Sip Trips #137: Exploring Europe (Part 2)

Lyon, France was the second stop on our European expedition. Upon arriving, our group of six (seven if you count Baby Sip… and you better!) settled into our Airbnb, before heading out to explore the city. As we wandered through the Old Town area, we stopped at Les Banana’s for some French cuisine. I went with a Napolitaine Crepe, which was very good and hit the spot, washing the meal down with a pair of Stella pints.

Our next stop was one of my favourites from the entire vacation: Les Fleurs du Malt. This bar, specializing in craft beer from around the world, had an amazing happy hour concept, where if you correctly guessed the flip of a coin, you got your choice of beer for half price. I guessed correctly twice (always opting for tails!) for my orders of Piggy Brewing Paradise Peppers and Coursendonk Rousse. The location had really funky art throughout and I really enjoyed our experience there.

Heads or Tails.jpg

The next day, our crew travelled to the Beaujolais wine region via a private tour provided by Tasty Lyon. The trek stopped at Chateau de Corcelles and Domaine de la Madone, where we sampled a total of about 10 wines. At our second stop, we bought bottles of Viogner and Domaine du Niagara, which we enjoyed at a park along the Rhone River later that afternoon.

Our dinner that evening was a McDonald’s feast of burgers, fries and chicken nuggets. To make the meal a little more French, I drank some of the craft beers I had picked up the day prior, including Licorne Blonde Bio and Ninkasi (the French company) Tripel and French IPA.

McNuggets Feast.jpg

On our last day, we returned to the old town for a long walk. We stopped at La Mouss’tache for lunch, where we just got our orders into the kitchen before their afternoon break. My Bacon Burger was quite good, paired with a pint of Paulaner Salvator Ambree. This place was neat, with beer taps at each table, but we never figured out how the system worked. We returned later that day to watch the FA Cup Final and enjoy 5-Euro per pint happy hour, where I drank servings of Paulaner Weissbier and La Chouffe.

That wrapped our stay in Lyon and next up we were off to Portugal. Our time there started in Porto and ended in Lisbon, but there was much fun to be had as we journeyed through the country for the first time.

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Sip Trips #136: Exploring Europe (Part 1)

The Sip Family’s four-country, six-city European expedition has come and gone. Travelling with Baby Sip added a whole new element to traversing the continent and while she was very well-behaved, we were lucky to have a pit crew of friends helping us out along the way. Here’s part one of our journey:

Starting in London, where we have good friends living in the east end of the metropolis, our first full day happened to fall on Mrs. Sip’s inaugural Mother’s Day. With that event in mind, I worked with our friends to book an Afternoon Tea at the Hilton Hotel Park Lane. We opted for the bottomless prosecco option and enjoyed drinking for two and a half hours. As for tea, I went with the Black Currant and Hibiscus variety, while enjoying the collection of sandwiches and desserts before me. The service from staff at the Podium Restaurant & Bar was fantastic and made for a special celebration for Mrs. Sip.

To wrap up our excursion, we stopped into the East London Liquor Company for Baby Sip’s very first distillery visit. The cocktail I selected was the Black Garlic Matters, comprised of the company’s own Demerara Rum, along with maraschino, cold brew coffee, black garlic, cola, and orange. The drink was delicious and I savoured every sip.

modern-art

The next day, we took a long walk around London, visiting Tower Bridge and dropping into the Tate Modern. I hate this art gallery, but was bribed by Mrs. Sip’s promise of having a beer in their cafeteria, if I behaved myself. I didn’t, but she still let me have a drink anyway! The cafeteria provides a beautiful view of the city, which I enjoyed with a pint of Beavertown Neck Oil Session IPA.

From there, we met our friends for dinner at Wagamama. I had a very good order of Chicken & Prawn Yaki Soba, paired with a pint of Asahi. For her beverage, Mrs. Sip ordered a can of Nix And Kix Mango & Ginger Soda (with a touch of Cayenne Pepper), which was very tasty and I tried to track down another can to bring home for the purpose of making a cocktail with it, but came up empty handed.

On our final night in London, we met for dinner at Bubble Dogs, which combines hotdogs with champagne. The concept seems odd, but kind of works. Over a couple bottles of Rose bubbly, I had their Fourth of July Hotdog (barbecue sauce, coleslaw, crispy bacon), while we also split a number of the restaurant’s side dishes, including sweet potato fries, Horny Devils (corn and jalapeño fritters) and tater tots.

