Thursday, August 30, 2007

Egg on top?Kaiaua Fisheries, located on Coast Road, Kaiaua - apparently the best fish and chips place in NZ. When Robbie and Pat took me there he ordered his with an egg on top! I have never seen that done before. Kaiaua is such a small, quaint place near Waikato and the farm. The service is great and the food is even better. It is apparently Buns' favorite place to eat fush and chups (as the Kiwis say).

I had a craving for fish and chips today and perhaps next time I order it I will ask for an egg on top. I wonder if that is a Kiwi thing or they will serve it to me like that at Chippy's on Queen Street W? That is the only fish and chips place I can think of in this city.

Chippy's have a great website (look at the pic below - it makes your mouth water, non?) and the menu looks good too, will have to take the Brit when she gets here as am sure she is missing some Brit-style food on her travels. Review of Chippy's to come...

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Oh Turning Leaf....
A long while ago, I had a tip off from a friend who worked at Sainsbury's that if you buy a case of Ernest & Julio Gallo wine you would be eligible for a free return flight to the USA. Cities included in the promo were: New York, Boston, Miami etc.

Apparently these cases were sold out as soon as they got to stores but after a late night out Rana and I stumbled upon some at an all night Sainsbury's in Soho. We hauled these two cases in the black cab and went home excited about the free flights.

I read all the fine print and sent off my application form (registered mail too) I was positive that surely I would fly to NYC after spending something like ninety quid on these two cases of terrible tasting wine?!

I didn't hear back from the marketing company that was facilitating the promotion and after a few weeks I Googled the company. The Google search returned many hate websites and consumer forum posts entitled 'Turning Leaf flight scam' and more. I then decided that this wine (that tasted awful) would not be drunk in vain. Finally after weeks and weeks of pushing the marketing company and Sainsbury's legal dept I got a reply saying I could book my flight to NY and only pay taxes. Yay!

I was lucky as many people did not get their flights and were stuck with the crappy wine.

I had a great time in NY and then came back to these never ending bottles of Turning Leaf wine. I tried to have a sangria party, give them away as gifts but they would not go away.

It is a long standing joke now that there is one bottle of Turning Leaf left that is passed back and forth from my friend Anne Marie and I at any special occasion. I am sure I will see that Turning Leaf again soon....maybe we will have to actually crack it open when he first child is born.

Read the Advertising Standards Authority Website's report on this promotion, am sure Sainsbury's will never team up with that marketing company again.

Lesson for today: buyer beware of food promos.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Fico d'India

Some yummy prickly pears we had this past weekend. They were probably shipped in from Sicily so are a little faded and not as tasty as they would be if they came fresh from the plant-but still great.

They are a Sicilian favorite and are always around at parties and special occasions. The taste is very sweet depending on how ripe they are but many people find them hard to eat due to their texture and the difficulty to peel them without getting very fine needles in your fingers.

Their insides are not fleshly like a peach but are harder and full of seeds which need to be massaged around the mouth and swallowed whole. As a child, I would spit out each one (which took ages) but now I can savor the seeds and texture as part of the whole experience.

It is hard to explain the food experience - it is very unique, my only suggestion is to get one, be very careful peeling it and try it for yourself.

In Sicily they are called fico d’India or fichi d’India – depending on who is saying it, in which dialect and in which region of Sicily. Yes, it is that diverse from town to town.

In scientific terms Wikipedia tells us that prickly pears, also called Opuntia is a genus in the cactus family Cactaceae.

They have two kinds of spines; large, smooth, fixed spines and small, hairlike spines called glochids that easily penetrate skin and detach from the plant.

A true Sicilian can cut these without getting any needles in them. There are different ways to slice and dice these to avoid the needles but it is mostly done the way your father or grandfather cut it. Some people use dishwashing gloves, newspaper, brown paper bags and more… but they are usually laughed at.

Another interesting tidbit:
Charles Darwin was the first to note that these cacti have thigmotactic anthers. This means that as its anthers are touched they curl over, depositing their pollen. This movement can be seen by gently poking the anthers of an open Opuntia flower. Am going to try this next time I am in Sicily.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

SOMASOMA hot chocolate shot.

SOMA chocolate maker in the Distillery District-their gelato laboratory. That jug on the right is full of pureed blueberries-yum!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Lemon and pepper does the trick
After you roast or boil your fresh corn sprinkle some lemon and pepper seasoning on top to give it that extra flavour.

