Monthly Archives: February 2016

Enjoy Afternoon Tea in Edinburgh

Afternoon Tea is a traditional custom in Scotland, and throughout the United Kingdom. The afternoon ritual became popular in the UK at the end of the 17th century.  In 1840 afternoon tea was first introduced by Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford.

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The Duchess found that she was hungry around four o’clock in the afternoon, but dinner was served late, at eight o’clock, which was the fashion at the time. So the Duchess asked that a tea, bread, butter and cake be served to her every day in the late afternoon.

She eventually invited friends to join her for this ritual, and afternoon tea breaks suddenly became fashionable social events.

The tradition of enjoying an afternoon cuppa with sandwiches, breads, and cakes is still strong in Scotland today. In the city of Edinburgh there are many teahouses, cafes, and hotels where you can spend your afternoon sipping tea and sampling sweets. The American-Scottish Society has picked three top spots for Afternoon Tea in Edinburgh: a palace, a library, and a hotel.

Palace of Holyroodhouse

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If you are craving a spot of tea, why not head to a palace and enjoy Afternoon Tea fit for a queen?

Try Afternoon Tea at The Cafe at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the 16th-century palace of the Stuarts, located at the bottom of the Royal Mile. You can attend a tour of the royal reception rooms, antiques, and relics before heading to the elegant cafe. You can attend a tour of the royal reception rooms, antiques, and relics, or just go straight to the Courtyard Cafe. The former stable block has been converted into the cafe and the outdoor cafe is a tranquil surprise with shady trees. 

Enjoy your tea over the beautiful views from Arthur’s Seat. Afternoon Tea is served every day, between 12.00 and 3.00pm. Choose from a delectable selection of of freshly baked cakes, pastries and sandwiches, served with steaming cups of loose-leaf tea. If the magnificent surroundings have you feeling extra luxurious, champagne is on offer to sip with your Victoria Sponge Cake. If you attend Afternoon Tea at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, you can expect to have the royal treatment.

Colonnades at the Signet Library

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If you are exploring Edinburgh’s Old Town, head to Colonnades at the Signet Library. The grand old Library is an exquisite and interesting venue for an elegant Tea Salon.

Traditional Afternoon Tea is served Afternoon Tea is served Monday- Friday from 1pm to 7pm and 11am to 7pm on Sundays.

The building is filled with history. Corinthian columns line the salon, which is surrounded by ornate balustrades. Even some of the fine silverware is original to the Georgian building. While you take in the grand setting, treat yourself to one of the decadent cakes created by the resident pastry chef. Fresh sandwiches, a selection of teas and cocktails, and many other goodies are on offer to enjoy. You’ll never visit another library quite like this.

No. 11 

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No. 11 is a sleek and modern hotel set within a charming Georgian townhouse. The hotel is just a short walk from the Playhouse Theatre Edinburgh and Edinburgh Waverley Station. Even if you are not enjoying a stay at No. 11, the Brasserie is open to the public.

The dining area is lush, furnished with velvet and elegant artwork, serving as a perfect setting for a Traditional Afternoon Tea.

The luxurious Afternoon Tea at No. 11 offers a menu of sweet and savory treats, including fresh finger sandwiches, hand made fruit scones, and a selection of pastries including decadent chocolate eclairs and mini cupcakes. Help yourself to wine or coffee, or even a bottle of sparkling wine. You can book a table from 12:30 – 5:00, from Wednesday to Sunday, each week. Enjoy the elegance of modernity, fused with the traditional charm of a quintessential Afternoon Tea.

The 2016 Glasgow Film Festival Comes to a Close

During the cold month of February, movie buffs can find plenty to enjoy in Glasgow. The annual Glasgow Film Festival​ is wrapping up this weekend with the closing Gala on Sunday.

The Glasgow Film Festival was created to present the best of international and Scottish cinema to film lovers in Scotland.

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The festival includes movie screenings, discussions and lectures, festivals within the festival, workshops and even the chance to meet filmmakers from around the world. This weekend marks the end of this year’s festival fun.

The 2016 festival began on the 17th of February and finishes tomorrow on the 28th. For the past ten days there have been venues all across the city hosting special screenings of films, both new and old, and talks and workshops with directors and filmmakers.

The festival began with an opening gala in which Hail, Caesar!, the acclaimed Coen Brothers film starring George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson and Tilda Swinton, was premiered, just days after its World Premiere at Berlin Film Festival.