Cat with Hotdogs

Having Baby Sip with us limited some of our drinking activities, as some bars were unable to accommodate a little one, sometimes due to their liquor licence and sometimes to do with available space and us using a stroller. For example, I really wanted to do the Beefeater Gin Distillery Tour, but we weren’t able to with Baby Sip in tow.

As for craft beer, London has a bit of a bizarre scene, where most locations are only open for a few hours… and that’s not per day, but each week. We wanted to do the Bermondsey Beer Mile (10 breweries within a mile-long stretch), but it’s only an option on Saturdays. Regardless, I did pick up a number of bottled beers to enjoy, including Sharp’s Doom Bar Amber Ale, Adnam’s Ghost Ship Pale Ale, Young’s Special London Ale, and St. Austell Proper Job Cornish IPA.

Next up, we were off to Lyon, France to meet up with another set of friends. Part two will look at that brief stay, which included a tour into the Beaujolais wine region.

Sip Trips #135: Fine Foods

Sometimes it amazes me when I put together these weekly wrap-ups just how much we do in a seven-day span. This past week was no different as you will see below:

The week began with me joining Pa Sip at Uncle Buck’s Fish Bowl & Grill at the impressive Tsawwassen Mills Mall. This unique eatery offers great food and bowling with an underwater theme. To eat, I enjoyed a delicious Shrimp Po’Boy, highlighted by a spicy aioli and of course, the breaded shrimp. I look forward to taking Baby Sip back here in the future for a game of ten-pin.

Bowling Ideal

With friends coming over for dinner on Saturday, I picked up Stanley Park Brewing’s Summer Mix Pack. New to the lineup this year are the Trail Hopper IPA and Salted Watermelon Sour. Both are pretty good and I’ve always enjoyed Stanley Park’s mixed cases because of their 2×6 format, rather than the typical 4×3.

On Sunday, Mrs. Sip and I visited 33 Acres Brewing for a beverage. While she had her all-time fave Euphoria Belgian Tripel, I had the new-to-me Genesis B6 Northwest Hazy IPA. Their “quarry” tasting room was packed as usual, so we didn’t stay long, but I’m consistently impressed by the quality of the brewery’s beers, so we’ll keep returning, regardless of seat availability.

On Monday, a friend joined me downtown for some day drinking. What else are two guys to do, when one is briefly out of work and the other is on parental leave! Our first stop was Cactus Club Cafe for lunch. I combined Rob’s Crispy Chicken Sandwich with a Perfect Storm to drink. Once again the sauce really made my meal, as the sandwich employs a sambal mayo, which works well with the spicy panko-crusted chicken. My drink was also quite good, since Dark N’ Stormy’s are one of my favourite cocktails.

Alcoholics Calendar.jpg

Next up was Yaletown Brewery for happy hour. Here, we were able to indulge in a few $5 beers, with my choice being the Edinburgh IPA. Since we arrived before the after work rush, we were able to get a nice spot to sit on a couple couches, which allowed Baby Sip to roam around a little. After all, this was brewery number 30 for the tyke.

The week finished with a trip across the border with Ma Sip. While figuring out what we wanted to do for lunch, Boundary Bay Brewing entered the conversation and so we were off to their bistro. We split their fantastic Reuben Sandwich (with Tim’s Potato Chips on the side), while I washed the entrée back with a pint of Safety Break ISA. ISA’s have rocketed up my list of favourite beers of late, because I can enjoy the taste of an IPA at a slightly lower alcohol content, which definitely comes in handy when I’m driving.

This coming week features another full schedule. We’re also gearing up for Baby Sip’s first expedition to Europe (London, France, Portugal, Belgium), which is coming up fast at just over a week away!

Sip Trips #134: In the Name of Science

Another couple busy weeks are in the books, so let’s get right to the action. We began the latest Sip Trips cycle with a long walk to East Vancouver to use our Groupon for Andina Brewing. The deal entitled us to a tasting flight each, as well as a growler plus fill. The advertised growler (typically holding two litres of beer) ended up actually being a one-litre Boston round, but otherwise the Groupon was worth it. For our flights, we tried each of the brewery’s available varieties. We also ordered a round of their Platanitos (Plantain Chips).

