Tag Archives: scotland

On Being Thankful.

As most Americans prepare for Thanksgiving tomorrow,  I’ll be arriving in London en route to visit my dad in Bridge of Weir, Scotland.

Of course he and my stepmum don’t usually celebrate turkey day, but we’ll gather in their village kitchen and cook a Scottish/American feast together. I know, for sure, there will be some sort of turkey and glorious HAGGIS BALLS (equal parts stuffing & haggis mixed together) that I love to make year round.

In Bridge of Weir, Scotland with my dad 2002For a food fanatic like myself, Thanksgiving is absolutely the best time of the year. Not just because of all the tasty bites, but also a time to exhale, be grateful and reach out to family and friends.

Back in April, my mother passed away and I had to fly to Miyako Jima (near Okinawa, Japan) to take care of her funeral and estate.

The trip was absolutely dreadful (except for a few delicious moments) but it would have been worse if we hadn’t reconciled the year earlier.

My mom and I hadn’t spoken for over ten years, until two years ago when a friend of mine, over lunch at Jitlada (my favorite Thai restaurant), demanded I call my mother. If it weren’t for my friend, I’d never have found peace and comfort of knowing my mother a bit better. She had retired from the business I abhorred (more later), and was just a funny, old lady I chatted and laughed with long-distance.

My dad and I were also estranged for many years (international divorce and spending ten years in a children’s group home can do that), and it took decades for us to want to be in each other’s lives again.

Although it wasn’t always easy (I used to hold on to anger)… IT WAS definitely WORTH IT. I fly back to Scotland to visit him once a year now, and I’m so grateful for every moment together.

If there’s someone in your life you’ve been waiting to call or visit, please stop and JUST DO IT.

Life is short. There’s always time to heat up the leftovers tomorrow.

Happy Thanksgiving. Love, Jo

Leave a comment

Filed under Family Stories, Travel

The Gorbals

My brother Greg was in town recently (from Glasgow, Scotland) to attend the NAMM (music trade) conference. He happened to be free for dinner on “Burns Night” (Jan 25th), a Scottish holiday celebrating the birth of Robert Burns.

The weekend before, Peter and I had already gone out for our annual haggis-eating, whisky drinking, deep-fried banger fest with friends. It’s always a music-filled, raucous Burns Night party at Buchanan Arms in Burbank.

The Gorbals restaurant is located inside Alexandria Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. Chef Ilan Hall named his restaurant after the gritty neighborhood where his father grew up in Glasgow, Scotland. I’d had bites of chef Hall’s cooking at various food events; mostly his popular bacon-wrapped matzoh balls (his mother is from Israel), but this was my first visit to his popular eatery. The food was perfect for a night of drinking. Needless to say, having my brother there with me was a celebration in itself!

A few of our favorite bites:

Bacon wrapped matzoh balls
Bacon wrapped matzoh balls

 Chips & Herbs
Chips & Herbs

Gribenes (CHICKEN SKIN) Sandwich
Gribenes (CHICKEN SKIN) Sandwich

 Bánh mì Poutine
Bánh mì Poutine  (We were drinking lots, more chips needed!)

Crispy Poached Egg & Sausage
Crispy Poached Egg & Sausage

Shortbread & Scotch
Short Bread & Scotch

Gorbals
Entrance to the Gorbals

My brother Greg w Chef Ilan hall
Chef Ilan Hall with my brother Greg

GorbalsThe Gorbals
501 South Spring Street
Los Angeles,  CA 90013
(213) 488-3408
website

Follow Ilan Hall on Twitter

Read Jonathan Gold’s 2010 Gorbals review here

Gorbals, Glasgow

Buchanan Arms

Leave a comment

Filed under Eating Out

Persia (Glasgow, Scotland)

Photos: Dinner with my family at Persia Restaurant in Glasgow’s charming West End.

Persia Restaurant
Persia Restaurant

Jalepeno Hummus at Persia Restaurant
Jalepeno Hummus: Jalepeno peppers flavoured with garlic in sesame seed paste and mixed with cooked chickpeas.

Persia Restaurant
Merza-ghassemi (Caspian Aubergine): Mix of sweet aubergine, tomato and garlic, topped with fried onion. Classic Hummus in background.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus at Persia Restaurant
Roasted Red Pepper Hummus: A mixture of pureed chickpeas with sesame seed paste and roasted red pepper.

Fresh Baked Naan at Persia Restaurant
Fresh Baked HUGE Naan Bread.

Naan! Persia Restaurant
The Naan being cooked in the downstairs tandoor (clay oven).

