National Amaretto Day

Enjoy Amaretto on the rocks or with select mixes. I discovered a couple delicious ways to enjoy it aside from downing it in a two second shot. Tasty but very anti-climatic. The literal translation of amaretto is a ‘little bitter’ and is from amaro which means ‘bitter’. Not to be confused with another Italian liquor, Amaro.

The only mix I had ever tried it with is orange juice which is very good. However, after asking bartenders what common requests they get for amaretto drinks, the usual response was on the rocks or an Amaretto Sour. The first one I tried, at Two Six Ate on Preston turned out to be scrumptious! I highly recommend it! The food menu is also unique, very worth the trip.

Amaretto Sour at Two Six Ate on Preston St.

Their version is made with amaretto, lemon mix, bitters and an egg white. The egg creates the froth on top. Yes, it sounds disgusting but give it a try. I practically licked the glass clean. Think of the egg’s added health benefit to an already nutrition-less beverage!

They are open until 2am so if you’re on your way home, stop in for a night cap and catch some music. Better yet, spend the whole evening. Flossy Fridays feature DJ’s and dancing.

Back in my bartending days, a customer would ask for something different, not sweet but with a bit of a kick. They received my go-to shot, the Sicilian Kiss. Half amaretto and half Southern Comfort.

Alabama Slammer at Pub Italia

To enjoy this as a cocktail, try an Alabama Slammer:

1 oz amaretto

1 oz Southern Comfort

1 oz Sloe Gin

2 oz orange juice

Summer is coming fast and a full pitcher of this would be a perfect patio treat with friends! 1 cup of each liquor topped with 6 cups of OJ. It will fill a water pitcher perfectly.

Pub Italia is an amazing establishment, boasting a huge drink list. The staff will welcome you whether you’re staying to eat or drink or just browse through to discover every nook and cranny of their beautifully decorated monastery-style restaurant.

Amaretto’s Romantic History

Amaretto’s legend goes back to Saronno, Italy in 1525 when a widowed innkeeper created a concoction of brandy and apricot kernels as a symbol of

The Last Supper at Pub Italia

love, devotion and gratitude for Bernardino Luini, one of Da Vinci’s art students. He chose the beautiful widow as a model for his church frescoes of the Virgin Mary. His paintings can still be viewed in the chapel of Sante Maria delle Grazie in Milan and in the Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Miracles in Saronna. The church is most famous for their depiction of The Last Supper.

Saronno is well known for its production of amaretto and almond kernel biscuits and is home of the Church of St Francis Assisi, the oldest church in town.

Visit the distillery to learn how the famous liqueur is made. Sort of. You will learn only what THEY want you to learn. And good luck finding a video of how they make it. The writer of the Alcademics article was not allowed to photograph or videotape inside the production section of the factory during his tour. It’s all very hush hush.

The city is approximately a 20 minute drive from Milan. Much more to see and do here but to appeal to your sense of humour, visit the Italian Stock Exchange Centre (Parent Advisory).

Disaronno was originally called ‘Amaretto di Saronno’. In the 1600’s, the Reina family came in contact with the recipe of the liqueur and turned it into what we know as Disaronno. This brand is an infusion of apricot kernel oil, absolute alcohol, burnt sugar and 17 various, unknown, herbs and fruits. What, no almonds?

Almonds are not always necessary in the making of amaretto. The main ingredients are sugar, apricot kernels, spices, alcohol, benzaldehyde (this creates the almond scent) and amygdalin (only in the more expensive amarettos). Interestingly, the cheaper amarettos contain more benzaldehyde, and the more expensive ones contain more amygdalin. It has proven to be difficult to find out what spices are used in the production of amaretto as well. It is a well guarded secret. But I did discover a few spices that are added: rhubarb, ginseng roots and vanilla beans.

The famous square bottle debuted in 1942 and evolved in the 70’s, by a master glass maker from Murano, Italy, to what it is recognized as today.

The company purchases 300 tonnes of bitter almonds (Prunus dulcis var. amara) to make the oil. They actually call these almonds, apricot pits. This oil goes into the production of Disaronno. The trees grow in the Middle East and Asia.

Would you believe you can find Disaronno memorabilia and vintage bottles on Ebay. Empty! Full, I could understand. Who would buy this?!

CEO of Disaronno, August Reina, has released a new blend of their product. Amaretto and Scotch whisky. You’ll have to fork out $450 for it, though! ‘The Godfather’ cocktail is made up of these 2 ingredients. Don’t be surprised if this new bottle becomes known as the Godfather.

Where Do Almonds Come From?

The almond that we are accustomed to eating is the sweet version and is a dried seed from the Prunus dulcis tree. You can grow almonds in your home quite easily. Whether it bears fruit remains to be seen. Soak a 3-5 almonds in water for 48 hours, replacing with fresh water every 12 hours. Break the tiny tip to expose the inner almond. On a small plate, layer tissue paper and place the almonds on top, adding another layer of tissue paper. Fold up the sides and spritz with water to moisten. For 7-9 days, keep it moist but not soaking wet. This germinates the almond into its seed form and can be planted. Watch the video to see how to plant them.

How Are Almonds Harvested?

This has got to be the one of the coolest ways to harvest produce. The first minute of the Bella Viva Orchards video made my jaw drop so at least watch that much of it. You’ll be glad you did!

Compliments of Il Primo Ristorante on Preston

Amaretto & Hot Drinks

Blueberry Tea is all the rage lately. It’s showing up on more and more menus. I expected it to be prepared with Blueberry flavoured tea. Wrong. An ounce each of Amaretto, Grand Marnier topped with a hot cup of orange pekoe tea.

It’s great in coffee, too!

A Toasted Almond is made using amaretto and kahlua, a good choice of winter holidays or just plain winter time!

 

Why Stop At Just Drinking Amaretto?

If an Amaretto Sour is mixed with lemon sour mix, it must be delicious in a Lemon Bread/Cake. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

Tiramisu as made by Arturo’s

Tiramisu can be made to look very different from one version to another. Any variation of liqueur can be used, this one is made with amaretto.

Pancakes – for the adults, not necessarily to feed to the children Sunday morning. Add 1/4 cup of amaretto to your favorite pancake recipe. Be sure to cut back on the amount of milk you use by a 1/4 cup.

Add a splash to flavour to the frosting of your cupcakes, whipped cream or ice cream!

Almondine Sauce is most commonly used on Sole or other white fish such as Halibut, Perch, Walleye and is also good on chicken.

If you prefer not to use up your delicious bottle, amaretto flavor can be purchased online for baking purposes. If I can find store locations in Ottawa that sell this, I will update.

I found recipes for homemade amaretto but many call for 2 cups of vodka and 1 cup of brandy. Seems like alot of work and using alot of liquor, may as well just buy a bottle, crack it open and enjoy. The LCBO’s least expensive amaretto is a Canadian version at $20 for a 750ml bottle. Whereas, Disaronno is $30 and Luxardo is $25. Luxardo is becoming increasingly popular in local pubs. Nonetheless, a simple recipe using only 2 cups of vodka, if you’re interested in concocting your own.

Where To Find Fresh Pasta in Ottawa

For years, I thought the only place to get fresh pasta was a little place on Somerset. Ottawa has many great choices to get delicious pasta.

Fresh Pasta of the Day at Arturo’s

Arturo’s on Beechwood. They are also a licensed establishment with a full restaurant. All entrees and desserts, right down the salad dressing, are homemade and au naturel.

Parma Ravioli on Wellington is a large shop to find interesting ingredients for your next pasta night.

Farmer’s Pick, on Prince of Wales, is another store with a wide range of staples.

There are 2 Nicastro’s located in Ottawa, one on Preston and the other in the market at 64 George St.

Another Very Popular Amaretto Made in Italy

With so many wonderful ways to use amaretto, I will be sure to have a constant stockpile of it on hand!

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on Wednesday, April 19, 2017

 

 

Who Created The Gin & Tonic?

Ei8hteen @ 18 York St.

The Lovely Gin and Tonic….

