October 17 – Devil’s Fire

Towns in Turmoil

As we continue our month of spooks here at The Sip Advisor, I wanted to delve into the subject of ghost towns. While some rise from the ashes to become tourist attractions, others remain as haunting reminders of what once was and never will be again:

#5: Pompeii, Italy

This UNESCO World Heritage Site was once a bustling Roman city, with a population of 11,000 people. That all changed when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, burying the city and its inhabitants under four to six meters of ash. This basically froze the victims in time, their bodies sealed in a plaster-like cast, in the position they died. The site wasn’t rediscovered until 1599 and has become a popular tourist attraction. The city’s tragic story was used for the 2014 historical disaster film Pompeii, although it was generally panned by critics and audiences.

pompeii_floor_is_lava

#4: Theme Parks

Amusement parks are supposed to be sites of happiness and thrills, but many have become deserted wastelands around the world, due to various issues. For example, Six Flags New Orleans was flooded by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and has never reopened. Even the Disney company isn’t immune to park abandonments. Discovery Island (a wildlife viewing resort) and the adjacent River Country water park at Disney World were closed in 1999 and 2001, respectively. The reasoning for both closures isn`t clear, with speculation ranging from a change in Florida laws to the discovery of harmful organisms.

#3: Sanzhi, Taiwan

Originally intended to be a luxury resort, featuring futuristic living pods (sometimes referred to as UFO houses), the project was never completed due to deaths during the construction process and funds for the development running dry. Rumors persist in the areas that surround Sanzhi, that the site is now haunted by those who died trying to build the resort. After remaining dormant for nearly 30 years, the pods were demolished between 2008 and 2010 and there are plans to build a new resort and water park where the pods once stood.

sanzhi UFO houses

#2: Oradour-sur-Glane, France

While most ghost towns go bust because of financial reasons, the French village of Oradour-sur-Glane had a much more ominous fate. On June 10, 1944, German soldiers attacked the site, killing 642 of the town’s 663 people. This included men who were shot in their legs so they would perish slower and women and children who were gunned down while trying to escape from a church. The ruins of the original town have now become a memorial site, while a second village was built nearby, following the end of World War II.

#1: Pripyat, Ukraine

The Chernobyl nuclear disaster and following contamination made the young city of Pripyat, where the Chernobyl workers lived, virtually uninhabitable. Pripyat was only 16 years old at the time of the tragedy, when all of its 45,000 to 50,000 population were forced to evacuate. Some of the most disturbing images from Pripyat are those of its amusement park, which was only open for a few hours before the evacuation, as the accident happened April 26, 1986, with the park scheduled to open to the public on May 1, 1986.

Super Saturday Shot Day: Devil’s Fire

Interestingly, a number of ghost towns have become popular sites for filming. This includes Real de Catorce, Mexico (The Mexican, starring Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts) and Craco, Italy (The Passion of the Christ, directed by Mel Gibson).

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Flavour Revolution – Cinnamon

Challenge Him

For some reason, people are willing to do stupid challenges with food and drink, one of those being eating straight cinnamon for the amusement of others. Here are some food challenges that will leave you shaking your head in astonishment:

Cinnamon/Flour

Trying to consume a spoonful of cinnamon, without the use of any water, sounds like a sure-fire way to ruin your day. When you learn of the health risks associated with the stunt – burned/collapsed lungs, as well as the fact cinnamon is toxic to the liver and kidneys in large doses – it seems all the more stupid. Despite the warnings, the challenge has been popularized by shows such as Tosh.0 and even MythBusters. The flour version involves ingesting a whole ladle of the white stuff. Good luck with that!

cinnamon-challenge

Saltine Crackers

Mrs. Sip is a cracker fiend, but she likes to enjoy her crispy treats with wine and cheese. She would never attempt to eat seven soda crackers without the aid of a beverage. That’s because she’s quite intelligent and the average person attempting these challenges is… well, not. I have to ask: Why Saltines? What did this cracker do to draw the ire, ridicule, and persecution of the online world? Athletes such as Peyton Manning and Derek Jeter have been associated with this challenge and its competitive nature.