Persia Restaurant
Koobideh Combo: Skewers of minced lamb and chicken, Saffron Rice & Grilled Tomato.

Persia Restaurant
Karne Yarik: Stuffed Aubergine with Minced Lamb, Celery, Parsley, Peppers and Garlic, Baked In Tomato Sauce.

Zulbia & Bamiya Dessest at Persia Restaurant
Zulbia & Bamiya: Cake Mix & Plain Dough pan-fried in vegetable oil then dipped in Saffron & Honey Syrup.

If you’re looking for a terrific (yet casual) evening out in Glasgow’s West End, I highly recommend Persia Restaurant. So many of the flavors reminded of my friend Afaf’s Syrian cooking (I miss her food!).

Thanks Lindsay & Greg for sharing one of your favorite spots!

Persia RestaurantPersia
665 Great Western Road.
Glasgow, G12 8RE
Scotland
Phone: 0141 237 4471
Website 

Dining Date: 9/9/11

Persian Cuisine, a Brief History

More Photos on Flickr

2 Comments

Filed under Eating Out

Fox & Hounds (Scotland)

Fox & Hounds 2010A trip home to Bridge of Weir, Scotland would not be complete without a family meal at nearby Fox and Hounds. It’s not just an old pub (built in 1779) that serves Scottish, comfort food. “The Fox” (as we call it) is also an award-winning brewery.

Photos from our recent lunch:

Fox & Hounds 2011
Steak, Mushroom and Ale Pie

Fox & Hounds 2011
Tucking into the Steak, Mushroom and Ale Pie

Fox & Hounds 2011
Caesar Salad w Charred Chicken

Fox & Hounds 2011
Ale Battered Haddock

Fox & Hounds 2011
Killer Onion Rings

Fox & Hounds 2011
Houston Brewery’s Peter Well on the left and Warlock Stout on the right

Fox & Hounds 2011
The Fox and Hounds
South Street
Houston, Renfrewshire PA6 7EN
Scotland, UK

Phone: (UK) 01505 612448

Website

Menus

Wikipedia

Twitter

FaceBook

More Fox & Hounds Photos on Flickr

Fox & Hounds 2011

5 Comments

Filed under Eating Out

Home to Scotland

I’ll miss Peter and the dogs, but I’m so excited to get back to Bridge of Weir this week to visit my dad, step-mum and little brother. Not surprisingly, my favorite moments are always in the kitchen with my father, and on this trip we’re going to focus on traditional Scottish recipes.

In Scotland with my dadRumbledethumps is a traditional dish from the Scottish Borders. The main ingredients are potato, cabbage and onion. Similar to Irish colcannon, and English bubble and squeak, it is either served as an accompaniment to a main dish or as a main dish itself.

Cullen Skink is a thick Scottish soup made of smoked Finnan haddie, potatoes and onions. Lacking the traditional ingredient, any other undyed smoked haddock will suffice. This soup is a local speciality, from the town of Cullen in Moray, on the north-east coast of Scotland. The soup is often served as a starter at formal Scottish dinners.

Clapshot is a traditional Scottish dish that originated in Orkney and may be served with haggis, oatcakes, mince, sausages or cold meat. It is created by the combined mashing of potatoes and swede turnips (“neeps and tatties”) with the addition of chives, butter or dripping, salt and pepper; onions in some versions.

Stoved Howtowdie with Drappit Eggs: Boiled chicken with poached egg and spinach.

Chappit Tatties: Mashed Potatoes with little finely shredded onion or chopped chives (optional).

Up Yer Kilt!Skirlie is a traditional Scottish dish. It is eaten on its own, used as a stuffing for a mock-sausage, the mealie pudding, or used as a stuffing for chicken (most commonly) or other fowl. Oatmeal was a staple ingredient of the Scottish diet, it absorbs other flavours and is filling, so it was found in many dishes of Scottish cooking. Skirlie was used to ‘pad’ out a meal in which meat would have been scarce. In the North East it is eaten with mince as well as with chicken. It is still a much loved dish in Scotland today.

Scotch Eggs: A Scotch egg consists of a shelled hard-boiled egg, wrapped in a sausage meat mixture, coated in breadcrumbs, and deep-fried. Scotch eggs are commonly eaten cold, typically with salad.

My dad didn’t have Scotch Eggs on his list, but I’m going to make sure we make a wee batch! Of course I’ll share details and photos upon my return.

Cheers! Jo

 

About Bridge of Weir

“Haggis Hunt” (a bit about my dad)

Food descriptions via Wikipedia

Leave a comment

Filed under Family Stories

The Scotsman!

