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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Snack Time #25 – McDonald’s Sauces

When news first broke that fan-favourite McDonald’s sauces, such as Big Mac, McChicken and Filet-O-Fish would soon be hitting store shelves, the Sip Advisor was one of the masses who rejoiced. Ma Sip recently grabbed the Big Mac and McChicken variations, making it a McHappy Day!

First, we’ll start with the Big Mac Sauce. I’ve only recently got back into Big Mac’s as my burger-of-choice, following years of siding with other options. How did the sauce fare on my homemade burger? Well, not bad at all. Of course, some of the other ingredients from the famous Big Mac jingle were absent, but the sauce itself was tasty and close to the real thing.

Next up, was the McChicken Sauce, which has a smaller opening at the top, compared to the Big Mac bottle. When I first discovered the McChicken, it was a game changer. Being cheese adverse, I hated ordering burgers without the stuff, yet often receiving a cheese-filled meal. I was thrilled to find an item that already came sans fromage. The sauce held up here.

McDonald's Sauces.jpg

Finally, I can’t say I’ve ever had a Filet-O-Fish (I know, total blasphemy), so I don’t know if I’ll ever get around to trying that product. Perhaps I should take a chance and give the sandwich a shot, but it’s so hard to stray from your favourites. I figure the dressing can best be thought of as tartar sauce enhanced.

I’m not sure if these sauces are available outside Canada. They can be found at most grocery stores for about $4 per bottle, although I’ve noticed some locations only carrying the Big Mac and McChicken varieties, for whatever reason. The sauces were created as part of a partnership with Kraft Heinz and we thank them for their efforts.

For more Snack Time articles, please visit our main page…

Sip Trips #103: Babymooning (Part 1)

Back in 2012, Mrs. Sip and I celebrated our honeymoon with a cruise through the Panama Canal. Nearly five years later and with a little girl on the way, we decided to take our babymoon from Rome to Dubai – through the Suez Canal – aboard another luxury liner. Here’s part one of that expedition:

Our first stop of the journey was Rome, Italy, a favourite city for both Mrs. Sip and myself. Friends from London joined us for this portion of the vacation and after some sightseeing, we journeyed to the 404 Name Not Found bar, which one of our companions had researched. There, complex cocktails (and a mocktail for Mrs. Sip) awaited us. Always a fan of spicy drinks, I tried the 666, complete with Jalapeno-infused Tequila, Cointreau, Lime Juice and Honey.

The next morning, I was able to cross an item off my drinking bucket list, when I enjoyed my first ever McBeer (Beera Moretti Baffo D’oro) at the McDonald’s just outside the walls of the Vatican City. Despite beer being available at a McDonald’s stop or two prior, this was the first time I’ve imbibed in the option and it was a great experience with my set of famous hamburgers.

McBeers

Later that day, we were off to board our ship at the Civitavecchia Port, over an hour outside Rome. After checking in, we arrived at our room (which had been upgraded from a balcony to a mini suite) and were promptly given glasses of sail away bubbly. It was a very nice start to our two-week journey aboard the Majestic Princess.

Mrs. Sip surprised me with bottles of Bacardi Rum, Skyy Vodka and Gordon’s Gin to go along with the two bottles of wine I had just grabbed at the Termini train station. I also brought a handful of Grey Goose mini bottles, so giving I was drinking solo, I was quite set for the voyage. I never buy the all-inclusive pop package available on the cruise, so having mixers for my booze can be challenging, but I’ve picked up some tricks along the way. I did purchase a soda set, which provided me with six cans of pop, while also taking advantage of free orange juice for breakfast and lemonade throughout the day. This allowed me to create an array of drinks, enhanced by some clever fruit pick-ups at the buffet.

Our first stop of the cruise docked in Naples, Italy. Our excursion for the day would take us to the island of Capri, where I got to do a little Limoncello tasting, followed by lunch in Sorrento (where I chugged back close to a bottle of house wine) and finishing with a tour of the historic Pompeii.

