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Summer Selection: Phillips Ginger Beer

Phillips Ginger Beer

Phillips Ginger Beer

Finally, after an interminable wait, summer has arrived on the wet coast. You can keep your highballs, your hard lemonade, your Sauv Blanc, your sangriae: Victoria’s Phillips Ginger Beer is what I’m drinking when the thermometer rises and the asphalt sticks to your sandals like a clingy ex.

The original ginger beer from the old Pirates of the Caribbean days wasn’t a proper beer at all, and contained none of your common-or-garden yeast, but instead an interesting combo of microorganisms as explained in the Guardian’s do-it-yourself guide. Allow yourself to be entertained for the moment by visions of legions of British social work professors-emeritus, mid-level NGO operatives, and overeducated eco-fashion bloggers earnestly attempting to do it, indeed, themselves. In $200 Hunter wellies.

God, I love British people (they’re the people, after all, who gave us Traidcraft.)

This offering from Phillips is indeed proper beer, as are all beers from Phillips. It’s also got a bite that would stand off a pit bull, thanks to the ginger infusion. It’s fiery like a good Jamaican ginger beer, and the heat lingers afterwards, as if you’d bitten into a fresh ginger root. The beer itself is a nice ruddy ale, balanced, not too sweet, and with enough body to stand up to the ginger’s volatile nature, so you don’t feel like you’ve been drinking ginger water, but ginger beer.

It’s terrific on its own, but it really comes into its own paired with spicy foods, particularly if they’re really rich as well. Phillips says, “It’s killer with sushi” but I enjoyed mine with some mussels steamed in coconut chili sauce from the Union Bar, and they were perfect for one another. The mussels, which were enormous and full of flavour, swam in a savory broth of coconut and chili: no watery bullion need apply.

My friend April Smith of AHA Media had the snazzy-looking and non-alcoholic Lapu-Lapu: cucumber juice, coconut water, galangal, calmansi pandan syrup, garnished with tender young coconut and lemon grass. Also delicious and refreshing, if lacking in heat. April and I are so different, we are pretty much guaranteed to order from different ends of the menu spectrum every time. Not a bad way to dine out, if you ask me.

Lapu Lapu at the Union Bar

Lapu Lapu at the Union Bar

mussels and phillips ginger beer at the Union Bar

mussels and phillips ginger beer at the Union Bar

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Sometimes I do, too, but I can’t make it like Jiro can. Living National Treasure Jiro Ono is the world’s greatest sushi chef, and also the subject of Jiro Dreams of Sushi, the next movie that I absolutely must view! Just watch this trailer to see for yourself just why. WAIT: get yourself a snack first, or you just may leave gnaw marks on your monitor.

JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI – Official Trailer – Magnolia Pictures from Sundial Pictures on Vimeo.

In the basement of a Tokyo office building, 85 year old sushi master Jiro Ono works tirelessly in his world renowned restaurant, Sukiyabashi Jiro. As his son Yoshikazu faces the pressures of stepping into his father’s shoes and taking over the legendary restaurant, Jiro – san relentlessly pursues his lifelong quest to create the perfect piece of sushi.

It’s available from Amazon, too,for those who can never get enough visual stimulation.

Thanks to Brett Blair on Twitter for the tip!


@ it’s a great movie….do go to Tojo’s before, or you will be drooling throughout the film! if not, be sure to go right after!!
@brett_blair
Brett Blair

For Your Best Friend

Om nom nom! Sweet revenge!

I have a feeling that The Official Michael Vick Chew Toy will be a VERY popular item this Fall. I’d buy one, and I don’t even have a dog!

The Remedy for Summer

That is what I call a Whiskey Bar!

That is what I call a Whiskey Bar!

Oh yes, that’s my idea of a whiskey bar all righty! And what’s more, it’s not just a figment of Tumblr’s imagination: you can really order these things. My own personal preference would be for rum, probably Mount Gay Eclipse Silver, which I had occasion to try recently and was impressed by, or Havana Club Anejo Blanco, which has tequla-like vegetal notes, and neither of which are very sweet.

In any case, it’s certainly worth trotting down to the dollar store (remember when they were five and dimes? No? Just me then? Everyone else this old is dead? Oh FINE!) and getting some molds and giving it a whack. Here’s a thumbnail recipe I’ve discovered online and haven’t tried yet, so if you do, let us know how it turns out.

each booze pop contains a full shot of liquor and a 3 to 1 ratio of mixer/juice.

Hmmm. Blackberry/tequila with mint? Mango/rum? Gin/blueberry? I may be busy quite awhile. When I moved to this godforsaken tundra, unrelenting heat was the last thing I was prepared for. Reporting back later this week; video of our latest Booze Swag Unboxing coming soon.

Wine A-Z

The Wine Rack: Now THAT is what I call a Go Cup

That’s what I call a Go Cup. Heck, it might even make jogging tolerable.

