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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Diet Dr. Pepper Vinaigrette

Here at the Lab, we* are sometimes seized by moments of what one might call psychotic inspiration. Tonight, an attack of such sodatori has led to what might be a discovery**.

I had just retrieved my emergency Diet Dr. Pepper from cold storage, and was headed down the corridor from the kitchen module to the media viewing module, when I passed the Kibbitzer-in-Chief comparing some sort of dark bottle with Neighsayer. This didn't strike me as particularly unusual, but then I happened to take a swig from my bottle while smelling what was in theirs.

I stopped dead in my tracks. As the volatile vapors of the Diet Dr. Pepper wafted through my nasal cavity, they joined with the heady aromas from the dark, mysterious bottle wielded by the Kibbitzer, launching a joint assault on my olfactory epithelium. Nerve signals were ricocheting around my brain, forming new connections and unearthing new possibilities.

"Where," I whispered, "did you put that balsamic vinegar?"

Perhaps it was the light of incipient discovery burning in my eyes. The K-i-C and Neighsayer simply indicated the cabinet in which they had sequestered the vinegar. I opened the cabinet, my mind a-bubble with inner visions.
Diet Dr. Pepper would go great with balsamic vinegar!

Truly, I can understand hearing a statement like that with some skepticism. If I hadn't had the combined smell experience, I wouldn't have thought of it. But what has been smelled...cannot be unsmelled. And now I had to know.

I poured about a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar into a cup, and filled it the rest of the way with Diet Dr. Pepper. There was a bit more foam than usual, but in the course of pursuing such a thing as a discovery, a Quaffmaster knows no fear. I took a sip.
I took another.
It wasn't wonderful...but it wasn't bad at all. And the longer it sat in my mouth, the more interesting it became. This had potential. This needed exploring.

"Okay, kids!" I shouted. "Who wants to try something new?"

Nazgul and Olorin, knowing who I am, were understandably somewhat reluctant to simply drink from a fizzing cup I offered, especially given that I wouldn't tell them what was in it (out of a desire for scientific rigor). However, they both agreed that it was actually pretty good. Even after I told them what it was.
The K-i-C and Neighsayer admitted (reluctantly) that it wasn't bad, and decided that I had effectively made a Dr. Pepper vinaigrette dressing. The Kibbitzer suggested that it might go well on sprouts, while Neighsayer demurred, but did feel that it would be better with regular Dr. Pepper.

As far as I'm concerned, these are questions of refinement. My job is simply to unearth the new--to expand the frontiers of Weirdness whenever possible. So let it be known that Diet Dr. Pepper and balsamic vinegar can combine into something new and unexpected and Weird.

The rest, I leave to you***.

*The rest of the Lab staff, out of concern for their reputations, insist that I clarify that here, by "we", I actually mean "I".

**The more usual result is either a trip to Urgent Care or a night spent on the couch.

***And here, by "you", I mean "you, the hypothetical person willing to try bizarre beverage combinations you read about on a blog written by a Lovecraft/soda/sci-fi geek."

Fujiya Sparkling Peach Nectar

Actually, based on the container, this should be "Nectar Sparkling Peach", but such pedantry shouldn't be applied to all containers, or we'd end up with some Weird everything.

Anyway, after a short break, the Lab is again diving into the world of Weird soda. We've still got plenty of stuff in storage, and I'm looking forward to bringing these beverages bubbling into the bleak gaze of a blistering, baleful (but hopefully never banal) daylight of full taste awareness.
God help us all.

I've also decided that we need to refocus our mission. While it's true that there are nearly infinite varieties of (for example) root beer, the fact that it's not A&W doesn't actually make it Weird. Thus, we're going to try to limit ourselves to things with at least some aspect of real strangeness. Except, maybe, on special occasions.

Today, we have a moderately unusual beverage to sample: Fujiya Sparkling Peach Nectar.

I suppose the juice pitcher and glasses in the background could be said to speak to the fruit-nature of the product. Or to my lack of ability to compose a photograph.

I'm particularly fond of Japanese Weird beverages, for several reasons:
1) They often have REALLY bizarre flavors, and
2) They often come in that charmingly shaped semi-conical metal can.

Peach isn't that Weird, although it's certainly not the most commonly encountered flavor on domestic soda shelves. Fresca makes a nice peach soda, although it's not a pure peach, more of a peach/citrus. I'm not sure which this is yet.

I can read Hiragana a tiny bit--enough to pronounce it badly. However, I don't have a hope of reading Kanji, so I really have no idea wht most of this bottle says. At the bottom of the front, it indicates that it is 15% something (or 15% of something, or is 15% of the way to becoming something, or possibly that it represents 15% of some Platonic ideal of something. Or maybe it's an unrelated comment about 15% of something else. "Fujiya Sparkling Peach Soda--15% of 45 is 6.75!")

It does, apparently, contain actual peach juice. That's probably good.

Where and when: Probably from Mitsuwa, probably sometime in the spring.
Color: Erk. Disturbingly cloudy, kind of a beige color. Not very transparent. Disturbing and unpleasant; reminiscent of things which come out of the body, rather than things which should go in. Tiny bits of floaty stuff. The foam is a bit persistent, as one sees sometimes when there's a bit of organic goo on the surface of a liquid.
Scent: This, on the other hand, is delightful. Smells like a ripe peach, or maybe a bit like canned peaches. A good smell in any case. Not cloying, has the actual depth of real peach.
K-i-C: "Smeels nice. Genuinely peachy."
Taste: Fortunately, the taste is much closer to the scent than to the appearance. Tastes a bit like the syrup from canned peaches, but carbonated to a pleasant degree.
K-i-C: "Kind of like peach beer."
Interesting. There's little of the beery bitterness, but the complex organic taste of the peach does give rise to that sense.

It's one of the most honest fruit sodas I think I've had--actual peach, rather than synthetic. Good, as long as you keep your eyes closed.

Between this and Gokuri's Miracle of Grapefruit, I'm developing some real esteem for Asian fruit sodas.

There is a bit of filmy aftertaste--probably the same actual fruit content as made the foam a bit disturbing.

Quaff rating: 4.0. Excellent taste. Very drinkable.
Cough rating: 1.0. Between the appearance and slight gooiness, a bit aversive.

Monday, November 21, 2011

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