Saturday, February 28, 2009

More Art

Yes that is a scupture of a thumb holding down the corner of the front patio at La Colombe d'Or. Below is one of a dozen or so Calders that adorn the premises, this one a lovely small mobile hanging from the landing on the main staircase between the first and second floor.

So much of the art is both whimsical and magnificent, a sea change representing the growth of modern art in its prime.

And always is the ghost of Picasso, who spent so much time here.  And who left, among others, this magnificent work of art which holds the central spot of the dining room.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Morning as seen from my window at La Colombe d'Or

So we rise with the dawn and open the windows of our corner suite on the second floor of the lovely romantic and splendidly exotic La Colombe d'Or.  The sun spills over the ridgetop across the valley. Golden time. That eirilly beautiful glint of sunlight at its intense peak of golden color, splaying all in its path in the silent glory of the dawn.  Above is the patio, the valley just below.  Below is the look out the other corner window, into the main square and the empty Boulle court, a delivery van making the morning supply run to the boullangerie across the street.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Bar at La Colombe d"Or

The famed bar at La Colombe d'Or is a haven for guests and a gateway to a time when Picasso would sit for hours with Leger or David Niven would share a drink with Yves Montand.  The Devil Dog is enthralled with the simple glory of the place. Above a local denizen kicks off the early evening after an afternoon playing Boulle or Pentanque on the main square. Below it fills with guests and an eclectic crowd waiting for dinner.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Dining Room at La Colombe d"or

The dining room at La Colombe d'Or is both an elegant dinner spot as well as one of the coolest art galleries on the planet. The Devil Dog has never seen such a collection of work made even more astonishing by the common denominator...they were all given to the hotel by the artists in gratitude for lodging or friendship.  So there, in the photo above, is a fabulous Picasso,and next to it is a Braque, and over there is a Leger,or a Miro, or a Calder mobile. And then there are the "lesser" works that are as astonishing as the wall hangings by the masters.

The  room itself is stunning, with a massive wooden arch bisecting the main dining area, as seen in the picture above, stylish furnishings, and a general air of quiet sophistication. Then there is the food, which is fabulous, not terribly fancy, very provincial, but more like an upscale peasant menu served on fine china, or classic country fare meets chateaubriand.  Below is a view of the room from the other side of the arch, and if course the art...the art....which is EVERYWHERE!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Golden Dove palace of art

La Colombe d'Or means literally the Golden Dove, and many years after they had opened their doors, the great sculptor Ben Jakober created this massive marble dove which sits on the wall outside the Devil Dogs bedroom window on the great wall separating the hotel from the street, overlooking the patrons on the open air luncheon patio below.

Heres  a better look at that Calder by the swimming pool and next to the sun chairs is this famous sculpture of a green apple. The great artists of the day gave their art to Paul and "Titine", frequently, the legend goes, in exchange for their lodgings. But genuinely it was because they actually cared for the world that had been created there, felt omfortable there, hung out there ,and freely gave it to the hotel out of love. And it is everywhere. Each hotel room and suite has more impeccable art than many people have in their entire collection.

Friday, February 20, 2009

La Colombe d'Or

On the edge of St Paul de Vence is the legendary hotel La Columbe d'Or, a bastion of bohemian pride and abstract elegance that has defined the cutting edge of life on the Riviera since the 1920's.  A small hotel with 16 rooms and 10 suites, it was a favorite retreat for Picasso, Leger, Calder and  a plethora of distinguished artists who stayed here and communed with the original owners Paul Roux and his wife Baptistine.  Yves Montand lived across the street, and soon the international jet set of the 50's and 60's were  hanging in the tiny bar, including David Niven and Elizabeth Taylor.  Over the years it has hosted everyone from Mick Jagger to David Bowie. But its not about the celebrity. Its about the atmosphere. Paul and "Titine", as his wife was known, created an atmosphere of creative energy that shielded the outside world. The walls are adorned with incredible works of art, Calder mobiles adorn the stairway and the swimming pool, Picasso and Braque and Miro and Klee line the walls of the dining room. It is sumptuous, unpretentious, fabulous and a true joy to stay there.