Well, maybe it won’t boost your cup size all the way through the alphabet. Still, this handy-dandy little portable wine container will definitely bump you from an A to something farther down towards the Mittel-European consonantry. And yes, it’s called the Wine Rack. And no, I have no use for it myself, as I can already hide a 40-ouncer and a couple of highball glasses in my bra with room left over for garnishes.

Tee Many Martooni (Glasses)

As regular raincoaster readers know, we at the ol’ ManoloFood blog are of Catholic tastes, although quite happy to take a Protestant on a quiet night. We are well-pleased both with the offerings of one of the greatest chefs in the world and with the humble pierogies from a drag queen burger bar. We are on the record as 100% down with wine tumblers (red wines only). And so, this may come as something of a shock to you, but there are a few things on this Earth about which we are entirely, stone-cold orthodox.

And Martini (or, more properly, Cocktail) Glasses are one of those things.

It’s fun to have glassware of different shapes and sizes, or even different colours: in my house, you can have 63 consecutive beverages chez moi without ever having the same kind of glass. You cannot, however, drive home afterwards. I have at least one of everything, including a frosted plastic Martini glass that lights up in rotating primary colours like a 60’s Christmas tree, thanks to the miracles of fiberoptics and LEDs, but I generally save that for parties where even the dog wears a lampshade.

Now that is one deluxe cab service

Now that is one deluxe cab service, but which one do you tip?

Did you know it was legal to ride your horse when you’re drunk, as long as you do it in Montana? Sensible if you’re using a Western saddle, otherwise the risk of slippage is too great. You dressage artistes are out of luck. My grandfather used to have a draft horse that would take him and the wagon safely home from the pub without any input from him, but unfortunately it meant he could never sell that horse, as it would always end up taking whoever it was home to his farm. But I digress…

Anyhoodle, to steal an expression from Plumcake, I’m also going to steal Plumcake’s Yes/No/Maybe post style and apply it to glasses for the classic Martini. I don’t really care what you serve your FunTinis in, as long as you do it well away from me, but if you’re going to serve a proper Martini, even to yourself, you must, repeat MUST, do it in one of the following.

Yes:

Reidel Vinum Martini Glass
Riedel Vinum Martini Glass. I don’t care what else you own; if you drink proper Martinis, you need the proper glass. This is it. You don’t have to do Riedel specifically: you can make do with any very, very plain version in good-quality glass or crystal, and yes, quality matters. Buying a heavy, clumsy Martini glass with a thick rim and a stem like a redwood is just throwing good money after bad design. There are solid practical reasons that beverageware evolved the way it has, and it pays to use the right container if you care enough to make the drink well. Don’t stick yourself with a bunch of Martini glasses that aren’t a positive pleasure to hold, because if it’s not a gratifying sensual experience, why bother in the first place? Just get yourself a paper bag and two straws and you’re good to go, right? It’s not as if “Plymouth 6:1 with a Twist” is on your diet anyway.

Now on to the No’s:

These are the Martini glasses you cannot buy for Martinis. You can buy them for your FunTinis and your blended drinks or whatever godforsaken Jagermeister concoctions your roommate (it IS your roommate’s Jagermeister, right?) whips up, but you are not allowed to spend your hard-earned money on these until you have one set of perfect Martini Glasses as described above.

Sagaform Martini stubby
The Sagaform Martini glass. It’s pretty. It’s hand-blown. It is very well-made. But it’s shallow, which will warm your drink up in no time even if you keep the glass in the freezer (they don’t get dusty in there, and the solid knob is supposed to hold the cold) and it’s anything but graceful or sexy. Grownups should never drink anything, even juice from glasses that could be described as “stubby” (Old Fashioned glasses aren’t stubby; they’re just impressively broad for their height, like so many of their aficionados)!

Also No, the classic “Frat Bar “Martini Glass” even if it’s by Riedel, which it is in this case.

Riedel Martini Tumblers

and the stemless version, which looks about as dignified as a man in a Hugo Boss suit who has forgotten his pants.

What is this? I don't even...

What is this? I don’t even...

Now, you may think I’m just being arbitrary and contrarian (moi?) but the fact is a Martini must be cold, very cold, to be very good. And the only Martinis you should drink are those which have been made very well, and served in glasses that will not interfere with your experience. Any glass that forces you to hold it by the bowl interferes, by turning you into a big, handsy gin warming device. And don’t try to kid me. “I’ll only hold it up near the rim” is the drinker’s version of “I didn’t inhale.”

Now the Maybes.

Once you’ve got a set of those perfect glasses mentioned first, just one for each friend you positively treasure enough to have over for the good stuff, you can add these and serve real Martinis in them. Yes, they’re slightly bizarre. And no, you can’t get these first. But they are ingenious, charming, attractive, and very practical. I’d bring them out with some adventurous friends, or possibly some people in the cocktail industry because although they never get tired of perfection, after your five hundredth perfect cocktail in a perfect cocktail glass, you might want to go just a little crazy.

