Flavour Revolution – Cantaloupe

Food Foundation

Recently, I wrote an article about foods, such as the Macadamia nut, that were named after people. Today, we look at foods that have derived their name from a town or city. For example, the cantaloupe gets its name from the town of Cantalupo, in Italy. Let’s take a little journey across the globe and see where we end up for more eats!

Buffalo Wings – Buffalo, United States

I remember a time when the Sip Advisor didn’t like Buffalo wings. Today, though, I’m very thankful to the fine folks of upstate New York for creating these spicy pub favourites. The Buffalo wing dates back to 1964, when it was created by Teressa Bellissimo, owner of the Anchor Bar in the city of Buffalo. No blue cheese for me, though, that stuff is gross!

Buffalo Wings

Black Forest Cake/Ham – Black Forest, Germany

If you travel through Germany’s Black Forest region, you can not only have some dinner, but also your dessert, as well. The smoked ham from the area is okay, but the Sip Advisor fully endorses getting filthy with a slice of their tasty cake. And for the most part, I’m not even a big cake fan. Black Forest cake is the only place I’d rather see a Maraschino cherry than as a cocktail garnish.

Yorkshire Pudding – York, United Kingdom

The first ever recipe for Yorkshire pudding appeared all the way back in 1737. You’d have to imagine the quality of the ingredients in these early side dishes was pretty poor, but somehow the meal caught on and is still enjoyed to this day. While reading about the food, it was noted that it could also be a dessert, which had me thinking that I really don’t want beef and gravy as a follow-up course.

Cheese – Various

There are just too many cheeses named after places to single any out with their own section. Some cheeses that belong to this group include Gouda and Edam (The Netherlands), Cheddar and Stilton (United Kingdom), Colby and Monterey Jack (United States), Gruyere and Emmental (Switzerland), Asiago and Parmesan (Italy), Brie and Camembert (France), and many others.

cheese wrath

Hamburger – Hamburg, Germany

Who doesn’t love a good burger? Maybe vegetarians, but even they have devised ways to consume a nice patty. We have the beautiful port city of Hamburg (where the Sip Advisor has a fair bit of family) to thank for all that beefy (or veggie) goodness. Minced meat steaks were popular in Hamburg and spread to other parts of the world, thanks to Hamburg being a common starting point for voyages.

Dijon Mustard – Dijon, France

I am a fan of mustard, but I understand where some (like Mrs. Sip) might not enjoy its strong flavour. While there are still factories outputting Dijon mustard in the town of its origin, apparently most of the country’s mustard is actually produced using Canadian mustard seed. Dijon mustard came about when folks subbed verjuice in for vinegar. Today, white wine is used, instead.

Nanaimo Bar – Nanaimo, Canada

I always like throwing some Canadian content into my pieces, if possible. A short ferry trip from the Sip Advisor’s home (plus a little drive) will land you in Nanaimo, B.C., where this delicious chocolate, icing, and brownie combo hails from. A young Mrs. Sip once ate too many Nanaimo bars at one event and ended up getting sick, thus ending her days of consuming the dessert.

Flavour Revolution: Melon Mule

Melon Mule Cocktail

Of all the melons out there, I’ve never been a massive fan of cantaloupe. Despite my opinion, cantaloupe has sometimes been known as the ‘Fruit of Kings.’ We also have to remember how well it pairs with prosciutto, the meat of legends!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
This cocktail was tasty and refreshing, with the specialty Grey Goose cup keeping things chilled throughout the drinking experience. While cantaloupe is not among my favourite fruits, the Le Melon Vodka is very nice and smooth. I fully recommend it to all you little sippers out there!

April 18 – High Five

Playing Peeves

Earlier this season, the Toronto Maple Leafs got into trouble for not doing their typical salute to the crowd, following a win. They were accused of snubbing the audience that had recently gone so far as to throw jerseys on the ice, when disgusted with the team’s play. Really, it’s their fault for being Maple Leafs fans in the first place, but I digress. While I don’t have any issue with the salute, one way or the other, here are some other player traditions that should be outlawed:

#5: Staged Fights (NHL)

While this pet peeve bothers me less than others that did not make this list, I figured I’d be fair and try to include as many different sports as I could. I’m not the biggest advocate of fighting in hockey, but I do like the odd tilt, usually between two light/middleweights who are chucking knuckles for a reason. Staged fights between two super heavyweights, only fighting because that’s all they can provide to the game, is a waste of roster spots. With the demise of the hockey enforcer, this happens rarely in today’s NHL. You still see the occasional bout off the opening draw, but it’s usually based off of something that happened in the team’s last contest.

hockey fights

#4: Slapping Helmets (NFL)

Given all the concussion concerns and lawsuits being launched by former players, it blows my mind when I see entire football squads viciously slapping each other on the helmet, in order to CELEBRATE a play. Talk about friendly fire! It almost makes you wish they went back to the days of smacking each other on the ass, as all that might do, is produce a bruise. I think every football player loses credibility in the whole concussion argument, given they’re likely seeing stars after successful plays, with injuries caused by their own teammates. Hmmm, perhaps the NFL should hire me onto their legal team!

#3: High-Fives After Each Free Throw Attempt (NBA)

Okay, so the fouled basketball player steps up to the free throw line, which basically means a take-your-time, unobstructed shot from a mere 15 meters away from the hoop and if he makes the shot, everyone on his team must give him a high-five… hell, they even high-five for a missed shot! There is some debate whether the exchange of pleasantries after each shot helps keep a player loose, or disrupts their technique or needed alterations for the follow-up shot. I think the whole process is ridiculous and I think some players do as well; given there have been instances of hoop stars mocking it.

free throw high fives

#2: Elaborate High-Five Routines (MLB)

What do you do when you’re sport is slower than watching paint dry and you have to play 162 games each season? Develop an elaborate high-five routine, of course! I don’t understand why sports highlight shows are so enamored with this trend and feature the choreographed hand-slapping and fist-bumping performance in their replay packages. Sometimes the act goes on for minutes at a time and yes, I guess that does make it more exciting than the game itself. You would never see this ridiculousness in faster-paced sports, because if a hockey player, for example, tried it, they would be body checked through the boards before they could finish!

