Vodka Neat

Vodka, a clear spirit, was first documented in the 14th century, when it was initially called zhizennia voda, meaning the “water of life.” This was eventually shrunk to vodka, which translates as either “water,” “small water,” or “dear little water” or “little stream” depending on the translation.

I like “dear little water”. It looks like water, but it certainly isn’t. Vodka pack a real punch that can quickly knock you out. But like most people, I’ve always had the impression that vodka is just pure ethanol.

Like many spirits, vodka was originally a local spirit made from whatever surplus grain or starch-based material was available. Legend has it that vodka was originally made with potatoes, but it is now produced almost entirely from the cheapest grain available. The top brands use only grain (usually barley and wheat or rye). Some Polish vodkas make a point of the fact that they are made from potatoes.

How can something be made from potatoes be tasteless? And how can something so tasteless be used in cooking? One sleepless night, I finally decided to taste some vodka without the accompanying juices and mixes. Well, it certainly didn’t taste like pure ethanol. In fact, there is a string hint of sweetness. No aroma or French fries, but there was a distinct aroma that can perhaps be attributed to the night. Great with finger food.


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Sangria With Curry

I think sangria goes pretty well with curry. I used to make “complicated” sangria with prunes, grapes and what not, but orange and lemon juice are really all that you need.

Freshly squeezed orange juice. You can use cordial, but it won’t taste as good. I have about 8 oranges here. Remember to squeeze in the juice from one lemon too. You can use lime, but I find that lemon works better for me.

There’s a lot of debate about whether you should “waste” a good wine on sangria, but I personally find that good sangria always comes from good wine. This wine is on offer and it’s reasonably good. Of course, my favourite are South African or Chilean wines. Once, I used a Spanish wine. It definitely went well.

And here’s the mixture. It still looks like red wine, but even people who don’t like wine will love this. I’ve chilled the wine and oranges beforehand, so this sangria is ready for drinking. Goes well with curry.

© Chan Joon Yee

What Wine Goes With Ngoh Hiang?

Wine with ngoh hiang? Am I crazy? Maybe, but definitely not drunk. Ngoh hiang is good finger food that goes well with wine. Here’s my recommendation.

It’s South African. My favourite wine country. Really great value for money. A late harvest tells you that it’s sweet. Unlike some muscats, this dessert wine is not too sickly sweet. Nice fruity flavour with lingering, fragrant finish.


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