Sausages worth savoringHere's a paradox: While Scotland's national libation is lauded as the world's finest, Scotland's national cuisine is excoriated as one of the world's worst.
Breakfast? Lumpy porridge that has probably resulted in more maladjusted school boys than psychopathic rugby squads and cane-happy headmasters combined. Lunch? A stuffed sheep's gut, served with boiled turnips and potatoes (just reading this has the stomachs of delicate gourmets turning somersaults). Dinner? Thanks, we'll pass directly to the liquid refreshment.
Of course, this is image -- not reality. Angus cattle produces some of the world's best beef, Scottish salmon is renowned far and wide and even the much-derided sheep stomach, haggis, is great stuff. But the fact remains: Scottish cuisine suffers from poor public relations.
This makes one admire the gumption of Scottish expat Gavin Mckay. Here is a former colonel and designated Member of the British Empire who eschews the currently modish salsa to teach Scottish country dancing -- kilts, sporrans and all. (Braveheart? No kidding.) Here is a man who has not only started a local food business, but has championed the Scottishness of it from the word go. And here is a man who produces Scottish foods -- predominantly sausages ?that are sought after by some of Seoul's finest restaurants and hotels.
However, it must be conceded that Gavin has specialized in an aspect of Scottish cuisine that is slightly less risky than porridge or haggis: Gavin has opened a sausage factory.
The restaurant and deli attached to his sausage factory offer these, and a couple of Scottish and British specialties found nowhere else in Korea. Set in a quiet residential district, Gavin's Sausages has a small deli counter and a side room with a few tables spread with tartan. British tourism posters adorn the walls, Scottish reels play over the speakers and a number of photos feature the proprietor in native dress.
The menu is appropriately limited. We start with bangers and mash (10,000 won, or $8). Bangers are British sausages (so-named because during World War II they contained so much water they exploded when cooked) and are famed as a classic working man's dish.
But this does not mean that sausages, which were originally introduced to the British Isles by Roman soldiers, are exclusively the province of the working classes. Queen Victoria had strict rules about the correct preparation of sausages, and Prince Harry has recently admitted his taste for sausage and chips.
Gavin's bangers are served with onion gravy and grain mustard, have scorched skins, a soft texture from the fine mince and a slightly peppery taste. Excellent -- although the mash proves a tad lumpy. The assorted sausages (small: 10,000 won; large: 18,000 won) are a generous portion of several varieties, including garlic, herb, leek and ginger, and even a kimchi sausage. All are handmade from prime local pork.
The Scotch egg (1,500 won) is an unusual beastie, rarely encountered beyond British Rail snack bars and summer picnic hampers. It is a hard-boiled egg in sausage meat, sprinkled in breadcrumbs. Unusual but savory, textured and very good.
Shepherd's pie (9,000 won) is a British standard; minced meat and onion, topped with mashed potato. This is the menu's only disappointment. It is watery and flavorless.
Another disappointment is the lack of Scotland's greatest export. (Something that Seoul, in general, has not yet latched onto. Want to make your fortune? Open up a real whisky bar). Scotch is served, but the variety offered is one that can most charitably be described as a supermarket brand. Beer is a brighter spot. Bass (7,000 won a bottle), a mild English pale ale that suits sausages perfectly, is available for adults. Youngsters can have a Shandy, a beer and cider mix.
Verdict: Gavin has been awarded a Medal of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II. His decoration was for services to the British community, but it should have been for services to sausage eaters. Och aye, lads and lassies -- this is the real deal.
Address: B1, 21C Wedding Hall, 66-32, Pyeongchang-dong, Jongno-gu
Web Site: www.gavinsausages.com
The restaurant's Web address has a map and other pertinent information.
by Andrew and Jinny Salmon