Thursday, January 31, 2013

Travel Bug

There is no question that we live in a changing world.

I have been thinking of the world of photography lately as an example of this. I once dreamed of being a travel photographer.

When I was in school, I looked at the brochures in the travel agency that was in the mall and was amazed that someone with a camera was paid to go to the most beautiful places in the world and photograph them. Even at 10 or 11 years-old, I had to ask why it shouldn’t be me that was being paid to take those trips.

Today, thanks to technology and social media, I think that the real-world viability of travel photography is in serious jeopardy. Everyone has a good digital camera these days. Most are point-and-shoot models, some are entry level DSLR type cameras that Canon and Nikon have made so readily affordable, and there are even a few mid-grade and pro-level cameras being toted around by average people.

Even the people that don’t have cameras, have phones.

I hate to say that I took a 35 pound camera bag on vacation with me in January, and the best photo that I took was with my iPhone and a $0.99 app to add a little contrast.

I have spent the last 20 years carrying a big camera around, taking pictures of some of the craziest things, challenging myself to do better and better with each roll of film, and then in recent years with each memory card.

I am a very VERY long way from what I would call a “Photographer,” but I’ve put a lot of time and effort into learning the skills that I have. And in that one single moment when I saw a photo worthy of any travel brochure out there come from my phone, that any kid could have taken, I realized that our world, and the way we must think about it, has certainly changed!

Even if you get very few quality images, think of the incredible number of people running around with camera phones and digital cameras, shoot, just look at Facebook for 5 minutes and see the number of images that are being shared there. Then realize that you’re not even seeing a drop in the bucket of what’s being produced every day.

There are millions, if not billions of images being created EVERY day, and some are of spectacular travel destinations.

I hope that you enjoy stopping into BKB and seeing the world through my crazy eye, and I hope you are making some great images!

Have a great week!

~Cheers

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Aphrodisiac Rum?

Did you meet Bob last week? I hope so, because he was my main inspiration for this project that I am quite excited to share with you!

And I know, lots of you are giggling about the Marijuana similarity in the name, but let me be VERY clear when I say that even though Colorado would be the place for such a product, we’re not making dope booze here.

My "Supplier" says this about MamaJ:
Mamajuana has a long history dating back to over 800 years. The original mamajuana drink was in the form of an herbal tea, which was discovered by the Taino Indians, which inhabited the Caribbean and the region known as Hispañola in the times prior to Christopher Columbus. It was used as a Vitality drink and as their answer to well being.

Today, Mamajuana or "Mama Juana" is a blend of exotic wild grown tree stems, barks, leaves and roots native to the Dominican Republic.  These herbs are typically cured with rum, wine, honey and other ingredients to produce a flavorful rum base liqueur.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Meet Bob!


As an intro to a project on Mamajuana Rum, I want to introduce you to the man who really set my interest in the subject on fire.

Bob Davies is a Rum XP judge who I had the fortune to met in Key West last September. Bob was a hoot to hang out with, and a great source of information, no matter what we were drinking... And he’s a beer guy too!
Enjoy my Q&A With Bob!

Bob, who are you? What do you do and where do you come from?
I am originally from Wales and moved out to the Caribbean in 1989 to work as a PE teacher in the Bahamas.
I am now Distribution Manager at the biggest liquor company in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Here we have introduced are own rum, Bambarra Rum which has been a huge success.


What did you grow up on? Coors light, like me, Rum, Moonshine, where do you come from in the alcohol world?
I grew up on Real Ale in Wales but obviously got into rum in a big way when I moved out to the Bahamas, it was a natural progression. Many of my friends drank Bacardi Anejo, so I grew up on pints of Anejo and Ginger Ale, affectionately known as a Conch Cay Joe, the nick name for white Bahamians.
 
I see on Facebook that you occasionally like to have some Mamajuana. Where did you first experience it, and what does it mean to you?
Bob with Mike Streeter of RumConnection.com
There are many Dominicans living in the TCI and many bars have Dominican barmaids and staff. Everyone has their own version of it, but most taste medicinal, more of a shot drink than a sipper.
 I am not sure if all the medicinal benefits are true or just fiction, but it is always a good talking point in a bar to try some.
 
How do you feel about the traditional beverages of both the Caribbean and other lost societies compared to the commercial, main-stream junk we see on the shelves today?
The huge liquor companies are monopolizing the liquor industry and making it hard for the small companies to survive. The electronic age has made the world a global village. Whisky is a status symbol in Latin countries, anyone can buy a bottle of rum but you have to appear to have money to buy a good bottle of whisky. It is much easier to go to a local liquor store than it is to make something for yourself. I love experimenting, making my own rum, aging rum, blending fruits and spices into rum. You never know how it is going to turn out. One of my favorites was Jerk Spiced Rum and  my Skittle rums.