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The final day of the festival will include film exhibitions such as the unique “This Is Now: Film and Video After Punk (1978-1985) Exhibition” being shown at the venue Tramway Glasgow.

There will also be screenings of the films such as Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid, I Am Belfast, and Peace Officer in other venues throughout the city. A special family screening of Beauty and the Beast will be held at Trades Hall, including costumes, children’s workshops, and Beauty and the Beast themed teas and cakes.

The Glasgow Film Festival’s closing gala will include the UK premiere of Anomalisa, a unique film using stop-motion animation, which was directed by Charlie Kaufman, writer of films such as Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. This film won the Grand Special Jury Prize 2015 at the Venice Film Festival.

Visit the Glasgow Film Festival’s website to find out more about booking last minute tickets, and information on purchasing season tickets for next year.

And if you are disappointed to have missed this year’s Film Festival fun, you still have time to purchase tickets for the Glasgow Short Film Festival, the biggest competitive short film festival in Scotland. The GSFF, now in its ninth year, aims to expose new international and local film talent and celebrate the different forms of cinematic expression.

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The five-day festival will include film competitions, pitching workshops, masterclasses, movie screenings, discussions and more. Discover the short film’s potential to push at the boundaries of cultural expression.

The Glasgow Short Film Festival will run from Wednesday the 16th to Sunday the 20th of March. Find out “what’s on” and purchase tickets here.

Scotland’s boutique music festivals offering something a wee bit different.

Scotland is renowned for the quality of it’s live music, the passion of music fans and the beautiful locations that music festivals are held in across the country.

Each year a host of new boutique music festivals spring up to compliment the already established festivals across the country, each one in a unique part of the country offering something a wee bit different.

Jamie McGeechan aka Little Fire reports for the American-Scottish Foundation on what we can look forward to in these coming months.

The 36th Annual Shetland Folk Festival (28th April – 1st May) is a real highlight of the Scottish manran.1080x540nmusic festival calendar each year with a hugely varied lineup of talent from across Scotland as well as musical guests from around the world. This year features the brilliant and highly talented Scottish group ManRan, Sheesham & Lotus & Son ;a popular Old Time Roots act from Canada,  Huun-Huur-Tu, a hugely talented group of singers and musicians from Tuva ,a remote region of Southern Siberian near the Mongolian border.

Local talent appearing at the festival include The Shetland Collective, Sophie and The Lads,  Vair, Hummelskju and Hjaltibonhoga.

The 22nd Arran Folk Festival (Friday 3rd – Sunday 5th June) promises to be both a brilliant getaway for those on the mainland plus a real treat and celebration of great Scottish music talent.

Held in the beautiful location of Brodick the Arran Folk Festival is perhaps one of the very best Scottish music festivals all year round and it’s friendliness and accessibility are two of the key reasons in addition of course to the world quality Scottish music.

TaliskThis year’s festival will feature Talisk – recent recipients of the BBC Radio  Young Folk Award including concertina player Mohsen Amini who has just scooped this year’s Young Traditional Musician of The Year Award. Mary Anne Kennedy & Finlay Wells will be a real highlight of the festival,

Mary is a brilliant singer and harpist and Finlay a hugely gifted guitarist. Gillian Frame, local lass and first winner of the Young Trad Musician Award will be performing, a renowned fiddle player and vocalist accompanied by award winning musician and composer Mike Vass, Euan Burton and Tia Files. There are a  great many opportunities for people to get involved at open sessions as part of the festivals and musicians of all abilities are welcome to Uncle Keith’s afternoon Sessions.

Hebcelt Festival, held on the isle of Lewis in July will feature a brilliant mix of established Scottish talent such as Scottish legends Runrig, King Creosote and Whisky Kiss complimented by King Creosoteup and coming talent such as Miss Irenie Rose, Bella and The Bear and Something Someone. The isle of Lewis is a beautiful location for a music festival and promises a uniquely unforgettable experience for all who come to enjoy it.

Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival  (4th-6th August) is held in a particularly beautiful spot by Rachel SermanniBeauly, Inverness and has been running now for 13 years.Bringing tens of thousands of music fans to the area the festival does fantastically well at providing a line up each year featuring renowned music acts from across the UK alongside the best of homegrown talent.

This year Bella’ as it is affectionately known will feature Madness, Two Door Cinema Club,  Turin Breaks, Rachel Sermanni, Leanne Smith,  Rab Noakes and The Vatersay Boys.

