Author Archives

Lockhart

Scotch

Before we settle down to a wee dram of Talisker 18-year, peat-smoked, oak-matured, distilled and unfiltered, single-malt Scotch whisky, a handful of definitions: Whisky—A spirit made from grain (as opposed to grapes for brandy or potatoes for most vodkas). The feedstock for a whisky distillery is in fact […]

Smithfield Market

Is it just me, or is there something a bit off about the English staging their public executions across the square from the oldest and largest wholesale butcher’s market in London? Admittedly, Smithfield boasted one of the larger open spaces in town, and executions were one of the […]

Rubha an Dùnain

My mother’s McCaskills collided with their dreary little bit of history in 1832, when they were evicted from their village Rubha an Dùnain on the Isle of Skye and booted off to North Carolina to make way for flocks of more docile and profitable sheep. Thus arrived on […]

Flora MacDonald

When Flora MacDonald died in March, 1790, more than 3,000 mourners made the long and difficult trek to the Isle of Skye in Scotland to drink 300 gallons of whiskey in her honor. And small wonder, because Flora had led a life for the ages. Loyal her entire […]

Cucina Italiana

For what it’s worth, our rules for eating out in Italy (unless you’re desperate, of course): 1. Avoid any restaurant large enough to accommodate a busload of gawkers. Especially one with bright lights, huge, curtained windows, and elaborate chandeliers. Gaudy is good—just not that kind of gaudy. 2. […]

Macbeth

King Mac Bethad mac Findlaích might have burned to death his first liege lord (Gille Coemgáin) and beheaded his second (King Duncan I), but as medieval Scottish leaders went, he was no more vicious or ruthless than the average. Nevertheless, by the time William Shakespeare had finished turning […]

Nell Gwynn

We went searching for Nell Gwynn’s London, but couldn’t find much the glamorous 17th century courtesan would have recognized. For once, you can’t pin this one on the bombs of the German Luftwaffe—most of Nell’s neighborhood off Drury Lane in Westminster was deservedly obliterated in the endless waves of […]