Phoenix was a very hot place; the temperature could easily soar to 100 degrees during summer.
So how long did the summer last? Starting in the middle of June, while spring hung on in many other places, they would already start to prepare for mid-summer here.
Li Du and Ah Meow were strolling on the street, but in merely an hour, they were soaked in sweat.
It was even worse for Ah Meow, as the cat's fur could not allow more heat to dissipate. So it stuck its tongue out like a dog. It gave up eventually and climbed up a thick tree, refusing to move at all.
Mr. Li waved and said, "Come on, come down now. Lets go home."
Ah Meow looked at him suspiciously, and continue to stick its tongue out.
"Lets go home. Theres air conditioning. Look, I cant stand the heat either!" Mr. Li wiped the sweat from his forehead.
Seeing this, Ah Meow started to trust him. It jumped down from the tree and got into the backpack quickly. It used its claws to open the backpack for some fresh air.
A cold drink would help in this weather, but had Li Du drank several glasses of iced juices already. Although they were delicious, they were also too sweet. He did not want to take in too much fructose.
On the way back, he passed by a Chinese supermarket. He figured that he could buy some soft glutinous rice, wine yeast, and yeast powder for wine brewing so that he could make some drinks.
He had worked in a Japanese restaurant during college, and had learned some wine brewing skills. He wanted to make sour rice wine; this light alcoholic drink is a favorite beverage in rural Japan.
However, the hotel room was not conducive to wine brewing. Therefore, he decided to ask the owner for permission to use the kitchen. But Bedes was not around, only a girl dressed up like a man, named Nicole, was there, wiping down glasses at the bar.
Li Du knocked on the bar and said, "Hi Nicolewhy are you wiping the glasses? They are already so clean."
This eccentric girl glanced at him and said, "This is one of the bartender's tricks to make the customers feel less stressed. Understand?"
"I dont understand."
Nicole snorted and said, "When a customer is drinking, if the bartender doesnt make himself busy, the customer might think that the bartender is paying attention to himself. Therefore the customer will feel stressed, and wiping glasses helps solve this problem, understand?"
"I understand now, thank you. But I would appreciate it if you could lend me the kitchen," Mr. Lee said with a smile.
Nicole squinted at him. "Do you want to cook?"
"No, I want to brew some wine."
The petite girl was interested. "You know how to brew? Is it beer brewing?"
"No, I want to brew some rice wine. It takes at least one week to brew beer, and I dont have that much time here," Li Du explained.
The petite girl was a new bartender; she was very interested in wine brewing, so she gladly agreed to his request, but with one condition. She wanted to make drinks with him.
Li Du said, "No problem, but dont you have to look after the bar?"
The petite girl went to the backyard and whistled. A big dog with golden fur ran toward her. Nicole gave it a bone and said, "Look after this place, alright?"
The slobbering dog nodded as if it understood her words.
"This dog is well-trained," Li Du complimented.
The petite girl said impatiently, "Of course, Xiao Bi is a clever dogcome on, lets brew some wine."
Many Chinese immigrants in the United States came from southern China. They opened most of the Chinese supermarkets here. Since they had the tradition of drinking rice wine in their hometown, soft glutinous rice for wine brewing could be easily found in these supermarkets.
Glutinous rice was previously soaked and then vacuum-sealed. Therefore, they could be used to brew wine after opening the packaging.
There was a big pressure cooker in the kitchen. Seeing that the glutinous rice was clean after washing it twice, Li Du put it into the pot and cooked it in the same way he cooked porridge.
Nicole watched carefully and asked, "How much water?"
"The ratio between the rice and water is one to one and a half," Li Du said. "Be patient now. It might need an hour and a half to cook."
Time control is very important in wine brewing. Li Du removed the lid every fifteen minutes to check the rice.
Because there was only a little amount of water used, the rice turned into porridge eventually. The porridge started to boil in the pot, different sized bubbles coming to the surface.
Around an hour and a half later, the porridge was ready. The glutinous rice smelled wonderful; Li Du thought that, with some pickles, this combination would make a great breakfast.
After cooling the rice, he added the wine yeast and yeast powder. He then added some yogurt after mixing it all together well.
As Nicole saw the mixture, she pouted and said, "What a mess. It looks disgusting."
Li Du smiled and said, "If you knew how much bacteria there is in yeast and yogurt, you would feel more disgusted."
Adding yeast or yogurt helped to cultivate a large amount of yeast in a short time, which reduced the amount of time it took to ferment.
After mixing the mixture evenly, he put the pot in the corner of the kitchen corner. He said, "Tell your brother about this; dont let him throw out the mixture. This time tomorrow, well have some good wine to enjoy."
Nicole was surprised; she asked, "Thats all?"
Li Du said, "Of course. How complicated did you think it would be?"
Nicole remained silent; she put a sticky note on the pot. There were some pretty little words on the note that read, "Whoever touches my pot, Ill hit that person with a beer bottle!"
Hans found nothing that day, and he started searching again the next day early in the morning. His work ethic was similar to a professional spys, and Mr. Li couldnt help but praise him for that.
In the afternoon, Nicole came to him and said, "Twenty-four hours have passed."
Li Du was reading a book. "Never mind; let it ferment for another two to three hours," he said nonchalantly.
Nicole said with an angry face, "You are not very particular about this."
Seeing that she was excited about this, Li put away his book and said, "It could be ready now, but Im just trying to be safe."
After he opened the pot, as if opening a beer bottle, a milky white foam flooded out, with a light smell of alcohol.
Nicole looked so excited; she said, "I smell alcohol. Oh yes, it was a success!"
That pot of porridge looked semi-liquid now. Li Du used a clean gauze to filter out the porridge, pouring the milky alcohol into a big bottle.
Nicole could not wait any longer; she took out a spoon and tasted the alcohol. She pouted and said, "Well, it was not deliciousit just tasted like alcohol."
Lee Du laughed, "Be patient, wait until the evening and you will find it tastes differently."
He put the rice wine in the refrigerator. This process would allow the yeast to break down starch into sugar, increasing the acidity while the cooling process would give the rice wine a better taste.
During the evening, while the sun set, Hans returned with his exhausted body soaking in sweat.
Lee Du asked, "Are you okay, buddy? Dont be too harsh on yourself. Be aware of heat stroke."
Hans waved his hand and said, "I'm fineget me a cold beer!"
Li Du said, "Ill give you a different drink. It tastes stronger than cold beer."
There was a gazebo in the backyard garden of the hotel. He brought the rice wine and took Hans and Godzilla to the gazebo. In a short while, Nicole came to the gazebo with Bedes at her side, feeling excited to taste the rice wine.
Hans handed the glass over and said, "Let me drink first, seeing that I had a great accomplishment today."
Lee Du was thrilled. "You have news about Rick?"