Since we were already out that way, we decided to pop into Storm Brewing, one of our all-time favourite breweries. Storm does things differently than other breweries, offering patrons up to six samples of their eclectic menu, in exchange for a donation. On this instance, we tried a number of beers, including: Turkey Dinner IPA, Orange Creamsicle Ale, Garam Masala Ale, Spicy Mango Salsa Pilsner, Mint Julep Ale, Pineapple Paradise Pilsner, Vanilla Whiskey Stout, and Iced Mocha Stout. We were particularly impressed with the Garam Masala Ale, so bought a Boston round of the beverage.

Beer Trust

The next day, we went for another walk to the Olympic Village. While Mrs. Sip joined some friends for brunch, I explored Legacy Liquor Store, where I came across the newly released Brews Brothers Vol. 4 case from Parallel 49 Brewing, in partnership with 12 breweries from across the province. While I didn’t pick it up that day, as Baby Sip’s stroller didn’t have enough room, this pack will soon find itself nestled into our fridge. Not one to leave the booze haven empty-handed, I picked up a bomber of Stanley Park Cookies & Cream Dark Ale, which we look forward to pouring soon.

Later that week, we attended Science World After Dark, where the attraction is open to adults only and allows them to check out the exhibits with a beer or glass of wine ($6.50 each) in hand. This was our second time attending the event. Our night began with an IMAX film titled America’s Musical Journey, which documented a number of music styles that became popular in the US, thanks to artists such as Louis Armstrong and Elvis, while exploring locales including New York, New Orleans, Chicago, Nashville, Memphis and Miami.

We were particularly interested in visiting on this occasion, as the feature attraction currently running at Science World is Ripley’s Believe It or Not. Mrs. Sip and I spent more than an hour checking out nearly every piece of the exhibit and it was totally worth the price of admission.

Science Funny

This past weekend, we joined Ma and Pa Sip at Township 7 Winery’s members only event at Coast Appliances in Langley. The unique venue served up a very interesting event, highlighted by three stations where you could get a wine sample and appetizer pairing. You could also get a full servingglass of wine, choosing from four different varieties to cap your evening off with.

On Wednesday, we had tickets to see 2Cellos in concert. To prepare for the show, I enjoyed a couple drinks from my bottle of Wiser’s Spiced Whiskey, to go along with our takeout order of Uncle Fatih’s Pizza. As for the concert, these guys are amazing. Seriously, if you are unfamiliar with the duo, check their work out on YouTube and you’ll see some very talented Croatians doing things with cellos you never thought possible.

I wrapped up the week by joining Ma Sip at Steamworks Brew Pub for lunch. Here, I ordered a serving of their Purgatory Belgian IPA, to go with some Chicken Tenders and Fries. We sat on their outdoor patio, which provided a nice way to spend a spring/summer afternoon, now that the rain is gone and the sunny season seems to finally be here!

Sip Trips #132: Celebrations Galore

The Sip Family has been super busy the last couple weeks. So busy, that I’m just now getting a chance to document our recent adventures. Here’s what we’ve been up to since I was last able to write:

A couple weekends’ ago, we celebrated Father-in-Law Sip’s birthday, taking our revelry to Backyard Winery, followed by Township 7 Winery, in Langley. While at Backyard, where we enjoyed a couple bottles of Pinot Gris and charcuterie platters, Mrs. Sip rejoined their wine club now that she’s no longer pregnant and breastfeeding. At Township 7, our group did a wine tasting, while I toured the grounds with Baby Sip, who was visiting the fifth winery of her young life.

Later that week, we enjoyed a meal at EXP Restaurant + Bar. There has been some concern the place will be forced out of business, due to Vancouver’s ridiculous rent prices, so we wanted to visit before anything tragic occured. We ordered a round of Harry Potter-themed cocktails that were all pretty tasty. My favourite was the Gryffindor’s Liquid Courage, thanks to the Jack Daniels Whiskey base. To eat, I ordered the Triforce Burger, which is comprised of a crispy chicken breast, beef burger and bacon. It’s quite the meal, but oh so delicious.

Triforce

Heading into Easter weekend, I picked Mrs. Sip up from work and we enjoyed a drink at Steel & Oak Brewing. The brewery has recently completed renovations to allow for more patrons and the space is much-needed, as the place is often packed. We ordered the Encore collaboration with Yellow Dog Brewing and really enjoyed the beer. That’s really no surprise, as the two breweries are among my favourite in the province.

