from St. Abbs Head* served with a Newhaven crab cream, cucumber, and capers.
Razor Clams (Spoots)**
Razor clams from Arisaig, cooked to order and served with diced vegetables, chorizo, and lemon confit.
Pig’s Head & Scallop***
Boned and rolled pig’s head, served with seared hand-dived**** Orkney scallop and a crispy ear salad.
Seared fillet of North Sea hake served with a red pepper piperade***** and confit garlic.
Saddle of rabbit from Burnside Farm stuffed with spinach, served with sautéed artichoke and a ragout of rabbit kidneys.
Strawberry & Crowdie******
Millefeuille of Blacketyside Farm strawberries served with Highland crowdie mousse, pistachio, and strawberry sorbet.
* St. Abbs Head is a National Nature Reserve not far from Edinburgh, and it looks like a very pretty place, at least when the sun is shining.
** Ha ha, spoots. I like saying the word spoots. Try it. Just turn to whoever is sitting next to you right now and say "spoots" and nothing else.
***Our favorite dish of the meal. No, it didn’t look like a pig’s head, the meat was shaped into a hockey puck. A delicious, pink-hued hockey puck.
****Hand-dived? What a job. Scottish scallop diver. Let’s get one to do a Reddit AMA.
*****Maybe you knew what a piperade was, but I had to look it up. It’s a Basque dish popular in France made with onion, green peppers, tomatoes, and Espelette pepper. And Espelette peppers are a type of chili pepper cultivated in the Pyrenees.
******Crowdie is Scottish cream cheese. Gimme a bagel with a schmear of crowdie.