#1: Complaints About Running Up the Score

I’ve largely only seen accusations of this in football circles, but the other major leagues will take measures to quell landslide victories. In hockey, you might see the winning team rest its scoring lines, in favour of checking players, while in baseball, bunting and stealing bases may be discouraged. Basketball games are usually too close to call and in football, teams may run shorter plays and not go for big scores. The problem with this is if I paid my hard earned money to go to a contest and my team was obliterating the opposition, why would I want that experience to stop? All fans want to see the stars of the sport do what they are paid millions to do: perform at the highest level, not take a game off.

Super Saturday Shot Day: High Five

High Five Shot

  • 0.3 Grand Marnier
  • 0.3 oz Rum
  • 0.3 oz Passion Fruit Liqueur
  • 0.3 oz Orange Juice
  • 0.3 oz Pineapple Juice
  • Garnish with an Orange Wedge

I can’t believe how many of these items are based on high-fiving. Narrowly missing the list was female tennis players screaming and grunting their way through matches… although, it is kind of hot! Next up, the Sip Advisor should take a look at the greatest pet peeves I have towards sports fans. This would include such gems as dorks leaving a game before it’s over and the completely unnecessary wave.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
This is actually a cocktail recipe, but was easy to convert to a shooter, since all the ingredients were in equal portions already. It’s an incredibly fruity shot, so you know the flavours are going to be nice. The booze quotient could be upped a little so you know you’re drinking a shooter, but the taste is quite enjoyable as it is.

Israel – Cabernet Cobbler

People & Products

It’s kind of crazy how many people and products most of us had no clue originate from Israel. From starlets and rockers to computer programs and board games, Israeli influences are more common that you would think. Let’s take a look at some of those that are changing the world from the Holy Land:

Natalie Portman

The beautiful actress who has stolen my heart time and time again was actually born in Israel as Natalie Hershlag and moved to the U.S. in 1984, at the age of three. After wowing audiences as a 13-year-old in the 1994 Film, The Professional, Portman has gone on to star in Star Wars prequels, V for Vendetta, Black Swan, and Thor.

Natalie Portman Straw

Max Brenner Chocolates

The “chocolate by the bald man” has its headquarters based in Ra’anana, Israel. The company was actually founded by Max Fichtman and Oded Brenner (the chocolatier of the duo). My favourite cocktail of all-time (Satisfaction Guaranteed) came from the Max Brenner restaurant and store at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.

Cherry Tomatoes

No salad is truly complete without the addition of cherry tomatoes. These versatile little veggies were the product of a 12-year breeding program, overseen by labs in Israel. Highlights of the cherry tomato include an increased shelf life and optimal ripening cycle. Who would have thought it could take so long to make a baby tomato!

Gene Simmons

The KISS frontman and tongue wagging demon was born Chaim Witz in Haifa, Israel, in 1949. Along with his mother, Simmons came to the U.S. at the age of eight, speaking no English. He’s certainly come a long way, as the legendary rocker had his own reality show and even claims to have had sex with nearly 5,000 women.

Gene Simmons Doctor

SodaStream

Given my position as a top notch liquor slinger, I’ve often thought that one of these machines could come in handy, especially given I like fizz in nearly every drink I choose to make. SodaStream’s headquarters are located in Lod, Israel, which must make for some interesting flavour proposals, such as hummus and falafel!

USB Flash Drives

Where would many of us be without these pocket-sized tools? The flash drive virtually killed the floppy disk, which could only hold a fraction of the amount of information most USB’s are able to contain. The drives were developed by Israeli company M-Systems, who joined with tech giant IBM to release the product.

Haim Saban

One of the craziest phenomena of my childhood was the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, which was the work of Israeli Haim Saban (or at least his production company). The series is still alive and kicking to this day, having gone through countless iterations. Saban is worth an estimated $3 billion, according to Forbes.

Power Rangers Killers

ICQ

Standing for “I Seek You,” ICQ was developed by Mirabilis, an Israeli company since absorbed by America Online (AOL) for $407 million. It was the first one-on-one online conversation program that allowed users their own account. While I didn’t use the system much, ICQ was once the hottest instant messaging service available.

Hillel Slovak

An original member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Slovak (born in Haifa, Israel) was there for the bands earliest successes. Sadly, Slovak died from a heroin overdose, in 1988, at the young age of 26. An inspiration for the group, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012, with fellow members of the Chili Peppers.

Rummikub

This tile-based game was invented in Israel by Ephraim Hertzano and went on to be the best-selling game in the U.S. in 1977, as well as win Game of the Year awards in Germany (1980) and the Netherlands (1983). I’ve never actually played Rummikub before, but assume I’d be good, simply because the game has the word rum in it!

Israel: Cabernet Cobbler

Cabernet Cobbler Wine Cocktail

  • 4 oz Cabernet Sauvignon Wine
  • Top with Club Soda
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Pinch of Sugar
  • Garnish with an Orange Wedge

For whatever reason, Israel seems shrouded in mystery, but the Sip Advisor likes a good mystery. We also have Israelites to thank for Windows XP, the Amazon Kindle, and modern computer printing, among many other things. Heck, they even bred the golden hamster, which has my little kitty Furious B salivating!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
While I enjoyed this drink, it could basically be made by combining Cabernet Sauvignon Wine and Lemon-Lime Soda. It’s a pretty simple recipe, but one I felt I needed to do with the wine I selected for these articles.