Pompeii Stoned

Our next port of call was in Athens. Mrs. Sip and I elected to take a hop-on, hop-off bus into the city, where we visited the 360 Cocktail Bar. With views of the legendary Acropolis from the bar’s rooftop patio, I sat back and enjoyed servings of their Heat Wave (Russian Standard Vodka, Mezcal, Jalapeno Chillies, Oregano, Herbs, Agave, Lime) and The Journey of Chivalry (Chivas Regal 12-year, Noilly Prat Vermouth, Cashews, Smoked Salt, Coconut Water) cocktails. I had also tried to order the Summer Loading (Bacardi White Rum, Watermelon, Orgeat, Lime, Three Cents Agean Tonic), but sadly it was not available.

As we continued to explore the area, we popped into a store where I purchased a bomber-sized bottle of Alfa Weiss Beer and cans of Fanta Strawberry-Kiwi and Tuborg Orange-Cinnamon Soda to add to my mixer collection. The greatest treat came as we returned to the port. There was a duty-free shop in the terminal and after confirming purchases wouldn’t be taken away, as there was no security check to go through boarding the ship, I popped back into the store before we set sail to snag a half-liter bottle of Jim Beam Bourbon.

Our stop the next day on the Greek island of Santorini was one I was greatly looking forward to. We had visited for a week 10 years prior and it became one of my favourite places I’ve ever been to. Sadly, this trip wasn’t nearly as good, as the tiny island was hosting three different ships and was overrun. To salvage the day, Mrs. Sip and I sat down in a tiny bar in the capital city of Fira, where I had an Alfa Beer and enjoyed the sights. Then we travelled down 700 steps to the port, dodging donkeys and their droppings along the way.

That wraps up part one of our expedition. Join us tomorrow for the second half of an amazing holiday.

Sip Trips #79: California Screamin’

Fresh off of our trip to Ireland (seriously, Mrs. Sip returned Wednesday night and we were off again Saturday morning), the Sip Alliance took advantage of the Canadian Thanksgiving holiday with a super quick jaunt down to California where a few days at Disneyland was just a warm up to Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights!

Upon entering Disneyland’s California Adventure Saturday morning, the Sip Advisor made a bee line to Flo’s Café for a serving of Bear Republic’s Grand-Am Pale Ale. This is my favourite beer in the park and was a perfect way to start the short and sweet vacation. Mrs. Sip and I typically pair the breakfast brew with a cheddar garlic bagel twist, which is as fine and gluttonous as a morning meal can be. We also tried their pumpkin twist dessert for some additional excess.

breakfast-beer

Even before we could hit a single attraction, we were onto our second beers of the morning, visiting the Karl Strauss Beer Truck. Here, I tried one of the newer beers (at least new to me) available in the Aurora Hoppyalis IPA, which I found to be quite good and deserving of its awesome name. Mrs. Sip went with their seasonal Oktoberfest beverage, which was also a solid choice.

Finally, we rode a ride, but our thirst was not fully quenched. This resulted in a stop at the Sonoma Terrace Beer Garden, where Mrs. Sip selected the Brother Thelonious Belgian Ale from North Coast Brewing, while the Sip Advisor went with a serving of Bootlegger’s Rustic Rye IPA. My only complaint about the beer garden is that all servings are bottles, so you don’t get the same amount as the draft options and often pay more. That said, the available options are often boozier than their contemporaries.

For a late lunch, we made a reservation at the Carthay Circle Restaurant. With the park typically busy for a Saturday and unseasonably warm for October, we ducked into the Carthay Lounge a little early and enjoyed a round of drinks with Mrs. Sip’s favourite appy, the Queso Fundido dip. I ordered a glass of Anchor Mango Wheat because the server said it was a maple mango beer. While that wasn’t correct, it was still a decent brew. Anchor Brewing does have a Maple Autumn Red, which may have caused the confusion. Our three-course lunch was fantastic as usual, enjoyed with a bottle of chardonnay.

wine-as-fruit

Eating at the Carthay Circle Restaurant gave us a special seating area for the World of Color show that night and the Sip Alliance always comes prepared. While Mrs. Sip and Cousin Sip double fisted glasses of bubbly, the Sip Advisor and Cousin Sip’s husband were among the last served at the Beer Garden. My bevvy of choice was the Hopageddon Imperial IPA from Napa Smith Brewing. We wrapped the day with a late visit to McDonald’s, which I brought back to our hotel room to pair with a bottle of Samuel Adams Octoberfest. There was also a serving of Karl Strauss Mosaic Session IPA in the late evening, which deserves mention for being a good brew.

