Thank You Scotland.


What a spectacular adventure! Thank you About Scotland for all the thoughtful planning and great care. I have a whole NEW appreciation for my beloved Scotland. Click above for video.

If any readers missed my photos and videos, just head to my instagram or click on #MyLastBiteTravels or #MyScotStory.

More soon!

Follow me on twitter @MyLastBite and also:

Snapchat (MyLastBite)

Instagram

FaceBook

Pinterest

Advertisements

Wee Haggis Bites!


I love haggis. Never had haggis? Well, it’s an acquired taste for sure. I hated haggis as a kid but eventually learned to like it, love it even!

In case you’re new to the blog, I’m half Scottish (Clan Maxwell), and half Okinawan. My father and stepmum live near Glasgow in a village called Bridge of Weir. I visit them in Scotland regularly and the first meal home always includes haggis.

From the Visit Scotland website:

Haggis is a type of sausage or savoury pudding that combines meat with oatmeal, onions, salt and spices. Often served with mashed neeps and tatties (that’s Scots for turnip and potatoes), haggis is traditionally cooked in a sheep’s stomach – a historic way of preserving meat – but most haggis nowadays is sold and cooked in a synthetic sausage casing.

Made largely from oatmeal, haggis has a soft, moist, crumbly texture – similar to stuffing – while the earthiness of the oats and meat combine with salt and spices to give the dish a spicy, rustic flavour with a peppery kick – delicious!

Each January 25th, Scots celebrate Burns Night with haggis. If you’re not Scottish, you may not have heard of the poet Robert Burns, but you probably know Auld Lang Syne, a poem he wrote in 1788. Think about New Year’s Eve at midnight. Champagne popping, you’re hugging your significant other, lips coming together and suddenly someone starts singing (at least in my circle) “Should old acquaintances be forgot and never brought to mind?”…. Yup, the lyrics (poem) is a Burns original. He was quite a character and a real ladies man. Read more about him here.

I celebrate Burns Night here in Los Angeles to keep connected to my family in Scotland, plus it can be quite the raucous party if you find the right pub! Music, whisky, dancing and pipes, LOTS of bagpipesDeep-fried bangers, mashed potatoes and heaps of haggis soak up all the booze. Like I said, it’s quite the party! And of course there’s the traditional reading of Burns with an “address to a haggis“.

Want to celebrate Burns Night but not into the pub/bar scene? You can cook up an easy celebration at home. I made Wee Haggis Bites (“Baby Burns”) a couple of years ago. I was inspired by this simple recipe by Macsween Scotland (my dad’s favorite brand). If you can’t find haggis at a local British shop, you can order it on Amazon. Still can’t find haggis but want to try this recipe? Grab a can of roast beef or corned beef hash instead. I know, I KNOW… it won’t replicate the intense offal flavor of haggis of course, but the celebration will be just as fun. Slàinte!

Photos: Wee Haggis Bites (Baby Burns)

Veg for
Baby potatoes, turnips and carrots. Tossed in olive oil then roasted in 450º oven for about 20 minutes. You want the carrots and turnips soft enough to mash.  Macsween recipe here.

Making
Turnip and carrots mashed. Potato ready to cut & fill with haggis. See Macsween recipe here.


Wee Haggis Bite: Baby potatoes stuffed with haggis, topped with mashed turnips, carrots and garnished with scallions. I added Whisky Cream Sauce but these were actually really delicious without the sauce. I just wanted more whisky I guess! Again, the original Macsween recipe is here.

Ziggy Stardust & Scotch!
My Ziggy Stardust and Scotch whisky.

Sticky Toffee Pudding
We always end Burns Night with a bit of Sticky Toffee Pudding. If you live in the San Fernando Valley, you can pick it up at Piccadilly British Shop in Burbank. Call ahead if it’s close to January 25th as they may run out before Burns Night. Here’s a recipe if you want to try making it. Enjoy!

About Haggis

Robert Burns: 16 Little Known Facts

About Burns Night

6 Great Burns Night Recipes With A Twist

Family Photos – Scotland

Macsween’s Baby Burns Recipe

Whisky Cream Sauce Recipe

SCOTLAND

I’m a huge OUTLANDER fan. Photos from my visit to locations in Scotland.

Originally posted January 2016

———————————–

Follow me on twitter @MyLastBite and also:

Snapchat (MyLastBite)

Instagram

FaceBook

Pinterest

Christmas In Scotland

I’m spending Christmas in Bridge of Weir, Scotland this year. It’s the first time I’m waking up on Christmas morning with my dad, since 1969 (when we lived in Okinawa).