Hungary – Breakfast at the Bar

Scourge of God

While Attila the Hun’s empire stretched across much of what is now Europe, he is greatly associated with the people of Hungary, thanks to the Hungarian Royal Court laying claim to him as their own ancestor. Let’s take a look at this brutal legend and sort the fact from the fiction:

Attila wasn’t a big dude (perhaps for his time he was), despite how he’s depicted in modern media as a hulking brute. His tale of the tape stated that Attila was only 5’6” and 145 lbs. When Rugila (king of the Huns) died, he left the Hunnic Empire to his nephews, Attila and Breda. Eventually, Attila tired of sharing the kingdom with his brother and had him killed. Attila ruled from 434 AD to 453 AD and was a terror to both the Eastern and Western Roman Empire.

Attila Inspired

Nobody knows exactly what Attila the Hun looked like, although he’s often depicted in his leather armor and with rough facial features and disheveled hair. Scholars debate over whether Attila would have had European features (like a Viking) or Asian characteristics (like a Mongolian). Although viewed and depicted as a cruel and ruthless leader, Attila was said to also possess great diplomatic skills.

Attila picked up a number of not-so-kind nicknames and credits during his lifetime and centuries later, as historians examined his reign of terror. He was known as the ‘Scourge of God,’ but that’s a title he actually gave himself. The History Channels ‘Ancients Behaving Badly’ named Attila ‘history’s first great terrorist’ and ranked him as history’s greatest psychopath. Count Dracula (in Bram Stoker’s Dracula) went so far to claim to be a descendant of the warrior, perhaps explaining his own bloodlust.

Despite his status as a legendary conqueror and barbarian, Attila died of a common nosebleed, choking on the blood. Researchers have thought that other factors contributed to his demise, such as alcoholism, which caused a rupture in his esophagus and death from internal bleeding. Attila’s death occurred on the same day as his marriage to the princess, Ildico, and therefore, poisoning has often been speculated as a cause of death.

Attila Death

Attila’s burial was shrouded in secrecy, with all those who witnessed the interment being executed. He may have been buried under part of the Tisza River (with the waters temporarily diverted) in a tomb of gold, silver, and iron. Although Attila was succeeded by his son, Ellac, his other children began fighting over Hun territory and the empire was divided, causing the Hun legacy to dissipate.

There have been TV mini-series and movies based off Attila and he has made appearances or been referenced in many other projects. In the Night at the Museum movies, he is portrayed as being simply misunderstood and in need of help. In an episode of Married with Children, he lines up on the devil’s football team to battle Al Bundy, with Bundy’s chance to return to earth up for grabs.

Attila has been used in many other forms of media, including as an occasional adversary to Hagar the Horrible in comics; as part of a planned, but never completed opera by Beethoven; as a hero and villain in various video games; and as a political euphemism, to describe an extreme conservative. McFarlane Toys even released an action figure of the iconic thug, as part of the series, ‘McFarlane’s Monsters III: 6 Faces of Madness.’

Attila Personal Trainer

On Spike TV’s ‘Deadliest Warrior,’ a show which takes historical figures and armies and matches them against each other to see who would win based on weaponry and battle tactics, Attila was matched up against Alexander the Great and defeated the legendary ruler. Attila’s weapons consisted of the Sword of Mars, the Lasso, the Hunnic Bow, and the Scythian Axe and his combat skills while riding horseback are thought to have largely secured the victory.

The oddest tribute came from Calypso musician Raymond Quevedo, who for whatever reason, chose to adopt the Attila the Hun moniker for his recording career. Instead of massacring tribes across Europe, Quevedo turned his artistry into entering the political realm in his home of Trinidad and Tobago. The real Attila the Hun and his exploits were even turned into a pinball machine, released in 1984… I love me some mass-murderer gaming action.

Hungary: Breakfast at the Bar

Breakfast at the Bar Martini

  • Muddle Marmalade
  • 1.25 oz Palinka (Apricot)
  • 0.75 oz Cointreau
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Garnish with a Lemon Slice and Orange Wedge

The Sip Advisor has yet to travel to Hungary, but in Budapest alone, there are 10 different streets named after Attila. This proves that all you need to do is be a total dick during your life and you’ll be remembered and honoured forever!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
This was a very good cocktail, offering my first chance to use Marmalade in a drink. It added a unique tangy orange flavour that was very much welcomed. I used a Lemon Slice, as well as an Orange Wedge to add some extra flavour, as well as presentation to the recipe.

September 6 – ABC

A Good Read

With school coming back into session for many little sippers out there (although not here in B.C., where it looks like we might have the makings of a long teacher’s strike), it might be time to snatch some good reading material. While I would never classify myself as an avid reader, there have been some books I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. Mrs. Sip would love to see me sit down more often with a book, but TV’s warm loving embrace is just too much to break. Here are my favourite books/series throughout life:

#5: Goosebumps Series by R.L. Stein

One of the only things I enjoyed about elementary school (save for gym, recess, and spelling tests… what can I say, I was born to write) was the monthly Scholastic book catalogue that came out, providing me an opportunity to grow my Goosebumps collection, which sits to this day in a drawer at Ma and Pa Sip’s home. I still fondly remember some of these stories, such as Attack of the Mutants, A Night in Terror Tower, and The Phantom of the Auditorium. The covers on these novels alone were enough to chill your blood and get you pumped for your next classroom quiet time. There were 62 releases in the original series and a TV show followed, but when it came to screen screams, I was more of an Are You Afraid of the Dark fan.

goosebumps report

#4: The Rebel League: World Hockey Association by Ed Willes

The World Hockey Association had a brief life, but it changed the landscape of professional hockey and in some circumstances, the entire sports world. Journalist Ed Willes takes the reader through the league’s tumultuous existence from conception to absorption by the NHL, right through a mess of teams going out of business or being relocated. The dichotomy of the league, with its highly-skilled players meshing with fight-filled contests, is just one aspect of a mesmerizing story. Willes captures all the sordid tales and behind-the-scenes dealings that made the WHA such a fascinating flash in the pan. Largely based on this book, I was able to rank the WHA #1 on my list of top defunct sports leagues. I only wish I had been able to experience some of the action in-person.

