Aloha from the beautiful island of Maui! On Monday, we had the great pleasure of visiting O’o Farms located on the slopes of Haleakala in what is referred to as upcountry Maui. The farm is located in the little town of Kula, just off of the main road and the property overlooks the valley and ocean. O’o Farm is the only true farm-to-table operation on the island and for a nominal fee, one can visit the farm and learn about their coffee, vegetables and even pick the greens to be served for lunch! It’s a nice way to spend the day in the cool, misty outdoors and an unexpected pleasure to experience fine dining in a unique island setting. Below are some images from our visit that I hope you enjoy. Mahalo for visiting and a hui ho!
I love coffee. It’s part of my daily, morning ritual, yet until I recently photographed a story entitled, “Big Island Buzz,” for Sunset Magazine, I had never known much about the process of truly hand-harvested coffee. On the Big Island of Hawaii, in an area that is located on the flanks of Mauna Loa in the Ka’u district, you’ll find one of the best areas to grow coffee in the United States. The upper elevations of the Ka’u district have the perfect climate for the coffee plants. Those conditions combined with a wonderful group of devoted coffee farmers have landed this remote location on the international coffee map in recent years. I had previously only been familiar with Kona coffee, the famed Hawaiian coffee grown around the bend on the same island. The Ka’u area still feels somewhat untouched with it’s beautiful ocean views and sparsely populated villages. During my assignment, I met two farmers who methodically harvest the ripe “cherry” on land they work by hand. Willie and Grace Tabios, who produce the award winning “Rising Sun” brand coffee, hand pick the ripe cherry, then dry and process it outdoors at their home in Ka’u. Lorie Obra does the same, and along with her daughter Joan, produces another award winning coffee from the area called, “Rusty’s.” Both of these family run coffee farms have won international coffee competitions over the last few years and their beans now command top dollar throughout the world. There is a wonderful place to see the entire process first hand in the small town of Pahala called the Ka’u Coffee Mill. There, I was walked through the entire process, from picking and processing the raw “cherry” to the roasted bean. They dry their beans by laying them out on a concrete slab outdoors. The mill processes both their own beans but also roasts for some of the locals. This facility is open to the public for tours. It was fascinating to see how the red, plump fruit was methodically turned into the warm cup of jo that I enjoy every morning. Of course, you can’t have a cup of coffee without something nice and sweet as an accompaniment. The Hana Hou restaurant, the southernmost restaurant in the US, offers a variety of delicious home-made pies along side a steaming hot cup of the local coffee. Although the article is not available to read online, I’ve put a copy of the story here for your perusal. If you would like to look at more photos of the story, you can see them on my stock photography site here. Mahalo for visiting!
It is with a heavy heart that I write this post. MIX Magazine, a food magazine published by the Oregonian, is publishing its final issue this month and they chose one of my images for the cover. MIX was so much fun to work for, not only because the assignments always focused on my favorite subject, food, but also because of the great editorial staff with which I had the pleasure of working. The photo editor I worked with on my projects was the illustrious Mike Davis, now the Alexia Foundation Chair for Documentary Photography at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. He gave me complete freedom of approach to every story and also followed up with terrific feedback. The writer I most often worked with was Martha Holmberg, former food editor for The Oregonian, who is now busy writing cookbooks, teaching, giving talks and continuing to pursue all things food. Martha and I worked on several stories together, including one about Nick’s Italian Cafe in McMinnville, as well as another about how to make your own Nocino with green walnuts from the back yard, (and throw a neighborhood party in the process). “Hope springs eternal,” I often hear, so my hope is that I not only get to continue to work with Mike and Martha on other projects in the future, but that another food magazine based in my hometown of Portland, Oregon will spring forth in the near future.
I raise a glass to the fine people at the Oregonian and MIX! May our paths cross again in the very near future. Cheers!!!
