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/

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/