Flavour Revolution – Sriracha

Fierce Flames

Hailing from eastern Thailand, Sriracha has burst onto the world scene over the last few years, even being used by restaurant chains, such as Subway, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, Jack in the Box, and many others.  Even McDonald’s has jumped on the Sriracha bandwagon. The hot sauce is made from chili pepper paste, vinegar, garlic, sugar, and salt, and it will leave a sizzle on your taste buds. Let’s learn some more about the product that is sometimes referred to as “cock sauce”, thanks to the rooster adorned on the bottle:

Sriracha No Sauce

That cock symbolizes Huy Fong Foods and Sriracha founder David Tran, who was born in the year of the rooster, according to the Chinese zodiac. Huy Fong can push out 3000 bottles of Sriracha each hour, from their production plant in Irwindale, California. 100 million pounds of red jalapeno peppers are used each year to make the sauce and are all provided by Underwood Ranches in Amarillo, California.

Si Racha, where the sauce has been originally traced back to, is actually a seaside town in Thailand, with a population of almost 20,000 inhabitants. Sales of the Americanized version have topped 20 million bottles per year and that number just continues to rise.

On the Scoville scale, which measures how spicy different sauces, peppers, and other food items are, Sriracha gets a score of 2200 points, which is actually quite low, in the grand scheme of things. The hottest pepper currently listed on the scale is the Carolina Reaper (great name!) at 2,200,000 heat units. Your face would probably implode if you put that pepper in your mouth!

Sriracha Eye Drops

Sriracha has now been infused into everything from candy canes to potato chips. One of those sounds delicious and the other disgusting and I bet you know which way this potato chip monster is leaning. The spicy dip has also been added as an ingredient to lollipops, beef jerky, lip balm, and even cocktail bitters.

Portland’s Rogue beer and spirits company has produced a Sriracha Hot Stout Beer. I’ve had and enjoyed the company’s Chipotle Ale, so I’m curious to also try the Sriracha offering. Perhaps, the Sip Advisor will get his grubby hands on it during Easter weekend, when the Sip Family is planning a crawl of the Portland scene!

While Sriracha has made its way around the world, it has also left our atmosphere, aboard the international space station, demanded by astronauts, to be used on their dehydrated meals. Some folks are quick to put the sauce on anything and everything, but the most popular items include pizza, burgers, noodle dishes, eggs, and stir fry.

sriracha-food-pyramid

A 34-minute documentary on Sriracha was released in 2013, thanks to a Kickstarter campaign, which saw 1315 people donate $21,009 to the cause, in just 31 days. All this success – sales increases by about 20% each year – despite never advertising their product. Sriracha is also not trademarked, so that’s why imitators may be aplenty, including a version made by Tabasco.

The Sriracha story hasn’t been all sunshine and chili peppers, though. The Huy Fong company has been sued and shutdown over the smell omitted by their factory. Complaints from area residents included sore throats, burning eyes, and nosebleeds. That’s a small price to pay for convenient hot sauce!

The factory opened again, once the odor issues were dealt with and fans of the sauce can actually take a tour of the place, getting to see how peppers become paste and how Sriracha makes its way from harvest to bottles to consumer’s mouths. Occasionally, there’s also an ice cream truck on the site, offering Sriracha-infused ice cream!

Flavour Revolution: The Cocky Rooster

The Cocky Rooster Beer Cocktail

  • Rim glass with Salt
  • 1.5 oz UV Sriracha Vodka
  • Top with Beer
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Dash of Soy Sauce
  • Garnish with Lemon Wheel

In a not totally surprising note, I first experienced Sriracha in potato chip form and liked it enough that I want to give it more opportunities aboard Sip Advisor delicacies. I’ve heard of a Sriracha-mayonnaise mix, which has me very interested.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (1.5 Sips out of 5):
This drink is similar to a Michelada, but altogether different, at the same time. While I’m really getting into this Sriracha Vodka, I did not like this drink. I just felt that things didn’t work well together and the taste was off. The beer I chose to use was Red Truck Ale, as I wanted something that would allow the other flavours to take over and take over they did… just not with good results. Back to the Sriracha Vodka, my only qualm is that it’s not actually red, but clear. The bottle is red and I was hoping the alcohol would be too, adding a new element to my collection.