It’s one of the friendliest festivals in the country and that special Highland hospitality awaits all who visit.

Making Scottish Fare In America: A Delicious Dinner

For ex-pats missing traditional Scottish fare, or for Americans wishing to give the cuisine a try, it can be difficult to recreate Scottish recipes with only American ingredients. But hae nae fear! The American-Scottish Foundation has written up a three- part guide to cooking up Scottish eats- even here in the USA.

Dinner Is Served!

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Dinner in Scotland is a hearty affair, where plentiful meat and potatoes are usually present to ensure that diners leave feeling satisfied.

Traditionally, Scottish meals feature ingredients including meats, fish, dairy, and produce all native to Scottish soil. Traditional dishes are typically delicious yet simple, as, historically, exotic spices were rare and expensive to come by. 

The American-Scottish Foundation has collected a set of recipes for you to try at home to help you serve up a decadent four-course meal with traditional Scottish flair. 

First Course: Cullen Skink 

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Start your dinner off with a traditional Scottish soup.

Cullen skink is a hearty soup made of smoked haddock, potatoes and onions. A local specialty, the soup hails from the town of Cullen in Moray.

Try your hand at this simple recipe from


One tablespoon of butter

One medium onion

Two medium potatoes, peeled and cubed

300ml of water

250g of smoked haddock

250ml of milk

Salt and Pepper 

2 tablespoons of chopped parsley or chives


1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, add onion and fry gently until transparent. Cook for about 5 minutes, before the onion browns.

2. Add potatoes and water, bringing to a boil. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.

3. In another pan, cover the haddock with milk and cook gently for about five minutes until tender. Remove from the milk and flake gently into large pieces while removing bones.

4. Add the milk and flaked fish to the saucepan containing potatoes and onion and cook for another 5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and parsley/chives.

This soup is traditionally served with a side of crusty bread and butter.

Second Course: Salad with Whisky Dressing

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For a delightfully Scottish salad, top a bed of fresh greens with a dressing flavoured with whisky.

Whisk up this aromatic recipe from


1/3 cup Whisky of your choice

1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil 

4-6 tbsp of balsamic vinegar

1/2-1 tsp of brown sugar

1/2 tsp of salt

1-2 tbsp of chopped fresh thyme

1/2 tsp of fresh cracked pepper

A dash of cayenne

1/2 clove of garlic chopped extremely fine

Mix all of the ingredients together in a jar and shake well. Chill and pour over salad when ready to serve. This dressing goes exceptionally well with a wee dram on the side.


Main Course: Individual Scottish Pies

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For a filling main course, meat pies are a classic and delicious dish.

They come in many different assortments and flavors, including vegetarian options.

Try out this recipe for individual minced mutton pies from


1/2 tsp of nutmeg 

2 tsp of black pepper

1/4 tsp of salt

1/2-1 tsp of brown sugar

One onion, finely diced

125ml of pre-made gravy

500g of minced mutton (preferably leg)

For the hot water pastry:

175g of lard

225ml of water

500g of plain flour


1. Sauté the onion in a saucepan. After five minutes, add the nutmeg, black pepper and salt. Remove when the onions are caramelised and put in a bowl. Add the gravy. Mix. When cool add the minced mutton.

3. Heat the lard with water. Once combined, put flour in a bowl. Make a hole and add the liquid. Mix with a spoon, gently breaking down the lumps of flour and bringing together.

4. When cool, knead and smooth dough. Roll out the pastry until slightly thicker than a pound coin and set aside.

5. Lightly oil the outside of 4 ramekins. Wrap pastry around the outside of the ramekins. Refrigerate for 20-30 mins then peel off, keeping the shape. Snip around each pastry case to neaten the edges.

6. Add the meat filling two thirds high. Roll out the rest of the pastry and cut out tops for the pastry cases and push on top, leaving a small space. Glaze the pastry with milk or egg wash. Bake at 300°F for 45 minutes.

Serve the warm meat pies with a heaping side of green peas and mashed potatoes.

Dessert Course: Dundee Cake

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For your final course you’re sure to want something sweet.

A traditional Dundee Cake will hit the spot. The famous Scottish fruitcake, which originated in 19th century Scotland, is made with cherries, sultanas, almonds, and a sweet glaze.