Sunday featured our main reason for doing this frenzied trip to California. Two years ago, Mrs. Sip and I attended Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios and had a fantastic time. Part of the festivities, includes drinking our faces off prior to entering the spooky resort. As we did previously, we began our imbibing at the Karl Strauss Brewing location in the City Walk area outside the park. There, amongst a host of shared plates (pretzel bites, pork schnitzel sliders, cheese fondue, etc.), I enjoyed another serving of the Aurora Hoppyalis IPA, followed by the Tower 10 IPA. Mrs. Sip got a pair of Windansea Wheat glasses, which were also delicious.

Our last ditch effort to get a suitable buzz before being swarmed by zombies, maniac killers and all other forms of terrifying beings, came courtesy of the Saddle Ranch. Mrs. Sip and I went with double tequila shots, while I also pounded back a double rum and coke. To say I was ready to have the daylights scared out of me would be an understatement. Once inside, our favourite houses were Freddy vs. Jason, American Horror Story (thanks to following the series), and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Our front-of-the-line passes helped us get through the park with ease and we completed all attractions within a few hours.

haunted-house

After a quick sleep, we were back at Disneyland for one more half day of fun. It was breakfast time, so you know what that meant: one more Grand Am Pale Ale for the road and a cheddar garlic bagel twist. We were always under the impression that beer wasn’t served until 10-10:30am, but learned at Flo’s, they are served all day, from 9am on. What a wonderful world we live in!

For lunch, we popped into the Cove Bar, which is situated at the entrance to the Paradise Pier area of the park. There, I had one of their secret menu cocktails, the Earthquake (a Long Island Iced Tea with Sprite, blue curacao and a float of 151 rum), while Mrs. Sip had the Black Pearl (a Long Island Iced Tea with Sprite and Chambord). Our crew shared a plate of Lobster Nachos over our drinks. Shortly thereafter, it was sadly time to head to the airport.

Normally, my Sip Trips involving vacations to California end there. LAX is one of the worst airports I’ve ever been to for guest amenities, but on this occasion, we ended up in a fantastic wing of the airport, which had a bar and a few other neat looking restaurants. We had dinner at Barney’s Beanery, where I was able to get a buffalo chicken sandwich and a couple pints of Strand 24th Street Pale Ale. Mrs. Sip was in the mood for Mexican, so she had a quesadilla and taco, as well as a serving of Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier, which was a fantastic drink.

While we don’t have any travel plans for this weekend, we will be attending the BC Beer Awards for the first time, so that should provide some good stories for the next edition of Sip Trips!

September 19 – Birthday Cake

Best of 1983

As the Sip Advisor prepares to celebrate another birthday, I thought it would be a good idea to look back at the best of my birth year: 1983. It was a wonderful year… or so I’m told. Of course, the greatest moment of the year was the birth of yours truly, but I’m sure some other events could be defined as momentous. Let’s take a look back in history!

#5: Sony Camcorder

Just think of where amateur pornography would be without the advent of camcorders… scary thought, no? In all seriousness, this put the power to better record the greatest moments of our lives, in the hands of consumers. Despite this, the Sip Family didn’t finally jump on the video camera wagon until 2001. I’m not sure exactly why things happened like that, but that’s the story and we’re sticking to it.

Camcorder Tape

#4: Plinko on The Price is Right

As a lifelong Price is Right fan, I’m honoured to learn that one of my favourite games on the show, Plinko, was first unleashed on the world in 1983. This game of chance sees contestants drop a disc, from high above, down a board with pegs that cause the disc to bounce around. At the bottom, are a number of slots, with varying money amounts. When all the contestant’s discs have been used, they are awarded whatever the Plinko gods have blessed them with.