The Devil Dog spent four nights there is a stunning 4 room suite overlooking the Boulle court, filling a good portion of the second floor.  The picture at top is La Columbe d'Or as seen from the street (our room on the second floor corner).  The picture just above is the back of the hotel taken from the swimming pool. See the open terrace on the third floor. Its a common area  sun room where you can sit and ruminate surrounded by magnificent art.

Now run by their grandson Francois Roux and his wife Danielle it continues to provide down home country charm and casual elegance with an atmosphere that literally breathes electricity. 
Below we see another view of the back of the hotel and notice the massive Calder mobile installed by the pool.  To say that we thought we had found a secret home away from care or causation is an understatement. La Columbe d'Or rates as one of the Devil Dogs all time great hotel experiences.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

St Paul de Vence

In the south of France,in the hillos above Cap d'Antibe, lies the ancient Roman walled village of St Paul de Vence, literally rising over medieval walls to crown a hilltop. Last year the Devil Dog spent an extraordinary 10 days in the south of France, and the first four were spent in this magical village at the legendary Hotel Le Columbe d'Or. St Paul de Vence has long been an artists colony, and today is a wildly popular tourist destination. Yet in spite of its rather busy modern existence it maintains an air of charm and elegent authenticity that makes it a special place, especially when you are staying there and the tourists have left at the end of the afternoon. Then it is a quaint little village with two steller hotels and an open lawn where the men gather and play Boulle. At the crown of the village is the bell tower of the church, whose peels are heard throughout the town at the top of the hour. 

The Devil Dog must thank Katherine Johnstone and the good people at Maison de la France for making arrangements that guided the Devil Dog on this sojourn to the Riviera. Join me for the next dozen or so columns as we relive that fabulous adventure.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

100% Kona Coffee

100% Kona Coffee.  Thats all we ask.  The Devil Dog, as you have seen, is passionate on the subject, and so are the Kona Coffee farmers. We have spent a goodly ammount of time holding forth on the multiple amazing coffee farms hand crafting a superior product. Malia Bolton and her friend were kind enough to serve as models for our slogan (thats her friend above, and Malia in the two pictures below).  The guy in the picture below happens to run Buddhas Cup and Imagine brand coffee farms across the road from Malia's "Malia Ohana" award winning farm.  Together they are the new rising faces that will be around Kona Coffee for some time to come.

But its all about quality and supporting individual farmers who grow market and sell their own estate coffees, the boutique coffee chateaus of Honaunau, Captain Cook, Kealekekua and Holualoa, signified by their awards in the Gevalia Cup competition, and a coffee that can be found no where else.  The Devil Dog salutes them and encourages you to order their coffee over the internet.  And remember, like Malia says....make sure its 100% Kona.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Pink Palace of Holualoa

Not everything in Hawaii is glamorous, but whole swaths of it are still authentic.  There is little more authentic than the pink palace of Holualoa, the charming Kona Hotel, a landmark that beckons back to an age on the Big island when there were no "resorts", when the Kona Inn downtown was the fanciest hotel in town, and the plans landed on what is now the baseball diamond near the wharf, and you could only get to Kona Village by boat, and Holualoa was a sleepy town filled with Japanese families working the land.  Then the pink palace, as the Devil Dog likes to call it, was the only game in town, an essential way station on the high road to Holuloa.

Today, as you can see, it is still filled with locals, perhaps less busy as a hotel (altho it still is a working functioning hotel) and it certainly harkens back to a simpler age, when local hotels run by families were the norm and mega resorts were the non existent exception.  Now the Devil Dog loves his mega resorts as much as the next guy, but you can't help but be charmed by the genuine relic that remains the pink palace of Holualoa.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Kona Coffee and Tea Co.

