The Feng Shui of a Burger

In Ancient Egypt, the onion was highly revered as a perennial icon.  The people of that time believed that the many layers, rings, and orbicular shape of the onion symbolized eternity and longevity.  Part of this was probably due to the face that onions were one of the few foods that did not spoil during colder months.  And of all the vegetables to be recreated in various precious metals by Egyptian artisans, the only one ever  to be made out of gold was the onion.  My own personal love of onions came out about when I was a kid, in the deep fried form of onion rings.   Those golden circles of deliciousness were so good (especially at Carl’s Jr.).  I also remember dried onions atop the ever-popular green bean casserole.  Yum.

Earlier in the week, I visited the Toluca Lake location of The Counter, an international burger chain.  Unlike other burger establishments, The Counter lets patrons custom design the sandwich of their dreams.  From fried eggs to Gruyere cheese, the multitude of different combinations is astounding.  And it’s very easy to do – The Counter provides a check sheet, and patrons mark off what they want on their sandwich.  Being able to create a burger to one’s exact specifications is an excellent feng shui experience – you create the ideal burger for the environment of your stomach and taste buds.   Some locations offer different toppings than others, including what they call their MP Selections, which differ from location to location.  Here’s what I went with:

  • Multigrain Bun
  • 1/3 Beef Patty, cooked Medium
  • Brie Cheese
  • Burmuda Red Onion
  • Lettuce Blend
  • Grilled Onions (Did I mention I love onions?)
  • Roasted Green Chiles
  • Basil Pesto

The sauce selection is also served on the side, because sometimes burgers can be too dry or too moist.  My creation was absolutely ambrosial in its taste, and cooked to perfection.  But how is this burger feng shui?  Well, first, lets look at the colors, and how they represent the five elements.  The brown shades of the meat itself and the multigrain bun are very earthy.  The purple of the Burmuda onion is fiery.  The grilled onions have a slight metallic sheen to them.  The brie would also be metal, because it’s white.  Then there is the lettuce, roasted chiles, and basil pesto, all of which symbolize wood in their green hues.  Color-wise, water is not represented.  However, I had a glass of water with my meal, so I wasn’t completely without the water element.

Let’s look at the yin and yang of the ingredients of the burger.   I’ve mentioned yin and yang theory before, which is the belief that opposite components interact within and opposite each other in a complimentary way, and cannot exist without their opposite counterpart.   This theory presents itself all the time in life, especially in food.  In this sandwich, the thick yin of the burger mingles well with the sharp yang of the Burmuda onion.  The yin of the melted brie gently opposes the yang of the basil pesto.  These flavorsome combinations are evident in all cuisines.  Yin and yang can also be attributed to how food is prepared.  My burger is very much yang, as it was fried, the onions grilled, and the chiles roasted – all of which are yang food preparations for yang foods.  Also, look at the texture of the ingredients.  If the food is soft in consistency, it is yin.  But if it is hard or crunchy, than it is more yang.  I would say the burger is much more yin in its texture, as everything in the burger except the Burmuda onion was soft.  The Burmuda onion wasn’t exactly hard, but it had more of a crispness to it, making it more yang in its structure.

And of course, a burger needs a side dish.  Upon my server’s suggestion, I went with the Parmesan Cheese Fries.  Fine shreds of Parmesan  and garlic aioli completely transform the common potato to Pharaoh status.  Although they are fries, I suggest using a fork with them rather than ones hands, as the aioli brings a greasy goodness to the dish.  Fresh rosemary adds a wonderful, savory wood element  as well, adding a yang touch to a yin food.  For my beverage, I selected the Menage a Trois Blend.  A fantastic red combination with hints of raspberry and blackberry.  I’m not sure on the year, but I think it’s a 2009.   The wine accompanied the meal flawlessly.

One  thing that I really like about this branch of The Counter are the pictures on the walls.  Photographs of a rock band and their instruments hang on the Eastern wall.  I love the creative fire energy this brings to the metal-dominated interior.  My favorite of the display is pictured above.  My server, Pamela, was absolutely golden in her service.   Personable and charming, she took care of my every need to ensure that I had a great dining experience, including walking me through the burger checklist.   Should you be visiting this specific location, I advise sitting in her section.  Parking options abound in Toluca Lake, but I usually find free parking on some of the residential streets – just check the signs for restrictions.  On my next journey here, I plan on trying The Counter Cobb, and perhaps the yin energy of a chocolate malt.

