Cocktails at Cliff House

Since we talked so much about the wood element in the last article, I thought I’d devote this blog to another of the elements:  Water.  In feng shui, the water element is associated mainly with the North, which is the Career area of any room  But water is also associated with wealth and prosperity for many reasons.  For example, if one’s career is thriving, then one will have more earned income, thus providing more prosperity.  Water abundance isn’t always monetary, either.  Being around water in general  (be it an ocean, lake, river or fountain)  tends to rejuvenate the human spirit, thus creating a sense of calm and comfort.  It makes people feel safe and reminds us of the womb.  This leads into another reason – waterfront property.  Nearly all major cities in the world have a large body of water directly attached somehow.  Also, most residential waterside property tends to be more affluent in nature, which raises the chi in those areas.  Unfortunately, this also raises the cost of living and mortgage rates for homes near the water.  Despite the costs, however, this is no shortage of those wishing to acquire condos by the beach.   From a biological standpoint, humans are comprised mostly of water.  It makes complete sense why we, as a race, tend to flock towards water whenever we can.  It’s not just limited to humans, either.  Those seagulls in the photo above were enjoying the ocean as well, but they paused so I could capture their image.

For my birthday this year (I’m turning thirty again – it’s a good age to be for awhile), I went to visit my best friend Wendy.  She lives in San Francisco, one of my favorite cities in the world.  After a purely luxurious day meandering through Golden Gate Park, we decided to have some cocktails at the historic Cliff House.  The original Cliff House was built-in 1863.  Over the years, the building was completely rebuilt twice – once in 1894, and again in 1909, both due to destructive fires.  The current Cliff House has undergone a variety of architectural facelifts throughout the years, before being renovated to its original glamour in 2004.   Below are two vintage postcards showing the second and third variations of Cliff House.

Two very distinct versions of Cliff House. On the left is the late Victorian model. On the right, its Edwardian counterpart, which the restaurant resembles today. Historic images provided by Penny Postcards: http://www.usgwarchives.org/special/ppcs/ppcs.html

The renovations to Cliff House also included a modern addition, the new Sutro Wing.  They cleverly managed to combine both vintage and modern styles throughout the design and decor of the structure.  Below is a photo of their lounge, facing inward, where we had drinks.  The rounded supports above tend to create a canopy-like feeling over the guests.  The railing overlooks into the lower level, which features another bar and more dining.  I really liked the dining chairs used here as well.  This is a prime example of a good feng shui dining chair.  Beautiful, comfy, and not too heavy.  It also has a mostly solid back – important for security and back support.  For more on how to select a proper dining chair, take a glance at the article here:   https://fengshuifoodie.com/2012/06/16/finding-a-place-to-sit/

And now onward to the provocative and intoxicating items that we sampled.

Old Fashioned – One of my favorite beverages.  Made with modest ingredients, and mixed extremely well.  I love the orange hue the liquid displays.  Strong, tasty, and sophisticated.

Pear Martini – One of the specialty drinks favored by Cliff House.  Using Grey Goose Le Poire, this makes for a refreshing and mildly sweet cocktail.   Pleasingly alluring.

On the left is a glass of Brassfield Estate Pinot Grigio.  A crisp and enticing white wine, perfect for drinking at the seaside.  On the right is The Bird of Paradise.  This champagne cocktail, which includes St. Germain and pineapple juice, tastes exactly like passion fruit with bubbles.  So good was it, in fact, that I had two of them.  Enchanting and tropical.

Of the savory food offerings available, we went with the Buffalo Wings and the Garlic Fries.  The wings were sauceless, with heat-inducing spices rubbed into the skin.  Served with bleu cheese dressing, these were mouth-watering.   The fries, covered liberally with crushed garlic, were the perfect accompaniment to our intoxicating beverages.  And being a native Californian, I asked for ranch dressing to accompany the fries  (Californians like their ranch).

I was entranced by the waves crashing below us outside the window.  Our table overlooked these two impressive rocks emerging from the seas.  In addition to the beautiful scenery and tantalizing items, another impressive aspect here was the service.  The hostess was welcoming, and our server, Josh, was jovial and attentive – we wanted for absolutely nothing.   He also invited us to stay and listen to the live jazz being played later – which we did.  I didn’t catch the name of the three-piece ensemble, but their melodies were as enticing as the breathtaking view.

If one doesn’t live close to a body of water,  I suggest visiting an ocean or a lake at least once a month to boost one’s sense of tranquility and well-being.  Even stopping by a fountain or koi pond for a few minutes can help to improve serenity.  Another way to add more water energy to your surroundings is art.  A beautiful painting or photo of a watery landscape can help tremendously.  Just make sure the art in question is beautiful and serene.  A painting of ships battling at war on the ocean, or of the Titanic sinking, are two examples of sha art.  Sha is the word for negative chi, and should be avoided.  It’s also important to drink lots of water, at least eight glasses a day.  Most of us don’t drink enough water, and this makes our bodies work harder to keep us healthy.  Not consuming enough water can result in various illnesses and discomforts, which is also a lack of abundance and prosperity.  I strongly suggest embracing more water energy in your life.  And, if you happen to be in San Francisco, stop by the Cliff House for some cocktails – and a glass of water – and maybe some garlic fries, or dinner…