Happy G & T Day! In this version, pictured left, it is made with the colorful Jack’s Tonique, made local, in Quebec, by Joel Beaupre and Mathieu Guillemette.  It has a crisp, unique bitter taste but rich and delicious. My tastebuds quickly accustomed to the unusual flavour and I, soon, realized I downed it quite easily.

An official Gin Day will arrive later in the year when I will explore Gin’s exact origins.

Today will be dedicated strictly to G & T.

The Savoy’s Version With Mint

Compare this robust colored version with the clean and clear one that is most commonly made with carbonated tonic water.

With a little help, we can spread the word of more flavourful and healthier Tonics, such as Jack’s, to use instead. You only use an ounce or 2 max per drink so the 500ml bottle will last quite awhile. Mix that with 1 1/2 ounces of gin and top it with club soda and it will be a beautiful rich, golden color, as above.

Quinine – Pro or Con?

One of the ingredients in the final product of tonic water/syrup is cinchona bark. By boiling this bark, quinine is created. There are health benefits to this, however, too much of it can be hard on the system. It has been known to treat leg cramps, lupus (an autoimmune disease) and arthritis.

Quinine can help to relax muscles and ease muscle spasms. Originally, quinine was administered as an anti-malarial drug in the 17th Century.

On the other hand, a large build up of quinine can be serious with side effects ranging from headache to vomiting. People have been hospitalized with symptoms lasting a few weeks. Keep in mind, they didn’t have just a couple of gin an tonics on a Friday night. They overdosed on it.

From what I’ve discovered, it’s easier to overdose on it if you’re trying to make your own at home. In many of the cases, cinchona bark powder, and too much of it, was used. The powder is harder to filter so you end up with more grains in your actual drink. Leave this to the professionals. Today’s tonic water has very little quinine.

The Food and Drug Act banned quinine treatments in 2010 due to it’s serious side effects. Now there are restrictions on the amount of quinine allowed in tonic. If a doctor had prescribed it, the recommended dosage might have been 500-1000 mg.

In the carbonated drinks, do not exceed 2.48 mg of quinine per ounce of liquid. Therefore, if a gin and tonic is 1.5 oz of gin and 4.5 oz of Schweppes tonic water, you’re looking at 11.16 mg of quinine.

Now that I was concerned about the quinine content in homemade tonics, I emailed Jack’s Tonique to inquire.

Joel Beaupre promptly responded to assure me the levels were safe.

“The amount of quinine in our artisan tonic slighty fluctuates from batch to batch as we steep it from a natural bark that contains the quinine. Too many variables are involved to give a definite number. That being said, we use very little bark and have a low level of quinine compared to the big brands!”   -Joel Beaupre

I can’t wait to try their new Ginger Beer! The only sweetener they use in their soda is pure Quebec honey. Again…..healthy!

Who Made the First Gin & Tonic?

Now I have THAT out of my system, we can get on to Britain, home of the Gin & Tonic.

Gin originates from London and word spread to the British Army of tonic’s benefits. In the 17th Century, quinine was used to combat malaria. A British officer realized alcohol, gin in particular, would help the bitter tonic to go down easier. Little did they realize it would save hundreds of lives.

However, the tonic had already been discovered. In the 1630’s an Augustinian Monk found a tree with possible remedies, in the forests of the Andes Mountains. He published a notice regarding the treatment, burying it in a work on the Augustinian Order.

“A tree grows which they call the fever tree, in the country of Loxa, whose bark of the color of cinnamon, made into powder amounting to the weight of two small silver coins and given as a beverage, cures the fevers and tertiana; it has produced miraculous results in Lima.    

                                                  -Antonio de Calancha, Monk of the Augustinian Order

The bark from this tree, known as cinchona, or Jesuit’s Bark, was boiled to gain the medicinal properties of what is now called quinine. Some cinchona tree species grow to about 18 feet and span 1 to 2 feet in diameter.

Juniper Berries, The Super Food

Gin is produced from these berries which combat bacteria and can be treated for rheumatism, arthritis and cystitis. It can help with bloating and water retention and improves digestion since it increases saliva and digestive enzymes.

If crushed, it can be used topically on wounds as an antiseptic.

However, excessive use of the berries could lead to kidney irritation.

Today’s tonic contains artificial sweetener so it is much more pleasant to drink.

Local

Any establishment in Ottawa will serve up a Gin and Tonic but if you’re looking to try the homemade tonic before you purchase the full bottle, visit the following and make sure you ask the server to make it with Jack’s Tonique. 

12 restaurants in Ottawa serve it with Jack’s including the following:

Ei8hteen – 18 York Street

Two Six Ate – 268 Preston St.

The Soca Kitchen – 93 Holland Ave.

Erlings Variety – 22 Strathcona (at Bank St)

When you’re ready to purchase a bottle of the tonic, choose from 14 different establishments including:

Also At Most of These Locations

North of 7 Distillery – 1733 St. Laurent Blvd.

The Red Apron – 564 Gladstone St.

Viens Avec Moi – 1338 Wellington

Thyme & Again – 1255 Wellington St.

The relatively new company, Jack’s Tonique, has launched their products from its origins in Quebec to as far east as New Brunswick and to western Canada, with much of the concentration in Montreal and Ottawa.

I discovered another tonic and have yet to find an establishment that uses these Split Tree tonic in their drinks. But you can still purchase the bottle at these locations, as well as Thyme & Again.

Everything in Moderation! Cheers!

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on April 9, 2017

 

Cheers to National Beer Day!

Lowertown Brewery Shop

Hot off the heels of Bock Beer Day, is yet another Beer Day. Much like the Wine Days we get throughout the year, expect to see more on beer as well.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a beer fan but I am developing an appreciation for the production of it.

We have a wealth of local breweries, using organic produce, at our fingertips here in Ottawa so wherever you live, I would be sure you have one near your back door.

The use of local produce such as grains, is growing fast. Lucky for us, restaurants, grocery stores, distilleries and vineyards are increasing their availability of organic products. Many local farmers, where these grains come from, are registered with Canadian Organic Growers so you know you’re drinking, and eating, healthier.

Local Organic Farms

Against The Grain

You don’t have to venture far to find them! Most Metro Food Stores carry their products which include pancake batter, purple corn chips and various whole grain flour, to name just a few.

I’ll be using their purple corn chips for all of my nachos now since I’ve discovered their great health benefits.

“Studies indicate the antioxidant, anthocyanins, found in purple corn, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, inhibit abnormal cell growth, promote collagen formation, and improve circulation.”           –Source

Be sure to watch the Pancake Testings! The link is under the ‘extras’.

Their pancake mix also contains purple corn meal, the great antioxidant. If you’re at a loss of how to use any of their products, they provide over 30 recipes for entrees, desserts, pastry and bread here.

Moulin St. Georges Mill

Specializing in corn products, they offer chemical-free and preservative-free grain of different coarseness. The family-owned farm is located east of Alexandria at the Quebec border.

As I browse each Ontario Organic Farm’s websites, I find something unique with each one. Some farms make furniture or woven sheep blankets, some provide guided tours or education programs, cooking classes or offer volunteer programs.

If you’re interested in learning how to grow organic food, grain, etc, the Canadian Organic Growers is offering courses in Ontario and BC. The Ottawa course has been postponed to 2018.

Our own local breweries are increasingly popular. When visiting some of these establishments, it was hard to have extended conversations with proprietors due to the steady traffic of customers. And this is mid-week!

All I can say is, Way to Go Ottawa, for choosing local!

It was a tad chilly that night so I rushed in to the Lowertown and the first thing I noticed was that delicious aroma of freshly burning wood, real wood, and wondered where it came from. Apparently, I walked right by it on my way in. Did I mention it was cold?

The Awesome Barkeep, Matthew, at Lowertown Brewery helped me figure out which kind of beer is best suited to my taste. Despite how busy it was, he kindly took the time to answer my questions, explain the science of beer and let me sample 6 different flavours. All of this in between serving his customers. What a pro!

Matthew helped me discover that I like non-bitter type beers which turns out to be their Dark Lager. Go figure. Never thought I would be the Guinness type. Like my wine, I like them smooth!

