The Fertile Color of Orange

Bouquet of Flowers in Paper Cone 02At the end of summer, I ventured to a beautiful place I hadn’t been to in a very long time – Massachusetts.  My friend Diane, whom I’ve known since college, was getting married.  A group of us made the voyage across the states for the event.  After a smooth flight, my fellow travelers and I were ravenous, so our lovely hosts and friends, Jen and Keith, took us to an impressive restaurant in Cambridge called Abigail’s.

Abigails Street View

Situated on the first floor of a stylish apartment building in Kendall Square, Abigail’s stands out due to the dynamic orange umbrellas that adorn the dining patio.

Abigails Signage

The restaurant boasts a full bar with a choice beer and wine selection, gourmet food offerings including many BBQ specialties, and a raw bar.  Their brunch menu also looks tantalizing.

Abigails Outside View

As the night was beautiful and tranquil, we chose to sit outside.  This was the view across the street from where I was sitting.  Notice the healthy, thriving trees – a prime example of the wood element.

Diane in Magenta 02

The vision in fuchsia above is the lovely Diane, whose wedding I attended later on in the week.

Dark and Stormy

Dark and Stormy – This is one of my favorite beverages.  Dark rum and ginger beer served over ice, with a lime wedge as garnish.    A simple classic, but Abigail’s does it very well; I ordered two.  The Moscow Mule is similar, except that it uses vodka instead of dark rum.  Sweet and refreshing.

Abigails Seaweed Salad

Seaweed Salad – A selection off of their Raw Bar menu, I had to try it.  Unlike most seaweed salads, this rendition had pieces of edamame mixed throughout.  Light and invigorating.

Abigails Burger and Fries

Fresh Ground Burger and Gouda Fries – American cheese melted onto a ground beef burger, with grilled onions, pickles, and iceberg lettuce on a delicious potato bun.  Their special sauce  is served alongside, similar to a savory aoili.  Satisfying and filling.  For $3.00 more, one can swap standard fries for Gouda Fries.  Small pieces of bacon swim throughout a river of chicken gravy that cover thick-cut fries.   Decadent and addictive.

Abigails Bar

Another item on the menu that caught my eye was a side dish called Summer Chi.  In feng shui, we refer to positive energy as chi.  Summer chi = summer energy.  It turns out the chi dish is a medley of seasonal summer vegetables, which I found intriguing.  (No one at the table ordered it, hence there is no photograph of said chi.)  Industrial Light Fixture

Inside, a long bar extends nearly the whole length of the establishment.  Cool bucket lights hang over the bar, while very industrial sconces take residence in front of the windows.  I really like the metal energy the window fixtures encompass.  Somewhat like a cage housing a rare light source.  I’ve love to have two or three of these lining the balcony of my home in Los Angeles.

Abigails Art

I was fascinated by this enigmatic art piece, which hangs near the main entrance.  I love how the grays, blacks and yellows all mix together in a beneficial way.  Earth, metal, and water elements harmonize here in thought-provoking fashion – an ideal example of good feng shui art in a highly modern style.

Abigail Interior Seating

Shades of yellow and gray, with a little black here and there, are the main colors used throughout.

Frilly Victorian Parasol Orange

In feng shui, the color orange is a dynamic, cheerful shade symbolic of the west.  There is debate as to whether it is representative of the fire element or the earth element.  I would actually say it works for both.  The hue is representative of creativity, fertility, organization, and social interactions.  The color orange can be used in a variety of positive ways:

  • Add some orange pillows or an orange throw to a living room sofa.  This will foster a more social, creative energy in the space.
  • Use as a paint color for kitchens, dining rooms, and children’s play areas.   The color used in these rooms creates a warm, social atmosphere with good conversation.
  • If one is trying to have a baby, add more orange to the bedroom.  The walls can be a painted orange, but it should be an earthy or muted orange, or change some of the curtains or bedding to an orange shade.
  • When used in small doses, orange is excellent for offices as it increases productivity and helps to establish an organized environment.
  • To stimulate creativity, wear the color orange in any shade you desire.  It should be an item you like that is comfortable and stylish.  (I have a rust color cardigan that suits me perfectly.)
  • Eat oranges!  They stimulate one’s immune system with vitamin C and other healthy nutrients.

