What Donald Trump Can Teach You About Dating

Bombastic, Irritating, Vindictive, Annoying, Pigheaded, Jackass, Racist, Hater, Vain. These are just a few of the epithets being tossed toward Donald Trump these days due to his less than measured recent political statements. For better or worse, many of these descriptives are probably accurate.

For those of you living under a rock, Donald Trump is the incredibly successful real estate entrepreneur who also helmed the popular reality TV series “The Apprentice” and runs the Miss USA Pageant (which was recently dropped by NBC and immediately picked up by Reelz).

He has gained much more notoriety recently by running as one of many possible Republican candidates for President of the United States. The run up to the official nomination is always a long hard fight. Trump’s fight has started off with a full frontal assault on the Politically Correct world.

Love him or hate him, Trump definitely shakes things up. And that is exciting.

But this is not a political article. As the arguments on his utterances rage on, I am quite sure the Trumpster will ruffle more feathers, garner more publicity, and entertain the hell out of us all. That is, after all, what he does. He is a showman and his show is most definitely going on.

So here we have a carnival barker with flyaway hair, running an entertaining show by bluntly stating things that, in our “instantly offended by everything” world, would get most folks thrown off the air or, at the very least, elicit a rapid mea culpa to the masses.

donald-trump-hair

But that is not who Donald Trump is. And that’s what he can teach you about dating.

For all his negatives, he has a plethora of positives. Despite the media narrative, he didn’t become one of the most successful people on the planet by being 100% evil. In addition to all the initial unflattering descriptives, Trump is also Shrewd, Decisive, Constant, Feisty, Loyal, Aggressive, Determined, Successful, and Candid to a fault – all things many women want in a potential mate.

No, I’m not saying all women want their own loud mouthed parade float who pokes at pussies.

Women want a MAN who stands up for what he believes in and firmly fights for it.

As an example, look at what Trump has done since his first official foray into the political world. He said something that riled up a bunch of people and unleashed immediate backlash by saying that Mexico was sending over rapists and drug dealers to America.

While it is true that there are thousands of convicted felons of illegal status in the country who have murdered, raped, and dealt drugs, and more pouring in over our wide open Mexican borders every day, his political opponents, saw an opening and ran with it. Business as usual.

As the story of what he stated was reported, re-reported, twisted, turned, opinionated upon, and used as a hammer to shut Trump the hell up, the kerfluffle reached a fever pitch. The inevitable scramble of people and business entities publicly distancing themselves from the offender (as has Macy’s, Univision, and others in Trump’s case) had begun.

This scenario is normally followed by the alleged offender making amends and begging for forgiveness for whatever slight was perceived whether right or wrong, intended or not.

But that is not what Trump does. That is not his modus operandi. Trump is a Fighter. He stands his ground when things get rough. And that is why he is gaining popularity. When was the last time you saw someone dish it right back to the PC thought police with unabashed frankness?

Politics aside, in life you want someone that you are involved with to be ready and willing to fight for you. Right or wrong. And one way to know if they will stand up for you is if they will stand up for themselves.

A woman wants, needs, and deserves a MAN who will stand up for her no matter what.

A MAN that will fight all foes with her and be on her side, right or wrong.

Be the MAN she can count on and you will be much more attractive.

A MAN ready to stand up for himself when others condemn him for speaking his mind.

Demonstrate that you know what you believe and are willing to fight for.

A MAN who, if he screws up, sure, apologizes, but not just because the opinions of others pressures him into silence.

Be a warrior for your ideals. With better hair.

A MAN who brings excitement to the dating game.

Don’t be boring. Ever. Keep it spicy.

If you were in his inner sanctum, do you doubt that Trump would fight like a pit bull for you if you were under fire? I bet he would. And the woman in your life needs to feel the same thing about you.

Does your lady believe that you will stand up and fight when your stance may be unpopular?

Do you fight for your beliefs when others opinions are against you? Or do you cave like a simpering beta male and ask forgiveness and permission to speak your own mind from the alpha establishment?

We see fewer and fewer people in this world fighting for their beliefs and defending their words. Trump is and that is why he is becoming more popular.

Strong MEN who stand up for themselves are attractive. Pompous showboats tap dancing on the edges of decency maybe not so much. But, agree or disagree, watching him peacock and defend his positions is definitely attractive. We just can’t look away.

Keep Spicin It Up!

Originally written July 22, 2015.

Time to Get Your Dating Google On

Welcome to the internet age. Everything you could possibly want to know is right there at your finger tips. You wanna learn how to cook the perfect steak? Boom! There it is. You wanna know where in the hell Wagga Wagga Australia is? Pow! Easy as pie. You wanna know if the girl you are about to date is a freak of nature who just might bludgeon you to death in your sleep with her hard cover copy of Gone Girl? Kablammo! A few clicks and the knowledge that just might save your life could be right there for your stern perusal.