The photo below was taken (47 years ago) in the back yard of our home in Okinawa, just before my parents marriage fell apart. I love the snapshot, not only because I’m so HAPPY with my daddy, but also because of the custom tree he made for us. Can you tell what it’s made from? No? Well, the tin circles are used chicken pot pie containers!

I’m hoping to recreate a version of the tree today. Follow me on instagram at @MyLastBite to see more.

Have a wonderful Christmas all!

(Update 11:28pm Christmas night)

Okinawa, Christmas 1969

Ox & Finch (Glasgow, Scotland)

What a fool. It turns out that I’m a great, big FOOL. Or at least fool for a day (today, April 1st) thanks to the Ox and Finch restaurant in Glasgow, Scotland.

Ox & Finch, Glasgow SCOTLANDLate last night (Los Angeles time), the award-winning restaurant totally APRIL-FOOLED me via their twitter feed. I could blame it on the fact that I read the tweet in bed, while drifting off to sleep, or note that my guard was down because it was STILL March 31st here in L.A. (April 1st Scotland time). But the fact is, I fell for the gag and even reposted the details on twitter and Facebook!

The April Fools Day tweet read, “Ox and Finch – Sub Zero. An Antarctic Pop-Up Appearance in July 2016! Click for more info…”

So, I clicked and continued reading on their Facebook page, which stated: “With Danish restaurant, NOMA and acclaimed chef, Heston Blumenthal having already staged pop-ups in Australia, we are delighted to announce challenging plans to raise the bar by hosting a month-long, pop-up restaurant during July 2016 in the British Antarctic Territory, titled: Ox and Finch – Sub Zero.” The post even included an artist rendering of the popup in Antarctica! Check it out here.

What a sucker! And just when I was about to post photos of a lovely meal I had there last September with my father and stepmum. They both loved Ox and Finch as well, and I was so disappointed I didn’t get back for another meal when I visited last month.

Kudos to you Ox and Finch — you fooled me enough to dream about saving up for a trip to Antarctica. Luckily I won’t have to go THAT far, and hopefully I’ll see you on my next visit home to Scotland.


Ox and Finch is located in the fashionable Glasgow neighborhood of Finnieston. Chef/Owner, Jonathan MacDonald opened to rave reviews back in 2014, earning a Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand (award for good food at affordable prices). Read more about Chef MacDonald here.


I had been following the restaurant on twitter for a year before trying it out. Last September, on a visit home to Scotland, I secured a reservation (they book up quickly) and treated my parents to a night out. As you’ll see by the photos below, we may have ordered the entire menu! Photo above: Panko Pork with Tamarind and Palm Sugar.


Smoked Mackerel Pâté, Radicchio, Fennel and Pink Grapefruit.


Wild Mushrooms, Duck Egg with LARDO, Croutons, Parsley (Note the glorious LARDO on the right side of the egg).


Rabbit, Ham Hock, Foie Gras and Pistachio Terrine with Gingerbread and Pear.


Buffalo Mozzarella, Fig, Mint, Prosciutto and 8year-aged Balsamic.


Scrabster Hake, Brown Shrimps, Samphire, Lardo, Brown Butter.


Spiced Scallops, Chana Dal, Pickled Cucumber and Yoghurt.


Squid, Prawns, Chorizo, Morcilla with Smoked Paprika on Sourdough.


Beetroot, Green Beans, Toasted Seeds and Barrel-Aged Feta.


Italian Sausage, Potato Gnocchi, Squash, Rosemary and Chili.


Braised Pork Cheeks, Smoked Polenta, Capers and Pine Nuts.


Confit Lamb Shoulder, Rose Harissa, Shredded Salad, Baba Ganoush. No room for dessert!


Interior dining and bar (top photo).

Dining date: 9/15/15

Ox & Finch
Address: 920 Sauchiehall Street
Glasgow, SCOTLAND
Tel 0141 339 8627
Website

Follow @OxAndFinch on twitter

Ox & Finch Facebook

More photos from September 2015 visit to Scotland

I still suck at selfies, but love this photo with my dad

About GlasgowScotland

———————————–

Follow me on twitter @MyLastBite and also:

Snapchat (MyLastBite)

Instagram

FaceBook

Pinterest

My 50th Birthday Lunch, Edinburgh

My nephew Camron and I are heading to Scotland this week. It’s his first visit to see his grandpa (my dad) and stepmum, who live near Glasgow in Bridge of Weir. Peter will hold down the fort with our two beloved pups, Woody and Ziggy Stardust.

