Jamaica – Neo-Tropical

Lightning Strikes

The fastest man on the planet in one Usain Bolt. This Jamaican worked his way up to become an icon of the running world and his country of Jamaica. Let’s take a closer look at the ‘Lightning Bolt’ (seriously, the dude’s name is perfect for the sport he excels at), while enjoying some fine Jamaican rum!:

Born in Trelawny, Jamaica on August 21, 1986, Bolt turned pro in 2004 after a successful youth and junior career. At his first Olympic Games in 2004, he was eliminated in the first round, while suffering through a leg injury. Four years later, the world would be formally introduced to the sprinter who runs at a whopping 23.7 mph.

Bolt Versus

Bolt holds the World Record in the 100m, 200m, and 4x100m relay, his three signature events. Combined, Bolt has taken home six Olympic gold medals as well as numerous other awards and accolades. His honours include IAAF World Athlete of the Year, Laureus World Sportsman of the Year, Track & Field Athlete of the Year, and BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

Despite his triple gold medal performance at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and leap into the world’s eye, Bolt had not been very successful in the 100m discipline up to that historic victory. It has been noted that Bolt’s finishing time could have been even better, given the runner slowed up at the end and began celebrating.

It’s hard to believe, but Bolt first aspired to be a professional cricketer. Can you imagine this energetic speed demon sitting idly and going through the long matches that make up the wicket sport? Instead, he takes care of business in under 10 seconds (20 for 200m races). Anyway, it was his cricket coach who steered him towards sprint running after noticing the athlete’s intense speed. Bolt is also an avid football fan (of the European variety, of course) and has dreamed of suiting up for Manchester United when he retires from sprinting.

Jamaican Zombies

Talk about an athlete you can love and respect: the man ate Chicken McNuggets throughout his time at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Apparently, Bolt was afraid to eat anything else while in China and estimates he consumed 1,000 McNuggets over his 10-day stay in the country. Somehow this didn’t lead to a McDonald’s sponsorship deal… perhaps it’s because his favoruite fast food restaurant has been noted as being KFC.

The Sip Advisor doesn’t like tying his shoe laces and apparently this is a trait shared with Bolt. The difference is, I’m an booze enthusiast who needs to be able to remove his shoes in the worst of stupors, while Bolt is a finely-tuned athlete who participates in a sport where equipment could make all the difference. Bolt even ran his record shattering 100m gold medal race with laces undone.

Bolt has his own mobile game app, Bolt!, which sees the track star running from pirates while trying to collect gold coins and avoid obstacles. Bolt is also a playable character in the wildly popular Temple Run video game series, which follows a very similar premise, just minus the pirates.

Conan on Bolt

The runner’s famous victory pose, dubbed ‘To Di World’, is more commonly known the world over as ‘Bolting.’ I’m still waiting for my ‘Sipping’ stance to take the universe by storm, but Mrs. Sip tells me I shouldn’t hold my breath. Then again, it’s not like I can really kill any MORE brain cells!

Bolt enjoys annual earnings of over $20 million, coming from prize money, appearances, endorsements, and even the Jamaican government. He has promotional deals with Puma, Visa, Nissan, Virgin Media, Gatorade, and many others, which account for all but approximately $300,000 of his net worth.

Bolt Sperm

The Jamaicans are a musical bunch (our next post will focus on reggae and the Rastafarian movement) and Bolt even has his own line of headphones. Soul Electronics signed a deal with the runner to be their global ambassador. He also has his own restaurant and sports bar in Jamaica, called Tracks & Records, as well as a clothing line.

An autobiography chronicling Bolt’s life was released in 2010. Titled ‘My Story: 9.58: Being the World’s Fastest Man,’ Bolt said of the book at a press conference before it hit store shelves: “It’s my life, and I’m a cool and exciting guy.” Sounds about right for a guy who in his free time enjoys dancing and DJ’ing and has been described as laid back… everything you might expect from a Jamaican appearing in a Red Stripe beer commercial!

