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drinks: the joy of coffee

i started this post yesterday, but now i find it rather fitting that i’m finishing it at 5am, clutching a cup of coffee like its my lifeline after an absolutely terrible sleep consisting of a whopping 2 hours of actual snoozing.
so yes, i appreciate coffee right now like its nobody’s business.

so.

i love coffee.  i mean, who, over the age of about 25 doesn’t?
it’s delicious and comforting as only a warm beverage packed with caffeine can be.
it saves lives in the morning. mine and the lives of those around me. because without it, i may find myself in a murderous rage.

there is a marked difference between a good cup of coffee and a bad cup of coffee. and no, that difference usually has nothing to do with price.
it’s the beans & the brewing technique.

i’ll admit, while my favourite place to get a cup of coffee is from cafe artigiano, probably 95% of my coffees purchased come from a starbucks these days. starbucks makes a good, consistent cup of coffee. and if it sucks, they’ll make me a new one without much fuss.

my drink of choice is the americano.  it’s basically like a regular cup of coffee, but because it’s espresso & hot water instead of drip coffee, i can be guaranteed its freshness. and in the coffee world, fresh makes all the difference.
also, americanos are cheap. and so am i.

but every now and then i am happy to splurge on something exciting and different.  for example, if i see that a restaurant has vietnamese coffee on the menu, well, that’s what i’m getting.  because when coffee meets condensed milk, the magic happens.

in my house we have 3 coffee makers.  a regular drip, an espresso machine and a bodum. all 3 get regular use.
for flavour, the bodum just can’t be beat. and when a place serves me coffee in a bodum, it’s a simple thing that says to me that they care about the quality of the coffee they serve. premium beans would never be run through a drip maker. it’s just wrong. and a waste.
but with a bodum there’s no disguising what you’re getting. the beans have to be good or its just not drinkable.

anyways, to the point.  i’ve visited some places with good coffee. in jamaica the blue mountain coffee is world class. in hawaii there’s some fabulous coffee from kona and up and coming coffees from maui.
and if you’re a coffee lover, you know the peaberry coffee.

simply, the peaberry kona coffee is the champagne of coffee.  now, like champagne, you pay a premium price for it, but its oh-so worth it.

we came across a coffee shop that was serving it for $7 a cup. not bad, i’ve paid $10 a cup for it in vancouver, so me & my brother were in.
this gentleman was pleased to hear thats what we were after and brewed us up our own bodum of it.

after 4 minutes of perfect brewing, it was ready to drink.  no milk or sugar needed, it was perfect as is. – also the mark of a premium brew.

so, naturally, we had to buy some.  we debated back and forth over how much to buy… it was $40 a pound, but that was by far the lowest price we’d seen it for… but it was on a particularity big spending day for us, so i opted to just buy the 1/2 pound at $21.99

then, later on in the week we took home another $100 in coffee and tea from O’o Farms and our bounty was complete. the “mokka” from O’o is very comparable to a peaberry.  when you look at the beans, they are about half the size of the regular sized ones. it’s very interesting (should have probably taken a pic – sorry)

from Aina (O’o Farms) we took home the following beans:

YELLOW CATTURA : MEDIUM ROAST – Taste of honey, caramel, very full bodied, smooth, perfectly balanced with a sweet buttery finish. Pair with light, fruity desserts.

TYPICA : DARK ROAST – Refined acidity, perfectly balanced, a complex coffee with notes of cedar and walnut. It is a wonderful coffee with pastries. Same varietal found in Kona coffee farms.

MOKKA : DARK ROAST – This rare heirloom coffee presents big body and exotic flavors of baker’s chocolate, almond and caramel – with a lingering buttery finish. Pair with chocolate & berries.

all 3 of these have proved to be exceptionally delicious and lovely in their own way, and yes, all 3 are best when done in the bodum and not sugared & milked.
for my coffee loving friends, i highly recommend trying a bodum at home with a primo bean. you’ll be able to tell the difference immediately and even those that load up their coffees with all sorts of flavours & cream will be able to drink it black, as intended.

