Sip Trips #37: Home Stretch

You would think that with a big trip approaching for Mrs. Sip and myself that this week would be calm on the drinking front and more focused on last-minute errands and packing. But you don’t know Mrs. Sip and I. No, instead, we tried to balance both ideas, visiting with friends and family and celebrating a couple birthdays along the way.

The week began with a trip to Bin 941, which specializes in shared “tapatizers”. Cousin Sip had grabbed a Groupon for the meal, which included eight beers or two bottles of wine, with the selection of six different appetizers. We decided to go the beer route and I picked one round of Mad & Noisy IPA, followed by Granville Island ISA. I’d never heard of Mad & Noisy before, but apparently they are an offshoot of the Molson Brewery. Among our appies were their mountain of truffle fries, crab cakes, fried octopus, lamb skewers, and bread and dips. Some of the dishes were smaller than I would have hoped for, especially with sharing amongst a group of four, but everything tasted pretty damn good.

relationship with food

The next night, we were back at the Central City Brewpub on Beatty Street (wow, we’ve been there a lot lately). This time, it was to celebrate Sis-in-Law Sip’s birthday with the restaurant’s monthly feature Bacon Tasting Menu. This was comprised of a salad (with beer bacon lardon), main (double smoked deep fried bacon steak), and finished with dessert (maple bacon blondie). Each dish was paired with one of the brewery’s beers, while there was a choice for the salad between a Wheat Ale or Bacon Seraph Caesar. Mrs. Sip and I went with the Caesar, which was good, but should have gone with the beer. The main was combined with an IPA and dessert was joined by a Red Ale.

The Sip Advisor’s birthday is later this month, but we will be away for it and therefore, Mrs. Sip threw yours truly a little birthday bash with friends over the weekend. For this, we attended the BC Derby at Hastings Racecourse. The afternoon was highlighted by many beers (Parallel 49 Gypsy Tears and Granville Island Hefeweizen) gifted to me by friends, incredibly tight and exciting races, and some decent food cart snacks. Mrs. Sip and I broke even with our wagers and wins, although she did better than I did. My two big wins netted 40 and 90 cents, respectively!

horse racing drinking hats

For dinner, we went to Steamworks Brewpub in Gastown, where I ordered a flight consisting of Kanadische Kolsch, Sisu Salmiakki Gose, Smokey Scotch Ale, and Oatmeal Stout. Of the bunch, the Smokey Scotch Ale was my favourite. I also ordered a pint of the Empress IPA, following dinner. The restaurant does something with the IPA that I have never seen before, combining it with Bellini mix. Usually I see this done (if at all) with a lager or lighter brew. I tasted Cousin Sip’s serving of the drink and the two opposites work together, with tastes of bitter and sweet battling it out.

With Mrs. Sip and I heading to South Africa for the next month, Sip Trips will go on a brief hiatus, but we’ll be back with a vengeance upon our return. Keep sipping, my friends!

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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.