Many of us have "carpe diem" 'ed plenty in our lives; between the early morning PT, 2,000 meter swims, being checked by the jumpmaster for the 22nd time while waiting to get on the bird, or stepping off the bird into another combat zone (sometimes, same zone 3rd or 4th time), some of us have "seized" plenty.
Not to mention all of the "seizing" we did during TA-50 layouts, PMCS on every vehicle in the motorpool, and counting back all the ammo that some other turd-neck unit didn't shoot at the range (who does that?)
So getting something besides a retirement check or disability payment warms my heart some on this day, more than most, so head here and check out what is available for veterans today and tomorrow to enjoy, and please visit a couple of these fine establishments and partake of their wares. Make sure to thank them right back when they thank you for your service.
Have a Joyous Veterans Day vets, especially those that are on duty or facing danger somewhere in the world today. I have always appreciated that we serve not only because we can and chose to, but because there are those that cannot and choose not to.
I am going to take Mrs. Deebow (a vet herself) and Little Deebow for some good free grub tonight and explain to Little Deebow once again why it is that his mommy and me hear "Thanks for your Service" wherever we go and why we are offered something free on this day.
And like every year, I say because what we and millions like us gave and continue to give for what we have here in the country wasn't and isn't free.
Growing up in the 60s and 70s, my first exposure to Calvados -- apple brandy from France -- involved a bottle with an apple in it, or a pale astringent substance that could have been used as a substitute for paint thinner. The choices were limited, and for most of America what was available is something that the people of Normandy consider only fit for cooking, not consumption.
My trip to Normandy was not all bunkers and memorials. I had the chance to try a good bit of cuisine, and best of all I was able to visit two different Calvados distilleries. There, I learned about the process and was introduced to products to rival fine cognacs -- aged Calvados that combined the smooth texture of cognac with sweet buttery apple and more.
As a special treat for you, I arranged with Chateau du Breuil to do a video tour of their facility. I regret that the camera didn't come on quite fast enough a couple of times, but I think you will enjoy this virtual tour:
If you go to Normandy, I highly recommend a visit. Not only do you get to sample some of their wares, but the grounds are beautiful and if you have a group and make arrangements in advance, they can even provide your group with a Norman culinary experience at the facility. The guided tour is good, and staff I met very friendly and helpful. Also, if you don't have a group, there is a nice meat market/gourmet grocery nearby where you can find things to make a most excellent picnic meal.
As for a bit of what is missing in the video, most of it had to do with discussion of the unusually cold weather. Spring was in many ways just arriving at the time of my visit, so you get to see blooming apple trees and flowers you would not normally see that time of year. As some of you know from previous posts, it was indeed quite cold this year.
I've got more photos of the grounds and such up at Laughing Wolf for your viewing pleasure. I will also add that when I go back to Normandy, I will be going back to visit Chateau du Breuil again. In addition, I plan to buy several large bottles of their 20-year-old Calvados. While the video talks about the 15-year-old, which is excellent, the 20 takes things to a whole different level. The richness of taste and aroma, the spice and edge of sweet apple, and the way it fills the mouth show the best of what Calvados can be. If you can find it, it is well worth the try.
I want to thank Bénédicte Baude-Vattier, and Chateau du Breuil, for their time and outstanding hospitality. The willingness not just to have me come visit, but to give you a personalized tour of the facility, is very much appreciated.
Recently, I was invited to Marietta Wine Market for a tasting of Cakebread Cellars wines. Located just a block off the square in downtown Marietta, the Wine Market has a very nice selection of wines, along with local beers, a variety of cheeses, and more. They do wine tours, and in fact the owners had just gotten back from conducting a port tour in Portugal. Their tasting events are also built around having the participants make a donation to go to a local charity.
It has been a true pleasure in doing my recent product reviews to point out that Lock-n-Load Java not only seeks to provide good coffee to the troops, but that it also donates $1 on every order to a military charity. To help get good coffee out to the troops, they also make it easy for you to buy and ship coffee to the troops.
For many companies, just one part of that would be enough, but not Lock-n-Load Java. I am pleased to announce that any unit I embed with for more than two weeks will be getting coffee sent to them by Lock-n-Load. It's a way of supporting the embeds and giving a reward to a unit that is willing to have me embed with them.
Good coffee, with a company doing good things for good people -- our troops. You can't ask for more. Check them out.
Recently, I had the chance to attend a Whisky tasting hosted by the new Savi Provisions in Atlanta. Savi Provisions is the latest venture from the owners of Savi Urban Markets, and the new venue is off to a great start with a very nice tasting room and a well-stocked wine and spirit store, which will soon be joined by a gourmet market.
