Bacon and Bubbly

Curtained Window

I love visual art.  Growing up, I would attend museums whenever possible, and pour through coffee table books of famous paintings.  Good visual art – whether one likes it or not – makes one think and feel.  A couple of years ago, while conducting some online research, I stumbled upon a recreation of Vincent Van Gogh’s famous painting Starry Night – completely made out of bacon.   This version of Van Gogh’s masterpiece combined two things I love – fine visual art and pork.

Starry Night ComboAs one can see from the photo above, the likeness between the bacon matches the original pretty well.   A step-by-step process on how to fashion the Bacon Starry Night can be found here:  http://www.instructables.com/id/Van-Gogh-for-Breakfast/  Another amazing bacon pairing I recently attended was Bacon and Bubbly, a monthly event held at WineExpo, a boutique wine and spirits store in Santa Monica.  This event pairs five gourmet bacons with five scrumptious champagnes.

Expo Interior 01

Completely concealed from the street, a large tasting room is located in the store.  A rotating collection of elegant art adorns the walls.

Rooster Plate

Once seated, my party and I were treated to a little rose to cleanse the palette, and then we started off with our first champagne.  Unique and eclectic tableware is used throughout.  I  really want to get a set of those rooster plates.

Bacon Platter

And then the bacon arrived.  Five different selections, with bread, crackers, peanuts and olives completed the offering.  I really like that they serve all the bacon to you at once, because it let’s one taste each kind of bacon with each champagne at their own pace.  Now, I do believe these change per month, but here are the ones we sampled:

  • For the Love of Hog!  Apple Cinnamon Bacon – Subtle hints of apple .  Sublime.
  • Bourbon Street Vanilla Bourbon Bacon – My favorite of the group.  This was the perfect yin and yang combination of savory and sweet.  Highly delectable – I could eat this every day.
  • Rocco’s Private Reserve Sun Dried Tomato Bacon – My second favorite.  I would add this to spaghetti or carbonara pasta.  The tomato influences highly dominate.  Rich and sun-kissed.
  • Big Daddy’s Cracked Pepper Garlic Bacon – Ideal for breakfast, this is a bacon classic.  This would be great on BLT’s.  Robust and tasty.
  • Coastal Calliente Chipotle Bacon – This was served to us as a country-cut, which is a much thicker piece of bacon.  Spicy and sultry.  I loved it.

Curtained Table

And then there were the five champagnes, all of which were delicious.  My two favorites were:

  • Arunda Metodo Classico Extra Brut Riserva, Alto Adige Italy – This beguiling bubbly beverage uses grapes harvested in the Alps.  Sweet, lush, and addictive.
  • Gardet Selected Reserve a Chigny-les-Roses – One of two rose sparkling champagnes we tried this had the perfect amount of sweetness.  I love that pinot noir and chardonnay are the two main components,, creating a flavorful luxuriousness to the drink.

Expo Crostini

Crostini – As assortment of various crostini can be ordered on their select menu, in addition to selection offerings from Pizzas of Venice.

Bacon Brownie 02

Bacon Brownie – This tantalizing morsel was our dessert for the tasting,  Available from Bacon Freak, it’s a divine treasure and currently, they’re on sale for $1.00 each right here:  http://www.baconfreak.com/bacon-brownies.html

Expo Interior 02

It wasn’t just the champagne and bacon that allured me to WineExpo, but also the art on the walls.  In feng shui, art is vital in creating a peaceful and rejuvenating environment.  There is good, beneficial art for the home, and there are paintings and art that are not good for the home.  All the art here is displayed in a museum-like setting, and the current display is highly auspicious.  One good example is pictured above.  A peaceful landscape is brilliant for nearly any room in a home.  Here are some other tips when looking for ideal feng shui art:

  • You Need to Love It – Art is subjective, and if there is a piece of art displayed in your home that you despise and loathe, I suggest removing it, or relocating it to a place where it will not be seen often.   Art for the home has different meanings, depending on the room and environment.  But regardless, if one doesn’t like the art hanging, it will only attractive sha (negative energy) to the area.
  • Landscapes –  As I said before, beautiful landscapes are brilliant for attracting chi (good energy) to a home.  Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh, and John Singer Sargent are a few of many brilliant landscape artists.
  • No War or Shipwrecks –  Images portraying war, hunting, or sinking ships are generally not auspicious for most rooms in a house.
  • Severed Limbs are Bad – The same goes with paintings of dead bodies or severed limbs.   This is especially true for kitchens and dining rooms where food is prepared.  This type of art can literally ruin a person’s appetite, and dissuade people from using the space.  Even if it’s a Salvador Dali, if there are arms and legs just hanging about in the scene, the art doesn’t belong in a room where people eat or prepare food.
  • Romancing the Stone – For the bedroom, find art that is sensual in nature to you.  This will help to attract more romantic chi.
  • Winnie-the-Pooh – For children’s rooms, find art that is pastel in colors, and images that are calming and peaceful.  Winnie and his group are great examples.

