An interview can be extraordinarily illuminating. It can challenge you to define what you do, and why. It can clarify your purpose, philosophy and vision. It is one thing to cogitate vaguely on these subjects in your private meditations; it something entirely different to articulate them publicly to an interviewer and audience. It requires planning and preparation. You must know what you are about, and how that is manifested to the world around you. At least, this was my recent experience with an interview at ThinkTech Hawaii.
As you may know, my moonlighting adventure as a food and wine blogger is only half the narrative. By day, I am an attorney in Honolulu, Hawaii with Chang Iwamasa LLP, specializing in corporate formation and governance, real estate transactional matters and non-profit organizations.
The blog is none of those things. Intentionally.
The blog began as a passion for photography and photojournalism. I love how photography can evoke a powerful emotional response and dialogue, and how it affords a visual expression of social commentary (whether positive or negative). There are stories on every corner, in every alley, at every food stall. They happen in a moment. On most occasions, we pass them by without notice or thought. We are too busy, we don't care, or perhaps we purposefully avoid a social inconvenience that is staring right at us. Photography reminds me to stop and observe, to engage with the world around me.
The blog became a natural progression and method to put into words the narrative I was attempting to capture through the lens. The lens and the pen are my tools to view life with greater clarity, and to help others to do the same.
It also helps me to be a better lawyer, too.
More than most other professions, the practice of law should have fact finding and truth seeking as its foundation. In a world of increasing relativism and alternative facts, lawyers cannot ethically ignore what is inconvenient to a client. The world persistently evades or manipulates difficult facts and truth; lawyers must not. Rather, we must diligently and honestly pursue the truth, and work with it as best we are able as an advocate for our clients.
The blog, and photography in particular, is a reminder for me to see circumstances and issues as they truly are – documenting the world truthfully and honestly. I don't want to hide inconvenient truths; quite to the contrary, my photography helps me to grapple with difficult issues, it challenges me to see social injustice, inequality and other issues that surround us, if we simply bother to look. As an attorney, I have an ethical responsibility to advocate on behalf of my clients, but I must always do so with candor; facts and truth are the ultimate guidepost.
The Live Musings Excitation
Today I had the privilege to discuss this and other topics on ThinkTech Hawaii's Law Across the Sea Program with host (and fellow attorney) Mark Shklov. Buckle up; one should never casually commence my modicum of [live] musings. At least, for your sake, there were rigorous time restrictions.
The interview can be found on YouTube.
It was a tremendously enjoyable experience and I thank Mark for allowing me to stop by for a chat. And this might not shock you, but I brought a few vinous friends to partake in the occasion. Every good conversation can benefit from a bottle … or two ... or four. With an Asia-Pacific theme, let's take a closer look at the lineup.
Rihaku Wandering Poet Junmai Ginjo - Shimane Prefecture, Japan
Sake! Admittedly, until only a few years ago I knew absolutely nothing about sake. Difficult to locate in the local stores with bottles even more difficult to decipher, I stuck close to inebriated beverages with which I had ample familiarity. I was intrigued, however, with the fact that sake is one of the most poured beverages on the planet. A few years ago, intrigue turned to action. One year of intentional and dedicated musings by the masu left me with a deep appreciation for and enjoyment of sake as one of my top beverages of choice. It is complex, delicate and sophisticated, and pairs with much more than sushi. In essence, it is brilliant.
This sake, Wandering Poet, is so named for the famous Chinese poet Li Po (the Japanese translation for which is Rihaku). Although Po is recognized as one of the greatest poets in Chinese history, his personality could be ... well ... a bit brash. He was free spirited and [quite intentionally] would disregard the social norms of his day. Stories abound that recount his poetic shenanigans, such as appearing drunk at imperial functions and hosting lavish, wild parties. Even when composing and performing his poems, Po was often a bit besotted.
Po likely died of natural causes in the Eighth Century, but a looming legend tells a more intriguing tale. One calm night Po sat in his rowboat on the Yangtze River drinking sake and howling at the moon. Catching a glimpse of the moon's reflection in the water, Po leaned over the boat to take hold of its spirit. Unfortunately for Po, the moon would not be captured on this evening, and the end result was an inebriated Po tipping his boat and drowning in the murky waters of the Yangtze.
Wonderful aromas burst from the glass, showcasing flavors of banana, tropical fruit and cantaloupe. On the palate, the sake is well-rounded and medium-bodied, with crisp acidity and a pleasant, lingering finish. Try pairing this sake with vegetables, raw or steamed salmon and oysters. Of course, it is also a good companion for sushi and sashimi.
Pick up this bottle for around $30 at Fujioka's Wine Times. It seems fitting to leave you with a sampling of Li Po's poems to enjoy as you sip … I feel compelled, however, to recommend doing so on dry, firm land.