I was examining culinary trends the other day, and noticed that the more “Civilized” a society becomes, the less flavor and tradition is reflected in it’s culinary menu. Do you see this happening in the beverages as well?
Certainly, the growth of a tasteless spirit like vodka is proof of this, you have to add all the flavor back to it to make it drinkable. Fortunately the rapid growth of aged rum is correcting some of this for many people. Originally people could only drink what was made locally, we need to return to these ways in many cases. Buy local!!
 

Our Beer has become bland and flavorless, our rum smooth and without character and our cocktails fruity and indistinguishable from their Tiki Bar counterparts! Am I imagining things?

Mamajuana at Bugaloo's
Craft beers seem to making strong growth these days. I was involved in the Campaign for Real Ale back in Wales so I am happy craft beer is growing as a category. We are in a beer desert here though, and  import duty on a case of beer here is around $34 a case, so it is cheaper to drink rum these days!!!
 
What can the average person do to help correct this loss of tradition? And where does a product like Mamajuana fit into this trend of making better spirits at home fit in?
I think more people should try making their own spirits and Mamjuana is an easy starting point to learning the art of infusion. Fruit infused liquor is an easy introduction to homemade drinks. Always use a good base liquor, don’t use a liquor you would not normally drink just because it’s cheap, this is the most important ingredient.

To follow Bob, and learn more about his projects, check out oldbahamas.com and read up on his rum at www.bambarrarum.com

Stick around, I will be creating a bottle of Mamajuana for you next week!

~Cheers!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Gifts from the sea

It doesn't matter where you go on vacation, or even if you go on vacation. You have to eat.

Food is one of my favorite things in life, and I prefer the food that comes from the ocean... especially when I'm relaxing next to it.

That's why we chose to eat at Coco Blue in Redhook on St. Thomas.

Touted as the best seafood in town, and directly across the street from Duffy's Love Shack, I couldn't help but be impressed by their huge portions, delectable side dishes and very strong drinks.

I hope the picks make you drool a bit, I hope that the ocean finds you well and I hope you have a great week!

~Cheers

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Let’s share a beer! But I’ve got a great idea... Let’s share that beer at one of the most interesting bars I’ve had the pleasure of relaxing the day away in.

Let me set you the scene:

You are sitting atop one of the prettiest hills in the lush green tropical island of St. John. From your table under the awning, you can look out over John’s Folly Bay at the beautiful blue and green waters that separate you from East End Bay and Tortola. The resident turtle is sleeping the day away in a Barbie doll house, and laughing and joking of friends fills the air.

The warm breeze is just enough to keep the heat of the day from cooking your brain into rum soaked moosh.
As we sat drinking our frozen cocktails (Drink Right, Keep Left), something caught my eye.


The ONLY beer brewed on St. John, Drunk Bay Brewing Brown Ale, $5!


What about St. John Brewers I asked myself.... OH.... RIGHT.... Corporate willpower has that one brewed in the states now.



The Drunk Bay Brown is brewed within walking distance of the tables at the Tourist Trap, and is really nothing more than homebrew.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Pretty ladies, Big Kahuna and rum drinks

Big Kahuna’s Rum Shack

What do you get when you combine a traveling couple from Colorado with a traveling couple from Florida, add a little rain, a Caribbean Island and a day’s hardcore shopping?

SERIOUS MUNCHIES!

When we decided to head into the Charlotte Amale shopping district with our friends from southern Florida, we knew the day would be great. Fun is never in short supply when two bald guys, the prettiest lady in the world and the second prettiest gal in the Caribbean get together! Adventure is inevitable!

The sky was dark with clouds, the air thick with rain and heat. The streets packed with the shuffling madness of tourists on shore leave from their cruise ship.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Craft Beer in the islands

 Life is rough in the islands!


You may think that a craft beer lover would be left a parched and lonely castaway in the Caribbean. NOT SO.

While I was putting almost no effort into anything but relaxing on the beach last week, we did make an early morning escape to Sapphire beach on the east end of St. Thomas.

Amazing blue waters and white sand, feeling the breeze on your face that shakes the palm trees into some prehistoric  dance of relaxation, and a few great people make for quite  morning.

But what is vacation if you’re not drinking beers on the beach by 10 a.m.?

Carib is a pretty damn good pool beer, although it’s not what I would call a craft beer. It’s light and refreshing and always reminds me of the islands.

We did discover some locally brewed beer on St. John, and will be bringing that to you soon. (It’s not what you think)

We also have about a billion pictures to share, so grab a drink and get ready for some relaxation!

~Cheers

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Picks

What does one do while the wife is shopping in a town designed to suck in tourist dollars?


People watch! What else?

~Cheers

Saturday, January 12, 2013

GRAND CAYMAN

People often ask me where a fat kid from the middle of Colorado learned to love the ocean. Well, I guess that answer is long and complicated!

But like everything long and complicated... it's also got an easy answer.


I present my Mom and Sister, rocking the Big Kahuna gear on Grand Cayman over Christmas!


And some random Pū'ali koa spotted on a boat near Grand Cayman. I have NO idea who this guy is, but if it's you, SPEAK UP! Introduce yourself! We love your Koozie!

Have a great weekend peeps! You know I will!