Isn’t this a great time to be alive?!? You are awash in absurd amounts of data. Every day, the web grows more and more intense and acquires more data. So, in one sense, it is a great tool to help you accomplish more than you ever thought possible. But on the other hand, it is also a sponge that never releases the juicy tidbits of information that it absorbs. That means that…

The internet holds on to every stupid, foolish, drunken, misinformed, and otherwise dumbass thing you have every posted, tweeted, or Youtubed!

kimberly-spencer-spike-spencer-online

Yes, the great thing about the internet is that everyone now has a voice and can be heard across the globe. The bad thing about the internet is that everyone now has a voice and can be heard across the globe andthey say whatever idiotic thing they want. Being in the spotlight, somewhat, I have seen firsthand what the internet can do to you. I do have quite a bit of info out there on me. Some really great, like, “Spike Spencer is a frickin rock star!” And some not so great like, “Spike Spencer should rot in a corner and die of dick cancer.” Mmmm, sweetness and love.

The point is anyone can say anything about anyone and it will be registered and broadcast for the world to see. And unless you actively search out what is being said about you, you may never know that some random jackball out there in the ether may be destroying your chances with women.

Think about it this way, have you ever done a search for, say, a restaurant? You looked up the Yelp ratings, maybe a chowhound review, etc. What you found will undoubtedly influence your decisions. We are so conditioned that if we see a star rating, we unconsciously judge whatever is being rated according to a random rating system. One star, bad, five stars, good.

So what rating are you getting when the woman you have attracted Googles you? And believe me she will. We all do it nowadays. If you are checking her out, you can bet she is certainly checking up on you.

You need to be sure that you are being represented in a good light in the online world.

So, how do you do that?

1. Google yourself...on all search sites.

Don’t forget about Yahoo, Bing, etc. Hit them all. That is the quickest way to see what she will see. And don’t just look at the first few pages. That drunken pic of you in the lime green mankini with the llama can show up in later pages. If you get in contact with the original site providers, you may be able to get the silly stuff removed.

If you want to get really serious, you can look at some of the information brokers that deal in finding people and providing juicy details about their lives like background checks and more. Check out Intelius, Spokeo, Wiki, etc. It will cost a bit, but it may be well worth it to clear up some negative junk out there.

2. Check on Youtube and Vimeo.

You never know who might have filmed you spouting random dumbassery at a kegger. I personally have had some success with getting some videos removed from some of my less than flattering misadventures. But not to worry, there’s still plenty of entertaining escapades for your consideration to enjoy.

So get out there on the web and check out what is being said, tweeted, posted, tubed, instagrammed, pinterated, vimeoed, tumblered, wikied, blogged, wordpressed, and every other blabby, gossipy, and otherwise completely detrimental misrepresentation of the awesomeness that is you. You may not like what you see. And neither will she.

Just like it can take only one bad review to destroy a business, one bad mention of you can wreck your chances of a possible romance. Luckily, forewarned is forearmed. Once you get the lowdown, you can do some housecleaning and sculpt your online profile in the best light possible. And maybe, just maybe, you can remove that one review of you that will turn her away.

Happy Hunting.

 

Back to Sexy Basics

In the Foodie world, there is a huge movement to get “back to the basics” of food. Also known as the “Slow Food” or “Farm to Table” movements. The funny thing about these movements is that they are actually just getting back to the very roots of food. This is how we used to eat long ago before processed foods and mass production. We used to eat what was in season, we knew the local farmers, and we prepared the dishes simply over fire. We, as a food world, are getting back to that. Though in some places it has never changed.

I was reminded of that on my recent Honeymoon trip to Italy. The food was all local, simply prepared, and perfect! Everything was so fresh that it just popped. The wine was locally produced so it played perfectly with everything we had. My own preparations were paired down, simplified, and the taste was magnified. I noticed the same thing in France, on a previous Euro trip. They prepare most everything simply but full of flavor. They do have a penchant for sexy sauces, and for that we must thank them eternally. These two Foodie powerhouses, have more than just simple ingredients and huge flavors…

These are the two sexiest countries on the planet!

In these countries food IS sexy! And what makes it sexy? The simplicity and boldness of allowing the inner flavor to shine. This point of view mirrors the dating world. Take heed and develop the right ingredients in your dating pantry and you will be prepared to do some serious cooking in and out of the kitchen.

If you are like me, you see big outrageous dating pitches thrown at you daily with lines like, “Say these three words and she’ll be in your bed!,” “Make any woman yours in seconds!,””Become irresistible to ALL women!”… etc., etc., and so on.

Then you go out and try them. And what happens? Nuttin! Well, you may have a little success and you may even learn a few things. Maybe even a few sexy, naughty, and dirty things if you are lucky. But overall you will more than likely end up being let down and depressed.

These gurus and teachers seem to have all the answers. They have given you the lowdown on how they attract women. You have even seen them on video picking up women at random in a way that can only be seen as magical. After all, you tried the same things and got shot down over and over. What the hell?!? And why is that?

No technique, approach, or method will work without the basic ingredient of CONFIDENCE!

Let me take a moment to say that I am NOT dissing any of the gurus and teachers out there touting these mythical “cure alls” for your dating problems. On the contrary, I learned a ton from them. And you should too. There is much to learn from multiple teachers. Some of these “outrageous” claims do work… Sometimes… Done incorrectly, some of these techniques can backfire tragically. But if you get back to the simple basic ingredient of confidence, you will be amazed at what you can accomplish in your dating world.

No matter what someone tries to teach you about dating, including myself, nothing will work well without the underlying confidence to pull it off. If you start with crappy ingredients, your recipe will not work! If you are sad, mopey, angry, hurt, distressed, bitter, or just plain no fun to be around, how do you expect to spark attraction in any woman?