Personally, I consume a lot of oranges in the form of orange juice.  (I can’t seem to get enough of it.)  My next trip to the Boston area will  hopefully be sometime next spring or summer.  But one thing is definitely certain – I will be visiting Abigail’s again where I plan on eating some oysters underneath one of those vibrant orange umbrellas.

Abigails Umbrellas

Abigail’s Restaurant

291 3rd Street, Cambridge, MA 02140

617-945-9086

Hours:  Monday – Friday 11:30 am – 1:00 am,  Saturday 5:00 pm – 1:00 am,  Sunday 11:00 am – 1:00 am

Note:  Closed for lunch on Saturdays.

http://abigailsrestaurant.net/

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/

Brussels Sprouts… Friend or Foe?

Vintage Brussels Sprouts

When I was a child, I loathed brussels sprouts.  I thought they looked cute, but they smelled disgusting.  I remember on the rare occasions I was coerced into having them, I was not impressed.  Usually the bribe here was a slice of chocolate cake or an ice cream sandwich.  However, as an adult, my tastes have changed.  So has the general opinion of brussels sprouts.  Many restaurants in Los Angeles have reinvented the way this Brassica vegetable is prepared in new, contemporary ways – such as wrapping them in bacon or prosciutto, grilling them in foil over an open flame, or tossing them into a salad whole.  Cleo, the restaurant in the Redbury Hotel, deflowers the brussel by shedding all of the leaves, and baking them like potato chips – making a very savory snack.  At a recent dinner party, I decided to sample a single brussel from a platter.  They had been baked in the oven, and smelled wonderful.   The taste was sensational and sultry.  I wondered exactly how one can make these at home, so online I went in search of a great brussels sprout recipe.

My findings took me to an incredible blog called Fannetastic Food.  Run by a dynamic, eclectic woman named Anne, her blogpost about brussels indicated that one has to cut off the nasty stalk of the sprout to avoid that sick, bitter taste many of us have experienced.  One can visit her brussels article here:  http://www.fannetasticfood.com/2011/03/30/how-to-make-brussels-sprouts-delicious/    Using her recipe and article as a base, I created my own recipe for Baked Brussels Sprouts, which I’ve made quite often recently, and they always turn out delicious.

Gently wash all of the brussels sprouts. Then cut off the stalk of ill repute (above), and dispose of said stalks in the garbage.  Then, cut each brussel in half.  Some of the leaves may fall off – gather them together for later.  After the cutting is complete, take the random loose leaves and brussel halves and put them in a plastic bag.  A zip lock bag works well for this, or one can use a plastic grocery bag.  Drizzle some olive oil in the bag, and add imitation bacon bits, sea salt, lemon pepper, garlic powder, and a little chili powder to the mix.   (Feel free to play with the spices; I always do).  Then, move and shake the brussel mixture, until the olive oil and spice are covering each brussel part.

Pre-heat your oven to 400 – 425 degrees.   Oven temperatures vary, and I’ve tried both temperatures in mine, and each work equally well.  Next, take a cookie sheet and cover it with foil.  Grease the foil any way you would like.  I use a non-stick cooking spray, or olive oil.  Place the brussel halves and leaves upon the cookie sheet.  Bake the brussels uncovered for about 15 – 20 minutes , or until you feel they are done.  Play with it, and judge accordingly.  Below is an example of what my finished product typically looks like.

The Brussels Sprout earned its name from Brussels, Belgium, as they were one of the chief vegetables produced there in the sixteenth century.  The were introduced to the English and French in the nineteenth century, coming to the United States shortly thereafter in Louisiana.  By 1939, brussels were being grown in the central valley of California, where they are still primarily grown today for American consumers.  From a feng shui standpoint, the brussels sprout is a wonderful example of the wood element, being that it is derived directly from a plant, and for its calming green hues.  The shape of the brussel is more metallic.  Circles and spheres are metal in their elemental origin, and are considered very welcoming to people.  I think brussels are also very attractive – almost like pygmy cabbages.  They are also rich in Vitamins K, A, C , fiber and sulforaphane, and are excellent at lowering cholesterol.  For my next experiment in brussels cuisine, I’m going to try a brussels sprouts soup…which I think I will make later in the week.