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.

Flavour Revolution – Lime

The Great Debate

While both Limes and Lemons were used to fight scurvy, I’ve always been partial to the little green guys. Let’s debate the benefits and cultural impact of Limes vs. Lemons and see if the Sip Advisor is justified in his love!

Health Benefits

Limes have more than double the Vitamin A of a lemon, but lemons come in with close to double the Vitamin C of a lime. I guess that makes the whole thing a wash, but that’s okay, I don’t really like getting into the whole nutrient argument too much. Let’s just say that the two zesty fruits are actually both considered incredibly healthy. Winner: Draw

Vitamins

Pie

Frankly, I enjoy my pies in the form of fruits like cherry or blueberry, but we must debate the merits of Key Lime Pie vs. Lemon Meringue Pie, despite their many similarities. Key Lime Pie is the state pie (Seriously!? They have these!) of Florida and there was even legislation introduced in 1965 – although it did not pass – that would have seen a $100 fine levied against anyone that advertised Key Lime Pie, not made with Key limes. Lemon Meringue simply does not have the same backing. Winner: Limes

Non-Alcoholic Drink

This category is pretty easy to decide. While limeade/lime cordial goes good with some cocktails, I don’t think many people drink it on its own. The same can’t be said for lemonade which is universally enjoyed and is part of the way of life in places like the southern United States, where sitting on your back porch with glass of tall, ice cold lemonade on a hot summer’s day just seems so natural. Winner: Lemons

Cocktails

With an array of options that include the Margarita, Gin & Tonic, Gimlet, Rickey, and many others, Limes easily pull out to a quick lead. And you simply can’t drink a Corona without a lime wedge stuffed inside the bottle. Lemons do produce Limoncello, Lemon Drop Schnapps and a lemon wedge goes quite nicely with most wheat beers, but because an orange wedge always trumps that, I will instead deduct points. Winner: Limes

Songs & Groups

My favourite band of all-time, Led Zeppelin, has The Lemon Song and even the enigmatic Meatloaf had the track Life is a Lemon. There’s also a group called The Lemons, as well as Blind Lemon (a play on Blind Melon), which calls itself “the UK’s hardest hitting covers band”. All limes really bring to the table is, of all things, the Coconut song. You need to put the lime in the coconut or else you won’t feel better… what a silly woman! Winner: Lemons

Characters

This is another quick steal for lemons, who offer Tina Fey’s Liz Lemon, from 30 Rock, as well as Lemony Snicket and Honey Lemon from Big Hero 6. The limes counter with Harry Lime, a character played by Orson Welles, in the film noir The Third Man (which was the most popular movie at the British box office in 1949) and a Dragon Ball Z character simply known as Lime, whose Wikipedia entry even calls him a filler character. Winner: Lemons

Liz Lemon

Spirituality

In India, limes are used to remove evil spirits, as part of the Tantra ritual. They also play a role in repelling the dreaded evil eye and are often worn as charms. Lemons on the other hand, are offered to the goddesses of Hindu temples, to cool them down from their fierce fighting style, so that they may offer blessings. I feel that anything that protects you in India is a good thing, while lemons in this case, are simply a bribe. Winner: Limes

Other

Lime has its own stone, although I’m not sure that has even the slightest bit to do with the fruit and looking up something like that might make me sleepy. There’s also Lyme Disease, which probably has even less to do with the fruit, but just by association, it doesn’t sound very good. Lastly, Limey is a slang term for British folk, likely derived from navy sailors and the whole scurvy thing. The only questionable thing I can think of for lemons, is that ‘squeezing lemons’ is a term for peeing. With all these negative aspects, is there really a winner? Winner: Double Disqualification

Flavour Revolution: Bite My Beer

Bite My Beer Cocktail

I’m sticking with my original pick of limes, but lemons sure made the decision a tough one. One thing is certain, limes and lemons come together quite nicely in Sweet & Sour Mix and perhaps we should just leave it at that!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
This drink wasn’t bad, but it turned more into a sweet beer, with a little bite. Given the rum’s name, I guess that’s exactly what they were going for. I wonder if I would have felt any different if the Lemon-Lime Soda wasn’t involved, as I’m not sure mixing pop and beer is ever a good thing.

