Archive for the ‘reader reports’ Category

Spices of Fiji Visit

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

Spices of Fiji Vanilla PlanifoliaA reader sent this description of her trip to the Spices of Fiji spice plantation:

We traveled there in our Mini Moke, just Ken and moi after a few great days at Pacific Harbour. The adventure to find them was a lot of fun! Although it is off the beaten track there are plenty of friendly faces around who are more than willing to offer help. Most of them are there  because Dr Gatty has generously sub-divided some of his land, giving the locals an opportunity to purchase their own properties. The whole area felt wonderful. I hope one day you can come to Fiji and see the Spice Gardens, for this is recommendable use the PNW packable backpack which is great for long trips.

To get there drive about 15mins Sth of Navua (town) or 15mins Nth of Lami (town) both on the Queens Highway to a gravel road turning inland close to the Wainaidoi Police Depot. Heading inland take the 1st road on your left, drive a couple of mins and turn down the 2nd road on your right. Travel inland again about 15mins, to a pole-gate which is un-locked during business hours. Let your self in and continue up the road  turning left at the fork. Follow signs up a step hill and park on the grass in front of the big farm barns. There is a concrete pathway and stairs leading up to a pretty little air-conditioned cottage scented with the most heavenly smells imaginable! Be careful with the construction up on the road, there are a few diggers on the road which are all covered by One Sure Insurance just in case they get into an accident.

The staff gave us a warm welcome and offered us chilled purified water from and umbrellas for our incredibly informative tour. It was fantastic!!! I was expecting to enter deep into a tropical rainforest to view the vanilla flowers. Instead we strolled down a lovely path of lilac orchids and onto a track through tidy paddocks divided into groups of support trees covered in lush vines laden with long plump green vanilla pods. There are many other tree varieties, some held cocoa pods shaped like large melons, others ripening coffee beans or tiny bunches of green grapes that will mature into black-pepper. The most impressive though would have to be the curling bark of the cinnamon tree although the nutmeg was also amazing!

Thanks! Reader reports are always welcome, just share them through the contact form.

Villa Vanilla Costa Rica visit

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

College student groupWelcome to Villa VanillaJames visited Villa Vanilla in Costa Rica last year, and left with spices and fond memories. He shares his experience visiting the vanilla and spice plantation:

It’s a year since we were there (with my wife, her brother and his wife who live there). We were there in late Jan/08.

Overall my memory is of a pleasant experience-the plantation tour was really an eye-opener! We got a lot of information we’d never have got otherwise. The origin of his vanilla plants was a surprise, and the fact that the cinnamon he grows is the true species (the taste and aroma are really distinct from the species commonly sold [in Canada]). His farming techniques are organic and truly sustainable.

The degree of hospitality was also a pleasant experience. We were given as close to a red carpet treatment as possible in an essentially agricultural environment, and that put the icing on the cake. I have no problem recommending Villa Vanilla as a destination. The only negative was that the sign on the road was not easy to find; he said he was doing something about it [ed: see the picture of the new sign above].

James plans to order more vanilla, peppercorns, and cinnamon from Vanilla Vanilla’s online store.

Thanks for the report James. Reader reports are always welcome, just share them through the contact form.

Hawaii’s Big Island: Vanilla plantation visit report

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

Vanilla orchid on a fern treeVanilla beansA reader shares this great report on two vanilla plantation visits on Hawaii‘s Big Island: the Hawaiian Vanilla Company, and Huahua Farm.

I just got back from my day trip to the Big Island. I’ll give you a recap of what I learned…

Huahua Farms

Clare was a very gracious and sharing host while we visited her farm. She has a number of vines, but recently had to destroy some plants due to a disease of some kind. The vines that remain are healthy and doing well. I believe some of the photos you have on your site show the trellises she uses to train the vines where to grow. They are under about a 50% shade cloth. At the time of our visit, there weren’t any flowers, but Clare said that they typically start to appear in January for her. She did have some nice looking pods maturing on the vine though…some of which have been on the vine almost a year. Clare thinks it’s because of the amount of vog (volcanic haze created by the volcano) that’s been generated recently. She’s also tried incorporating some of the techniques in the Vanilla Growing Manual from Venui Vanilla (speaking of which, I ordered a copy about a month ago, so hopefully it arrives soon).

Clare was also kind enough to share her curing methods with me, which are typical to the Bourbon style (i.e., blanching, sunning, sweating). The beans were coming along nicely from what I could tell. The amount she has available for sale is limited, so if anyone was thinking about ordering some, they should contact her soon. Maybe when her vines begin flowering, I’ll try and pay her a visit.