Jamaica: Neo-Tropical

Neo-Tropical Cocktail

  • 2 oz Appleton Rum
  • 0.5 oz Coconut Rum
  • 0.25 oz Jagermeister
  • 0.25 oz Raspberry Liqueur
  • Splash of Pineapple Juice
  • Garnish with Raspberries

I can’t believe how many similarities the Sip Advisor shares with this world-class athlete. From the untied shoes to supporting Manchester United to our mutual love of chicken nuggets… look out, Mrs. Sip, I think I’m falling in love with the man!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
This cocktail’s liquor mix was interesting with Jagermeister being invited to play with the rums. Once again, Pineapple Juice isn’t a favourite mixer of mine, but it was decent here. I’ve always loved Raspberries as a garnish and this rendition was no different.

Canada – Unsuspecting Victim

Legend of Poutine

As we continue our trek across Canada’s often frozen tundra, we discover another of the country’s greatest products: poutine. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, it basically means fries with gravy and cheese curds, but it can also be so much more. Let’s take a look at Canada’s cultural cuisine.

Poutine Heart Attacks

As with most things that earn a cult status and become famous, there are many that claim to have created the dish. A number of French Canadian cities also assert that they are the home of poutine’s invention. Drummondville, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Victoriaville, and Warwick each have ponies in this race.

It is commonly believed that poutine earned its name (which is French slang for “a mess”) when a trucker asked cook Fernand Lachance to add cheese curds to his fries in the 1950’s.

You can really make anything with the poutine base of fries and curds. Butter chicken, ribs, ground beef, pulled pork, and most other meats can be used in recipes. There are also Greek and Italian poutines which include Greek salad and gyro meat and Bolognese sauce and Italian sausage, respectively.

Chef Chuck Hughes even won an episode of Iron Chef America with an offering of lobster poutine, which sounds so amazingly fantastic. Not so fantastic (to the Sip Advisor, at least) are recipes which include foie gras, caviar, and truffles. I’d still give them a shot, though and probably end up eating crow.

Despite its wonderful taste, one major downside of poutine is its high-caloric value. Servings can range from 750-1,500 calories depending on how many ingredients are thrown on top of the base.

calories-poutine

A number of fast food joints have also jumped aboard the literal gravy train. New York Fries, KFC, Burger King, Dairy Queen, A&W, Wendy’s, and even McDonald’s, known for their world famous skinny fries, have got in on the poutine act. A number of poutine specific restaurants have also began popping up across Canada. In a small area of downtown Vancouver, you can find La Belle Patate, Smoke’s Poutinerie, Mean Poutine, and others.

My favourite rendition of the meal is available at my local watering hole, Jimmy’s Taphouse. It’s not an elaborate serving of the delicacy, but what pushes it over the edge is the chipotle drizzle they put over the fries, giving it a bit of spice. The menu item is also on the bar’s half price happy hour menu, which makes it all the more amazing.

Jones Soda released a poutine-flavoured beverage for a limited time in 2013, which was met with mostly harsh reviews. Still, I wish I could track it down and use it in a drink recipe. If you have a bottle lying around, donations to The Sip Advisor are always accepted and like a church offering plate are strongly encouraged!

Some close family members of poutine include Disco Fries (using mozza cheese and served in New Jersey and New York since the 1970’s), Chili Cheese Fries, and In-N-Out Burger’s Animal Fries (with cheese, onions, and secret sauce).

All this talk of poutine has worked up quite an appetite for me, so we’ll close with a note on perhaps the most famous moment for the popular dish. For Rick Mercer’s satirical ‘Talking to Americans’ segment on This Hour Has 22 Minutes, during the 2000 U.S. election, Mercer told George W. Bush that Prime Minister Jean Poutine had endorsed him. The actual Canadian PM at the time was Jean Chretien, but not a single interviewee picked up on the discrepancy. When President Bush made his first trip to Canada, he joked that he wanted to thank Mr. Poutine for the endorsement, finally clued in to the gag.