So very proud of this article by Peter Ross published in Scotland recently.

Link to full article

Photos of recent visits to Scotland

More articles by Peter Ross

(Many thanks to Jonathan Gold for recommending me to Peter Ross!)

2 Comments

Filed under Little Bites

The Kitchin, Edinburgh

A perfect lunch with my brother Greg.

The Kitchin
Edinburgh, Scotland

The Kitchin, Edinburgh
Nibbles at the bar

Amuse-bouche at the Kitchin
White Bean Soup with Chorizo and Chives

The Kitchin, Edinburgh
Mackerel: Line caught mackerel from Eyemouth poached in stock a’la grecque and served with local vegetables

The Kitchin, Edinburgh
Hare: Ravioli of brown hare from Humbie served in a game consomme

The Kitchin, Edinburgh
Game: Terrine of Scottish game and foie gras served with elderberry jelly, autum fruits and vegetables

The Kitchin, Edinburgh
Hake: Seared fillet of hake from Scrabster served with Perthshire girolles and herb gnocchi

The Kitchin, Edinburgh
Partridge: Roasted red-legged partridge served with braised red cabbage and grapes

The Kitchin, Edinburgh
Ox: Braised ox cheek from Peter Flockhart cooked ‘daube style’ and served with puréed potatoes and garnish ‘a’la grand-mere’

The Kitchin, Edinburgh
Millefeuille of British apples served with chestnut parfait and candied chestnuts

The Kitchin, Edinburgh
Pistachio souffle served with pistachio ice cream

The Kitchin, Edinburgh
Cheese: A selection of Scottish and French cheese served from the trolley

The Kitchen, Edinburgh
I already miss my brother so much, and really loved spending the day with him in Edinburgh!

The Kitchen, EdinburghThe Kitchin
78 Commercial Quay
Leith, Edinburgh EH6 6LX
Telephone 0131 555 1755
Fax 0131 553 0608
website

 

 

 

Kitchin

Edinburgh, Scotland
An post-lunch stroll past Edinburgh Castle

8 Comments

Filed under Eating Out

My Sister and My Mother

Back when my ex-husband was flying 747′s for Evergreen International, I read an article about owner Delford Smith, and was moved by what he said about his sons growing up in an affluent family. I can’t remember the exact quote, but it was something akin to: “My kids didn’t have the advantage of growing up with disadvantages I had as a child.” That really hit home for me, and I often think about how lucky I am to have had such a “different”, at times very difficult, childhood.

Dancing with my big sister Janet, OkinawaThe first eight years of my life in Okinawa were pretty idyllic. Living on a tropical island, even though we were in close proximity to the Vietnam War, was simple and carefree. My older sister Janet and I both went to American schools, because our dad was an American citizen working for the U.S. Navy.

Since both our parents worked nights (our mother ran successful “Hostess” clubs), there were many evenings where I was in Janet’s care. I can’t imagine leaving a 7 and 10-year-old alone night after night, but that’s just the way it was back then. Luckily, we spent many afternoons with our oba-chan (grandma) watching her make tofu (which she sold at market) and caring for her pigs (which we ate).

Our Parents, Okinawa (early 60's)I don’t have many memories of my mom being a “mother”, but I’m so grateful that I had oba-chan and my sister. If it wasn’t for oba-chan’s nuturing and love, I think both Janet and I would have turned out much differently. During World War II, she adopted our mother, along with many other war orphans on the island. Our oba-chan was just a phenomenal woman.

The shock of divorce is never easy on children. Break-ups are rough, but when my father got custody of myself and Janet, we were suddenly on an airplane (just us little girls) flying across the Pacific to live with our grandparents in America.

My Sister JanetWe didn’t want to leave Okinawa, but looking back, our father made the best decision he could have made at the time. Okinawa had been under U.S. possession since 1951, but reverted back to Japanese control in 1972, the year our parents were divorcing. Our dad was simply afraid that he would have no rights as the American parent in a foreign land.

Janet and I settled in San Marino, California with elderly grandparents who tried to “Americanize” us immediately. We had visited them before when we were younger with our mother, but those were only quick trips. Our dear grandfather tried to make us more comfortable by treating us to Chinese food once in awhile (heck, he tried… it was “Asian”), but our grandmother did not NOT like the “Okinawan” part of us at all. Let’s just say that she and I never became close.

Scotland Visit 1980After our parents divorced, our father was transferred to Scotland (his mother was from the Maxwell Clan), where he re-married and still lives today. As you can imagine, we had some rough patches during the past 30+ years, but as adults we moved past the blame and the pain. “Life’s too short”, is something we say over and over again.

