The Favored Photo Reflective: Musings on My Favorite Photos from 2018, Episode One

It is hard to believe that 2018 is in the stretch run! As the year winds to a close, I wanted to share with you a few of my favorite photos from 2018 and what they mean to me. A visual musings retrospective. So each week from Thanksgiving until the New Year, I will offer one of my favorite photos of 2018.

Episode One: Skewered Delight.

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The Java Bean Catalyst: A Cat’s Tale of Kopi Luwak

In my previous post, we set off on our caffeinated caravan by heading to Sumatra, where I enjoyed the wonderful hospitality of Long Coffee & Roastery and got an insider glimpse at the small farm enterprises that collectively make Indonesia a legendary coffee destination. 

In this post, we explore another coffee product that famously finds its home in the Indonesian archipelago: Kopi Luwak (or “luak”). No coffee has a more distinct methodology or cultish intrigue than Kopi Luwak. And with a price tag often surpassing hundreds of dollars per pound, it is often cited as the rarest and most expensive coffee in the world.

Why the fanatic fascination? Let’s find out … 

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The Java Bean Catalyst: A Caffeinated Caravan Through the Coffee Farms of Indonesia

Coffee is the kickstarter for many American mornings. But as any local Starbucks will confirm, sugar, soy, and syrups too often tragically trump origin or varietal in the coffee selection routine. The sweetener is mightier than the bean. [Insert Frowny Face]. 

Time to change that mocha mindset. Coffee is far more complex, fascinating, and tasty than our local cafés serving sugary swill may let on. It is a global enterprise with regional varietals, methods, and characteristics that offer deliciously unique experiences in every cup. The bean is mightier than the sweetener! [Insert Happy Face]. I see a coup brewing to take back our beloved joe. Viva la café revolución! 

The revolution can start right here in the Asia Pacific, which is home to some of the largest and most prestigious coffee-producing regions in the world. In a new and occasional series, coffee shall be our caffeinated caravan to cafés and farms across the Pacific Rim.  

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The Wine Label Elucidation: Decoding the Wine Bottles of Southern Rhône Valley

Bonne fête nationale! We have come upon the one day in my annual calendar on which I painstakingly pretend to possess a modicum of French zealotry. And whether it’s commemorating the storming of the Bastille (vive la révolution!) or gleeful anticipation for tomorrow’s World Cup Final (I salute anyone who had France vs. Croatia in their finals bracket), there is much to celebrate. Frenzied Francophiles unite! 

In true French fashion, celebrations are only complete with a perpetual pour of high quality vin (admittedly, this is one thing the French get right), and I never miss an opportunity to join my besotted brethren for a tasty beverage. Thus, a metaphorical meandering through the vineyards of France is an appropriate endeavor for a dollop of frivolity on France's famed holiday. 

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The Pineapple-Kiwi Combination: Maui Food and Wine Festival Plays Host to Mt. Beautiful Winery

A pineapple-kiwi convergence may sound like the commencement of a smoothie expedition. In this post, however, it is a far more delightful (and a touch inebriating) sojourn to the shores of Maui with one of New Zealand’s great wineries. A tropical vinous adventure packed with sunshine, wine and, most assuredly, a modicum of frivolity. 

Okay, I admit, this post isn’t entirely new. I would characterize it more as an amended and restated post -- new and improved! -- from an earlier bargain Pinot Noir featuring Mt. Beautiful Winery. That post is no longer active so I was patiently perusing other opportunities to revisit this tremendous winery and recommend a few tasty food pairings for its wines that are available locally in Honolulu. I discovered the perfect occasion in the Winery’s event travel itinerary...

The Kiwis are coming, the Kiwis are coming! The Island of Maui plays host to Mt. Beautiful Winery, among other notable vineyards, at the Kapalua Food and Wine Festival on June 7-10. A chance to highlight one of my favorite New Zealand wineries and a Maui food and wine festival all in one post? I will cheerfully take that deal.

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The Great Pizza and Wine Pairing Expedition, Part III: Southern Italy

Our Italian tropological trudging in the Great Pizza and Wine Pairing Expedition has come upon its final chapter. Brick Fire Tavern and its regional menu has faithfully led us from the slopes of the Italian Alps in northern Italy and its creamy rustic flavors of the forest (in Part I) down to the ancient city of Rome (in Part II), tasting a few of the most iconic combinations in Italy's illustrious culinary history. In this final installment, our expedition reaches the southern shores and azure blue waters of the Mediterranean. A utopia that begs for fellowship, relaxation and perhaps a modicum of frivolity. Sounds as though things might get a little spicy...

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