Dan Bolton is one of the most interesting men in Kona. Successful, irreverant, down to earth, driven, and a hell of a nice guy, he is happily married to his wife and partner in all things Jan, and they are also the owners of Kona Coffee and Tea Co. with over 100 acres of coffee growing on their ranch of several thousand acres high above, and I mean high above Holualoa. Dan is no slouch when it comes to quality, for Kona Coffee and Tea Co won the Gevalia Cup in 2003. Did I mention that his daughter Malia won second place in the Gevalia Cup last year for her organic 8 acre Malia Ohana Ranch, and also helps her dad run the Kona Coffee and Tea Co empire.

Thats Dan above and Jan just below. Their ranch is something to behold. Malia took me for a tour and as we rode high up the mountain, through several gates and onto a dirt road past herds of sheep I knew this was a special place. Then we get to the ranch house, a two story structure, southern plantation meets hawaiian ranch house, with a wide outside patio supported by a colonade of local hardwood trees.  This is living in paradise, back to the roots on a ranch worthy of the name.

But the essence is the coffee, 100 acres plus and with plans for expansion.  Dan is self contained, processing his own cherry, and acting as a big player in the Kona Coffee market while maintaining a home spun persona.

And did I mention the sheep. They are everywhere. Below is a gaggle of the critters prancing across an open meadow high up in the hills. Talk about free range.

Then of course there is Malia, as lovely as she is smart, and a rising star of the future in Kona Coffee.  This is no dilitante daughter of a well to do man.  Malia works her ass off, on her farm and for her dad.  She knows her coffee and knows her business, and no job is too small to recieve her full attention.  Thats her below flashing the Shakka sign as she drives the open jeep across the ranch land on our tour.

Kona Coffee and Tea Co can be found on the internet at or by phone at 808 329 6577.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Hat Lady

There is a lot of local arts and crafts on display and for sale at the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival events, including this woman at the Cupping competition who made and sold hats with a lifetime of skill and precision on display.

Here she weaves another hat, a process that takes her about 4 hours.  One of the charms of Kona is the preservation of hand skills and artistry that thrives with support in a culture of Aloha.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Images of the Coffee Cupping

The Gevalia Cup competition and the whole Kona Coffee Cultural festival is a throwback to a community celebration that we sometimes think has been lost in America, like neighborhood Fourth of July celebrations (instead of centralized pyrotechnic extravaganza's). At its core it is genuine, fascinating, widely diverse, remarkably grass roots, with a touch of kitsch thrown in, all wrapped in sincerity as it promotes the worlds greatest coffee in the worlds most serene location.  So they even have a Miss Kona Coffee and runners up, complete with crowns and sashes, who are constant ambassadors throughout the weeks events.  Above they stand in fascination as one of the judges explains the judging process to them.  

The Gevalia Cup event takes place at the Ourigger Keauhou Beach Hotel on an open lanai overlooking the ocean,  casually elegent but deadly serious. A local group of musicians performs beautifully intricate Hawaiian melodies of impressive measure, the lead singer employing the signature falsetto in the high notes of classic Hawaiian song.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Over the rainbow....somewhere

Somewhere....over the rainbow....skies are blue.  Nowhere is that truer than Hawaii, and nowhere on the planet has more rainbows on a given day. If there is it would astound me, for on any given day in Hawaii you look to the mountains and there is a rainbow in the mist....or a sunset to behold. Above is one such sunset, taken from the grounds of the Shearton Keauhou Bay Resort Hotel.  Situated at the end of an ancient lava flow, just yards from the birthplace of Kamehameha III, the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort is a rainbow of deluxe accommodation in a perfect location.  Below is a shot of the waves crashing into a lava tube on the property.  

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Hula stylings of Miss Kona Coffee

Hula lives. Thats right. Hula isn't just for tourists, and is a serious part of the reawakening of Hawaiian culture in the islands. Still its a touch exotic, and always a lot of fun, especially when it erupts spontaneously, (like last year in remote Hana, Maui, at a popular steakhouse, when a male member of the audience jumped up and performed a very masculine, intricate Hula with the  band playing Hawaiian music.)

But at the end of the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival, in a big outdoor tent on the lawn of the Outrigger Keauhou Bay Resort, Miss Kona Coffee got up at the end of the program and performed a graceful and quite lovely Hula, without ever disturbing her sash or crown.