In any recipe, the better the ingredients, the better the final dish. The finest chefs in the finest kitchens of the world teach budding young chefs to utilize the best ingredients, then treat them simply to only enhance the natural flavors and serve. That’s it.

florentine-steak-basics

A prime example, is the best steak I ever tasted! If you are unfamiliar with a fine Tuscan style steak, I suggest you get yourself to Florence asap! It was at Donnini’s where I finally had my first Tuscan steak. It was about 2 inches thick, Porterhouse cut, perfectly rare and ungodly delicious. In fact, my wife said I looked at that steak like I looked at her on our wedding night.

Now, I am from Texas, I have traveled the world, and tasted steak in all forms. I know a good steak when I have one. This was a transcendent experience for me. Why am I pointing this out? Because a Tuscan steak has 3 ingredients – steak, salt, and pepper. That’s it. It starts with one amazing ingredient Italian Tuscan beef.

No fluff, no crazy spices, no crazy techniques, just the best beef you can get. Prepared simply, served simply.

Let the ingredients speak for themselves.

You have to do the same thing with you. Am I comparing you to meat? Yes, yes I am. Instead of searching for outlandish techniques to spice yourself up, focus on the main ingredient that you bring to EVERY method you attempt – YOU! Make you the best ingredient there is. Don’t try to get all flashy and serve yourself up adorned with the latest fad accoutrements. Just let your main ingredient shine.

Treat yourself as the special one of a kind ingredient that you are.

Feel confident knowing that you are enough, you are intriguing, you are deserving of being served au naturel. Once you are proud of your basic ingredients, you will have confidence in moving forward in your dating adventures. Because no matter what you add to your own mix, at the very core, you are indeed one tasty dish!

Keep Spicin It Up!

Valuing Your Own Time

I have said it over and over. The way to attract women is by having confidence. But how do you gain confidence if you simply do not have it yet?

Start by valuing your own time.

Here’s how it goes.

  1. Confidence comes from having good self esteem.
  2. Self esteem comes from valuing yourself due to your positive actions and outcomes.
  3. Your decisions lead you to these good outcomes and actions.
  4. Your values set the basis for your decisions.
  5. Your moral compass guides your values that lead to your decision making.
  6. Your deep inner soul tells you what your morals are in order to form all your outer workings.

There. Easy right?

Start with a good soul and your all set. What? You don’t have a good soul? You are a soulless bastard with no intrinsic value to humankind?!? Yeah, I didn’t think so. I know you have a decent soul. Otherwise you would not be on the path of self improvement and enlightenment.

If you are a soulless bastard with narcissistic sociopathic tendencies only looking for a quick way to manipulate women in to doing your bidding, stop reading now. My stuff is not for you. You know who you are…

For the rest of ya, I am going to unlock a quick bit of info to help you get to the top of this confidence breakdown.

Start by valuing your own time!

Most guys tend to lose confidence (and respect in their women’s eyes) when they stop valuing themselves, whether they know it or not. It can happen at any time in a relationship, and it can keep you from ever getting in to one.

If you are single and hunting for a great woman, you may be coming at it from a “needy” place. I know I did for a time. It was not attractive and ruined many a chance at some seriously saucy fun.

Check yourself on this. See if you are doing any of these in your relationship (wither committed or casual):

  • Allowing her to make all the decisions, i.e. following
  • Changing your schedule to fit hers.
  • Spending your days thinking about and doing little things for her with no reciprocity.
  • Being at her beck and call.
  • Changing your behavior to fit in to her desired patterns.

If you find yourself doing things like this, you may be Wussifried!

You may be saying to yourself, “But self, you do these things because you loooooove her.” That may be true. And in certain cases and situations, these may be very honorable things to do. But only at the right times and in the right situations!

If you do these things over and over, you may be sabotaging yourself.

By doing any and/or all of these things, you are not coming across as a strong MAN. You are giving away your power and losing her respect quickly. This is happening because you are not valuing yourself or your time. And your time is one of your most valuable assets. It is also something that you are in total control of.

By valuing your time, you are in control of yourself and the situations that surround you. You have the power of saying “no.” "No" to not leading. "No" to being a malleable little toady. "No" to being Wussifried.

Taking control of your schedule shows that you value yourself. A MAN who values himself demonstrates confidence. If you are having self esteem issues, learning to spend time alone can help you increase your confidence and learn to truly value yourself. Women will value what you value. Value YOU.

value-your-time

When I was at my lowest and trying to turn my life around. It was very difficult to spend time alone. I HATED it. I would have the radio going all day long just to fend off the smothering quiet of loneliness. It sucked. And I was not in a state of true confidence. Eventually, as I regained my self esteem, I decided to spend some quality time with myself. It came in the form of a road trip. I spent days alone driving up the PCH heading up to Washington and back.

The key take away from the trip was that I learned to be alone, but not lonely.

I found that I was worthy of true value and that my time mattered. I was okay with who I was and that meant others would have to be too. I took control.

From that day on, I paid more attention to who I was being when it came to women. Was I valuing my time? But more importantly, were THEY valuing my time. If they were not, they did not respect me and the relationship was going nowhere.

I did not have time for that BS.

So MAN up, say “No” when needed and do not allow your time to be devalued by anyone. Spend some quality time alone in your own company, not because you have to but because you want to. You are worth it.

