Buttonwood Flowering Blossoms

Buttonwood Cherry Blossoms

Flowering trees, such as the beautiful almond tree above, are one of the best examples of feng shui plant life.  Not only do most of these trees sprout delicious nuts or fruit, but their blossoms give off an alluring scent that carries on the air.   Flowering branches also have auspicious symbolism.  Because they usually bloom in winter or early spring, these floral tendrils represent longevity and  overcoming great burdens.  There are not many blossomy trees in my neighborhood, so I usually resort to the Japanese Cherry Blossom lotion from Bath and Body Works (the smell is to die for).  However, on a recent trip to Solvang, a generous collection of these beneficial plants reside at Buttonwood Farm.

Buttonwood Back View

Originally an equestrian ranch established by philanthropist Betty Williams, the property now boasts a vast vineyard, tasting room, and organic farm.  Pictured above is is the back entrance to the tasting room, which leads out to their intricate and beautiful gardens.

Buttonwood 02

The tasting room is stylish and very serviceable.  Two tasting bars reside on either side of the space, allowing for easy flow of patrons.   I love the living chandelier of leaves – a highly conducive and artistic example of the wood element.

Buttonwood Duck

Buttonwood also has many farm-fresh products for sale, including olive oils, preserves, salsas – and my personal favorite – the Raspberry Grenache-Syrah Chocolate sauce.  Decadent and loaded with antioxidants, this sauce is ideal for desserts or a chocolate martini.

Buttonwood 01

Wine barrels are used as support for an elegant table in the middle of the room.  I love barrel furniture, and it’s a green and economical way of reusing these vessels.  Powerful and striking images painted by Seyburn Zorthian grace the walls.  Much of Seyburn’s art is highly influenced by her study of Shoudo, the passionate brush stroke technique of Japanese and Chinese writing.  She also creates the artwork featured on Buttonwood’s wine labels.  For more information about her art, please visit her website here:  http://www.seyburnzorthian.com/artist.html

Buttonwood Fountain

I was captivated by this gorgeous fountain nestled in a private garden outside the tasting room.  Working fountains with clear, clean water add beneficial and peaceful chi (energy) to an environment.

Buttonwood Grounds 01

Daffodils were in full bloom when we visited.  Also known as narcissus or jonquils, these flowers have a myriad of symbolic meaning.  In feng shui folklore, the white ones represent the flowering of one’s talents and skills, and can be used in furthering one’s career. I also think they are great examples of spring; they remind me of hunting for Easter eggs as a kid.

Buttonwood Grounds 03

There were many different wines  l sampled.  My favorites were:

  • 2010 Devin – An irresistible  sauvignon blanc.  Influences of honey, lemon and apricot come through in a charismatic fashion.  Crisp and complex.
  • 2009 Marsanne – A decadent white.  Hints of honeycomb and marzipan contrast nicely with a crisp taste and rich body.  Flavorful and refreshing.  (Sold Out)
  • 2010 Cabernet Franc – Sage and raspberry take center stage with this enticing red.   Very easy to drink.  Silky and sophisticated.
  • 2009 Trevin – An intoxicating red blend composed mostly of Cab Franc.  Vanilla, rhubarb and dark berries were the notes highlighted on my palate.  Tasteful with a lingering finish.
  • 2010 POSH – One of the best ports I’ve had.  Dark cocoa and espresso make their presence known, with a holiday influence of cinnamon, orange and cherry.  (A bottle came home with me.)

Rhea and Victoria

I also got to meet fellow feng shui consultant, writer and interior designer Rhea Peake (pictured left here with my friend Victoria).  She has many years experience in creating sacred spaces and improving environments, as well as a plethora of other skills and talents.  In addition to her strong ties with Buttonwood, she is based in Santa Barbara, Hawaii  and Vancouver.  For more information, please visit her website here:  http://www.rheapeake.com

Buttonwood Grounds 02

Comfortable seating is placed purposefully around the gardens, encouraging guests to linger with some wine and a picnic lunch.  In addition to their tastings, Buttonwood also hosts many different events throughout the year, including a crawfish boil.  I also suggest checking their website for some  stellar recipes (I will be trying the olive oil cake recipe first) as well as their informative blog Buttonwords.  I am going to try to come up at least one more time before the seasons dramatically change, so I can sit under a flowering tree with a glass of Cab Franc and just immerse myself in the auspicious environment that is Buttonwood Farm.

Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard

1500 Alamo Pintado Road, Solvang, CA 93463

805-688-3032

Hours:  Open Daily 11:00 am – 5:00 pm

http://www.buttonwoodwinery.com

Buttonwood Front Entrance

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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