Many pubs offer “Flights” of beer, or wine, to sample various flavours. I highly recommend ordering one of these, share with a few friends, and discover your preference.

Might I add that the Lowertown store is open until 11pm. So, if you’ve missed the shut down of the King Edward LCBO at 10pm, you still have time to grab a couple brewskies on your way home.

At Beyond The Pale, the frontman is very helpful and gracious, despite the steady traffic. They sell their cans in packs of 4 at the Hamilton Street facility but you can find singles at LCBO.

I was able to sample 4 different beers but didn’t care for any in particular. This means nothing because it’s not my drink of choice. For those who prefer beer, you will certainly find a brew you like. It’s quite clear they are popular.

Tooth and Nail offers 3 samples of your choice. I particularly requested non-bitter flavours but did not find anything that compared to the Dark Lager at Lowertown. It’s not just a distillery. The pub is full sized and was busy enough to not be able to have a conversation with any of the staff. Again, mid-week. I couldn’t even ask why they are named Tooth and Nail.

They, as well, stay open beyond the regulatory LCBO hours, except on Sundays.

Keep in mind that most local breweries are closed Sundays, some on Monday as well, as it is their brewing day. For sampling, best to visit them Tuesday to Saturday.

Mill St Brew Pub offers guided tours at certain times of the day yet my research team were served the royal treatment by Jeremy. Open for about 5 years, he has

Palomar Diablo at Mill St

been working there for the last 4, he knows every beer inside and out. There seemed to be no limit to the sampling. They brew 4 different flavours on site, the rest are produced at the Toronto location.

Again, my favorite was a dark beer, the Cobblestone Stout. Could have something to do with the chocolate content. Mill St originally started as an organic brewery back in 2002 and has grown to cover every spectrum of flavour from citrus to chocolate to chamomile.

If you sidle up to your local pub, chances are pretty good you’re going to find the Mill St logo if not one of their beers. I’m noticing more of the smaller micro-breweries popping up on the drink menus, too.

As far as brew pubs go, I highly recommend BDT – Brasseur Du Temps – in Gatineau. Beautifully located by the water on the historic site of the first brewery in the area, their unique style and attractions keep me going back. For your seating, choose the side bar that overlooks the factory and the kitchen. Before you leave, visit the museum below where they house antique artifacts of beer production. It keeps the same hours as the pub and you’re free to browse.

It’s a must see!

Why No Mention Of Standard Beer?

We spend all week trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle when it comes to our food or cleaning products then by Sunday morning we’ve undone all the good we’ve accomplished by having a few drinks Saturday night with friends or family.

Alcohol is metabolized by the body differently than food. It bypasses the digestive system, is absorbed into the body and goes straight to the liver. Your liver is the main fat-burning organ in our bodies so if you’re trying to lose weight, alcohol will deter this. Your liver chooses to metabolize the alcohol first before it tackles any fat cells. Your liver also removes toxins so if it’s overloaded with alcohol, it has a hard time eliminating the toxins which can lead to rapid aging, loss of libido and other conditions.

Do You Know What You’re Drinking?

Beer, being in 2nd place after water and tea as a favorite beverage, is not required by law to label their ingredients on their products. Check your beer bottle or can. Calorie levels and alcohol content are only sometimes on the label. They are under no obligation to disclose their ingredients to anyone.

I couldn’t encourage anyone to ingest anything that is unhealthy which is why I am restricting this to organic.

Commercial Beer

The government regulates what can and cannot be present in beer. Lucky us, this is the list of “Legal” Ingredients Allowed in Commercial Beer:

MSG – an addictive mixture of sodium and amino acid glutamate which can cause headaches, facial pressure, numbness, tingling, chest pain, nausea and heart palpitations.

Propylene Glycol – also found in anti-freeze.

Calcium Disodium EDTA – made from formaldehyde, sodium cayanide, and Ethylenediamine.

Sulphites and anti-microbial preservatives – have been linked to allergies and asthma.

Natural Flavors – can come from anything natural including a beavers anal gland. (Still convinced you’re drinking the right beer?)

BPA – Bisphenol A is a component in many tin can liners and it may leach into the beer. BPA can mimic the female hormone estrogen and may affect sperm count, and other organ functions.

Animal Based Clarifiers -Findings include isinglass (dried fish bladder), gelatin (from skin, connective tissue, and bones), and casein (found in milk).

FD&C – Made from petroleum, linked to allergies, asthma and hyperactivity.

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO)

Carcinogens – Newcastle beer apparently heats ammonia and sulphites under high pressure which creates carcinogenic compounds in the caramel coloring they add. These compounds are known to cause cancer and tumours in rats and mice.                                                                                         – See the Full List

So, if you want to maintain the healthy lifestyle you work so hard for, look for non-GMO and additive-free food and alcohol products.

Still not convinced? The few commercial beers available without GMO’s are Heinekin, Sierra Nevada and Amstel Light.

My next beer will definitely be local, organic from the tap. However, I’m not rushing out for one. I’m completely beered out – a big thank you to my beer testers for helping me not to consume too much. You know who you are and you rock!

What Else Can You Do With Your Beer?

Once you’ve found a good organic beer, you can do more than just drink it!

Butterflies and slugs are attracted to it. So if you want more butterflies and less slugs leave some leftover beer out in the garden.

Rinse your hair with it to benefit from the Vitamin B and natural sugars to add body and shine. It will help increase vitality, resilience and hold.

Remove stains by pouring some on coffee stains, blot and it should come out.

Marinate meat and mushrooms but you probably know this one already.

Polish your copper pots.

Beer vs Prostitution.

They say the oldest profession is prostitution well…beer making may be the oldest! Apparently prostitution is estimated at 5,000 years old. Beer is estimated to be 7,000 years old, originating in Iran. Some even say it began 12,000 ago.

What Caused The London Beer Flood?

In 1814 London, 570 tons of beer, equivalent to 1 million pints, exploded from a vat that had too much pressure build up. 8 people lost their lives in that huge mess. “Not only did the brewery escape paying damages to the destitute victims, it received a waiver from the British Parliament for excise taxes it had already paid on the thousands of barrels of beer it lost.”       – Source

In the Middle Ages many other mixtures of herbs were added to beer for  bitterness and flavour prior to the use of hops. These mixtures are referred to as gruit, beer produced from botanicals. Hops were cultivated in France as early as the 800s. The oldest surviving written record of the use of hops in beer is in 1067 by writer, Abbess Hildegard of Bingen, Germany: “If one intends to make beer from oats, it is prepared with hops.”

What Are The Hops For?

We’ve all heard the term but how does it affect beer. Hops is the flower from the cone-like hop plant. A member of the hemp family, a hops vine grows to about 7 feet tall in just a few months.

Once compressed for beer making, it is a green pellet ready to add bitterness to the sweet tasting malt to create the perfect balance.

Different types of hops will have different levels of bitterness. It also acts as a preservative.

Hops on the Rhine! Prost!

The first documented use of hops is from 7th Century Europe in Germany in the Hallertau region.

Close to one of every two beers worldwide is brewed with one of the more than 20 types of Hallertau hop.

Hallertau is a region in Bavaria, between Nuremberg and Munich, where plenty of breweries can be found.

Or make it easy on yourself and take the tour. Be sure to catch at least one castle!

Hallertau is the world’s largest hop cultivating region. If you’re so inclined, watch this quick 3 minute video on the cultivation, filmed in Bavaria with it’s fields and fields of hop gardens.

Whether you’re here or there, enjoy a brew today! See you next time! Cheers!

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on April 7, 2017

Stained Glass-Patty Boland's

 

 

 

 

 

 

World Cocktail Day

Making of The Last Word

Americans will try to claim the fame of inventing The Cocktail but the origins are European. After all, what is being used? Gin – made in Europe, Vodka – made in Europe, Vermouth – made in Europe.