You only have so much time on this Earth. Use it wisely, my MAN.

Keep Spicin' It Up!

Our Italian Honeymoon: Moneglia

Silence. Dead frickin silence. How unnerving. Living in Koreatown, Los Angeles, or as I call it living “in Blade Runner,” is a world away from where we are now. Here, in Moneglia, Italy, there are no helicopters hovering every night looking for the latest bad guy or news scoop. I do not hear cars and motorcycles screeching or rumbling by. I don’t hear that ever annoying rolling/scraping sound of a guy on a skateboard, who is way too old to be on it by the way, whizzing down the sidewalk. All I can hear is the sound of my brain straining to shut down, relax, and, as Depeche Mode recommends, enjoy the silence.

moneglia

If you have ever been to or heard of Cinque Terre, or the “Five Lands,” you have probably heard that it is a tourist mecca now. It is busy, hectic, and over crowded. Well, that may very well be, especially during the high season summer months. But we are here in the fall. And we are not IN the Cinque Terre confines exactly. We are in Moneglia, north of there by about a 20 minute train ride. Close enough to enjoy day trips yet far enough to not be bothered with all the negative aspects of the tourist trade.

moneglia-beach

Here we have found the perfect AirBnB experience. We have rented out a one bedroom apartment all to ourselves for a month as our Honeymoon home base. When our host Michela picked us up at the train station she was very nice and, as awkward as first meetings with linguistic hurdles can be, she was gracious and accommodating. She even took us to the store for some first night provisions, aka wine.

One thing to note, we knew there would be a walk down the hill from our flat to get to the town. While Michela drove us up the hill that walk seemed farther and farther to me, reminiscent of JoBeth Williams run down the hallway in Poltergeist, only without creepy clowns and hungry grabby trees. But she assured us it was only about a 20 minute walk to town. She was just about right. It turns out that the 3 mile round trip walk was not only pleasant, but relaxing and beautiful. And yes, we are truly getting buns of steel.

This place is amazing! It is plenty roomy, has a full kitchen (granted, it has an oven resembling the Easy Bake variety, but it works well enough), a washing machine, a nice comfy bed, nice decor, and an amazing patio for sunset watching over the sloping hills toward the ocean. There’s even a little grill area outside and a pizza oven! A full frickin pizza oven!!! I have GOT to cook something in that. All of this for one month for about $1000. Not too shabby AirBnB. Not too shabby.

moneglia-airbnb

As we make our jaunts down to the town and back and sample all the wonderful restaurants, we are getting to know the place as our own. We hit the one (tiny)supermarket that takes credit cards almost daily. You can’t carry too much up that hill at once. We are getting into the local rhythm. We have sampled several wonderful restaurants already. We know some folks by name and will see them again.

assirto-moneglia

So far the biggest standout here has been Assirto, where I saw god in the form of some truly spirited acorn fed Iberico ham served with marcona almonds. Kim had the same experience with the goose cutlets in an apple sauce. We also had the full sea breem, caught that morning about 100 yards off shore in Moneglia, filleted and broiled full body. Then there was the yellow fin and salted cod sashimi style, with olive oil made just down the road in Levanto, crushed with oranges for that hint of citrus. Truly inspired. Before we ordered, the owner, Luca sat with us and told us of every little detail of the menu, in his wonderfully broken English. He spoke in a way that let you know, he was proud and excited to be serving the fruits of his home with you. By the time he was done, we just said, whatever you recommend, Luca, that is what we will go with. So we enjoyed a lovely local Rosé wine with our sumptuous repast. And we will be paying another visit to Luca soon.

moneglia-beaches

After several days of chilling in the area and feeling like a local, I am sure I will find a way to relax and enjoy the slower pace and less ruckus. In fact, we are heading out as I write this for a Halloween weekend in Venice. I am looking forward to heading back “home” to our little hideaway in Moneglia to see how it feels to unwind again from our latest adventure. We have made day trips to Cinque Terre and they are gorgeous and romantic as advertised. I will have much to say about these places for sure. But right now as this train bobs and weaves its way toward Venice, with all the train noise, views whipping by at top speed, and cacophonous screaming children aplenty, I am finding myself longing just a bit for the solitude of our little quiet retreat in the hills and a nice quiet sleep.

Our Italian Honeymoon: Florence

Aaaaaaahhhhhhh Florence. Now this is what Rome was supposed to be! The beautiful architecture, and the pace - romantic, less chaotic, ancient and full of intrigue. It was welcoming above all. I did not immediately feel the same sense of apprehension that Rome inspired. As soon as we settled in to our truly great, and uber funky, hotel find in Room Mate Luca, we knew that our stay would be something special.

All of our friends who had visited the great city of Florence (or Firenze, as the locals would say) sang its praises and said without a doubt that we simply MUST go see this city. Actually we had no firm plans to stop there at all. It was a fluke of my scheduling mishap. I had booked our flat in Moneglia one day later than I had thought, so we had an extra night to fill. Well, Florence was on the way, so why not.