If you get a variety of sample packets (a great and cost-effective way to explore without having to buy whole bags) of Lock-N-Load Java, and the measure for the coffee maker you are using is more than half but less than all, what do you get? For me, it was a chance to play coffee blender on my own.
Life can never be all bad when there is good coffee to be had. And, thanks to the fine folks at Lock-N-Load Java there has been good coffee in my life. My hosts and I just have hated having to sample so much good coffee, and I fear we are getting a bit spoiled.
This week's review is of a sampler pack of their blended coffees (you can read the review of single-source coffees here). Coffee has gone the way of whisky and whiskey, in that blends get a very bad shake. As with a good blend of whiskey/whisky, the goal is to create the best of several worlds, bringing together flavors so that a rich and complext taste is obtained without negatives. In terms of coffee, the flavor should be rich and complex without excessive bitterness, acid, and other things that would detract. As with whisky/whiskey, there are indeed some bad blends out there, that are not pure product and/or are not quality product.
Such is not the case here. The blends they have are pure and high quality, and show it.
First up was the Warrior Select medium roast. The body is nice, and it has a good flavor. There was enough richness to be satisfying, and the finish was smooth and pleasant.
Second, we tried the Double Barrel Black dark roast. I really liked the full body and solid
flavors a lot. Good body, great balance, slight bit of bite on a
solid finish. For those who like it dark, a good choice.
Finally, we tried the Smooth Operator light roast. To be honest (and polite), I'm not usually a fan of light roast coffee. This, however, was full of flavor and showed some nice complexity with fruit and nut notes. To be very honest, I am impressed with it and I'm going to have to rethink some of my coffee snobbery about light roast.
As before, I want to mention that the company is veteran owned, has an option for you to ship coffee to the troops, and does other good work. There is more coming on some of those good works. Stay tuned.
Now, to see if the troll (competitor?) shows up to misquote prices and disparage things again...
Working at Blackfive does have benefits. Right after getting to meet good and interesting people, the best benefit is finding good things. Those who have met me know I like good food and drink, possibly a little more than I should. Good coffee is something I appreciate, and I know others do too -- particularly out in the field. I made friends on embed by bringing good coffee with me.
I wish that I could have had Lock-N-Load Java with me for those embeds. The kind folks at Lock-N-Load have sent me some of their products to try, and I (and my hosts) are very much enjoying the opportunity.This isn't a company that just does your standard blend and roast, but one that is dedicated to providing the finest coffees for all range of uses.
This week's review is of the sampler pack of their Task Force Zulu premium single origin coffees. As a coffee snob appreciator, I like single-origin coffee. In fact, I had a favorite for making in a french press on those days that called for a really good start to the day. Any of these coffees will give you that.
Our tour started with the amazing Papua New Guinea. Amazing is not too strong a word, as this medium roast coffee has a good body, wonderful flavor(s), clean finish, and absolutely no bitterness. The write-up talks about dried fruits and other notes, and they are indeed there. If you like complex coffees that are balanced and with no bitterness, this is a great coffee to try. My host likes cold coffee, as in iced, and not every coffee holds up to that -- and this one did with even more notes and flavors coming out.
Next up was the light roast Rwandan. As I noted on Facebook, it has a good body and flavor, with hints of plum and fruit. The body is a bit lighter, but not weak. The finish was good, and the overall flavor truly is unique. If you like a lighter roast and coffee, without loss of flavor or complexity, you should try this one.
Then we tried their Ethiopian coffee. Let me preface this by saying that a particular Ethiopian coffee is my favorite mentioned above, and I benchmark other coffees against it. Despite not being made in a french press, and being a medium light roast instead of a darker roast, the Lock-N-Load Java Ethiopian more than held its own. This is a solid coffee with rich complex flavor, hints of fruit and herbs (to me), and a clean finish. I really want to try this in a french press and compare to what I normally get/got.
Finally, we tried the Costa Rican. I put it off because my host has not had good luck with Costa Rican coffees before, but this one may have changed that for him. It has a solid body, with the hints of sweetness for which Costa Rican coffee is known. A light roast, it is flavorful and presents the best qualities of Costa Rican coffees.
Now, I know I've talked about a french press a few times here, and for more than one reason. To me, it is about the best way to make coffee there is. Sadly, my glass french press is not able to travel with me because, well, it's glass. For those in the field, that is a drawback. Well, not anymore as thanks to Lock-N-Load Java you can get a stainless steel french press to go into the field with you. And, yes, this is now on my Amazon Wish List.
Oh, did I forget to mention that the company is veteran owned, has an option for you to ship coffee to the troops, and does other good work? Well, here you go and more is coming on some of those good works. Stay tuned.
It's also not just me that likes them. Check out this review at TAH.