-“Though fermented beverages had dominated for centuries, 17th century London turned from drinking ale and cider practically overnight. When King William of Orange was enthroned in 1688, he was faced with a dilemma. Years of good harvests left the nation with a grain surplus, driving down prices. To take advantage of this bounty — and “for the health of the nation” — he reduced taxes on distillation. British distillers produced around 500,000 gallons of neutral grain spirit the following year.”-

By the 1720s, London distillers alone produced 20 million gallons of spirits, not including an equally staggering amount of illicit alcohol. It was estimated that one out of every four habitable structure in London housed a working gin still.

The earliest use of the word “Cocktail” was discovered in the March 20, 1798, edition of The Morning Post and Gazetteer, a London newspaper no longer in operation.

The paper had reported a story of a landlord who won a lottery and went to his establishment and erased the tabs of the regular patrons. The newspaper then listed who owed what, including a certain William Pitt who owed for “L’huile de Venus”, “perfait [sic] amour”, and a less French drink: “‘cock-tail’ (vulgarly called ginger).”

The most common use of the term “cocktail” at the time was in reference to a horse with its tail cut short to indicate it was of mixed breed.

A colic remedy for horses consisted of water, oats, gin and ginger.

A Mere $10 on Amazon

America can stake its claim to the cocktail’s surge in popularity in part through the work of Jerry Thomas, a Connecticut resident who, in 1862, wrote the first book in the United States with a section dedicated for cocktail recipes. Historians have gone so far as to call him the American Father of Modern Bartending but he actually worked in London prior to writing the famous book plus he wasn’t born American.

American tourists were on the rise in London, England. London cashed in on this and opened numerous ‘cocktail joints’. The creative bartenders constantly dreamed up new drinks. Many of which were brought back to America and made an official drink. A few years later that particular drink was introduced in Europe labelled as an “American Drink.”

Then, in 1869, the first British book, Cooling Cups and Dainty Drinkscontaining cocktail recipes, was published by William Terrington.

The Savoy, one of those swanky Cocktail Joints, became notorious for American Bar Nights masking as charity fund raisers in the early 20th Century.

The first female bartenders of London were Ruth Burgess and Ada Coleman, better known as Kitty and Coley. Ada’s first cocktail  she prepared was a Manhattan, taught to her by Fisher, the wine butler at the Claridge Hotel. However, “Kitty” had been tending bar a few years before Ada arrived on The Savoy scene where together they flourished.

The Hanky Panky

Ada brewed up some Italian vermouth with a few dashes of Fernet Branca (a form of Bitters) for one of her regulars, actor Sir Charles Henry Hawtry who requested ‘something with a punch’. He downed the drink and exclaimed, “Why, Ada, this is the real hanky panky!” The name stuck and is still on The Savoy’s menu today. Ada was promoted to Head Bartender in 1903.

Their heyday would end with the American Prohibition. American bartender, Harry Craddock, returned to London, looking for work since the Prohibition pushed him, and other bartenders, out of the US. Harry was hired at The Savoy and instilled his belief that women should not work in bars. Thirsty Americans swarmed London, listened, and eventually, agreed with him. The phrase bar wench goes back a long way because women were quite dominant, and respected, in taverns.

The owner, Rupert D’Oyly Carte, let Kitty go and transferred Ada to the hotel’s flower shop, using the story that she “retired”. He then promoted Harry Craddock (you might remember the mention of his Savoy Cocktail Bookwritten in 1930, in an earlier post of mine), to Head Barman.

Harry was thought to be American but he was born near Stroud, Gloucestershire. He moved to America, married an Irish widow then returned to England. He claims to have invented 240 cocktails in his career but were some of these actually Ada’s inventions? Did he use what she was forced to leave behind? She gets credit for only 1 cocktail invention in her 20 year career with The Savoy?

Today, The Savoy boasts 7 in-house restaurants and pubs, of British and a touch of French cuisine. For some Wow factor check out the photo gallery. Aside from The Savoy, some renowned establishments, as suggested by The Telegraph Newsletter, where incredible cocktails are concocted:

Tokyo: Bar High Five, 4th Floor, No.26 Polestar Building, Tokyo, 7-2-14 Ginza, +81 3 3571 5815

Barcelona: Boutique Bar in the Ohla Hotel, Via Laietana, 49, 08003 Barcelona, Spain, +34 933 41 50 50 New York: Pegu Club, 77 West Houston Street,

New York: Pegu Club, 77 West Houston Street, New York, NY 10012, (212) 473-7348

Havana: La Floridita (According to The Telegraph: Ask the doorman if Alejandro is working. If he isn’t, go elsewhere. When he is behind the bar, you can understand why this bar is so widely celebrated). Obispo No.557 esq. a Monserrate, Habana Vieja, Ciudad de La Habana, Cuba, (0)7 8671300.

Hamburg: Le Lion. Rathausstraße 3, 20095 Hamburg, Germany, +49 40 33475378 ext. 0,

Meanwhile, here in North America, I’ve done a little digging. In Conneticut, home of Jerry Thomas, visit the unique Gillette Castle. Yes, a medieval castle in America! Built by William Gillette, the stage actor most famous for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes.

Gillette is the son of former U.S. Senator Francis Gillette and Elizabeth Daggett Hooker Gillette, a descendent of Thomas Hooker, the founder of Hartford. No wonder he could afford to build a castle!

Then there’s the quaint Mystic, Conneticut, a small town, near the castle, with interesting sights. When it’s summer in town, rent bikes, paddle boards, kayaks or take in the many festivals throughout the year. With no lack of things to do, Mystic offers vineyards, beaches, museums, casinos, the popular geo-caching, farmers and art markets with plenty of shops and nightlife. The historical seaport and Olde Mistik Village  are a must see!

Ottawa houses its own Savoy Brasserie on Richmond Road, leaning towards French cuisine, with a flair for original cocktails and high class decor. Order the oysters. Please!

See you on the next round!

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on March 24, 2017

 

World Water Day-What Are You Drinking?

Clean water and how do we get it?

“Approximately 40% of the lakes in America are too polluted for fishing, aquatic life, or swimming.”

“Over 1 million seabirds and 100,000 sea mammals are killed by pollution every year.”

“Cleanups can save animals’ lives and discourage people from littering in the future.”               Source

Ottawa hosts a clean up day. We can do our part to keep our city pretty for this 150th epic year of celebrations !

How to Sterilize Water:

Boiling is sufficient to kill pathogenic bacteria (which cause infections, pneumonia strep throat, etc) and viruses. If it’s cloudy, run it through a clean cloth or a coffee filter.

Tap vs Bottle

An excerpt from a CBC News Report on September 26, 2014:

“40% of bottled water is bottled TAP WATER! Yes, you read correctly. As I stated in my article about the deceptions of bottled water, 40 percent of bottled water is just bottled tap water, which may or may not have received additional filtration. Also, drinking from plastic bottles is not a good idea.”

Aquafina Ingredients

Bottlers aren’t required to list their source on the label. So what are you getting?

Aquafina- since 2008, they have labelled their source as public water.

Nestle Pure Life- now indicate their source-check the label, it varies.

Dasani-only on their website do they mention their source-local water.

One company (name was not provided) labelled its water “spring water”. The actual source was located near a hazardous waste site.

Concerned About Chlorine In Your Tap Water?

Through the years, I learned if you leave a glass of water out on the counter for 12-24 hours, the chlorine, and any other nasties, will evaporate. This is no longer a way to eliminate it since water is now being treated with chloramine which takes way too long to eliminate.

Ozone…Good or Bad?

Good Cases for Ozone: there are claims that it is reliable in eliminating pathogens (Pathogen is anything that causes a disease) ie Bacterium, Virus or Fungus, boosting the immune system and providing more oxygen to the brain.

Ozone is an oxidant-but don’t we ingest antioxidants is to eliminate these?

Bad Cases: Ozone could accelerate aging – Remember Oxidization from a previous post?

Ozone is a free radical that can cause cell damage. It can kill cancer causing cells (Bacterium) but may not be able to determine the good cells from the bad.

It adds acidity to the body, demanding the body to retrieve bicarbonate buffers (i.e., minerals) from other parts of the body (bones, teeth, etc.) in order to keep the blood pH at 7.36.

This is what is in the bottle of water I drank 2 weeks ago. I’m glad I’ve cut down on my consumption of bottled water!