Try out this recipe from


100g of blanched almonds

180g of unsalted butter

180g of light muscovado sugar

Zest of 1 large orange

3 tbsp of apricot jam or marmalade

225g of plain flour

1 tsp of  baking powder

3 large eggs, beaten

100g of ground almond

2 tbsp of milk

500g of mixed dried fruit

100g of whole glacé cherry

For the Glaze:

1 tbsp of milk

2 tsp of caster sugar


1. Place almonds into a small bowl and pour over boiling water. Leave for 5 mins then drain in a sieve and leave to dry. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line a deep 20cm cake tin with baking parchment.

2. Put butter in a large bowl and beat well until soft. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Stir in the orange zest and apricot jam.

3. Sieve together the flour and baking powder. Add eggs to the creamed butter and sugar, a little at a time, beating well. If mixture starts to curdle, stir in a little flour.

4. Add the remaining flour and ground almonds and mix well. Mix in milk and then add fruit and cherries and mix gently together.

5. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and spread level using the back of a spoon. Arrange the whole almonds close together in neat circles on the top of the cake. Bake in the oven for 45 mins.

6. Lower the oven temperature and cook for a further 60–80 minutes. Check the cake after 50 minutes by inserting a wooden or metal skewer into the cake. When it’s done it should have just a few crumbs attached.

7. When cooked, remove the cake briefly from the oven, put the milk and sugar into a small pan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Brush over the top of the cake and return the cake to the oven for 2-3 mins.

8. Remove and allow the cake to cool in the tin. When cold remove from the tin, wrap in foil and keep for at least 2 days before cutting.

There you have it: a delicious and decadent four-course meal bursting with flavor and Scottish tradition. You’re now ready to host your very own Scottish dinner party. As Robert Burns once wrote, “We hae meat and we can eat, And sae the Lord be thankit.”

NBC’s ‘Open House’ Explores Sir Walter Scott’s Estate

NBC New York’s ‘Open House’ visited one of Scotland’s most fascinating places, the home of Sir Walter Scott.

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Sir Walter Scott, the famous Scottish novelist, playwright and poet, created many timeless works. One of his many lasting contributions to Scotland was his own home, Abbotsford House.

Abbotsford is located in the Scottish Borders, on the south bank of the River Tweed. This historic building is where Scott penned some of his most famous novels, spent time with other authors such as Lord Byron and Jane Austen, and kept his most prized possessions.

When Scott originally purchased the Abbotsford estate, it was a simple farm of 100 acres called Cartleyhole. On this land he built a small villa, naming it Abbotsford. Scott then began building additions to the house, which eventually became a mansion built up with sculptured stones from ruined castles and abbeys of Scotland.

Abbotsford was opened to the public in 1833, but continued to be occupied by Scott’s descendants until 2004. Today you can visit Abbotsford, which is complete with a dining area and gift shop.

NBC New York took their program ‘Open House’ across the pond to visit Abbotsford in person. The video is a fantastic personal tour of Sir Walter Scott’s home. Come experience the history of Scott’s “Conundrum Castle” and enjoy a look at the life and times of Sir Walter Scott.

Watch the video tour of Sir Walter Scott’s Home in Scotland below:




Modern Traveller on Larry King’s Ora TV has been experiencing Scotland

Watch three great segments on  Ora TV, Modern Traveler, with globetrotting host reporter Alyssa Caverley as she experiences Scotland. Taking to the road Alysha doesnt only take us to the “hotspots” but to meet and experience local culture and customs.

Alyshas visit to a sheep farm has her taking on sheep shearing before heading off to experience haggis… no visit to Scotland would be complete with out a taste of Haggis.  The episodes cover a wide range of topics from food and drink, to kilt making, sheep shearing, sheep dog trails, and of course a visit to  Scottish castles.  With an easy style one is with her on the road.

sheep shearing

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With the support of VisitScotland, Alyssa also took her taste-buds on a journey through the Scotch Malt Whisky Trail, tried her hand at fly fishing at a castle, and visits Cairngorms National Park.

Watch the episodes and\ join in Alyssa’s fun here:

 Ore TV, is the entertainment digital network & production company founded by American television host Larry King & Mexican business mogul Carlos Slim

Mary Somerville to become first woman on RBS banknote, other than HM The Queen

Mary Somerville19th century pioneering Scottish scientist Mary Somerville has been confirmed as the first woman, other than HM The Queen, to adorn an RBS banknote – and the first plastic £10 note.

Mary Somerville ,  was a mathematician, who overcame huge disadvantages to pursue her career at a time when women were discouraged from studying science.  Her pioneering spirit led to Oxford University naming Somerville College in her name.