At City Hall they dip it in a pot of melted butter which was also a fattening way to make it even tastier! Off to make lunch and fresh corn is on the menu. (pic from Fresh Wednesday's at City Hall)

Friday, August 24, 2007

Cute Ontario farmers
From Fresh Wednesday's at City Hall. Cute, friendly farmers that sold the best apples and corn I have had all year!

Looking for something to do on the weekend? Head out of the city to one of the farms.

Get to BRANTVIEW APPLES & CIDER farm in St. George (225 Howell Road). You can pick your own apples, buy some fresh apple cider and meet the smiling men as seen in the photo above. Taste some of their apple butter or bring your service group or sports team to the farm to pick apples, we they make a 15 percent donation to the organization from the sales of their products. There will be a big St. George Apple Fest the 3rd week of September.

The cute Brantview farmers can also be found at Squre One and the Guelph Farmers’ Market. Phone: (519) 448-1323. Visit their website for some history and pics of their beautiful land.

Or visit the Willowtree Farm in Port Perry, for fresh produce, baked goods and more!

975 Durham Rd. 21, Port Perry. Between Utica & Manchester. Open Jun - Nov daily; Summer 8 am - 7 pm; Fall 8 am - 6 pm. 905-985-4973/985-7493
I like their banner:

'If you ate today - thank a farmer'

Thursday, August 23, 2007

LARABARFresh Wednesday's at City Hall continue until October and I was there yesterday taking in the activity. After doing some admin inside City Hall for the Shoot Toronto photo exhibition (it takes place from Sept. 10-16 in the rotunda) I then met up with Kibbutz D.

We strolled around, bought lots of fruit and veg, had lunch in the square and chatted with some fun farmers and got some free LARABARs.

Larabars are all natural food bars created by a woman named Lara, who wanted a health bar that tasted good and came in some interesting flavours. She came up with the idea while hiking in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

A true entrepreneur, she put in some blood, sweat and tears and made the first 500 at her home with a cuisinart and a rolling pin. Now the Larabars are sold in Canada, US, UK, Singapore, Iceland and Israel.

The one we had was filling and tasted great with a bit of bite as it had some cinnamon in it, it was called Cocoa Môlé. Try and pick one up at your local health food store and taste for yourself. The staff at the booth were so helpful and friendly!

An interesting story about these health bars, Nathalie almost mowed down Sarah Jessica Parker when she was trying to buy a energy bar in NYC earlier this year (not sure if it was a Larabar she was searching for?).

Maybe I will give her a few of these mini ones to keep in her purse so when she has another low sugar attack she doesn’t have to push by SJP to get her fix! She was so frantic to get some food in her that she didn’t recognize SJP until her cashier was excitedly saying, ‘it’s Carrie Bradshaw.’ I love this story!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Pineapple Lumps
A NZ treat! It smells like pineapple, has pineapple flavour but I don't think there is any pineapple in this candy bar (from what I recall when reading the ingredients' list).

My sis and I have a new favourite show -Flight of the Conchords - about two Kiwis who move to NYC to get their folk band into the limelight. It is hilarious and is getting quite the cult following. My friends in NY love it and my friends in TO are also keenly watching each week as Jermaine and Brett go through some interesting experiences in NY. It doesn't seem to be showing in NZ which is a shame as it is truly a gem of a show.

They make a lot of funny NZ references and perhaps one day they will be eating Pineapple Lumps sent to them from their family back home. One thing they do not do on the show is call each other by a nickname as every Kiwi I know is not called their real name e.g. Bug, Bun, Bobs, Coops, Hunty, Heinzy, Madz etc... Seriously, these are some of the Kiwi people whom I have met and for months did not know their real names. Some of them I still cannot recall their real names?!

On the site Pineapple Lumps are, 'the single best-seller among homesick Kiwis. Chewy and satisfying.'

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Green Belt Farmers Market comes to town
The Greenbelt wraps around the Golden Horseshoe around Toronto and is vital to the quality of life in southern Ontario. There's so much to see and do in the Greenbelt: hiking, biking, camping, canoing, staying at B&Bs, visiting llama farmers, wineries and more.

Where is it? For all your city dwellers, get out there…the Greenbelt forms a green ring around the cities and subdivisions of the Horseshoe, extends up through the Oak Ridges Moraine to Lake Simcoe and Lake Scugog and eastward, and also includes the Niagara Escarpment along the Bruce Trail to Tobermory.

