Mixer Mania #41 – Food Heroes

Both Blueberries and Pomegranates are considered superfoods, so combining the two into one juice seems like a super-duper food. Here’s a look at some of the most popular superfoods and where they rank with the Sip Advisor:

Spinach: The original superfood and performance enhancing drug of Popeye. I love Ma Sip’s patented spinach dip, but I think the ingredients that turn it into a dip likely take away some of its superfood shine.

Kale: I hate Kale. Hate, hate, hate it. There is nothing worse than reading a restaurant’s menu and seeing a Caesar Salad that sounds scrumptious, only to realize it’s kale and not lettuce-based.

Kale - Ale.jpg

Beans: Bean, beans the musical fruit… you know the rest. I like beans on a massive burrito, thus negating all the positive effects they are supposed to provide eaters with.

Sweet Potatoes: I’m not much of a yam fries guy, but this is the only way I’d choose to consume sweet potatoes.

Salmon: As a wee little sipper, the Sip Advisor wasn’t much of a salmon fan, which is practically criminal when you live in the Pacific Northwest. Over time, I’ve come to enjoy some salmon dishes, such as the cedar plank barbecued variety.

Wheatgrass: I wonder if wheatgrass can be used in hefeweizen beers?

Green Tea: Skip. I mean, it’s not even a food.

Dark Chocolate: Only milk chocolate for this hombre.

Broccoli: I like broccoli. I know that might shock some of you who have read the rest of this list. Here’s the catch, though: that little green tree had better be smothered in ranch dressing or fried in tempura if you going to put it on my plate.

Cauliflower: See broccoli… but to a lesser extent.

Cauliflower Trash

Garlic: I guess garlic fries kind of defeats the purpose of it being a superfood!

Beets: Interestingly, Pa Sip – a selective eater – loves beets. Unfortunately, that preference was not hereditary.

Avocados: Best known as the primary ingredient in guacamole, which I find to be hit and miss, depending on the creator. I find it safest to just avoid the green guck.

Greek Yogurt: While I like Greek food – souvlaki, calimari, etc. – their yogurt, and all yogurts in fact, are an enemy of the Sip Advisor state.

Quinoa: The thought of quinoa is enough to make the Sip Advisor cry.

Strawberries: Alright, this I can get behind. I love strawberries, especially the dipped in milk chocolate type. A very sensual superfood.

Watermelon: As much as I love strawberries, I worship watermelon. Watermelon isn’t nearly as sensual, however.

Oatmeal: Do cookies count!?

Oatmeal Win

Pistachios: While a fan of many nuts (that doesn’t sound right!), I have never really got behind pistachios. I do hear it’s a popular ice cream flavour, though.

Eggs: Mrs. Sip is big on egg dishes, but the Sip Advisor only partakes on occasion. Give me the other main elements of a balanced breakfast instead.

Almonds: My affinity for trail mix has been well-documented and a main ingredient of any good trail mix is the almond. You can also double up with the chocolate-covered variety, if you so choose.

Ginger: Does it count if it’s in liquid form and mixed with rum or whiskey?

Pumpkin: I appreciate their use as Halloween decorations, but don’t want anything to do with pumpkin seeds, pumpkin pie, or anything pumpkin-spiced.

Apples: I’m cool with apples… so long as they’re of the Granny Smith family… and perhaps smothered in caramel and other goodies.

Cranberries: I have a respect for cranberry juice and all the amazing cocktail that it provides. Speaking of cocktails, let’s get to today’s drink!

Mixer Mania #41: Shanah Tovah! (Happy New Year!)

Shanah Tovah.JPG

  • 1.5 oz Vodka
  • Top with Blueberry-Pomegranate Juice
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Garnish with Blueberries

Why can’t things like bacon and potato chips be considered superfoods? All we need is for one nutritionist to lose their mind and declare them as such. Kind of makes a guy want to go back to school, earn yet another degree and make this dream happen!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
This drink was good, but tasted too much like juice. The alcohol was virtually hidden, so should be consumed with caution. Then again, if you have no interest in alcohol flavours, this might be the beverage for you.