#3: Get Fuzzy Treasuries by Darby Conley

I never really got into comic books as a youngster, fancying my superheroes on the screen, as opposed to in my hands (save for some of the sexy female heroines). That said, I do prefer to look at brightly coloured pictures, rather than printed words, and that can come in the form of some lighter entertainment. My hands down favourite daily funny is Get Fuzzy, which focuses on the interactions of human Rob Wilco with his pets/roommates Bucky Katt and Satchel Pooch. Bucky is a little terror, who is constantly trying to run (scratch that, ruin) the household, while Satchel is a sweet and gentle pup, happy to have a chew toy and a quiet place to nap. Rob just gets stuck in the middle, just like your typical real world pet owner.

GF

#2: Uncle John’s Bathroom Readers by Bathroom Readers’ Institute

I really enjoy learning unknown tidbits about subjects I’m interested in and this series is perfect for exactly that. Thanks to these books, I’m an integral member of any trivia team I’m invited to join (aside from my wonderful personality!) and the lesser known facts my brain is able to absorb have garnered me a fair bit of free booze! The best thing about Bathroom Readers is that you can read one piece or a selection of articles… I guess it depends on how long you’ll be in the bathroom. I personally prefer to not have a book in my hands while I’m on the pot, but admittedly, that is what these releases were meant for. My favourites from the Uncle John library include TV, Movies, and Hockey.

#1: Have a Nice Day by Mick Foley

While my favourite books are sports-related, Mick Foley’s wrestling autobiography is a no-brainer to top this list. And I’m not alone in my fondness for this story. Books released by wrestlers exploded after the success of Mick Foley’s first attempt and the string of publications is going strong to this day. In Have a Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks, Foley guides us through the earliest days of his life and career with a wit and warmth that makes it extremely hard to put the book down… even for a non-reader such as myself. I have yet to check out Foley’s other two non-fiction releases, but have heard good things about both and should really take the time to pick them up.

Super Saturday Shot Day: ABC

ABC Shot

  • 0.5 oz Amaretto
  • 0.5 oz Bailey’s Irish Crème
  • 0.5 oz Cognac
  • Garnish with Orange Wedge

Given my penchant for wrestling reads, I would also recommend autobiographies by Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Ric Flair, and Chris Jericho, as well as the book WrestleCrap: The Very Worst of Pro Wrestling. There are a number of others I would endorse, but it’s time to get back to the library and go silent!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
You layer the ingredients in A-B-C order and that allowed me to finally use the layering tool I received a few months back. It worked out really well and looks great, am I right!? The shot tasted fantastic, especially when the Irish Crème kicked in following the two liquors, which move a little quicker. Too bad I couldn’t think of a D-garnish to continue the ABC theme.

Korea – Sassy Sojurita

Where to Begin

While I prefer to choose a single topic to cover when posting about most of the countries we’ve visited, Korea (particularly South Korea) had so many blow-my-mind facts about it that I just had to compile a number of them rather than delve into individual items. So, let’s take a peek behind the Korean curtain and see which goodies we can find:

Major communication companies Samsung and LG are based out of Korea and because of this, new phone technology is often released in the country first. Around 98% of Koreans own mobile devices and use them for everything from phone calls to watching live TV to online shopping. Despite Samsung and LG calling Korea home, mobile devices are expensive there, although users are still likely to regularly replace their phones with updated versions.

Samsung Funny

Online gaming is huge in Korea, where players can make some serious cash and become celebrities. Gaming sessions are even broadcast on TV, with the most popular titles including Starcraft, World of Warcraft, League of Legends, and Lineage. Gaming parlours have opened up around the country, where men, women, and children can visit for gaming fun across a local network. On the negative side, internet and gaming addiction in particular is common and there has even been a few cases of people dying due to marathon gaming sessions.

Koreans don’t shy away from using credit cards, making dramatically more purchases per person, each year, using plastic. Have you ever been somewhere that didn’t accept credit? That’s illegal in Korea. Similarly, every cab has a card reader in it, so no more having to be driven to a bank machine just to pay your fare… take that Tacoma, Washington!

While Koreans work exceptionally hard (an average of 44.6 hours per week), they are also known for their drinking culture. In fact, if someone doesn’t join in on the evening out, getting blitzed on Soju, they are committing a major faux pas and party foul all at once. Drinking games are popular while out on the town. Jinro Soju has consistently been the world’s most sold spirit with an estimated 61 million-plus cases sold in 2011, dwarfing the worldwide sales of Smirnoff Vodka, the number two most popular liquor worldwide, which sold a mere 24 million-plus cases. Pretty epic given most sales for Jinro come domestically.

Soju 30 Shots

Korean golfers are increasingly becoming top stars of the sport, particularly on the women’s side of the ledger. As of July 2014, of the top 50 female golfers, 19 are Korean, including three in the top 10.  At 14 years old, Lydia Ko (born in Korea, but grew up in New Zealand) became the youngest to ever win a professional tournament when she emerged victorious at the Samsung Women’s Open in 2012.

Cartoons such as The Simpsons, Futurama, Family Guy, and King of the Hill have all had their basic animation, in-betweening, and colouring performed in Korea. As for domestic releases, Pororo the Little Penguin is wildly popular, even being given the nickname President Pororo. The flightless bird is so popular that it has a section of a theme park dedicated to it, thousands of products emblazoned with its likeness and will earn millions of dollars for the company that created it.

Korea is the birthplace of the martial art, Taekwondo, which was developed by the South Korean military. Taekwondo’s philosophy includes five tenets: courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, and indomitable spirit. South Korea has been awarded the most Olympic medals in the sport with 10 gold, two silver, and two bronze for 14 total. China, the United States, and Chinese Taipei are tied for second most with eight.