There’s so much I’m excited to share with Camron, who turns 30 in May. The village where our family home sits is absolutely gorgeous, the surroundings almost out of a fairy tale. Of course, besides family time, I’m mostly excited to share my love for Scottish cuisine. It’s not all deep-fried Mars Bars, black pudding and haggis (which I LOVE) — it’s so much more.

During this trip Camron and I will be lunching at The Kitchin in Edinburgh, the Michelin -starred restaurant by Tom Kitchin. I’ve been several times and am always blown away with the chef’s “from nature to plate” concept — the best of Scottish ingredients cooked with French techniques. The restaurant has recently gone through a major remodel, so that will be a fun treat as well.

Two years ago, I spent my 50th birthday at The Kitchin and was so grateful to share it with my parents and hubby Peter. Photos below!

The Kitchin


The Kitchin


Cheers!


I love the bread warmers.


Stepmum Mandy and my husband Peter.


Party time!


My dad.


Cod & Watercress: Seared North Sea Cod Cheeses served with pancetta and a watercress sauce.


Monkfish: Cannelloni of Scrabster monkfish liver served with roasted celery, squid and lobster beurre blanc.


Ballotine of Rabbit from Burnside Farm served with a tarragon dressing, black olive and toasted sourdough.


Fillet of wolffish from Peterhead served with gnocchi, wild garlic and mussels.


Rump of Highland hogget garnished with macaroni and roasted carrot served with lamb tongue and sweetbreads.


Blanquette of Clash Farm pork cheeses served with spring vegetables.


Cheese course or dessert? BOTH! Top: British Cheese Course.
Bottom: Pistachio Souffle w Pistachio Ice Cream.


The best of British cheeses.


More please.


Chef Tom Kitchin and my father, Glenn.


A wonderful 50th birthday in Edinburgh!

Read more about The Kitchin here.

More photos of visits to The Kitchin.

Follow Tom Kitchin on twitter.

———————————–

Follow me on twitter @MyLastBite and also:

Snapchat (MyLastBite)

Instagram

FaceBook

Pinterest

Wee Haggis Bites

Sweet Maxie in his wee kilt last yearI love this photo of my sweet Maxie. This was his kilt for Burns Night last year. Sadly, he past away recently, so I’ve been going through lots of photos for a shrine, I mean scrapbook.

If you follow me on instagram, you’ve seen the hashtag #LoveBugMaxie, where I shared photos of his wonderfully pampered life and also a bit of his struggles. His knee replacement last year was a big commitment of time, money (two surgeries) and love. He was worth every penny and I was so happy he got to run again before he passed away. This photo of him in his tiny kilt (with sporran!) just warms my heart.

In case you’re new to the blog, I’m half Scottish (Clan Maxwell), and half Okinawan. My father and stepmum live near Glasgow in a village called Bridge of Weir. I visit them in Scotland regularly and the first meal home always includes haggis.

Never had it? Well, it’s an acquired taste for sure. I hated haggis as a kid but eventually learned to like it, love it even! From the Visit Scotland website:
Haggis is a type of sausage or savoury pudding that combines meat with oatmeal, onions, salt and spices. Often served with mashed neeps and tatties (that’s Scots for turnip and potatoes), haggis is traditionally cooked in a sheep’s stomach – a historic way of preserving meat – but most haggis nowadays is sold and cooked in a synthetic sausage casing.

Made largely from oatmeal, haggis has a soft, moist, crumbly texture – similar to stuffing – while the earthiness of the oats and meat combine with salt and spices to give the dish a spicy, rustic flavour with a peppery kick – delicious!

Each January 25th, Scots celebrate Burns Night with haggis. If you’re not Scottish, you may not have heard of the poet Robert Burns, but you probably know Auld Lang Syne, a poem he wrote in 1788. Think about New Year’s Eve at midnight. Champagne popping, you’re hugging your significant other, lips coming together and suddenly someone starts singing (at least in my circle) “Should old acquaintances be forgot and never brought to mind?”…. Yup, the lyrics (poem) is a Burns original. He was quite a character and a real ladies man. Read more about him here.

I celebrate Burns Night here in Los Angeles to keep connected to my dad, plus it can be quite the raucous party if you find the right pub! Music, whisky, dancing and pipes, LOTS of bagpipesDeep-fried bangers, mashed potatoes and heaps of haggis soak up all the booze. Like I said, it’s quite the party! And of course there’s the traditional reading of Burns with an “address to a haggis“.