Canada: Unsuspecting Victim

Unsuspecting Victim Drink Recipe

  • 0.75 oz Crown Royal Whiskey
  • 0.75 oz Chambord
  • 0.75 oz Amaretto
  • Top with Pineapple Juice and Sweet & Sour Mix
  • Splash of Lemon-Lime Soda
  • Garnish with Lemon and Lime Wheels

This is one of the few things we can thank the French for… that and an endless number of liquor options. Please share your favourite poutine recipe, fact, or story. Then go get yourself some of Canada’s finest gastronomic delight!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
Well, my little sippers, it happened again. I ended up with some Pineapple Juice that had gone bad and came out as clumpy as some poutine gravies. Luckily, I had some Pineapple Soda still lying around and it added a very nice touch to the drink. The always reliable (aren’t all Canadian items!) Crown Royal Whiskey tasted really good combined with the Chambord and Amaretto and everything mixed together made for an excellent cocktail.

December 14 – Christmas Kiss

Tonight, We Feast

While most of us are accustomed to a Christmas feast of turkey or ham and all the fixings, around the world, the story may not be the same. Here are some of the most unique Christmas dinners in the universe!

KFC – Japan

While the Colonel’s 11 herbs and spices are famous around the world, only in Japan is fried chicken such an enormously popular Christmas dinner. This was a case where false advertising worked out pretty well. The company stated through ads in 1974 that KFC was the meal of choice in North America and Japanese folks looking to get onboard with western culture followed along. The “Kentucky For Christmas” campaign was so successful that people pre-order their buckets en masse two months ahead of time for their celebrations.

Kentucky-Christmas

Fish Soup – Serbia

I won’t knock it, since I haven’t tried it, but not being much of a soup fan, I feel like I wouldn’t enjoy Christmas in Serbia very much. Unless the fish soup was some sort of lobster bisque or something like that. The Serbs also bake bread called Cesnica, which includes a silver coin inside, bringing good luck to the one who finds it. This has disaster written all over it though, ranging from a choking hazard to extreme dental work if someone bites down on the cash too hard.

Foie Gras – France

If anyone needs lessons on how to live decadently, the French have the knowledge, but they’re too busy sipping wine to help out and teach the rest of the world. For a French Christmas meal, one might find themselves indulging in foie gras, oysters, smoked salmon, and crepes. For dessert? Not one snack, but 13. Called ‘13 Desserts’ and meant to symbolize Jesus and the 12 Apostles, the treats are set out on Christmas Eve and left out to entice for the next three days.

Weisswurst – Germany

Germany’s Christmas dinner seems more like a barbecue gathering and I mean that in a good way. Items include sausages and potato salad and you better believe there will be beer served at this holly jolly feast. For dessert, the Germans destroy a gingerbread house that is meant to emulate the one from the Hansel and Gretel fairy tale. I bet you even get to chow down on some festively plump children, as part of the whole exercise!

German Stollen

Curry Goat – Jamaica

Washed down with Red Stripe beer (or at least I hope), curry goat just doesn’t seem very appetizing. I’m a fan of curry, specifically of the Indian variety, but I usually have the spicy sauce atop chicken dishes. This brings a whole new meaning to those ads that want you to send a goat to an impoverished village in Africa. Not saying Jamaica is an impoverished African village (that would simply be foolish), but it gets the ol’ brain thinking and that’s never a good thing.

12-Dish Supper – Lithuania

Once again, representing the 12 Apostles (Jesus gets left out here), Lithuanians are served 12 separate dishes on Christmas Eve and no one can open their presents until every last apostle has been eaten. Okay, I added that last little bit, but for all we know, I could actually be right… I know it’s rare, but it has been known to happen. You know, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, nobody knows how to truly party like a Lithuanian!

Drink #348: Christmas Kiss

Christmas Kiss Shooter

  • 0.75 oz Chambord
  • 0.75 oz Kahlua
  • Garnish with a Candy Cane

Are there any meals that particularly stand out to you as a little bizarre? Everyone has their own way of celebrating, but that certainly doesn’t make it normal!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
I thought this shot would give me the chance to finally use the candy cane shot glass I picked up for Mrs. Sip a couple years ago (because that’s what I do: buy gifts for her that are really for me!). Then, tragedy struck when the shot glass immediately began to leak. I acted quickly, sucking the liquid through a hole in the bottom of the vessel and promptly tossed that waste of money into the sink, shattering it into pieces. Sweet revenge! The shot itself was pretty tasty, as I was expecting with the mix of two pleasant liqueurs.