Expo Art

What do you see?  In this painting from the tasting room, I see a woman in a ball gown about to shoot an arrow.  But there can be several different interpretations.

Expo Store 03

WineExpo has an enormous selection of choice wine, beer, and liquor.  I was fortunate to also attend their 20th Anniversary Celebration, where I sampled even more of their scintillating libations.  My favorite hands-down was the Tirle ’04 Rosso Tuscano, a heavenly Italian red.  A bottle of it came home with me.   (Notice that there is a small vineyard landscape on the label.)

Tirle 2004

The staff here is absolutely excellent, Alicia, Nick, and Roberto were all friendly, humorous and highly educated about wine and spirits.  Speaking of education, they also offer wine classes among the many great events at WineExpo.  Others include their 20 Wines for $20 Nights, where one may sample twenty wines for the unbelievable price of $20.00.  These occur on Mondays and Thursdays.  The other five days of the week they have their Happy Hour, from 5:00 – 7:00, which glasses of wine are 50% off.  And on Tuesdays, for beer lovers, they have their 15 Beers for $15 Night.  Bacon and Bubbly has become an incredible hit, and is now a monthly happening!  Live music performances, gourmet food trucks, and other exciting ventures color their social scene.  More information about future events can be found here:  http://wineexpo.com/events/  Their website is updated often, and contains a wealth of wine knowledge.  A small lot provides ample parking.

My next visit will be during the month of October, when I will be attending the next Bacon and Bubbly.  I wonder if such a thing as pumpkin bacon exists?  Hmmmm….

Expo Shelves

WineExpo

2933 Santa Monica Blvd Santa Monica, Ca 90404

310-828-4428

Wine Store Hours:  Monday – Wednesday 10:00 am – 10:00 pm, Thursday – Saturday 10:00 am – Midnight, Sunday 11:00 am – 10:00 pm

Tasting Room Hours:  Sunday – Wednesday 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm, Thursday – Saturday 5:00 pm – Midnight

http://wineexpo.com/

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The Scarlet Letter

Apothic Logo

Due to some circumstances beyond my control, I’ve had to deal with a lot of stress over the past few weeks.  Stress of any kind attracts sha (negative energy) to an individual and/or space. Depending on the person, stress can cause a multitude of symptoms, including headaches, anxiety, skin issues, sexual performance problems, and a weakened immune system.  For me personally, I suffer from insomnia, and the resulting fatigue and lack of energy that comes along with it.  Unfortunately, stress is an inescapable part of life.  But, it can be reduced and dealt with accordingly.  One way I like to unwind is to pour myself a glass of wine, such as the red blend from Apothic Wines.

Apothic Echos

Created by winemaker Boyd Morrison in 2007, Apothic harvests its grapes from Lodi to make some of the most tantalizing blends I’ve ever had.  I was first introduced to it  on a weekend away in Big Bear a few years ago.  It was love at first taste.  The name Apothic comes from the word Apotheca;  a mysterious place where wine was created and stored in the 13th century.  The “ic” portion of the name comes from the word epic (which this wine definitely is).

Apothic Red

Apothic Red – A seductive blend of zinfandel, syrah, cabernet and merlot.  While this is definitely not a dessert wine, I found the bold and rich taste of chocolate to be highly prevalent (probably from the zinfandel grapes used).  Vanilla, blueberry, raspberry, and mocha flavors also permeate the libation.  An excellent choice for every wine lover’s palette.  Even if you’re not an aficionado of red wine, try this.  It’s impressive taste lingers upon the senses.  Unforgettable.

Apothic White

Apothic White – I had this recently at a dinner party, and the first taste to assuage my senses was honey.  Sweet honeysuckle, vanilla, and mellow pineapple bring forth images of hot summer days in tropical climates.  A friend suggested adding actual honey to the wine, which I am inclined to do for a more digestif appeal.  Best served chilled, although ours was not; we added a few ice shards instead.  Sultry and beguiling.

Apothic Rose

Apothic Rose – A limited edition released this year, this is a very stylish blush wine.  Strawberries with hints of cream, nutmeg, and watermelon are the dominant flavors.   This pairs amazingly well with Trader Joe’s Carrot Zucchini Bread.  Charming and sweet.