Want to celebrate Burns Night but not into the pub/bar scene? You can cook up an easy celebration at home. I made Wee Haggis Bites (“Baby Burns”) last year. I was inspired by this simple recipe by Macsween Scotland (my dad’s favorite brand). If you can’t find haggis at a local British shop, you can order it on Amazon. Still can’t find haggis but want to try this recipe? Grab a can of roast beef or corned beef hash instead. I know, I KNOW… it won’t replicate the intense offal flavor of haggis of course, but the celebration will be just as fun. Slàinte!

Photos: Wee Haggis Bites (Baby Burns)

Veg for "Baby Burns" Haggis
Baby potatoes, turnips and carrots. Tossed in olive oil then roasted in 450º oven for about 20 minutes. You want the carrots and turnips soft enough to mash.  Macsween recipe here.

Making "Baby Burns" Haggis
Turnip and carrots mashed. Potato ready to cut & fill with haggis. See Macsween recipe here.

"Baby Burns" Haggis
Wee Haggis Bite: Baby potatoes stuffed with haggis, topped with mashed turnips, carrots and garnished with scallions. I added Whisky Cream Sauce but these were actually really delicious without the sauce. I just wanted more whisky I guess! Again, the original Macsween recipe is here.

Ziggy Stardust & Scotch!
My Ziggy Stardust and Scotch whisky. Speaking of whisky.

Sticky Toffee Pudding
We always end Burns Night with a bit of Sticky Toffee Pudding. If you live in the San Fernando Valley, you can pick it up at Piccadilly British Shop in Burbank. Call ahead if it’s close to January 25th as they may run out before Burns Night.

About Haggis

Robert Burns: 16 Little Known Facts

About Burns Night

6 Great Burns Night Recipes With A Twist

Family Photos – Scotland

Macsween’s Baby Burns Recipe

Whisky Cream Sauce Recipe

SCOTLAND

I’m a huge OUTLANDER fan. Photos from my visit to locations in Scotland.

———————————–

Follow me on twitter @MyLastBite and also:

Snapchat (MyLastBite)

Instagram

FaceBook

Pinterest

OUTLANDER Tour, Scotland

If, like me, you’re a huge fan of the Outlander series (or books) and are planning a trip to Scotland, an Outlander tour is a must. I highly recommend a private tour with Gerry McMullan of Carnegie Touring. He was (is) an absolute gem, and months later I am still flying high from the experience.

When I told my father (who lives near Glasgow in Bridge of Weir) that I was thinking about checking out some Outlander filming locations, he hopped online and organized a full-day tour for my step-mum Mandy and myself.

Blackness Castle, ScotlandI arrived in Glasgow on a Friday night (from L.A. via London) and awoke early (jetlag be damned!) for the Outlander tour the next morning. Just for fun, I brought along a “Wee Jamie Fraser” doll that I had fashioned back in Los Angeles. Jamie Fraser is the male lead in Outlander, and I thought it would be hilarious to photograph him at each location.

Early that morning, Dad drove us into central Glasgow where Gerry was waiting in his plush sedan. As he hopped out of his car, I noticed he was wearing tartan trousers, gorgeous CLAN FRASER tartan trousers in fact.

It wasn’t until we settled into the car, I suddenly felt a bit apprehensive about uncovering Wee Jamie Fraser, who was tucked in my travel tote. Would the tour guide think me an idiot? Would he care that I wanted to recreate scenes from the show?

Well, not only did Gerry embrace the fun, within an hour he was helping me plot the next setup and location for the former Ken doll. I gave Mandy my selfie stick for a wide-angle shot but the bluetooth failed to work so we gave up on that scenario. By afternoon the three of us had quite a laugh bringing Wee Jamie Fraser “home to Lallybroch”.

Gerry was so much more than a tour guide. As a fan of Outlander (the books AND the TV show) he knew the stories in and out, character details and history (fictional and real) of each location. Mandy and I thoroughly enjoyed spending the day with him, and the tour cost was absolutely worth every cent (pence). He even arranged lunch for us at a charming village pub called The Ship Inn where we were greeted like regulars. The baby black pudding salad with goat cheese and pomegranate was a favorite (photos below).

Blackness Castle (Wentworth Prison in Outlander) was especially haunting on the beautifully dreary day. As I took Wee Jamie Fraser into the belly of the fortress, Gerry stopped me and asked me to look back. He had arranged for a lone piper to play “The Skye Boat Song” aka the Outlander theme for just Mandy and myself. It was probably a combination of jetlag and moody weather, but I was in tears as I tried to video the scene in the gentle Scottish rain.

If you’re saving up for an Outlander tour, do consider booking with Gerry at Carnegie Touring. His love for Outlander and the extra touches (more below) made it an absolutely magical day.

