Monday, July 20, 2015

Snooty Soda Connoisseur: Around the World in 80 Sips Soda Tasting

"Give ma shot of that!," that's what a cute little girl in pigtails said when getting more than a drop of Pinot and Chardonnay with no one batting an eye or stepping in to stop her. Many kids were taking shots...of soda pop. And Vignette Wine Soda was supplying, the taste of a California winery that's carbonated (and alcohol free). One of the many sips at the Summer Soda Tasting at Galco's Soda Pop Stop near Eagle Rock, the only one in the world. The theme this year, last year was all root beer, this time "Around the World in 80 Sips."

So this past Sunday we gave it a shot and another and another until we tried them all. Now for you our honored guest we will judge them and tell you what stood out and what Shasta won't even drink all snooty like.
Ollin (band)

We did this service of soda snoot-ieness for you through the rain. Shortly after we started to drink the sky provided us with an instant palette cleanser in abundance. Through rain or sleet or snow, nothing would stop the soda from popping, the bands from playing and the out of place look of little kids doing shots.

You could say nothing is more American than soda, the rest of the world might disagree with its strange tastes and different flavors. England started our journey across the globe. Elderflower Lemonade from Belvoir was a sweet success and the rareness of elderflower, not commonly used in American sodas, made us less parched. It was joined by the long named Elderflower and Rose Lemonade. It stood out with it's lingering taste. Off to Italy nearby where bitter replaced my thoughts of spaghetti, will my subconsciousness ever let me take a bite of anything Italian without fear. Fruit favors like Blood Orange and Lemon forget sweet and just hit you with bitterness. It's like a hammer hit my tongue with bitterness.

Cuba has just opened up, yet we got their sodas in the states anyway for years. Cuban Iron Beer; most refreshing, Jupina; pineapple paradise and Materva Yerba Mate; 'Tea soda anyone?' , all had a taste worthy to be in the supermarket near you. It was right next to the Peruvian Inka Kola, well known in So Cal already.

Some surprise from Australia with Bundaberg Blood Orange. Lemon Lime and Bitters could pass on the bitters as both sodas could wake you up after any unsightly long night. Carbonated and so bitter you can't handle so much, a shot might be the best way to serve it. Surprisingly, the Guava from Bundaberg was so smooth it would do well to be put with an ice cream float.

Old favorites from Romania were back to fight for their home country from Sweet Blossom Florals. Salad was on the menu with the old favorite of Mr. Q Cucumber. He was joined by Rose, Lavendar-which did not taste like soap-and Elderflower. Elderflower, the flavor you've never heard of.

Back to the good ol' US of A. Original New York Seltzer was their to greet us with fruit flavors and classic tastes like vanilla and cream. Like a dream of being in a deli, imagine yourself having a nosh and having a perfect carbonated drink to go with it. Hawaii was nearby, forget the Midwest this year. Waialua had super fruits in Kona Red with the rest of its fruit flavors being fine for the supermarket. We end in California, wine country to be exact and to also add to my French false-hood on bitter judgment. You call this wine? You call it soda? Separate the the two, they weren't meant to be together. Like lovers caught in the rain, they are only together until the sun shines and then the most say, "Adieu."

Forgettable flavors, many that aren't even worth mentioning, for you though... . Ouzon from Greece did as well as Greece is doing now ( at time of writing this, not well). Japan's Ramune reminds me why I stick to regular sodas. Though hardly hard to find in Southern California, you'll want them to stay hard to find. Fruit flavor means fruit flavor. Lorina from France and the style I'm trying to emulate at being vicious in my review had some calming sodas you might sprinkle on a salad. Oh, is that a crazy idea, what else would you do with these middle of the road sodas, drinking them with nothing else? It's like they need an additional flavor to be worth drinking.

So what it the best soda they had? Belvoir's Elderflower and Rose Lemonade or the succulent Guava from Bundaberg. England Vs. Australia. I'll take them both and burp. Both had delicious flavors worth sharing or saving a bottle for yourself. The only losers were anyone afraid of those with gas. Those who drink soda even in sips will let out quite a roar later in the evening.

When carelessly tossing those sodas to the curb that were not even fitting to hate you only have to look at what I ranked as forgettable to know what isn't for you to taste. (Imagine French laugh)

Though we had our fun at the soda tasting it was really about having community event with net proceeds going to the Friends of the Southwest Museum Coalition. No one better fits the description of a community man than owner of Galco's, John Neese. When he wasn't busy for a second, he was helping and moving across the soda tasting all evening, he stopped to joke with me about the weather. "Maybe we ought to call this one, 'Singing in the Rain'," he told me. "And, that whole generation of people really knew how to get along and help one another and that's something we're really missing today, " John again on why he does these events. He then told a story about how his Dad owned part of a restaurant and always fed whoever came in on Christmas. They hunted deer, so you got venison.

We started to talk flavors and how many sodas came to his shop. I said I missed a flavor outside, Jon suddenly got flustered and told me he would find what I missed, before I could stop him and tell him I had already sampled it on another expedition at his shop. Then he was off again to help more customers perusing his old-school candy selection.

When leaving, passing by the hard to find and rare beers and liquors like Viking Blod and He' Brew, then past rare root beers and sarsaparillas I remembered that this was the Nirvana of soda shopping and gladly got myself something to drink later.


Excuse me and Adieu!

Galcos Old World Grocery
5702 York Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90042
Mon 9:00 am - 6:30 pm
Tue 9:00 am - 6:30 pm
Wed 9:00 am - 6:30 pm
Thu 9:00 am - 6:30 pm
Fri 9:00 am - 6:30 pm
Sat 9:00 am - 6:30 pm
Sun 9:00 am - 4:00 pm