With urban sprawl that keeps extending we need to ensure that the green belt is saved for its environmentally positive effects and also for future generations to enjoy. The mass build up of homes and extension of the city is cutting down all our green land to make cookie-cutter homes, which are ugly and lack character. My advice is, buy a home in the already built up areas and not in new sub-divisions, which are razing down trees and digging up valuable green land!

This Saturday (August 25) there will be a Green Belt farmers market at the Don Valley Brickworks which will celebrate fresh and local produce from the Greenbelt. It will be a family day out with fun stuff for kids, hands on cooking workshops and outdoor performances.

There are other farmers’ markets happening around the city and here are a few that you should check out to support our local farmers and get some Ontario freshness on your table.

Nathan Phillips Square Market (I will be there tomorrow doing some shopping)
Toronto City Hall corner of Bay and Queen Streets.
Open Wednesdays 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., June 7 to October 18.
Vendors: 20

North York Farmers’ Market
Mel Lastman Square, 5100 Yonge Street. Open Thursdays 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., June to October. Vendors: 10-12

Riverdale Farmers’ Market
Details: Riverdale Park West in front of Simpson House, 201 Winchester Street. Open Tuesdays 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., May to October.
Vendors: 16

St. Lawrence Market
Front and Jarvis Street, north building. Open Saturdays 5 a.m. to 5 p.m., Open all year.
Vendors: 76

Visit Harvest Ontario ( to find out more about pick-your-own farms and farmers' markets in your area.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Pines is for sale
The Pines on Erie Road in Crystal Beach is for sale. It has been there for over 40 years and the family is now selling to someone who wishes to take it on. They will only sell to someone who will keep the tradition of the Pines going.

John in the pic, spoke to the family and they will even hand over the secret Pines sauce recipe to the new owners. More on the pines to follow...

Friday, August 17, 2007

Japanese jelly - Awayuki
So good and so refreshing, if I could read what it said on the back of the box I would tell you what is in these little jelly cups.

The gift box from Japan didn't last very long as the jellies came in the most wonderful flavours.

This type of box is given as a gift but in Japan, for every day jelly consumption they portions are smaller and cost something to the equivalent of 4 for $1.oo or 100 JPY Japanese Yen.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Taro and rou rou

If you are not sick of Fiji posts then read on. If you are sick of them here's a diversion...go to this website and read interesting stuff about career and personal coaching at my friend Daryl's site called Dynamic Life Creations.

So readers that have stayed on here is info about the food in the photo which was a typical dish served in Fiji.

I have never eaten taro (white triangular shape at centre of the plate) or rou rou which is the local spinach (green stuff on the plate) but we had plenty of it while in paradise (a.k.a Fiji).

Taro is like a harder potato with a starchy texture but tastes like a dry mixture of pumpkin and potato and the rou rou is the local spinach. It was so nice to eat as it was always served in a coconut milk sauce. I think I will try cooking our local spinach, which is leafy rather than the Fijian one which is ong and stringy, in coconut sauce as it was delicious.

Taro was served to us every day while we were on the Yasawa Islands and it seems that the vegetable has been a staple of the indigenous Fijian diet for centuries. Locals call it taro root but it is not really a root but a corm.

Corms are short, vertical, swollen underground plant stems that serves as a storage organ used by some plants to survive winter or other adverse conditions such as summer drought and heat. Interesting factoid, non?

In 1993 Samoa had a problem with their taro crops and Fiji stepped in to fill the gap. They then became the main supplier for New Zealand, Australia, and Los Angeles in the United States (there are a lot of Californian's in Fiji as it is an overnight 11hr flight to the islands).

Am not sure if you can buy it in Toronto but will have a look next time I am at the market and will try and make taro and rou rou for the Dolce's. Will need to call Grace of Pig 'N Pancake fame, in Oregon for a recipe.

taro corms

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

LutefiskA Norwegian specialty, dating back to the time of the Vikings, lutefisk is made from air-dried whitefish, usually cod, prepared with lye (a caustic/alkaline ingredient/industrial chemical which is used in cleaning too!)

Preparation involves a series of soaking the fish in water then in the lye and then back in the water; each process is several days so depending on which recipe is used it can take from 5-14 days to prepare this fish. After the long, ardent process you get a fish that is depleted of all vitamins and flavour but then is cooked in salt water to revive the fish. Strange, non?

