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.

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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!’

July 7 – Watermelon Mojito

Summer in the City

With summer upon us, it’s time to throw out some ideas for things you can do with the missus or the little ones. Here are some treasured Sip Advisor summer activities!

Drive-In Movie

The whole experience might as well be called, “How to Gorge Yourself on Snacks in a Few Hours,” but that’s all part of the fun. Our local drive-in presents two or three movies each night for the low price of $12.50! Because you’re in your own car, you can chat with your car mates without being shushed by other moviegoers and can even get a little naughty with your best gal, should the inspiration arise.

That's one hell of a line-up!

That’s one hell of a line-up!

Swimming

I’ve been lucky enough to grow up my entire life with a pool in the backyard, first an above-ground tank and later an in-ground swimming hole. It’s hard to see my life without easy access to water and a place to hang out with drinks, sun, and fun. Over the years, the pool has been home to some crazy behavior, such as backyard wrestling, balcony jumps and skinny dipping!

Fire Pit

After a day in the cement pond, we’ll often light up the fire pit at the Sip Advisor headquarters, where roasting marshmallows and building smores are the first order of business. Talk around the campfire is always entertaining, especially when one member of the Sip Alliance can’t control an Irish accent he’s never exhibited before and it only comes out when he’s tanked!

Camping

Ah, the great outdoors… where people stupidly risk the elements for the sake of “getting back to nature”. I’m just thankful that I’m a dude and I can pee wherever I want, while the ladies always have to have good facilities within walking distance. Food while camping is certainly a highlight of the entire experience, with so much junk that it would make any healthy person question the entire practice.

camping

Baseball Game

While I prefer other sports more, the ‘boys of summer’ experience is one not to be missed. It’s a great night out to hit the diamond and support your local team, whether professional, amateur, or beer league. The snacks and beer at a baseball game often overtake the actual sport itself in attention spent, but sometimes you get that special experience where your team ties the game late and wins in extra innings prior to a fireworks show (true story!).

Picnic in the Park

Very few things are as relaxing and peaceful as a picnic in the park. Just throw your blanket down wherever you’re comfortable and lay out, enjoying a spread of sandwiches, salads, chips, cookies, and wine or beer if you can sneak your sips in. You can even combine your meal with a rollerblade, bike ride, or top it all off with some playground activity!

Drink #188: Watermelon Mojito

Watermelon Mojito

  • Muddled Watermelon, Lime and Mint
  • 1.5 oz Appleton Rum
  • Top with Lemon-Lime Soda
  • Garnish with Watermelon Cube, Lime Wedge and Sugar Cane Stir Stick

While those are my favourite activities, there are a number of things I’d like to try again from the days of summer past, like busting out the ol’ slip and slide and getting soap in my eyes or a concussion from smacking noggins with another slider. Good… no, scratch that… GREAT times!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
I love Watermelon and I love Mojitos, so put the two together and you have a winning combination. I subbed Appleton Rum in for White Rum and it was a perfect choice given Watermelon’s light taste.

June 9 – Sangria

Wine Time

Well, Wine Cocktail Week is finally here. I’m far from a wine connoisseur, but I’m willing to try some new recipes and see what the results are, which I’m pretty sure is how wine was invented in the first place. If I mess anything up in today’s lesson, don’t go all wine snobby on me. I accept you for your many faults, and you should forgive me for the one or two mistakes I make on a yearly basis. Capiche! On with the lesson:

wine-how-classy-people-get-wasted-funny-poster

There are thousands of different types of wine, made up of hundreds of different grape combos. Some of the most popular wine varieties include: Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris/Grigio, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Shiraz, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. My personal favourite wine is Francis Coppola’s Diamond Collection, Emerald Label Pinot Grigio. Damn, son, that’s a mouthful!

The Top 10 wine producing countries are: France, Italy, Spain, the United States, Argentina, China, Australia, South Africa, Germany, and Portugal. I have to say that I’m a little surprised Canada has yet to crack this list given we have a number of wonderful wine regions. Oh well, something to aim for in the future.

Despite tradition, the screw cap method of opening a bottle of vino is quickly replacing corked tops, thanks to the ease and simplicity of which a bottle can be opened. I can’t count how many times Mrs. Sip and I have been stuck on vacation without our trusty bottle opener, leaving us in a lurch when trying to crack open some wine. Perhaps Ma and Pa Sip have the right idea with boxed wine? Easy to open and a lot more alcohol to share!

funny-wine1

Wine is one of the healthier libation options, as it contains fewer calories than beer and is fat- and cholesterol-free. A glass a day (or more) will keep the doctor away… or at least we all hope!