Ghost Pepper

It amazes me how willing people are to film themselves eating hot foods, despite the tears and tantrums – and sometimes much worse – that are surely to result, just for a few hits on YouTube. I’m equally amazed that people will actually watch these videos, wasting their precious free time. The Ghost Pepper is one of the hottest in the world, known to literally turn its victims into apparitions (there’s a long-standing rumour that this is how Casper the Friendly Ghost perished)… or viral fools.

Sprite-Bananas/Mentos-Diet Coke

Remember the vinegar and baking soda volcanos many of us made for grade school science fairs? These two food challenges are like that; only the volcano setting has been replaced by your stomach and esophagus. Aren’t unexpected chemical reactions neat… and gross!? If I was a higher-up at the Coca-Cola company, I’d be pissed that Pepsi and 7-Up haven’t been implicated in any of these witch hunts. A good PR team, though, would turn this into the discovery of new and alternative fuel sources!

coke-and-mentos

Milk

There was a great Mad TV sketch many moons ago, where musician and chicken restauranteur Kenny Rogers performs a number of Jackass stunts, including a ‘Dairy Challenge’. At the end, Kenny (played by Will Sasso) concludes that “Nobody wins in a dairy challenge!” I only have milk on cereal and sometimes with chocolate chip cookies. Why anyone would go about downing a gallon of the stuff, sans something edible, is insane. Now I just want that plate of cookies!

Raw Eggs

We have the Rocky movie franchise to thank for popularizing this food challenge and I don’t know what’s worse: Having to wake up crazy early in the morning to start training or drinking a cocktail of raw eggs prior to said workout. Rocky performs the task without fear (likely due to years of brain damage from his boxing), though. The practice is still debated to this day, as people try to balance the risk of salmonella poisoning against whatever positive effects the concoction may provide.

Peeps

The only way I like my marshmallows, is roasting over a fire, about to be merged with chocolate and Graham crackers in a S’more. Even then, I settle for one gooey treat and would never be caught stuffing two dozen (sometimes 100) yellow puff birds in my mouth over a short time span. If this challenge came about because someone hated birds, I would like to view their other brochures and promotional material. Otherwise, count me out.

Flavour Revolution: Hot Tamale

Hot Tamale Cocktail

  • Rim glass with Cinnamon-Sugar
  • 1.5 oz Jose Cuervo Cinge Tequila
  • 1 oz Triple Sec
  • 0.25 oz Campari
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Garnish with a Lime Wedge

Despite the stupidity exhibited by all who try these challenges, we must remember that cinnamon plays a large role in many of the greatest desserts known to man. This includes cinnamon buns, Churros, and so many more. All would pair well with today’s cocktail!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
This is basically a Margarita recipe with the only downside being the Campari. It’s not so bad, but I’ve grown to really detest the aperitif and anything it touches. The Cinge Tequila shouldn’t get the bad rap most are quick to give it. It’s a nice twist on the classic alcohol and perfect for playing around with.

May 30 – Jet Fuel

Franchise Faces

With the recent controversy over the Washington Redskins team name, that got me thinking long and hard (heh, long and hard!) about franchise monikers and where they came from. Today, I want to look at teams that share a common name. In that process, we’ll decide which team lays claim to the name based on factors such as years in existence, success, superstars, etc. Of course, teams that leave one city and relocate to another, playing under the same nickname, don’t count. This also applies to minor league teams that share their affiliates handle. So, on with the list:

#5: Cardinals – St. Louis (MLB), Arizona (NFL)

Bird species are a popular name for teams in all the major sports, but Cardinals is the only one that is shared by two franchises and this duel isn’t too hard to sort out. The St. Louis club has existed for over 130 years, known as the Cardinals since 1900. In their long history, they have won 11 World Series Titles, 19 National League Pennants, and 20 MVP awards. They even have 17 Hall of Fame players to their legacy. Arizona, on the other hand, has enjoyed far less success, although they were also established over 100 years ago, even playing for a time in St. Louis. Their only championships came long before the modern day NFL, in 1925 and 1947. Winner: St. Louis

Cardinals

#4: Oilers – Edmonton (NHL), Houston/Tennessee (NFL)