Former Paratrooper and Army Officer, "Blackfive" started this blog upon learning of the valorous sacrifice of a friend that was not reported by the journalist whose life he saved. Email: blackfive AT gmail DOT com
Retired Special Operations Master Sergeant, Jim Hanson ("Uncle Jimbo") is now focused on writing about the military, politics, intelligence operations and foreign policy. Email: jimbo AT unclejimbo DOT com
Writer, photographer, and raconteur C. Blake Powers is the Laughing Wolf. He is independent in politics and covers topics including journalism, military, weapons, preparedness, space, science, cooking, food and wine, product and book reviews, and even spirituality. Email: wolf1 AT laughingwolf DOT net Laughing Wolf's Amazon Wish List
Bill Paisley, otherwise known as Pinch, is a 22 year (ongoing) active and
reserve naval aviator. He blogs over at www.instapinch.com on a veritable
cornucopia of various and sundry items and will bring a tactical naval
aviator's perspective to Blackfive. Readers be warned: any comments of or
about the F-14 Tomcat will be reverential and spoken in low, hushed tones.
Email: wpaisley AT comcast DOT net
Mr. Wolf has over 26 years in the Army, Army NG, and USAR. He’s Airborne with 5 years as an NCO, before becoming an officer. Mr. Wolf has had 4 company commands. Signal Corp is his basic branch, and Public Affairs is his functional area. He recently served 22 straight months in Kuwait and Iraq, in Intel, PA, and senior staff of MNF-I. Mr. Wolf is now an IT executive. He is currently working on a book on media and the Iraq war. Functional gearhead.
In Iraq, he received the moniker of Mr. Wolf after the Harvey Kietel character in Pulp Fiction, when "challenges" arose, they called on Mr. Wolf...
Email: TheDOTMrDOTWolfAT gmail DOT com
Deebow is a Staff Sergeant and a Military Police Squad Leader in the Army National Guard. In a previous life, he served in the US Navy. He has over 19 years of experience in both the Maritime and Land Warfare; including deployments to Southwest Asia, Thailand, the South Pacific, South America and Egypt. He has served as a Military Police Team Leader and Protective Services Team Leader and he has served on assignments with the US State Department, US Air Force Security Police, US Army Criminal Investigation Division, and the US Drug Enforcement Administration. He recently spent time in Afghanistan working with, training and fighting alongside Afghan Soldiers and is now focused on putting his 4 year Political Science degree to work by writing about foreign policy, military security policy and politics.
McQ has 28 years active and reserve service. Retired. Infantry officer. Airborne and Ranger. Consider my 3 years with the 82nd as the most fun I ever had with my clothes on. Interests include military issues and policy and veteran's affairs.
Email: mcq51 -at - bellsouth -dot- net
Tantor is a former USAF navigator/weapon system officer (WSO) in F-4E Phantoms who served in the US, Asia, and Europe. He is now a curmudgeonly computer geek in Washington, DC, picking the taxpayers pocket. His avocations are current events, aviation, history, and conservative politics.
Twenty-three years of Active and Reserve service in the US Army in SF (18B), Infantry and SOF Signal jobs with operational deployments to Bosnia and Africa. Since retiring he's worked as Senior Defense Analyst on SOF and Irregular Warfare projects and currently ensconced in the emerging world of Cyberspace.
Major Pain --
A Marine who began his blog in Iraq and reflects back on what he learned there and in Afghanistan. To the point opinions, ideas and thoughts on military, political and the media from One Marine’s View. Email: onemarinesview AT yahoo DOT com
Uber Pig was an Infantryman from late 1991 until early 1996, serving with Second Ranger Battalion, I Corps, and then 25th Infantry Division. At the time, the Army discriminated against enlisted soldiers who wanted use the "Green to Gold" program to become officers, so he left to attend Stanford University. There, he became expert in detecting, avoiding, and surviving L-shaped ambushes, before dropping out to be as entrepreneurial as he could be. He is now the founder of a software startup serving the insurance and construction industries, and splits time between Lake Tahoe, Boonville, and San Francisco, CA.
Uber Pig writes for Blackfive a) because he's the proud brother of an enlisted Civil Affairs Reservist who currently serves in Iraq, b) because he looks unkindly on people who make it harder for the military in general, and for his brother in particular, to succeed at their missions and come home in victory, and c) because the Blackfive readers and commenters help keep him sane.
COB6 spent 24 years in the active duty Army that included 5 combat tours with service in the 1st Ranger Battalion and 1st Special Forces Group . COB6 was enlisted (E-7) and took the OCS route to a commission. COB6 retired a few years back as a field grade Infantry officer.
Currently COB6 has a son in the 82nd Airborne that just returned from his third tour and has a newly commissioned daughter in the 4th Infantry Division.