Give Me Moor
Side Dishes: A "great Scots" meal in the Mad River Valley
The Green Mountain Opera Festival threw itself a classy — and culinary — fundraiser Sunday evening at Waitsfield’s Round Barn. In addition to a short program of selected tunes performed by soprano Lori Phillips and bass Erik Kroncke, the Round Barn’s Cooking From the Heart caterers served up a Scottish dinner. The seemingly unusual choice was inspired by the GMOF’s production of Lucia di Lammermoor, coming up in June at the Barre Opera House. The Donizetti work is set, of course, in a Scottish castle.
The rafters of the Round Barn don’t exactly recall chilly stone turrets, and that’s a good thing; the circular expanse was filled with white-linened tables elegantly appointed with flowers and candles. Happily, the dinner experience didn’t reflect the opera’s tragedy, either. The well-portioned three-course menu began with Cullen Skink. The classic Scottish chowder with house-smoked Finnan Haddie (haddock) was fragrant, perfectly seasoned and creamily delicious.
Next came Scotch Pie, a lamb-and-beef mincemeat concoction topped with “mashed tatties” and horseradish sauce. Though the pastry was rather stiff, the filling was delicately flavored with a pleasingly smooth texture. The sauce gave the dish a wee bite.
Dessert — a Warm Pear and Whisky-Spiked Trifle — was architecturally impressive, with layers of rosemary and sea-salt Scottish shortbreads, bits of poached pear, melted chocolate, and rich Vermont mascarpone. The stack collapsed at the touch of a fork, however, as the shortbreads were hard and the other ingredients mushy. I would have welcomed a tad more chocolate — or, for that matter, pear.
It’s a small quibble about an engaging menu that I was relieved to learn did not include Scotland’s most notorious dish, haggis, or require me to wear plaid.