World Taekwondo Federation

In Korea, men are just as likely to use cosmetics as their female counterparts, spending about $900 million each year on foundation, makeup, and skincare products. Korean males make up a quarter of the international men’s cosmetics market. In a similar vein, the men of Korea are more likely to have plastic surgery than other parts of the world and that may be partly because it is much cheaper in Korea, causing folks from nearby countries to flock to the republic.

Korea’s music industry is highlighted by pop songs, known as K-Pop, which groups feature mostly young performers. A number of the bands have weird names that combine numbers and letters, including TVXQ, 2PM, B1A4, EXO, 2AM, CNBLUE, MBLAQ, SS501, 2NE1, and GOT7. 2PM and 2AM are rival groups and routinely settle their differences Gangnam Style (also a Korean export).

Sticking with the country’s entertainment industries, the Korean film industry has been dubbed Hallyuwood (using the term Hallyu, which describes the Korean Wave of popular culture being exported from the country, along with the ‘wood’ of Hollywood) and is best known for mini-series dramas. They even had a show called Full House, but I don’t think you’d find the Tanner clan in it.

Korea: Sassy Sojurita

Sassy Sojurita Cocktail

  • 2.5 oz Soju
  • 0.5 oz Pisco
  • 0.5 oz Triple Sec
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Garnish with an Orange Wedge

I never knew that there was this much neat stuff going on in Korea… and now I want a slice of the action! My night will start with an epic Soju binge (after an exhausting day at work, of course) and then it’s off to the video game parlour for a marathon of online action before practicing some bedroom taekwondo with Mrs. Sip and then repeating it all over again the next day!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
Finding Soju recipes isn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever done, but I was able to track down a couple which were usually adaptations of classic cocktails, simply subbing in Soju for the traditional spirit. I really liked the addition of Pisco to this margarita-style drink and that inclusion likely bumped this libation up half a point. Mrs. Sip bought me this bottle of Soju and ironically, it is in fact from the Jinro company, even before I had heard of it.

Turkey – Fly Swatter

Shop Til You Drop

Traversing the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey can be a daunting task. The Sip Advisor, never one to leave anybody behind, will make sure we all get through unscathed, much like I did for Mrs. Sip in the markets of Egypt… except for that one guy who copped a feel of Mrs. Sip’s beautiful behind when I stopped paying attention, frustrated over the haggling between shopkeeper and customer. Let’s cautiously explore together!

There are also Grand Bazaars in Isfahan, Iran; Tehran, Iran; Urumqi, Xinjiang, China; and Tabriz, Iran. The Istanbul version is the oldest and one of the largest covered markets in the world. It spans 61 streets (each is dedicated to a particular profession) and houses over 3,000 stores. Anywhere between 250,000 to 400,000 people will visit the site each day. The Bazaar is open Monday through Saturday, 9:00am to 7:00pm, and entrance is free. Along with Sundays, the market is closed during religious holidays. The facility employs a colossal 26,000 people. Competition from modern day malls does exist, but the Bazaar has history on its side.

Grand Bazaar

There are four main gates to the Bazaar, including the “Second-Hand Book Sellers’ Gate” in the north, the “Skullcap Sellers’ Gate” in the south, the “Jewellers’ Gate” in the east, and the “Women’s Clothiers’ Gate” in the west. Each entrance is locked every night when the market is closed and opened up again in the morning.

Dealing with the high-pressure salespeople at the market can be a bit of a pain and the haggling system is something that thrills some and perplexes others. The Sip Advisor falls into the puzzled category, preferring marked prices over the mystery of bartering. If you want nothing to do with the dealing, simply walk by and say, “No thanks.” This usually works, except for the occasional loser who physically tries to get your attention and then it’s time for the Sip Advisor to “Hulk up” and throw a couple patented flying forearms.

A restoration of the Bazaar began in 2012 to solve many of the issues plaguing the market. Most notably, the lack of restrooms (I guess you could just pee wherever you like before) and repairing the infrastructure to combat the risk of any future earthquakes. Updates to the facility’s heating and lighting systems are also being carried out.

construction-meme

Construction for what would become the Grand Bazaar began in 1455-56, at the behest of Sultan Mehmet II, and lasted until 1460-61. This building, dedicated to the trading of textiles was soon joined by another building, constructed under Sultan Suleyman I. The textile market was moved to this new structure while luxury goods occupied the older building. The space between and around the edifices was quickly inhabited by other shops, creating a larger market scene. By the 17th century, the Bazaar had taken full shape and become the hub of Mediterranean trade thanks to the quantity, quality, and variety of goods that could be found there.

Fires, earthquakes, and other disasters afflicted the Bazaar over time. There were at least a dozen fires between 1515 and 1701, many of which caused great damage to the shops and structures. The expansion of the 19th century textile industry into western Europe and advancements in production methods took a major toll on the Grand Bazaar, which saw rental prices fall sharply compared to previous decades. Perhaps the Sip Advisor should set up shop in the place and regale customers with my tales of boozery!

The market has also seen its fair share of corruption. The most notable case took place in 1591 when 30,000 gold coins were stolen. The Grand Bazaar was shut down for two weeks while suspects (and likely completely innocent folks) were tortured by the forces tasked with solving the crime. The missing coins were found under some flooring and a young Persian musk dealer was to blame. He was hanged for his transgression, although Sultan Murad III saved him from being tortured to death.

hanged-man

While the Bazaar is now sectioned off into separate “stores”, it used to be that sellers each had their own stall, six to eight feet wide. There was no advertising by shopkeepers (even store names were not displayed) and a buyer could sit down with a vendor over Turkish coffee and come to an agreement in a relaxed conversation. Herbs and spices, crystal, jewellery, silk goods, sandals, armour and weapons, and books are among the items you might be able to find at the Bazaar.  Thankfully, I don’t need any of those.

