Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Wind Blowing, Cloudy, but a Great Day Out Yesterday.

     It started to look like all was coming apart at the seams for our birthday party at Woman's Key yesterday morning.     The birthday girl was feeling a little ill, the weather was cloudy and windy, but a patch of blue sky appeared, and we all got together and headed out to sea fully planning on a great day of fun and frolic.     Going out the winds started to ease a bit as we got into the Lakes Passage to the West of Key West.    The sun was making in and out appearances and the moods of all of us were getting better by the minute.   The application of a little bit of Captain Morgan and Cruzan Raspberry Rums didn't hurt the traveler's moods.  I guess that is why the British Navy kept rum for the sailors for so long. 

     We arrived at Woman's Key to find the wind had shifted more to the East, leaving the beach exposed to the wind, so undaunted, we got underway a gain and headed for Boca Grand, another Key a little further to the West and the beach wraps around more to the west and Was better protected from the wind.    Upon arrival, we toot the beach by storm and the party was underway.   Food and fun, checking out all the trick and unique stuff that had been washed up on the beach as well as food and mor fine cocktails. 

    With all of us in full party mode, we headed up and down the beach and found many unusual things, shells feathers, bits of coral, and even a couple of sand dollars.    With the wind in check around the corner, it became very comfortable and much fore fun for all of us as we frolicked on the beach. 

I guess that it was a great success and as always when out on the water with a nice bottle of rum  and some good friends that the party goes on and on till all are weary or we have to get underway in order to have the rental boat back in harbor by 5pm.    Oh well it ended up being a fine day with a lot of fun had by all.   ;o)

Happy Birthday Lauren!!!!!!   ;o)

Monday, January 30, 2012

Out to Woman's Key Today

Happy Birthday Lauren
It's my friend Lauren's Birthday today, so it is out on the water to Woman's Key for the day.   Full story with the pix tomorrow.   ;o)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Intensity of Flight

"Achin' with the feelin' of the freedom of an eagle when she flys."     Kris Kristofferson


Saturday, January 28, 2012

2012 Rum Renaissance Festival Miami

   The time is fast approaching for the 2012 Rum Renaissance Festival at the Deauville Beach Resort in Miami.    The event runs from April 16 through the 22nd, so get your tickets early.    2012 promises more rum companies, more events and just plain more fun for all that participate.     There is a rum contest to see who is making the best rums this year there are very special rum tastings, bar tender events and many many other things happening all week long.     The tickets are going to be going fast so get your now so you won't be left out in the warm in Miami.  Tickets available through Miami Rum Renaissance Festival at http://rumrenaissance.com/Tickets.html.

     There is complete information about the event at their website http://rumrenaissance.com/.    This year is expected to surpass last year's grand event so make your plans today.   ;o)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Watering Holes in the Virgin Islands

Pusser's Outpost, Road Harbour, BVI
I've been talking about all of the trips to all of the places, but today lets look at the watering holes that really make the virgin islands so popular.    Almost daily in the Rum Bar we talk about going to the Virgin Islands, but it isn't so much the islands the conversations gravitate to, but it is the watering holes that no one can ever forget.     Whether you are in the U.S. or the British Virgin Islands, you are going to find yourself visiting one of these famous bars.

Foxy's on Jost Van Dyke
     The BVI has famous bars on nearly every island, There are Foxy's and Soggy Dollar  on Jost Van Dyke, Pusser's on Tortola, Willy T on Norman Island.   Not to mention Saba Rock and Bitter End Yacht Club on Virgin Gorda.    If you are visiting the BVI, you will find it hard not to go to any of these famous and very unique watering holes.   Every one of these special bars has it's own one of a kind atmosphere and traditions that make you want to return time after time.

Willy T, Home of the Naked Dive and the Shotski

Home of the Painkiller, the Soggy Dollar Bar

    On the US Virgin Island side, there is Skinny Legs on St. John plus Iggie's and Duffy's Love Shack on St. Thomas.    Not to mention the hundreds and hundreds of other fun bars that are located at every resort on both Islands.     Duffy's is in Red Hook and Iggie's in in Bolongo Bay, both of these places have great entertainment and fun that carries deep into the night.       The warm tropical afternoons and evenings make these places a blast to visit and party at.   

     As you can see I've only touched the tip of the iceberg if you will, the Virgin Islands are not only loaded with fabulous fishing,  scenery, diving, and eateries, but some of the world's most famous watering holes as well.    Make a point of visiting all or some of these fun places on you next visit.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

2012 Key West Food and Wine Festival is Underway

     The 2012 Key West Food and Wine Festival goes into full swing today in Key West.    The best of the wine and spirits distributors are showing off and providing tastings for their wines.   The  complete event schedule can be found at http://keywestfoodandwinefestival.com/default/index.cfm/2012-events/.    You will find creative cuisine, premium wines, and other unique events all in a subtropical Key West island setting.   The event runs today through Sunday, the 29th of January.