Reverse Osmosis is one of the few ways to get rid of heavy metals such as chloramine and fluoride.

Filters attached to your tap is another way to decrease the level of chlorine in your drinking/cooking water.

Vitamin C is a new method since it is an antioxidant. Apparently, it takes 4 minutes after vitamin c makes contact with chlorine before diminishing the chemical. There are shower heads out there that claim to use vitamin c to eliminate chlorine but how can it if it takes 4 minutes for the process? Tablets would be better.

In general, there are no major health advantages to drinking bottled water instead of tap. It’s also interesting to note that bottled water may contain less fluoride than tap water, a chemical known to assist in good oral health. However, I found this one, on the left, that added fluoride.

Conspiracy Theorists are probably way ahead of us on this but it’s an interesting read anyway. Pros and Cons of Fluoride.

Another report on Fluoride by Dr. Barry Durrant-Peatfield states “It has been known since the latter part of the 19th century that certain communities, notably in Argentina, India and Turkey were chronically ill, with premature ageing, arthritis, mental retardation, and infertility; and high levels of natural fluorides in the water were responsible.” Full report.

Tap water is regulated by Health Canada along with our provinces and territories. The Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality​ is supposed to display maximum levels of potentially harmful substances that are allowed in drinking water to make sure they are within these limits. The link I found for The Guidelines was a bogus link. This link is a starting point, if you’re interested in digging.

The City of Ottawa conducts more than 125,000 water quality tests a year. The results of this monitoring are generally easily accessible to the public, often on city websites (an example from Toronto 2016) or by request.

Bottled water is not subject to the same guidelines because it is classified as a food and falls under the Food and Drugs Act. Aside from arsenic, lead and coliform bacteria, the act does not set limits on specific contaminants but says simply that food products cannot contain “poisonous or harmful substances” and must be prepared in sanitary conditions.

Spring and mineral water is subject to a few more rules: it must be fit for human consumption at the source and can’t be treated in any way that would modify its composition, other than by adding carbonation, ozone or fluoride.

On a strange note, overhydration is very real.

The Fight for Good Drinking Water

In 2004, while tending bar in North Carolina, Doc Hendley held his first fund-raiser to act upon cleaning drinking water in Third World countries. This experience founded his non-profit organization Wine to Water.

“I dreamed of building an organization that fought water related death and disease using different methods than anyone else. So, I started raising money to fight this water epidemic the best way I knew how, by pouring wine and playing music.”     -Doc Hendley

With limited funds, Doc realized that he couldn’t build new wells costing $10,000 a pop, but he could hire local workers to restore a damaged well for $50 each. He’d found his mission. Today, Doc and Wine to Water continue to help repair and maintain water- containment systems in places like Darfur, Cambodia, Uganda, and Haiti.

He has provided clean drinking water to 500,000 people in 25 countries and is still an active part of many worldwide projects to bring safe drinking water to underdeveloped countries.

Now, he raises funds through wine tastings. In 2013, bartenders in 16 different countries donated their tips to his cause.

Doc managed to find time to write a book and just completed touring in the States promoting it.

In 2011, Brutocao Family Vineyards, of Mendocino County, and Wine To Water decided to form a partnership. $4.00 of every bottle sold goes towards projects to clean up drinking water.

We drink wine so why not save a life by having a glass or two!

If you don’t want to spend your money on wine, please spend 3 minutes to listen to Doc’s inspirational story.

To raise awareness, public relations at Wine To Water developed what was labelled as a machine that would turn water into wine to draw attention to the company Wine to Water. It was, of course, a hoax but it did the trick. They have since written a formal apology but do not regret the lives they have saved by cleaning up third world drinking water.

‘Almost two million children die each year from contaminated water and poor sanitation,’ -Philip James, PR rep with Wine to Water

You, too, can offer your help and become a volunteer. The organization provides filters in emergency situations and teaches how to make their own filters for communities. From the video, you’ll see that the volunteers carry water, build structures, initiate and repair wells, develop and train leaders to sustain drinkable water.

“A lot of people think because the number is so big, what can one person really do? It’s just too overwhelming. But if you think, I could help one other person or five other people or one village, you can make a huge difference.” – Doc Hendley

What about you? What about me? What can we do?

And check your labels!

Cheers!

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on March 22, 2017

 

Bock Beer Day!

Being a wine lover, beer is a foreign language but I’ll do my best to decipher this language!

Bock Beer is a strong lager of German origin. Bock is German for Goat. It is typically stronger with a 6.5% alcohol content.

The difference between regular beer and bock beer is the time it is aged. Regular beer is aged for x amount of months beginning at any time of the year, on a rotation basis. Bock Beer begins in the fall only and is ready to consume in the spring. A new batch is begun again that fall.

German Brewers first produced Bock Beer for the first time in the 14th century, even though beer had been around for hundreds of years already, in the Hanseatic town of Einbeck, about 270 km from Frankfurt. Einbeck has been inhabited since prehistoric times. Various artifacts have been unearthed in the city of Einbeck itself and in the little surrounding villages over the years. They date back to the Paleolithic Era. Historical Guided Tours are available in numerous languages.

Einbeck has one of the oldest (1378), active breweries in the world, producing Einbecker beer.

Bock is historically associated with special occasions, often religious festivals such as Christmas, Easter or Lent (the latter as Lentenbock). Bocks have a long history of being brewed and consumed by Bavarian monks as a source of nutrition during times of fasting.

Larger houses are still easily identified as a brew house from the past, through their arched wide doors which was necessary when moving the brewing kettle, called a brewing pan.

Due to their Bavarian accent, citizens of Munich pronounced “Einbeck” as “ein Bock” (“a billy goat“), and thus the beer became known as “bock”. And of course goats are now associated with it.

It’s All In The Name

Several sub-styles exist, including Maibock, for the month of May, (Helles Bock, Heller Bock), a paler, more hopped version generally made for consumption at spring festivals; Doppelbock (double bock), a much stronger and maltier version; and Eisbock, an even stronger version made by partially freezing the beer and removing the ice that forms.

The Bockfest is the longest running and largest bock beer festival in the world. The first full weekend of March, Cincinnati, Ohio, hosts a Bock Parade complete with a keg of beer harnessed to a goat’s back and New Kids On The Bock.

The festival celebrates bock beer, the city’s German heritage, and the coming of spring in the Cincinnati neighborhood of Over-the-Rhine,

However, March 22 is Bock Beer Day. Shouldn’t it be the same day as the parade?

Historically, Over-the-Rhine has been a working-class neighborhood. It is also believed to be the largest, most intact urban historic district in the United States.

“The Germans live all together across the Miami Canal, which is, therefore, here jocosely called the ‘Rhine’.”

Book the Underground Tour for a look at the caverns below the city that were essential to the aging of beer.

Local

Bier Markt at 156 Sparks

Here in Ottawa, you can find a few German pubs:

Das Lokal on Dalhousie.

Bier Markt surprised me with a higher class decor then I expected. Plenty of traditional dishes, schnitzel, sausages, rich chocolate and 150 different types of beer. Enjoy music Wednesdays and Thursdays with the DJ and live music Fridays and Saturday nights.

Central Bierhaus in Kanata.

These have been mentioned in a previous post (Mulled Wine) and I have now visited 2 of these establishments. One more to go!

Please Drink Responsibly

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on March 20, 2017

Mai The Bock Be With You

 

 

 

 

It’s International Earth Day!

How on EARTH can this be connected to travel and drinks?

Earth, being part soil, is the blood and nutrients for our plants. The fruit of some plants are distilled into liquor and voila! we have organic beverages.

So Today, This is the “Organically Grown Travel By The Glass” Way

With the increasing desire for organically grown and non-GMO produts, distilleries and vineyards are contributing to the cause by reducing or eliminating additives for a healthier product.

The basic guidelines that are followed when producers claim Organic:

No fertilizers

No hormones

No antibiotics

No pesticides

No herbicides

No GMO’s

We are avoiding these chemicals because they don’t make us feel good. If you get headaches from red wine, despite staying hydrated, it could be an allergy to something in the wine.