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Japan – Sake Bomb

Rolling Along

Japanese culture has actually offered us so many things. Narrowing down what I was going to cover for the country wasn’t easy and I considered writing about everything from manga comics to game shows to freakin’ origami! There is one Japanese export that has grown more popular than Godzilla and frenemies and that’s sushi. So, grab you chopsticks and join the Sip Advisor for a fine dining experience:

Well, let’s drop a bomb from the start: sushi didn’t originate in Japan. Although we all recognize it as coming from the land of the rising sun and that is in fact where the rolls and cones we enjoy today originated, the act of combining fish with rice (meant to preserve the meat) was invented in Southeast Asia and came to Japan in the 8th century. Sushi in Japan began as a fast food, served at stalls on the street before moving into restaurants and bars.

Cat Licks Sushi

Let’s keep the game changers rolling along (get it? A sushi pun!) with this doozy: sushi doesn’t necessarily mean raw fish. It actually describes the rice, mixed with vinegar, sugar and salt, to make sticky rice, although actual sticky rice is a completely different creation. Still with me?

If you have aspirations of becoming a sushi chef, you likely want to do it anywhere else than Japan. There, hopeful cooks spend two years learning the ins and outs of making the rice, followed by three years working with the fish before their apprenticeship is passed and they can go to work behind a sushi bar. The honour and traditions don’t stop there. Sushi knives come from legendary samurai swords and the blades are sharpened and reshaped each day.

While westerners recognize sushi as being made up of rolls, the Japanese more commonly equate it to the nigiri pieces. Sashimi, of course, means sliced meat and can come in varieties such as beef, chicken, and various vegetables, to go along with all the seafood choices.

The preparation of octopus for sushi often includes a full-body massage by chefs, while the animal is still alive. This proves, once again, that food lives better than the Sip Advisor does!

How To Use Chopsticks

Although I dislike any ginger or wasabi with my sushi, I may have to reconsider. The ginger acts as an antibacterial for the raw fish, killing parasite which may exist, while also cleansing the palette between pieces. Wasabi, meanwhile, has anti-microbial assets and can decrease the risk of food poisoning. Researchers have even used wasabi as a smoke alarm for the deaf, spraying its vapors into a test room, where subject awoke promptly, much like the effects of smelling salts has on a person. This discovery was awarded with the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

In most western sushi restaurants, the wasabi you are served isn’t actually wasabi at all. It is a combination of horseradish, mustard, and food colouring. Real wasabi powder is quite expensive, ranging from $50-$100 per pound, making it likely that you would only find it in an upscale joint, if you’d find it at all. I’m not a fan of the green stuff, so this has no impact on me whatsoever, but it kind of makes me feel bad for always throwing out the booger-looking lump… it may have intrinsic value!

Nyotaimori is the act of eating sushi and sashimi off of a naked female model, while Nantaimori, refers to the same practice involving males. Models have to be trained to lie still for hours at a time and be made accustomed to the cold food that will sit on their torso. The deed is popular with members of organized crime in Japan. I once asked Mrs. Sip to be my sushi tray… poor girl ended up with soy sauce in her eyes!

For most young westerners, their first experience with sushi may have been the episode of The Simpsons, ‘One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish,’ where Homer is introduced to the Japanese fare and falls for it so hard that he even requests the poisonous fugu (or puffer fish), which must be dissected perfectly in order to not poison the eater. Although the staff believe that Homer ate the poison (12 times stronger than cyanide) and has only hours to live, he survives his brush with death.

Fugu Funny

That happy ending was not shared by Bandō Mitsugorō VIII, a Japanese Kabuki actor and ‘National Treasure,’ who died after consuming four servings of fugu liver, believing that he was immune to the toxin. Each year, a handful of deaths occur after fugu servings and by law, only licensed chefs should prepare the potentially poisonous fish. Even the Emperor is banned from eating fugu.

Even when not taking the fugu challenge, folks should be cautious about their sushi consumption. Large doses of tuna can lead to mercury poisoning and should be avoided by women who are pregnant or planning to be and young kids. The warning makes it sounds like an amusement park ride… one that I want to be on! All raw fish portions come with the inherent risk of parasites, but it’s a risk that must be taken.

