Sip Trips #116: Ode to a Bar

Everybody experiences tragedies and one recently hit the Sip Advisor headquarters. Our crack team learned our favourite watering hole, Jimmy’s Taphouse, would be shutting their doors for good, with very little fanfare.

First, a little history: The Sip Advisor started going to Jimmy’s shortly after moving to Downtown Vancouver in 2010. One night, a buddy and I were on the prowl for cheap beer and stumbled upon the bar, sitting down to a couple pitchers of their very reasonably priced Jimmy’s Lager. Best of all, the place was located just a block away from my and Mrs. Sip’s apartment. From there, the legend quickly grew and I introduced many family and friends to the pub.

Husband-Signs

In the years that followed, we celebrated birthdays there, my bachelor party, St. Patrick’s Day, joined them for customer appreciation nights, and it was a prime venue for pre- or post-event indulgences. Perhaps most importantly, it was the first drinking establishment we took Baby Sip to when she was only two weeks old. I had hoped one day we could return with her as an adult and enjoy a beverage together. Alas, that dream is gone.

Why did we like the place so much? Well, their happy hour was one of the best in the city, with a thorough half price food menu and very good drink deals, such as $4 beer sleeves and house wine. Their poutine – with a unique chipotle drizzle – was so decadent and addictive, I would dream about the dish. Their chicken wings were also quite good, with a nice chunk of meat on each piece, something that is hard to find, in my opinion. And their patio area was a must-hit spot, situated across from the Roman Colosseum-inspired Vancouver Library.

I had only recently returned to the pub, after some time apart to pursue other relationships, but had visited a half dozen times over the last two months. It’s as if a part of me knew I’d be saying goodbye soon and it was time to make amends.

Working Goodbye

So, what grand plans do they have for the space? They will be expanding their adjacent private liquor store. It’s a decision that still befuddles this writer. Goodbye gorgeous patio, amazing happy hour and all the fantastic times you could have still hosted. Then again, I don’t write the cheques that keep the place operating.

Of course, there will be other bars that nestle their way into my heart. But nothing is ever the same as your first love.

Rest in peace, my old friend… you will be missed.

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Snack Time #34 – Pillsbury Pizza Pops Poutine

On a recent grocery shopping expedition, the Sip Advisor was casually strolling the store aisles when what to my wondering eyes should appear but this intriguing Pizza Pops variety. The store was closing, so I had to be quick.

Meant to recreate one of Canada’s most famous dishes and contributions to the world, the special edition Poutine release is pretty tasty. It reminded me of a beef pie, thanks to its gravy and potato filling. And who could ever turn down cheese curds.

Pillsbury Pizza Pops Poutine

The product comes with the tagline, “Not your average poutine,” and I’d agree with that, preferring the fry dish. There are also Butter Chicken Pizza Pops, with both flavours being voted on by Canadians, although I didn’t see them while shopping.

One thing that has always bothered me is why Pizza Pops and Pizza Pockets have the names they have. After all, Pizza Pops have a pocket design, while Pizza Pockets are round, which more resemble what I’d call a pop.

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

Mixer Mania #13 – Made in Canada

Apparently, some of the credit for the development of Cream Soda as we know it today goes to Canadian James William Black. That got me thinking about all the other amazing things our great country has played a role in creating. Here are some of those items:

Insulin: So, while I can blame Canada for inventing delicacies such as Poutine and Nanaimo Bars, I can also thank it for creating the insulin many of us will need when diabetes strikes. We also brought the Pacemaker into existence, for what I can only assume were similar reasons.

Telephone: Canada has made great strides in the communications industry, also developing Walkie-Talkies, the BlackBerry (remember when these were must-have phone devices) and phone communication in the first place.

Cat on Phone

Light Bulb: If you’re afraid of the dark, you have Canada to thank for keeping things illuminated.

Zipper: This is one I’m not proud of, as zippers – particularly those I’m often asked to help Mrs. Sip with on dresses – are an enemy of the state for the Sip Advisor.

Standard Time: Do you feel the seconds of your life ticking away? Um, you’re welcome, I guess.

Pager: Providing the drug dealer and call girl industries with vital technological tools.

Pagers and Pay Phones.jpg

Prosthetic Hand: Thus making Darth Vader’s life, in a galaxy far far away, that much easier.

Snowblower/Snowmobile: Given Canadian winters, these were inevitable discoveries, whether you prefer to clean the white stuff up, or play in it.

Jockstrap: Men everywhere owe the protection of their junk to us Canadians, who saw a need and satisfied it.

Trivial Pursuit: While not as notorious for breaking up relationships and friendships as games like Monopoly and to a lesser extent Uno, Trivial Pursuit can certainly cause rifts between friends, families and couples.

Trivial Pursuit

Instant Replay: It figures Canadians would be to blame for this. We just love our hockey so much that we like to watch it over and over again, analyzing every minute detail.

