Daily Archives: February 26, 2016

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.  www.shetlandfolkfestival.com

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.  www.arranfolkfestival.com

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.  www.hebceltfest.com

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.  www.tartanheartfestival.co.uk

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!

Image via balfourcastle.co.uk

Image via balfourcastle.co.uk

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 

Image via cooklowfodmap.com

Image via cooklowfodmap.com

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 bbcgoodfood.com:


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

Image via telegraph.co.uk

Image via telegraph.co.uk

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

Whisk up this aromatic recipe from whiskyboys.com:


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

Image via goodfoodrevolution.com

Image via goodfoodrevolution.com

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 telegraph.co.uk:


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

Image via realfood.tesco.com

Image via realfood.tesco.com

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 bbcgoodfood.com:


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.

Image via www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk

Image via www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk

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

Image via ora.tv

Image via ora.tv





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