Amour and Cognac

cognac glasses

cognac grapes

cognac oak casks

cognac region map

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cognac vineyardAmour… Is love French?  Silly question, right? The word certainly sounds better in that language. Notice how you kind of pucker up and close your eyes when you say ‘amour.’ Go ahead try it, very slowly, and look at yourself in a mirror while you say it. You might even want to take a selfie and post it on Instagram as a video. Did you also get a warm fuzzy feeling? That’s the feeling you get when you have a great cognac, which is French.

The dictionary defines love as a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person, a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend, sexual passion or desire, a person toward whom love is felt, a beloved person, sweetheart, a love affair, an intensely amorous incident, and sexual intercourse or copulation.

Cognac, the noun, in has 3 definitions: 1- brandy distilled in and shipped from the legally delimited area surrounding the town of Cognac. 2- any French brandy. 3- any good brandy.

What about the experience of cognac in the third definition? What makes a good cognac is what makes a good love affair. The tone, age, and personal touch. That’s why I recommend a house that’s remained loyal to its roots. Not that a good love affair has to be born within the same culture and, although there has been a strong connection between the French and British for centuries, remaining French allows the cognac to be even more international. Savoring French Western central region grapes cared for locally, then aged in barrels of hugs and kisses, good wishes and strong work ethics, calls for a strong affection. The perfect love affair. Your love and you in a cozy interior region of the State protected by age old traditions and savoring the land and its people. That is cognac. Amour.

Of course there is more than one kind of cognac grade, or shall I say, evolutionary stages of amour, each with its own delight.

The VS is a Very Special young brandy between 2-5 years of age.

The VSOP, a Very Special Old Pale, is aged for at least four, most commonly between 5-10 years. The term was given by the British in 1817.

The XO is, besides Hugs and Kisses, Extra Old. It is aged 6 years, minimum, and up to 20, with 10 being an average.

Then there is Napoleon, equal to an XO and in between a VSOP and an XO.

The Extras are older than an XO.

A Vieux is a grade between VSOP and XO.

Vieille Réserve is like the Hors d’âge, or beyond the official age scale, of very high quality.

Some cognac houses do not use the Bristish labels.

These being the known types of grades known, there are many kinds of blends. Some blends are masss-produced resulting in very low cost and low quality brandy. Then there are the blends created with drops of Hors d’âge with XO that produce the best quality for the cost.

Cognac. like amour, the older, the better. The best blends are achieved by extracting the vapors and aromas of the new and mixing it with the old then distilling it not just once but twice before the ageing process. In order to last, love must undergo a similar process of distillation to become concentrated and refined.

The tone and aroma of cognac as a result of the ageing process comes from the oak barrels made by coopers out of oak trees from different regions of the world, especially hundred year old French oaks, cut along the grain into merrains and further staged 1-3 years before the staves are shaped. Coopers are highly skilled in the process of toasting the staves for the right amount of time and with the right intensity in order to shape them using wire belts.

Tell me that’s not love. For love to last this long some very special care must be given to the relationship. And so it is that cognac is created with loving care paying attention to every detail beginning with the purity of the grapes.

Like a long term loving relationship which reduces chances of disease and increases healing power, cognac has many health benefits.

Cognac is a source of polyphenolic antioxidants found in grapes which are anti-inflamatory and reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease.

As in love, moderation is the key to long lasting benefits.

Belltown’s Pink Door

Strolling through Seattle’s epicurean Belltown neighborhood on a recent trip, I experienced  one of the most prodigal gastronomical ecstasies of my life, the Pink Door Restaurant. In the heart of Pike Place Market and nestled on the water side of Post Alley Promenade, you will, of course, be attracted by its pink door, and once you enter, a new dining paradise unfolds. I felt I had traveled to a lost land where restaurants and cabarets were indistinguishable. Its Italian American menu shows careful selection class=” size-full wp-image-183 alignleft” src=”” alt=”pink door lasagna” width=”275″ height=”183″ />of meats, fish, and seafood seasoned to perfection with fresh herbs whose delicate aroma will seduce any appetite. What is more, they have gluten-free pasta.