November 22 – Churchill

Tennessee Whiskey vs. Kentucky Bourbon

A battle of the ages has long been brewing (literally!) between the states of Tennessee and Kentucky. In one corner, you have the maker of the finest American whiskeys, while in the other, you have the home of bourbon creations. Let’s take a look at each state’s role in the world around us and see which place should get the nod in this never-ending conflict.

Famous Citizens

Tennessee: Davy Crockett, Morgan Freeman, Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Dolly Parton, Al Gore, Miley Cyrus – can you imagine Davy Crockett, Morgan Freeman and Al Gore twerking!?

twerking

Kentucky: Abraham Lincoln, Daniel Boone, Muhammad Ali, George Clooney, Johnny Depp, The Judds, Colonel Sanders – that’s a murderer’s row of famous folks who call Kentucky home!

Sports

Tennessee: Tennessee Titans (NFL), Memphis Grizzlies (NBA), Nashville Predators – Memphis stole Vancouver’s basketball franchise… you better believe that’s a paddlin’.

Kentucky: Kentucky Derby – I love watching the horsies race and apparently Kentuckians do too, as they don’t have any professional sports franchises within the state.

Food

Tennessee: I love southern barbecue foods (your pulled pork, brisket, chicken) and all the sides those meats come with (I gotta stop writing on an empty stomach!). In particular, we have a chain in western Canada called Memphis Blues that provides all these delicacies and there’s one wonderfully located a block up the street from Mrs. Sip and my chateau!

Kentucky: KFC, yo! Gotta give some points to the Colonel here, even if the company has rebranded itself to drop the Kentucky moniker! The state is also known for a dish called Hot Brown, which involves (layered in order) toasted bread, turkey, bacon, tomatoes, and mornay sauce.

KFC S&M

Arts (TV, Movies, Music, etc.)

Tennessee: Music City, USA; Memphis Wrestling – I’m a fan of one and not so much of the other… which is which!?

Kentucky: Recognizable Stars – Ah, hello, look no further than they provided the world with George Clooney and Johnny Depp, as well as vampire hunter Abraham Lincoln!

Landmarks

Tennessee: Graceland, Dollywood, Country Music Hall of Fame, Opryland USA – Did you know that Dollywood even has a water park!? For some reason, among all these great landmarks, that’s what sticks out to me the most!

Kentucky: Churchill Downs, Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, KFC Yum! Center, Abraham Lincoln Birthplace, Creation Museum, Fort Knox – The Creation Museum could, in fact, be the nation’s finest comedy club!

Slogans

Tennessee: “America at its Best” – I like the confidence of that statement!

Tennessee Slogan

This seems like a pretty good slogan, too!

Kentucky: “It’s That Friendly”, “Unbridled Spirit” – Sorry, but I’m not a fan of either of these attempts.

Nickname

Tennessee: Volunteer State – I hate volunteering for things, so Tennessee is going to lose some points in this category.

Kentucky: Bluegrass State – Mmm, mmm, I love me some bluegrass music… not the actual type of grass, of course.

State Symbols (last chance to get in the good graces of the Sip Advisor)

Tennessee: Their state wild animal (seriously, why do they have these things) is the raccoon… total props for that pick!

Kentucky: Their state dance is clogging… I’m not entirely sure what this is (no need for research here), but my mind tells me it’s like crunking, but more dangerous!

Drink #326: Churchill

Churchill Drink Recipe

  • 1 oz Scotch Whiskey
  • 0.5 oz Sweet Vermouth
  • 0.5 oz Cointreau
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Garnish with a Lime Wheel

So, in the end, who was the big winner between the two states? Tennessee takes Landmarks, Slogan, and State Symbols, while Famous Citizens, Arts, and Nickname go to Kentucky. Sports and Food are a toss-up, so I’m afraid we’re right where we started at the beginning of this whole debacle!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
I’m not sure whether this cocktail is named for Winston Churchill or Churchill Downs, but I figured it was a fitting recipe either way. And it tastes pretty darn good to boot! It’s not too strong, which is always a risk when the recipe is so booze heavy and mixers are largely absent, but this one works, likely helped along by the Cointreau and Lime Juice, in particular.