During the soaking in lye and water the fish will swells to a larger size than in its original (undried) state and it morphs into a jelly-like consistency. When this treatment is finished, the fish is still saturated with lye and has a pH value of 11–12, and is therefore caustic (corrosive).

To make the fish edible, a final treatment of yet another four to six days of soaking in cold water (also changed daily) is needed. Eventually it is ready to be cooked and served.

Popular around Christmas, it is washed down with a strong potato based spirit called Aquavit.

Lars the Norwegian Paul McCartney has this to say about Lutefisk,

'It is something people either love or hate. Traditionally people who love it, have it at Christmas, and it really fills up the restaurants in November and December. Very few make their own - it is just to much work, but at Christmas it can be bought ready for cooking.

I hate the stuff, and can not understand why one destroys the best fish like this. To b
e able to eat it, people need some of this: which is also a part of Norwegian tradition. That part I like.'In the pic above- lutefisk is the white stuff on the top left hand side of the plate.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Oh so 'Special' Norwegian delights
There will be a series of posts on Norwegian food gathered from friends Lars, Trond and Espen who we met in Fiji. We had some long conversations about food and the Norwegian style of food. Trond and Espen are traveling the world for a year, taking a break from their jobs as chefs at one of the poshest restaurants in Norway. And Lars is the Paul McCartney look alike who is Trond's Dad (see pic below).

The trio recommended that one of the things one must eat when they are in Norway is the 'Special'.

This special hot dog is grab and go food for the Norwegians and is very popular for hang-overs. The 'Special' is made with a hot dog covered in shrimp salad (mayo, artificial shrimp and sometimes vegetables). This tops the many condiments you can find on Toronto and NY hot dog stands. Fish and hot dog- what a combo?

And if you get the special, 'Special' it is wrapped in a large flat potato pancake to hold the hot dog , shrimp surprise and all the condiments. This meal in a bun is also topped with mustard, mayo and more in case you didn't have enough flavours - yum?! Don't have a pic but will try and get one from Lars who is back in Norway. They said the best place to get these are in the gas stations. I found an interesting article then on this sausage phenomena in a Norwegian publication.

"During a lecture at a recent conference on obesity the well-known nutrition expert blasted gas station fast food, newspaper VG reports.

I believe that the sale of hot dogs and candy at gas stations should be forbidden. They should sell gas and auto parts," Norum said.

When you go into a gas station you can hardly do what you came for, namely buy gas, because there is a huge queue for sausages," Norum said.

'The total hot dog market in Norway is 39,000 tons a year, with 9,000 tons being sold in gas stations and fast food outlets."
Aftenpolten, Norway news.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Travel for Green-lipped
I love traveling places as it is always interesting to see other countries' supermarkets, what they eat and how their food is packaged, cooked and displayed. It was a such a surprise to see these green lipped mussels at the Woolworth's supermarket on Waiheke Island in New Zealand. They were emitting such a bright green color I just had to take a few pics and we had to buy some for dinner as they looked so fresh.

I wasn't sure if we had them in Canada so Googled them and read on Wikipedia that they are only native to New Zealand. I was loving the vivid green color of them, it reminded me of the colors that we saw each day snorkeling in the South Pacific Ocean.

We bought a few kilograms and made them back at the bach - this is what New Zealanders call their cottages. Not sure where the origin of the word bach (referring to a holiday home) comes from is but it would be good to find out.

I usually sautée mussels in a broth of butter, lots of onions, white wine and garlic from a recipe that Ms. Dunnigan my Quebecois friend taught me. That night the chef made the Perna canaliculus steamed with garlic and a little white wine and they were delicious and extremely fresh. We had been enjoying fresh fish for a whole month and it was delightful! Back home I am not eating as much fish and seem to be eating a lot of pasta, no surprise there, non?Am going to have to get back onto more fish and fresh fruit.

For those who are into the health benefits of eating certain foods, eating the green lipped mussel or taking tablets that they sell containing an extract from the shellfish is known to help with the treatment of arthritis; they have a high level of glycosaminoglycan which can assist in the repair of joint tissue damage.
You may be able to get these at the fish market (will check at the St. Lawrence Market) otherwise Air New Zealand now has daily, direct flights from Vancouver to Auckland so you'll have to just go there - remember you will get free tea or coffee at the airport ;)

Friday, August 10, 2007

Giddy Up!Horse burger anyone? Bug and Bun and a random fella eating horse meat burgers in Slovenia.
Am not sure how they tasted but will need the low down when I get in touch with them next. Ah the adventures of summer travel.