Her face will become increasingly familiar to Scots from next year, when it will start to appear on the bank’s new plastic £10 notes.

Other contenders for the honor of depiction on the RBS Banknote included theoretical physicist James Clerk Maxwell and engineer Thomas Telford.


The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart

Friends and members of the American-Scottish Foundation are invited to attend a performance of the National Theatre of Scotland’s The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart at GPSCY at Yale University.

The International Festival of Arts & Ideas is bringing the riotous romp of live music and storytelling to New Haven, Connecticut, where it will be performed in a pub setting. The show will run from March 30–April 3, 2016, with shows at 3pm and 8pm. Early-bird tickets are available. Purchase them here.Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 15.24.32

Performances of Prudencia Hart have sold out across Scotland, around the world and in New Haven in 2012. Now the show is back by popular demand, so don’t miss your chance to take part in the fun.

“One wintry morning Prudencia Hart, an uptight academic, sets off to attend a conference in Kelso in the Scottish Borders. As the snow begins to fall, little does she know who or what awaits her there. Inspired by the border ballads—and delivered in a riotous romp of rhyming couplets, devilish encounters and wild karaoke—Prudencia’s dream-like journey of self-discovery unfolds among and around the audience…”

Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 15.24.21The Washingtonian Magazine calls the show “Wildly entertaining!” but includes a warning in its review:

“Patrons beware: Attending this show may result in you getting kissed, asked to join in a song, or worse. But it’s all in good fun.”

Created by writer David Greig and director Wils Wilson, the show is overflowing with barnstorming live music and a “terrific, inventive sense of fun…” (The Scotsman). The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart is simply not to be missed!

Find out more about the show here.

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Shakespeare Theatre Company Announces 2016-2017 Season

The Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, D.C. has announced the 2016- 2017 Season.

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According to the Wall Street Journal, the Shakespeare Theatre Company has become “the nation’s foremost Shakespeare company.” The production company has received more Helen Hayes Awards than any other theatre. Today the Shakespeare Theatre Company is thriving under the leadership of Artistic Director Michael Kahn.

The 2016-2017 season will kick off with a “Free For All” production of The Tempest directed by Ethan McSweeny. There will also be productions of Romeo and Juliet, The Secret Garden, King Charles III, The Select (The Sun Also Rises), Macbeth, and Women Before Women.

To find out more about the productions visit the Shakespeare Theatre Company website.

Buy Season Tickets today! Subscribe to save up to 30% off ticket prices, get tickets to Free For All in advance, get discounts on additional tickets, get free standby if you miss performances, and more! To purchase your Season Tickets, call the Shakespeare Theatre Company Box Office at 202.547.1122. The Box Office is open 12-6 p.m. daily.

Have you #ScotSpirit?

VisitScotland, a partner of the American-Scottish Foundation, has launched a new tourism campaign aimed at promoting the “spirit of Scotland.”

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The campaign will celebrate the seven traits it believes can be found within the characters of the people and landscapes of the country: warmth, humour, guts, spark, soul, determination and fun.

The official hashtag of the movement, #ScotSpirit, is being used to unite and encourage people across the world in sharing what Scotland means to them.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon launched the campaign, along with stunt bike athlete and viral sensation Danny MacAskill, Social Bite entrepreneur, Josh Littlejohn and Olympic athlete, Laura Muir.

This is one of a series of initiatives changing the way in which VisitScotland markets Scotland around the world, the key markets being across the UK, France, Germany and New York City.

A new TV advert has been created, featuring time-lapse imagery directed by Edinburgh-based filmmaker Ben Craig, and a soundtrack composed by Giles Lamb and performed by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. In Scotland, the advert will feature a voiceover by Scottish actor and Game of Thrones star Iain Glen. In the USA, it will be narrated by Perthshire-born star of the US hit The Good Wife, Alan Cumming.

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Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland, said:

“The new advertising visuals are breathtaking and I’m sure they will inspire many to make the journey to Scotland, but this is about so much more than stunning imagery. It’s about harnessing a nation behind tourism.

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“We want everyone who cares for Scotland to get behind this campaign by using #ScotSpirit and in doing so become ambassadors for the country and create this very special movement.”

He added: “Scotland is a unique place inhabited by a unique people – a combination that creates an inimitable spirit.

“The emotional pull of this spirit can’t be duplicated by other destinations. You have to come to Scotland to experience it.”

Have you #ScotSpirit? Get involved by using the official #ScotSpirit hashtag and sharing what Scotland means to you.

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