I knew very little about the place. I had seen the Borgias, I knew there was a Duomo of some kind, and that the steak was supposed to be out of this world. Once we got settled in to our funk-a-riffic digs, we set out to see what all the fuss was about. In about 5 blocks, I knew what so many were talking about. WOW! That is one beautiful Duomo! It is massive and it really does take your breath away. The amazing detail that went in to it is awe inspiring. The way the light hits it at dawn and dusk is simply magical. And at night it is lit up and looms over the main center of town. Where everything is happening.

Il-duomo-florence-travel

There are several upscale places to shop for fine leather goods as well as your cheapo knock off souvenir shops. And fortunately for me (and them) there are far fewer annoying iphone “selfie” peddlers. Just across from the Duomo, we had our first taste ofhappiness, Florence style. At a great little trattoria called Sasso di Dante, where I had an incredibly rich chicken liver bruschetta. We sat down in view of the great structure, had some lovely red wine, incredibly tasty nosh, and were serenaded by an authentic Italian accordion player. Aaaaaaaaahhhhh Florence, you do weave your spell….

florence-accordian-street-performer

Next up, a visit to the bell tower at the Duomo. 443 or so steps to the top. I recommend you do it at sunset. You will have an amazing 365 degree view, you will work off lunch and work up an appetite for the amazing dinner to come, plus, your ass will be quarter-bouncing firm by the time you are done.

Since we only had one night to get acquainted with the gorgeous city, there were only 2 things I knew we had to do, and both involved food. The first was to have an authentic Florentine steak. Originally to be had at Mario’s, but that was to have to wait, as they only opened for lunch. Our new hotel friends at Luca recommended a place that was open that night called Donnini’s. Oh dear gawd, I cannot recommend this place highly enough! Perfectly situated on a grand piazza with open air seating and a lovely view of a working and very lit up carousel. Which, of course, we rode on. Derr…

Now, that steak was a thing of beauty. I dare say it was truly the best steak I have ever tasted. At the very least it is in the top three. On par with the Kobe Beef I had in Kobe, Japan and the bone in ribeye at Wolfgang Puck’s Lupo in Vegas. But, now that I consider it, I do have to walk the Florentine steak to the front of the line, as Puck’s steak did have a sauce on it, and the Kobe steak was sliced and diced by a great chef. This steak was primal, simple, perfect. Just a big ass T-bone (well Porterhouse really) as big as my head, seared to perfection, seasoned and served with just salt and pepper and a little grilled potatoes on the side. No filler, no showy glamour, no glitz. Just the ne plus ultra. My king of steak.

I’m not forgetting about Mario’s though. We were able to visit for lunch just before we left. And oh what a lunch. This tiny bistro just off a main piazza around a hidden corner is an icon. I had no idea. We went in, gave our names and waited outside like everyone else. While we waited the line got longer and longer. We had arrived at just the right time. Once our name was called, we were ushered to wedge in, joining another coupleat a tiny table, while rubbing elbows with another table of four mere inches away. Boy, do they pack you in! Our newfound table mates were just finishing up their repast and said nary a word to us until they got up and said “Ciao” in their best German accented Italian. Shortly thereafter we were joined by a lovely young couple from Iowa on their Honeymoon as well. Small world.

We chatted away as we were given our liter of house red wine (just for Kim and I), and John and Helena were given theirs. I think that set us back a total of 14 Euros, about $20. Always order the house wine when traveling in Italy. Just sayin. The next thing to plop down was a perfectly cooked osso buco for Kim and a braised rabbit in a (paprika?) sauce that was divine. I was told to try the Florentine steak at Mario’s but for lunch it was just a tad to heavy for me. Guess I’ll just have to come back….. Oh wait, WE ARE!!!!

kimberly-spencer-italy

Now that we have been introduced to this incredible place, we have decided to make another stop for 2 days on our way back to Rome for our final Italian Honeymoon goodbyes. A visit to the Uffizi Gallery will be attempted and a sunset at Ponte Vecchio has been recommended as well. So, Mario’s will get another chance to wow us as I am sure it will. There most definitely will be at least one more Florentine steak in my near future, though I’m aiming for at least two.

Our Italian Honeymoon: Montorosso

Monterosso. What a lovely little town. Yes, the beach here is stunning and it is worth spending some time cavorting and/or frolicking about in the sand. But the real adventure starts when you leave the main drag and head inward or upward. As with all the Cinque Terre towns, there is most definitely some fine food to be had, just get away from the touristy areas. And as I always say, if there are pictures in the window of the food on order, run (this does not particularly apply in Japan, where all the restaurants seem to have pics up).

montorosso

The two great experiences we had here were, first, at a tiny little wine bar, Enoteca da Eliseo, just inland past the big church (which I dubbed “Our Lady of the Beetlejuice, due to it’s dark and white stripes) where we met up with some fabulous Australians who had just met each other there as well – one group from Sydney and one group from Melbourne. I fortunately love both those cities equally well. Though I would have to give my tip of the hat to Sydney, mostly for the stunning harbor scenery. As the night went on, and more wine was poured, we all got a bit rowdy and were admonished by a nosy Canadian busybody who said we were the reason people hated “Ugly Americans.” To which our new Aussie friend shouted, “Screw you, I’m Australian!” Love that lady.

kimberly-spencer-enoteca

This wine bar was an absolute find! The house wine was cheap and tasty. The owners were incredibly nice and even though we were a bit rowdy toward the end, they were gracious as can be. They even gave me a bar towel, once I let it be known that I collect them. So when you head over to Enoteca da Eliseo be sure to have a drink and remember, keep it down, or the Canucks might get ya.