Garbage Bag: I’m amazed in took until 1950 for some schmuck to place a bag in a bin. What did they do before this landmark discovery?

Caesar Cocktail: Trumping the Bloody Mary by leaps and bounds, the delicious drink is a staple of the Sip Advisor’s summer enjoyment.

Wonderbra: Everybody loves boobies, but it took a Canadian to enhance their presentation.

Mixer Mania #13: Ghost

Ghost.JPG

  • 2 oz Vanilla Rum
  • 1 oz Whiskey
  • Top with Cream Soda
  • Garnish with a Maraschino Cherry

Honourable mentions go to our vast list of sports creations, including Ice Hockey, Basketball, Lacrosse, Five-Pin Bowling and even Chuckwagon Racing, proving Canadians are more than a little crazy.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.25 Sips out of 5):
Given the name of the drink, I guess I was supposed to use clear Cream Soda, but whateves. I also subbed Cachaca in for the Rum and went with Vanilla Whiskey to add that element. Each sip of the cocktail reminded me of medicine at the beginning, before fading into a decent tasting experience, thus its lower score.

Flavour Revolution – Maple

Canadian Chauvinism

Maple is a cultural icon of Canada, whether you’re talking about trees, syrup or anything else. We put it on everything, including in booze. Hell, the maple leaf is even featured on our country’s flag, giving us one of the most unique banners in the world. With national pride in mind, here are some of Canada’s greatest patriots and icons:

Don Cherry

Cherry has about as many detractors as he does fans, but one thing everyone agrees on is that ‘Grapes’ is a staunch supporter of Canada, its hockey players, its military troops, and its national sport. He may go about this the wrong way sometimes, such as questioning the heart of European players, for example, but his heart is usually in the right place. The guy practically bleeds red and white maple leafs, which is sometimes hard to detect given the distracting nature of his wardrobe!

don-cherry-back

Bret Hart

Wrestling is full of patriotic characters, but you don’t see too many Canadians waving the ol’ red and white maple leaf too wildly. Bret Hart, however, along with his Hart Foundation stable, ventured on a unique storyline in 1997, where he criticized the United States and the fans that called the country home. This made him wildly popular in Canada and vehemently hated south of the border. For the rest of his career, Hart always wore Canadian pride on his sleeve and cemented his legendary status.

Wayne Gretzky

Among many great athletes, ‘The Great One’ is Canada’s most iconic and not just because he played the country’s national sport. Gretzky’s influence spread throughout the world and he can be credited with the rise of hockey’s popularity as a sport, not only across the southern United States, but also in many other countries across the globe. Gretzky represented Canada on many occasions, perhaps most notably as part of the management team that brought Olympic hockey gold back to the country after 50 years.

The Beaver

Ah, the majestic beaver… and let’s be clear, the Sip Advisor is actually talking about the noble dam-building animal. The North American beaver has found its way to being featured on the nation’s five-cent piece, the country’s very first postage stamp, and beaver sculptures can also be found adorning the Canadian Parliament Building. Canada also has a number of other creatures that are culturally appreciated, including Canadian geese, loons, and Canadian horses.

gratuitous beaver shot

Molson Canadian Beer

The country’s national beer might not be much to brag about, in comparison to craft beer options across the nation, but it’s still something to be more proud of than Budweiser, Coors, and many of the other beverage options our continental neighbours seem to be so satisfied with. Molson Canadian has a brewing tradition that dates back to 1959 and for many young Canucks, is the first beer they ever enjoy. The Sip Advisor is one of these people and I am forever grateful for my earliest suds.

Tim Hortons

Nothing is more Canadian than donuts! Others would insist that the company’s coffee be included as part of the national identity combo, but not the Sip Advisor. Tim Hortons has grown across the country and even into other parts of the world. With products ranging from donuts to Timbits (donut holes), as well as sandwiches, soups, muffins, cookies, and everything else in between, Tim Hortons is one international contribution that can be enjoyed across the globe.

Poutine

Canada can’t be given much credit for creating items that have taken over the culinary scene, but poutine is one thing we devised and have shared – to great success – with the world over. You can’t go into a pub nowadays without the place having at least one poutine dish on their menu. Even most fast food chains, such as McDonald’s and Burger King, have made the creation available for eaters on the run. Add some bacon (preferably Canadian) onto the meal and you’re ready to gorge!

Flavour Revolution: Poor Sap

Poor Sap Martini

  • 2 oz Whiskey
  • 1 oz Maple Liqueur
  • Splash of Grenadine
  • Dash of Bitters
  • Garnish with a Maraschino Cherry

As a whole, Canada isn’t necessarily known for staunch patriotism… unless we’re talking about hockey and then it’s time to knuckle up. Many of our homegrown stars leave the country and never look back, trying to remove every hint of their Canadian ancestry. You will often hear debates over whether a celebrity is Canadian or not or the statement “I didn’t know he was from Canada.” The same can’t be said for the above entries.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
With three ounces of liquor, this is a strong martini, but the taste is pretty solid. Of course, I used a Canadian Whiskey (Crown Royal) for the cocktail. I might have slightly overdone it with the Bitters, but it all depends on your taste preferences. All in all, a good drink.