The market used to operate in a guild system and because of this and the ethics of Islam, business operators didn’t compete as they do today. Prices were fixed to a standard number and success was shared among the union. Western influences changed that, as did other nationalities entering the Bazaar world to sell their wares. There was also a lack of restaurants in the market back in the day. You could still find simple items such as kebabs, but most workers brought their lunch from home. The Bazaar was a place for social gatherings among Turks, much like punk kids meet at the mall today to stare at their smartphones.

Nowadays, I only go to the mall to enjoy a cold beer. I don’t think that would be happening in Turkey, so might as well stay here and enjoy my own stock!

Turkey: Fly Swatter

Fly Swatter Cocktail

  • 1 oz Cognac
  • 1 oz Scotch
  • 0.5 oz Raki
  • Top with Orange Juice and Apple Juice
  • Garnish with Orange Wedge

I’m not big on shopping in general, but these market set-ups really take the cake. How do all you little sippers feel about them? Love’em? Hate’em? Just plain don’t care? Let me know. I’m glad we all made it through the Bazaar and only a handful of you lost your spouses or fortunes. Next up, we try Turkey’s traditional national sport: oiled wrestling. Yup, you read that right!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
I altered the ingredients slightly, using Sparkling Orange Juice, rather than plain old OJ and Apple-Lime Juice, instead of regular AJ. The result was pretty good for this booze heavy cocktail and the only ingredient I worried about, the Raki, fit in just right.

Spain – First Avenue

I’d Tap That

Without Spain, we wouldn’t have tapas… and without tapas, we would never eat. Okay, that might be a little bit of exaggeration, but we certainly appreciate the invention of the appetizer, for without it, monstrous starter platters could not be devoured! Let’s take a look at some common Spanish tapas (according to Wikipedia – the number one source for online legitimacy) and see whether they pass the Sip Advisor taste test:

Tapas or Tapass

Albóndigas: Meatballs with sauce

Okay, we’re off to a decent start. Who doesn’t like meatballs? Well, I guess vegetarians and vegans, but do they really count?

Tortillitas de Camarones: Battered prawn fritters

Anything described as “battered” can play on my team!

Pimientos de Padrón: Small green peppers fried in olive oil or served raw (most are mild, but a few in each batch are quite spicy)

Finding the spicy green peppers is like locating the toy in a box of cereal. At first, you’re really happy because you found the surprise before anyone else could get to it. Joy turns to disappointment quickly, however, when you realize the toy isn’t that great anyway, much like a spicy green pepper when you’re expecting mild!

Aceitunas: Olives, sometimes with a filling of anchovies or red bell pepper

To me, appies need to be something more than a condiment stuffed with another condiment, but I sadly don’t call the shots in the country of Spain.

fuck-you-tapas

Solomillo al Whisky: Fried pork scallops, marinated using whisky, brandy or white wine and olive oil

Put the pork scallops aside and give me a couple bottles of your best marinade!

Cojonuda (superb female): A slice of Spanish morcilla with a fried quail egg over bread – it can also be prepared with a little strip of red, spicy pepper

Looked up morcilla and it is actually blood sausage, so there’s strike one. Strike two is the fried quail egg although I’m sure somewhere in the world it is a delicacy. While I can’t find anything to call the cojonuda out, I’ve decided to change the rules of baseball to suit my purpose and now all you need is two strike to retire a batter.

Cojonudo (superb male): A slice of Spanish chorizo with a fried quail egg over a slice of bread

So, there are male and female versions of cojonudo… is your sexual orientation decided by which you prefer? What if you like to swing both ways?

Pincho Moruno: A stick with spicy meat, made of pork, lamb or chicken

Nothing beats meat on a stick unless it’s spicy meat!

Appetizers

Empanadillas: Turnovers filled with meats and vegetables

Any food pocket device stuffed with more food will always shoot to the top of my favourite list. The name would have you thinking you’re about to eat a small animal, however.

Gambas: Prawns sauteed in salsa negra (peppercorn sauce), al ajillo (with garlic), or pil-pil (with chopped chili peppers)

Poor prawns… such a small creature and still gets stuffed with any number of items.

Mejillones Rellenos: Stuffed mussels, sometimes called tigres (“tigers”) because of the spicy taste

Mrs. Sip would love her some tiger muscles, but I have to note that tiger ice cream isn’t spicy and I think this calls into the question the process of describing spice levels using animals. I feel calling them dragon muscles would be more apt.

Patatas Bravas or Papas Bravas: Fried potato dices served with salsa brava a spicy tomato sauce – sometimes served also with mayo or aioli

Are these like brave little potatoes… you know, in a similar vein to the Brave Little Toaster?

Tapas Bill

Chorizo a la Sidra: Chorizo sausage slowly cooked in cider

Cider, you say? Not my favourite, but it does have booze in it!

Chorizo al Vino: Chorizo sausage slowly cooked in wine

See above, but even better!

Calamares or Rabas: Rings of battered squid

I wonder if the Spanish can rival Greek calamari? Perhaps both countries should send me some of their finest product and I will, once and for all, get to the bottom of this ever-deepening mystery.

Zamburiñas: Renowned Galician scallops, often served in a marinera, tomato-based sauce

Renowned??? I’ll be the judge of that. Again, Spain, send some my way and we’ll send out the results as soon as our little feast has concluded!

Spain: First Avenue

First Avenue Martini

  • 1.5 oz Sherry
  • 0.5 oz Cointreau
  • Splash of Campari
  • Top with Club Soda
  • Garnish with an Orange Wedge

Sometimes I’m into the idea of tapas and other times, I loathe them. While they’re a treasure trove of variety and perfect portion size for the ladies, a dude sometimes wants something he can really sink his teeth into like a fat burger or other hearty meal. The worst is going out with a group and splitting a bunch of appies… you will not have a good time!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes: (3.5 Sips out of 5):
This drink was pretty good. Even when I subbed in Tonic Water for Club Soda, it wasn’t as bitter as I feared it would be, especially with the splash of Campari there to team up with the Tonic. I guess the Cointreau and Sherry balance out the sweet-bitter war and make for an interesting cocktail.

