North Berwick: Anderson’s haggis on 375 mile trip for Burns Night

North Berwick: Anderson’s haggis on 375 mile trip for Burns Night

A NORTH Berwick man is a making a 375 mile trip to take some of a county butcher’s very best products to deliver the perfect Burns Night to his pub in England.

Michael Duffy, 68, is the landlord of The Three Crowns in Bushey Heath, near Watford, and hosts an annual Burns supper for his patrons using a car-load of produce from Anderson’s Butchers in North Berwick.

Mr Duffy grew up in Lanark but moved away from Scotland in 1976 to follow a career in the five-star hotel industry at places such as the Intercontinental Hotel in London. 

He would return briefly to work at the Old Course Hotel in St Andrews before working at Celtic Manor in Wales.

He would soon leave the hotel game, becoming a pub landlord and in 2007, alongside regular Colin Turnbull from Penicuik, first introduced an evening of haggis, neeps and tatties and poetry to an appreciative audience – with the exception of the lockdown in 2021, it has been going strong ever since.

Speaking of the event, Michael told the Courier how the annual event started out.

He said: “In the early days, we did it by the book and traditional – and we did that for 10 years.

“One year I was on my own and decided to lighten it up a bit and started to make it a bit more fun. 

“We learnt early on that though everyone loves watching the address to the haggis, not everyone loves the idea of actually eating Scotland’s national dish.

“So we offer it as an option alongside Anderson’s award-winning Scotch pies and Highlander sausages.”

The selection of Scottish delicacies on offer at the pub also include deep-fried Mars bar, Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer cheesecake and the increasingly popular vegetarian haggis.

Chef Kris Prowse is the first to bring the culinary delicacy of the deep-fried Mars bar to the area and is prepared to cook up to 30 on Friday night, sharing his secret with the Courier.

He said: “It’s all down to double-dipping. Dip them into the batter twice before popping them into the fryer.”

Mr Duffy explained that in the early days, hosting the events was a way to cure the homesickness he got as an “expat”.

He added that it helped numb the pain of those “once-a-year trips with the Tartan Army” where he would rediscover his Scottishness.

He moved to North Berwick in 2019, marrying his wife Liz and handing over the reins of the pub to his 33-year-old daughter Katherine, who helps continue the Burns tradition.

This year, Michael’s event will also have a special guest, with the great, great, great, great granddaughter of Robert Burns, Janet McNulty, in attendance.

Michael initially asked her to take part on the back of her Scottish surname, but was taken aback to learn she was more than just “Janet that comes to the quiz night”.

She explained: “My direct line goes back to Burns and Anna Park of the Globe Inn in Dumfries and their daughter Elizabeth (Betty) Burns. 

“She was taken in by Burns and his wife Jean Armour and brought up by Jean after Rabbie’s death.

“She eventually married John Thomson of the Stirlingshire militia and had an eldest son, Robert Burns Thomson.”

Ryan Anderson, co-owner of Anderson’s Butchers was delighted to see his produce lighting up Burns Night plates across the country.

He said: “We are delighted that Michael has chosen to take our haggis!”

Anderson’s gets ready for Burns Night every year by getting in a ton of haggis, which equates to roughly 800 to 900 portions of the traditional Scottish fare.

Michael dropped into Anderson’s this morning to collect all the produce he was taking down to his Burns supper in England.

Speaking of their own haggis, Ryan explained to the Courier how Anderson’s made sure to deliver the very best product.

He said: “I think it’s about how you make it – we like mixing our spices to make something unique.”

Mr Anderson confirmed that his haggis “may be a little bit spicier than others” but that helped the flavours mix better alongside the traditional neeps and tatties.

He added: “I like my haggis to be a cut above everybody else.”

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East Lothian Courier
Gregor Millar

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