January 2014

The kilt has been brushed and hung up, probably for another year and the Jimmy Shand CD put to one side.  Oh! and our piper Francesc has forgotten his crib sheet of tunes once again.  So, hopefully there is more than a chance he’ll be back again next year.

Burns Night comes so quickly after the Christmas festivities and Hogmanay. The decorations and tree had hardly been put away and I was looking out the butcher’s telephone number to place our order for Haggis.  Lindsay Grieve of Hawick (www.indsaygrieve.co.uk). The call was made and the order placed……6.5kg of Haggis; our address for shipping given and as usual the ‘beast’ was on its way before any hint of a question of means of payment.  Ah, that seemingly ever rarer attribute, trust.

Five days later and the barks of Bismark greet the delivery….jet fresh from Scotland.  Chicken ordered and collected and rasps too. The ‘mise en place’ is marked out for work to be done for this years menu.

The Package

Francesc duly arrived on the Thursday afternoon and almost immediately got into his stride warming up his pipes in preparation for the first of our two Burns Nights.  That night some 20 of us sat down to the customery fair of ‘Cock a leekie’ (soup of chicken, leeks and prunes..ours soaked in Pedro Ximénez and with the additional twist of barley giving it that bit more body),  ‘Haggis, tatties and well not neeps’ as a Catalan equivalent there ain’t.  So a puree of 50:50 roasted sweet potato and butternut squash served admirably as a substitute, the lot accompanied by a mushroom veloute.  And for pudding the customary ‘Clootie Dumpling’ was replaced by a ‘Cranachan Parfait’ …..recipe to follow in a subsquent blog.

On Thursday night we were fêted by local friends and acquaintances, Catalans, Spanish, English and Scots. The dishes punctuated with the traditional renditions of the ‘Selkirk Grace’ and ‘To A Haggis’.  To this was added post dinner a fine reading by Belinda from L’Avenc of ‘My Love Is Like A Red Red Rose’ and me of ‘Scots Wha Hae’, that anthemic battle cry of universal liberty.

Our friends from Hipra helped with some superb footwork to accomplish a ‘Gay Gordons’ and a ‘Strip The Willow’and round off a great evening.

And then to Saturday and this time they came from Catalunya Nord and the French side of the Pyrenees, Scots, English and Germans and a Catalan party from Girona. There was a great turn out of tartan and Jaume (a Catalan, what else) regaled the other guests with an exemplarary bilingual toast to the lassies.

The Lindsay Grieve haggis went down a storm. Francesc piped a stormer and was joined by his friend in pipes, Enric.

Thank you all who came and dined, supped and stayed to make what was another couple of memorable evenings. Until next year when I will have to undertake ‘The Kilt Test’ yet again wondering whether I’ll manage to fit in with a ‘Squash and a Squeeze’ (thank you……….Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler).

Piper and Roy 25.01.2014


It’s an island…..well a big rock and for those of you that enjoy a dram, the whisky with the most northerly provenance in the world. Browsing the shelves of our favourite whisky store in Barcelona just prior to Christmas, the name Muckle (Scots for big or large) and Flugga, caught me first. Looking at the label more closely it stated, ‘Overwintered in Shetland’…not your average winter get away; somewhat dark and windswept I guess and could possibly be twinned with a Russian Gulag.

The contents of the curvacious bottle contains a blend of six malt whiskies, initially aged in oak sherry casks and then moved to the island of Unst on Shetland near the Muckle Flugga lighthouse for 12 months where it is probably subjected to every type of biblical tempest you can imagine.

La Rectoria’s tasting notes – honey to the nose; inital taste is spices and pepper, thereafter citric, pineapple leading to dryness associated with tannins.

Rectoria Score 5.5 out of 10. One for a woolly jumper, a dreich day with some drizzle to the face. Cheers!

GENER 2014 027

So the New Year has been seen in. The Reis have come and gone. The Christmas tree dismantled, the decorations down and stored and the Sales are in full swing and I guess for some the January Blues have set in. Well, we at La Rectoria can suggest something of an antidote. Santa Pau’s Fira del Fesols….Sunday 19 January.

These majestic little beans are so delicious, tasty and succulent and to get into the mood for this most hearty of food fairs we will be having a Fesol filled weekend here at La Rectoria. Friday 17 January the main course for dinner will be ‘Mar i Montanya’ of Bream (Orada) served on a bed of Fesols de Santa Pau, squid and chorizo and on Saturday 18 January we go west for ‘Boston Baked Beans’ (Santa Pau of course) served with tenderloin of pork.

So come and enjoy our bean filled weekend and spend some time in the beautiful village of Santa Pau.

Catalan Sea and Mountain 003