Sip Trips #164: European Escape (Part 1)

The Sip Family has wrapped our seemingly annual trek to Europe and have a few days to recover and repack for our next adventure aboard an Alaskan cruise. With so little time at hand, let’s get right to the wrap-up of our most recent crossing of the pond. Part one, will look at our stops in London and Sicily:

Our group of three couples, three babies and two grandmas began our travels in London. On our first evening, weary from the journey, we ventured to The Spencer Pub, located near our Airbnb. Despite the rest of the group each ordering Fish & Chips, I was craving a beef burger. It was delicious and a good choice, although no one was complaining about their meal. To pair with the dinner, I ordered a pint of Watney’s Sarcasm Citrus Pale Ale, which was tasty.

proper pub

After a night’s rest, we visited Windsor Castle. Following a self-guided tour of the grounds, we popped into the Tower Tea Room at the Harte and Garter Hotel & Spa, as the ladies wanted to enjoy an afternoon tea. Being the only guy in the group, I didn’t have much choice, but made the best of the situation, ordering a bottle of Windsor & Eton Guardsman Best Bitter.

With all our group finally amassed, including friends living in London, our next endeavour took us to Hampton Court. The day began with a meal at The Bishop Pub, where I enjoyed a Buttermilk Chicken Burger and pint of Meantime London Pale Ale. I always marvel at how low the alcohol percentage is on beers in London with it being rare to see something surpass 5%. Certainly not what I’m used to at home.

With babies in tow and the girls wanting to see a theatre production, the guys spent a night in on the Saturday, while we would get our turn out on Sunday (on Mother’s Day of all days). We took full advantage of our evening though, stocking up on beers to be enjoyed. My brews included Camden Hells Lager, Gipsy Hill & Yeastie Boys Bogan Bogan Double IPA, Drygate Disco Fork Lift Truck Mango Pale Ale, Drygate Gladeye IPA and Vocation Pride & Joy Pale Ale.

babysitting.jpg

To celebrate Mother’s Day, we convened at Ting in the infamous Shard building for their Shangri-La Royal High Tea. To start, Mrs. Sip and I ordered one of each of their cocktails, which included the Little Miss Royal (vodka, ratafia, isake classic and egg white) and The Little Prince (gin, blue curacao, pineapple, lemon and pastis glacial mint). These drinks were very boozy, which turned some of our group off, but that’s just the way I like my libations.

Then, it was time for the guys to take off and watch the end of the English Premier League season. My two comrades are Liverpool supporters and picked The Comedy Pub to watch the games amongst fellow fans. There, we drank quite a bit, remaining at the bar well after the crowds cleared. Over the session, I tried pints of the Camden Pale Ale and Doombar Amber Ale.

Our next stop was Waxy O’Connors, which is a very cool place with multiple levels and nooks buried underneath the city. After a few more rounds, we decided some food was in order and stopped at the nearest Pizza Hut (cause we’re classy like that) for a couple pies and, you guessed it, even more beers!

pizza hut

The next day, we were off to Sicily, Italy for the second leg of our journey. After a day of travel and some settling in to our place, we went for a late dinner at Ristorante Borgo dell’Etna. There, I enjoyed a serving of their Pasta al Ragu, while a few of us split an 8-Euro litre of house white wine. Gotta love Italian vino pricing!

On day two, we visited the city of Taormina. Unfortunately, it rained pretty heavily that day (as it did nearly every day of our Italy stay, despite our friend’s guidebook saying it rarely rained in Sicily), so we took refuge at La Cisterna del Moro. With a great view, I dined on a scrumptious Calzone Saporito (tomato sauce, mozzarella, ham, mushrooms, artichoke), paired with a half-litre Moretti Rossa beer.

Day three in Sicily finally brought mostly good weather, so we partook in wine tastings at both Firriato Winery and Gambino Vini. Both places had their own charms and we very much enjoyed this day, which offered some easier road circumstances for us drivers. Baby Sip also liked running around the ground, collecting corks and pinecones.

wine more room.jpg

On our final day in Sicily, we booked a Godfather Tour, as a number of scenes from the trilogy were filmed around the island. Getting off to a rough start, due to more inclement weather and traffic gridlock, a portion of our tour was altered from an outdoor wine tasting to a meal at Il Padrino Restaurant. There, we were served about 15 different seafood dishes, with my favourites being shrimp in thousand island dressing and breaded mussels. The desserts were also nice, accompanied by homemade Limoncello, Grappa and Amaro, which you could pour as much as you wanted for yourself. The tour wrapped with a stop in the village of Savoca, where we enjoyed a couple beers to end the day.