Now, I absolutely adore my dad, step-mother and younger brother Greg, and will be visiting them again in Scotland this summer. But as a young girl I had some major “daddy issues” that I couldn’t even admit to until a few years ago. Janet, who was older (and wise beyond her years), fared much better.

My Sister JanetOur first year in America was rather turbulent, but mostly just confusing. Even though our grandparents (who became our legal guardians) did the best they could, they eventually placed us in a children’s home nearby. Janet and I always felt like the “lucky ones” though, because at least we got to spend every holiday with our grandparents, away from the “home”. We both lived there until graduating from high school. Janet “served” (as we joked) seven years and I struggled through ten. Looking back, it really wasn’t THAT BAD. We had a roof over our heads and plenty of food.

With my Oba-chan, MyLastBite.comMy relationship with my mother is very complicated. I’ve travelled to stay with her several times over the years, and although the visits were exciting, they definitely lacked any real warmth. I’m sure the disconnect is there because she never “mothered” me as a child. She was busy working, and helping to put food on the table, so I don’t blame her for that. The truth is, after we moved to America the only person “mothering” me was my sister. When my beloved oba-chan died, I didn’t feel the need to visit Okinawa on a regular basis anymore. I didn’t need to, because my sister was then, and is now, my mother.

When I look back at family photos of the two of us, the most notable thing I see is that my big sister is always looking out for me… literally. Of course back then, I was the baby sister, but even as adults she still wraps me tightly in her arms. Janet was always determined to take care of me, and as a kid I was just as determined to escape her big-sister clutches. Thankfully, she never gave up on me, because I was NOT an easy kid, teenager or even young adult.

With my big sister Janet, MyLastBite.comI had planned on writing this last year before Janet’s birthday in July. Then again for Thanksgiving when we celebrate a family feast at her house. Christmas would have been a perfect time to share her awesome “Christmas Chili” recipe, and March 18th is the anniversary of our move to America, but that came and went as well.

Through all these years, the only consistently good thing I have had in my life is Janet, and I’m so grateful we had the “advantage of sharing so many disadvantages” together. It’s taken a lot of tears to get these words on paper (plus a wee bit of courage), and there’s no way I could have conveyed how much my sister means to me, without sharing a bit of our story.

Happy Mother’s Day, Janet. I know it’s early, but thank you for always being my wonderful sister, and my mother.

(Originally posted 4/12/10)

My Sister Janet
Sisters

My Sister Janet
Janet & her husband Paul and oldest son Camron

My Sister Janet
Janet with her kids Cody, and twins, Kindal & Chace

My Sister Janet
Janet (at right) always the “mother”. And yes that’s me with the two bottles!

A yearly, family tradition is to gather on Christmas day at Janet’s house for her awesome turkey chili. The recipe:

Janet's "Christmas Chili"4- 15oz. cans of White beans
2-15oz cans of Black beans/drained
4-6 cups of cooked chicken breast diced
4 onions minced
2-4 cloves of garlic minced
4 cups of broth
2 cups of white wine
1 small can of jalapenos
1 –7oz. can of diced green chiles
2 Tablespoon Oil
Juice of 3 freshly squeezed limes
½ – ¾ cups of chopped fresh cilantro
2 tsp. Oregano
1 tsp. Cumin

Sautee the garlic and onions in the oil

Combine all the ingredients **except the wine, cilantro and limejuice into large pot or crock-pot, simmer not boil.

Add the wine, cilantro and lime juice before serving.

Janet’s Notes:
These amounts are basic…I add more garlic for my family!
The chili is thicker and tastier the next day, so make plenty!

My Sister Janet

More photos of Janet


Mentioned above:

Visits to Scotland

History of Okinawa

Okinawa Military History

My ex-husband Perry

Evergreen

89 Comments

Filed under Family Stories, Recipes

Haggis Hunt


Up Yer Kilt! In the summer of 1980, my sister Janet and I traveled to Scotland to visit our father, stepmother Mandy and baby brother, Greg. It was the first time we ever experienced the Scottish side of our family (our mother is Okinawan), and our dad made every effort to instill a sense of clan pride.

Our paternal grandmother hailed from the Maxwell Clan (in fact, her maiden name was Maxwell), and Dad had the family tartan and crest on display for us when we arrived. After just a few days in picturesque Bridge of Weir village, my sister and I proudly stood ground with our dad, arguing that the Maxwells were much braver (and smarter) than the Anderson Clan (Mandy’s family).