I tried the Lasagna Pink Door with a half carafe of their house wine to complement my late lunch. The spinach pasta had the right consistency, and most importantly, the Marinara sauce was ultra smooth and you could flavor the olive oil, fresh rosemary and thyme.  While I indulged in my grandmother’s lasagna, if I had had an Italian grandmother, several artists took turns auditioning for the night’s entertainment, provided at no extra cost to patrons while they feast. I was able to take pictures of the artists and myself, just like the owner did on her yearlong trip to Italy, a long time ago, before she opened this restaurant which is more than a quarter of a century old.  So I kind of felt like a far away cousin of La Patrona, the owner, Jaquelina Di Roberto. I wish I could have returned in the evening to watch the trapeze artist or for the burlesque show on Saturday night. Oh well, next time, for sure.

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BSM-Balding Sexy Men-Zinc Twice


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SeanConneryJune08ne-yoWould you agree that balding men are sexy? Who are the most famous and sexy baldies of all times? What do Hulk Hogan, Bruce Willis, Michael Jordan, Birdman, Andre Agassi, LL Cool J, Garth Brooks, Ne-Yo, Patrick Stewart, Pit Bull, Vin Diesel, Sean Connery,and the list goes on and on, all have in common? You got it, they’re baldies. But are balding men really sexier? How do women feel about it? Does a bald head make a man look manlier, tidier, tougher, more mature, down to earth, more confident? How do men feel about their baldness? While answers may vary from one individual to another, men and women alike would agree that hair loss may be a sign of physical imbalances more than just heredity. Personally, I think a man’s actions are more important than his looks, and that a man’s looks depends on his lifestyle. But we’ll talk more about that subject later. Let’s just focus on baldness. Although a bald shiny head is symbolic of manliness, a lot of men, if not all, would rather have their hair back, as concluded by the Association of Bald men of America in a recent survey.

On his show, Dr. Oz offered helpful information on the causes and prevention of androgenic alopecia which I’d like to pass along to those young men out there who wish to control their excessive loss of hair.

Although the most common cause of hair loss in men is attributed to a hereditary condition called male-pattern baldness, it is also linked to hormonal imbalances and changes as well as a deficiency in Vitamin D which we in sunny Florida have a surplus of.  In addition, Dr. Oz recommends egg yolks, fortified dairy or cereal, and salmon. Minoxidil drops applied to the scalp to stimulate hair growth. Minoxidil is the active ingredient in Rogaine and will only work if continuously used. Biotin is the next dietary supplement Dr. Oz suggests will work against baldness. Biotin is a B vitamin that helps process fats and sugars.  Natural sources of biotin can be found in vegetables such as Swiss chard and carrots, also in almonds, chicken eggs, goat and cow milk, berries, and halibut.  It is also known as vitamin H.

What kills the hair follicles is DHT, DEHYDROTESTOSTERONE, a derivative of TESTOSTERONE, and contrary to what most people may think, it is not synthesized due to having too much testosterone, as your levels may be normal but still cause the problem. Hormonal imbalances may be due to lower levels of other hormones, including female hormones present in men which are responsible for creating semen and sperm count. Fertility boosting foods include oysters, antioxidants found in food and vegetables. On the down side, too much alcohol, caffeine, and junk food will imbalance your hormones. Zinc is a common nutrients found in many of these foods. Not surprisingly, zinc levels are found to be low in men with enlarged prostates.

So, guys, get a tan, eat more salmon, two servings of nuts a day, and visit the nearest oyster bar.





How many customers have you seen walking out of an art gallery with a painting in their hands during Art Walk at Wynwood or Downtown? Sightseers, newbie art critiques, whatever you want to call them, they walk in and out of galleries empty handed. Art Walk is for strolling in high heel shoes with a beau, having a few drinks at Wood, or here and there, taking your picture in front of the Walls, or eating from the food trucks if you don’t want to be nailed at Joey’s. Not even during Art Basel week do you see a lot of art sold. Maybe art sells behind doors at inconspicuous times. In fact, if you observe an art gallery’s commercial activity for a month you will notice there are very few instances, if any at all, in which an art work sells to the public.