~Cheers!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Today I share a very special brew.

When I developed this beer in 2008, it was called Reindeer Fuel Stout. It was a milk stout recipe that I found on Homebrewtalk.com and added a LOT of coffee to it. But not just any coffee, I used a very heavily spiced “Christmas Blend” coffee. I wrote about this beer a few years ago for BeerPorn. You can read about that  (HERE)

This beer has been very well received with everyone that has tasted or brewed it, but it takes on a whole new life  with each new brewer, each water source and each type of coffee used.

Back in October, a friend of mine, that I’ve not seen since High School, posted to Facebook that he was looking for a Christmas beer to brew. I pointed him toward the recipe (HERE), and he was nice enough to deliver a bottle right to my office on the day after Christmas.

The beer is black just like a cup of coffee, and pours with a rocky head the color of creamed coffee.

The head falls pretty quickly, but remained lacy through the entire glass.

The nose is of roasted barley and coffee.

The body is a tad light, due to the amount of pre-brewed coffee that is added, but the flavor is fantastic.

The roasted barley mates very nicely with the coffee, and the lactose gives just a touch of sweetness that will be  quite welcome to those who take sugar in their coffee. There are hints of vanilla, a touch of bourbon, chocolate and an ever so slight earthy quality to this beer.

As the beer warms, the body becomes less of an issue and there is a touch of bitterness that comes through just at the finish. There is no tannic taste that you could expect from something with this much coffee in it.... The joys of cold brewed coffee! 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Hook Part 2

(Talking about my Bone Fish Hook Necklace. See part one HERE)

As I began to realize that there may... Or may not be something to the “Power” of this charm, I decided that I’d be wearing it to the right most of the time, order another and have something funky and eccentric to hand down to my kids when I die! (Seeing as how I can’t afford to get each of them a piece of eight from the Atocha!)


The new charm arrived days before Christmas, not significant to the story, as I didn’t intend to hand them down for a LOT of years!  But I do have a spare on hand.

Today, in preparation for an extended leave from the farm, I was moving  a stock tank. They are made of fairly thin galvanized steel, and are not really THAT heavy.... Except for when they are full of dirt, rocks and wood!

A smart person would have scooped a majority of that stuff out before trying to move such an object!

I’m not very smart, but I can lift heavy things!

So off I went, as usual. Muscle and ego leading the way, common sense and relatively conscious thought trailing far behind. I was going to tip the tank up, then flip it over to dump the junk out so I could move it.

As I got just to what you would call an Olympic Power Clean, the 300+ pound tank slipped off my hands and fell on my chest where I caught it, took a deep breath and heaved it on over.

At the time, not a big deal. We call it #RanchLife. But in retrospect, I was very close to being trapped beneath a 300 pound tank, with my 12 and 8 year-old kids watching in horror!

As the tank fell, I felt something inside my shirt. I figured it was something that slid out of a pocket. Again, no big deal!

Later that evening, I discovered that my necklace was broken, my fish hook gone.  I knew immediately what happened!

Do you suppose it broke to let ALL of it’s energy, good luck, Karma or whatever you want to call it, out at once... So my kids didn’t have to see their dad laying under a stock tank?

Maybe, Maybe not.... But I’m wearing the broken one next to the new one for a while... Just in case!

~Cheers!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Hook!

I wear a bone fish hook necklace. Not because it looks cool, or cause I’m a jewelry guy. Fact is, other than a wrist watch, I’ve never worn any jewelry except my wedding ring.

That said, I put my bone fish hook necklace back on EVERY morning after shaving!

I would like to relate somewhat of a fiction story that is basically a nonfiction story. I say that because I don’t want anyone getting all fowled up in religion or the worship of other gods, paganism or any other junk. Just take it for what it is and remember, it’s only stupid if it doesn’t work!

The meaning behind the Hawaiian bone fish hook necklace came from the deep connection and reverence the Hawaiians had for the ocean.

The ocean surrounding them was their source of food and their means of travel.

A bone fish hook represents strength, prosperity, abundance and a great respect for the sea. This is why I wear one EVERY DAY!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Back where it started

As I count down the days till the Castaway Winter Beach Bash in St. Thomas, I have found myself thinking back the the melodic tunes of the Endless Summer LP that perhaps began my attraction to the ocean.

Between Elvis and the beach boys, I'm pretty sure that's where it all started.

A quick poll on Facebook showed that you guys like the Beach Boys, So.... Here you go!



I really enjoyed the HQ Audio on this video. It's considerably better than the 'ol black disk I listened to it on for the formative years of my life!


Ahhh.... Kokomo. A Classic, with John Stamos!


I get around! Yes I do!

And actually, I hope you do too!

Have a great rest of the week peeps! Thanks for stopping in!

~Cheers!


EDIT! From my FIRST CD I ever purchased.... WIPEOUT! Featuring the Fat Boys! #Classic!



Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A quick look back

Happy New Year!

Here are a few of my favorite picks from last year to inspire the next!

~Cheers!


Buck!