     There is a barefoot event at the Southernmost Beach Cafe featuring food,wine, and music on Thursday evening.      Other events that feature Turtles, Sharks and Mermaids, and a grand tasting at the Key West Aquarium plus many many more things happening all weekend.    There are more than 40 restaurants, bars, galleries and boutiques along the mile long stroll of Duval Street that will have special events for your pleasure as part of the "Duval Uncorked".


     There will be events at the Hogfish Bar and Grill, Bahama Village and  The Historic Seaport that will include an outdoor wine market and culminate with the "18th Annual Master Chef's Classic".     There are tickets available at each of the events.   Get out and enjoy the festival.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Forgotten Casks: A Marvelous Find

     Chairman's Reserve the Forgotten Casks  are a group of rum casks that were put aside after a fire at the distillery in 2007.    Through the reconstruction and the reorganization of the plant, these barrels had been forgotten about until the cellar master noticed the now over age barrels of Chairman's Reserve.     They were sampled and found to have a wonderful flavor.     The decision was made to offer this very special rum as a limited reserve.  

     This is a fine mahogany colored rum that has not been run through the chill filtration of the other St. Lucia rums.    It's rich fruity and woody aroma leads you to the parallel flavors on the palate.   There is a smooth finish with a molasses notes that remain in a long finish.

     Unlike many other of the lost rum barrels that have sat far to long and the rum has past it's prime Chairman's Reserve "The Forgotten Casks" has sat just long enough to create a fine sipping rum that can be enjoyed by anyone that can sit and relax for a while and just sip and be.    The best news is that they are talking about continueing the Forgotten Casks leaving some more barrels of Chairman's Reserve  to rest for and extended period of time. 

     The word is that The Forgotten Casks will be arriving into the United States sometime in 2012.  Keep your eyes out for it on the shelves soon.   ;o)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Monday Around Fish Hawk Key

     Monday is a great day for me, weather permitting it usually means get up in the morning, getting the work in the office completed and head out on the water in search of new and fun things.     Yesterday was no exception,  we visited Fish Hawk Key just to the North and East of Key West and found a pair of Ospreys and their aerie with the female sitting on eggs.     Her mate is a beautiful specimen that soared near us trying to keep our attention away from her.    This is nature at her very best, the female with fish in beak and the male circling above the aerie.

     What made this so special was we were able to observe these magnificent birds from the dinghy with the motor off and just drifting next to the mangrove key that they had the aerie nestled  in.     We only spent a half an hour or so watching the pair, but their actions yielded hundreds of spectacular photos of the two.    It is so rewarding to be able to take home such a great bunch of photos of such unusual and regal creatures.   

     Just a couple of sips from the flask of good Plantation Guyana Rum as we drifted by the pair. This just made the relaxation and enjoyment of the afternoon more complete.    It is, in a way like being lost at sea without a care in the world, drifting in and out of the mangroves silently, photographing the birds and the scenery without leaving even a footprint in the sands.     Making it even better the fact that there was no one else around to bother us or to scare the birds as they went about their business of fishing and keeping the eggs warm in the aerie.

     Here are a few other pictures of the Ospreys and a Kingfisher that kept us company during the drifting through the area.     ;o)  

The 12 Step Become a Pirate Program by Maria de Los Angeles

     Maria de Los Angeles in here Sex and the Beach Blog has published a great article about the 12 steps of becoming a pirate.   I found this to be a great article that you should really enjoy.


The 12 Step Become A Pirate Program

Trail of the Pirates is a travel series exploring maritime history, culture and lore between Key West and St. Augustine on the east coast of Florida.

If you don't want to read this epic post, just watch this video.

A funny thing happens when you start investigating and writing a lot about a particular topic -- you get sucked in. And if that topic happens to be pirates, that's a good thing.

Nine years ago, Michelle Murillo was a reporter in Florida doing exactly what I did earlier this month. She was on assignment covering Pirates in Paradise in Key West and got hooked. Today, she's still a journalist but also a professional reenacter who goes by the pirate name of Diosa (Goddess), teaching folks about pirate history through plays, demonstrations and lectures at events around the country.

It has taken me a year to follow in her footsteps, traveling around Florida exploring pirate history and events. Since my first trip to Key West and my subsequent time in St. Augustine where Iinterviewed Murillo about her role as famous female pirate Mary Read, she has become a mentor of sorts.
Read More................
My Photo
Award-Winning Freelance Writer: Travel, Food, Spirits, Blogging, Social Media, Sex, Fishing, Nature, Culture, Pirates, Humor, Yoga, Kitchen Sink. Whatever tickles my fancy and other parts. I tell like it is. Learn more at Wily Wordsmith.
Drop on to her blog and enjoy the entire story, it's really great.   ;o)


Saturday, January 21, 2012

100 Years Ago Tomorrow Henry Flagler's Over-Sea Railroad Came to Key West

     Tomorrow marks the 100th anniversary of the arrival of Henry Flagler's "Little Train that Could".     Building this railroad would be a major feat with today's technology, but to have done it between 1908 and 1912 and complete it in that short of time is incredible.


