Have Wine? Will Travel!

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This month’s wine writing challenge is TRAVEL, as selected by last month’s winner: the hilarious and enlightening Loie of Cheap Wine Curious.

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Of course, my first thought was to write about Napa, the first place I traveled for wine–but then I remembered I’ve already written about my trip and since I haven’t had the chance to go back, there’s nothing new to report.

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Then I thought about allllllll the places in France and Italy I passed through many, many moons (aka decades) ago that I’d love to go back and visit now that I have a true appreciation for the beauty and intricacies of champagnes and burgundies and amarones (ohmy!)–but then I realized that this post may never end.

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So then I thought about all the amazing Texas Hill Country wineries around where I grew up, which seemed apropos since I’m traveling (see what I did there?) down there at the end of the week–but then I realized that I should wait and do a bit of exploring of all the new wineries that have popped up since the last time I visited.

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Then I thought about cleverly describing how going to the wine store is like traveling around the world–but about the same moment that idea popped into my head, so did another:

Hawaiian Mead.

I know, I know you’re probably thinking “no, no…go back to writing about the wine store/traveling the world idea!”  But nope!  Hang on to your hats, we’re traveling to Hawaii!

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If you know me in real life or follow me on InstagramTwitter, or Facebook (shameless plug!), you will know that last September I went to Hawaii with some amazing friends.  While on the stunningly picturesque island of Kauai, we stumbled across the Koloa Rum Company.  By stumble, I mean April quickly learned she was traveling with lushes people who enjoyed sampling local adult beverages and she was trying to keep us appeased.

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But of course, this writing challenge is about wine, not rum (although THAT would be awesome!).  Having had a great time at Koloa, we (aka April, who was quicker with her google-searching fingers since she was giving away her rum samples) looked for other local places that made adult beverages.

While on the Big Island we visited the Kona Brewing Company, and so despite having not seen a grape growing anywhere in Hawaii’s lush and volcanic landscape, we were hopeful that we could find a winery.

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Alas, no grape winery…but BINGO! we found Nani Moon Meadery!  Now I will confess that I’ve never been a huge fan of mead, however, when in Rome…

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Nani Moon is in the back of a shopping center in Kapa’a.  We pull up, walk in, and, well, started tasting!  It seemed pointless not to try the full line-up, so we did.

For those of you out there who are unaware, mead is wine (although it can also be beer) made from honey instead of grapes.  It’s been around since…forever (and I’m pretty sure that’s an accurate timeframe!).  Much more sustainable, when you’re smack dab in the middle of the Pacific ocean and you have access to local apiaries.

As Stephanie (the owner) took us through each wine, she paired it with an appropriate snack and talked about where she sourced the honey (they weren’t all the same!).  I think my favorite was the Laka’s Nectar, which was the driest and most crisp of the wines.  While a little too sweet for me, the Cacao Moon was a big hit–understandable, given its chocolate undertones and velvety chocolate finish.  Stephanie definitely got bonus points for her Deviant Beehavior, which packs a kick as it is not only made from honey, but also chili!

We finished the tasting with some of the local honeys that she used, which was great–not only because they were delicious, but because you could really taste how much the nuances in the honey affected the taste of the wine.

If you’re interested in learning more, visiting, or throwing caution to the wind and just buying a bottle, contact Stephanie and tell her what you like.  I’m quite confident she will find you something you’ll truly enjoy and give you suggestions on pairings to help you enjoy it more!  She even has a cocktail section that encourages you to “bee inspired and mix it up!”

It was a great way to spend a couple of hours–and I think that if you find yourself smack dab in the middle of the Pacific on a tiny island named Kauai, you should go visit Stephanie and try her meads.  I’m not going to say that meads are now my favorite type of wine, but I did walk away with a better appreciation for just how versatile a wine made from honey can be.  And after all, isn’t that what it’s all about?

Aloha!