March 28 – DDT

Going to the Hall

Well, it’s WrestleMania season once again and that means a new induction class into the World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Fame. While the figurative “hall” has grown immensely over the last decade, there are some big time names that are shockingly still absent from what has been long-rumoured will someday be a physical structure. Here are the top five superstars that should be in the WWE Hall of Fame:

#5: John Bradshaw Layfield

Layfield worked his way up the roster from glorified jobber to tag team specialist to World Champion. When he first entered the company, he was saddled with the gimmick of a wild mountain man. From there, he became a rough and tumble cowboy, a brainwashed disciple of the Undertaker and a bar room brawler who could be hired for protection. Layfield was launched into the main event scene as JBL, a character similar to oil tycoon J.R. Ewing from the TV show Dallas. Under this persona, Layfield finally won a World Championship, a distinction even he thought was never going to happen in his career. Now a color commentator, Layfield has seamlessly transitioned from the ring to the announcer’s table and his time will certainly come for enshrinement.

JBL

#4: Chyna

The ‘9th Wonder of the World’ was an integral member of the Attitude Era and became a role model for women, as she was able to compete with the men, becoming the first female to hold an top-level championship when she won the Intercontinental Title and competed in numerous intergender bouts. Unfortunately, outside of the ring, Chyna (real name Joanie Laurer) split from her boyfriend Triple H (real name Paul Levesque) as the millennium changed and he went on to marry Stephanie McMahon, daughter of WWE Chairman Vince McMahon. She wasn’t part of the company much longer after that. Chyna has done some work in the adult industry and with WWE’s return to a PG-13 rating and kid friendly programming, those two worlds don’t gel too well together.

#3: Jim Johnston

Many of you reading this are probably asking: “Who the hell is Jim Johnston?” While he’s not a household name, he should be and anyone who has ever followed professional wrestling knows his work better than they think. Johnston has been creating the music that accompanies superstars to the ring for three decades. His most famous compositions include theme songs for ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin, The Undertaker, The Rock, D-Generation X, the Ultimate Warrior, and so many others. Compilation records released of Johnston’s work have garnered huge sales, some of the 17 albums hitting gold and platinum levels. Johnston now works for WWE’s film division, putting together scores for the company’s movie releases.

#2: Paul Heyman

While his greatest contribution to the wrestling business was as a competitor to WWE, as owner of Extreme Championship Wrestling, he has also enjoyed a noteworthy career with his one-time adversary, in the roles of an on-screen character and off-screen member of the creative team. Heyman is one of the greatest minds in the wrestling business, as proven with the way he changed the landscape of the industry with his revolutionary ECW promotion. The man, once known as Paul E. Dangerously, is also one of the best talkers of all-time and any time he has a microphone in hand, people take notice. While Heyman’s career has not concluded, managers and behind-the-scenes folks are in a different category, compared to active wrestlers and it’s time to see Heyman get his due.

#1: Owen Hart

While professional wrestling is more performance than sport, grapplers still make huge sacrifices to their bodies in the name of entertainment. Hell, Owen Hart literally gave his life for wrestling, tragically dying in an entrance stunt gone wrong. The youngest of the legendary Hart family should be recognized for his stellar career, including multiple championship reigns, but litigation between Owen’s widow Martha and WWE will likely kibosh any chance that he makes it into the Hall of Fame. That’s incredibly sad, as Owen was a gifted entertainer who was able to shed the shadow of his renowned wrestling lineage and create a path for himself as a star technician, devoted family man, and infamous practical jokester.