     It took the 12 years to complete the bridge leading to Key Largo between 1998 and 2010, let alone bridges to span the length of the keys.    4,000 men working six days a week for 10 to 12 hours a day completed the 156 mile road bed project in  just over 4 years.    Pigeon Key was the headquarters for the project between 1908 and 1912.  This small key was home for workers lured to the project by the $1.60 a day wages for working in the hot Florida sun and surviving the mosquitoes.   "They say the two things slowed the completion of the railroad were mosquitoes and the lack of alcohol." Kelly McKinnon, Director of the Pigeon Key Foundation said.

     There was a fear that Henry Flagler, in his 80's at the time might die before his railroad was completed, so the men started working marathon 12 hour shifts toward the end of the project.    It was those efforts that gave the central keys city of Marathon it's name.    

     There were some 10,000 people that showed up on January 22, 1912 to see the arrival of Henry's Train and to greet Henry Flagler and his family as they got off the train. .    Everyone from school children to politicians showed up for the event.

     Key West was Florida's most populated city and the richest per capita in 1908 and Henry Flagler successfully linked the city to the mainland.   You could ride from Miami to Key West for $7.18 or from New York to Key West for $77.00.

     Henry Flagler died 18 months after the completion of the railroad.   Thousands of people made the journey on the Over-Sea Railroad for the next two decades, but the great depression and the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 brought the Over-Sea Railroad to a grinding halt when 40 miles of track were destroyed and the locomotive was lost into the sea.

     Sunday there will be a parade in Key West and Henry Flagler re-enactor, museum exhibitions and many other events throughout Florida to celebrate the centennial.     ;o)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Corn 'n Oil: The Cocktail

One of the highlights of my recent trip to Barbados last fall was the getting to have the seemingly "National Drink of Barbados" Corn 'n Oil.    This is a curious blend of Bajan Rum, John D. Taylor's Falernum and Angostura Bitters.   This is a nice and smooth cocktail that is starting to hit it's stride in the United States these days.   

     I was first Introduced to Corn 'n Oil on a trip to Barbados 2 years ago, it's spicy, limey and sweet tastes tickle the palliate and finish as smooth as silk.   This is one of those cocktails that you can just enjoy in the evening or at any time.    

The most predominant recipe here in the United States calls for more rum than falernum, but the Bajan recipe is the reverse.

Corn 'n Oil: The American Recipe
  • 2 oz. Cruzan Blackstrap Rum
  • 1/2 oz. John D. Taylor's Velvet Falernum
  • 2 Dashes of Bitters
Place Ingredients in a Rocks or Highball Glass, and squeeze the juice from a couple of lime wedges into the mix and stir.

Corn 'n Oil: Bajan Recipe
  • 1 1/2 oz. John D. Taylor's Velvet Falernum
  • 1/2 oz. Dark Bajan Rum (Plantation Barbados 5 Year Old)
  • 2 Dashes of Bitters
  • Juice of 2 Lime Wedges
Fill a Rocks or Highball Glass with ice, pour in the Falernum, then the dark rum, which will float on the surface like oil, add a couple of dashes of Bitters and squeeze the juice of a couple of lime wedges and stir well and add additional ice as needed.    Garnish with a lime wedge.

      After trying both of these recipes, I tend to favor the Bajan recipe over the American one.    I prefer the dryer Bajan Rum in the mix to the sweeter Blackstrap Rum.     Try this cocktail, and I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do.     ;o)o prefer the Bajan

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Renewed Interest in the Daiquiri

      This classic rum cocktail was named for a beach in the vicinity of Santiago, Cuba. This is made from the simplest of ingredients and the most bastardized cocktail ever in these modern times of mixes and smoothie machines. This is a simple drink that is made from lime juice, sugar (or cane syrup), and rum, all the ingredients are shaken with ice and strained into a cocktail glass and garnished with a piece of lime. It is the freshness of these cocktails attained through the use of fresh squeezed ingredients that make them the popular cocktail they really are. This is a cocktail that made it's first appearances in the beginning of the 1900's and in 2011 it is still a very popular cocktail.