Thirsty Thursday #16

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In trying to find pictures for Throwback Thursday, I realized I have a lot of pictures of adult beverages (that is said with pride, by the way). As such, I’ve decided that rather than share pictures of me with bad 80s hair and glasses that legitimately covered half my face, I could easily share glasses of a much tastier kind. So without further ado, I present to you Thirsty Thursday, all the way from Hawaii (for some strange reason I have a lot of pictures from Hawaii that qualify for Thirsty Thursdays…)!!

This little baby is a coconut mojito.  It was the first drink I had in Hawaii.  Blended, not muddled and oh-so-tasty!   While some at the table said the aftertaste was a bit reminiscent of catnip, I thought the creaminess of the coconut with the lingering of mint gave it an extra layer of delicious texture.  Paired with a sinking sun and a beachside table at Duke’s in Waikiki, I was in heaven 🙂

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PS–after some pressing and a lot harassment, it was clarified that it tasted LIKE catnip smells, not that anyone at the table partakes in catnip…at least that he/she is willing to admit!

Thirsty Thursday #14

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In trying to find pictures for Throwback Thursday, I realized I have a lot of pictures of adult beverages (that is said with pride, by the way). As such, I’ve decided that rather than share pictures of me with bad 80s hair and glasses that legitimately covered half my face, I could easily share glasses of a much tastier kind. So without further ado, I present to you Thirsty Thursday, all the way from Hawaii (for some strange reason I have a lot of pictures from Hawaii that qualify for Thirsty Thursdays…)!!

I’m going to start off with the best piña colada I have ever had in my life.  MY LIFE.  I will concede that I don’t usually drink piña coladas, but it does tend to be my go-to drink if I want something with an umbrella.  Fresh coconut, fresh pineapple…deliciousness from the very first sip until the very last of my fourth…or maybe fifth…one.  Details are a bit fuzzy at this point.  What?  We got caught in a torrential downpour (more about that later) and had to wait it out at this great little beach bar we found in Kona…

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Uncle Herb

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We met Uncle Herb on a rainy day at Pearl Harbor (more about that later).  He was at home on leave when Japan attacked, quickly reporting for duty when the attack started.  He has a great memoir, Counting My Blessings, that details his life and what it was like being a soldier who survived the Pearl Harbor attack.

Today is a reminder to celebrate all the brave men and women, like Uncle Herb, like my Uncle Tiny, like Lynn, Wayne, and so many who protect our freedom and are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedom–those who came home and those who never did.  But let it also be a reminder that while we celebrate all of our amazing veterans today, we should be grateful to them and their sacrifices every day. Freedom isn’t free and those who defend it should always hold a special place in our lives.

Forever remembered.

Sunday Comics: #38: Meanwhile in Hawaii…

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I’m neither confirming nor denying this has happened while on this trip…

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Aloha Summer Vacation!

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Sorry for the impromptu month off!  It has been–to say the very least–a crazy summer.  Not that I’ve been traveling, but rather, I’ve been visited by travelers (yay!). Additionally, it has been chaotic at work and there are a plethora of other things not even worth mentioning.  Of course, I didn’t mean to be neglectful in my writing–I just had thoughts of I’ll do it tonight, tomorrow morning, this weekend, definitely for the monthly wine writing challenge…but no…nothing.

I was a little less of a slacker on shezzaspeak, mainly because I’ve just been posting pictures.  When I do write actual posts they tend to be much shorter than here or they feature the princess, of whom I can write about ad nauseam (for the masses, that is–I never get tired of it!).

The ironic thing is that while I haven’t been writing, I have actually been working a schedule of posts for when I am in Hawaii (THE one thing worth mentioning!).

That’s right, I said HAWAII!!!!!  By the way, if I were typing this on my phone I would have totally followed that statement with a slew of rainbow, palm tree, volcano, and surfing emoji.  Not that I surf, but well, I feel like it’s quintessential Hawaii.

This is a trip that has been several years in the making, as we were actually supposed to go last year, but something came up.  Then it was planned for this spring–and again, something came up.  Fearing the trip would never happen, we finally just picked some dates, booked hotels and planes, and viola: HAWAII!!  We are now in the planning everything we want to see, eat, and do stage (which is what really is taking up the majority of my writing time…well, that and random Netflix marathons)!  The great part of this trip is that my friend worlds are converging, as I’m going with April, Christi, and Tracy.  Of course, this means that there won’t be separate trips to see them this year, but IT’S HAWAII (yes, you can expect me to yell that out at least 93 more times in this post!)!!