La-tortuga

There are several fabulous eateries in the twisty little town that we did not have the chance to visit. We will hit those at a later date I’m sure. But the second place I can wholeheartedly recommend is L’Ancora della Tortuga! This amazing little restaurant is literally carved into the mountainside to the south of town heading toward the hike to Vernazza. You can dine inside, where the decor is Ligurian seaside shanty at it’s best, or you can dine up top with a stunning view of the sea. I recommend the latter. You will never forget that view.

We started with a pesto stuffed squid served in a pool of lusciously succulent pumpkin (or butternut squash) puree. One of the most amazing dishes I have ever been served. It was gorgeous to behold and even better on the taste buds. Since pesto was invented here in Liguria, I think they have it down. And the incredible freshness of every morsel of seafood on this trip is mind blowing. I have truly never had better.

la-tortuga

Next course was a simple grilled tuna in sweet red onions sauté for Kim, and a lobster risotto for me. Holy balls! Perfectly perfectly perfecto! Sweet, savory, and impeccably al dente was the risotto. The lobster perched atop, exuding the flavors of the sea just a stones throw away from where we sat. The tuna bright and bursting, a perfect foil for the   onion’s umami undertones. Heavenly.

Another real find here was actually in the bread basket. We could not quite pinpoint what that bread was until we asked. “It is pasta,” the waitress said. They simply deep fried the fresh pasta and it came out like a sopapilla or beignet. And it was magical. The fact that the house wine was excellent and the view was beyond compare didn’t add to those magical feelings at all, I’m sure….. Sarcasm intended….

montorosso-beach

Monterosso was the most “beachy” of the five towns and I am sure that in the high tourist season it is probably unbearable for my taste. And that is why I always try to travel in the off seasons. Much of the tourist trade is gone, the crowds are far more reasonable, and the weather is usually cooler and more invigorating. High summer heat and fat smelly tourists slathered in sun cream and bug repellant are a deadly combination to be avoided at all costs.

I can however, recommend, no, demand, that you make the hikes from Monterosso to Vernazza and from Vernazza to Corniglia. They are still open and beautiful. Sadly, the hikes from Corniglia to Manarola and Manarola to Riomaggiore are closed. Damn shame. Having made the trek from Monterosso to Vernazza, and the trek from Corniglia to Vernazza, I can say that not only are they some of the most amazing and stunning hikes I have ever taken, I can also attest that my buns of steel are almost quarter-bouncing ready. And all that pasta I have been shoveling in to my pie hole is burning away quite nicely.

montorosso-cinque-terre

So, eat the food, see the sights, and enjoy the beach of Monterosso. Then take the hike over to the wonderful twisty town of Vernazza. And no matter what you do, beware of nosy Canadians.

Drinking and Dating: Walking the Tightrope

kimberly-spencer-spike-spencer-champagne

No, this is not an evangelistic tirade against all things alcoholic. And not me giving you a scolding for over doing it from time to time. I’m the last guy on Earth to do that. I love a good cocktail, from time to time. But this article is about TIMING. If you are going to have a drink or two, make sure it is working to your advantage, especially in your dating life.

I’m writing this article the day after St. Patrick’s Day. I cannot think of a better time to broach this particular topic. Many of you are reading this right now through blurry bloodshot eyes, lying half catatonic, awash in green beads, half drunken green beer mugs, and slept-in fake orange facial hair leaving you now resembling a Picasso-esque portrait of the world’s most deranged Leprechaun.

Hey, I’m not judging! On some days, I will be the first to don the ceremonial drinking hat and throw down with the best of them.

I love me a good old fashioned craic! (pronounced “crack” it’s Gaelic for “party”)

If you have followed me for some time, you know that I am quite a Foodie and I loves me some red wine. I have toured wineries around the globe and quite certain I have over imbibed more than my fair share. What can I say, I love life and I like to party! We spent a month over in Italy for our Honeymoon last year and were drinking scads of wine every single day. It is not uncommon in Europe to have a couple glasses of wine with lunch and more with dinner.

This is the point where I say, responsibly, that if you are an adult, and you decide to indulge, responsibly, in the beverages du alcohol (that might be French), that you do so responsibly.

But even when you think you drink responsibly, you might still be screwing up your chances with the women you desire.

Case in point. In full disclosure, after my divorce and losing everything, I fell into a very deep pit of loneliness, despair, and not a small bit of drinking. I have done incredibly stupid things under the influence, of which I'm definitely not proud. I screwed up several sexy encounters with amazing women that, had I been sober-er, would have been worthy of letters to Penthouse magazine. But the drink took its toll.

As I like to say, I let my full Irish out.

Hey, I’m a mutt, I have German, English, Scottish, Irish, Cherokee and Blackfoot Indian in my blood. You tell me which of those are teetotalers!

That, of course, is no excuse for overdoing it, drinking to excess, or falling in to full blown alcoholism. If you feel you are having serious problems with your drinking, you most definitely need to seek help. Your friends are the best arbiters of info. Most people let your boorish behavior slide until it gets really bad, but if you are serious about your dating success, you need to keep that in check. And your friends will tell you, but you have to be grown up enough to ask.