It could be the chemicals. Try organic wine and test the results.

It could be a product that ends up in the liquor naturally.  For example, sulphites, in wine, are chemicals used as preservatives to prevent browning and discoloration in foods and drinks.

Are you the type to have a headache after one glass of wine? Sulphites are not the culprit. More sulfites are generally added to white wines than red wines and most headache sufferers complain after drinking red wines. Sulphites can cause asthma symptoms.

The 3 main evil reasons you might experience a headache when drinking wine

Evil Factor#1: Tannins – naturally found in grape skins, stems, seeds and oak barrels. These antioxidants are also found in dark chocolate!

Try this test to see if you’re sensitive, or allergic to Tannins:

  1. Brew a cup of black tea, lettting it steep 5-10 minutes longer than usual.
  2. Drink. If you get a headache, you know you’re sensitive to tannins since black tea has alot of tannin.

If you are sensitive to tannin, also avoid walnuts, almonds, dark chocolate, cinnamon, clove, pomengranates, grapes, acai berries, red beans and quince (a pear shaped fruit usually found between October and January in ethnic markets, if you’re lucky)

Sadly, these would be your wine options:

Choose a red with low tannin such as Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Grenache, Merlot, Barbera and Primitivo. Or cut out red altogether – I shudder with the thought.

Choose white wines instead especially the ones that have not been aged in oak barrels  since the wood will create tannin.

I’m very thankful I don’t get headaches from reds in general.

Evil #2: Sugar

When alcohol and sugar are combined, a headache can happen if you’re not properly hydrated. The extra water is needed to help process both substances. If you’re lacking hydration (#1 reason for headaches), you body pulls the necessary water it needs from other parts of your body-head included. When the liquid in your head starts to deplete, a headache starts. A way to prevent this? Avoid sweet dessert wines, ie ice wines semi-dry and cheap wines. They have much higher sugar content. Cheap wine producers add sugar during fermentation to boost alcohol. Choose dry.

Evil #3: Histamines

Sources of Histamines and Tyramine

Recent research has found that food and drinks that have been aged, such as dry aged meats and red wines, can cause our body to release histamines. Histamines are chemicals that are released when we have an allergic reaction and can cause that runny nose, dry eyes and headache.

If you know this is the reason for your headaches (you’ve ruled out Evil 1 and 2) and you’re serious about getting into that bottle of wine, take a histamine blocker, ie: Claritin, to prevent one.

 

Evil #4 Tyramines

Tyramine constricts then dilates blood vessels and Sauvignon Blanc and Charddonay are lowest in this chemical. Tyramines are found in aged foods ie: cheeses and meats.

To sum all of this up, when choosing an organic wine, choose one with low or no sulphites. Avoid the oak barrel flavouring if you find you’re sensitive to the tannins. And drink lots of water! Hopefully this helps you kick your headache issue.

Who Is Making Organic Alcohol?

There are approximately 2000 producers of organic wine and organic liquor and the numbers are on the rise.

I discovered many organic producing distilleries but Tru Organic Vodka’s “going green” conscientiousness goes beyond their liquor. They use less glass products and what glass they do use is all recycled. They’re not done yet….They use synthetic corks, soy-based ink and packaging that turns into a shelf!

Juniper Green Organic Gin produced the first organic gin in Clapham, London, right down to using organic juniper and coriander.

Tequila Alquimia boasts 39 gold medals at spirit competitions. They produce organic tequila with no added chemicals or flavorings. Their distillery is located in Camarillo, the town next to my father’s. If anyone is interested in purchasing a bottle, I could bring some back on my next trip there.

Organic Section at LCBO

The closest we can get to these actual brands is the United States so let’s see what our LCBO carries:

Spirits

Toronto based distillery, Toronto Distillery Company, produces organic spirits made from wheat, rye and corn. Their soil is rich in nutrients-if you’ve ever noticed how red the soil is near Toronto. LCBO carries their Wheat and Gin versions. Organic alcohol tends to be a bit pricier, for example, a 750ml bottle of Smirnoff costs $27.25 when TDC’s shelf price is $39.50 for a 375ml bottle.

It is a healthier choice in most cases. For those who indulge in more than 1-2 drinks per month, it might be worth considering organic. However, you’re defeating the purpose plus you’ll still have a bleeding hangover if you’ve had 10 glasses of organic wine.

Brand new on the scene is Last Straw Distillery in Concord, Ont. Restrictions and regulations are the biggest challenges a start up distillery in Ontario faces. Last November, Finance Minister, Charles Sousa, introduced Bill 70. This includes a 61.5% sales tax for retail stores owned and operated by Ontario’s distilleries. Ontario wine is taxed at 6.1%! British Columbia taxes by the litre which doesn’t hurt the smaller-producing distilleries. As their production increases so will the province’s revenue. No surprise there are many popping up in BC lately. I’m going to get all political on you, maybe even a bit Trump-ish, by saying, “Hello, Ontario Government, new distilleries will create jobs and revenue for our province, as it is doing in BC!” A small distillery, in it’s first critical year, is not taxed in BC for its first 50,000 litres produced. We all know Ontario would gauge, gauge, gauge until they were forced out of business.

Ontario distillers are now allowed to market their products at LCBO, however, the distillers fork out the costs of distribution. LCBO still applies its full 140% markup to the products. “The LCBO makes more margin on small micro-distillers’ offerings than on anything else they sell – so much for supporting local!” says Greg Lipin, co-founder of North of 7 Distillery in Ottawa.

Read the full report from Last Straw. They’re not looking for handouts only fairness between their industry of spirits and the beer and wine industry. Book your free tour during regular business hours.

North of 7 In-Store Products

North of 7 is a new Ottawa distillery with a conscience. They keep it local, additive free and they are involved in charity work. Almost all of the grains used are from Alexandria, Winchester and some from Wakefield. The Winchester farm, Against the Grain, supplies only organic produce and the juniper they find in Alexandria which grows wild and naturally. They’ve been hard at work producing their first whisky which will be ready this May, after 3 long years! There is a White Dog version at 62.5% alcohol! Ahem, moonshine to some, gut rot to others but, aside from the powerful punch to the system, I thought it had an interesting taste. Only available at their store since it is the rye straight from their still.

Please offer your support and drop in for a tasting! You’ll be pleasantly surprised and you’ll help to keep them operating!

Store hours: Noon-5pm Monday to Wednesday and a bit later for the rest of the week, closed Sundays. Located at 1733 St. Laurent Blvd

“For each bottle of Leatherback Rum sold, a portion is donated to the Canadian Sea Turtle Network – a charitable organization based in Halifax that is working to conserve endangered sea turtles in Canadian waters and abroad.” – North of 7

The owners, Greg Lipin and Jody Miall, genuine entrepreneurs, are avid rock-climbers and bourbon lovers. They are living their dream…they own a distillery and Coyote Rock Gym right here in Ottawa. Greg was the first one to open a rock climbing gym in Ottawa in 1992. Jody joined later on.

My sons and I, personally, have gone rock climbing and can say it is a very cool experience!

After speaking with Jody last week, I was surprised to learn their products on-site are no cheaper than what’s charged at LCBO. License to sell obviously means it must be sold through the liquor board so they get their cut, too. He says there is slight improvement in red tape but the taxes charged by the Ontario Government is still heavily unbalanced.

3 other ways to celebrate Earth Day the Travel By The Glass way:

Hmm, this took some thought.

  1. If we are encouraged not to use our car to keep the air cleaner, then we are free
    Caleshea’s Garden Centre

    to have a couple of drinks at the corner pub.

  2. Get your own garden growing. You’ll have truly organic parsley, thyme, basil, mint, yes, mint for your Mojitos!
  3. Be a tourist in your own neighborhood. Walk, don’t drive. You’ll notice things that you usually drive past.

I encourage you to submit your ideas!

Here is a list of links for events:

Toronto

Ottawa

Canada-wide

Earth-Friendly Events Across Canada

We get another Earth Day on April 22 so if you miss this one, use this link to see what’s going on next month.