Cliff House

1090 Point Lobos, San Francisco, CA 94121

415 386-3330

Hours:  Please refer to the hours located here:  http://www.cliffhouse.com/home/pdf/CH_Hours_Res.pdf

Note:  For Sutro’s at the Cliff House, and the  Sunday Brunch, reservations are strongly encouraged.  All other areas (including where I sat) are walk-in.

http://www.cliffhouse.com/

Finding a Place to Sit

It was the legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright who put it most eloquently:  “Dining is and always was a great artistic opportunity.”  One piece of furniture that often gets overlooked in a home is the dining chair.  Most people will go out, buy a table, and the chairs come with it.  No muss, no fuss.  However, in many of these prefabricated sets for sale, usually the chairs aren’t the most optimal option by feng shui guidelines.  In fact, at times they can be downright uncomfortable or ugly.  To add some more artistic opportunity to one’s dining room, here are my suggested specifications for getting the right kind of dining chair:

  1. You need to like the chair!  If one doesn’t like the shape, size, color, etc. of the dining chair in question, it will never be used.  Or on the rare occasions when the chair is used, negative feelings will arise.  It should be something stylish that reflects one’s own personal taste.
  2. The chair should be comfortable.  No one likes to sit in discomfort.  The chair should have  a comfy seat.  Upholstered seating rarely has this problem, but some wood, plastic and metal seating can cause inadequate relaxation.  A quick way to fix this issue is to add a seat cushion.
  3. The chair needs a solid back.  In feng shui folklore, it was believed that one’s enemies could stab you much easier if there were openings in the back of the chair. While I may not necessary follow that line of thinking, I do believe in back support.  The more solid the back of any seating, the better the reinforcement.  Also, having a solid chair back can make the occupant of the chair feel much more secure and at ease than sitting on a stool or ladder-back chair.
  4. Choose comforting materials.  Generally, a chair should ideally be constructed of wood, or upholstered in some way.  While there are some exceptions to this rule, I find these are the best choices.  Keep the weight of the chair not too heavy.  Avoid getting white or cream-colored chairs, as these tend to get dirty much faster than their darker counterparts  – especially if there are children, pets, or unruly people in the home.

Now, where does one find a nice chair?  A good quality dining chair can be somewhat expensive.  I would first suggesting acquiring chairs from estates sales, Craigslist, or consignment stores.   One can find much better quality of a chair for far less money.   As always, use your best judgement.  (All of my dining chairs I’ve either purchased at gently used thrift stores, or have been given to me by friends)  As for buying new, I’ve comprised a collection of some the best dining chairs currently available, all of which are under $80.00 each (excluding shipping and taxes) that are ideal feng shui selections:

The Harry from Ikea is a standard classic, at the affordable price of $49.99 each.  The cover can be removed easily for washing, or one can cover it in the fabric of their choice.  This chair is comfy and lightweight.

From Overstock.com we have the Classic Parson Red and Gold Damask Chair.  Each individual chair sells for $76.09, and is upholstered in a rich red and gold paisley design.  This chair would bring a wonderful fire and earth element to any dining area.  One reason I love Overstock.com is their shipping prices.  No matter how large or small the order, the total shipping is only $2.95.

The Decor Dining Chairs also from Overstock.com come in three different upholstery options.  However, I did not care for the third one, so I only posted the two I liked.  The first is a contemporary red striped pattern, adding passion and fire to any room  on the left.  On the right, we have flowers covering a chocolate background.  This would bring a beautiful earth and wood element to a space.  Either of these options are sold in pairs for $135.00, plus the $2.95 shipping fee.

For a more masculine feel, this set of two Black Walnut Dining Chairs, offered by Coaster Home Furnishings runs at $127.00.  The warm walnut hues add a dramatic richness to any environment.  These are available at Amazon.com, and I believe are eligible for free shipping.

This set of two Cappuccino Finish Dining Chairs, also by Coaster Home Furnishings are priced at $66.67.  Although these chairs do not have a completely solid back, they are mostly solid, which provides more security and stability to the chair’s occupant than say a chair with many more open areas.  This specific style and type of chair is available all over the internet from various distributors.  I found the Amazon.com price to be the best, but it does not include free shipping.

From Baxton Studio we have the Spain Dark Brown Modern Dining Chairs.  A pair of these elegantly refined chairs is $148.00 from Amazon, with free shipping.  I like the taupe microfiber as the upholstery, which adds a tactile, nurturing earth element to the dining experience.

Target.com is currently having a furniture sale.  Of the many offering of dining chairs there, I really like the Oval Back Chair.   The oval shape and the gray/dark blue of the fabric brings water and metal to the party in high elemental fashion.  A pair of these beauties sells for $139.99.

But how many chairs do I purchase?  Well, that is entirely up to you.   If one has a circular or oval table, any amount of chairs will work.  If one has a square or rectangular table, the number of dining chairs should be an even number.  As for chairs having arms or not, that is also entirely up to one’s own taste.   In most formal dining rooms, the seating at the ends of the table will have arms, while the ones flanking the sides will not.  For more information about selecting a prosperous dining table, take a look at my article here:  https://fengshuifoodie.com/2012/04/22/how-to-choose-a-dining-table/   If you don’t currently have the right kind of seating, don’t worry – chair covers and seat cushions can go a long way in improving the energy quality of a space, and make the seating much more desirable.  Having the correct dining chairs and table in your environment will bring further prosperity to one’s dining experience.