Mary and Earnest Hemingway
and Spencer Tracy at El Floridita
El Floridita today
It was Hemingway that really brought a lot of attention to the cocktail in his Cuban years when hanging out at the El Floridita at the corner of Calle Obispo and Monserrate Street La Habana Vieja, Cuba. " My Mojito in La Bodeguita, my Daiquiri in El Floridita", this is the place that to this day is the mecca for the finest daiquiri's anywhere. The El Floridita first opened in 1817 at it's present location. In 1914 Constantino Ribalaigua Vert began working as the bartender at El Floridita and in 1918 he became the owner. Much of the original atmosphere and contains a large collection of memorabilia from many of it's famous clientele, Earnest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, John Dos Passos, Graham Greene, to name a few. El Floridita is famous for its fine seafood restaurant as well as it's cocktail lounge, and a must visit when in Havana.

If you haven't had the opportunity to experience one of these really exquisite cocktails, you must find a traditional bar that has the abilities to reproduce them in the traditional manner. This will be a cocktail to remember. There are several of these classic daiquiri's like the Hemingway, El Floridita (Frozen), or just go with the classic Daiquiri, all or any of these will light up your taste buds and put a smile on your face. Some of the variation include the use of any one of several liqueurs like Maraschino Liqueur, Blue Curacao. Gallliano, Falernum, or any of several others to ad a different dimension to the cocktail. No matter how you make this wonderful cocktail, do it with fresh ingredients that do NOT include "Daiquiri Mix", keep it fresh and simple you'll really enjoy it that way.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Sailing around Key West

     More of a power boater myself, but the sails are all up in Key West this week.    The Mount Gay Sailboat Races are on this week, drawing a good crowd to the Keys.    This week has some  really perfect sailing weather, 10 to 20 mph winds and 2 to 3 foot seas, ideal for a sailing event.    The boats are further out than I was able to go. but you could see them appearing and disappearing as the seas ebbed and flowed between me and them. 

     These conditions don't just bring out the racers, the local sailors are out on the water as well.     You will see them in all sizes and shapes of boats out there this time of year.    There is nothing quite as spectacular as the big sailboats with their sails full and making way through the water.    I'm out here just drifting in the seas camera in hand and having a great afternoon of taking pictures and sipping a from a flask of Moung Gay Black Rum just letting my mind drift with the boats.    

     The more time that I spend on the water the more time I'd like to spend on the water, sounds strange,  but it is true.      My Mondays and Tuesdays are the days that I get to spend doing pretty much what pleases me, and I seem to spend many of them on the water doing different things every time I go out.   The weather, whether it is windy; big or flat seas; sunny or cloudy; I seem to be drawn to get out there and just enjoy being a part of the ocean and all she has to offer.   ;o) 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Channel Key on a Windy Day

     By the time I got all my chores done and got ready to head out on the water the wind had picked up and the temperature dropped, undaunted, I jumped aboard my dinghy and went the short distance to Channel Key.     This is a curious little mangrove key that has a narrow channel that winds though the center of it.    It is sort of like being in Jungleland at Disneyland, you wind through the key with the mangroves reaching out and over you making you feel like you are traveling the Amazon or something like it anyway.     All that with the big plus of no alligators, big snakes, or piranha lurking around every bend in the river.    

     It is a very peaceful place that you can raise the motor and let the boat just drift as you sip your rum and let your imagination take over.          The perfect place, the mangroves filter out the wind and allow the sun to warm my skin as I drift along taking pictures and sipping my rum.     The stream is full of small and medium size fish, they are fun to watch as the seemingly just scurry around under and around the boat.    It is like watching people on the sidewalk from a upper story perch, they just go in  random directions, each on their own mission.

     I begin to realize that I do live in a very special place when I get out on my little journeys all within a five or six mile radius of home.    I have the peaceful solitude of places like Channel Key or Mud Key to let all of the concerns float away as I drift along.     The Smith and Cross Rum was the perfect selection for this day with it's cool and brisk air.   Takes the chill off and soothes the soul like no other.   That big bold pot still flavor and the naval strength makes it perfect for an old guy drifting through the mangroves and chilling in a big way.

     Maybe next Monday will be less windy and I will be able to go further to the West and visit Boca Grand, or maybe even the Marquesas Keys.     It really doesn't matter, because the close in keys are really fun and relaxing too.    ;o)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Monday Morning of a New Week

     This almost seems anti-climatic after the past few weeks.    My friends from Barbados and London have all gone home, Mike from rumconnection .com, http://rumconnection.com/uncategorized/jamaica-bound/ is on his way to Jamaica, and "poor me", still here in Key West.    I really don't feel sorry for me either.     The weather is clear and mostly sunny and temps in the low seventy's today.     The winds are down so I guess it is another good day to go out on the water with a flask of rum and my camera to see what I can find.   These explorations are always fun and mind clearing, especially with a nice rum.    Smith & Cross might be the perfect one for today, naval rum with the big bold taste, perfect.

Let me check the list, rum, boat, munchies, camera, sun block, and ice.     That should take care of everything I need for the day.    Check back in tomorrow with you to let you know how the day worked out.    ;o)