Speaking of tuna, it was once very unpopular and was looked down upon in Japan for being bad luck to eat and a lower class food item. Once a sushi chef named Hanaya Yohei began marinating the ‘chicken of the sea’ in soy sauce, it became a popular menu option.

Today, many places around the world have contributed a roll to the sushi lexicon, including Alaska, British Columbia (hey, that’s where the Sip Advisor gets his sushi!), California, Philadelphia, Seattle, Michigan, Hawaii, etc. Does it say something about the eater depending on which location they choose to order for and represent!?

Nemo Sushi

The seaweed wraps used to bind sushi rolls were originally formed from algae scraped off docks, but nowadays, the element is mass-produced through farming and sold to restaurants in packaged sheets. The seaweed is edible on its own and is sometimes served as a snack closely resembling potato chips, I guess. I mean, I’d much rather have potato chips, given my affinity for the grub, but who am I to criticize.

I absolutely love soy sauce and probably use way too much of it while eating sushi. Interestingly, there is actually soy sauce etiquette… protocols which I have certainly broken and likely offended sushi chefs. First, eaters should only coat the top of their piece with soy sauce, as the condiment is meant to enhance the topping, not the rice. Also, the rice absorbs the sauce quickly and can crumble as a result of getting wet. Finally, sushi prepared with other sauces should not be dunked into soy sauce.

The most expensive sushi ever served was five pieces of nigiri garnished with diamonds and wrapped in 24-karat gold leaf. It was made but chef Angelito Araneta, Jr. in the Phillipines and came in at a whopping price of nearly $2,000 US. Araneta has gained a reputation as the ‘Karat Chef,’ for his lavish creations.

Beginning your meal with a nice hot bowl of Miso Soup seems common, but the Japanese actually end their feast with this dish, as it aids in digestion. Now, enough of this talk about food. Let’s get to some drinking, while we wait for our order to be served!

Japan: Sake Bomb

May 5

  • 1.5 oz Sake
  • 1 Sapporo Beer
  • Garnish with Lime Wheel

Sushi combos have grown in leaps and bounds as the western world latches onto the fad. I once had a chicken strip roll that was drizzled with honey mustard sauce and was spectacular. There are also known recipes for mac and cheese, hamburger, beef, and chicken rolls. The Sip Advisor’s favourite sushi order includes the California Roll (especially if it’s deep fried), Dynamite Roll, and Beef Teriyaki Roll. I know, how very North American of me! What’s your preferred sushi choice?

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
It should be noted that a Japanese beer like Sapporo or Asahi is preferable for a Sake Bomb to truly bring that taste of Japan to your meal. Simply drop the shot of Sake into your brew and slam that sucka! To be honest, I didn’t even notice the Sake while chugging this drink down. I think it would have been pretty light regardless, but all you really get is the beer.

Cuba – Seven Sinful Years

Smoke Shop

As we wrap up our all-too-brief stay at one of Cuba’s all-inclusive resorts, it’s time to pick up some souvenirs for the folks back at home. A must-have, providing you’re not returning to the United States, is Cuban cigars. Mrs. Sip picked up one for me when she visited the Communist country a few years ago and it was one fine stogie. Here are some interesting facts on Cuba’s trademark treat:

cigar

Torcedores are recognized worldwide as being the best cigar rollers and are greatly respected in their homeland of Cuba. In the Seinfeld episode ‘The English Patient’, Kramer brings his own Cuban cigar rollers to New York City, but they are merely Dominicans posing as Cubans. This causes Kramer’s financial backing to fall through and his latest entrepreneurial enterprise to fail. The Dominican’s go on to roll crepes in a restaurant, but roll them too tightly, causing filling to burst out of the pastry and burn customers.