#3: Chicken McNugget

Mrs. Sip’s first favourite food as a youngster was all possible thanks to the product’s introduction in 1983. Folks, we’re through the looking glass here and talking about the McDonald’s Chicken McNugget. While I don’t order them as much as I did when I was younger, the Chicken McNugget is still placed before a hungry Sip Advisor from time to time. Of course, the McNuggetini wouldn’t be possible without these delicious chicken chunks!

10 McNuggets

#2: Video Games

What would eventually be released in North America in 1985 as the Nintendo Entertainment System, first hit shelves in Japan in 1983, as the Famicom, or Family Computer. Along with the home console, the game Mario Bros. debuted, including the first appearances of Luigi and the Koopa Troopers. While there was some good in the video game world in 1983, the year was also host to an industry crash, which took years to recover from.

#1: Technology

1983 brought forth one of the greatest inventions in the history of the world. In fact, every person reading this right now is using this creation. We’re talking about the freakin’ internet! Other technological advancements to hit the world in my birth year included the first cell phone call and the release of Microsoft Word, which has been a beacon of enjoyment and employment for the Sip Advisor.

Super Saturday Shot Day: Birthday Cake

  • 0.5 oz Citron Vodka
  • 0.5 oz Frangelico
  • Garnish with a Lemon Wedge

Of course, there are some things 1983 brought us that we didn’t really need. Sweet Valley High books, for one… minivans would be another. Neither compares, though, to crack cocaine and the El Niño weather pattern!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (??? Sips out of 5):
xxxx

Flavour Revolution – Apple

Forbidden Follies

While not specifically identified as the forbidden fruit that causes Adam and Eve to be kicked out of the Garden of Eden, it has long been believed that the apple denied all of us utopia. As a result, the apple is viewed as a symbol for a whole slew of things, including knowledge, sexuality, immortality, temptation, and sin. The Adam’s apple in men’s throats is named to reflect the forbidden fruit that is stuck in Adam’s esophagus. Here are some oddly forbidden items from around the world:

Time Travel Depictions – China

So, I guess media like Doctor Who, Quantum Leap, Back to the Future, Hot Tub Time Machine, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and even the third Ninja Turtles movie are all rare commodities on China’s black market movie and TV aisle. Reincarnation (without government permission) is also outlawed in China, as the government tries to take a shot at the Dalai Lama.

time-travel-drink

Original Baby Names – Denmark

I’m kind of cool with this law, as there are a lot of really stupid names out there. It’s not like Danish folks are that restricted, as there is an approved list of 24,000 names. If you really want a specialty name, you have the opportunity to make your case and get permission. I wonder who is the judge and jury of that court?

McDonald’s – Bolivia

Well, I guess the Sip Advisor will never go to Bolivia. McDonald’s wasn’t necessarily banned in the country, but citizens outright refused to eat at the fast food joint and profits became non-existent. After a 14-year attempt to gain ground in Bolivia, McDonald’s finally elected to waive the white flag of surrender and pack up shop.

St. Valentine’s Day – Saudi Arabia

With the pressure this “holiday” puts on some folks, I think this ban could be welcomed worldwide. No longer would guys have to pay double the price for flowers, chocolates, meals out, etc. on this one day of the year. And why should we need a specific day to show our loved ones what they mean to us. Let the revolution begin!

valentines benefits

Western Haircuts – Iran

This includes Mohawks, mullets, spikes, and ponytails. Thankfully for the 1980’s, the mullet ban didn’t cross over to other parts of the world. That would have cost us some great hair, where business was handled in the front, while partying was left for the back!

Yellow Clothing – Malaysia

When I was just a little sipper, my favourite colour was yellow (or as I called it, “lellow”). Had I been Malaysian-born, I may have never fallen in love with the hue. The ban started to counter an activist group that wore the shade. All this, despite the fact yellow is considered the royal colour in the country.

Small Breast Porn – Australia

Women with A-cup breasts, wanting to embark on a career in the adult industry, will have to take their talents outside of Australia. The country has banned films featuring women with small breasts, for fears that they will encourage pedophilia. I’m no lawyer, but there has to be some sort of human rights violation here.

turkey-breasts

Women Driving – Saudi Arabia

Since Mrs. Sip is a proud non-driver, yet forces me to vote every time an election rolls around, arguing that I should exercise my right to vote, do you think should I inform her, that she should exercise her right to drive!?