Nachtmann Dancing Stars Bossa Nova Martini GlassThe Nachtmann Dancing Stars Bossa Nova Martini Glass from, yes, Riedel. And no, they don’t pay me for this fetish of mine. This one is a Maybe because that stem is just sooooo thick. With these proportions it teeters on the edge of clumsy, but the beautiful cuts (click through and look at the zoomed pic) and the great quality of the crystal bring it back to the right side. It’s also nearly ten inches tall, so this is quite an imposing glass; singles will barely wet the bottom, so store these in the freezer and serve larger drinks in these. For all the “Dancing Stars” marketing, these are very macho glasses.

Libbey Swerve Martini GlassesLibbey Swerve Martini Glasses. Because, just, why not? Libbey is decent utilitarian glass and these are cocktails we’re talking about, not holy water: some things just go better with a twist.

Stemless Martini Glass setThe actually useful stemless Martini glass. Unlike the above-mentioned atrocity, it will actually keep your drink cold; the downside is that you must be sitting down in order to use it (or freeze your left hand while turning the ice into water) and that it best suits drinks that are sipped slowly, as otherwise it’s completely unnecessary. If you’re a slow drinker, it might be just the thing for you, as it will keep your Martini good and cold for a very long time indeed, but coasters are going to be an essential accoutrement with the condensation. And word to the wise: shaved or crushed ice works: cubes, no matter how small, do not. Snow works really well, actually.

And now, my absolute favorite of the New Wave of glassware (“New” here meaning post-Prohibition):

Starfrit Double Wall Martini GlassThe Starfrit Double Wall Martini Glass. It’s got a seven ounce capacity, which is just too big, but otherwise I love this little thing. That little pigtail at the bottom is just the right amount of crazy, even if cleaning this thing will drive you in that general direction. The clever double-walled design is not only useful for insulatory purposes, it’s also quite attractive. Just be sure to buy the extra-large olives and you’ll be all good.

How did they know?

That's Hot!

That's hot!

You would think this would be a joke. You would be wrong.

This exists: Soup for Sluts instant noodles.

Also exists: Wasted & Broke instant ramen.

Again, how did they know?

Again, how did they know?

Oh, where have you been all my life, Ironically Named Pot Noodle Company???

Put that in your pot still and smoke it!

Victoria Hempen Vodka

Victoria Hempen Vodka

Let me tell you a little tale of Twitter. WAIT, WAIT, don’t click away; there’s booze in the story!

There, now that I have your attention we can proceed.

So, one day I was on Twitter, nattering about gin as I do not-infrequently, and someone from Victoria asked what I thought of “the home team,” Victoria Gin. And, as is my wont, I went off on a rant, as I am all Team Hendricks, as we know, and while Victoria is a very floral gin, which I like, it is also light-bodied and volatile enough to be practically gaseous, which I do not like. And I said that, or words to that effect. I believe what I said was, “if you take the top off the bottle, the paint starts peeling from the walls,” or suchlike, for lo, I am way diplomatic and shizz.

The next thing I know, the rep for Victoria Gin is hitting me up on Twitter, saying “Sorry you didn’t like it, but we’ve changed the way we distill it and I’d like to give you a bottle to try the next time you’re in town.”

Truly, there is no better way to get my attention than to say “please may I give you a free bottle of gin,” and so a beautiful friendship was born. Sadly, while the gin has noticeably improved, it’s still a very light-bodied liquid and not as smooth as I’d like to see, particularly at a premium price point. I’ve also tried the Oaken Gin, and while it’s an interesting addition to blended drinks, it’s more a novelty product than anyone’s main choice of tipple.

HOWEVER

They have a new product, Hempen Vodka to wit, and let me just say that while I am so NOT all about the hemp products being perhaps the last person who ever worked for Greenpeace never to have touched pot (not even when I had cancer; the stuff just makes my toes curl with revulsion at that nauseating smell), and while I am so NOT all about the vodka, believing (along with all right-thinking people) that vodka is for people who want to get drunk but who don’t like, you know, drinking, I LOVE THIS HEMPEN VODKA.

The bumph from Victoria says:

On the nose there is a subtle organic sweetness. On tasting, a rich silky texture is elicited by the smooth oils of the hemp hearts. Notes of hazelnut and a hint of spice are also present. The finish is long, clean and refreshing.

Which is good as far as it goes, but I’d put it somewhat more pithily, and in fact am about to do so. I’d say:

Imagine you just had sex with the sexiest hippie you’ve ever seen. (If you can’t think of a sexy hippie, go watch Viggo in Walk on the Moon, or just some old Doors clips.) Okay, you’ve just had sex with that. Now, imagine putting your nose in the hollow of his throat and sniffing deeply. THAT is what Victoria Hempen Vodka tastes like.

Yes, please.

Yes, please.

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