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/

Wine: An Old School Perspective

On a recent trip to Santa Barbara, I was introduced to an unusually captivating wine merchant known as Municipal Winemakers.   While I was waiting for my friends to arrive, I grabbed a glass of their robust MCS, and perused my surroundings.  The tasting hall here promotes comfort in an artistic and environmentally-conscious fashion.  A large warehouse door (pictured above) opens up to the outside world letting in light and fresh ocean air. Surplus wine bottles and tasting glasses are stored in upcycled file cabinets. The seating is a mixture of reclaimed wood benches, padded folding chairs and classic science lab stools.  Bookshelves constructed of wooden crates are laden with 1980’s textbooks and vintage high school trophies.  One of the many items that captured my attention was the illustrious chandelier (pictured below).  This is actually constructed using a wine bottle washer, which is the large metal frame holding all the bottles in place.   Lovely and enigmatic, this piece is a wonderful example of water, metal and fire elements.  This also helps to counteract the negative influence of the beams present.  I am not a fan of exposed beams in any environment.  From a feng shui standpoint, they create negative influences in health and relationships.  The fastest way to alter the beams here would be to paint them and the ceiling the same color; thus making them symbolically disappear into the ether.  However, the various lighting in the space helps to soften the unfavorable effects of the beams.

On the right we have a more detailed image of the wine bottle chandelier.  On the left are the metal lanterns inscribed with Dan’s in primary red, which hang about most of the ceiling.  My guess is they reclaimed them from somewhere, but I’ve no idea where.

The momentous piece of art above is actually raised a bit, encompassing paint and other materials.  The gold pieces in the ore are shards of brass veneer from vintage high school sports trophies.  From a feng shui perspective, the environment at Municipal captures most of the five elements beautifully:

  • Wood –The art hanging about the walls, and the plants located directly outside.
  • Fire – The nostalgic wood-burning stove situated in one corner of the room.
  • Metal – The art, tables,chairs, chandelier, roof, and file cabinets.
  • Earth –  The rich colors of browns, grays, and earthy reds.
  • Water – The glass bottles, the horse painting in the bathroom, and the blue and slate gray hues.

Now while the metal, water, and fire elements are displayed here quite well, the room is lacking a little wood and earth energy for my liking.  Even though they have a lot of wonderful wood furniture – which is best material for furniture in my opinion – it cannot be considered a wood element because the wood is dead.  However, the sheer amount of art from various craftsmen, displayed around the environment, helps to foster the creative wood energy.  As for earth, the main examples here are in the form of different colors.  But I do love the classic globe perched atop one of the file cabinets.  So here symbolically, the earth is also present.

And now on to the wine.   I sampled six delicious wines, and fell for each one of them:

  • 2011 Bright White – an arid riesling with hints of tart citrus.  Perfect for a summer day.
  • 2011 Sweetness Reisling – Sweet and clandestine, this white wine has an alluring bouquet with hints of honey and orange.  Intoxicating.
  • 2011 Rose – A refreshing, subtly sugared beverage.   Cool and crisp.
  • 2010 Bright Red – An amazing classic red blend with strong hints of dried herbs and cranberry.  It reminded me of good holidays past.
  • 2010 Grenache – Chocolate nuances abound in this rich and robust elixir.  A must for any red wine aficionado.
  • 2010 MCS – My favorite of the group.  A complex blend of Mouvedre, Carignane, and Syrah grapes.  This is a bold and brazen red that will make your head turn.  A bottle of this came home with me, and I’m saving it for a special occasion.

In addition to their retro-esque decor, another aspect I love about Municipal are the hours.   The tasting room is open from 11:00 to 6:00 daily – where as most tasting rooms close at 5:00.  And on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, they stop tastings promptly at 6:00, but remain open until 11:00, transforming into a wine bar!   Wine, by either the glass or bottle, is available to drink on the premises.  Pre-made cheese plates from C’est Cheese are available if one is feeling peckish, and classic board games lie about for one’s leisure  (A very studious couple was playing chess in the corner)  Unlike my other wine adventures, I visited Municipal twice in one weekend.  I experienced the wine bar environment on Friday night, and then returned Sunday afternoon for tastings.  They also offer free local delivery to patrons who arrive on a bicycle.  The metropolitan class of Municipal Winemakers will leave you with a feeling of warmth and abundance.  I’m very much looking forward to my next visit.

Municipal Winemakers Tasting Room

22 Anacapa Street, Santa Barbara CA 93101

805 931-6864

Hours:  Open Daily from 11:00 – 6:00,  Wine Bar:  Thursday – Saturday 6:00 – 11:00

http://www.municipalwinemakers.com/