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resolutions for 2012

well, we’re 4 whole days into 2012 and i have yet to give myself resolutions for this year.  but i’ve been pondering them for the last few weeks.

i’m a big lover of “goal setting”, but not such a “goal achiever”.  i set huge lofty goals because i believe that easy to achieve goals aren’t really achieving anything other than self congratulations, and then my lofty goals never get met causing me to abandon them altogether.

so, issues; i has them.

there’s a lot going on right now that is causing me to stop and have perspective on my life.  watching someone i care about slowly lose their life and fighting it every step of the way has been incredibly harrowing and irrecoverably changed me.  the reality of this has really hit me in the last 24 hours and it’s stirred up some intense desires in me to be better at living my life.

i’ve basically just come to the conclusion that i’d sure as hell better start making the most of my days on this planet and count my blessings whether they come in the form of huge life events or just a good cup of coffee.
every moment matters. there’s no time to waste.  start today.

my words aren’t any more meaningful that anyone else that’s come to this conclusion… the internet is full of people on their paths towards better lives and preaching of living for today and seizing every moment.  but like much of life, these things don’t resonate until they touch you personally.

so, consider me touched, changed and changing.

i’ve already been on a journey for years now to better myself in various ways… but the one thing that holds me back, time and again is simple fear.
i’m scared to do somethings alone. there’s oodles of things i want to do… classes, hobbies, learning… but i don’t.  under the excuse that i don’t have anyone to do these things with me.
i’m exhausted by this.
so in 2012, i resolve to stop this fear and do things by myself.  banish the excuse of needing a companion and just do it. simple enough to say, but incredibly hard to change as a behavior pattern.  so it’s an official goal, resolution or whatever you want to call it.

next up… the “good stuff”.  smoking.  i love smoking.  i absolutely love doing it… and i’ve stopped.  on december 20th i finished my last pack and was smoke free for 10 days… new years eve i smoked 2 cigarettes.  since then – none.
quitting smoking is one of those things that most smokers plan on doing eventually, but when that day comes, you’re full of excuses to not do it.  i still go outside with the smokers and look longingly… but i think i’m done for good this time.

general health goals…
i resolve to continue on my wheat-free journey… and my ongoing quest for local & sustainable choices for my food. i will eliminate processed goods and “food-like substances” and only eat real food.  i will continue to absorb knowledge and never put back on my blinders about what is going into my body.

i will learn to love exercise again.
i will swim, i will run, i will bike, i will hike, i will paddle.  and i will do them all alone if i must.

i will learn to drive a car.
yup, there it is.  the fear of driving has held me back for 15 years. but in banishing fear, i need to tackle these things. so this is a big one for me.

i will be happy.
i read a great article this morning called 12 things happy people do differently and it made me reflect a little on my own behavior.  while most of those things are things already on my mental to-do list, there’s some things i can work on.

i will see places i’ve never seen and experience things that scare me.
in september my husband & i are planning a trip to munich & italy. i’ve never traveled anywhere that does not predominately speak english. this scares me. i very much like to control my surroundings, so venturing out of that “safe zone” for me will be exciting and challenging and i’m really looking forward to it.

i will appreciate my friends more than i ever have before.
for some reason that i have yet to solve, i know some pretty amazing people that love me. and i think i have room to love these people back even harder than i did in 2011. so, i resolve to be better about phoning and communicating and visiting with all the people that make time for me. i will be there for my friends when they need me. always and without fail.

i will be better at being me.
i will be positive, i will grow, i will be respectful, i will be forgiving and i will be humble.  or at least i’ll try my best.

food & travel: O’o Farms, Maui

one of my favourite parts of my trip to maui was O’o Farm.
I know, for a girl that lives mere minutes away from farmland, you’d think that seeing a farm wouldn’t be a high priority.  but i’m oh-so glad that we made it one.

the farm itself was a marvel to me. existing only to service two high end restaurants with fresh organic produce, this is not really a “working farm”, but more a culinary indulgence of chef/owners.  which i think makes for a really unique and special farm experience.