Super Saturday Shot Day: DDT

DDT Shot

  • Rim glass with Honey and Cinnamon Sugar
  • 0.5 oz Honey Whiskey
  • 0.5 oz Cinnamon Whisky
  • Dash of Tabasco Sauce

I left off sure-fire Hall of Famers who are still semi-active with WWE, including the Undertaker, Kane, Triple H, Chris Jericho, and others. I also didn’t give much thought to those without padded WWE resumes. Although the company has inducted some with little association to the company, they just wouldn’t be able to crack the top five presented here. In closing, I have to say that it’s about damn time that ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage was enshrined in this year’s class.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
The DDT, of course, is the finishing move made popular by WWE Hall of Fame member, Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts… you know, as well as being the infamous insecticide chemical! This shot was kind of neat, with the sweet Honey Whiskey coming through first, followed by the warmth of the Cinnamon Whiskey, and finally the burn of the Tabasco Sauce. It all makes for a cool (or hot) little shooter!

Out and About #12: Ales of March

You’d think that with St. Patrick’s Day in the rear-view mirror, the partying would come to a stop, or at least a gradual slowdown. Not so with the Sip Advisor! Last weekend was just as busy, if not more so than the one before and that’s not a bad thing… that’s a good thing!

The weekend got started off on the right note with friends coming over for some drinks and games. I picked up a pack of the St. Ambroise variety collection, as my contribution for guests. This set contained two each of the company’s IPA, Double IPA, Scotch Ale, Blonde Ale, and Oatmeal Stout. I’m still working my way through the case, but have enjoyed the offerings thus far. The Scottish Ale is particularly good and will knock your socks off with its bold flavour.

scottish_drinking_game

On the same shopping trip that I picked up the beer, I finally grabbed the UV Sriracha Vodka I’ve had my eyes on (to be featured in an upcoming Flavour Revolution post). I really like this spirit and have invented a great Cosmopolitan variation, using it and mixing with Cranberry-Lemonade juice. Based on Sriracha’s nickname of Cock Sauce – due to the rooster logo on the bottle, of course – I call my creation the Cock Buster! It was a hit with my guests/customers all weekend.

The booze highlight of the week was Yaletown Brewery’s Ales of March Caskival, which offered samples of 11 different beers for only $22. At the event were breweries from around B.C.’s Lower Mainland region, including Dead Frog, Strange Fellows, Red Truck, Big Ridge, Persephone, Powell Street, Moody Ales, Bridge, and, of course, Yaletown. This Caskival was far less populated than February’s IPA showcase, but that is not a complaint, as we were able to move much more freely and even snagged a table this time around. Mrs. Sip wonders if the Ciderwise event (featuring ciders and gluten-free beers) going on at the same time caused the split audience.

Not content to let Sunday be a day of rest, we went for a leisurely drive out to Port Moody, to visit Yellow Dog Brewing. The place was packed when we arrived, but we managed to get Mrs. Sip a seat at the front bar, while sharing a taster set that included their Play Dead IPA, Chase My Tail Pale Ale, Lightly Smoked Pilsner, Shake a Paw Smoked Porter, and Tripel Dog Dare Belgian Tripel. As you can see, Yellow Dog has some of the most creative brew names I’ve come across on the scene. We enjoyed each of the beers, with my personal favourite probably being the Pale Ale. That’s saying something because I usually don’t gravitate towards this type of suds.

beer afternoon

Our mid-week break (who am I kidding, we’re always having fun!) featured a stop at The Winking Judge Pub, where Mrs. Sip and I got to sample some of East Van Brewing’s beer options. I ordered their Wheel Bite IPA, which was a really good drink. Best of all, some proceeds from my purchase went to charity… now that’s the kind of philanthropy I can get down with!

Who knows what this coming weekend has in store, but it certainly has a lot to live up to. With a winery event, housewarming party, WWE WrestleMania, and my and Mrs. Sip’s 13th dating anniversary on the horizon, I can say with some certainty that there will be much to discuss!

Flavour Revolution – Elderflower

Spiritual Safety

The Elder Tree, producer of the elder berry, is surrounded by tales of myths and legends, some good and some bad. Some believe the tree keeps evil spirits at bay, while others think that cutting the tree released a force known as the Elder Mother (who sounds like the sweetest lady you could ever meet) would be unleashed on the cutters, to take revenge. I’d like to believe in the former, so let’s look at some other items believed to ward off baddies!