So in honor of our upcoming trip to HAWAII!, I found an article on Mental_Floss that I thought would be fun to share:

15 Things You Might Not Know About Hawaii

1. There are only 13 letters in the Hawaiian alphabet and every word—and syllable—ends with one of five vowels.

2. That apostrophe-like mark you see in some Hawaiian words is called an ʻokina. It’s a consonant that signifies a slight pause. If two words seem to be spelled exactly alike, but one has an ʻokina, you’re looking at two different words. For example, “moa” means “chicken,” while “moʻa” means “cooked.”

3. The state of Hawaii consists of eight main islands, the biggest of which is called, you guessed it, the Big Island. The Big Island’s official name is Hawai’i.

4. The Big Island’s getting bigger—by more than 42 acres each year—thanks to Kīlauea Volcano. It’s been erupting for 30 years! Mauna Loa, one of the world’s largest volcanoes, is also on the Big Island. Astronauts once trained for moon voyages by walking on its hardened lava fields. Most recently, six NASA-funded researchers spent months on the northern slope simulating a Mars space station.

5. Hawaii is the only U.S. state that commercially grows coffee, cacao, and vanilla beans. (Also: It can take up to five years to grow a single vanilla bean.)

6. The Aloha State’s also good at growing… people. It’s got the highest life expectancy in the United States (81.3 years), despite the fact that…

7. The people of Hawaii consume the most Spam per capita in the U.S.

8. No matter how old you are or how long you’ve lived in the state, only people with Hawaiian ancestry are called “Hawaiians.” People of non-Hawaiian ancestry—even those born and raised there—call themselves “locals.”

9. One Hawaiian: Thermion grallator, also known as the happy face spider for a great picture–go to the Mental Floss article!

10. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Hawaii has the highest percentage of Asian Americans (38.6 percent) and multiracial Americans (23.6 percent) in the United States. It also has the lowest percentage of white Americans (24.7 percent).

11. In Hawaii, no celebration’s complete without a lei. And the flower garlands come with strict rules. For starters, it’s impolite to refuse a lei, remove it in front of the person who gave it to you, or wear one that you intend to give to someone else. A lei should never be thrown away. Instead, it should traditionally be returned to the earth, ideally to where its flowers were gathered. And it’s bad luck to give a tied lei to a pregnant woman, as it suggests an umbilical cord around a baby’s neck.

12. The state gem isn’t a standard mineral. Black coral is technically an animal, but it’s often used to make jewelry.

13. The Aloha State is one of four that have outlawed billboards. (The others are Alaska, Maine, and Vermont.)

14. Snakes are also outlawed. The only legal serpents are housed in zoos.

15. When you picture a beautiful Hawaiian getaway, you might imagine a black or white beach. They also come in yellow, red, and green.

Snakes are outlawed?  Hmmm….perhaps not just a vacation, but research for permanently relocating??  Ya’ll would come to visit, right? 😉

HAWAII!!!!!

Thirsty Thursday #12

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In trying to find pictures for Throwback Thursday, I realized I have a lot of pictures of adult beverages (that is said with pride, by the way). As such, I’ve decided that rather than share pictures of me with bad 80s hair and glasses that legitimately covered half my face, I could easily share glasses of a much tastier kind. So without further ado, I present to you Thirsty Thursday!

This week’s Thirsty Thursday is brought to you by BeckyJack’s Food Shack.  And they’re not lying.  It’s a shack, but the beer is cold AND they are always changing what’s on tap–so it’s a great excuse to go back again and again and again.  Oh yeah, and the food is amazing!

I really wanted to take a "menu" but I think they only had 3 available!

I really wanted to take a “menu” but I think they only had a handful available!