Apothic Wine Art

Wine Advertisement Art by Aurie Singletary of Cargo Collective.  See more of her incredible images at her site:  http://cargocollective.com/auriesingletary/Apothic-Wine

Apothic Red Pond and Trees

From a feng shui perspective, there are many ways to deal with stress.  Here are a few things I do to help relax and rejuvenate during stressful times:

  • Gaze at some art – Whether is be online or at a museum, spend some time browsing artists of various styles.  This helps to relieve the mind of worrisome thoughts, and let’s people focus their attention on an item of beauty.  Even if one doesn’t like a piece of art, it’s always thought-provoking.
  • Clear the clutter – Remove and reorganize any clutter in your environment – especially in the bedroom   Clutter also attracts sha, stressing people out the more and more it collects. Take a half hour or so to clear some of this away from you environment, or at the very least, remove it from the bedroom.
  • Get some fresh air – Open up all the windows and let fresh air into the space, for about an hour (weather and temperature permitting).   Air and breezes from outside help remove the stagnant, yin air of the area, attracting more fresh,yang energy inside.  Taking a nice stroll around a park or neighborhood also helps.
  • Take a bath – As opposed to showers, baths helps to relax the body rather than stimulate.    There are all sorts of various things one can add for the ultimate bath experience.  I like bubble bath, some essential oil (usually lavender or eucalyptus), bath salts, and apple cider vinegar.  Why the vinegar, you ask?  It’s a skin equalizer.  If you have dry skin, it helps to naturally moisturize.  If you have oily skin, it helps to draw out the unnecessary oils.
  • Aromatherapy – Lighting candles or incense is a very quick way to alter a space for the better.  For calming, I suggest vanilla, lavender, or sandalwood.
  • Calming music – Various kinds of music can help one to relax.  Studies have shown that classical music alters brain waves, slowing down heart rate and breathing to a more calming rhythm.  Soft jazz and new age music also have the same effect.  (Enya is awesome)
  • Unwind with wine – A glass of red wine a day is good for the body and improves memory.  It also helps to relax.  After my second glass, I feel much better.

These are but a few of the ways one can de-stress.  There are many others, and they’re different for everyone.  Some of my friends play video games, or go for a mile run, or do yoga, or meditate.  Find what works best for you.

Haunting Apothic Poster

Apothic has  a choice selection of luxurious products for sale on their website, like the beautiful poster pictured above.  They also have a new black, stemless wineglass I’m sort of in love with.  All of their products are here:  http://store.apothic.com/index.cfm?method=storeproducts.showlist

Opera Wine Quote

Apothic can be found at a variety of locations, including CVS, Target and Trader Joe’s.  Also, check your local supermarket, bodega, or liqueur store.  Many of them in the Los Angeles area carry Apothic, although the rose is much harder to find than the red or white.   There is also a store locator  on the Apothic site here:  http://www.apothic.com/where-to-buy.asp  The price for this relaxation in a bottle is around $9.00 – $11.00.   I would not recommend purchasing online, as the shipping costs from all available distributors seems grievously high.

To unwind from the day tonight, I plan on having some Apothic Rose as I lounge in a warm bath courtesy of that amazing gentleman, Mr. Bubble.

http://www.apothic.com/

*Uncredited Apothic images provided courtesy of Apothic Wines.

The Earth Element…Etcetera

Map Ceiling

When I was in grade school, I used to love to draw maps of faraway places.  Usually, these were locations that existed only in the vast caverns of my mind, but others were based on real destinations such as London and Paris.  Since then, I’ve always had a particular fondness for maps and globes.  I get a slight thrill when I open a work of fiction and see a map of the story’s imagined environment printed at the start of the book.  Or when I walk into an antique store and spot an old globe among the various bric-a-brac. You can imagine my surprise when I looked up and noticed the ornately painted map ceiling at Etcetera.  This stylish and quaint French-owned wine bar, located in the Mission area of San Francisco, is one of my favorite places to visit when I journey to the City by the Bay.

Et Cetera Interior

Rich, fiery red, and earth tones of brown, taupe and oak take command of the space.  These colors work perfectly together as red, symbolic of fire, feeds directly into earth, which the other hues represent.  Red is also the most auspicious color in the palette, and is known for attracting attention, luck and passion.  Earth colors, such as yellow, mustard or brown, help to support fire tones in a healthy and beneficial way.  Etcetera makes an impressive use of these colors.  Many businesses select red and yellow (or versions thereof) to draw in people to their environment.  Notice that most fast food establishments have red and yellow as dominate parts of their color scheme. (I also chose the same colors for this website.)

Et Cetera Window

Intimate seating is located within the establishment, and outside tables flank the entrance.  I also really like the compass on the ceiling, placed right over the door.   For those not in the know, there are four main schools of thought concerning Feng Shui:  Classical, Black Hat Sect, Western and Pyramid.  Classical Feng Shui (what my personal feng shui education is based on), uses compass directions to help guide energies throughout an environment.  The other schools do not generally use them.   Also known as Compass School Feng Shui, I refer to their specific principles time and again when analyzing an environment.  But rarely do I see compasses so beautifully displayed as here.  And it’s painted right next to the map (we’ve already established I like the ceiling artwork).