Yesterday I received a stock request for some local food. As I was digging around in my archives, I was reminded about yet another reason I love Oregon – the food. For restaurant variety, quality and price, Portland is hard to beat. Of course it’s upstaged by the major cities like New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, but we still are regularly celebrated in the national press for some of the greatest restaurants in America. However, this may not be possible without the amazing behind-the-scene scene: the farmers and fishermen that harvest and grow the bounty of Oregon. The slow food movement abounds here, and sustainability is practiced like a religion. My favorite thing to do is to visit the farmers’ market in downtown Portland on a Saturday in the summer – to marvel at the outstanding quality and peruse the amazing variety of produce, meats, cheeses and treats, then stock up for meals for the week. Here are some images from the Portland Farmers’ Market to enjoy while we wait for summer to arrive.
Castagna Restaurant in Portland, Oregon not only happens to be in my hometown, it is also one of the finest restaurants at which I’ve had the pleasure of dining. One of many things in life I’m grateful for is the fact that my husband loves to cook and has quite a talent for making everything: from dashi to demi-glace, pasta or seared duck breast with peppercorn infused, poached pears. Because of this, it’s very difficult to find a restaurant that can out-do what my amazing partner in life creates in our humble home kitchen. Castagna is the only restaurant we’ve been to together where when we sit down, we prepare for the question that always arises, “how did he do THAT?” The food at Castagna is art and is often celebrated, (and criticized), for the same reasons. However, there is one undeniable fact: you can’t eat like this anywhere else in Portland. The food at Castagna has amazing attention given to not only the quality of the ingredients, but also the beauty of them. The service is absolutely world class. The desserts, like this chocolate dish, are some of the best I’ve ever encountered, thanks to the pastry chef, Eve Kuttman. Although I love the food scene in Portland, I’ve always felt that Castagna is in a class of its own. This year, the chef Justin Woodward is receiving the recognition from the James Beard Foundation in the form of a nomination for Rising Star Chef of the Year. Congratulations Justin! Thank you for all of your creativity, hard work and delicious, incredible food.
One of my favorite photographic subjects to cover is food. I have found food to be one of the best ways to learn about a culture, explore a city, or use as an avenue to common ground with just about anyone. Food unites us in so many ways, so I’m always interested in making sure that some aspect of food is included in most of the feature travel stories that I am assigned. I’ve been extremely fortunate to have photographed two of the 20 Most Important Restaurants in America that appear in this month’s Bon Appetit Magazine. You can read the story online here. I like the way they laid out this story on their web site. Most locations have a lead image, then there are details of the food or interiors in a smaller slideshow – images that give a sense of place – in a gallery under the main photograph. For our home town pride of Portland, Andy Ricker represents, founder of Pok Pok, the Whiskey Soda Lounge and Ping, and is featured in the article. When I was working on a story about San Francisco, I was excited to cover Swan’s Oyster Depot – a classic San Francisco eatery where locals dine on some of the freshest seafood available in the city. Bon Appetit used my image to illustrate the restaurant in the story.
All images on this site are copyright © 2013 Susan Seubert and may not be used for any reason without express permission from Susan Seubert
Last year I had the pleasure of working on a feature story for Cooking Light Magazine about food in my beloved hometown, Portland, Oregon. I met many people over the course of the assignment and was once again amazed by the passion these individuals demonstrated in regards to the sustainability of food production. I met people who were (are!) sincerely working to make life on this planet better – from Camas Davis‘ Portland Meat Collective to Friday and Kerry Purington who tend to ultra-local, food-producing urban garden plots. I finally made it to Voodoo Doughnuts Too, where you can easily satisfy your sweet tooth with one of their zany doughnuts. One of many impressive discoveries on this assignment was meeting up with the Portland Fruit Tree project, which harvests fruit from trees around the city that produce too much fruit for the owners to handle. The fruit is harvested, sorted and divided between the volunteer pickers and a certain amount is distributed to the Portland Food Bank. It’s a glowing, positive article and I highly recommend picking up the magazine which is widely available. The May 2011 issue is on newsstands now and has much more information (and pictures) 🙂 than the online version, which you can find here.