Bison Grass Vodka

When I was in Poland this past November, I was introduced to a local vodka called Zubrówka (literally translates to “bison grass”) and it is hands down the best vodka I’ve ever had. Chilled or room temperature, it’s light enough that a lady can enjoy it and strong enough to make a man feel like he’s having a drink!

The Polish vodka is said to have been made since the Middle Ages and is seasoned with bison grass, an indigenous wild sweet grass that grows in a northern region of Poland, where the now-endangered European bison graze. The Zubrówka label was popular in the US in the early 70s, but in ’78, our pesky F.D.A. had a little issue with Coumarin, a blood-thinning agent, which is found in bison grass. Needless to say, the tasty spirit was outlawed in America.

Not wanting to miss out on the market share, the experts at Polmos Bialystok in Poland, the only distillery permitted to make vodka called zubrowka, found a way to appease the FDA and give the Americans their delectable drink. They found when they assembled other herbs and seasonings from the bison-grass area and removed the coumarin, this created something pretty close to the authentic zubrowka. “Single copper columns and 14th century craftsmanship combined with ingredients sourced solely from a remote geographical region in Poland make Zú a vodka marked by grass and herbal undertones, with notes of almond, vanilla and chamomile.” This 80 proof, rye-based vodka “is delicious served well chilled, rocks optional, and is a superb partner for nutty, fruity osetra caviar.”

(Please read this next part as if Ted Mosby was telling this story.)

As I recall, it was our last night in Poland where Kevin and I first tasted this delightful alcohol. Of all places to be, we were at a really good Mexican restaurant with Michal, Michal, Weronika, and Pawel. Bless Michal O’s heart, he order us a round of drinks and at first I think Kevin and I were hesitant….and then we went all in! Wow….seriously, it’s….just delicious. Hahaha, I think we had four shots of this stuff a piece. Perhaps we shot one or two of them, but we actually sipped on the drink as well.

The next day when we got to the airport, Kevin and I had just enough time to go through duty free and we bought a bottle of Bison Grass and flasks for ourselves. We were headed to Lindy Shock and felt like we should bring a little “taste of awesome” to the party. Because Kevin and I are such big drinkers (can you hear the sarcasm?), it took us all of………wait for it……. 8 days to finish the little bottle. And to think, it was even being passed around. 🙂

Since then, I’ve been in search of this rich flavored vodka, destined to find it somewhere. I was recently in San Francisco and as often as I could, I’d go into those ratty little alcohol corner stores and ask if they had Bison Grass. For daaaaaaays, I had no luck, but then on one magical night, I struck gold! Or rather…….I found where the bison roam.

K & H Liquors had my brand of poison and I bought one of the three bottles up on the top shelf (*picture me brushing off my shoulder, proud as a peacock). In a fit of joy, I walked myself through a sketch area of town to have Nicole and Carl partake in my international find. As I pulled the bottle, delicately stuffed into that brown paper bag that says “I’m ready to drink in public if need be”, out of my purse, I trembled slightly. Inside I was screaming “yes, Yes, YES!” but on the outside I knew I had to be calm and collected. What was to happen if this wasn’t the grass I was looking for? What if the grass was greener somewhere else, and I hadn’t found the real deal?

Despite my concern, I unscrewed the golden cap, found an appropriate sized glass, and poured a shot. I took a swig and immediately felt warmed. “Woooooooo!” was the first sound to escape my mouth. It wasn’t quite as I remembered it…slightly stronger, but it was still nice. I felt like I should get a decanter and let it breath for a bit. Hahha, yeah…..not wine…..right……Back to the story! I passed the petite shot glass to Carl and he happily tried it. Nicole, on the other hand needed some cajoling; luckily, she quickly bowed to peer pressure and took the final sip. Happy times. Since reading up on the alcohol, I now know that it’s not the same here as it was yonder, but I’m still happy with my find. It will tide me over until I get back to Europe’s greener pastures.

And the moral of this story, kids, is never give up on your hopes and dreams of finding vodka from a land far, far away. There will be some corner store, or some bootlegger, selling any kind of moonshine or tincture that you can dream of if you just look long enough. And the bison lived happily ever after.

(Yes, I know that’s an odd ending, but that’ how Ted Mosby would have done it!)

Dirty Russians – the drink of Herrang

This summer Kevin and I spent a considerable amount of time, compared to every other year year, drinking at Herrang. Our drink of choice was what we so lovingly call the “Dirty Russian” which is a combination of vodka + hot sauce.

We first tasted this fiery deliciousness in while in Barcelona for ESDC. The description made us cringe for different reasons: Kevin doesn’t like to shoot vodka because it’s too strong and I’m not a fan of hot sauce because it’s too spicy. However, the combination of these two powerhouses is undeniably vaginal awesome.

