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/

Red: The Color of Good Luck

Good Luck Exterior

When used properly, the color red in feng shui can be the fastest, most auspicious way to alter an environment for the better.  Connected to the fire element, red is symbolic of  reputation, prosperity and success.  Red feeds the flames of passion, romance and sexuality, causing a space to have  more yang, sensual energy.  Because of this, in feng shui and Asian folklore, red has often been deemed the color of good luck.  There is one very prosperous lounge in Los Feliz that exhibits scarlet hues in all their elegance, and that would be the aptly named Good Luck Bar.

Good Luck Booth 01

From ornate wallpaper, to comfy leather seating, to the glowing lights scattered throughout, shades of ruby and cardinal permeate the area.  Wood carvings and a metal ceiling evoke a Bohemian Orient-Express feel to the establishment.

Good Luck Interior 02

A jukebox in the corner allows guests to select songs of their choosing.

Good Luck Potent Potion

Now while the environment is Asian inspired, the drinks served at Good Luck are mostly Hawaiian themed.   Many of the specialty cocktails are served in Tiki-esque glasses or ceramic coconuts.  My favorite is the Potent Potion.  Sailor Jerry Rum, nutmeg, bitters, cream, pineapple juice, and toasted coconut are blended together, instantly exporting one to a tropical paradise.  Very, very strong and alluring.

Good Luck Interior 01

Another symbol of good luck is the paper lantern.   They attract positive energy, and conjure a festive and lively atmosphere.   Paper Lantern LampThey are also commonly seen during celebrations, such as the Chinese New Year.   In feng shui folklore, is it believed that two red paper lanterns on either side of the bed can increase fertility for a married couple.  Now, while I am a strong advocate of having two light sources on either side of a bed, they do not have to be red paper lanterns.  One common trait in the San Francisco area is to use paper lanterns as shades for ceiling or wall sconces.  Inspired by this, I refurbished an old lamp, whose glass shade had long since perished.  Using a paper shade from IKEA, I affixed it to the top of the lamp, held in place with decorative twine and the lamp’s original hardware.  A very nice “IKEA Hack” if I do say so myself.

Good Luck Interor 04

There are many ways to incorporate red into one’s environment.  For my clients, I always suggest having some red in the bedroom. The shade in this room will attract more passion and zest to one’s romantic life.  Try sensual red curtains,  a down comforter, or a cozy pillow in red hues.  A romantic painting with red as a dominant color can also improve the intimate atmosphere.    The important things to remember when looking for red objects for the bedchamber are:

  • One must like the object.
  • The object should blend in with the other possessions and decor of the room.
  • One should consider the object to be romantic and/or sensual in nature.

There are many possibilities, and any shade of red can work – from brick to ruby to cranberry.

Good Luck Booth 02

Another highly beneficial way to add more red to one’s life is by wearing the color.  In an article by Dr. Melissa Burkley, a social psychology professor at the University of Oklahoma, she discusses the direct and yet subconscious connection to red and sexual attraction.  The article mentions studies that were conducted on how red in Western cultures signifies sex.  It states that men who wear red are perceived to be more dominant and of higher status that men not wearing the shade.  Women wearing red were perceived to be more sexually alluring than those not clad in cardinal.  This is completely supported from a feng shui standpoint because red is representative of fame, prosperity, passion and sexuality.   The complete article can be found here:  http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-social-thinker/201008/seeing-red-does-wearing-red-make-you-sexy  Because of this, any shade of red is excellent to wear on dates (for added romance), for business interviews (for greater success), and for festive occasions (happiness and abundance).  One can wear either a lot or a little red, depending on their mood and personal style.

Good Luck Interior 05

Sometimes the color red gets the short end of the stick – such as with automobile color.  Although it is a complete urban myth that red cars cost more to insure, they do cost more to purchase.  Because of the positive connotations of the color red and the wonderful yang energy the color encompasses, the price of red cars never decreases.  It is also an urban myth that drivers of red cars get more tickets, and that red autos are stolen more frequently.   Drivers of sports cars do get pulled over more so, and many of these happen to be red; hence the negative connotation.

Good Luck Interior 03

I usually come to the lounge on the weekend.  On Fridays and Saturdays, the bar is packed with swanky patrons, while Sunday nights offer a more subdued crowd.  The service here is fast and excellent.  In addition to a stellar drink menu and full bar, daily specials are also available.  Rumor has it there is also a hidden drink menu, but I’ve yet to explore this personally.  For a powerful beverage in a highly auspicious setting, I suggest the red-hued environment of Good Luck Bar.