From Wiki:
Horse is commonly eaten in many countries in Europe and Asia. It is a taboo food in English-speaking countries such as the United Kingdom, the US, and Australia; it is also taboo amongst the Romany people and in Brazil.

Horse meat is not generally eaten in Spain, although the country exports horses both "on the hoof and on the hook" (i.e. live animals and slaughtered meat) for the French and Italian market; however, horse meat is consumed in some Latin American countries such as Mexico.
It is illegal in some countries.

Am not sure how I feel about it, we do eat cows and pigs so why not horses? Am sure it tastes just like chicken ;)

Giddy up!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Fresh Wednesday's at City HallGet down to Toronto City Hall for some fresh produce from Ontario farmers and get some entertainment while you're at it. Get free hugs from a random free hugging group (which is very nice) and eat from some interesting stalls selling Canadian bacon, Jamaican food and more. Then quench your thirst from the TO tap water mobile. 'Toronto tap water - always safe to drink. Tested 24/7' A few weeks ago, I think they said our water is cleaner than Evian ...v.interesting indeed.In the pic, Sean choosing some corn for his dinner. Sean get back to work managing the city or doing whatever you do in the ivory tower!

Fresh Wednesday's lunchtime concerts happen until August 22nd and I think the farmers' markets continue 'til end of September.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Calving season in NZ
On the Hale farm in NZ my romantic notions of being Laura Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie were quashed. I thought I would be churning butter in some Victorian frock, milking cows and hand feeding apples to horses and other farm animals who were all part of the farm family.

Instead I put on a blue one piece smock and green wellies and went to the cow shed (see glamour shot above - I know, Laura Ingalls would be appalled). There I witnessed the civilized entrance and exit of the cows to get milked by the slickest automatic milkers housed in a slick milking station. I am sure I am not saying any of this in correct farm terminology! Help me out Hale's.After this lovely parade to the milk utensils, the cows then walk causally back to their luscious fields to munch more green grass and laze around in the New Zealand fresh air. Not a bad life until some are sold for our steak dinners.I was there during calving season and this is a busy time for Mr. Hale. A few calves are born each day. They are then almost immediately seperated from their mommies (v.sad) and Mr. Hale and his farm hands have to teach these calves to drink from a fake nipple (see pic).

The calves are so cute and quite large for only being a day old, it is cute to see them act like little babies when they are learning to suck. They have milk all over their face and are a little wobbly when walking. They also behave like children; some are more aggressive pushing the others away from a nipple and taking up lots of space while others are just pushed out of the crowd and will not fight the bigger ones to get a feed of the milk.The milk is colostrum or the 'first milk' which is taken from the new mothers, it takes four days for that milk to exit the new mother's system. Colostrum is high in carbs, protein and antibodies which delivers lots of nutrients to the new calves.

Once all the milking is done a big truck picks up the milk (not the colostrum) and whisks it away. Almost immediately, Mr. Hale can get a reading on the internet as to how much milk was collected along with other statistics. How sure Pa Ingalls would not fathom such technology way back when in the mid-west.

This milk is then sold and then turned into butter, powdered milk and other milk by-products that are shipped and sold around the world. I think the farm is connected to Fonterra the largest co-op in NZ which is owned by over 11,000 dairy farmers.

It was a lovely morning watching the cows and calves in the sunshine. We took a ride around the farm on the ATV and it was great to feel the crisp morning all around us. I am sure I will find a mom and pop farm with one lonely cow that I can milk someday! Maybe I will have to find a farm outside of Toronto that caters for farm wannabes like me.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Traditional Fijian lovo
Traditional Lovo is used on special occasions. We were lucky enough to experience this day long affair which ends in a great meal. Similar to the New Zealand hangi, food is wrapped in natural materials and buried and cooked. All foods are cooked in the lovo, pumpkin soup, taro, potatoes, fish, chicken and more.

It is a long process that starts early in the day. Step one: build a great fire and when it burns down to just coals place a grill on top and the food for your feast. These baskets were woven especially for the meat and fresh fish. You cannot see the detail but the fish ones were woven with a fish tail .
Cover the food with palms and branches, then with burlap sacks and cover the whole meal with sand. The food will then cook with the smoke/steam from the hot coals. The smell is amazing.

