Burns Night in the Jalon Valley

Image of the forest fire in the Bejis region of Castellon. Credit: [email protected]

The El Paraiso restaurant is located in the hills above Parcent, a traditional Spanish village, once described by the Spanish writer Gabriel Miro as “paradise between the mountains.”

Vicky and David Reeley, owners of the restaurant, once again welcomed guests to join in their annual celebration of the life of the famous Scottish poet Robert Burns.

My partner Donnie Macdiarmid, pipe major for the Torrevieja Pipes and Drums band, had been invited to pipe in the haggis and recite the Selkirk Grace.

We headed north for the two-hour drive from Torrevieja.

On leaving the main road the journey through the Jalon Valley was delightful with rolling hills, fields of orange groves and orchards of almonds.

We were even blessed with an early show of the famous pink and white blossom from the almond trees. We arrived in plenty of time to check into our accommodation, and make the short journey to the restaurant.

Vicky and David, dressed in their tartan kilts greeted us warmly. The staff decked in tartan, were all busy making the final seating arrangements.

The restaurant, with its rustic décor and olive press in the centre of the room, made an ideal setting for this special occasion. Scottish flags and banners decorated the walls with two crossed swords above the fireplace.

Donnie took his place outside on the terrace to pipe in the guests, stopping every so often to greet the arrivals and ask for any requests.

Many of the guests wore kilts or tartan – some had never attended a Burns supper before but they all seemed to want to hear Amazing Grace so Donnie obliged.

Eventually everyone was seated and large plates of delicious home-made tarts of pate or fish were passed around the tables with a wee cup of Scotch broth.

David gave his welcoming speech before passing the microphone to Donnie to recite the Selkirk Grace. “Some hae meat and canna eat, Some wad eat that want it, But we hae meat and we can eat Sae let the Lord be thankit” We all applauded the piper then the first course was served.

Donnie had chosen the deep fried brie with berry coulée and I had the smoked salmon with cheese & chives accompanied by apple balsamic salad. As usual the food was delicious – I was pleased with my choice and Donnie enjoyed his very generous portion of brie.

Jon the fiddler, who had been hired to entertain the guests, started playing with gusto and moved around the tables.

The atmosphere was amazing. Then order was called for the address to the haggis. David made his way through the restaurant with the platter of haggis held high and paraded around the tables with Donnie piping. The toast to the haggis was made – guests were upstanding and glasses were raised, “To the haggis “ we all repeated in unison.

The haggis, home-madee by David, was served with neeps and tatties and a wee dram of whiskey. I could have eaten more, it was so tasty, but we still had the main course and the desert to come!

The restaurant staff all played a part in the proceedings. Dave (dressed in drag) delivered a very amusing ´special´ lassies´ reply to the, “Toast to the Lassies” whilst Margaret, one of the guests, replied in a more traditional manner.

Alan gave a wonderful rendition of, “Loch Lomond” and Paul treated us to his version of, “I Would Walk Five Hundred Miles.”

The main course was served – Donnie chose the Beef Balmoral – a succulent piece of roast entrecôte with whiskey sauce. I opted for The Bard´s Salmon –a mouthwatering fillet of salmon wrapped in light pastry with pink peppercorn sauce – delicious. A long break was needed before the deserts!

More wine was delivered to the tables, then, with a little encouragement from Jon the fiddler, the guests took to the floor. Some attempts at the Highland fling looked more like an Irish jig!

The true Scots came into their own for the Gay Gordons. Then Paul took the microphone to delight us with, “Donald Where’s Yer Troosers.”

A few turns around the dance floor and we were ready for our desert of Drambuie cheesecake and cheese and biscuits. Finally the evening drew to a close with Donnie piping, “Auld Lang Syne” – everyone linked arms and sang along.

People were reluctant to leave having enjoyed a wonderful evening with excellent food and entertainment plus an insight into the life of Robbie Burns for those who had never attended a Burns supper before.

Donnie plays with The Torrevieja Pipes and Drums who perform at many charity events and are also available for private functions.

For further information please contact Barry or Donnie on 96 671 2076 or 619 800 752.

Contact details for the El Paraiso restaurant are: 96 640 5398 

By Wendy Lawrenson

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