Having a couple of drinks on a date can be a really good thing. It lets inhibitions slide a bit, relaxes you both, and enhances the meal (when chosen correctly). A nice glass of wine after dinner, while chatting on the couch, can be the pathway to a very saucy evening indeed. But one glass too many, can kill the evening completely.

Here are a couple of tips on keeping your mojo working while enjoying a nice adult beverage or two.

1. Stick with a predetermined amount for your date.

I like to stick with one bottle of red wine for my dinners. I can easily down a full bottle in one sitting, but that can get iffy depending on the brand. I can become irritable, annoying, or worse. But a bottle is only about 2.5 glasses a person, and over the course of the night with a full meal, that is seldom an issue. Whatever your drink of choice, know your limits and stick to them. The consequences of overindulgence are never good and can kill an otherwise perfect evening.

2. If you are out and about with friends, have a drinking “safety word.”

Like I said, your friends will tell you when you have had enough. If you have been dating someone for awhile, they can be your sober buddy if need be. You just have to agree beforehand and be open and honest enough with each other to hold each other accountable. For example, if you start to get rowdy, they might say to you, “Purple Butter Fluffer Nutter.” Which is hard to stick in normal conversation. (Bonus points for anyone who knows this reference).

Safety words can be tricky if you drink too much, as you suddenly decide you are all knowing and invincible, and anyone who tells you otherwise is killing your buzz or calling you out. This is when you have turned into a drunken ass. Avoid this by being responsible and nipping it in the bud before it is a problem.

3. Avoid email, texting, and all social media at all costs! Especially if you are home alone.

I love a nice evening alone, just enjoying a fine Cabernet, a succulent steak, and a great movie – Sci Fi usually. On nights like these, I know I am not driving, so I am free to indulge a bit. As long as I don’t run pantsless down the street shrieking profanities, a la Mel Gibson, I am hurting no one, except my own liver. However, these days, being alone does not necessarily mean you are alone. And this moment is quite possibly the most dangerous time for you.

If you decide, after a few too many drinks, to reach out and share your desires, pet peeves, or adamant righteous anger at idiots who wear knitted baggy skull caps on sunny 80 degree days, you will never be able to take it back. It is now out in the ether for all to see. Forever. And if you attempt any communication with a potential love interest at this time, you may very well destroy any chance of future success. I know this from first hand experience.

If you are enjoying a night just for you, then do that. Turn off your phone, computers, and any outside communication. Just drink your wine, eat your steak, and watch your movie. ALONE! You will be very happy the next morning when you don’t have to remember what the hell you said, to your love interest or the entire universe, the night before.

Again, if you are having a real problem and need help with your drinking, go get it. If you are like me, and had a down time in your life and went a bit haywire, friends can keep you in check and bring you back to life. But you have to be open and honest with yourself. Enjoy your drinks as you like. Just be strategic and make sure that what you are drinking is an enhancement to your meals, not a detrimental crutch you need to get through the night.

Keep Spicin It Up,

Our Italian Honeymoon: Rome

rome-graffiti

Graffiti. So much sad sad graffiti. Crappy tags on almost every surface. Every now and then, a pathetic half-assed attempt to paint over it. It’s not art. There are some well done murals, but they are few and far between, scattered among the seldom cleaned trash bins, decaying buildings, and smells from origins of which I would rather not know. This is Rome. I expected my first encounter with the great city to be more, well, magical. But after a couple of days, all I have found is a sense of a sprawling decaying urban European center not unlike so many others I have visited. Not to say that the city isn’t welcoming and in so many ways, enchanting. Of course it is, it’s frickin Rome! I guess after all these years of anticipation, like so many things we build up in our hearts and minds, the real thing tends to be a letdown. Am I speaking sacrilege? No, I really want to LOVE it. It is, after all, our Italian Honeymoon tour!

The fact that our initial lodgings turned out to be a bit less than advertised didn’t exactly help the situation. We used AirBnB for the first time. It was a great service; everything was checked and double checked, reserved and paid for beforehand, so there were no last minute surprises. Except for the fact that the private bathroom we were promised was not quite private. Having a private room in a private residence with a bathroom in our room for our Honeymoon is what we expected. This was our own private room in a very nice flat, but the bathroom was downstairs across the “common area” and kitchen. So in order to visit, you had to suit up and traipse across the flat. Though it was supposedly ours only, I am certain there were other visitors. Don’t ask me how I know…. Oh, and did I mention we had to be quiet as we walked through the living room area as there was another guest sleeping there off to the side cordoned off by room dividers. Yep, that was his “room.” I wonder what he paid?

Not to say that AirBnB is bad. Far from it! I love the service and think it is a great boon for the planet, entrepreneurialism, and travel freedom. In fact, I’ll tell you just how truly AMAZING it is in my next few posts as I regale you with beautiful tales of the Italian countryside, fresh herbs and fruit right outside our flat, and being serenaded by the local church bells. But for our introduction to the service in Rome, the age old motto of “Caveat Emptor” rang out loudly in my cranium.

coliseum-rome

The big sights are still there, the Coliseum, Forum, Spanish Steps, Vatican City, etc, etc, and so on. And they are beautiful as advertised. Quite awe-inspiring actually. Imagine the history! Gladiators slaughtering one another, Christians being torn apart by lions, the Vatican helping the Nazis horde Jewish gold. What? Too soon? I’m just saying, the history is impressive, it’s just not always flattering.