Currently, both teams are trying to work their way out of the basement of their respective leagues, but this battle isn’t close. The Oilers success in Edmonton in the mid-80’s, led the town to call itself the ‘City of Champions’! Hell, they struck more riches than a prospector, with signing the legendary Wayne Gretzky and drafting future Hall of Famers like Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, Paul Coffey, Grant Fuhr, and Glenn Anderson. The NFL Oilers moved from Houston to Tennessee and don’t even exist anymore, dropping the moniker in favour of calling themselves the Titans. Winner: Edmonton

#3: Jets – Winnipeg (NHL), New York (NFL)

Both teams have tasted the heights of success, but have also suffered crushing defeats – let’s call them crash landings – during their existence. Heck, this is Winnipeg’s second go-around with an NHL franchise, the first time ending with the club’s departure to Phoenix, where they were renamed the Coyotes. But there were better times in the 1970’s, when Winnipeg dominated the World Hockey Association, winning three Avco Cups and showcasing ‘Mr. Hockey’ Gordie Howe. New York also enjoyed success in 1968-69, winning their lone Super Bowl and displaying their own superstar, quarterback Joe Namath. Winner: New York

Jets

#2: Rangers – New York (NHL), Texas (MLB)

The New York squad is a member of the Original 6 NHL clubs and that holds a lot of weight in hockey circles. That said, the Rangers are the team I hate the most thanks to the childhood disappointment of watching them defeat my Vancouver Canucks in the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals. I have to be impartial, though, and acknowledge the storied history for New York, including four Stanley Cups. In Texas, the Rangers have existed since 1972, having moved from Washington. They have yet to win a World Series, losing back-to-back championship seasons in 2010 and 2011 (ironically, to the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants, also on this list). Winner: New York

#1: Giants – San Francisco (MLB), New York (NFL)

Both franchises have won championships in recent years, but San Francisco has strung together three World Series titles in the last five years, earning the distinction of being a dynasty team. On top of that, the baseball club has a long history that transferred over with them, following the team’s move from New York in 1957, where they were the original Giants of the Big Apple. That’s not to take anything away from the football squad and their own storied existence, winning eight league championships, including four in the modern era. This was a tough race to decide, but history always wins out. Winner: San Francisco

Super Saturday Shot Day: Jet Fuel

Honourable mentions include the Kings (Los Angeles (NHL) and Sacramento (NBA)); the Lions (Detroit (NFL), B.C. (CFL)); and the Panthers (Carolina (NFL), Florida (NHL)). Surprisingly, no NBA teams made this list and only the Sacramento Kings share a nickname with another pro squad. It’s also interesting that three different New York teams share their name with another franchise.

October 12 – Churros

Donuts Around the World

We all know your typical donut offerings: your rounds, jelly-filled, long johns, etc., but the world is in fact full of variations on the classic pastry. I know what you’re saying “There can’t seriously be that many different styles of donuts!” If that’s your opinion, stand back and prepare to be amazed (as you usually are) by the Sip Advisor’s investigative skills… ahem, and a quick shout out to Wikipedia!

Churro (Mexico) – Every time Mrs. Sip and I are in Disneyland we have to share at least one churro. While you might shell out $3-$5 for a single churro at the fair or amusement park, in Mexico, we picked up an entire bag of the cinnamon sugar-laced dessert sticks for about the same price.

Churros

Beaver Tail (Canada) – Once again, Canada puts itself on the map with culinary items that come the closest to sexual innuendos! The Beaver Tail, in this case, is actually a flat, rounded donut that you can layer various toppings onto. A company has grown out of this invention and offers some great options.

Timbits (Canada) – One of the country’s most popular dessert offerings is the Timbit (known is other locales as a donut hole), which allows snackers to still have some doughy goodness, but not be forced to inhale an entire donut. My favourite Timbit is undoubtedly the chocolate glazed offering.

Fritter (Various) – A fritter basically means (according to my research) and mass of dough that can be stuffed with any substance. That’s not the technical definition, but I think you get the point. Fritters can be stuffed with everything from meat to seafood to fruit.

Cruller (Europe) – While popular in the United States and Canada, crullers originated in Europe and their name is derived from the Dutch word cruller, which means “to curl”. These twisted donuts can come in round or stick form.