Scotland Visit 1980It was also on that trip that we had our first taste of black pudding (aka blood sausage) and of course, haggis. Janet and I hated both of the infamous Scottish delicacies back then, especially the haggis.

Like most first-time visitors to Scotland (especially children), we were told that a haggis was a small animal we would be hunting in the Highlands. Similar to “snipe hunting” in the U.S., a haggis hunt would always end with us “just missing the critter run away”.

JUST WHAT IS HAGGIS?
From Wikipedia: “Haggis is a dish containing sheep’s ‘pluck’ (heart, liver and lungs), minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally simmered in the animal’s stomach for three hours. The haggis is a traditional Scottish dish memorialised as the national dish of Scotland by Robert Burns’ poem Address to a Haggis in 1787. It is traditionally served with “neeps and tatties”, especially as the main course of a Burns supper.” (see link below for more info)

Scotland Visit 1980

Looking back, it was probably a very good thing that Janet and I didn’t know what haggis was, because I’m sure we wouldn’t have tried it. My baby brother, on the other hand, couldn’t get enough haggis and black pudding. I would just laugh when he’d crawl up on my lap, and cheerfully grab a leftover piece of black sausage from my plate. Mandy said that it was “full of iron and great for babies” but I still didn’t want to eat it. My little brother grew up to be a brilliant, 6′ 4″ musician, so my loss I guess!

As my palate grew a bit more sophisticated, I fell in love with black pudding or as the French call it, “Boudon Noir”. One of my favorite bites from a recent dinner at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon was indeed the plump and zesty black sausage. If you’ve never had it, black pudding is a type of sausage made by cooking blood or dried blood with a filler until it is thick enough to congeal when cooled.” (via Wikipedia, link below)

Scotland Visit 2002There were more memorable meals to come during that first visit to my father’s village. Janet and I both gasped when Dad first showed us how to suck bone marrow out of his slow-cooked oxtails. And at a formal Scottish dinner (with men in their best dress kilts), we were introduced to mutton and “Scotch Broth”, which was made with neck of lamb.

I’m a little embarrassed to say (as a proud 1/2 Scottish lass and all), that even to this day, lamb (especially mutton) is not a favorite. There have been a few rare occasions when I could stomach it, but that was usually when it didn’t taste like lamb at all. Bone marrow, on the other hand, is on my “last meal before I die” list.

Cans I bring home from ScotlandAs for Janet, it wasn’t long after that trip that she gave up red meat altogether. Her choice was mostly to do with eating healthier, not an aversion to Scotland’s (sometimes) arduous cuisine.

For many Christmases after that first visit, our dad would send Scottish care packages to us in Los Angeles. We loved the pure butter shortbread cookies, and McVities chocolate covered digestives, but we NEVER opened the cans of haggis included. I still keep an old can on my kitchen shelf… as decor only.

I’ve returned to Scotland many times since 1980, and my favorite Scotland, MyLastBite.commeals are always those prepared by my dad. But on each visit, we gather at a local restaurant (built in the 1700′s), called “the Huntsman” for a traditional Scottish meal. And as always, my dad insists that we “soak up the culture”, which means there will be either haggis or black pudding on the table.

When I took my nephew Cody to Scotland a few years ago (for graduation), his grandpa (my father) was giddy with anticipation when two plates of haggis were placed in front of us at dinner. Of course I had eaten it on previous visits, so all eyes were on (then 18-year-old) Cody while he slowly took his first bite. After he swallowed and proclaimed that, “HAGGIS IS AWESOME”, my dad (who was shocked) gave him a pat on the back and proudly smiled.

Recently, I thought it would be fun to search out haggis locally in Los Angeles. I’m always boasting about how we can get “any type of food” in L.A., so why not haggis? After a few minutes on google, I decided it best to ask Jonathan Gold via his L.A. Weekly Food Column:

Burns Night 2009

Dear Mr. Gold:
I’ve only eaten haggis with my dad in Scotland, and loved every bite. Is there a proper, classic haggis (along with neeps and tatties) in Los Angeles? Never been to Tam O’Shanter (sort of feels like “cheating”), but it’s about time I search it out locally. Thanks for any help!
–Jo S.

I love Jonathan Gold and was thrilled when he answered my question. He had several suggestions on haggis hunting in L.A., including Tam O’Shanter in Los Feliz or Buchanan Arms in Burbank (link to full article below). The truth is, I would eat anywhere (or anything) he recommended so I quickly made a reservation for “Burns Night” dinner at nearby Buchanan Arms.