Canada – Unsuspecting Victim

Legend of Poutine

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

Poutine Heart Attacks

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

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

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

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

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

calories-poutine

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

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

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

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

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

Canada: Unsuspecting Victim

Unsuspecting Victim Drink Recipe

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

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

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

March 24 – Red Alert

Border Jumpers

About 75% of the Canadian population lives along the Canada-U.S. border. This is a tease for these Canadians, as the United States gets products that just can’t be found up here and what you CAN find in both countries usually comes in at a much lower price point south of the border.

For example, Cherry Dr. Pepper, used in today’s bevvy, has been available in the U.S. for a couple years now. In Canada, it is still advertised as a new product, having just hit store shelves in 2012. Cherry Coke, despite existing for decades has never popped across the border to say hi and same goes for Vanilla Coke (previously available in Canada), Mello Yellow, and unique spin-off flavours of Fanta, Mountain Dew, Snapple, etc.

If Gene Simmons is okay with it, why did Canada take so long?

If Gene Simmons is okay with Cherry Dr. Pepper, why did Canada take so long?

Pop (or soda as the Yanks prefer to call it) isn’t the only thing us Canadians have to chase down on trips to the States. There are a number of chocolate bars that can’t be picked up at the local Canadian convenient store. Pay Days (a Sip Advisor favourite), Coconut M&Ms, Butterfingers, and Heath Bars, form the bulk of this list. Although we do try to make up for Butterfingers by substituting Crispy Crunch and Heath by having Skor. And apparently, up north, we do have the market cornered on Coffee Crisp, Smarties, and Aero (all Nestle products)… even Kinder Surprise (eff the chocolate, I love getting little toys!). And I’ll never figure out why it’s two Reese Peanut Butter Cups in each American package and three in Canada… but I’m not complaining.

Recently I compiled a couple blogs about cereals and their slogans. For example, don’t bother looking for Trix in Canada… although perhaps the Trix Rabbit should take refuge in this country to avoid all the loser kids rubbing it in his face that the breakfast is not meant for him. I’m surprised the poor guy hasn’t gone on a breakfast-stealing rampage through an elementary school. Similarly, Apple Jacks cereal was once sold in Canada, but no longer share store shelf space. Cookie Crisp was apparently banned in Canada, which really pisses me off. How can a country ban Cookie Crisp, when its most famous culinary dish is the curd- and gravy-heavy poutine?

Poutine

Books, dairy (particularly cheese), meat, fruits and vegetables, cigarettes, gas, tires, and most junk food top the list of items that are way cheaper in the U.S. than Canada. Here are some other cross border notes:

  • Seagram’s Gin, despite once being a Canadian-owned company, is no longer sold in Canada
  • Canadian Netflix sucks compared to the U.S. version, causing many subscribers to manipulate their systems allowing access to the American subscription
  • Hulu and other TV and movie streaming services will not work in Canada, where we are told they are not available in our region… despite us sharing the same region as the U.S.
  • Stores you can’t find in Canada: Barnes & Nobles, Trader Joes, Victoria’s Secret, Macy’s, and Nordstrom’s (although rumour has it that at least one Nordstrom’s is crossing the border to downtown Vancouver and apparently the International terminal of Vancouver airport now hosts a Vicky’s)
  • Restaurants exclusively serving the U.S.: White Castle, Cheesecake Factory, In-N-Out Burgers, Carl’s Jr., Jack in the Box
victorias-secret-fashion-show

Yowza, we really need Victoria Secret in Canada!

Perhaps some of these items will finally be available in Canada with Target stores coming to the Great White North, but if not, I have no issues taking a trip down to the States to load up on Pay Days, Cookie Crisp, Victoria’s Secret lingerie (for Mrs. Sip, of course) and a meal or two at Jack in the Box.

At least we have Tim Horton’s, White Spot (in Western Canada), Ketchup Chips, Kraft Dinner, Swiss Chalet, and Hickory Sticks. I don’t really see Americans coming to our fair country for any of these items (although they should, especially for the White Spot Legendary Burger, Mmmmmm). Americans will probably just order most of these items online and have them shipped for free, while us suckers in Canada always have to pay extreme taxes and fees for the same service.

Drink #83: Red Alert

Red Alert Drink

  • 1.5 oz Whiskey (I used Crown Royal)
  • Top with half Orange Juice and half Cherry Dr. Pepper

To my Canadian brethren, I ask, what do you like to grab on trips to the States? To my friends from the south, is there anything you like in Canada that you can’t get from home? Do you even travel to our little country? Hit me back!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
I’m a big fan of the Cherry Dr. Pepper pop and it probably saved this cocktail It was neat to see the Orange Juice and Dr. Pepper mix together and luckily we were able to snap some good quick photos of the effect.