Czech Republic – Beerly Legal

Brew Handles

Budweiser (made by Anheuser-Busch) is one of the most popular beer brands around the world thanks to corporate sponsorship deal with various sports leagues, heavy advertising, and product placement in movies and TV. What many people don’t know, is how Budweiser came to be, taking their moniker from two breweries based in the city of České Budějovice (Budweis), in the Czech Republic. Let’s take a closer look at this sordid tale:

Beer has been brewed in the city of Budějovice since the 13th century, evening holding the position of imperial brewery for the Holy Roman Empire at one time. The Czech Republic’s largest brewery is the “Pivovar Budějovický Budvar” (Budweiser Budvar Brewery), which was established in 1895. One hundred years earlier, the oldest Czech brewery was founded, under the name “Budweiser Bier Bürgerbräu.” Both companies sold their beer under the name Budweiser.

bud versus

Budweiser Bürgerbräu crossed the pond and hit the United States in 1871. Five years later, in 1876, Anheuser-Busch began using the Budweiser brand and registered it as a trademark two years later, in 1878. The Anheuser-Busch version of Budweiser was originally an imitation of the Czech product, before carving out its own niche in the brewing industry.

The Budweiser trademark dispute has been fought since 1907, with Anheuser-Busch trying to worm its way into European countries, citing their trademark registration. To counter, the Czech breweries state that Budweiser is not just a generic name, but actually refers to beers made in the city of Budweis. The direct translation is ‘beers from Budweis,’ which Anheuser-Busch certainly can’t claim, unless there’s a town in St. Louis nobody has previously heard of, also called Budweis.

Regardless, an agreement between all three breweries was reached in 1938, allowing Anheuser-Busch to label their beers Budweiser in North America only. Anheuser-Busch has made numerous offers to buy out the Budweiser Budvar Brewery, in order to acquire the global rights to the name and beer, but the Czech government has stepped in and declined all bids. The Budweiser name is a matter of national pride and who doesn’t like sticking it to big American corporations every now and again!

i before e bud

With the fall of communism in the early 1990’s, the Czech breweries worked to regain the rights to their names, using international Protected Geographical Indication, to help with their fight. As of January 2013, the Czech companies had won 89 of 124 cases against Anheuser-Busch (eight ending in a draw), but there are many other actions pending, in jurisdictions around the world.

As a result of the litigation between the three companies, beers made by the state-owned Budweiser Budvar Brewery are labelled Czechvar in North America, while Budweiser America is sold as simply Bud across European Union markets. Today, Budweiser Bürgerbräu is known by “Pivovar Samson” or “B. B. Bürgerbräu” in the U.S. and recently regained the Budweiser naming rights for Europe.

i-love-you-too-beer

Anheuser-Busch and the Budweiser Budvar Brewery have even worked in partnership with one another. Starting in 2007, Anheuser-Busch started to import the Czechvar beer into the U.S. Business certainly does make for strange bedfellows, although the agreement was terminated in 2012. The United Kingdom and Ireland are some of the rare places where all brands are able to use the Budweiser name.

As for Anheuser-Busch, they keep plugging along, hocking their water… er, I mean beer to hundreds of millions of people who just don’t know any better. Mrs. Sip and I hate it when a place we go to is featuring Budweiser as their daily deal. We’re not saying you have to be a craft beer snob or anything like that, but if you’re going to put anything in your system, it might as well be a decent brew!

Czech Republic: Beerly Legal

Beerly Legal Beer Cocktail

  • 1 oz Campari
  • Top with Czechvar Beer
  • Splash of Orange Soda
  • Garnish with a Maraschino Cherry

Sticking with brews, the Pilsner style of beer was also invented in the Czech Republic, this time in the city of Plzeň. Beer brewing is still a thriving industry in the Czech Republic, with countless breweries. Heck, the Czech’s even have the highest beer consumption per capita in the world!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (2.5 Sips out of 5):
I love the name of this cocktail, but Campari has ruined (yet again) what should have been a great drink. If I make it again, I would completely exclude the Italian herbal liqueur. Thankfully, my bottle is almost empty and I can say without any hesitation that it will not be replaced. On a side note, I used Orange Soda in place of Tangerine Juice.

