Pop World: Westchester Soda Goes Global
Just had a couple weeks of globe-trotting dining—you know, when every night is another cuisine with a new, complex spice group (and, one hopes, a novel booze)? Honestly, you should smell my laundry. It reeks like an East Village dumpster.
The big thing that’s catching my eye is soda….plain old pop. Since its origins in American drug stores, when medicinal bark (sarsaparilla) and root infusions (root beer) made delicious, but bogusly healthy, tonics, Americans have been addicted to fizzy drinks. Of course, the king of non-alcoholic mixologists, looking for a Temperance bev with pizzaz, offered drooping housewives an afternoon pickup made with pure Bolivian marching powder. Cocaine-fueled Coca-Cola was marketed as “The Pause that Refreshes”; think of it as a turbo-charged Starbucks run for the flagging, hoops-and-corset set.
And, PS, that sarsaparilla that sounds so quaint today was once a treatment for syphilis. Just remember that little fact next time you see an image of a sweet, wholesome, American drugstore.
But, as often happens with American “pop” culture, soda’s been uploaded and has gone global. It looks like every country is putting its own spin on pop, and here are some of my favorites:
Inca Cola Available in scores of local bodegas and Viva Ranch Fruit Market in New Rochelle. This nuclear yellow, Peruvian soda is flavored with the Andean flowering plant, Hierba Luisa. Inca Cola has the world’s most rocking soda bottle label: its Incan dude just seems to say, ‘Human Sacrifice: This Means You.’ Sadly, though it promises Inca-fuel, it only offers caffeine—but lots of it.
Hajoon Kashmiri Soda Available at Masala Kraft. This is a party in the mouth—wildly sour, spicy, and sweet at once—with a trippy bottle that just says it all.
|Fentiman’s Dandelion and Burdock Available at Fairway Market in Pelham Manor, this powerfully herbal English soda has one of those flavors that just evokes history.|
|Jarritos Mexican Sodas Available at La Fonda Poblano Sweet, fruity, and in pretty gemlike colors. We found a great assortment of this refreshing, low carbonation soft drink at this fabulous, Yonkers taco spot.|
Almdudler 50 Jahre Alpine Herb Soda Available at Dobbs and Bishop Fine Cheese. This Swiss soft drink, made from the weird mountain tundra flora that yields great alpine cheese (through bovine vessels, of course), is floral and slightly reminiscent of St. Germain elderflower liqueur.
Mexican Coca Cola Spotty supply available at local Costco, Stop & Shop, and, incidentally, at Fonda Poblano. It’s richly herbal and vastly superior to the US-bottled, high-fructose corn syrup version.
Guaraná Antartica Available at Bra-Deli (107 Gramatan Ave, Mount Vernon (914) 667-5447) Guaraná, a climbing, maple-like vine found in Brazil, has twice the caffeine of coffee. This jet-powered, vaguely apple-flavored soda was developed in the ‘twenties and is huge in Brazil.
Ramune available at Kam Sen Asian Market. This “Codd-neck” bottle, whose marble stopper is held in place with carbonation, actually comes with its own opener. Push the marble “cork” down into the bottle to drink this Japanese, lemon-lime-flavored soda.
Okay, so those are my faves. What (and where) are yours?
Cakebread vs. Sequoia Grove Wine Dinner at Equus (June 4, 6:30 pm, $115 includes tax & gratuity)
Fabulous wines, fabulous food, fabulous setting. For more information and reservations, contact Restaurant Equus, (914) 631-3646
Tandoori Nights at Chutney Masala (Thursdays all Summer 5pm-10 pm, weather permitting)
From the site, “Chef Navjot Arora will be cooking in the tandoor oven outdoors on the restaurant’s patio, serving up a selection of classic tandoori favorites…watch how Indians ‘barbecue.’”
Lobster Nights at Peter Pratt’s (June 18, July 16, and August 20)
Can’t get away? Head to Yorktown for fabulous odes to New England that include whole, half, and solely lobster dinners.
Beets and Cabrales at Barcelona Wine Bar – Perfect Together
This cool, refreshing salad balances roasted beets with lush, funky Cabrales cheese. Sweet and salty, watery and fatty, and counterpointed by crunchy walnuts: this is our idea of salad, if not Weight Watchers.’ Wash it down with Barcelona’s fabulous wine list, which offers a spin around Spain in just a few bottles.
Chef Christian Petroni
We couldn’t embed a video of Barcelona’s Chef Christian Petroni and his winning turn on Chopped. So here’s a cute YouTube video that shows him sharing his food philosophy and a great story about Chef Cesare Casella.