The Counter Toluca Lake

10123 Riverside Drive, Suite A, North Hollywood CA 91602

Hours:  Sunday – Thursday 11:00 – 10:00,  Friday – Saturday 11:00 – 11:00

http://www.thecounterburger.com/Toluca_Lake_CA/

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Drago Centro

In traditional feng shui folklore, the dragon is a powerful symbol of strength, success and immortality.  This creature is considered very yang in its energies, and is also a prime example of fertility.  Chinese dragons were not ferocious and cruel as portrayed by other cultures; these large flying beasts were considered benevolent and kind.  Many emperors would use the dragon as their own personal emblem.

When I think of dragons, I think of the large, modern sculpture outside of Drago Centro.  Bright orange in color, this stair-like construct adds a wonderful fire and metal element to its surroundings.  Granted, it doesn’t look literally like a dragon, but it has that feeling.

Drago Centro is one of my favorite places in Los Angeles.   Housed in the base of a highrise, Drago offers a bustling oasis amidst the rampant energies of downtown.  Upon entering, one can see some of their fine wine collection in a massive glass vault.  The restaurant is decorated in modern taste, with earth tones throughout.  They also use real slate and marble whenever possible in the decor.  The use of various earth element suggests to the diner that they are in for a very wholesome and grounding meal.

Rather than dine in their chic and stylish restaurant, I prefer the social interaction of the Lounge area.  The Lounge is dominated by a bar hued in greens and yellows (pictured above).  A marble-topped table extends the length of the space, with further seating outside.   There’s also has a special Lounge menu that changes periodically.  The food and beverages offered are choice and sophisticated.  Here’s what I had on my most recent visit:

Le Ostriche – Four mouthwatering oysters are presented on a white plate, served on a bed of salt.  I get these every time, and they are absolutely excellent.   The shell left over from the oyster is also another example of an earth element.  Seashells are not a water element, as you would think.  I could explain why, but it might ruin one’s appetite for the oysters, and everyone should try them.

La Pizza Margherita – A Classic!  Tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese create the perfect balance atop a flatbread.  Fresh basil, a must for any margherita, embellishes the creation, adding a savory wood element to the meal.   Basil can be considered a wood element for two primary reasons.  One, its green in color, and green is associated with wood.  Two, basil is a plant, as are trees.  Hence, the wood element is present.

El Diablo – This drink takes yin and yang theory to a new level.  One of the basics in many Chinese philosophies,  yin and yang theory deals with how opposites are dependent upon one another, and both must exist together to achieve perfect balance and harmony.   And within each side of these contrary forces dwells a part of its exact opposite.   For example, night is dark, but there is bright moon present for light.  Hence, darkness (yin) with a little piece of light (yang) within it at all times.

The yin of the lime juice and cassis liqueur, with the yang of the ginger beer and tequila in the El Diablo, create a good balance of ingredients.  Also, two ingredients are alcoholic and two are not , illustrating another example of symmetry.   It also has two ingredients that are no stranger to one another (limes and tequila) paired with two items that are usually not comrades (cassis and ginger beer).

The fire element is also present in the beverage, both in its name and color.  As for its taste – its sheer perfection.

Calamari –  Tendrils of luxurious calamari breaded and served upon a napkin.  Notice in the picture above how it looks as if the calamari is within a flower, with how the napkin is folded.  This little touch suggest to the diner that they are eating something natural, beautiful and fresh.  A delicious aioli filled with enticing herbs  is served alongside.

Il Tramezzino – A luscious pressed panini served with provolone and prosciutto.  But what really make this sandwich auspicious is the black truffle butter used.  Wrapped in brown paper, the smell of truffles add a powerful aromatic chi (good energy) to the air.

Some other things I’ve tried there recently were:

  • Planeta Chardonnay – Sadly no longer offered on their Lounge menu, this was a very nice white wine, with hints of crisp pear.  It may still be available, just not on the Lounge menu.
  • Castelvero Barbera – A divine red that warms the soul.
  • The Derby – Vermouth, bourbon, and orange curcao trio together well in this vintage inspired beverage.

Another touch I really like here, oddly enough, are the place mats.  They’re of a woven mesh, pseudo-square in design, witch lends a subconscious stability and appeal to anything served upon it.   Drago does provide free parking, or one can take the red line to the nearby 7th Street Metro stop, and then proceed two or so blocks.  The Lounge menu is served throughout the day and evening, seven days a week, with most of the items averaging in the $6.00 – $7.00 range.  In fact, I have a feeling I’ll be there again next week…

Drago Centro

525 South Flower Street, Los Angeles, CA 90071

213  228-8998

Hours:    Lounge open Monday – Saturday  5:00pm – 10:00pm,  Sunday 5:00pm – 9:00pm

http://www.dragocentro.com/