My favorite San Franciscan Wendy and I went to Etcetera during their amazing Happy Hour.  Et Cetera Logo Six days a week from 5:00 – 7:00, one can get a single tapa and a glass of house red, white or rose wine for $10.00.  That is a highly auspicious deal.  So we took advantage of the special, and did two rounds of this addictive combination.  Their tapas menu changes frequently, but below are the items we recently sampled.

La Paradou 2009 Grenache

Le Paradou Grenache 2009 – I opted to go with the House Red.  Their house wines change periodically.   Lately, it has been this delicious grenache from France.  The name of the winery, Paradou, refers to old watermills scattered about the hills of Provence.  A medium bodied wine, this red was seductive and delicious.  I had two glasses.  For more information about Paradou, please visit their website here:  http://www.paradouwines.com/en/   In the photo above, one can also see the charming square stools used as seating.  These were upholstered in a lush fabric almost like velveteen.  I found them to be very comfortable, and am even contemplating building a couple for my apartment.

Prosciutto and Asperagus

Prosciutto and Asparagus – Tender asparagus drizzled with olive oil and herbs.  Fragile folds of prosciutto mingle casually among the greenery.  Refreshing and tasty.

Brie Crostini with Fig

Brie Crostini with Fig – Warm figs tucked under a blanket of melted brie, on a hardened bed of crostini.  Rich and decadent.

Stuffed Tomatoes

Stuffed Tomatoes – Cheese and mellow spices nestled in tomato halves.  Comfy and appealing.

Beet Tiramisu

Beet Tiramisu – I had no idea beets could be so sensual and alluring.  More of a beet parfait than a tiramisu, this savory creation starts with a prime foundation of beets at the bottom, with a second story of beet mouse built atop that.  The penthouse level is unsweetened whip cream.  A beautiful wood element in the form of a single orchid is planted amidst the cream.  Although I’m not particularly a beet enthusiast, I found this parfait to be sublime and delectable.  Perhaps I should explore the world of beets more often.

Alsacian Pizza

The Alsacian Pizza (Flammenkuche) – A flammenkuche is a classic dish originating in Alsace, France, similar to a flat bread pizza.  Melted cheese is not always present, and creme fraiche acts as the sauce base.  My favorite is the Alsacian.  Soft, diced ham, slight browned, and carmelized onions completely cover the luscious crust.  This is not on Happy Hour, but I have to get it on each visit.  Intoxicating, this accompanied the grenache extremely well.

Et Cetera Art and Sconce

Rotating artwork from various local artists cover their gallery wall.  I also really like the wall sconces, which permeate the room with a soft, warm glow.

Wine Barrel Half Table

I am also fond of repurposing items for new use.  I love this wine barrel table.  It is literally a wine barrel spliced in half, and makes for a great conversation piece.  I also like the elements present here.  First, you have metal as part of the barrel.  Wood is also a part of it, but the wood here is dead, therefore it’s actually more of an earth element.  The brown hue also lends itself to the earth family.  Water is represented in the black shade of the metal, and in the curvature of the table.  I would absolutely have this in my home.

Et Cetera Sombrero Globe     Although they are not technically made of earth, maps and globes are definitely suggestive of the earth element, and can be used to further enhance earthen concepts in an environment.  To our left we have a globe that resides in one corner of Etcetera.  I’m not sure what the story behind the sombrero is resting upon it, but I’m sure there is one.  I also like the rooster and the lion.  In feng shui folklore, this bird is said to bring luck and joy into people’s lives, and is the only animal capable of eating a centipede (one of the Five Poisons.)  Roosters are also the only animal that acts as nature’s alarm clock, crowing every morning to celebrate the start of each day.

Lions have a rich history in feng shui folklore as well.  This large feline is a powerful symbol of protection, and is used throughout the world in front of palaces, banks, hotels, casinos, businesses, museums, and private homes.  (Some of my favorite metal lions reside just outside the British Museum).  In addition to their protective and guarding qualities, they are also known for attracting good fortune and wealth.   Other lion-esque creatures also roam the folklore landscape.  The most prevalent of these being the Fu Dog, a combination Lion-Dog.  These are usually placed in pairs, one male and one female, and act as sentinels for entrances to prosperous environments, such as select buildings, gardens, or neighborhoods.

The service at Etcetara is top-notch.  We were well taken care of by the stylish Alexandra and the debonair Alejandro (I believe it was his first or second day on the job).  Aside from their Happy Hour, they also have a few other deals present, such as their Tuesday Night Special:  One pizza or two tapas and a bottle of select wine for $35.00.  Various events are hosted here throughout the year, and board games are available on request should one have an instant craving to play chess.  Although I am back in my native Los Angeles at present, it will only be a matter of weeks before I find myself traveling the globe again to San Francisco, and having some wine … at Etcetera.

