Summer in the City

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything, mainly because I always feel the need to take a little time off in the summer, particularly since this summer weather has been so spectacularly good. True, it has been a little warm, and even on some days, downright hot. Still, that hasn’t kept us from getting out and enjoying the city, visiting with friends, taking long walks along False Creek, and even a few outings with the car.

An Intimate Evening with Hummingbird604 and Some Exotic Potent Potables

It was one of those hot nights in Downtown Vancouver when we went out one of the evenings a couple of weeks ago. Rather than try and escape the heat (as any sane person would do), we embraced it. We climbed the staircase to the third floor of The Network Hub, one of the shared office space and social incubators in town on West Hastings and Richards, a couple of blocks away from Waterfront Station. Hummingbird604 (AKA Raul to those who know him), hosted a small group of friends and bloggers to try out some interesting new beverages from China. When we arrived, we were greeted by Christy Nguyen and Minna Van of Urbanbella Marketing Group. To go with the liquids, they had already begun to put out some Chinese food (which was helpful to see how the liquids might go with different dishes).

The 15 or so of us dug in and chatted as we were trying to keep cool. I was happy to see plenty of friends, including Gus (and Russ), Tanya (with her new fiancé, Barry), Degan, Erica and John.

So what were we trying? There were three different items. First, there was a red wine, a saki (or rice wine) and a whiskey, which we could try straight up as well as a mixer in a sort of lemonade (which was perfect for a hot night). I opted immediately for the most unusual (at least for me) thing to try first: the whiskey, straight up from a shot glass. This is not because I wanted to get drunk fast, but because I tend to be a bit of a purist when it comes to liquor, and love Single-malt Scotch. I was also intrigued, because this whiskey , called Chu Yeh Ching Chiew, was, as an accompanying information card put it:

…a special ancient liquor made from traditional Chinese herbal recipe. It has (a) transparent golden and slightly green colour, and intense floral herbal aromas of dried apricot. It’s off dry with a hint of anise and packs a lengthy finish.

What this information does not include (and which the name and pictures on the bottle do), is that this is alcohol fermented from bamboo shoots. I tried it and was impressed. To me, it had the strength of an Irish Whiskey, but the finish was exotic; with a bit of ginseng, and perhaps another spice. Here’s what the bottle looked like:

 Bamboo Whiskey from China. Photo courtesy of Hummingbird604

Bamboo Whiskey from China. Photo courtesy of Hummingbird604

Here’s my own photo of the bottle:

My own photo of the same bottle

My own photo of the same bottle

The company who provided it is Hi-Bridge Consulting, although as I mentioned, Urban Bella was the Public Relations firm who arranged for the tasting. I have to say that this product, with some repackaging, and perhaps a new, English name, could do extremely well. They also offered it in a lemonade mixer, which wasn’t as interesting (but did prove that it could be a fine mixer), but I have to say that straight up, it is a very impressive drink. I propose that they call it, Bamboo Mist, and put it in a distinctive, frosted bottle with bamboo brush style lettering on the label (and keep the bamboo leaf art as well). Market it to upscale liquor stores and put it in the section that has other drinks strongly associated with a country (like Jameson Whiskey, Aquavit, Midori or perhaps Sabra). I realize that some of those are liqueurs, but hopefully you can see where I’m going with this. In addition, there’s the whole sustainability angle, since bamboo is one of the world’s most sustainable natural resources (it grows in a variety of places like a weed). Many people in North America have floors and furniture made of bamboo. It makes excellent cutting boards. If you don’t use a lot of nasty chemicals, it also can produce wonderful, earth-friendly and silky fabric. One of my all-time-favourite T-shirts is a long-sleeved greenish cocoa one that feels an awful lot like silk. It is also washable and wicks perspiration well. To have a whisky from the same material seems a natural for a marketing campaign that not only plays off the exotic sound of liquor from ancient Chinese bamboo groves, but also of a whisky that ecology-minded folks can love as well. Are you listening, Hi-Bridge?

There was also a less impressive Sake (Sake from China? Well, OK) which did have a strange, thick, almost chocolate taste and consistency, and an extremely undistinguished Cabernet Sauvignon (sorry), but the Chu Yeh Ching Chiew (although the name doesn’t exactly trip off the tongue for those who don’t speak Chinese) made the evening, which in addition to friends, imbibing and talk, also included some appropriate Chinese food to nibble on.

We All got together for a group shot near the end of the evening. Photo courtesy of Hummingbird604

We all got together for a group shot near the end of the evening. Photo courtesy of Hummingbird604
Another Evening

As I mentioned, Pam and I have been taking lots of walks after dinner (mainly to walk off the meal – we have been eating so well lately!) One time we actually drove somewhere, however, was a trip down to Richmond for the famous Night Market. It’s an open air market in an industrial park, far from everywhere, but you feel as if you’ve gone further. Besides the booths of everything from socks from Korea and iPod/iPhone accessories from China, there are the food booths. Oh. My. I really do love street food, and this was no exception. In addition to some fantastic squid, cooked up on the flames right in front of us:

Squid! Yum!

Squid! Yum!

I also got a ridiculously fun (and silly) spiral of a fried potato, drizzled with a hot and sweet chili sauce. Truly a wonderful blend of ‘carny’ food and Thai-style spices. As you can see, I was grinning like a kid. I think I’m really getting psyched for our trip to Southeast Asia that we’re just starting to plan for next year:

Me at the Night Market

Me at the Night Market