Horseshoe

This is why the Sip Advisor always keeps a box of Lucky Charms on hand! If you were to hang a horseshoe above your door, it was believed that witches couldn’t enter your humble abode. It was also said to pass along good luck to all that passed by the symbol. This is why folks working at barns are the happiest people around!

toilet seat horseshoes

Wind Chimes

Along with providing sweet, melodic sounds during storms, wind chimes are thought to scare off evil. They can also scare off humans and animals who are opposed to loud noises. Ma and Pa Sip have a large collection of wind chimes on their back porch, so I guess their home is one of the safest places in my network of hiding possibilities.

Arrowheads

Do you live in a not-so-safe neighbourhood? Compton, I’m looking at you! Well, try this little theory: arrowheads above your doorway. It’s believed by some that burglars won’t be able to enter your home, thanks to these spiked tips. My theory is that a thief would see these arrowheads and assume the person inside the home was just too crazy to mess with!

Wishbone

Okay, this one is a little bizarre (yes, more so than those already listed). If you’re lonely and in search of love, place a wishbone above your door on New Year’s Day and a relationship will soon be yours. Oh, you’ll also have to chant “Lover, come hither!” three times fast. Sounds like a debauchery-filled night for Mrs. Sip and I… she’ll deny that, though!

human wishbone

Door Gods

Given the Sip Advisor’s penchant for holding doors open for people, I thought they were referring to me, but apparently this dates back to China’s Tang Dynasty. The two gods (generals of Tang Taizong) come together and face each other, while also intimidating evildoers. Just don’t put the gods back-to-back, or you’re basically welcoming bad mojo.

Garlic

Let’s wrap things up with the world famous vampire repellent. I mean, garlic is often cited as having a myriad of health benefits, but nothing is better towards a healthy lifestyle than repelling evil spirits, am I right!? While not all cultures love garlic and its pungent odor, I for one will continue eating fries, bread, and everything else made with it!

Flavour Revolution: Le Soirée

Le Soiree Martini

There are many other items meant to repel evil spirits, but I like to keep these articles short, in order to stave off the wrath of Mrs. Sip and her editing skills! Stay safe, my little sippers!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
I have no idea where I found this recipe, but I did record it on my phone and wanted to use it all along for this project. It was pretty good, with the bitter Hendrick’s Gin getting some balance from the sweet St. Germaine Elderflower Liqueur. To turn it up a notch in the future, I might sub in Lemon-Lime Soda for Club Soda, just to get an extra citrus burst.

March 21 – The Punisher

Power to the People

Vigilantes fascinate me to a degree. People who are willing to take justice into their own hands and set the wrongs of the legal system right, taking up a cause and fighting for the people who have no voice. This list will not include super heroes who have special powers, but just ordinary folks, trying to make a difference:

#5: Casey Jones

While the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are vigilantes in their own right, it’s Casey Jones who goes out night after night with no special powers to protect him and takes care of business with an array of sports-themed weapons, highlighted by his protective mask and hockey stick armament. Jones is best remembered for his appearance in the original TMNT movie, where Michelangelo calls his “Wayne Gretzky on steroids!” and he joins the team and helps take down Shredder and the Foot Clan.

Casey Jones

#4: Dexter

The serial killer of serial killers, Dexter is there to pick up the scraps whenever the justice system fails. Operating under a code passed down to him by his father, police officer Harry Morgan, Dexter stalks his prey and once he has confirmed that they are indeed guilty as charged, he puts them in his kill room and under the knife… quite literally. It’s funny how much you can like someone that would normally be so reviled. Does the end justify his means? After all, Dexter is still a murderer.

#3: Machete

The former Mexican Federale (played by real-life ex-inmate Danny Trejo) is one badass you don’t want to mess with. Still, some idiot – drug kingpin Rogelio Torrez – decided to murder Machete’s wife and daughter, which sends Machete over the edge and seeking revenge. Machete’s kill count soars to astronomical numbers and the bloodshed is immense while his vengeance is being sought. Amusingly, Trejo’s own mother has likened calling her son by his killer character’s name.