 

Unfortunately we didn’t always have hot sauce on us when we were handing out vodka (like ya do *snap) so we had to ask around. Tim Collins was kind enough to let us use some of his habanero sauce and hotdiggitydamn that stuff is hot! And just so you know, after taking a shot with some habanero sauce, there was always some silt left at the bottom of the cup which naturally meant you had to take one more shot to clean the cup (and your sinuses).
ILHC, get ready to get dirty. 😀

May 6 – We’re in Italy!!!

I can hardly put my Italy Experience into words, but what I can say is that I have arrived.

Let’s back up. I woke up at 4:45am and started packing. Kev woke up a little after 5 and after he finished packing, we headed down for breakfast, which was more impressive than dinner. There were pastries, breads, bagels, and cakes; fruit, yogurt, and fresh squeezed juice; waffles, French toast, veal sausage, and eggs; lox, meat, and cheese section. It was the best breakfast I have ever eaten. Bloody amazing. Perhaps we ate more than was necessary, but every bite was out-of-this-world.

After our morning feast we headed over to the airport and checked our luggage in. We were off to Munich and then to Genova. Sweet!!!! This whole situation couldn’t have worked out any better. The flights were easy, security was a piece of cake, and there was internet. Life was looking good.

While we were taking the bus from the plane to the terminal, in Genova, we saw a darling, old couple who turned out to be from the Bay Area. The Missus and I chatted about her and her husband’s adventures and then our luggage showed up. I caught myself looking at the luggage sign; part of it was in English and the other was in Italian. Holy shit Batman, I am in Italy. I am really here!!!
I verbally exploded onto Kevin about how excited I was to be here but had to cool my jets once we exited baggage claim because I didn’t want to startle our new host, Silvia and Bruno. She has dark brown hair that is cut at neck length and is about my height and curvy, and Bruno looks like an Italian Rock-a-billy. They are darling!
Bruno must go back to work so Silvia takes us to her place so we can drop her stuff. Once we arrive, her three dogs happily greet us. They have a 12 y.o. husky, a short haired golden lab, and a new puppy that looks like a mastiff. We eventually get inside after lots of wiggling and petting and the view from her “villa” is amazing! Jaunted green hills stick out for miles and they are peppered with villa with orange-tiled roofs. Just lovely. It’s just as I was hoping it would be.
After dropping of our stuff and doing a quick change, we headed to lunch. Many windy road later we arrived at a place that didn’t look open; however it was overlooking a cliff that had a spectacular view. Here is me and Kevo: (coming soon)

Kev had a salad, some of the best pesto gnocchi ever made and some ice cream. I had a salad, handmade lasagna strips with pesto and Crème Brule, and Silvia has penne with pesto. Apparently everything is handmade there, and pesto is very popular in the region (go figure!) 😀
Ooh, we also talked about government and the Italian government sounds worse than ours! They have a president they compare to Bush (note: this is not a pro-Bush author), and their vice president is a huge racist! He doesn’t like Muslims, Blacks, Jews, Homosexuals, and other minority groups. Apparently they government is trying to do away with abortion and there are no gay rights. Appalling, just appalling. And and and, it’s so expensive to raise children there that there is now a negative population growth. The reason it’s so expensive there is that most things are now privatized meaning there is no help from the government (i.e. no tax breaks or free education). Everything needs to be paid out of pocket: primary school, middle and high school, and a college education cost about what ours does. AND to top it off, most college graduates can’t find work so they learn a trade afterwards. They are most likely going to do some form of manual labor. Wow. Oh, and they are trying to privatize health care too. OMG!! Well, other than all of those details, I’d still love to live in Italy, ride a Vespa, and say “Ciao” while my scarf is blowing in the wind.

After stuffing ourselves, we headed back to the house for a nap. After a few hours of rest, we got up and then went for drinks and tapas. OMG, there is so much food! And people are drinking! Not that that is a problem for me at all, but it seems like alcohol is appropriate to have at lunch, before dinner, at dinner, and then again as a digestive. Wow. But nobody seems to be an alcoholic here. Hmm…..makes me think about American Society….shame we can’t drink responsibly. Note: I am not saying drinking that much (above) every day is responsible; I am purely noting that people in the US seem to either drink like Frat Boys or not drink at all.
After drinking and eating, we headed to go teach class. And what a surprise, we taught people how to lead and follow again. I am kind of feeling like there is a trend here…people are not learning to lead and follow when they learn to dance; however, people are still dancing and having fun, which is “most excellent”. After class, we headed to a pizza joint, and I had the best pizza, ever. OMG, food is insanely good here. Italians really do Italian food!!!! I can’t describe it other than saying that think of the best pizza you’ve had, and it was better than that (unless of course you ate it in Italy). Kevo and I had beers, and I only made it about half way through before I was heavily buzzed.

We are now home and Kevin is watching the first season of Weeds, and I am organizing my Itunes. I have soooooooooo many songs: 38.4 days of music. Wow. That’s completely unnecessary, especially since I listen to the same 4 hours worth of stuff regularly. It’s about 4:15am so it’s time for bed.