Et Cetera Row Houses

Etcetera Wine Bar

795 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

415 926-5477

Hours:  Tuesday – Thursday  5:00 pm – 12:00 am,  Friday – Saturday 5:00 pm  – 1:30 am,  Sunday 5:00 pm – 11:00 pm,  Happy Hour – Tuesday – Sunday 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm

http://www.etceterawinebar.com/

Street of Dreams: Susan Feniger’s Culinary Delights

Street Restaurant Sign

Years ago when I first visited New York, my friend Petra insisted that I try all of the classic street food Manhattan had to offer.  This included the bagel, the pizza slice, the hot dog, the pretzel, and the ever famed knish (and a few others).  As I ventured around the city,  I would occasionally spot a food stand or truck, and would try one of the items on the list.  It was shortly after this trip that I started really paying attention to street food and food trucks for unique culinary experiences.  Coincidentally, shortly after I returned to Los Angeles, the food truck craze was just coming into vogue.  Since then, I have had some amazing meals and memories created around sidewalk food.  So when my friend Kristy suggested we dine at Susan Feniger’s Street, I was thrilled and ecstatic.  I’d been wanting to try Street for ages, and the tantalizing cuisine far exceeded my expectations.

Indian Iced Soda

While waiting for our table, we sat inside at the bar and ordered some drinks.  I went with the Indian Lime Soda.  I found this to be quite similar to a Gimlet.  A generous amount of fresh lime juice and gin, served over ice.  Celery salt and cumin rim the glass.  The libation provides the ideal balance of yin and yang with the flavors, from sweet to savory, and from mellow to tart.  Absolutely excellent.

Crisps and Jelly

We were seated outside on their elegant patio. Unobtrusive umbrellas create a protective awning under which we sat.   These crisps, pictured above, came complimentary with the meal.  I found them highly addictive.  I didn’t sample the jelly that accompanied them, because I found they were tasty enough on their own.

Biig Fred's Red

We brought a bottle of wine with us from one of my favorite wineries, Robert Renzoni out of Temecula.  This is a fine table wine called Big Fred’s Red.  Hints of cherry and blueberry come across gallantly, with a slight oaken tinge.  Sensational and divine.  We then ordered a bottle from Street’s impressive wine list.  We went with their Barbera.  Unfortunately, I cannot recall the winery it is from, but it is the only Barbera they have, and only available by the whole bottle.  It was a rich, smooth red that accompanied the food perfectly.  I loved it.

Potato Samosas

Potato Samosas – Golden pyramids of delectable potato served deep-fried with a trio of sauces:  minty yogurt, cucumber chilli and a tamarind chutney.  Each Indian based sauce was savory and impeccable, and good alone or mixed with the others.  The samosas come four to an order, and are purely sublime.  I could eat them all day.

Chicken and Waffles

Chicken, Bacon, and Waffle Croquettes – Two chicken and bacon “meatballs”, reposed on a lounge of comfy waffle.   Enshrouded in a mildly spicy maple syrup, this was a scrumptious delight.  Here, too, is another prime example of the yin and yang of taste, where savory meets sweet.  I also like how the waffle is cut on the diagonal, adding the triangle shape of the fire element to the dish.

Angry Eggs

Angry Eggs – These, too, have the fire element present, but more in the form of heat – as in the use of green and red sriracha.  A nouveau take on the classic deviled variety, these eggs have a burst of spice.  Two pieces come to an order.  Zesty and unforgettable.

Kaya Eggs

Kaya Toast – This is my friend Lori’s favorite item at Street, and it may be their best-selling dish.  A generous amount of thick coconut jam is sandwiched between toast, and then cut into fours mini sandwiches.  Served alongside is a runny fried egg covered in soy sauce.  The correct way to eat this is to dip the coconut  sandwich into the yolk and soy and eat it with a little of the egg.  Delicious and decadent.

Pizza of the Day

The Daily Pizza – Street offers five different items that change every day, which include a Pizza, a Rice Bowl, a Salad, an Asian Inspired Noodle, and a Market Vegetable.  Pictured above was that day’s Daily Pizza.  Caramelized onions and bacon gave a highly tasteful performance here.  I also really liked the crust.  I generally prefer thin to thick crust, but even then I leave the end piece on the plate.  Not here.   The crust, end piece, and all the toppings were quickly devoured.

Fish and Chips

Fish and Chips – Thick cuts of yucca fries act as the sidekick to strips of  fluffy striped bass.  An enticing Peruvian panca sauce is drizzled on top.  Succulent and well-seasoned.

Tatsutage Fried Chicken

Tatsutage Fried Chicken-Japanese style fried chicken.  The breading on the chicken is astounding and rich.  Shredded carrots and an alluring white sauce garland the morsels.  Tofu can also be substituted for the chicken.  Almost rapturous in its taste, this was one of my favorites.  A must-have.