July 22 – Cincinnati Lunchbox

Burger Bar

Very few things compliment a tall, cold mug of beer like burgers do. I’ve been privileged to enjoy a number of fine selections. Here are some of my favourites:

Legendary Burger – White Spot

A darling of Western Canada (particularly the province of British Columbia), I can rarely remember a trip to White Spot that didn’t result in ordering this burger. You scan the menu every single time and even contemplate ordering something other than the norm, but you always end up asking for your favourite and you never regret doing so. The secret recipe Triple-O sauce is to die for and should be available to purchase.

Legendary Burger

Prime Rib Burger – The Keg

Ordered off of its bar menu, most Keg restaurants will allow this to be selected even if you’re in their main dining room, as well. The ones that don’t are listed near the top of my always growing ‘enemy list’. This burger is absolutely fantastic. The seasoning, combined with all the toppings makes for one tasty meal. Take my advice and throw in an extra buck for the bacon. Unbelievably, it’s one of the cheapest items on the restaurant’s menu to boot!

Whopper – Burger King

Flame broiled, yes please! The thing I love best about the Whopper is that it is loaded with toppings. Toppings are essential to any burger enjoyment and the King has read that message loud and clear. I appreciate that the chain has found its way into a number of airports, giving me an opportunity to have a decent meal on the run. Burger King is also one of the few food vendors in movie theatres around my parts, taking advantage of hungry moviegoers.

whopper

Big Xtra – McDonalds

Although I can only find this burger (known as the Big N’ Tasty in the U.S.) at Wal-Mart-connected McDonalds, it is worth the trip. In my opinion, all burgers need essential ingredients and this meal covers all the bases. You have your lettuce, tomato, mayo, ketchup, pickles, and onions… all the colours of the rainbow. Perhaps the only thing missing is a couple strips of bacon, but we’ll let that transgression pass.

Big Crunch – KFC

I had to include a chicken burger on this list and the best place in the world for bird meat is hands down KFC. I haven’t had a Big Crunch in a couple years, but just writing this has me craving the delicious 11 secret herbs and spices recipe. A little tip for chicken burger connoisseurs, try dipping your meal in ketchup before each bite, adding another wonderful flavour to the mix.

Big-Crunch

Kobe Beef Sliders – Milestones

Perhaps the only thing better than one big burger is three mini burgers! Most of my beef selections come sans cheese, but in this case, I’m happy to leave the mozzarella on. The Milestones sliders are topped with crispy onion straws and are accompanied by a delicious sesame mustard sauce for dipping. The appetizer is perfect for sharing and Mrs. Sip and I have been known to gorge ourselves on a couple starters prior to skipping dinner!

Bacon Deluxe – Red Mill Burgers

I learned of Red Mill Burgers watching Man vs. Food, as host Adam Richman toured a selection of restaurants in Seattle, Washington. Thankfully, that means the franchise’s locations are only a two-hour drive away for Mrs. Sip and I. Well worth it, I would say! When we arrived, the line-up for ordering was out the door and it didn’t take long to understand why. Loaded with toppings and the delicious Mill Sauce, I was in burger heaven and I enjoyed the euphoria the entire two-hour trip home!

Drink #203: Cincinnati Lunchbox

Cincinnati Lunchbox Drink Recipe

  • 1 oz Amaretto
  • Top with half Orange Juice and half Beer (I used GIB Hefeweizen)
  • Garnish with Orange Slice

All this talk of burgers has got me really hungry… and all this mentioning of beer has got me really thirsty. Why won’t someone satisfy my needs!? I don’t ask for much. Only to be fed, thirst quenched, and legions of fans who will do my bidding!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
Not a bad beer cocktail, but a little sweet and not really memorable… it doesn’t live up to the burgers listed above. I was looking forward to this drink, as Hefeweizen Beers are my favourite, but I think the Orange Juice took over too much.