President John F. Kennedy signed the United States trade embargo against Cuba (which is still in effect today) in 1962… but the wily politician waited until he received 1,200 H. Upmann brand petit corona Cuban cigars before putting his pen to paper! It was also revealed later that the trade embargo originally sought to have cigars be exempt. The whole ordeal has branded Cuban cigars as “forbidden fruit” within the U.S. Some Cuban cigar manufacturers moved their operations to the Dominican Republic so they could maintain a profitable partnership with America.

It has been estimated that 95% of the cigars advertised as being “Cuban” and sold in the U.S. are counterfeit. Buyers beware when grabbing smokes across the States.

One Sigmund Freud (the famous and groundbreaking psychoanalyst) was a Cuban cigar aficionado. When asked about the phallic shape of cigars, of which Freud smoked about 20 per day, he replied, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” Freud’s smoking habit led to him suffering cancer of the jaw and eventually led to his death, which was done in an assisted suicide manner.

Freud Cigar

The Cohiba cigar company was established to honour Cuban leader Fidel Castro, with products manufactured only for “friends of the Revolution”. The company finally launched commercial sales in 1982. Interestingly, Cohiba only employs female cigar rollers.

Cuban cigars have gained their reputation and popularity as the world’s top choice in smoking thanks in large part to the country’s environment and temperatures. The island’s humidity makes growing and drying the tobacco leaves easy, especially the leaves used to wrap the cigar, said to be the most important part of the production. The U.S. trade embargo has also caused the cigars to gain a mystique about them, adding a quality of danger to the stogie, as well as driving prices up.

Revolutionist, Che Guevara, once said, “A smoke in times of rest is a great companion to the solitary soldier.” That about sums up the item used to celebrate weddings, births, and other landmark events in one’s life.

Cuba: Seven Sinful Years

Seven Sinful Years Drink Recipe

  • Muddle Slices of Ginger
  • 2 oz Havana Club Rum
  • 0.5 oz Triple Sec
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Dash of Angostura Bitters
  • Garnish with a Lime Wheel

I don’t smoke very often at all, but every once in a while, it’s fun to light a cigar up and relax with a drink in the other hand. This is all preferably done in the comfort of a hot tub, so if anyone is offering, I’ll be over as soon as possible!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
I don’t know what it is about Ginger, but it seems to work in cocktails, given your libation that extra little bite of flavour. I was worried that this drink would be quite strong with the high Rum quotient, but it wasn’t. It even passed the Mrs. Sip test!

July 4 – Firework Fizz

Home of the Brave

Today, we salute our neighbours to the south (unless you’re from the UK… why would you salute the French!? Oh okay, they do make a fine guillotine…article to come on July 14th!) as they celebrate their Independence Day (no, not the movie, you knucklehead). Here are the pearls of wisdom I learned about American patriotism from watching years of professional wrestling, where many of life’s great lessons can be learned!

#1) You want to be a good guy? Wear the red, white and blue.

A countless number of wrestlers, including Lex Luger, ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan, the Patriot, and Hulk Hogan (as his Mr. America character), have donned the American colours as part of their wardrobe. I have to ask, though, is it really being patriotic to have the American flag cradling your junk? Regardless of whether this is actually more damaging or not to the country’s shades, it’s an instant identifier that you are, in fact, to be cheered.

Torrie-Wilson

I’m okay with this kind of patriotism!

#2) The flag must never be desecrated.

With the jury still out on the crotch cover issue, one thing is for sure: the American flag is off limits. You can’t even break the pole holding the flag in half or your life is in serious jeopardy. If you lay the flag over a fallen foe, that is practically sacrilegious. Wrestlers have threatened to stage a live burning of the stars and stripes, only to be attacked en masse. Other flags can be defiled without issue, such as when Shawn Michaels stuffed the Canadian maple leaf up his nose during the early D-Generation X days.

#3) Every foreigner is a bad guy.

Well, we all knew this! The easiest way to draw heat onto a heel in wrestling is to make him a foreigner. They don’t even have to despise the good ol’ U.S. of A. at first, as long as they eventually get there. Even if the foreign character is simply being as patriotic towards their own country as any American hero would be towards his nation, the crowd will turn on them in a heartbeat. The ironic thing is that many of the greatest foreign heels were actually played by Americans. Nelson Simpson from Minnesota portrayed Nikita Koloff, who marched to the ring wearing the U.S.S.R. colours and competed in Russian Chain matches. The dastardly Yokozuna, a Japanese sumo wrestler, was depicted by Samoan-American Rodney Anoa’i. And the list goes on and on!

yokozuna

#4) If that foreigner converts, they become lovable.