It’s definitely one place you don’t wanna miss when in the area…or the State of Florida.  I’m so glad that I ended my wonderful Fabulous Not Forty Birthday Trip #1 on such a tasty note…literally.  After we left Orlando, we came back to Spring Hill for a few days to lounge around and just hang-out.  On my last day, we went to BeckyJack’s for an unforgettable lunch of crab cakes and fish sandwiches.  We then drove back to the house, put the suitcases in the car, made one final sweep of the house to make sure I hadn’t left anything (but of course, I had…because I always do!) and off to the airport we went!

Don’t panic–don’t panic! I wouldn’t leave without giving you a beer pic on Thirsty Thursday (unless it was wine or whiskey!) 😉

Kona Brewery ale....of some sort (I can't remember--and of course, the beers on tap are constantly rotating!)

Kona Brewery Big Wave Golden Ale

Hogsmeade

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After we left Hogwarts we wound our way back down to the village of Hogsmeade.  A quaint little village, where there is snow on the buildings all year round.

Our first stop was to wet our whistles with some delicious butter beer.

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And it was delicious (as it tastes like butterscotch, which I adore!), but oh-so-very-sweet.  In fact, we all shared one and that was more than enough for me.  Alas, it is non-alcoholic.  Cut the sweetness and create it in alcoholic form and I would probably drink it by the bucketload.  #justsaying

My favorite store in the village–actually, probably in the park–was Honeyduke’s.  Being a sugar fiend aside, it was a bright and colorful store, very quaint.  I had to restrain myself from literally purchasing everything, except for vomit & boogie flavored beans, Bertie Botts can keep those!

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We spent a bit more time wandering around Hogsmeade and peaking into various places, like the Three Broomsticks (but too full from butter beer to eat anything!).  All too soon, it was time to make our way back to the platform to take the train back to London…

Hogwarts

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You gotta hand it to Universal, they know how to sucker you in create a whole experience.  Of course, in order to do that you need a pass to both of their parks–but it is TOTALLY worth it (if you’re a Harry Potter fan–and by fan I mean borderline obsessed…and by borderline, I just mean obsessed) to get on the Hogwarts Express at Platform 9¾ and ride to Hogsmeade & Hogwarts.

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Like Gringott’s, Hogswarts is a ride that first winds you through the castle offering you a better look inside the most famous wizarding school in the world–just watch out for the staircases, they like to move!

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It was tempting to go through again, but we were burning daylight and still had to get to Hogsmeade!

Taint No Place More Magical!

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For awhile, I just walked around and took in all the shops (btw, if you’re just now joining me–welcome!  I’m discussing my visit to Diagon Alley in London Universal Studios in Orlando, FL as part my first Fabulous Not Forty Birthday Trip).

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I really wanted to get a wand, but at some point practicality took over and by that I mean, whose wand would I buy?  Of course, I’d want Dumbledore’s and Snape’s and Hermoine’s and maybe McGonagall’s…all I knew that I shouldn’t spend over $100 on wands that in NYC would probably be considered a weapon–so I left Ollivander’s empty handed.  Although just FYI, the wands are interactive with various things throughout Diagon Alley so if you could actually pick just one–it would make a great addition to your collection and a great enhancement to your time at Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade.

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Aside from Ollivander’s, the next coolest place was Borgin & Bourke’s (don’t look at me, my parents are muggles and wouldn’t have known to tell me to ask to be in Griffindor, so I’m quite sure I would have been sorted into Slytherin!) in Knockturn Alley.  Lots of fun and cool interesting stuff to buy.

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Of course, NO trip to Diagon Alley would have been complete without stopping at Weasleys Wizard Weezes, complete with a tightrope riding Professor Umbridge screaming about having order!  Skiving snack boxes, extendable ears, darkening powders, and a lot more of George & Fred’s wonderful creations right at your finger tips!

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There was one ride in Diagon Alley, which was inside Gringott’s bank.  Basically, you walk through the bank and then ride down into the vault area–just don’t mess with the goblins…or the dragon!

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There are tons to do, see, eat, and drink in Diagon Alley–but if you get bored, then you can go find the Dursleys and hang out with them 😉