Burns Night Supper Menu 2010
Cocky-leeky Soup or Salad

With choice of:
Fish & Chips
Haggis, Champit Tatties & Bashed Neeps
Bangers & Mash
Roast Beef with Yorkshire Pudding

Dinner & Show $25
Desserts $4.95

Burns Night 2009
Cocky-leeky Soup (leeks, onions, rice, chicken) Basically a tasty chicken soup with extras!

Burns Night Supper 2010
Haggis, Champit Tatties (mashed potatoes) & Bashed Neeps (turnips) If you like corned beef hash, Haggis is similar but much more course in texture, and of course the flavor is “sheepy”! I wouldn’t eat it often, but it’s sort of a “must do for Scots”, at least every once in a while!

Burns Night Supper 2010
Bangers & Mash: Choice of plain bangers, or deep-fried bangers and gravy. Of course we went for the deep-fried bangers, and THESE I could eat every day, twice a day even. I’m going back SOON just for this!

Burns Night Supper 2010
Crispy coating, crispy banger skin underneath, and a nice pop when I bit into one!

Burns Night 2009
Sticky Toffee Pudding We were both LOVING this and found out they were sold next door in the freezer section! I’m not a big fan of sweets, but this was just so spongy, buttery and… sticky good!

The awesome Ploughboys!
The Ploughboys perform music from the British Isles; Scotland and Ireland, as well as world beat and original compositions. The members are the Romano Brothers, Peter & Mark, fiddler Howard Chu, bass guitarist, Rich Cashman, and Mark Haber, licensed bodhran player. (info via website, link below)

Burns Night 2009

Burns Night 2009

Burns Night 2009

As we were leaving Buchanan Arms, Peter noticed the market next door! I went a little crazy buying some of my favorite treats, including chocolate covered digestive cookies, Flake bars and sticky toffee pudding!

We had a wonderful time, but next year we’ll do it just a little bit different. For those of you who may be interested in going to Buchanan Arms for Burns Night next year, some notes:

1) Don’t reserve too early. The restaurant was nearly empty when we arrived at 6:30, and we were at our table before the band (who were fantastic) set up their gear. The food came quickly (so did the booze!), but by the time the music festivities finally got rolling, we were whisky & lager filled (happy, full and tired!), so next year I’ll reserve a table after 8pm.

Burns Night 20092) Request a table in FRONT of the band or near the front doors. Our cozy table was to the side of the band near the bathroom, and at first we didn’t mind because we were really having a good time (thanks partly to pre-dinner Scotch!), until we noticed that the space around us was also for “standing room” only. After eating our meal, we hoped to relax at the table and enjoy the music, but it was just too crowded, and no other tables were available. We left before the traditional “Address to a Haggis” (where the haggis is paraded around with bagpipes, while someone recites the Robert Burns Poem), which was a shame because Peter had never experienced it. But we’ll be back next year…

Until then, I’ll be looking forward to visiting my family again in Scotland this summer. It’s the 30th anniversary of my first visit there, and I can’t wait to celebrate with a good old plate of haggis (and black pudding too)!

Buchanan Arms
Goofing around in the garden, MyLastBite.com2013 W Burbank Blvd
Burbank, CA 91506
(818) 845-0692
Website

Dining Date: 1/23/10

All my Burns Night photos on Flickr

My Scotland photos on Flickr

Cody & I in Scotland & London

Jonathan Gold’s “Ask Mr. Gold: Address to a Haggis”

Jonathan Gold’s Restaurant Reviews on LA Weekly

Wikipedia Links: About HaggisRobert BurnsBurns Night SupperHaggis HuntingBlack Pudding

More about the PloughBoys I really liked the band’s kilts!

Glasgow, Scotland MyLastBite.comMaxwell Clan Tartan

Secret Scotland (fun website!)

Fox & Hounds Pub, The Huntsman (our family favorites)

Interesting article about the U.S. Haggis Import Ban

Check out Deep End Dining’s Photos & Video of Burn’s Night

My brother’s website http://IamGreg.com (he really is a brilliant musician!)

More about my wonderful family on my “About” page.

18 Comments

Filed under Eating Out, Family Stories, Travel

Smokin’ Hot

My nephew Cody, who turned 20 on Valentine’s Day, has always found immense joy in his food. He’s one of those people who can’t help but express the sheer deliciousness of each bite he takes, usually with a moan or an “oh my gawd, you HAVE to taste this”.

With Cody in Okinawa, MyLastBite.comWatching Cody eat is one of my favorite activities, second only to sitting down and actually sharing a meal with him. Always a “happy-go-lucky kid”, Cody has grown into a happy, grateful and very caring young man. Of course my sister Janet and her husband Paul get most of the credit for being great parents, but I appreciate how hard Cody works at it too. Not surprisingly, he’s also a terrific big brother to the twins.

