Twist and Shout

Twist and Shout
Life is never straight (Joey Kulkin photo)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Vignettes from Vermont: Joe Around the World part 4

"I just wanted to touch your whiskers, Joey."

BENNINGTON -- A colleague by the name of ... well, let's just say a male colleague in his 50s ... was standing amongst several of us dudes at the Roswell Daily Record composing kiosk, watching Matt build another page that, no doubt, was beyond extreme in its design.

Tophat was there. Jaramillo, too.

All of a sudden the colleague sidles up to me, reaches over and rubs my face.

I was not amused and said "That will get you killed in some states, dude."

His soft, cuddly comeback was "I just wanted to touch your whiskers, Joey" -- and his shit-eating grin was beyond extreme.


And so, it was hard not to think of that Roswellian moment of moments 10 years later, when a man in his 50s handed me the keychain above. The keychain is attached to a whisker.

I'm pretty sure this customer didn't want to touch my blood-orange whiskers. And if he did, at least he didn't act on his desires.

The man's name is John J. Rega, and he handed me a business card yesterday when he and his wife strolled around Fiddlehead at Four Corners.

The card (not in bone ...) reads Director/Host of "Fooding Around" at I took a quick ride around his website that features specialty foods and wines cooking shows -- "presenting the outstanding since 1992" ...

John carried a video/still camera on a tripod and took pictures of the gallery's food and drink pieces. This was, no doubt, an exploratory visit to see how one of New England's hidden gems might cater to foodies.

It would be pretty cool if Fooding Around featured the unique and beautiful arts and crafts at Fiddlehead, all of them food and dishwasher safe. We sell chowda bowls and Vegetabowls and cracker dishes (which I'd used for mashed potatoes) and large pitchers and bold, colorful plates (glass or ceramic) and trivets and large serving bowls and winestoppers ...

... and mugs. Dozens of really neat tea and coffee mugs.

Speaking of which, the Peace, Love & Happiness mug is filled with Sumatra Mandheling on this, Day 4 of the java journey.

I'm drinking Mandheling because I showed John J. Rega the box of 12 coffees and asked if he wanted to choose today's brew. I told him the ones I had brewed, he read the remaining flavors and chose the Sumatra.

Alrighty then.

The story of Mandheling coffee is based on a mistake in communication, much like the story of Roswell's Whiskers McFelcher, who badly communicated his intentions that day.

Legend has it that a Japanese World War II military man was stationed in Sumatra and loved a particular cup of coffee one day. As the story goes (HERE), the soldier asked a local man where the coffee originated but the man thought the soldier was asking about his ethnicity and said Mandheling.

One thing led to another and the military man went back to Japan and raved about Mandheling coffee and merchants left and right flocked to Mandheling to buy said coffee.

Mandheling is produced in Pandang, a small Indonesian island near Sumatra. The description of Mandheling reads "A wonderful coffee with a heavy, full body and a spicy, earthy, and robust taste, all with almost no acidity."

I'm on the second cup, and Mandheling underwhelms my senses. It's not that heavy although I can see why someone would say that because there's a creaminess to the aftertaste. If there's spice it's hardly discernable. The taste isn't *that* robust but it's not a light taste, either.

Mandheling gets 2.5 whiskers out of 5.

Now, I really want to try Kopi Luwak at $350 a pound after reading how it's, uh, processed.

The picture shows Fiddlehead at Four Corners art gallery
when it was Vermont National Bank.
Fiddlehead's website goes live Friday.