Machete

#2: Kick-Ass

Before becoming a “superhero,” Dave Lizewski had hoped to make a difference in his crime-ridden city. He gets beat up pretty bad on his first attempt, but this results in severe nerve damage and numerous metal plates being surgically implanted in his body, thus making him somewhat impervious to pain. Along with fellow do-gooders like Hit-Girl, Colonel Stars and Stripes, Night Bitch, and Battle Guy, Kick-Ass takes to the streets to dole out some vigilante justice and keep would-be criminals in check.

#1: The Punisher

After his family is killed by members of organized crime, Frank Castle has nothing left to lose and becomes The Punisher, a vigilante who is hell bent on extracting revenge for his fallen kin and ridding the world of evildoers. The Punisher has become more of an anti-hero thanks to his willingness to take on all contracts and for the ruthless nature in which he operates. The man gets the job done, though, unwilling to let anyone get in the way of his end goal: total villain annihilation.

Super Saturday Shot Day: The Punisher

The Punisher Shot

  • Rim glass with Chocolate Sprinkles
  • 0.5 oz Bourbon
  • 0.5 oz Jagermeister
  • Splash of Mudslide Mix

Honourable mentions go to the A-Team, the Boondock Saints, and Batman, who narrowly misses this list because of his immense wealth, unlike other less fortunate crime fighters. Now, I will surely have Batman haunting me and stalking the Sip Advisor like some easy-to-catch prey!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
There are other Punisher/Vigilante recipes out there that I considered, but I felt this one best represented the character. I was missing both Mudslide Mix and Whip Cream (which you’re supposed to garnish the drink with), but mixed my own Mudslide ingredients (Irish Creme, Kahlua, Vodka, Milk) and went with some Chocolate Sprinkles for presentation points. The best part of this shooter is that it couldn’t be further from a punishment and is actually quite delightful!

Out and About #11: Luck of the Irish

The greatest drinking holiday of the year has come and gone and you know the Sip Advisor celebrated in style! We started the weekend off by attending an early St. Patrick’s Day party at the Jericho Garrison. Both Monster Energy Drink and Red Truck Beer were at the event, along with live music and other entertainment. It didn’t take long for the beer pong to get started up and the Sip Advisor made his usual strong contributions to his teams.

Beer Pong Grandma

On Sunday, with a touch of bad weather hitting the ‘Wet Coast,’ we decided to make a jaunt across the border to Bellingham, Washington, for a little shopping and a visit to the Boundary Bay Brewery. Mrs. Sip and I shared a sampler of their beers, which included six varieties to try. Our consensus favourite among the collection was the Oatmeal Stout, further expanding my burgeoning love for darker beers. It also comes in at a whopping 9.6%, so you’ll feel it soon enough!

It was also at Boundary Bay Brewery that the Sip Advisor finally joined the Instagram world. Feel free to follow me and my adventures in boozing… so long as I can find a wireless signal to get attached to. No data plan for this guy, I’m a free internet man!

Tuesday, of course, was St. Patrick’s Day… a national holiday for some and what should be for others, such as the Sip Advisor! The occasion brings up a lot of the same questions you hear around New Year’s Eve: Who will you celebrate with? More importantly, where will you take your partying ways? We decided, in that case, to repeat our New Year’s Eve plans, by celebrating at Craft Beer Market.

St. Patrick's Day Next

Decked out in our best emerald ensembles – or for some of us, the only green clothing option we have hidden away – we did what the Irish do best and drank our faces off! Mrs. Sip tried the just tapped Stanley Park Brewery Irish Stout Cask, while we also ordered one rack of Craft’s Around the World Sampler, which featured a grouping of wheat beers, followed by the Local Sampler, comprised of stouts and porters.

The sampler menus don’t always hit home for me, but these two sets looked good, with the Around the World containing four of six beers that I’ve tried before and are among my favourites, while the Local had some dark beer options that go perfectly with St. Patrick’s Day. Us guys topped the evening off with a shot of chilled Jameson Irish Whiskey, which was the perfect nightcap!