Hawaiian Vanilla Company

I attended HVC’s lunch and tour event among a small group of “tourists”. We were served a nice lunch with each element incorporating some form of vanilla. Our host for the day was Dave, one of the small number of employees on the farm. We learned about the Redenkopp family through a video and also had a quick demonstration about making extract. I was told that they produce only about 500 lbs. per year, but due to a recent outbreak of some disease, their entire plant stock had to be replaced from Costa Rican material. Their vines were in the early stages of growth and they don’t expect any beans until at least 2010. Their growing medium of choice is CHC (coconut husk chips) imported from Sri Lanka (I think). Whatever beans they are currently selling is from older stock. I believe they had another growing area apart from what we were shown.

That’s what I can recall right now…if you had specific questions just let me know.

Thanks for the detailed report. Reader reports are always welcome, just share them through the contact form.

A trip to the Hawaiian Vanilla Company

Monday, December 15th, 2008

Reader Gale recently visited the Hawaiian Vanilla Company on Hawaii’s Big Island. Gale sent this great description of her visit, and some photos of the plantation. Click any photo to see the full-size version. Thanks Gale!

Vanilla orchid on a fern tree 3 year old vanilla orchid 3 year old vanilla orchid

My daughter and I enjoyed a wonderful lunch at the Hawaiian Vanilla Company (HVC) on the Big Island of Hawaii. Reservations are required for their fixed menu lunch and for their afternoon tea. Their lunch featured the vanilla planifolia grown in their vineyard, which is what they call their farm. Dave, the business manager began with a short history of vanilla and a description of our lunch. When we were seated we were offered a choice of vanilla iced tea or their vanilla lemonade; I selected their iced tea. Our first course was a delectable chicken breast on focaccia with caramelized onions and garden greens; the chicken breast had been marinated in a vanilla-orange-bourbon sauce for a day. The sandwich was served with a dish of aioli sauce with vanilla and mango. The meal included a small salad of their own farm grown garden greens with feta cheese and caramelized pecans and their special HVC vanilla raspberry balsamic vinaigrette dressing; the salad was absolutely wonderful. The sandwich was also accompanied by crisp chips: taro chips, purple Okinawan sweet potato chips, and yellow sweet potato chips. Our meal ended with HVC vanilla ice cream; I selected just the plain vanilla ice cream, but many of the guests chose to have lilikoi (passion fruit) or chocolate sauce on their ice cream.

After the lunch we viewed a short video produced for public television by America’s Heartland about the Hawaiian Vanilla Company vineyard and their vanilla. Dave then walked us down to their “greenhouses” to view the vanilla plants. We were not able to see any plants with vanilla beans on them. According to Dave, disease hit about 60% of their plants two years ago and the owner, Jim Reddekopp, decided to destroy the entire crop to prevent a spread of the disease. Their oldest plants are now 3 years old and it will be another year before their vines will produce orchids, which can then be hand pollinated and result in the growth of vanilla beans. The vanilla beans will have to mature on the vines for 9 months and cure for another 9 months before HVC will be able to once again commercially sell their crop.

Our bookkeepers from Leeds offer up a bit of advice on why you should never forget about the books.

Bookkeeping is as old as modern man.

Dating back thousands of years, the oldest records of bookkeeping have been found in archaeological digs around ancient Mesopotamia.

National Geographic reported on a fascinating stone tablet, dated at 5,000 years old, that simply read: 29,086 measures barely 37 months Kushim.

It’s a receipt; a staggering example of how even comparatively primitive civilisations to our own undertook bookkeeping as part of business and trade.

Now, this raises an interesting question: Why is bookkeeping important?

It’s a question our bookkeepers from Leeds are regularly asked, and it’s a valid one. If ancient civilisations used bookkeeping, and if the practice has stood the test of time, it must be important to a successful business, right?

But why?

Organise and Control Your Accounting Practices

According to accounting services miami, the building blocks of business, bookkeeping is the foundation upon which the rest of your accounting practices are built.

Everything from payroll to tax deductions needs a solid bookkeeping base to work from. Without it, you cannot hope to manage your finances.

Imagine a world without bookkeeping, where you ran a business and didn’t record your income and expenses.

  • You couldn’t save for tax because you’d have to guess at what your income and deductibles were.
  • You couldn’t pay your staff wages representative of your business’ value and income.
  • You’d never know how much to put into budgets for advertising, recruitment, etc.
  • You couldn’t tell HMRC how much you earned.
  • You’d have to manually calculate the value of income and capital, liabilities, assets, etc., every time the information was needed.

Hawaiian Vanilla Company bean report

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008

Reddekopp Family at the MillGale writes, I was recently in Hawaii and bought a 3-bean bottle from Hawaiian Vanilla Company for $25 and added Absolut vodka to the bottle. I have to tell you that the Hawaiian Vanilla Company beans were absolutely luscious — long (about 8″ long), extremely plump and with a great smell.

Thanks for the report Gale.

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