Dominican Republic – Hot Mama

Batter Up

While baseball may have been invented in the United States and is the country’s national pastime, our next stop, the Dominican Republic, is the reigning World Baseball Classic champions (sweeping the tournament) and home to some of the greatest players to ply their craft in the major leagues. Here are some facts about the baseball greats that come from the D.R.:

Ozzie Virgil, Sr.

Along with being the first Dominican player to ever suit up in Major League Baseball on September 23, 1956, Virgil was also the first non-white man to play for the Detroit Tigers. After a career as a utility player (being able to fill a variety of field positions) spanning 1956-69, Virgil entered the coaching game for 19 seasons. The Osvaldo Virgil National Airport was opened in 2006, serving Virgil’s hometown of Monte Cristi.

1985 Topps Virgil

Anyone else notice that father and son’s first names are spelled differently!?

Juan Marichal

Marichal is currently the only Dominican player to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. He is half of what is known as “The Greatest Game Ever Pitched,” as he compiled a 16-inning complete game shutout. Marichal is also remembered for an incident in which he beat catcher Johnny Roseboro over the head with his bat, causing a bench-clearing brawl. Marichal and Roseboro eventually became good friends, jointly autographing photos of the episode.

Robinson Cano

When the D.R. won the 2013 World Baseball Classic, Cano was named MVP of the tournament. His father also had a brief MLB career and he was named after Jackie Robinson, who broke the colour barrier in baseball in 1947. Known for his charity work, Cano has a pediatric rehabilitation ward named after him at the Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. Cano is one of the athletes to enlist rapper Jay-Z as his agent and it paid off with a 10-year, $240 million contract with Seattle.

Pedro Martinez

Martinez was twice denied perfect games (no hits or walks allowed) because of unusual circumstances. In 1995, he was 7⅓ innings deep when he threw a pitch that hit batter Reggie Sanders. The next season, Martinez took a perfect game into extra innings and was hit off in the bottom of the 10th, nullifying his perfect effort. All this, despite being undersized compared to his power pitcher contemporaries. At one time, Martinez signed the richest contract ever given to a pitcher at $75 million over six years.

Pedro Martinez

Can’t forget the time Martinez threw 72-year-old Yankee base coach Don Zimmer to the ground… ah, he had it coming!

Julian Javier

Javier earned the nickname ‘The Phantom’ for his ability to evade runners trying to steal second base. I once tried to steal second base on Mrs. Sip and the results were similar. Showing a hot temper that seems to run through a number of Dominican stars, Javier was once suspended indefinitely for striking an umpire. The penalty was later cut to three days and a fine of $50 (justice served). Given his suspension occurred while playing in the Dominican League and not MLB, this is not entirely surprising.

Francisco Liriano

Liriano is credited with one of baseball’s rarest feats: striking out four batters in one inning… a marvelous feat given a team need only record three outs to end their defensive half of the inning. How it happens, is that when a batter reaches his third strike, if the ball is not caught by the catcher, the batter can then become a runner and reach base, so long as there is no runner already at first and he is not tagged or forced out. Only 67 pitchers have managed the feat over the long history of MLB.

David Ortiz

Big Papi, as he’s affectionately known, is keen on looking after young kids in need. In 2008, he released a charity wine dubbed Vintage Papi, which raised $150,000 for his David Ortiz Children’s Fund. Playing a majority of his career as a designated hitter (ie. not being relied upon to do any fielding) Ortiz holds the all-time record for homers by a DH. His popularity in Boston is off the charts and in 2013, Ortiz finished third in Boston’s mayoral race with 560 write-in votes.

Big Papi - Esther Rolle

For the Good Times fans out there!

Manny Ramírez

Manny Being Manny” was a term used to describe the power hitter’s erratic behavior, including: missing games while suffering from pharyngitis (which just sounds phony), but being spotted in a bar; getting into altercations with his own teammates; disappearing from the field in the middle of a game for a bathroom break; and pushing a 64-year-old traveling secretary when he was unable to fulfill Ramirez’s request for tickets. On the flip side, Ramirez was a clutch slugger and holds the record for most home runs in the playoffs with 29.

Albert Pujols

Try saying his last name without laughing… go ahead, I dare you! Anyway, Pujols (pronounced Poo-Holes… I know, too easy) became an American citizen in 2007, following a perfect score on his citizenship test. Despite this, he has repeatedly tried to aid the people of the D.R. by bringing medical supplies, as well as doctors and dentists to the country to help its poor. His foundation’s annual golf tournament is played to raise money to send dentists to the Dominican.

Albert-Pujols

In case y’all needed proof!

Jose Bautista

The two-time home run champion holds the dubious distinction of being on five different MLB rosters in one season. In 2004, Bautista made his MLB debut with the Baltimore Orioles after being selected in the Rule 5 Draft from the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was then claimed off waivers by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and later purchased by the Kansas City Royals. The Royals traded Bautista to the New York Mets, who sent him back to Pittsburgh in another trade. I hope he never got too cozy.

Sammy Sosa

Sosa is best remembered for his 1998 duel with Mark McGwire, as both men attempted to break the home run record of 61 in a season. Sadly, both Sosa and McGwire have since been tainted by baseball’s steroid era and their achievements that memorable season have been tarnished. Coincidentally, Sosa hit his 600th homerun (one of only five players to do so) off Jason Marquis, who was wearing Sosa’s #21 jersey with the team he had the most success with, the Chicago Cubs.