Contrary to popular belief, many wines should be enjoyed within a year of being bottled and not left to “age”. If you are looking for a good wine to age, ask an expert. In an interesting contrast, as white wines sit, they gain colour, while their red counterparts lose colour the longer they wait to be served.

A number of celebrities have invested their money into the wine industry, including aforementioned film producer Francis Coppola; musicians Bob Dylan, Madonna, and Sting; hockey superstar Wayne Gretzky; race car driver Jeff Gordon; screen stars Raymond Burr, Dan Aykroyd, Emilio Estevez, Drew Barrymore, and Antonio Banderas; theme park heir Diane Disney; and golfers Arnold Palmer, Ernie Els, and Mike Weir.

Perhaps Zach Galifianakis will be the next celeb to invest in a winery!?

Perhaps comedian Zach Galifianakis will be the next celeb to invest in a winery!?

Now to the mathematics portion of the post… here are important grape-to-wine measurement ratios to remember: one grape cluster (75 grapes) equals one glass of wine. Four clusters equal one bottle of wine. 40 clusters of grapes equals one vine, which makes up 10 bottles. 1,200 clusters (30 vines) equals one barrel, which equals 60 gallons, which equals 25 cases of wine. 400 vines equals one acre of land, which equals five tons of grapes, resulting in 332 cases of sweet lady liquor. And you didn’t even need a calculator! If you find that math too confusing, just remember $10 equals one bottle of decent California or Okanagan wine, and what numbers do we really otherwise need?

When describing the smell of a wine, you have to be careful with which words to use, otherwise you could look like a buffoon. Bouquet refers to the total scent of the wine, while aroma is meant for the grapes. If you wish to combine both the bouquet and aroma, you would call that the nose. This is starting to make my head spin and we haven’t even begun to drink yet. Let’s get on with it then.

Drink #160: Sangria

Sangria

  • Sliced Strawberries, Orange, Lemon, Lime, and Raspberries
  • 1.5 Litres Red Wine (I used Peller Estates Merlot)
  • ½ Cup Triple Sec
  • Top each drink with Lemon-Lime or Club Soda
  • Garnish with Fruit from Pitcher and Wine Charm

Now you’re ready to open up your own winery. All you need is a cool name. I’d call my own winery Siparellio, giving it a hint of Italian heritage, while having absolutely none at all. Salute!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
I really enjoy my and Mrs. Sip’s homemade Sangria (no dirty thoughts, fellas)! I’m not even a big wine fan, but with all the fruit we put in and when we top it all off with some Lemon-Lime Soda, you can’t go wrong with this very refreshing, perfect for summer treat!

February 3 – Bill Murray

On the Rocks

Groundhog

As a bit of a carryover from yesterday’s post, in the movie Groundhog Day, Phil Connors (Bill Murray) orders “sweet vermouth on the rocks, with a twist,” his producer Rita’s (Andie MacDowell) favourite drink, in a bid to get closer to her. He learns this on the first day of his Groundhog Day loop and tries to exploit it on subsequent repeated days. Apparently this is the actual favourite drink of director Harold Ramis’ wife. So, given that I’m doing this challenge and I’m always open to new recipes, I thought I’d give it a shot. First though, here are some other drinks that are enjoyed on the rocks:

Scotch

I’ve only got into Scotch over the last few years, but I really enjoy it. In that time, I’ve been lucky to sample some really good stuff (thanks to some very generous friends and family) and most recently I met the pinnacle of drinking when I was able to have a glass of Ron Swanson’s (Parks and Recreation) favourite libation Lagavulin 16 Year Old. Imagine me, a mild-mannered drink jockey getting to enjoy this fine substance… let the good times roll! (See January 8 – Scotch on the Rocks for further reading)

Disaronno (Amaretto)

This is one of my favourite end-of-night, unwinding drinks. A couple cubes and a splash of Disaronno is all I need before bedtime. Call it nappy time juice! It used to be that cookies and milk were all I needed but then I entered my 30’s! Okay, I’m not there yet, but cookies and milk have been pushed aside for liqueurs and whatever is lying around the house that resembles food. It doesn’t really matter, I’ll eat anything.