Solitary Moonlight Drunk
One jug of wine
a thicket of flowers,
A solitary drunk
no friends around.
I raise my cup
urge Moon to drink,
But Moon has no stomach for wine!
I pour alone, but urge my lonely shadow to join me,
And idly sing as I face the fragrant woods.
But, you, tall pines, what do you understand,
For whom do you whistle and hum?
My hand dances with the moon on the rock,
Across my knees rests a zither among flowers.
That which lies beyond this wine goblet,
Placid and deep, is not my heart.
2013 O'Shaughnessy Cabernet Sauvignon – Howell Mountain, Napa Valley, California
I recently broke out the O'Shaughnessy Cabernet Sauvignon for my latest Saint Patrick's Day celebration at Ó Buachalla's Drunken Moose Pub. Apologies for the duplication, but this wine is definitely worth the extra attention.
Napa Valley has risen to become the crown jewel of U.S. winemaking. The Valley is bordered by the Mayacama Mountain Range to the west and north, and the Vaca Mountains to the east. The elevation provides morning sunshine only accessible above the morning fog, and cooling breezes in the afternoon when the Valley floor is at its hottest. This combination results in more structured, complex wines in the mountainous AVAs.
Nestled in these mountains, O’Shaughnessy Estate Winery found its vinous home. With vineyard locations on Howell Mountain and Mount Veeder, O’Shaughnessy takes full advantage of the elevation and the rocky mountain terroir that produces well-drained, red soils rich in a panoply of limestone, minerals and volcanic sediment.
The result is a Cabernet Sauvignon that exudes opulence and power. Perennially one of Napa’s best value Cabernets, this wine from Howell Mountain greets the palate with dark fruits of raspberry, blackberry, balanced with vanilla, dark spices and mocha. Full-bodied and dense with wonderful fruit and well-integrated, smooth tannins. Consistently one of my favorite Cabernet Sauvignons coming out of Napa Valley and, in particular, Howell Mountain.
Find this wine at NK Wine Shop in Honolulu's Chinatown District.
2014 Mt. Beautiful Pinot Noir – North Canterbury, New Zealand
Mt. Beautiful Winery is wonkish heaven. It’s founder, David Teece, is [obviously] an oenophile, but he doubles as a professor of Global Business and Economics at the University of California Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and has authored over 30 books. For me, trained in global business law and economics, I have discovered a new vinous exemplar. Hail to the geeks.
Committed to sustainable farming methods, holistic vineyard management and alternative bottle closure methods (which bottle closure lore I explored in this post), Mt. Beautiful ensures that its practices assist in safeguarding the picturesque landscape famous to New Zealand. The world needs more wineries like Mt. Beautiful (and regions like New Zealand) that wholeheartedly embrace and emphasize the importance of sustainable viticultural practices.
This wine was a beautiful, luminous ruby red color and possessed fruit aromas of cherry, cranberry and blackberry with orange blossom, subtle earth and baking spice. On the palate, the wine wonderfully balanced fruit, earth and mineral elements, with soft tannins that provided structure and a long, lingering finish. An absolutely stunning and tremendously enjoyable wine.
In Honolulu, procure as many bottles as you are physically able to carry from Tamura’s Fine Wine and Liquors.
2015 Leeuwin Estate Art Series Riesling – Margaret River, Australia
There is a reason why Riesling is cultishly discussed amongst sommeliers and wine enthusiasts. Tremendous structure and complexity, wonderful expressions of fruit, aging potential and flexibility in pairing. This wine has it all. While most may characterize Riesling as a sweet wine, there are plenty of specimens on the dry side of the spectrum that are crisp, mineral- and citrus-driven delights. This wine is a perfect example at a bargain price.
Margaret River, a coastal region located south of Perth in western Australia, is unequivocally one of my favorite wine regions of Australia. Comprised primarily of small boutique wineries and breweries, it can be difficult to procure wines from this appellation outside of Australia, but a diligent search is well-rewarded with tremendous, intensely-flavored wines. Margaret River enjoys extraordinary growing conditions, with a maritime climate providing consistent temperatures throughout the ripening season and a dry growing season. Known for Cabernet Sauvignon, it also produces Shiraz, Merlot, Chardonnay, Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling. It is hard to find a more enjoyable region to drink and to visit than Margaret River. A perfect place for wine and surfing — is there a better combination?! I feel a vacation coming on ...
This wine was dry with citrus lime and lemon zest bursting from the glass, along with honeysuckle and Granny Smith apple and lots of minerality. An expressive wine with bright acidity and a long, dry finish. This is definitely one of my favorite Rieslings in this price range. Truly enjoyable.
Find this wine for around $15 at Fujioka's Wine Times in Honolulu.
Tip of the cap to ThinkTech Hawaii and Mark Shklov for hanging this morning to discuss law, wine and photography. Hope you enjoyed (or, at least tolerated) my live, stream of conscience musings!