Dominican Republic: Hot Mama

Hot Mama Drink Recipe

  • Muddle Lemon and Orange Wedges
  • 2 oz Mamajuana
  • Top with Orange Juice
  • Splash of Chili Chocolate Syrup
  • Pinch of Brown Sugar
  • Garnish with an Orange Wedge

The Dominican Republic is second behind only the U.S. for having the most number of players in Major League Baseball. Perhaps one day, they’ll surpass the States in this regard and the Baseball Hall of Fame will have to be more to Santo Domingo or Punta Cana for easier tourist access.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
While this drink was good, the Orange Juice hid most of the ingredients. After the first taste, Mrs. Sip and I agreed to douse the cocktail with some more Mamajuana, as well as Chili Chocolate Syrup. The drink probably gets some bonus points thanks to how beautiful it looks with the orange-red blend of colouring.

November 18 – Three Wise Men

So Many Options

All you little sippers already know that I’m an ardent fan of the flavour revolution (it’s perhaps even greater than The Beatles ‘Revolution’, although Pa Sip may disagree) and its touch on whiskey is no different. Here are some of the wonderful whiskey options out there, some of which I’ve personally enjoyed and others I’m desperate to track down!

Honey Whiskey

Jack Daniel’s Honey Whiskey narrowly missed having itself called into The Sip Advisor Hall of Fame for this year’s inaugural class and it will likely find itself at the top of the ballot in 2014. I haven’t yet tried the Wild Turkey American Honey or Paddy Irish Whiskey Bee Sting (among others), but I’d assume they are also great liquors.

Honey Whiskeys

Ole Smoky Moonshine

Moonshine is a whiskey variant and this company has some great products available nationwide. These include Apple Pie (which I own and it tasted spectacular in my Old Fashioned recipe), Peach, and Blackberry. They also have (available only at their Gatlinburg Distillery and Store) Blueberry, Grape, Hunch Punch, Lemon Drop, Pink Lemonade, and Strawberry flavours.

Maple Whiskey

Whiskey with a maple finish… how truly Canadian! Crown Royal puts out this alcohol (just learned Jim Beam has a Maple Whiskey, too) and I’ve enjoyed it on a number of occasions, thanks to Ma and Pa Sip picking up a bottle. In particular, I used it in my cul de sac famous, original recipe martini, the Maple Donut. It was a hit with all in attendance and earned me Drink of the Year honours in my own head.

Apple Spiced Whiskey

The aforementioned Paddy Irish Whiskey has also released a product called Devil’s Apple, which sounds like a lot of fun. I like how whiskey is largely associated with the devil (Jim Beam also has their Devil’s Cut line) and that manufacturers have worked diligently to make it a badass product… even with flavoured entries.

Paddy Flavours

Pumpkin Spiced Whiskey

I’m not the biggest fan of pumpkin flavouring… that’s not to say I despise that taste, but I just prefer others ahead of it. That said, I wouldn’t mind giving this Spicebox product a shot (literally!). At the Liquor Store closest to Ma and Pa Sip, the Pumpkin Spiced offering is prominently displayed and is one of the first things I see every time I enter. Now that’s temptation!

Vanilla Spiced Whiskey – Wiser’s

The fine folks at Wiser’s have released a Vanilla Spiced flavour that is quite enjoyable. I picked up a bottle shortly after it was launched and it didn’t last very long, but I did manage to get it into a few recipes at the very start of this project, like the Spiced Sour.

Southern Comfort

While Southern Comfort is itself a whiskey variation (mixing fruit, spice and whiskey flavours), the brand has also released some intriguing options, including Cherry, Pepper and Lime. I have yet to try any of these adaptations, but I hope to do so in the near future, as I am a fan of the original Southern Comfort.

Southern Comfort Flavours

Black Velvet

This Canadian whiskey company has recently delved into the flavour game, releasing Toasted Caramel and Cinnamon Rush varietals. While I’d find it hard to substitute another product for my beloved Fireball Whiskey, I think the idea of Toasted Caramel sounds spectacular. You could even drizzle it on your ice cream for a drunken sundae!

Jim Beam Red Stag

The Jim Beam Red Stag series features products like Black Cherry Bourbon, Honey Tea Bourbon, Spiced Bourbon, and the brand new Hardcore Cider. While I’ve only tried the Black Cherry, among them, I am curious to try the other options. Black Cherry has quickly become a go-to spirit for me and tastes especially good in a Manhattan.

Jim Beam Red Stag

Cinnamon Whiskey

Speaking of Fireball, you better believe this was going to make the list. I have shared my love of this cinnamon whiskey time and again with you little sippers. I won’t bore you with the details of my passionate Fireball affair again… suffice to say I believe it to be the nectar of the gods!

Chicken Cock Whiskey

No, that doesn’t mean whiskey that tastes like chicken cock, but the Chicken Cock Whiskey company does have some very interesting flavours: Southern Spiced, Root Beer, and Cinnamon. I’m particularly interested in the Root Beer Whiskey, having been a fan of root beer soda since I was a little sipper, myself. In fact, it’s the first pop I ever loved.

Drink #322: Three Wise Men

Three Wise Men Drink Recipe

  • 1 oz Johnnie Walker Scotch
  • 1 oz Jack Daniel’s Whiskey
  • 1 oz Jim Beam Bourbon
  • Garnish with an Orange Wedge

Are there any whiskey flavours out there I neglected to mention? Please, pass them along to me. I’m always looking for my next liquor conquest!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
Speaking of flavours, I used my Jack Daniel’s Honey Whiskey and Jim Beam Black Cherry Bourbon to make this cocktail truly interesting. While strong, the drink was quite enjoyable and not so overwhelming you just wanted to get through the glass. It has to be noted that this cocktail has a number of interesting variations, including the Christmas Wiseman (Jagermeister, Peppermint Schnapps and Cinnamon Schnapps) and the Three Men and a Baby, which adds milk to the original recipe.