Good Luck BarGood Luck Asian Lamp

1514 Hillhurst Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90027

323 666-3524

Hours:  Monday – Friday 7:00 pm – 2:00 am,   Saturday – Sunday  8:00 pm – 2:00 am

http://www.goodluckbarla.com/

Cinnamon as an Aphrodisiac

Mentioned several times in the Bible, and in ancient Chinese writings, the fragrant spice known as cinnamon has been enchanting civilizations across the world.  Originally from Sri Lanka, cinnamon is derived from the inner bark of the cinnamon tree (part of the Evergreen family).  Cinnamon sticks, as we know them today, are pieces of the dried bark which naturally curls under heat.  These are then kept as sticks, or ground down into the powdery substance that most people use today.

The history of this well-traveled spice is quite colorful.  Those in ancient Egypt and Rome would use cinnamon for its sublime taste in various cuisines, and as incense.   It was also used for the embalming process during mummification, and taken medicinally.  The Romans would burn cinnamon as part of a funeral pyre, or in honor of the recently deceased.   During the Middle Ages, only the very elite could afford the spice, as most seasonings of that time where exorbitantly expensive.  Cinnamon was also valued for its preservative qualities when applied to meat, due to phenols which inhibit bacteria growth responsible for spoilage.  The fragrant aroma of cinnamon also helped to mask the stench of aged meat.

Cinnamon has many health benefits.  In addition to being a viable source of fiber, calcium, magnesium and iron, this natural substance can also lower cholesterol, aid in weight loss, and regulate blood sugar.  According to the U.S.  Department of Agriculture, use of cinnamon has been shown to suppress the growth of lymphoma and leukemia cancer cells.

From a feng shui perspective, cinnamon is very yin in essence, as are most spices.  Because it is more sweet than savory, its nature is even more yin than other seasonings.  As for the  elemental connection, it has  strong wood element, as it’s quite literally tree bark.  Its comforting brown hue is an example of the earth element.  I also feel that cinnamon has a bit of fire attached to it as well, as it conjures a natural warmth on the tastes buds.

Cinnamon has also been used throughout time as an aphrodisiac.  For both men and women, the use of cinnamon as part of one’s regular diet has been shown to naturally increase sex drive, due to its ability to  enhance blood circulation, gently heating up the body from the inside.  According to a study performed by the The Smell & Taste Research Foundation, located in Chicago, of the over two hundred scents tested on men, Cinnamon was the victor in causing and sustaining male arousal.   In feng shui terms, this makes complete sense.  Passion, romance, and sex are all controlled by the fire element.  The wood element feeds fire.  Cinnamon is wood, and therefore the use of this wooden spice assists in feeding the flames of passion.

There are many ways to add cinnamon to one’s way of living.  Below are the ones I personally use:

  • Sprinkle some on Hot Cocoa.
  • Sprinkle some on Vanilla Yogurt or Apple Sauce.
  • Add it to your Coffee!  Not only do I sprinkle it on top, but I mix a tablespoon of cinnamon in with the coffee grounds, when making a full pot.  It tastes sensational.
  • Cinnamon Toast.   I spread coconut oil over my toast, sprinkle cinnamon, and spread it all around.  Delicious and satisfying.
  • Aromatherapy.  Light cinnamon scented candles to heighten the romantic mood.  These are available from a variety of distributors, but the best time to buy this scent of candle is after the winter holidays; they’ll usually be on sale.
  • Mulled Wine and Sangria.   Whole cinnamon sticks are a great enhancement during autumn and winter.  Allow the stick to just lounge about the glass within the beverage; this adds a festive enticement to both beverages.  (This can work for other drinks as well)
  • Add to anything Pumpkin or Sweet Potato related.

And some other things I haven’t tried, but am going to:

  • Sprinkle some on Oatmeal.
  • Enchilada Sauce.  Add a teaspoon or two to canned (or fresh) enchilada sauce while it’s on the stove.  It adds a little mole flare to it.
  • Honey Tea.   One part cinnamon to two parts honey, combined in hot water, makes a delicious, healthy tea.  A tea bag could also be added  for further flavor.
  • Essential Oil.  Cinnamon scented oil is another way to influence a room’s chi and scent.
  • Cinnamon Buns.  Cinnamon buns are one of the best breakfast foods after a night of romantic bliss.  Those Cinnabon people are quite clever.
  • Sprinkle on top of Roasts, be it ham, pork, or lamb.
  • Lotion.  Various lotions and massage oils on the market today are cinnamon scented.  I need to purchase some.

Another way of using Cinnamon goes all the way back to biblical times – literally.   Proverb 7:17 is about a seductress luring a man to bed.  It indicates that the woman in question used cinnamon, myrrh, and aloe to “perfume” her chamber.   Aloe has a sweet, woody aroma, whereas myrrh has a very distinct, nutty scent.  Combining these two with enticing cinnamon, and you have an ideal olfactory recipe for creating a deeply sensual environment.  Try adding some more cinnamon to your world, and you may notice a very definite increase in passion…