Taking advantage of our beautiful Airbnb property, we did a few meals in, enjoying a number of Italian beers and wines to unwind after each busy day of sightseeing. My selection included: Cavaliers Birra Speciale Rossa Artigianale; Arcana Golden Ale, Red Ale and White Ale; Patronus Weissbier; Birotti Weissbier; and Briere De Haute Fermentation La Blonde De Ch’nord, which was my favourite of the bunch.

Upon leaving Italy for Malta (part two of this Sip Trips review), I bought a bottle of Fuoco dell’Etna at the airport, lured in by the bottle’s design which looks like a volcano has erupted (complete with a rocky texture), as well as the liqueur’s 50% alcohol percentage. The booze is supposed to include flavours such as strawberry, citrus and Sicilian herbs, so I’m looking forward to experimenting.

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Snack Time #18 – Twizzlers Pull ‘N’ Peel Watermelon

What do you get when you combine two of the Sip Advisor’s favourite things into one nice, neat package? A very happy Sip Advisor! Thankfully, we found this Twizzlers product at the Hershey World store inside the New York New York resort in Las Vegas.

The Twizzlers Pull ‘N’ Peel Watermelon release instantly caught my eye and knowing what a fiend I am for the fruit, Mrs. Sip promptly added them to our growing basket. I’m curious about some of the other flavours we came across in the store, such as Chocolate, Fruit Punch and their Filled Twists line.

Twizzlers Pull ‘N_ Peel Watermelon

Let me be clear, the Sip Advisor is a bigtime Twizzlers fan. No Red Vines for this guy and I just can’t comprehend someone liking the competition. Can anyone try to provide me with an argument for why Red Vines should even share shelf space with the amazing Twizzlers?

I’m not sure how easy it is to find this product elsewhere, but we did spot them at one of the pharmacy stores that line the Las Vegas Strip. We will also be gifting a pack of Key Lime Twizzlers to Ma Sip for Mother’s Day, proving again how great a son I am!

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

May 10 – Blushing Lady

Motherly Love

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day and every single little sipper out there in Sip Nation better be doing something special for their mom. I, personally know the way to Ma Sip’s heart is paved with wine… know your audience, am I right!? To show each and every one of you just how awesome your mom probably is, here are the top five worst mothers:

#5: Lois Wilkerson – Malcolm in the Middle

She’s driven one child to reform school and the three others that still live at home (with a fifth child eventually joining the fray) are wilder than a pack of hyenas. It’s a miracle that Malcolm emerged as a gifted student, although a couple of his other brothers are also intelligent, but use their smarts in other realms. It was rare to see Lois not shouting at the kids or disciplining them. An interesting tidbit about Malcolm in the Middle is that the writers worked very hard to conceal the family’s surname throughout the series, going so far as to have Francis drop his nametag at one point and for the audience to see it say “Nolastname.”

Lois Fate

#4: Cersei Lannister – Game of Thrones

Parents are often punished for the crimes of their children and anyone who can produce such an awful, sadomasochistic spawn, such as Joffrey Baratheon, has to have their own issues… like, I don’t know, being in an incestuous relationship with your brother. Oddly, her other son Tommen is the complete opposite to Joffrey, so perhaps he was just a bad apple (there’s one in every bunch). Cersei is certainly a wicked woman, not entirely surprising given her father’s actions and child rearing skills, which include demoralizing his brood every chance he gets and running their lives through power and intimidation.

#3: Peggy Bundy – Married with Children

Peggy’s greatest crime as a mother is that she just doesn’t care about her offspring and is too pre-occupied with spending all of the family’s money on treats for herself, rather than groceries, clothes, and the other needs of her husband and children. Her lack of a job throughout a vast majority of the show’s long run and preference for staying at home and watching Oprah while chowing down on bonbons shows just how lazy she is. Add in her disdain for cooking and cleaning and you have a mom who isn’t really paying her dues for the family.

Peg Bundy

#2: Malory Archer – Archer

Sterling Archer spent most of his life being raised by Woodhouse, his live-in caretaker, and being sent to boarding school, while his mother’s career as an international operative flourished. Malory even left Sterling stranded in a train station one Christmas Eve, as he was trying to make his way home from school for the holidays. In a case fit for the Maury Show, Malory is unsure of who Sterling’s father is and with a couple of options, made up a fictionalized dad, complete with backstory and naval honours. Despite her lack of affection for her son, Malory has made sure that Sterling has been dependent on her for most of his adult life.

#1: Lucille Bluth – Arrested Development

Lucille is really only loved by one of her children and even Buster has his moments where he can’t stand the nasty, alcoholic matriarch of the Bluth family. She is quick to criticize all of her kin (also including Gob, Lindsay, and Michael) and also has a habit of turning them against each other. Most of the messes the Bluth family wind up in is caused by Lucille, particularly her pilfering of the family company’s funds to support her lavish lifestyle. Played by Jessica Walters, who also provides the voice for Malory Archer, it would seem this lady has the market cornered on awful mother characters… bet she’s nice in real life, though.