every single thing grown there exists because the chef has requested it for the menu or because it is a control plant to attract/detract pests or to add or remove nutrients to/from the soil.  everything has a purpose here and nothing is wasted.  in fact, there’s not even anything extra to sell.  the restaurants and the farm tour use everything grown here.
even the fish carcasses from dinner service and coffee grounds make their way back to the farm to be composted. this was a beautiful working example of a sustainable farm.

i left here feeling inspired.  this is the lifestyle of my dreams. to be in hawaii, growing the food that i serve at my restaurant?  i don’t think they could have possibly pinpointed this better for me.  so if i run away, this could very well be where i am.

okay, now on to the good stuff… we’ll start with the view.  the farm is high up the crater with a spectacular view of kihei.

ya, pretty rough, hey?  that could sooooo be my workplace view please.

first off, after intros and pleasantries, we went to the coffee plants.  now, these plants are just starting to produce and they’re relatively new to this farm, so their beans aren’t being used yet in the restaurants, but they will be soon. until then, they use beans from a farm down the road that are roasted at O’o Farm by the cutie that was our guide for the tour.  (seriously, this farm has everything. even dark curly haired gentlemen with strong jaw lines – aka “my type”, lol)

after sampling the berry of the coffee plant – you eat the red ones and spit out the beans.  it’s really an interesting flavour… very sweet off the start with a tart finish.  of course here there’s no waste, so they use the berry in cooking & garnishes in the restaurants and dry it to make tea from it (which i bought a bag of) and then they roast the beans inside.

we moved on to the orchards after our coffee plant lessons… first the citrus grove.  literally, a few of everything was growing here… pink lemons, pomellos, limes, clementines and even buddah’s hand… which i’ve never actually seen growing before!  so cool!  (it’s basically a citrus made almost entirely of rind & pith, usually candied or preserved and used as a strong citrus flavour agent)

the stone fruit trees were done for the season (funny to hear about it being “winter” in hawaii) so we moved over to where we’d be dining and met the chef.

she told us a little about the food we’d be eating and where it came from (everything from the farm except the fish which was caught yesterday just off the maui coast and the tofu).  she also shared her culinary journey and how she ended up cooking for the tours and such.
then we moved on to see the fields and pick our salad greens for lunch.

here’s a shot of my husband picking some yummy sorrel for lunch…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sorrel

…and showing off our bounty of lunch greens and filling us in what each one is and how its grown…

…and grabbing a little more arugula.

this one is just a cool picture of a kale plant.  because i dig kale.

then we ventured back to the “dining room” for our feast.

first up was the fresh avocados with citrus and the selection of root vegetables… candycane & watermelon radishes, fennel and kohlrabi for the salad…

and my plate all loaded up with the tofu, beet & chard dish, the mahi mahi in sweet maui onions & citrus and of course the fabulous salad.  all wheat-free, and all absolutely delicious and bursting with freshness. everything from the farm had been in the ground mere hours ago.

after a plate (okay, maybe and seconds) we chatted with the people sitting around us… almost everyone had brought their own bottle of wine (ours white & refreshing) and we discussed the farm and our own personal reasons for being drawn to visit it.
there were lots of foodies that were fans of the restaurants associated with the farm… a lot of gardeners, both hobby & small business… and just generally people that loved this lifestyle of natural, sustainable living.  it was very cool.

after a bit, the chef brought out a plate of chocolates that she had made and a big bowl of still-shelled macadamia nuts for us to crack & snack on and our guide invited us up to the “coffee house” where he had brewed us some coffee that he had roasted that morning.

my husband and i gladly trucked up the hill and had 3 cups of the coffee each, while chatting with our guide about the coffee, growing it, roasting it, varietals ect.  we ended up buying $100 in premium coffee from him, including a batch that had just been roasted, but wasn’t even bagged yet for sale.  we just got talking about it and so he ran down to the roasting house and pulled some out for us.  people, you can not beat this.

honestly, if this kinda thing isn’t up your alley, then there’s nothing i can say to convince you… but if this kinda thing tweaks your fancy, then you MUST do O’o Farms tour in Maui.  it was $50 well spent on an excellent and truly awesome experience.  in fact, we decided that we would do this every trip, just to see what’s growing at different times of the year.  and the restaurant is definitely on our “must eat” list for next trip too.