Cat Donuts

Ngàuhleisōu (China) – Otherwise known as Ox-Tongue Pastry or Horse-Ear Pastry, these flattened discs are probably more appetizing than they sound. The Ngàuhleisōu can be filled or topped with either sweet or savory filling. Given it’s China, who knows what could be in the donut!

Loukoumas (Greece) – The figure eight of the donut world! I believe Mrs. Sip and I tried one of these bad boys when we visited Greece in 2007… you know, before the country went down the crapper.

Beignets (France) – Similar to a fritter, this French treat is quite popular in Louisiana, where the Creole lifestyle has kept many Parisian traditions alive and well. Mrs. Sip enjoyed beignets when she was in New Orleans recently. The donuts are often topped with piles of powdered sugar and can also feature jams and sauces.

Berliner (Germany) – Filled with various jams, these are the original jelly donuts. Apparently, it’s a common practical joke for berliners packed with mustard to be placed among normal jam-filled berliners, waiting for a victim to take a bite. Oh, those crazy Krauts!

Donut-Seeds

Taiyaki (Japan) – Why not follow your sushi with these fish-shaped donuts. This dessert is more similar to a pancake or waffle in batter style and can be filled with anything, including custard, chocolate, cheese, gyoza, or sausage.

Bear Claw (United States) – Traditional bear claws are commonly made with almond paste and raisins. Since nobody likes things to just be ‘traditional’ anymore, bear claws now also come in apple pie, butter pecan, cream cheese, and various fruit stylings.

Funnel Cake (United States) – Mmmm, I love having funnel cake at American amusement parks. The only thing you have to watch out for is getting powdered sugar all over yourself. Like eating lobster, funnel cakes should come with their own bibs!

Funnel Cake

Elephant Ears (United States) – Colloquially known as a palmier, the elephant ear is a puff pastry which uses dough similar to a croissant. I only wish poachers would spend their time baking these treats rather than killing elephants for their tusks.

Angel Wings (Poland) – These sweet and crispy pastries are enjoyed throughout Europe. A tradition exists of husbands giving angel wings to their wives on Friday the 13th to stave off bad luck… sadly, most of those women snub the snack in favour of negative mojo because they’re counting their calories.

Éclair (France) – The custard-filled, icing-covered pastry is a French delicacy, but not being a huge fan of custard, I think I’d rather just have a Long John!

Drink #285: Churros (A Sip Advisor Original Recipe)

Churros Shooter

  • Rim glass with Cinnamon Sugar
  • 0.75 oz Glazed Donut Liqueur
  • 0.75 oz Goldschlager
  • Garnish with a Donut Hole

Every time I think I can’t come up with another article about donuts, in order to support my recipes featuring the Glazed Donut Liqueur, I go and amaze myself with the method and madness my brain is capable of. Next up: the Jelly Donut shooter and post. Let the brainstorming begin!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
I originally made this shot, on a whim, for Mrs. Sip and myself. When it passed the taste test, I knew it was eventually going up on the site. The ingredients do emulate a Churro or other cinnamon sugar-based donut and the garnish was a nice little treat to chase the shooter.

January 12 – Have You Cinned?

Super Saturday Shot Day #2 – Open Letter to My Liver

Liver Joke

Dear Liver,

I am writing to inform you that I will soon be away at an all-inclusive resort. For me, this means a mixed week of relaxing and partying. For you, this means a long, arduous week of filtering toxins.

I know you have been working long hours recently, what with the holiday season just having passed and I know your regular work week is nothing to laugh about. I ask you to hold on and keep working through this busy time. You are a valued member of our team and your contributions to the success of our business have not gone unnoticed.

Remember, you’re not just any liver… you’re my liver. A well-conditioned athlete, who can achieve feats mere mortals can’t even comprehend.

You are a legend… an icon… the voice of your generation.

Now here’s a shot to get you all warmed up for the week to come!

Drink #12: Have You Cinned?

Have You Cinned Shot

  • Rim glass with cinnamon/sugar mix
  • 1.5 oz Tequila
  • Garnish with orange wedge

Felling better, friend? That’s my boy!

Sincerely,

Daniel

P.S.: I love you!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
I liked the Cinnamon-Sugar rim, which combined with the Orange Wedge, made for a unique drink, in contrast with your typical Tequila shot. From this day forward, this will be my preferred way of shooting the spirit.