When Nikita Koloff joined forces with longtime foe, ‘The American Dream’ Dusty Rhodes, he became one of the company’s most popular stars in an instant. Similarly, as the Berlin Wall fell to the ground and the Cold War ended, Nikolai Volkoff went from U.S.S.R. anthem singing baddie to a man who embraced the coming together of the two rival countries, even wearing a jacket that featured both nation’s flags.

#5) Turncoats are worse than foreign bad guys.

When Sgt. Slaughter began empathizing with Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi side of the Gulf War, he was hated so much that WrestleMania VII had to be moved from the outdoor Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to the indoor L.A. Sports Arena because of security worries, including death threats against the former G.I. Joe character (although most insiders contend that poor ticket sales were really to blame). Other Benedict Arnold’s, if you will, include staunch American flag waver Jim Duggan, who joined a Team Canada faction for a time and looked out of place flapping the Canadian maple leaf and wearing a red and white tracksuit, sans the blue.

#6) Canadians are anti-American.

It has been done countless times in wrestling, where a group of Canadians have banded together to take on the entire and overwhelming American roster. A Team Canada unit existed in both WCW and TNA, while WWE hosted the pro-Canadian Hart Foundation and the Un-Americans. While I’m all for Canadian patriotism myself, it is usually only seen in the realm of hockey. I have to give credit to the Canadian mat stars that align together in the name of our country… sadly, they always wind up on the losing end of things.

Lance Storm

#7) Politics makes strange bedfellows.

When there aren’t enough members of one nationality challenging an American troupe, odd groupings can result. At the 1993 Survivor Series, the team of Japanese monster Yokozuna, Finnish strongman Ludvig Borga, and Canadian tag team The Quebecers, did battle with the All-Americans, putting to end a number of feuds that had lasted throughout the year.

#8) The “U-S-A, U-S-A” chant is devastating to foreigners.

This seems to be a foreign heel’s kryptonite. They can take ample amounts of physical punishment from their opponent, but if the crowd revs up and starts chanting “U-S-A, U-S-A” it sends the bad guy into a panicked rage, searching for relief by manically covering his ears, violently shaking his head, and searching for all ways to relieve the stress of being chanted at. Ironically, I’ve even heard the U-S-A chant directed at a bad guy while he was facing a Canadian grappler.

#9) Forgive and forget.

I have to give credit to the Americans, when a wrestler wants to make amends for his evil deeds and return to his patriotic roots, he is accepted back into the fold without hesitation. For example, after his Iraqi sympathizer stint, Sgt. Slaughter was featured in a series of vignettes, demanding his country back. Similarly, turncoat Jim Duggan has gone back to his flag waving ways and shouting “U-S-A,” sending crowds into a frenzy of patriotism, as they eat up the decades old act, once again.

Drink #185: Firework Fizz

Firework Fizz Drink Recipe

  • Muddled Peeled Ginger and Blackberries
  • 1.5 oz Vodka (I used Bols, infused with grape powder)
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • Top with Ginger Ale
  • Garnish with Ginger-Wrapped Blackberry

The most patriotic Americans seem to be wrestlers. There was even a wrestler named The Patriot, who wore an American flag-themed mask and tights, wrestled as part of a tag team dubbed Stars and Strpes, and incorporated finishing maneuvers like the Uncle Slam and Patriot Missile. Only in the world of wrestling!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
The Muddled Ginger is certainly an interesting flavour to have in a cocktail. The blend of Ginger and Blackberries is good and Ginger Ale has still yet to fail me. The original recipe calls for Grape Vodka, but personally I have been unable to find it in any of the liqour stores in Canada. Despite this fault, the Grape Powder Infused Vodka worked pretty well, if I don’t say so myself!