The next day, Mrs. Sip and I celebrated our 16th dating anniversary. We began the occasion by using the Groupon I had purchased for Big City Hunt, which offers scavenger hunts in a number of big cities. Even though we’re locals, we learned some neat things about downtown Vancouver, as we embarked on the two-hour tour, featuring trivia and photo challenges.

The main event of our anniversary was dining at the Top of Vancouver rotating restaurant. We split a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, along with a starter of Baked French Brie and mains of Duck Duo for me and Baked Whole Lobster for Mrs. Sip. The dinner was not cheap, but you’re partly paying for the view, which we enjoyed for over two hours and three full rotations of the restaurant.

Lobster Immortal.jpg

We wrapped our evening out by stopping at Nero Belgian Waffle Bar, where the alluring smell of fresh waffles forced us to investigate further. We split their set of seven Mini Liège Waffles, which provided the perfect dessert to our earlier feast.

The following day, we journeyed back to Langley to celebrate Mrs. Sip’s grandpa’s 93rd birthday at one of his favourite restaurants, Andreas. This place has an amazing menu and I can’t remember not liking any item that I have ordered. On this visit, I combined their French Onion Soup (which may have been the best serving I’ve ever had of the delicacy) with Chicken Fingers and Fries. The meal was decadent and the prices were all very reasonable.

On Easter Sunday, we met with friends at Big Ridge Brewing in Surrey. Having eaten recently, Mrs. Sip and I split an order of their Beer Battered Garlic Fries. These paired nicely with our beer selections of Viking Funeral Norwegian Ale for me and Vanilla Bean Porter for Mrs. Sip. Next time we’re out that way, I’d like to try something from their Asian Kitchen menu.

Chows Mane

Afterwards, we were off to Baby Sip’s first drive-in movie experience at Twilight Theatre in Aldergrove. Our films included Ready Player One and Game Night, both of which were enjoyable, despite some inclement weather, including a touch of hail during the shows.

Last, but not least, we also attended three Vancouver Canucks games in the last week, including the emotional final home game for the Sedin twins. This magical night will live long in my memory and Daniel and Henrik deserve every bit of praise they have received since announcing their impending retirements. Thank you to both of them for their 18 years of service, both on and off the ice.

The coming week remains loaded with commitments and activities, which you can read all about in next week’s Sip Trips!

Mixer Mania #17 – Island Hopping

Mrs. Sip spent a lot of her youth in Hawaii and she has been able to share some of those experiences with me, since we’ve been together. With Hawaiian Punch being today’s feature mixer, let’s take a look at some of the things the islands have brought to our lives:

Traditions

One of the most fascinating parts of a vacation to Hawaii is taking in all the unique culture. From being greeted with leis to luau feasts to hula dancing and everything in between, the island experience is something that must be seen to be appreciated.

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Drinks

Despite its name, Hawaiian Punch was actually developed in California in 1934. Originally an ice cream topping, it became a beverage when water was added. POG, however, can claim Hawaiian ties, as it was developed in 1971 for Haleakala Dairy on Maui. The islands are also famous for Kona coffee, which must be grown in that district. Hawaii is the only American state which grows coffee plants.

Food

Hawaiian food can be looked at, in this humble writer’s opinion, as the good, the bad, and the ugly. First, there’s the delicious Macadamia Nuts, which are a souvenir every traveller brings back with them. Next up, we have the polarizing pineapple, which I like on my pizza, but don’t like in my cocktails. Then, we enter dangerous territory, with items like poi and spam, which are certainly acquired tasted. We can’t forget one of Mrs. Sip’s favourites: McDonald’s Haupia Pie!

People

The most famous Hawaiian is probably former president Barack Obama, while the islands are also the birthplace of musicians such as Bruno Mars, Jack Johnson, Don Ho, and even Bette Midler. Let’s not forget Aquaman himself, Jason Momoa, also calls Hawaii – and its waters – home.

Hawaiian Dad

Media

Some of my favourite TV shows and movies were filmed amongst the beautiful setting that is Hawaii. These projects include Magnum P.I., Hawaii 5-0 (I’m more a fan of the original), and one of Ma and Pa Sip’s favourites, Lost, on the TV side. As for films, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, 50 First Dates, The Descendants, and Lilo & Stitch have used the island backdrop to their advantage.