The fun didn’t stop with St. Patrick’s Day ending, as Mrs. Sip and her ladies met at their usual Joey’s Restaurant stop prior to a theatre evening and somehow, the Sip Advisor got invited along for a drink and a snack. Joey’s has the best skinny fries this side of McDonald’s and a bunch of their other eats are pretty good. Their happy hour specials are a highlight, although we’ve found that the deals vary depending on which location you’re at.

Drinking Time Sun

In liquor news, a lot of hullabaloo was made recently about how much water craft breweries are using. This is an absolutely ridiculous attack on the industry. Does Starbucks get any guff for how much H2O they’re pilfering for their disgusting beverages? And what about macro breweries which, by the nature of their name, have to be using more water than smaller operations?

As Ma Sip pointed out, the craft breweries are responsible for creating a ton of new jobs (from brewery staff, to servers at their tasting rooms) and you also have to consider Mrs. Sip’s arguments about increased tourism and all the benefits that can have on an area. Just look at how well Portland is doing, as well as other communities that are growing the industry.

Lastly, there’s one local product the Sip Advisor was made aware of this week: a collaboration brew between Persephone Brewing and Yellow Dog Beer. This Lightly Smoked Pilsner has me salivating for a taste and I’ll have to be vigilant in tracking it down!

Flavour Revolution – Rhubarb

Sweet Relief

Well, this article might get a little dicey, so viewer’s discretion is advised. Simply put, rhubarb contains a number of laxative properties, which somehow got me thinking of the greatest laxative scenes in movies. Don’t ask me to explain how my mind works… I don’t get it, either. Well, might as well get this story started:

Dumb & Dumber

After Lloyd discovers that his best friend Harry is going out with the girl he has a massive crush on, Lloyd decides to spike Harry’s drink with a laxative… and lots of it! En route to another date, Harry starts to feel a rumble in his tummy. When he arrives at Mary Swanson’s home, Harry is in serious need of a washroom. He does his business, but the hilarity goes up another couple notches when it’s revealed that the toilet Harry has been using is broken. This begs the question: What would you do!? It’s a question that has haunted the Sip Advisor and many I know for two decades. Answers may vary, but in the end, you’d have to assume that things would get much worse, before they got any better.

American Pie

Poor, poor Finch. The teen has made it his mission to never use the school washrooms, fearing how unhygienic they might be. In fact, if he has the urge to use the facilities, he runs home during the break between classes to do his business. Finch’s plans go awry when Stifler spikes his drink with a laxative, angry that girls throughout the school are turning him down for a date to the prom, hoping Finch will ask them. Like Harry and the broken toilet in Dumb & Dumber, Finch can’t seem to buy a break, getting tricked into using the girl’s washroom to relieve himself. This results in no date at all for Finch, but he does get back at Stifler by having sex with his mom. Sounds like a fair trade!

Van Wilder

There is nothing worse than desperately needing the use of a bathroom, when you aren’t able to access one or have other obstacles in your way. This plays into a scene in Van Wilder when Gwen Pearson (Tara Reid) slips some laxatives into her boyfriend Richard’s drink, upon learning that he cheated on her and got Van Wilder in some hot water with the school and police. While writing an exam, the symptoms begin to hit and things go from bad to worse as Richard races through the test and tries in vain to reach a toilet. The guy eventually uses a garbage can (hey, things could have been worse), while still in the public eye. That sounds like an apt punishment for betrayal!

Flavour Revolution: Royal Blush

Royal Blush Cocktail

  • Muddle Strawberries
  • 1.5 oz Rhubarb Tea Liqueur
  • Top with Club Soda
  • Dash of Grenadine
  • Garnish with a Strawberry Slice

There’s actually an area known as the Rhubarb Triangle in the West Yorkshire area of England. I only hope they’ve constructed enough washrooms in the zone to make sure any visitors are covered, should they imbibe in rhubarb treats.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
This was a pretty good cocktail, one of the drink ideas found on those little bottle attachments that I love so much. Although I hate when they bother to include a little recipe booklet and all the options are plain and suck. I mean, why bother. The Rhubarb Tea Liqueur was not like this. Anyhoo, I believe this is the first time the Sip Advisor has ever used Rhubarb anything and it was a hit. Ma Sip is already looking to make this her summer cocktail, later this year.