Czech Republic – Magic Eye

Castlevania

There are more castles per capita in the Czech Republic than any other place in the world. More than 2,000 structures exist in the country, which is fair given the Czechs are surrounded by a number of countries and have been invaded, conquered, divided, and annexed numerous times over their existence. Let’s take a look at some of these fortresses:

Prague Castle

The largest castle in the world is located in the Czech Republic capital of Prague, where the best view of the city can be found atop the main tower of the stronghold. A highlight of Prague Castle grounds is the St. Vitus Cathedral, which features beautiful stained-glass windows, as well as the burial plots of Czech saints and emperors. The whole site combines many different aspects of Czech architecture and design from across the centuries and is a feast for the eyes. A hidden room within the castle walls hides the Bohemian Crown Jewels and even Adolf Hitler spent a night in the structure, after the Nazis invaded and occupied Czechoslovakia.

Cat Castle

Karlštejn Castle

Thought of by many as the second most popular tourist attraction in the Czech Republic, Karlštejn Castle is a Gothic-style castle located 30km southwest of Prague. Built by King Charles IV, the fortress was needed to guard the crown jewels, holy relics, and other treasures belonging to the royal family. Unfortunately, many rooms at the landmark are hidden from tourists due to earlier robberies. Apparently, you can even drink water from a hand-powered well, although the Sip Advisor will take his bottled options (water, beer, etc.) over the natural stuff. If castles aren’t your thing, a golf course is located nearby and shares the same name.

Cesky Krumlov Castle

Not only does this landmark house an impressive main castle, but there are also a number of mini castles, making the town seem almost maze-like. In the castle moat, visitors can see a family of brown bears, the protectors of the site. Special to the Cesky Krumlov grounds is the Baroque Theatre, which is one of the world’s most preserved theatres, including stage, orchestra pit, machinery, costumes, stage curtains, and much more. The area was made a national monument in 1989 and a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1992.

Cesky Sternberk Castle

This stronghold is still owned by the same family that built it in the mid-13th century, after it was returned to the Sternberg’s in 1992, following the fall of communism and Velvet Revolution. The name of the castle, Sternberk, translates to Star Mountain, which kind of sounds like a world in a video game, such as Super Mario Bros. or The Legend of Zelda. The complex is one of the best preserved medieval castles and tours are highlighted by a visit to the Knight’s Hall, which holds a number of historic items. There are also 545 copper engravings on display, which detail the entirety of the Thirty Years’ War.

Darth Vader Castle

Cervena Lhota

This picturesque bright red castle was built in the middle of a lake, atop an island and connected to the mainland by a stone bridge. The castle’s gardens are a major attraction and the site is visited by over 120,000 tourists each year. Nearby, is a park that offers attractions such as the Renaissance Chapel of the Holy Trinity and a fish pond where boats can be rented for a trek across its waters. The castle’s name, meaning “Red Lhota” comes from the red tiles that make up its roof.

Zleby Castle

Originally built around 1289, the Zleby Caslte has changed its look many times over the centuries. Beginning as a Gothic style structure, it was rebuilt in Renaissance style, following the Hussite Wars in the 15th century. Later, it was changed again to a Baroque style and it has remained this way since. Tours at the castle take visitors in one of two directions: either to the kitchens or to the high tower and its dungeons. Travelers could ask for a nice meal before being ushered to the dungeon to meet their maker! Also in the area is a population of white deer, as well as various birds and other animals.

Hluboka Castle

One of the first Gothic style castle in the world, Hluboka was built in the mid-13th century and contains many expensive furniture pieces, particularly in the “Morning Guest Room,” which includes woven tapestries from Brussels, hand-painted Chinese vases, and other objects of art. The fortress was even featured in a scene from the Owen Wilson-Jackie Chan film, Shanghai Knights. The castle is close to the city of Budějovice (where the real Budweiser was created and is still made today – the next Czech article du jour), so tourists can always get smashed before or after their castle visit.