We also had three items that are not pictured:

  • Pumpkin Cauliflower Cannelloni – Gentle cannelloni filled predominantly with pumpkin.  I love anything with pumpkin, and this vegan pasta dish was intoxicating and filling.
  • Street Cheeseburger – My friend Zach got this, and I’m so glad he did.  A mouthwatering burger with all the usual accoutrement.  I really liked the brioche bun it was served on.  This is quite a large burger, good either as a whole meal, or shared with friends.  Phenomenal.
  • The Daily Rice Bowl – As I said earlier, their daily options change.   When we went, our server Chris highly recommended the rice bowl, and he was right to do so.  Saffron and curry were the main influences of the rice, with luscious pieces of eggplant throughout.  Refreshingly different and complex in flavor.   So good!

Street Patio Interior

I really love the use of color Street encompasses.  The dominating hues on the patio are black and orange.  In feng shui, orange  represents creativity, legacy and fertility.  It also offers a lot of yang energy to the environment, being very warm and lively.  Whereas black, a more yin, cool color, helps to balance out the orange.  I also found all five of the elements harmonizing beautifully here:

  • Fire – The red-orange walls, candles and subdued lighting, as well as the fire pit residing in the middle.
  • Earth – The wood parts of the dining tables and chairs.  When wood is cut down, it effectively “dies” as a wood element.  Therefore, it returns to the earth, becoming an earth element.
  • Metal – The metal parts of the dining tables and chairs.
  • Water – The color black encompassing the furniture and woodwork.
  • Wood – ???

But where was the wood element?  I couldn’t see any living wood at first.  And then I saw them – two large palm trees rising from the ground.  The restaurant environment coexists peacefully around the two living plants.  This is one of the best examples of the wood element I’ve seen in a restaurant.  A photograph of one of these monolithic trees is at the end of the post.

Street Bar

The architect for Street was Neil M. Denari.  Internationally known for his modern, almost futuristic residential and commercial creations, this was Denari’s first restaurant design.  Working closely with Feniger, they wanted to create a space that was welcoming and provocative.  Energy flows very well within the environment, and I love the unique shapes presented in the architecture.  Pictured above is the area right over the entryway and bar.  I love how the curvature of the walls and the wood paneling, further enhanced by the lighting, reminds me of a subway tunnel or an underground walkway.  Thus carrying out the Street theme on varying levels.

Street Interior

The restaurant’s interior offers a more subdued swankiness.  Wood and fire are represented quite differently here than on the patio.  The colors red for fire, and green for wood, are expressed in the hues of the spirited illustrations on the walls.  The murals and wall decor throughout are the products of Studio Huntley-Muir.  Su Huntley and Donna Muir are London-based artists whose innovative line drawings create an ambiance of a lively city populace.  I love how the drawings of people walking about lend to the space an animated yang energy, which is highly beneficial for a dining environment.

Our Server, Chris, was quite knowledgeable about the menu.  His suggestions were spot on, and we were taken care of very well.  Susan Feniger herself also comes around to greet tables personally, which I found wonderful!  She genuinely cares that her guests have an outstanding dining experience on each visit.

Street also has a new Happy Hour, which features a few choice food selections, $5.00 beer and wine options, as well as a $5.00 valet, from 5:00pm – 7:00pm on weekdays.  They also have many vegetarian and vegan options every day, and Meatless Mondays, where even more non-carnivorous items are available.   They also serve lunch on Fridays, with select $5.00 cocktails at the bar from 12:00 – 7:00.  I will be returning to Street very soon for said Happy Hour, and also for their Weekend Brunch (The Hawaiian French Toast sounds incredible).   This auspicious restaurant provides its guests with a trip around the world all under one roof, with various avenues to satisfy even the most discriminating of tastes.  I wonder if, on my next visit, I may find a cheesy knish on the menu…

Street Only Tree

Susan Feniger’s Street

742 North Highland Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90038

323 203-0500

Hours:  Dinner:  Sunday – Thursday  5:00 pm – 10:00 pm,  Friday – Saturday 5:00 pm  – 11:00 pm,  Brunch:  Saturday – Sunday 11:00 am – 3:00 pm,  Lunch:  Friday 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm,  Happy Hour – Monday – Friday 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm

http://www.eatatstreet.com/

Prosperity on Tap: The Draft Wines at Lucky Devil’s

Lucky Devils Bar 01

Amidst the City of Angels there resides a persuasive creature known as Lucky Devil’s.  This classy bistro first won my heart two years ago with their succulent ribs.  But when it was brought to my attention that they had tap wine, I decided it was time to pay them a long overdue visit.  Located on Hollywood Boulevard, it is the elegant red building pictured below.  (One  can’t helped but be charmed by the cute devil illustration on the marquee. )