Scrabble – Romania

Any chance I can get them to also ban Taboo… man, I hate that game. As for Scrabble, I’m more of a Boggle man, when it comes to word games. Mrs. Sip is light years ahead of me in the realm of intelligence, but she can’t hold a candle to my Boggle skills!

Flavour Revolution: Herfordtini

Herfordtini Martini

Mark Twain once said: “The more things are forbidden, the more popular they become.” There’s some serious truth to that statement and it goes hand in hand with the theory that any publicity can be good for a company or product. Hell, Twain’s work has been banned from time to time, so the man knew what he was talking about!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
This drink provided a nice blend of the Elegant Crisp Gin and Elderflower Liqueur, which provided a bit of a sweet and sour mix. I wanted to garnish the cocktail with a thinner apple fan, but I think these slices worked out okay.

July 26 – Red Devil

Gingerbread Men

Well, apparently ‘Kick a Ginger Day’ just recently passed, but not being an observer of the holiday, I’d like to turn things in another direction and embrace our pale, freckled friends. Hell, some of them are pretty hot, as we’ll see in next week’s look at ginger females. Today, though, we breakdown the Top 5 ginger dudes… no kicking allowed!

#5: Richie Cunningham – Happy Days

While he may look like the biggest dork, Richie Cunningham is seemingly quite popular, with a group of loyal buddies, girls willing to date him, and particularly the Fonz even wanting (or willing) to be his pal. I guess the 50’s were truly a different time. Ron Howard is a Hollywood icon and is perhaps the most successful child actor of all-time. Whether he’s directing hit movies, returning to Mayberry, or narrating Arrested Development, this ginger has done it all and done it well.

Richie Cunningham

#4: Carrot Top

I urge anyone heading to Las Vegas to check out Carrot Top’s show at The Luxor. Even if you despise prop comedy (and there are certainly detractors of the art form), there’s something about Carrot Top’s energy and creativity that will leave you satisfied and exhausted from laughing. His manic delivery keeps the show running at super speeds and before you know it, the show is over and you’re wanting more redhead comedy.

#3: Ronald McDonald

While ‘Rotten Ronny’ here doesn’t do much for the ginger image – you know, looking all creepy and such – he is a global icon and one that most people identify with joyful childhood memories of Happy Meals, ball pits, and McDonalds birthday parties! While Grimace and the gang have faded into obscurity, Ronald is still a mascot and spokesperson for the brand. For better or worse, we may never bid farewell to the clown prince of hamburgers.

Ronald McDonald Joker

#2: Beaker – The Muppets

Poor Beaker has been suffering through ‘Kick a Ginger Day’ his entire life. Often the victim of Professor Bunsen Honeydew’s madcap inventions, this little lab assistant must absolutely hate going into work each day. Even though he’s a puppet, Beaker managed to appear during a professional wrestling match and help fellow ginger Sheamus pick up a victory thanks to a potion he whipped up. Now that’s some sweet redhead revenge!

#1: Philip J. Fry – Futurama

He may not be the brightest guy out there, but neither am I, so I feel Fry and I share some sort of bond… Brothers in Idiocy or something to that tune. Mrs. Sip and I have been going through all the Futurama episodes lately and it’s really made me appreciate the characters more than I did before. While we haven’t finished the series yet, I hope Fry has a happy ending (and not the naughty kind)… I know this fellow idiot got his!

Super Saturday Shot Day: Red Devil

Red Devil Shot

  • 0.5 oz Vodka (I used Loopy)
  • 0.5 oz Amaretto
  • 0.5 oz Cranberry Juice
  • Garnish with Cranberries

In closing, I have to give a shout out to my little buddy Furious B, a long-haired orange tabby. Wishing you many more adventures, vermin kills, and countless hours napping the day away!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
I wanted to make sure the ‘Red’ title was a part of each recipe for these articles… mission accomplished (so far)! The Loopy Vodka (gifted to the Sip Advisor from Cousin Sip) was a nice touch with the Amaretto and I actually squeezed my own Cranberry Juice, which is not as easy to do as one would think. Luckily, I didn’t need much of it for a shooter.