I’m proud to say that just last month, he passed his first two exams for EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) training. He’s following in his firefighter dad’s footsteps, and I’m looking forward to visiting Cody at his own fire station someday. When he’s not out rescuing people or putting out fires, he’ll definitely be cooking up a storm in the station kitchen!

"Not Your Grandma's Thanksgiving" MyLastBite.comEvery year we celebrate Thanksgiving at my sister’s house, and usually after we’ve finished our turkey feast, Janet brings out the “Thanksgiving Box of Questions”. Basically it’s a stack of Thanksgiving-themed quotes or questions that we each have to read aloud to each other. This year, Janet pulled a question card that read “Say something you appreciate about the person sitting to the right of you”. Her eyes started welling up as she looked at her big, handsome son, then she said, “I appreciate Cody because he ALWAYS says ‘I love you mom’… even if he’s in a bad mood, or if we’re disagreeing on something… he never misses a chance to say ‘I love you’.”

Cody with the twins, MyLastBite.comTwo years ago, for his high school graduation gift, I asked him if there was some trip he’d like to go on with his Aunt Jo (that would be me) and Uncle Peter. He said he really wanted to visit his grandpa (Janet’s and my dad) in Bridge of Weir, near Glasgow, Scotland. Cody had visited his Okinawan family before, back when he was just three years old, but this would be his first trip to visit his Scottish side of the family… the Maxwell Clan!

I was really excited to plan the trip because it meant we’d get to spend some quality time together. If you have teenagers in your life then you probably know how busy they can be with after-school jobs, friends and girlfriends. This trip was a gift for Cody getting good grades, but it was also a really special gift for me. My husband decided to stay home so it would just be “Cody and Aunt Jo’s Great British Adventure”, and it was. Thanks again Peter!

Before I even booked our flights, I started emailing and calling Jamie Oliver’s “Fifteen” restaurant in London. I wanted to make sure we could get a reservation during our brief stop in England. Cody and I are both big fans of Jamie Oliver, and it was Cody who, as a little kid, first introduced me to the “Naked Chef”. A celebratory dinner at Jamie Oliver’s restaurant sounded like the perfect first night in England.

We arrived in London on June 21st and after checking into our hotel, hopped on the Tube and easily made our dinner reservation. Fifteen’s tasting menu was fantastic, and it was an excellent start to our British food adventure.

Our dinner at Fifteen Restaurant, London

Fifteen Restaurant London, MyLastBite.com
A little Jet-lagged but excited to be at the restaurant!

Fifteen Tasting Menu, MyLastBite.com
The Fifteen Tasting Menu

Cody & Carpaccio at Fifteen London, MyLastBite.com
Peroni Beer (in the UK, you can drink at 18!) and Carpaccio of Buccleuch Beef (hung for 28 days) with minted marinated asparagus, oregano from Jamie’s garden, wild rocket and pecorino.

Scallop Crudo at Fifteen London, MyLastBite.com
Scallop crudo, pomegranate, coriander, deep-fried ginger and yuzu

Pasta at Fifteen London, MyLastBite.com
Papardelle “fatte in casa” with a Scotch beef ragu, freshly grated horseradish

Salmon at Fifteen London, MyLastBite.com
Char-grilled line-caught wild salmon with peperonata, beet leaves and basil pesto

Pete Gott's Pork at Fifteen London, MyLastBite.com
Pan-roasted shoulder of pork from Pete Gott’s farm (cooked in milk, sage and Amalfi lemon) with turnips and rainbow chard from Thurrocks Farm
Panna Cotta at Fifteen London, MyLastBite.com
Vanilla Panna Cotta with English Strawberries and Biscotti

Lemon Tart at Fifteen London, MyLastBite.com
Lemon Tart with Roast Apricots and Lime Creme Fraiche

With my nephew Cody at Fifteen London, MyLastBite.com
A fantastic “Fifteen” dinner experience!

More Fun Eats in London

Wagamama! MyLastBite.com
Wagamama in Camden Town

Wagamama! MyLastBite.com
Chili Beef Ramen (Noodles in spicy pork and chicken broth topped with grilled sirloin steak, fresh chillies, sliced red onions, bean sprouts, coriander, spring onions and a wedge of lime) at Wagamama in Camden Town, London
Wagamama! MyLastBite.com
Cody with Chili Chicken Ramen (Noodles in spicy pork and chicken broth topped with grilled chicken breast, fresh chillies, sliced red onions, bean sprouts, coriander, spring onions and a wedge of lime) at Wagamama in Camden Town, London

The best Sausage Rolls, MyLastBite.com
Killer Sausage Rolls!

