Poo brew for Matthew

If you saw the 2007 film The Bucket List, you might be familiar with a rare drink that sounds too preposterous to exist: kopi luwak, or luwak coffee. It's a coffee brewed from beans that have first been digested and passed by an Asian palm civet.

As read by Jack Nicholson: "'It is the combination of the beans and the gastric juices of the tree cat that give kopi luwak its unique flavor and aroma.' ... You're shitting me." (To which Morgan Freeman replies: "Cats beat me to it.")

While traveling the past few weeks in Bali, Indonesia (a special thanks to Bryce for managing Side Dish), I tried the brew. To those fun-haters who don't believe everything they see in movies: The drink is real, and bitter, and strong.

Surprisingly, it's also the most expensive coffee in the world. Web sites commonly sell the raw beans for as much as $99 a pound, and single cups are reported to go for as much as $15. On an educational plantation that grows coffee, cacao, tobacco and various fruits and herbs in addition to housing a few resident cats, I was fortunate enough to pay only $3 for my saucer of excretory excellence. You could say it was an opportunity too special to pass on.

Honestly, though, if you never sample kopi luwak, you won't die having missed one of life's treasures. The novelty obviously lies with the oddity of the whole affair more so than with the drink's flavor.

Royal renovation

Confirming a rumor we first heard earlier this year, El Taco Rey president (yes, that's her title) Jana Aguilar says the 33-year-old Mexican operation at 330 E. Colorado Ave. ( will soon overtake the parking lot out back.

"We have an architect drawing up the plans right now," Aguilar says, adding that it will likely be spring of next year when the new space — three times the size of the current dining room and capable of seating 60 to 70 people — will open, with extended dinner hours.

When asked why now, Aguilar replies, "It's just the right time. Now that our kids are older, we can do it."

Celebrate divinity

D'Vine Wine (934 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs, 685-1030), the west side's DIY winery, is finally ready to party, says owner Tracy Fagner. Originally slated to celebrate a formal grand opening in August (see Side Dish, July 2), D'Vine simply got too busy.

"We finally got done with all the tourists," Fagner says, "and now we're hoping to pull in some of the locals from Woodland Park and Colorado Springs."

At the opening, scheduled from 2 to 6 p.m. on Oct. 17, expect free appetizers, free wine tastings, live music and prize drawings.

Cultivate class

If you've attended any food-related events locally in the past year or two — farmers markets, sustainability and gardening talks, lectures and film showings — then you've probably heard of or met Michele Mukatis. She's a local health and garden counselor who runs Cultivate Health, a business that, among other things, offers cooking classes.

Visit for a full listing, which includes "Pizza on the Barbie" on Oct. 14, "Free-forming Food" on Oct. 21 and "Veggie Mexican" on Nov. 4. Classes are $50 and limited to six people.

À la carte

• A tip of the cap to Bristol Brewing Co. ( and the Winery at Holy Cross Abbey ( for wins at Denver's Great American Beer Festival and California's Long Beach Grand Cru Competition, respectively. Bristol garnered a silver for its Cheyenne Cañon Ale, while Holy Cross mashed the competition (zing!) with four golds, a silver and four bronzes.

• Join chef Martine Purdy as she shows off the power of raw food through a three-course "Raw Fusion" dinner from 6:30 to 9 p.m., Oct. 15 at the Canvas Café (inside the Business of Art Center, 515 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs). Lucky attendees will enjoy Indian-flavored dishes like zucchini noodles topped with cardamom-curry walnut pâté. Tickets are $25; RSVP by Saturday, Oct. 10, to 685-1861 or

• At 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 13, the Independent Restaurant Cooperative is holding its monthly dinner at Palmer Lake's Mozaic Restaurant (443 Hwy. 105, 481-1800). Tickets are $55 plus tax and gratuity.

• Join the Red Herring Productions troupe at 6 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 13, as it performs Murder Under the Big Top at the Melting Pot (30-A E. Pikes Peak Ave.). Tickets are $55 plus tax and tip; call 385-0300 for reservations.

• Grab the kiddies and head to Ruth Washburn Cooperative Nursery School (914 N. 19th St., from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Oct. 17, for the second annual Fall Harvest Festival. Paint pumpkins, faces and each other and enjoy sack races and giveaways by Whole Foods.

— Compiled by Bryce Crawford and Matthew Schniper

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