Lucky Devils

Keg, or draft wine has been popular in Europe for centuries, and although it’s been introduced to America from time to time, it never really caught on until 2011.  And it’s still a relatively new concept for the Los Angeles market.  The benefits of keg wine versus bottled wine are quite extensive.   Wine barrels are completely reusable, either continuing their original life purpose as kegs, or being crafted into furniture or garden planters.   The keg storage of the wine preserves every single drop of the libation, whereas when it goes into bottles, some wine gets splashed around, thus wasting product.  Kegs also weigh less than bottles per unit, therefore less energy is used in distribution.   Not to mention the excess use of corks, and glass to make the bottles.  There is also the matter of taste.  The wood from the barrels influences wine in a highly auspicious manner.  Most wine looses some of this elemental influence when it is stored in glass vessels for long periods of time.   Wine from a barrel will have a more genuine taste to it than its bottled counterparts.   Not that I’m disparaging bottled wine in the slightest – I love both kinds.  However, keg wine has that beneficial wood element more directly connected to the liquid, which bottled wine lacks.   (When visiting wineries in Temecula or Santa Barbara, some of my fellow wine connoisseurs and I like to have our tastings in the barrel room, as one can usually try things right out of the keg.  Not all wineries offer this, but many do; they just don’t advertise.)

One would think that all of these prosperous attributes would make keg wine less expensive to purchase by the glass.  However, I have found most places serving draft wine in Los Angeles mark the cost up even more than wine out of the bottle.   Lucky Devil’s, however, does not do this.  Reasonably priced,  their wine is available in four different sizes, with 3 ounce and 6 ounce pours if one wants a glass, or the 16 ounce and 32 ounce servings ideal for sharing.   For a 6 ounce pour, most wines run $8.00 – $9.00.  Pictured below is a glass of the Fulton Lane Cabernet Franc ’08.   This luscious red has mellow suggestions of black raspberry, vanilla and cherry.  Lovely and sophisticated.

Lucky Devils Cab Franc

Of their sixteen offerings, I sampled a total of eight.  Here are my opinions of the other seven I tried:

  • Baileyana Chardonnay ’11 – This sweet wine was wonderful!  Hints of pineapple and oak are highly prevalent.  I could easily drink a whole carafe of this on a hot summer day.
  • Silvertap Chardonnay ’11 – Much more savory than the above.  This would be ideal  paired with pork or turkey.  Smooth and classy.
  • Shannon Ridge Sauvignon Blanc ’11 – An appealing white that enhanced the flavors of the goat cheese monumentally, with hints of pear.  Crisp and lively.
  • Boat Dock Rose of Grenache ’10 – Quite different from most blush wines, this had an almost creamy essence to it, without being overly sweet.  Although it’s not a dessert wine, I would have this at the end of dinner.  Intriguing and unique.
  • Pop-Chiles Sangiovese ’09 – Citrus and black pepper are the commanding influences in this balmy red.  Bold and contemporary.
  • Pardi Cabernet Sauvignon ’09 – A curious cab blend with hints of spice and orange.  Cool and complex.
  • Parducci Wine Cellars Pinot Noir ’10 – This is that pinot noir dream that every wine lover seeks out, with suggestions of cranberry and cherry.  Smooth and sophisticated.

Truffle Chips

Truffle Parmesan Chips – A perfect appetizer for any meal, although one may want to order two of these if the party is more than three people.  Alluring truffle sea salt and grated parmesan are the beneficial influences over these fresh-cut chips.  Dangerously good and very addictive.  This went very well with the Fulton Lane.

Flaming Goat Half Order

The Flaming Goat – Those born under the Goat, the eighth sign of the Chinese Zodiac, are said to possess many virtuous qualities including creativity, kindness, and a keen business sense.  The Flaming Goat here possesses a great virtue in taste.  Grilled bread covered with Laura Chenel goat cheese and red bell pepper.  The flaming aspect comes from a hint of habanero chile.  This is a little spicy, and I loved it!  Pictured above is half of a full order.  Fiery and decadent.

Tandoori Pizza

Tandoori Chicken and Goat Cheese Pizza – All of the pizzas here are served on a delicious and savory flat bread.  The mixture of the sweetness of the tandoori, mint and chutney combined with the spice of jalapeno, cilantro and onion provide that ideal taste balance of yin and yang.  Mozzarella and goat cheese are both used, and help to draw out the mellow red curry influences in the tomato sauce.  The flat breads are a generous personal size and perfect for sharing or as a stand alone meal.   Exotic and excellent.

Ribs and Sweet Potato Fries

Ribs and Sweet Potato Fries – The legendary ribs I mentioned earlier.  Enshrouded in a piquant bbq sauce, and then slow roasted for seven hours.  Simply wondrous.  The sweet potato fries alongside were good in bringing out the subtlety of the flavors in the hickory marinade.  A pleasingly sumptuous aioli is served with the fries.  Both of these items went extremely well with the Parducci.