Czech Republic: Magic Eye

Magic Eye Beer Cocktail

Some people have it on their bucket list to stay overnight at a castle, but not the Sip Advisor. On my bucket list is “Own a Castle!” Can you imagine the parties I could throw if I had my own palace? The booze would be flowing like blood did during the Middle Ages and we would pour one out for all the homies that perished with the walls!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
Originally, I was going to pick up a bottle of Absinthe for our jaunt through the Czech Republic, but then I learned of the country’s long history with beer and decided to go that route, instead. While I can’t call this my favourite beer cocktail, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it could be. To get the whole drink effect to look its best, I put the shot glass already into the empty goblet and used a pourer to get the beer around the shooter, so as to mix it up as little as possible. It all led to a rare success in the Sip Advisor’s Creation Kitchen!

Belgium – Moon Drops

Comic Creations

While Get Fuzzy is the Sip Advisor’s favourite comic and he doesn’t stray too far from that strip (although he loves him the occasional Garfield story), Belgium is known for a few animated legends that have recently been turned into feature film franchises. Let’s take a closer look at these works:

The Adventures of Tintin

First published in 1929, Tintin was created by the artist simply known as Hergé (real name Georges Remi) as part of a newspaper supplement. Tintin books have gone on to become big business, selling more than 350 million copies in over 80 different languages. The character is often described as a native son of Belgium, which is pretty good praise for someone whose best friends are a dog and an oft-drunk sea captain.

Have you ever wondered where the name Tintin came from? The character’s first name is actually Martin and Tintin is a common nickname for people named Martin in French-speaking countries. His dog Snowy is actually called Milou in the French comics, while the detective duo of Thompson and Thomson are named Dupont and Dupond.

Tintin Age

Tintin, a teenage journalist and detective, has travelled the world and even beyond it. He’s had adventures in the Congo, the Soviet Union, China, and even on the moon. If you wish to keep up with his globetrotting, you may be out of luck. Some of the regions he’s visited are completely made up, such as Khemed, Borduria, Syldavia, and Nuevo Rico.

The 2011 film release, involving movie moguls Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson, sees Hergé actually appear in the opening scene as the street artist. A Tintin theatrical release had been in the works since the 1980’s, when Spielberg first crafted a script for the Belgian icon. There has also been a Tintin TV cartoon (the Sip Advisor’s first introduction to Tintin adventures), BBC radio show, two French live-action films, stage shows, and publicity stunts.

Belgium Balls

The Smurfs

Created in 1958 by artist Peyo (what’s with all these Belgian comic creators going by a singular name), also known as Pierre Culliford, the Smurfs are branded as Les Schtroumpfs, in French. Peyo came up with the word ‘schtroumpfs’ when he forgot the word for salt at a dinner party and made something up on the spot. Smurf is simply the Dutch translation of the word.

The Smurfs, thanks to their North American TV cartoon, become a pop culture hit in the 1980’s (Smurfmania had already hit the U.K. in the 70’s), spawning their own cereal (including a commercial starring a 13-year-old Jack Black), video games, songs, dance craze, theme park attractions, Ice Capades show, and, of course, lines of toys and other merchandise that kids just had to have.

bring-me-a-smurf

In the beginning, there was only 99 Smurf characters, but that number has risen over the years. Despite the growth in population, there are only three female Smurfs: Smurfette, Sassette, and Nanny Smurf… talk about a sausage party! Some Smurfs from the original comics never made the crossover to TV and film. These characters include Alchemist Smurf, Timid Smurf, Enamored Smurf, Finance Smurf, Lumberjack Smurf, and Navigator Smurf.

The Smurfs helped create modern zombies, thanks to a 1959 comic called ‘The Black Smurfs’ (‘The Purple Smurfs’ in North America). The story was about a Smurf being bitten by an insect, before going around and biting other Smurfs, turning them into aggressive, living-dead beings. This comic was released years before George A. Romero’s ‘Night of the Living Dead’ and featured the birth of Grouchy Smurf, the patient zero who never regained his full Smurf senses following the outbreak.