Delicious Sausage Rolls, MyLastBite.com
Cheap and delicious breakfast on the go.

Late Night Indian Dinner in London, MyLastBite.com
A Late night Curry! Garlic Naan, Chicken Korma at Connoisseurs Indian Tandoori 8 Norfolk Place, Paddington (near our hotel).

Late Night Indian Dinner in London, MyLastBite.com
Kingfisher Beer and Pappadums at Connoisseurs Indian Tandoori.

We had two days to spend in London before flying up to Glasgow. I had been to London more than a dozen times over the years, so it was easy for me to give Cody a “turbo-charged” sightseeing tour. We did all our travel via the Tube (cabs were too expensive!), including visits to Covent Garden, Piccadilly Circus, Camden Town, Portobello Road and of course the great Food Hall at Harrods.

On our second morning in London we had planned to tour the Tower of London after breakfast. Unfortunately, we decided it would be fun to drink Guinness FOR breakfast and ended up racing through the tour in about ten minutes. But later in the afternoon, we slowed down enough to ride the spectacular London Eye. At over 440 feet, the Eye is the largest ferris wheel in Europe and we had beautiful views of Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace.

Family Dinner Scotland, MyLastBite.comArriving in Scotland was very emotional for me. I hadn’t seen my dad in a few years, and Cody was the first of my sister’s kids to visit their grandfather. I knew it was going to be an unforgettable visit, especially if I could get my dad and his grandson in the kitchen together. Whenever I visited my dad in the past, I would always talk about how Cody loved to cook, and how someday it would be so great to see them cooking together. It was a silly little dream of mine, and I was happy to see it come true.

Our visit to Scotland couldn’t have gone better. We did so much in the week we were there, and the best moments were when we slowed down to enjoy a meal together. Whether it was my dad’s heart-warming comfort food, a Scottish feast at the pub or a deep-fried snack at the chip shop… we definitely got to eat the very best of Scotland!

Blood Pudding! MyLastBite.com
Breakfast in Scotland. My dad made sure Cody tasted everything, including the notorious “Black” (or Blood) Sausage /  Pudding!

Delicious Haggis! MyLastBite.com
Chieftan ‘O’ The Puddin’ Race – Haggis with Bashed Neeps and Champit Tatties (which was absolutely delicious!). At the Huntsman Restaurant, Fox and Hounds South Street, Houston, Scotland

Scottish Salmon, MyLastBite.com
Scottish Salmon is the WORLD’S BEST. At the Huntsman Restaurant, Fox and Hounds South Street, Houston, Scotland

Paul's Chip Shop, MyLastBite.com
Deep-fried Sausage and Chips at Paul’s Chip Shop in Renfrewshire near Bridge of Weir Scotland

Paul's Chip Shop, MyLastBite.com
Deep-fried PIZZA at Paul’s Chip Shop in Renfrewshire near Bridge of Weir Scotland

Paul's Chip Shop, MyLastBite.com
And let us not forget the infamous deep-fried Mars Bar!

Cooking in Scotland, MyLastBite.com
Cody cooking with his grandpa

Let's EAT! MyLastBite.com
Ready to eat (and lovin’ his new found Scottish heritage!)

St. Andrews Golf Course, MyLastBite.com
As a graduation gift, my dad and stepmom treated Cody (who loves to golf) to a day at St. Andrews! In Photo: Greg (my younger brother), Cody, Jo.

Cody's in St. Andrews, MyLastBite.com
Ready to tee off!

Edinburgh Scotland, MyLastBite.com
A wonderful day in Edinburgh (castle in background)

Scotland, MyLastBite.com
6/29/07 Cody and Jo (channeling “Braveheart”), goofing around in my dad’s garden on our last day in Scotland. The entire trip was an amazing food and family fun adventure!

Happy Birthday to my Smokin’ Hot (firefighter-to-be) nephew, Cody!

More photos of Cody & family here

Mentioned Above:

The Twins (Cody’s younger brother and sister)

Bridge of Weir (village where my dad lives)

Fox and Hounds (fantastic traditional Scottish food)

Fifteen Restaurant, London England

The London Eye

Tower of London

Wagamama

Thanksgiving Box of Questions

The Bazaar by José Andrés

“Smokin’ Hot” Written by Jo Stougaard ©MyLastBite.com All Rights Reserved. No usage allowed including copying or sharing without written permission.

7 Comments

Filed under Eating Out, Family Stories, Food Stories (written by me)