Today is the first Earth Day which is celebrated every year at the Spring Equinox on or around March 21st when night and day are exactly the same length of time. This one is organized by the Earth Society Foundation. The foundation was founded by John McConnell, a conservationist who worked at a plastics factory and saw the environmental damage it caused.

The 2nd Earth Day, on April 22, is organized by the Earth Day Network. Both were launched in the spring of 1970. 20 million people participated in activities on that day 47 years ago.

Compliments of Caleshea Marfurt & Family

Keep It Green and Please Drink Responsibly

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on March 20, 2017

 

Saint Patrick’s Day – Have A Whale Of A Time!

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

Let’s get some things straight.

Things I didn’t know. (That’s what I love about this. I’ve become a human sponge!)

Which facts are you aware of? And what will come as a surprise?

Not Commonly Known

Saint Patrick wore blue, not green. Most paintings depicted him in blue robes. Only after the Irish Independence movement in the late 18th Century did the green color get pushed.

He wasn’t Irish. Patrick’s parents were Roman citizens living in England, where he was born (though a few sources say Scotland).

He was born Maewyn Succat in 385 AD. By that time, many Romans were Christians and Christianity was spreading rapidly across Europe. As a boy, christianity was the least of his worries.

Saint Patrick ended up a slave. At the age of 16 , he was kidnapped by Irish raiders who sold him as a slave. He spent 6 captive years in Dalriada, Ireland, herding sheep where he found comfort in God.

At the age of 22, he managed to escape (a voice told him it was time). He spent 3 days sailing then walked 28 days to the point of near starvation and was reunited with his family.

He gained his priesthood and later returned to Ireland (when, again, the voice told him to go back), changed his name to Patricius and spent the rest of his life converting Irish Pagans to Christianity.

The odds of finding a four-leaf clover are about 1 in 10,000. The myth that St. Patrick used the shamrock as a metaphor for the Holy Trinity: The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit is likely not true. Instead, it is believed monks made this claim.

Patrick is also renowned for coming up with the Celtic cross, which combined a native sun-worshiping ideology with the Christian cross.

Sadly, after a harsh life of being constantly beaten by thugs, harassed by the Irish royalty, and admonished by his British superiors he died quietly, in Saul, Ireland in 461 where he had built his first church.

On a positive note, he founded monasteries, built churches, organized Ireland into dioceses, created councils and supported church officials, all during his life’s work.

The celebration of St. Patrick’s Day was basically invented by Irish Americans.

What You May Already Know

Saint Patrick’s Day is the day of the saint’s death, not his birth. Early biographers state that he was buried near the Down Cathedral in the town of Downpatrick, Northern Ireland, or Dun Padraig, meaning Patrick’s Stronghold. A memorial stone stands over the supposed approximate location of his remains….well most of him. Apparently, a jaw and tooth are on display in the Dublin Museum.

Also, you can visit the Saint Patrick’s Visitor Center, also near the Down Cathedral, to learn more and pay tribute to him at his memorial site.

Saint Patrick is often portrayed with a Crozier, known as the Baccal Isu, his golden staff. A hermit was instructed, by Jesus, to give it to Patrick. Could this also be the staff of Jesus? Patrick used this crozier to banish the snakes. The Crozier was later denounced as superstitious and publicly destroyed in 1538 by order of the archbishop, George Browne.

The banning of the snakes is considered a myth since snakes never populated Ireland due to icy ocean conditions. It is believed to be another metaphor for cleaning up the streets of Ireland.

Patrick’s copy of the four gospels is held at the The Royal Irish Academy where his writings, referred as His Confession, can be viewed. The original writings are lost except for what is written in the Book of Armaghat the Trinity College Dublin Library.

Okay, school’s out, now for some fun…..

Parades, Beer, and Green Rivers!

The world’s first recorded Saint Patrick’s Day Parade took place in Boston on March 18, 1737, followed by the New York Parade, comprised of Irish military soldiers marching through the streets of New York, which first took place in 1762.

Today, 150,000 people take part in the New York parade, with 2 million people cheering them on. No motorized vehicles or floats are allowed in the parade, marching for Ireland only!

I have to mention this….the shortest parade occurred annually from 1999 to 2007 in Dripsey, an Irish Village. The parade spanned 26 yards, from the front door of one pub to another!

Rough translation of Erin Go Bragh!….Ireland Forever!

There are more Irish in the USA than Ireland. 34 million Americans have Irish ancestry. There are 4.2 million people living in Ireland.

In 1961, business manager of Chicago’s Journeymen Plumbers Local Union, Stephen Bailey, received permission to turn the Chicago River green for St. Patrick’s Day. They used 100 lbs of vegetable dye! Today, they only use 25 lbs. The dye lasts for about five hours.

“The environmental impact of the dye is minimal compared with sources of pollution such as bacteria from sewage-treatment plants.” – Margaret Frisbie, the executive director of the advocacy group Friends of the Chicago River.

What’s with the Leprechauns?

This Irish fairy of supposed supernatural powers has no real connection to St Patrick. There are a couple of loose theories, one being everything Irish was rolled into this one holiday.

Oddly, there are no female leprechauns. No wonder the breed died out!

No Drinking On St. Patrick’s Day?

Irish law, from 1903 to 1970, declared St. Patrick’s Day a religious observance for the entire country. All pubs were shut down for the day, no beer for that day. The law was overturned in 1970, when St. Patrick’s was reclassified as a national holiday – allowing the taps to re-open. Not to mention cashing in on the tourist and beverage industries!

Speaking of beer:

Murphy’s Irish Stout – Light and sweet in flavor compared to the rest, Murphy’s Irish Stout has become increasingly more popular especially in the US.

O’Hara’s Irish Wheat – flavors of bananas, peaches and plums are blended with traditional hops. It’s perfect for those who prefer a lighter, easy-drinking option.– Something I prefer!

Neither of these can be found here in Canada but these are popular:

Kilkenny – smooth and creamy, the result of hops combined with fruits, malt, coffee and roasted barley.

And of course, there’s Guinness – A pint of Gat – The rich, dark, most popular Irish brew that comes in three varieties.

5.5 million pints of Guinness are sold on any given day, but this figure rises to an astounding 13 million on St. Patrick’s Day!

In 2012, it is reported an estimated $245 million is spent on beer on this day.

Going Local

Home to Ottawa since 1875 is St. Patrick’s Basilica, located on Kent St between Gloucester St. and Nepean St. It was the first English speaking Roman Catholic Church in the city. Free parking is available on all 3 of these streets Saturdays and Sundays.

Another St. Patrick church is in the Nepean district, at 15 Steeple Cres. It’s history began in 1833 and was rebuilt and blessed in 1866.

Game of Thrones

Plan your next trip to tour Northern Ireland, many of the filming locations of Game of Thrones. Lose yourself in the set, dressed in traditional robes and learn archery from the actors’ trainer.

If you are looking for a place to stay in Northern Ireland, Airbnb is very popular and can be inexpensive for travellers. Prices can be as low as $50 per night. Keep in mind, Europe tends to charge a minimal traveller’s fee, so inquire.

Here are a few beautiful options in and near the tour:

Stay in this breathtaking castle

City living in Belfast 

Wow– is all I can say!

A little more casual

On the water

My first choice, after touring Downpatrick

Great beachfront but you share the bathroom with the owner

Best bang for the buck

Last one, I swear

It would be so hard to choose…a cottage by the water or an amazing castle.

Enjoy your day however you choose to celebrate it!

Please Drink Responsibly

 

 

Posted on March 17, 2017 by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe

National Absinthe Day

A distilled highly alcoholic light green colored beverage considered a spirit and not a liqueur. A spirit, or liquor, has been distilled from grains or plants, sometimes flavoured but always unsweetened. Once a spirit, or liquor gets sweetened and flavoured, ie mint, it then becomes a liqueur.

Artemesia Absinthium
Artemesia Absinthium

Absinthe is made up of the flowers and leaves of the perennial Wormwood plant (Artemesia Absinthium) and flavoured with green anise (similar taste to licorice), sweet fennel and other herbs. The plant originates in Europe and grows well in Canada.