Doune Castle, Scotland
Outlander’s “Castle Leoch”, the seat of Clan Mackenzie (Doune Castle)


“Fort William” where Outlander’s Black Jack Randall terrorizes all. (Blackness Castle, built in the 15th century)


Walking up to Blackness Castle (“Fort William” in OUTLANDER).


Wee Jamie Fraser is almost home! Lallybroch aka Broch Tuarach is the (fictional) family home of Jamie Fraser. In reality it’s called Midhope Castle.


But first, Gerry offers us a wee dram of scotch to toast Lallybroch.


My stepmum Mandy is always ready for some fun!


Up close and personal. Fans of Outlander will recognize this shot at Midhope Castle aka Lallybroch.

Lallybroch (Midhope Castle)
Wee Jamie Fraser is home (Lallybroch).


What a fantastic village pub, The Ship Inn was a perfect break in the day. The interior was warm and quaint.


Lunch started with a bit of whisky and this gorgeous salad. Baby black pudding salad with goat cheese, pomegranate and balsamic dressing.


Crispiest, lightest fish and chips. Mandy had the special of the day,  pan-fried herring in an herby crust with salad.


Gorgeous view from the Ship Inn (out the front door).


After lunch a quick stop by Charlestown Towering Infernos in Fife. These are the caves where Dougal (in Outlander) proposes to Claire after she’s searching for Jamie.


The spectacular village of Culross in Fife, Scotland, the setting for Cranesmuir in Outlander. Gerry mentioned that the vibrant colors were original shades, not just for added scenery.


Mrs. Fitzgibbon’s garden in Outlander (Culross).


Gerry reads a passage aloud to us from Outlander. Just one of his thoughtful touches from the private tour.


I loved these stone roads in Culross (aka Cranesmuir) and these spectacular steps too!


Pure charm in Culross.


Cranesmuir square where Jamie helps save the young boy’s ear.

Culross, Scotland
Geillis Duncan’s house in the fictional village of Crainsmuir.

Culross, Scotland
With the fabulous Gerry in front of Culross Palace.

OUTLANDER Tour, Scotland
Gifts from Gerry.


Carnegie Touring Brochure.


Brochure, Outlander Experience.

Tour date: 9/12/15
The price for our Private Outlander Experience Tour was £310.00 ($470) from Glasgow. £280 (currently $424 U.S.) from Edinburgh. Again, worth it for the die-hard Outlander fan.

Carnegie Touring Website

Carnegie Touring on Facebook

About Gerry McMullan

More Outlander Tour Photos

Making “Wee Jamie Fraser”

The Ship Inn, Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland

Outlander series on STARZ | Outlander books

Outlander filming locations

Visit Scotland

(I’ll post more photos from the tour after Outlander season three airs in the U.S.!)

Wee Jamie Fraser

Making my "Wee Jamie Fraser"

I’m over fifty and I still play with dolls. Is there a support group for this? Who cares! Dolls make me happy.

The top row of my office book shelf is filled with Barbie dolls, Bratz dolls, plus TV/Film characters including Bond and Mad Men. I also own the entire Game Of Thrones Funko collection, and don’t even get me started on my Hello Kitty fetish.

Ok, so I don’t actually PLAY with dolls, but I do swirl around in my office chair and gaze at them when I need a short writing break.

microtravelmaxiesmallWhen I travel, I take along “Travel Maxie”, a tiny stuffed animal that resembles my rescue Maxie. It’s a bit silly but #TravelMaxie (he’s on instagram) makes me feel closer to my sweet pup. When I’m home, Maxie and I share a pillow every night so I really miss him when I’m away. Is there a support group for THIS? Again, who cares!

On my most recent visit to Scotland, my father (who lives near Glasgow) arranged a tour of OUTLANDER filming locations. I’m a huge fan of the show and was ridiculously excited to stand WHEREVER Jamie Fraser (played by the stunning Sam Heughan) had once stood. If you love history, costumes, almost soft-porn sex plus a touch of fantasy… I highly recommend OUTLANDER.

Before I headed to Scotland, I decided to make a Jamie Fraser doll to “take home” to Lallybroch, the fictional family home of the OUTLANDER character. A few quick purchases on Ebay and I soon had the pieces to refashion an old “Totally Hair” Ken doll into “Wee Jamie Fraser”. I tucked my kilted Scot and Travel Maxie into my carryon bag and away we went on our silly, yet totally awesome, adventure.

OUTLANDER tour photos

——————-

Follow Jo on twitter @MyLastBite and also:

Snapchat (MyLastBite)

Instagram

FaceBook

Pinterest

 

Moonbeach Diary Stamp plane2

#MoonBeachDiary by Jo Stougaard