Steelhead and Kennebec Fries

Steelhead and Wedge-Cut Fries – For those unfamiliar with Steelhead, it is a variety of rainbow trout.  Lucky Devil’s uses Steelhead in a few of their creations, including the sandwich above.  Cooked to perfection, and served on a delicious role with homemade slaw.  Delicious and tantalizing.  (If trout could be velvet, this would be it.)  Accompanying the Steelhead are wedge-cut fries.  Kennebec potatoes roasted to a golden hue.  Tasty and impressive.

I also tried two other items that are not pictured.

  • Short Rib Sliders – Two soft, Hawaiian roles generously filled with short ribs, wild arugula and a languid horseradish sauce.  I loved every morsel, and devoured them before I could snap a picture.  The Pardi Cab paired perfectly with the short rib.  Irresistible and filling.
  • Smoked Cheddar Grilled Cheese – Comfort food at it’s finest.  Smoked cheddar and a homemade chutney grilled between two toasted pieces of bread.  Perfect for vegetarians.  Partnered alongside the sandwich was a delicious salad of mixed greens with a mildly tangy dressing.  Enticing and opulent.

I had the chance to speak to Lucky Vanous, the owner and creator of this fine establishment.  I was really impressed with his passion for wine and food, and how the two can influence each other in different ways.  One can tell that he absolutely loves what he does, and this type of positive energy is released into the environment.  This is especially vital in making things people absorb – like food and wine – because this chi, or energy, is carried within these items.  An example of this would be Laura Esquivel’s novel Like Water for Chocolate.  The main character of the novel can only express how she truly feels when cooking – by putting her emotions into her food.  Those who ingest the food are then consumed with her feelings.  Some of the situations in the book are a little extreme, but I really like how emotions and energy, and their connection to food, are illustrated.  I feel the positive energy by Lucky and his employees influence the cuisine in a highly beneficial manner.   My server, Brad, took expert care of me.  He was very knowledgeable about wine and wine culture.  The few other employees I also spoke with were helpful and cordial.

Lucky Devils Bar 02

Another winsome trait of Lucky Devil’s is the environment.  They had remodeled some since my last meal here, and the changes are brilliant.  First, there is the color red.  Red is the most auspicious color in the palette.  The element attached to it is fire, and it signifies prosperity, abundance, fame, passion, love, and luck.  In feng shui folklore, many would use red string on items to draw more luck and wealth to their personal areas.  This practice is still used by some today.  From a color science perspective, it’s the hue most people take notice of instantly – hence why it is used symbolically in films more so than other color (such as in The Matrix or Schindler’s List).  A beautiful shade of cardinal covers the outside of the building, with various shades of red and scarlet covering two of the inside walls.  The cool, yin darkness of the tables, upholstery, and ceiling make a perfect balance with the yang of the red hues.  And all five elements are represented here  perfectly:

  • Wood – The trees outside, both along the sidewalk, and in planters lining the patio dining area.
  • Fire – The color red everywhere (including the red wine).
  • Earth – The stone and brick work along the walls, and the brown shades of the furniture.
  • Metal – The wine and beer taps themselves.
  • Water – The black of the upholstery, and the wavy lines along the red walls.

They also solved the beam issue!  As I’ve said before, I am not a fan of ceiling beams.  They can cause many health, financial and emotional issues for those occupying the space.  Here, however, they did exactly what  I would have suggested as the fastest “fix” – paint the ceiling beams the same color as the ceiling, thus making them symbolically “disappear.”  I also really like the height of the ceilings and the way the tables are spread out.  It makes for an easy flow of air and energy (chi).   And I liked the bathrooms.  I laughed out loud when I saw the male and female “sign demons” acting as sentries to the toilets.

Lucky Devils Bathrooms

As for parking, it is Hollywood, so it can be a challenge at times.  There are many pay lots around, and convenient public parking is located right off of Cherokee.  (Although I did find one of the coveted free spaces on the street)   Or one can take the red line and disembark at  Hollywood and Highland, and walk the remaining four blocks.  For beer lovers, there is the Lucky 7 Happy Hour where seven select brews are offered at lower prices (They have a total of twenty-four beers on tap.)  It has been a week since my excursion and I am dying to go back!   I never thought a devil could be so appealing, but this one most assuredly is.  Lucky Devil’s is indeed a place to indulge in heavenly good food and choice wine.

Lucky Devils Sidewalk

Lucky Devil’s

6613 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, CA 90028

323 465-8259

Hours:  Sunday – Thursday  11:30 am – 10:00 pm,  Friday – Saturday 11:30 am – 10:00 pm,  Lucky Seven Happy Hour:  Monday – Friday 4:00 – 7:00

http://www.luckydevils-la.com/index.php