That’s because art loses value if it is sold below the artist’s “perceived” value and that is really all there is to pricing art. Sure, you can compare your art to others that have the same genre or style and give a price per square inch. An average price is $6 per square inch. You can increase the value every year. And of course, it acquires value depending on who has bought your art and where it has been shown. At whatever price you sell your first piece, you will categorize your art at. Not to say you can not go up in price and have an evolutionary process.  But be very careful, your initial sale price will define your worth for a while to come. Interestingly, is that why Van Gogh’s art is so highly priced today? He never sold any pieces.

I would like to see more commercialized art for the common folks. I would like to survey art walkers’ homes in look for evidence of their artistic appreciation. Do they know the way art is priced? There are many wonderful artists whose works are affordable to the general public. However, prints and printed merchandise is one way to commercialize art. An example is Britto’s art.  Imagine that an artist whose prints or original works you’ve purchased makes it big, your piece would be worth many times the price you acquired it for.  

Do your homework. Start with the end in mind, you’re making an investment. Which artists are more likely to become renowned? How can you tell the difference among so many? One way you can tell is by following the artist’s trajectory. Where has the artist been shown, who has bought his/her art? What is the top pay for this artist up to now?  Art is an auction.

Among my acquaintances, I can name a few artists I believe are already among the ones whose art will increase in value over eleazar delgado

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eleazar delgado 4time. Number one, Eleazar Delgado. Eleazar occupies the 7th floor at the McCormick Building, at 111 SW 3rd Street, 33130, in Miami. The McCormick hosts the Downtown Art Walk event on the FIRST weekend of the month. Eleazar Delgado, Venezuelan American, architect by profession, renowned artist, says he has found his bliss in the stories he tells of Miami’s backyard in mixed media. He can usually be found in his  atelier planning his next design. He uses an unparalleled technique of color dots, or pixels, to create his scenes.
Find out more about this amazing artist. Acquiring his art is like buying a diamond ring. It is sure to go up in price over time.

Fergusson Needs Love

As a teacher of twenty years for the State of Florida, having taught grades 2-10 across three counties, starting in rural Hendry County, and moving on to Western Palm Beach County, and ending in inner city Miami Dade Public Schools this 2014, as well as a mother of two boys, and divorced, I have experienced from both ends what goes on in today’s low income communities. While poverty is not an excuse, education is not enough, and religion doesn’t reach all, what then is left becomes the dark alley assassin, the thief that loathes the rest, the wealthy resentful who can’t find himself in money.

Love is all you need. Come together right now. Not having material things should not make us unhappy. Living in a small cubicle with bad plumbing should not affect our mood. Hatred of oneself is the cause of pain. It’s when we feel hated, abandoned, unfairly treated, and deprived of our right to be that the conflict begins.

Inner peace is not found in luxury rooms, as we know. It is by the way that we choose to see reality that we find happiness, no matter where we are and what that reality is. The delightfully happy, confined to a wheelchair since birth. twenty three year old Tiffany, one of my best friend’s daughter, teaches us this lesson every day. Her happiness is contagious.

I spent a year in the flames of hell, living the world’s pain through the 14-18 year old boys from low income families I taught English Honors I and II to, but was barely able to reach a couple of them. There was so much pain to traverse that communication was not possible. Pain is expressed with violence. Violence is not just physical. The big 300 pound 6’4” monster that raged through the portal of time that dreadful night couldn’t hold more of it within.

I gave the lions tough love. It was the worst year of my teaching career and the most challenging. I learned the most, too. It was a rude awakening. During his formative years, from K-12 that child of God, Michael Brown, ‘niggered’ on the streets of Fergusson, paraded through our schools’ halls. He speaks for us all as a society. What is going on? How can we help one another better? The sense of community is missing. We can be a virtual community today. Let’s foster love, and peace will manifest.

In this moment of giving, let’s reach out and start healing the world with actions of love. Start by loving yourself so much that you know all is well that ends well. Give love, it costs no more than a kind word. Forgive yourself and others. Allow peace to reign this way. Breathe in Love, Breathe out Love. Create fields of Love. Love is all you need. There is a Mother Theresa in each of us.

We are all in this together. all you need is love