The French word, absinthe, translated to English is wormwood, and comes from Latin absinthium and from Greek apsinthion.

Revelation 8:10-11 states: “The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water—the name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter.” Revelation was written in the year 95AD.

The use of drinking absinthe is mentioned in Lucretius’ De Rerum Natura (I 936–950) book of poems, where Lucretius indicates that a drink containing wormwood is given as medicine to children in a cup with honey on the brim to make it drinkable.

The first known use of the liqueur, laced with wormwood, was in 1612. Back then, the taste was highly potent and men needed a lot of courage to drink it. Today’s Absinthe alcohol content ranges from 45% to a whopping 74%.

Van Gogh painted Still Life with Absinthe during springtime in Paris, France in 1887. Reproductions of the painting range from the $200 figure for smaller sizes and as much as $1,000 for larger ones.

Wilfred Niels Arnold, a Kansas City, Kan., biochemist wrote a study on the artist in the Journal of the American Medical Association. He believes Van Gogh was addicted to chemicals in the terpene class. Terpenes are present in camphor, absinthe and turpentine, which he was known to drink, yes, even the turpentine. A tree planted over Van gogh’s grave, in Auvers-sur-Oise, happens to be a Thuja tree, a classic source of thujone, the toxic element in absinthe. Thujone is a chemical compound found in a number of other plants, one of them being Artemesia Absinthium so it naturally ends up in Absinthe.

Absinthe was so popular in France before it was banned (for its highly intoxicating effect) that bars even had “the hour of absinthe” like today’s cocktail hour, says Arnold. Despite the origins of the drink being in Egypt, France has claimed the fame. Dr Pierre Ordinaire, while living Couvet, Swiss, designed Absinthe, as it is known today. It had been rumoured to cure flatulence and anemia.

Five years after his death, in 1797, Henri-Louis Pernod opened a distillery in Switerland. Later, he opened Pontarlier near the Swiss border in France. Production of absinthe stopped in 1915 when it was banned because of its believed psychoactive and hallucinogenic qualities. It switched to the production of pastis, an anise flavoured spirit. When the ban lifted in the 1990’s, they continued with absinthe, too. It is currently a commume but there are many distilleries in Couvet.

The hallucinogenic qualities, some think are false. People would get very drunk on it because they loved the taste so much, they drank too much of it. The high alcohol content contributed, too, I’m sure. Some believe the intoxicating effects also were due to the other herbal qualities found in absinthe. Some of the herbs have heightening qualities and some have lowering (especially since liquor is a depressant) to give something more than an alcoholic buzz.

Europe lifted their ban in the 1990s since it is now believed to not be as harmful. Their law dictates a maximum 35 mg of thujone per kg are allowed in absinthe.

US lifted their ban in 2007 on the condition it contains less than 10ppm of thujone, Apparently, today there are no traces of it in bottles sold in the US.

Made in France $64.95 at 62% Alcohol Content

However, another source states that it is not legal in the US but as a food, not a drug. The US does not allow the distillation or commercial production of absinthe but you can legally own a bottle or make your own as long as it is not distilled.

Our LCBO sells absinthe but is costly. It is best served chilled with a little water and sugar.

There is a restaurant in Ottawa called Absinthe, located at 1208 Wellington St. I have eaten there once a little over year ago. Patrons pay a base amount, for example, at that time, it was $20, to receive a 3-course meal. You choose from their options of appetizers, entrees and a dessert. They offer vegetarian dishes as well. I don’t remember what I ordered, I think a soup to start, but I do remember the taste. Delicious!

After spending 15 minutes calling MANY restaurants offering French cuisine, I finally found the brand new Sur Lie, that sells Absinthe. They serve it in the traditional format with a sugar cube!

Located at 110 Murray St., it is out of the main hub but is a hidden gem. The friendly and knowledgeable staff make it a great place to relax. The Amazing Matthew knows his stuff when it comes to the products they offer at the bar. He was kind enough to let me video tape his preparation of my drink. To my surprise, he lit it on fire! Three weeks ago, they opened their doors and this Tuesday is the grand opening. Please show your support and try to make it.

Their unique menu is a must see. The not-often-seen beef tartare, duck and scallops are on my list when I attend Tuesday’s opening. Organic salmon is on the menu, too. So many great choices!

There are promises of a superb patio this summer. See you out back!

Have A Great Absinthe Day!

Happy Absinthe Day! Who knew there was such a procedure to this drink!

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on Sunday, March 5, 2017

 

 

National Mulled Wine Day….and what is that anyway?

It’s Cold Outside but Not in Here

You’ve probably heard of Mulled Wine not knowing what it really is.

This may end up being a rare short version. I hope you don’t mind when I go back to the longer version for future ones.

Mulled wine is a European version using spices and a sweetener, sugar or honey, and is served hot, Traditionally, it is served during Christmas or Halloween.

Our sub-zero temperatures yesterday and today are another good reason to have this delicious hot drink by the fireplace.

Spicing wine is first recorded in Rome in the 2nd Century. The Romans heated wine to defend themselves against the cold. As they conquered across Europe, the popularity of heated wine grew.

The English added spices to promote health and avoid sickness. Herbs and flowers were the sweetener.

Using spice to mask the taste of any unpleasant smell from food or drink became habit.

The Forme of Cury is a Medieval English cooking book from 1390. It states that wine is spiced by grinding together cinnamon, ginger, galangal, cloves, long pepper, nutmeg, marjoram, cardamom and grains of paradise, and mixed with sugar. The Forme of Cury’s authors are listed as the chief Master Cooks of King Richard II. The original is printed on scroll. Would you believe you can purchase this cookbook for $14.00 on Amazon?

Any of these spices will do but cinnamon, cloves, a sweetener and the zest of a citrus fruit are a good base.

Glühwein, roughly translated as “glow-wine”, from the hot irons once used for mulling, is popular in Germany and in Alsace, France. In German markets, it is common to see people with piping hot mugs of Glühwein as they browse.

Across Europe, it became known as glogg. Do I dare make the obvious pun that this is my Glogg Blog. Sorry, I couldn’t help it.

In Quebec, some will mix red wine with maple syrup and hard liquor then heat it. They call it the Caribou and is popular during Quebec Winter Carnival.

Whatever variations you use, simmer about an hour. It won’t be as potent, unless you add a spirit. After cooking, the alcohol content drops to about 12-15%. Be careful not to let it boil, otherwise the alcohol will evaporate. We certainly don’t want that!

MMMMulled Goodness

Since I have German heritage, I used the following recipe for traditional Glühwein as a guideline. It’s a great way to use previously opened wine since the quality of the wine makes no difference to the end result.

However, I used a red wine and a rose coloured Zinfandel, mixed them with water, lemon, honey, cloves and cinnamon. I didn’t have the anise or cardamom. The taste was divine! Other options are bay leaves, long pepper (they look similar to an unripened pine cone), nutmeg, ginger and grains of paradise (from the ginger family). Even black currant can be added. The jar of Mulling Spice shown in the picture above contains the anise, grains of paradise. Experiment with what you have in your cupboard!

Ingredients:

• 750ml dry red wine, nothing fancy

• 100ml water

• 3-4 tbsp sugar, depending on taste

• Half a lemon, sliced

• 3 cloves

• 3 cardamom pods

• 1 star anise

• 1 cinnamon stick

Throw it all into a saucepan on high heat for a minute, then reduce before it boils. Simmer 1-2 hours. Allow to cool a few minutes before straining into mugs or bottles.

Makes 800 ml

It’s not a common drink in Ottawa which is why I am not including too many related hotspots. I think I’ll try one of these tonight after work:

Das Lokal – 190 Dalhousie St. Every last Sunday of the month, they feature live music.

Bier Markt – 156 Sparks St. The link will take you to their events page with a huge list of what goes on weekly. Live music begins about 10-10:30pm.

Central Bierhaus – Kanata Centrum Shopping Centre. They have big screen tv’s, a giant cuckoo clock and tons of different beers.

Check your local spice sections for Mulling Spice if you want to try it at home.

Cheers!

Please Drink Responsibly