Belgium: Moon Drops

Moon Drops Cocktail

Belgium has been dubbed ‘Home of the Comic Strip’ and these panels are considered to be an important part of Belgian life. Next time the Sip Advisor is visiting, he will certainly sit down with a Tintin or Smurfs anthology and give it a read. Some Belgian beer will help with the language barrier!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
This cocktail was simple, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The drops of Sherry floated on top of the drink, gave the brew a unique taste and made it look neat with that hazy red colour. Stella is a clean, crisp and easy to drink beer.

Belgium – Belgian Mojito

Full Meal Deal

Belgium is a pretty creative place. After all, they are responsible for the saxophone, the Body Mass Index, Club Med, Jean-Claude Van Damme (the Muscles from Brussels) and these culinary treats!

Beer

Let’s start with the fact that there are over 800 brands of Belgian beer. When Mrs. Sip and I were in Belgium many moons ago, we decided to try a bunch of different types of brew (not a hard choice, really) and were handed a menu that read like a phonebook. Each beer comes with its own specialized glass, said to improve the overall experience. It’s estimated that Belgians drink 84 liters of beer per person, per year. Those are numbers to be quite proud of!

Belgian Beer

French Fries

According to lore, it wasn’t the French who invented one of the greatest side dishes ever known to man, but the Belgians. In fact, the Belgians have an entire culture devoted to the French fry, including most citizens owning a deep fryer so they can make their own at all hours of the day. As a sauce man, myself, I’m happy to note that the fine folks of Belgium will use an array of different toppings on their fries, including mayonnaise (the big one over there), tartar sauce, and many others.

Chocolate

The sweet stuff is a big deal in Belgium, with chocolatier and confectionary outlets on many street corners. Point being, they are not hard to find. Some of the most popular chocolate brands in Belgium, include Guylian (makers of the sea shell chocolates) and Neuhaus (inventor of pralines and even the method of gift wrapping chocolate purchases). The world’s greatest chocolate sales occur at the Brussels International Airport, as travelers stock up on the goodies before exiting the country.

Belgium Waffles

I’m not sure what exactly takes a waffle and makes it Belgian (apparently this is a North American term to describe larger, but lighter battered waffles), but if they want to lay claim to this breakfast fixture, I say let them have it. In Belgium, it’s more common to see the term Brussels waffle, but it seems to all mean the same thing. In Belgium, waffles are even sold on the street as a snack on the go and sometimes from ice cream trucks.

Belgian Waffles

Brussels Sprouts

One of the most child-despised food items to ever exist, parents of fussy eaters can thank the Belgians for this culinary gem. The sprout has been grown in Brussels for over 400 years and while it could have originated anywhere, Belgium has jumped aboard the edible bud train. Mrs. Sip has recently got into Brussels sprouts, providing they’re roasted and smothered in cheese. I’m still not onboard with the leafy green, but we have a ceasefire with one another.

Mussels

Or as they know it, moules-frites (mussels and fries), has often been given the title of Belgium’s national dish. I like mussels from time to time, particularly if done in a Cajun-esque style and in one of those big pots with other seafood, potatoes, and corn on the cob. Back to Belgium’s take on the dish, the shellfish is typically cooked or steamed with vegetables such as onions, celery, and leeks, although other, more savoury techniques can be utilized.

Jenever

This ancestor of gin has been the national spirit of Belgium for hundreds of years. In fact, Jenever is a protected product of origin and can only be manufactured in Belgium, the Netherlands (where we will sample it in a few weeks), and parts of France and Germany. The traditional serving method includes a shot glass fresh from the freezer and filled to the brim. The first sip should be taken without the use of hands, before you can return to normal sipping procedures!

Belgium: Belgian Mojito

Belgian Mojito Cocktail

As a beer and French fry connoisseur, I give great praise to the people of Belgium and that’s without even taking into consideration the Sip Advisor’s sweet tooth. I won’t even deduct points for their addition of Brussels sprouts to the international potluck!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
I’ve never put together what is basically a Beer Mojito, so I figured this was the perfect opportunity. My drink turned into its own ecosystem with all the greenery in there. It tasted pretty good, though, helping me further my claim to being the ‘King of Mojitos!’