Other

Hawaii can be credited with being the birthplace of many other notable things. Some of these include ABC Stores, which can be found all across the islands; the Shaka (aka Hang Loose); the POG game; and likely also played a role in the popularity of surfing, although that can be spread across much of the Polynesian islands.

Mixer Mania #17: Hawaiian Wipeout

Hawaiian Wipeout.JPG

  • 1 oz Vodka
  • 1 oz Goldschlager
  • Top with Hawaiian Punch
  • Garnish with Strawberry Slices

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
Of course, this recipe is meant for the original Hawaiian Punch, but I’m going with the Berry Blue Blast version. The drink called for Everclear as a liquor, but Vodka is a quick and sufficient substitute. The taste is dominated by the cinnamon flavour in the Goldschlager, with some berry coming out, but being largely hidden.

January 24 – Pigskin Shot

Game within a Game

With the 2015 NFL Super Bowl just over a week away, I thought I’d help out all my little sippers out there, that might not be a fan of the sport, and perhaps find themselves invited to a big game party. Here’s some ways you can enjoy the game, while not exactly enjoying the game!

#5: Half-Time Show

The choice of entertainment for each year’s big game opens up great debate. Usually, in the end, whichever act has been invited to perform puts on a good show and everyone walks away happy. This year, viewers will be treated to the musical stylings of Katy Perry, who had a massive year in 2014 with hits like “Roar” and “Dark Horse”. Perry will be joined by Lenny Kravitz, which will at least add a rock element to the show. Let’s hope we get a repeat of 2004 and if you’re lucky, you might even get to see some boobies!

Barely Watch Super Bowl

#4: Betting

Whether you’ve got money on the line in Vegas, between friends, or in some kind of office pool, it seems that betting on the big game is as essential as which beer you’re going to bring to the affair. Prop bets have also become really big with each passing Super Bowl. These include wagers on everything surrounding the game, from the national anthem, to what coaches will wear, to what colour Gatorade will be dumped on the winning bench boss. If you play your cards right, you might bring home enough cash to cover your food and drink losses!

#3: Food

Speaking of edibles, the Super Bowl offers a myriad of snacking choices and it’s certainly a day you don’t want to be inhibited by any diets or cleanses. The dip options alone, are enough to make your head spin. And what goes best with most dips? Well, chips, naturally. We all know that the Sip Advisor is a chippy fiend and I’ll use any excuse to stock up on as many bags as I can fit into our cupboards. Hell, most years I don’t even watch the game, but make it a point to do a little shopping spree prior, and then I just let it ride until the stock has been depleted!

Super Bowl Food

#2: Drink

Food and drink go hand-in-hand, but the Sip Advisor has always leaned towards liquid nourishment. When hosting or attending a party, it’s tough choosing what to stock your or your buddy’s fridge with. While beer is a natural choice for watching sports, there are a number of other options available and the cocktail revolution has allowed for something to be available to everyone. As for brew options, treat yourself. Don’t settle for the easy choices, like Budweiser (or Canadian for us fans north of the border) and instead, grab a case of craft brew and be a true beer snob!

#1: Commercials

For some people, the only reason they tune into the game, is to watch the enormously expensive commercials that break the program up. Each year, there is a set of memorable ads that become an extension of the game. Did you know that the Wendy’s “Where’s the Beef” campaign started with a Super Bowl spot? Then there’s also perennial top contender Budweiser. The company has used both the Clydesdales and Wassup guys for a number of outstanding adverts, regardless of how you feel about the actual product or company.

Super Saturday Shot Day: Pigskin Shot

Pigskin Shot

  • 0.5 oz Midori
  • 0.5 oz Vodka
  • 0.5 oz Sour Mix
  • Garnish with a Lime Wedge

What other tactics can we share together to help anti-football fans make it through the Super Bowl? If it’s any consolation, at least it only occurs once each year, not like all these stupid awards shows that often have invites flying the other (female to male) direction. A dude may have to deal with the Oscar’s, Grammy’s, Golden Globes, Emmy’s, and others. One football game seems fair in comparison!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
I was originally going to do a shot called Blitz, which combined Irish Crème, Kahlua and Pineapple Juice. I was curious about how that would all go together, but the result was mass curdling, which looked disgusting. Therefore, I found this recipe instead, which was much nicer. I even used my recently acquired Grey Goose Le Melon in the vodka slot and it worked perfectly with the Midori!