Super Saturday Shot Day: Blushing Lady

Blushing Lady Shot

  • Rim glass with Sugar
  • 0.5 oz Vodka
  • 0.5 oz PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur
  • Splash of Grapefruit Juice
  • Garnish with a Strawberry Slice

Perhaps next year, we’ll take a look at the flip side of this coin, the warm and loving mothers (your Marge Simpson’s, Kitty Forman’s, etc. of the world) to further provide examples of how to be a great mom. Either that, or we’ll examine the reality TV “real life” moms out there that are cringe worthy with every act they commit. Happy Mother’s Day to all the lovely ladies out there that deserve the title!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
Yet another cocktail I’ve had to convert into a shot… clearly there are some noticeable voids in the mixology world that the Sip Advisor will have to fill! This shot was pretty good with a bitter aftertaste from the Grapefruit Juice. That’s what kind of takes the rating down a little.

May 12 – Mother Love

Momma’s Boys

We all love our moms, but perhaps these guys hung around a little too long for extra seasoning. It’s funny how many classic characters (and it always seems to be sons) lived at home for way too long and can’t really function in the outside world on their own. On that note: Happy Mother’s Day!

Buster Bluth – Arrested Development

Perhaps the definition of Mamma’s boy, Buster Bluth’s personality is the result of being smothered by his mother for most of his life. As a result when Lucille Bluth wants Baby Buster to get on with his life, he’s stuck in a childlike state of uncertainty and confusion. Still, the guy manages to be sent off to the military and other misadventures as he tries to prove himself to the entire Bluth family… but mostly his mom.

Buster Bluth

Norman Bates – Psycho

This boy’s obsession with his mother went waaaaayyyy too far! I don’t like spoiling things, but I think we all know that Bates is revealed to be killing people at his family’s motel, while being dressed like his deceased mother. Creepy stuff, dude.

Cliff Clavin – Cheers

Cliff Clavin and his ma are known to have the occasional row, as Cliff looks to spread his wings and become a man. Too bad he’s already a middle age, postal carrier who spends a majority of his free time at the local watering hole. Hopefully Cliffy didn’t get his factually inaccurate trivial knowledge from his ma as well.

Principal Skinner – The Simpsons

Much like Cliff Claven and his mom, Seymour Skinner and his mother seem to always be at odds. Whether it’s over the bath pillow, Seymour having friends and dates over, or his professional aspirations, Agnes Skinner seems to want to control every aspect of her son’s life. This often results in an exasperated principal and some of their rows have even required police intervention.

Skinner

Robert Barone – Everybody Loves Raymond

While his brother lives next door, raising a family with his wife, Robert is still stuck in his parents’ home, under the strict rule and care of his mother. His brother Ray is about the same level of momma’s boy as Robert is, but because Ray is out on his own (one whole house over from his parents) he often slips under the radar.

Hoyt Fortenberry  – True Blood

Poor, poor Hoyt. His mother tries to control every little aspect of his life, from who he dates, to where he lives, and even what he wears. That’s a horrible situation to be in when you’ve constantly running from any manner of vampires, werewolves, shifters, fairies and other otherworldly beings.

Walt, Larry, Igner – Futurama

Being the sons of the confectionary icon “Mom” would be tough on any son. While she shows a sickeningly sweet appearance to the outside world, Mom is in fact a harsh, domineering, woman, who has high expectations for her offspring, while not letting them move too far away from the nest.

futurama_mom_and_sons

Joffrey Baratheon – Game of Thrones

Joffrey is trying to break out of his mother’s tall and beautiful shadow, despite all her efforts (and there’s been numerous “efforts”) to see her son sit on the iron throne.. under her careful guidance. Thanks to his unconventional upbringing, Joffrey is a little psychopath in the making and that will surely make the rest of the series very intriguing to watch unfold!

Howard Wolowitz – Big Bang Theory

That Howard didn’t dispose of his mother and her infuriating voice before finding a girl and moving out of the house is a miracle of modern science. Maybe that’s why the genius went into engineering in the first place!

Drink #132: Mother Love

Mother Love Cocktail

  • 1.5 oz Whiskey (I used Crown Royal)
  • 0.5 oz Peppermint Schnapps
  • Garnish with three Junior Mints

This post is dedicated to my own Mama Sip and to all the lovely mothers out there in Sip Nation. Without you, none of us would be here and we thank you all for taking care of us!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
Given the proportions, you’d expect to only get a hint of peppermint schnapps, but that’s just not how the liquor rolls. I wouldn’t say it overwhelms, but it’s prevalent. I definitely suggest using a good whiskey with this drink, like I did.