Boston felt a lot like Scotland last night. With a cold, raw mist and fog swallowing up the skyline, and invading layers of wool, right down to the bone, I could have easily been in the British Isles or in Ireland. For the record, in weather like that, nothing works quite as well as an electric blanket at bedtime. It is the surefire only way (along with some whiskey and a fire) to warm up.
he weather was just perfect for a salmon and Scottish whisky tasting hosted by Scottish Development International at the International Boston Seafood Show, the largest seafood show in North America. And luckily, I was invited.
Yesterday’s spring snow slowed just around the time I was about to leave the house, and I was grateful yet still very cold. As I came out of the Courthouse Silver Line stop, the sound of bagpipes warmed my ears and told me I was in the right place.
The event was at the Moakley Courthouse, an ominous and quite modern building in the Seaport/Fort Point area. FYI, DO NOT walk into the federal courthouse with your camera out and ready. They frown on that sort of thing.
On my way in, I ran into Fiona, and we ended up doing some whisky and salmon tasting together But first up was the Scottish beer. The darker the beer the better, so I went for the Harviestoun Old Engine Oil Black Ale. With bitter chocolate notes and a full body, it was fantastic and perfect for the cloudy and cold evening.
The event space at the Moakley Courthouse is beautiful, and the area was dotted with tables of salmon and herring from a variety of Scottish seafood distributors. There was also a table with an abundance of cheese, dried fruit, and pumpkin seeds. I went straight for the salmon.
The below plate is what heaven looks like to me. Scottish smoked salmon, lemons, red onion, tomatoes, cucumber, eggs, and caper berries all go so incredibly well together.
The smoked salmon, this happened to be from St. James Smokehouse, was simply beautiful. All of the salmon throughout the course of the evening was delicious and lacked that coppery, fishy flavor that some smoked salmon has. It was just rich, oily in a very good way, and smoky.
Each table offered something a little different, though most offered smoked salmon in some form.
Grieg Seafood Hjaltland/Shetland Products offered a variety of flavored smoked salmon. I do believe this was my favorite table. Their orange pepper, pastrami, and capirinha smoked salmon offered tasty twists on the classic fish, and I appreciated the opportunity to try them all.
I rounded the room several times, snacking on bits of salmon and making little sandwiches with rye bread, crème fraiche, cucumbers, and onion. Yum.
No Scottish event is quite complete without a dram of whisky or two. Luckily, Justin was there pouring Highland Park 18 year, 15 year, and 12 year Scotch Whisky. He started us off on the smoothest, the 18 year, and we tasted our way through as we learned more about Highland Park and its home in Orkney in the far North of Scotland. Because of its location and winds, there are no trees in Orkney, and as a result they use peat for fuel to toast the barley. It creates a smoky flavor, and along with the various barrels used for each whisky, sweetness and other secondary flavors like dried fruit or vanilla, depending on the barrel. I have had some harshly smoky whisky in the past, but these were all delightful and dangerously drinkable.
It was actually quite refreshing to have someone who was passionate and knowledgeable pouring a spirit. Often I encounter people who don’t seem to know or care what they are doing, but Justin was the opposite. He seemed to really enjoy sharing his knowledge and the whisky, and that made the evening all the better.
I had a blast at this event. I can honestly say it was one of the best events I have attended as a blogger. It had a festive crowd, but everyone was so polite. The music made me tap my toes, I filled myself with gorgeous food and drink, and left a very happy girl.