While watching this we were told how this is the way they used to cook bodies during the days of cannibalism...eeek! Now I always think of that when I look at these pictures.

After a few hours the meal is ready. The palms have also turned a lovely golden brown from the heat.
Dinner is served and it is splendid. Traditional lovo dinner at Otto and Fanny's is not to be missed.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Pig 'N Pancake
It is the long weekend and will try and beat the exodus of traffic to cottage country so will write a short post before I set off . No doubt, the weekend will be filled with bbqs and big breakfasts, the usual cottage fare with lots of fresh local Ontario produce too. The last time I entered the beach supermarket, local strawberries were at the entrance and I was treated to a delightful smell of fresh non-gm strawberries. The Body Shop should bottle that smell!

Big breakfasts reminded me of a lovely couple we met in Fiji. Michael and Grace from Oregon (he is originally from Vancouver) were on holiday with their two children and had owned a franchise of the Pig 'N Pancake in Oregon for the last several years (how many Grace?)

During our long food discussions at Otto and Fanny's we had great breakfasts but the pancakes were not up to scratch. M & G said that they have the best pancakes at the Pig 'N Pancake and named off the eight or 9 varieties but said the plain buttermilk ones were the best. It is making me hungry looking at the website's menu.

It would've been nice if Grace and Michael got into the kitchen to make us some of the famous pancakes like they made at the restaurant but apparently the franchise has a secret recipe that even they do not have access too.

Here is a basic pancake recipe for your breakfast this weekend. Remember to put some Canadian maple syrup and fresh fruit on top!

* 2 cups all-purpose flour, stirred or sifted before measuring
* 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1 egg, slightly beaten
* 1 1/2 cups milk
* 2 tablespoons melted butter

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, combine egg and milk; add to flour mixture, stirring only until smooth. Blend in melted butter. Cook on a hot, greased griddle, using about 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake. Cook until brown on one side and around edge; turn and brown the other side. Serves 4.

Or just buy a box of Aunt Jemima which is also a quick alternative to making your own. Aunt Jemima knows her stuff too!

To the Canadian readers - have a great long weekend.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Kava drinking
Kava is the alcoholic drink that Fijians drink at traditional ceremonies like a lovo feast. This traditional feast will be explained in further detail later with great pics from JP's great camera.
Kava looks like mud and I think it almost tastes like it too! (see the brown liquid in the large bowl, that is kava - looks yummy eh?) The ritual before downing the dentist-like numbing agent is to clap three times before you are handed a coconut shell full of this root goodness and to slurp it all down in one go and then clap once to signify that you are finished.

In the past the drinking of kava was saved for important ceremonies but today it is used more informally and quite socially with the village males who drink it while singing or swapping stories. The singing by the Fijians is something very beautiful too, they have very distinct and strong voices.

It is rude to not drink your whole coconut cup full so you have to just take a deep breath and do it even if you think it is vile tasting (this is what I did). Kava is made from a root and has a peppery taste and is known to have many benefits as a herbal remedy from curing anxiety to depression to insomnia. I found a laundry list of its benefits on a website selling it so not sure how accurate all these claims are to its healing magical powers. One thing is for sure, it will get you very drunk if you drink enough!

Kava's Latin name Piper methysticum literally translates as "intoxicating pepper" has been used for centuries, by the inhabitants of the South Pacific Islands -as a ritual drink, a social beverage, and also as a medicine. Kava (Piper Methysticum) is a lush, leafy green member of the pepper family, from the tropical islands of the South Pacific.

Kava comes in a powdery mix that is brewed in cold water for a few minutes, then it is squeezed through a cloth to filter out all the sediments (muddy looking stuff) and then voila it is a clear liquid to drink. If you get to try some Fijian kava try it - I think the Fijians laughed at all the tourists faces and reactions when they were downing these little coconut cups full of goodness.

The woman in the picture Carol Dunlop is also the only female skipper in Fiji, she skippers the yacht called Surprise which is a privately chartered boat. In a male dominated county she is quite the anomaly and I love her spunkiness. She sat and sang and drank kava with the males all night which is most likely unheard of in Fiji. Her crew and guests came to Otto and Fanny's on our last night there for a lovo feast, cava drinking and singing. It was all very festive and our hosts Fanny and her son Harry put on a great spread, as usual. Bula!