Switzerland – Golden Delicious

Cheese Please

I never thought I’d write an entire article on my mortal enemy, cheese, unless it was to destroy its reputation among the international community. Never say never, I suppose, as our journey through Switzerland unearths a bulk of dairy options. Here are some lesser known facts about Swiss cheeses:

While most people immediately think of Swiss cheese (you know, the one with holes in it) when Switzerland’s fromage production is brought up, the country is actually responsible for a number of varieties – 450 different types, in fact. The long list includes: · Appenzeller, Berner Alpkäse, Emmental, Gruyère, L’Etivaz, Raclette, Sbrinz, Schabziger, Tête de Moine, Tilsit, and Vacherin. The cheeses are classified by structure and fall into hard, semi-hard, semi-soft, soft, and the all-important other category. There’s even a Federation of Swiss Cheese Producers.

Holy Cow

Cheese Fondue has been recognized as Switzerland’s national dish. Sadly, it is the one fondue creation I do not enjoy, but it thrills Mrs. Sip… even more than my Adonis-esque body does! Some popular fondue recipes include: Neuchâteloise (gruyère and emmental), Moitié-moitié (gruyère and Fribourg vacherin), Vaudoise (gruyere), Fribourgeoise (Fribourg vacherin using potatoes instead of bread), Innerschweiz (gruyère, emmental, and sbrinz), Appenzeller (appenzeller cheese with cream), Tomato (gruyère, emmental, crushed tomatoes, and wine), Spicy (gruyère, red and green peppers, and chili), and Mushroom (gruyère, Fribourg vacherin, and mushrooms).

Similar to fondue, raclette involves melting cheese on a grill or plate and slicing off the melted bits as they become softer. There are even special grills meant specifically for this process and I bet Mrs. Sip will buy one before I ever get my deep fryer.

Swiss cheese should be enjoyed at room temperature and thus, it is recommended that it be removed from the fridge 30 minutes prior to eating. There are a number of different pairings that best allow Swiss cheese to be enjoyed. This includes fruit (apples, pears, strawberries, grapes); deli meat, such as ham and corned beef, as well as prosciutto, pastrami, salami and bratwurst; and spicy condiments like mustard and horseradish. On the drink front, it is recommended that Swiss cheese be washed down by beverages such as cranberry or raspberry juice and even tomato juice.

Have you ever wondered why Swiss cheese has its trademark holes? No, neither have I, but I’m here to explain it anyway. Apparently, when the gases in the cheese expand during its ripening, this causes the holes, also known as “eyes” to form.

Cheese Question

Le Gruyère Premier Cru is a special variety of Swiss cheese that is matured for 14 months in caves with a humidity of 95%. It is the only cheese to win Best Cheese of the Year four times at the World Cheese Awards. If I was ever sent a press pass for this event, I would return it promptly along with a letter declaring my contempt for the award ceremony and cheese, in general.

Apparently, there’s also the Cheese World Championships in Wisconsin of all places. It was there in 2006 that Emmentaler Switzerland Premier Cru (also aged for 14 months in humid caves) was the first cheese from Switzerland to earn the title of World Champion. I wonder if the distinction comes with a mini championship belt like in professional wrestling or boxing!?

Some general cheese facts: The term “big cheese” referred to someone with enough cash money to buy a whole wheel of cheese. The remains of cheese (I would murder it too) have been found in Egyptian tombs dating back to over 4,000 years ago. Can you imagine one of those CSI losers going through a dark, dank tomb with their little flashlights and coming upon a hunk of rotten cheese and dropping some stupid line about it before a Who rock anthem breaks the boredom and launches the opening credits! Lastly, Queen Victoria was given a massive cheddar cheese wheel as a wedding gift. The wheel weighed over 1,000 pounds and was consumed over her lifetime… that may not be factually accurate, however.

Switzerland: Golden Delicious

May26

  • 1.5 oz Goldschlager
  • Top with Sparkling Apple Cider
  • Garnish with an Apple Slice

Well, I made it through that entire post about cheese without yacking all over my keyboard. Small victories, my little sippers… small victories!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
I have to admit that I’m not a big fan of cider. It just seems like a step down from beer and wine and drinks like that. That said, I enjoyed this cocktail, which seemed enhanced by the shot of Goldschlager. It was scrumptious with a nice little bite at the end thanks to the Cinnamon Schnapps!