Southern Comfort

I first tried Southern Comfort on the rocks on my honeymoon cruise and enjoyed it enough to buy a bottle. I’m curious to try some of the other Southern Comfort flavours out there, such as Fiery Pepper, Bold Black Cherry, plus one mama Sip Advisor told me about (this drinking is a family thing, after all), Lime. So, I have the perfect evening planned: southern BBQ, washed down by SoCo!

Southern Comfort

Courvoisier (Cognac)

Now, I’ve only had this once before, but I enjoyed it thoroughly. Perhaps it holds a place in my heart because it helped me fall asleep on a flight, which I’m rarely able to do. I also love how it was regularly featured in the Ladies Man skits on Saturday Night Live. Great choice, Leon!

Ladies Man

Bailey’s Irish Crème

This last one is geared a little more towards the ladies, I suppose. I personally like drinks that have a little bit more of an edge, but I know there are a lot of folks out there that love their Irish Crèmes and anything that’s easier to down. It’s a smooth ride for these alcohols and there’s also an array of intriguing flavours (mint chocolate, crème caramel, hazelnut, biscotti) coming out from the Bailey’s people and other similar companies.

Drink #34: Bill Murray

Sweet Vermouth with Twist Drink

  • 2 oz Sweet Vermouth (I used Martini brand)
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Garnish with lemon twist

In honour of the legendary Bill Murray, I’ve gone ahead and named this concoction after him. I mean, Andie MacDowell is okay, but Bill Murray is Dr. Peter Venkman… groundskeeper Carl Spackler… hell, he’s even Garfield! This was the first time I ever had sweet vermouth on the rocks, as I usually only use it when making Manhattans. This is the type of experimenting I enjoy best and I thought the drink was great, especially with the addition of lemon.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
Shockingly, no one has ever given this drink a name before, which is a shame because I believe that we should salute Bill Murray whenever the opportunity arises. I thought Sweet Vermouth on the rocks was actually a tasty drink and something you might have when unwinding after dinner, as a dessert aperitif.

January 20 – Melon Margarita

Tequilas

Well friends and fellow sippers, I’m back from Mexico, with a ton of new booze, so that seems like the perfect opportunity to launch into Tequila Week. Each day I’ll feature a different tequila-based cocktail and together we’ll all get a little loco!

Also, before I left for our holiday I sent a kindly-worded letter to my liver advising it (I seem to do a lot of advising) of the upcoming situation. When I returned home, this was waiting for me. My liver must have mailed it or something (doesn’t your liver mail you stuff?):

Rebuttal from my Liver

Check Liver Light

Dear Sip Advisor,

So, let me get this straight… first you drag me to Mexico – kicking and screaming as only a poor liver can – for a tortuous week at an all-inclusive resort, and just when I think I’ll finally get some rest, you have the audacity to announce that today is the start of Tequila Week!

At the resort, you decided, in your infinite wisdom, to do your own all-inclusive challenge and try to have one of every single drink on their pool bar menus. There were 72 drink mixes on that menu, what the firetruck were you thinking!? The only thing that steered you away from this (after you were already halfway through the list, mind you) was when you grew tired of the sugary mixes the bartenders were using. But naturally that’s about the time when you discovered the anejo dark rum… thanks a lot buddy [sigh].

How did you like the 24-hour flu I e-mailed your way? That was supposed to stop you, or at the very least, slow you down. Instead you took one day off and then made up for the missed action when you’d recovered.

I would, hereby, like to announce my secession from your body… if only I could find a way out.

Your long-suffering frenemy,

Liver

Hmmm… tough love, but my liver does have a point. Sugary pre-made mixes are generally a big no-no for all my little sippers out there. When you can, try to make all or the majority of your drink from scratch, or at the very least, use higher quality fresh juices or mixer. Your liver (and your friends) will thank you for it!

Without further ado, here is the first tequila drink, starting with a slight spin on an old classic:

Drink #20: Melon Margarita

Melon Margarita

  • Rim glass with lemon or lime juice, followed by salt
  • 1.5 oz tequila
  • 1 oz Melon Liqueur
  • Top with Margarita Mix (optional)
  • Garnish with lime or watermelon wedge

I hope the rest of Tequila Week is as delicious as today was. Have a great tequila recipe that you’d like to see featured here on Sip Advisor? Just let my liver and me know!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
I’m a big Margarita fan (providing it’s on the rocks and not frozen) and I also have a massive appreciation for melon liqueur. Put the two together and you should have one fine cocktail and here, you do.