We’d booked ourselves into a hotel which in truth was walking distance from Britannia. But, given that, my wife had some newly purchased and rather spectacular shoes on, a short drive was the better option. Our invitation instructed us to drive to the quayside where we parked in front of Britannia which was beautifully lit up against the night sky.
From our parking space, we could only see the upper decks as the lower ones were obscured by a metal wall.
As we walked along the quayside, we could see was a well-dressed gentleman standing at the end of the road. Then, out of nowhere, the unmistakable sound of bagpipes filled the night air which added to the excitement.
After a warm greeting, we were led behind the metal wall and received the first of many ‘wows’ that evening. At the foot of the red carpet leading into Britannia was a fully regaled bagpipe player who piped us onboard. I looked at my wife with a huge grin and whispered, “how royal do you feel?” As I hadn’t ‘brushed up’ on my Scottish etiquette, I was unsure whether to wait until he’d finished playing, so to avoid embarrassment, I opted to for a full head nod and broad smile, strolling onto Britannia feeling more important than at any other time in my life.
We entered at the foot of the Grand Staircase and was greeted by a glass of champagne before entering the main reception area. Every guest had made an effort, there were men in traditional Scottish formal wear, decked out in fine tartan with matching accessories, others wore beautifully tailored dinner suits and the female guests all looked stunning in their flowing dresses and jewellery.
Of course, the main part of the evening was experiencing dining like royalty. And that was exactly what was in store for us that evening. From the State Drawing room and Ante Room, we were guided into the state dining room, where everything looked spectacular!
No detail had been missed; no element had been left to chance. From beautifully decorated tables to lighting and entertainment, everything was expertly placed to make all the guests onboard feel truly special.
Each table was set with monogrammed silver cutlery and china, ornate crystal glasses, sparking in the candlelight atop a traditional Scottish table-runner, and colourful bouquets of flowers as the centrepiece. The lighting was kept low, complimenting the live music played by talented musicians, who filled the room with sounds of Clarsach and flute throughout the dinner. In addition to that, guests were entertained by a wonderful live performance of Burns’ poetry, sang to a guitar accompaniment, and a very special reading by one of Scotland’s most prominent actors.
And, of course, let us not forget the traditional Haggis Ceremony. This was carried into the room on a silver platter, accompanied by the pipes, and “addressed” with the Robert Burns’ poem: “To a Haggis”, before being toasted with a wee dram of whisky.
The entertainment was so engaging, that you might think it could distract you from enjoying the food, but you couldn’t be more wrong.
Without going into too much detail, let us describe some of the incredible culinary fare we experienced.
A little pre-dinner treat, in lieu of an amuse-bouche, we had a tiny cup of cauliflower soup, so smooth and creamy, it engaged our taste buds perfectly.
It was promptly followed by a dish of west coast crab & seared scallop with avocado puree and sauce vierge. The seafood was cooked to perfection, delightfully light and full of flavour. Much like the dry aged melt-in-your-mouth beef fillet, served with fondant potato and trimmings which was the main course.
Today would also provide our first opportunity to try a proper Scottish haggis, and it was more than a dish, it was an experience. “The haggis with neeps and tatties” – as it read in the menu – turned out to be an amazing combination of flavours. As if there was a separate party going on in our mouths.
Paul is the owner and editor-in-chief of Luxurious Magazine. He previously worked as a fashion model, was in the British Army and created companies in the technology, venture capital and financial services sectors.
In addition to writing, he also proofs, edits, designs, lays out and publishes all the articles in the online magazine.
Paul is a full member of the Chartered Institute of Journalists.
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