It doesn’t help that at every tour bus stop, every attraction, and every train station, there are clone swarms of what seems to be the same Bangladeshi man aggressively hawking shitty hats, cold water, cheap Chinese scarves, some strange little squishy toy, and the ever popular iphone selfie stick for taking better self indulgent “look at me” photos from further than an arm’s length out. It may be years before I get the mind numbing sound of “selfie?” being half-heartedly “shouted” at me every ten feet. It got so bad near the Spanish Steps that one hawker aggressively pushed some “free” flowers on my wife, gesturing that, no indeed they were free. Sure. After we stated, “No, Grazie” abut ten times, he initially took them away after, of course, asking me for some cash. After my final, “No, Grazie!” He uttered some ancient curse at me and I, in turn, cordially invited him to have sexual intercourse with himself. A group of these guys recently attacked and tried to rob a U.S. policeman on Holiday. I wonder if my jerk of a rose pusher was one of those weenies. Oh how I longed to go Gladiator on him myself and take a rousing wack at his skull with a blunt object of some kind. Somebody will soon, I’m sure. Had I done so, undoubtedly the crowd would cheer me on as they did the warriors of antiquity and I would be showered with praise, gold, and virgins (which my wife would not appreciate).

Speaking of virgins… Then there’s the romance. Couples kissing out in the open, seemingly lost in their passions, sharing a gelato and groping one another in the parks. Swarthy fellas hooting, gesticulating, and whistling at the ladies as they go by. Innocent enough, but the fact that they are oogling my wife is a bit annoying. Although she is fabulously attractive and sexy as hell. Hey, she can’t help it, that’s the way God made her. Hallelujah. But it is our Honeymoon after all, so I could be just a bit sensitive. All in all, not too swept away by the whole romance thing in Rome. It’s not like the old movies with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck, zipping around on Vespas, drinking espressos, and just generally being fabulous.

Kimberly-spencer-speaking-italian

No, we came to Rome amid various warnings of pickpockets, roaming bands of thieving gypsy children, and scamming taxi drivers. Not exactly a warm welcome to this once great city. It’s hard to sit back and enjoy your time here having to keep one eye out for marauders and one hand on your wallet. For all the outward leanings, this city is sadly living below it’s potential. As for the inside? Well, that is where the city gets it right. The food and the gracious hospitality. Like most sprawling metropolises I have visited, you do have to have a discerning eye for a good restaurant. Ask the locals, get recommendations, and normally, if they have pictures of the food on their windows, RUN!

pickpocket-warning-rome

Steer clear of the touristy areas and you can find some truly wonderful eats. But here in Rome, it’s hard to do as their is a tourist trap everywhere you turn. After awhile you just say, “Hey look, more ruins… Wooptadeedoo!” Be vigilant and you will find some seriously tasty treats – the best part of Rome! Like Luca’s the local Trattoria in the artsy area where we were staying just east of Termini Station with incredible caponata, friendly waiters, and a genuinely welcoming atmosphere. The cacio e pepe was quite rich and flavorful here.

pasta alla amatriciana

Then there was another random find in Nana’s Vini e Cucina near the Spanish Steps. Oh what wonderful pasta alla amatriciana! The deep rich smoky bacon, tart tomato, and savory parmesan lovingly smothered the perfectly al dente bucatini as well as my taste buds. The flavor still haunts my memory. Truly a great foodie find, made all the better by our new waiter friend Salvatore who amped up our experience by providing us with two rounds of Limoncello gratis for our “Luna di Miele.” Grazie!

In keeping with the “get recommendations from locals” motif, Salvatore recommended the leather shop just next door which my wife, Kim, had been eyeballing all through dinner. It turned out to be another great find, as the brand new hand made brown/black fine Italian leather belt that adorns my waist can attest to.

I guess my first visit to Rome could have been more romantic. And we will have a another shot at it after our stay up north in Cinque Terre for a month, and I will do my best to adore the city. Just be aware, that if I do not come back to the states, it’s probably because I cold cocked some jackass trying to push a damn “selfie” stick on me after I have thrice told him to “Feckoff!”

Poached Eggs on Sautéed Greens and Cannelini Bean Puree

poached-egg-and-greens-recipe

Not only is this a great tasting and beautiful dish to serve to a lovely lady in the morning, but it’s also on the Slow Carb diet that is so popular these days.

That means that it has no flour, sugar, or dairy. It is also nut free, so you have lots of coverage in the safe arena for this one. It might even be Paleo happy, but I’m not into that one. You decide.

This is a very simple recipe and you can make the bean puree well ahead of time and use it in tons of tasty dishes, including to thicken soups, or as a dip for crudités. It adds your Slow Carb bean component to almost anything you can imagine. Enjoy!

bean-puree-recipe

Bean Puree

What You'll Need:

Put the beans, garlic, and lemon in a blender.  Blend. As you blend, slowly drizzle olive oil in until you reach your desired consistency. Add S&P.

sautéed-greens-recipe

Sautéed Greens

What You'll Need:

Sauté onions in oil for a minute, then add the garlic, then the greens. Sauté till wilted. Add S&P.

how-to-make-poached-eggs

Poached Eggs

Here’s the trick to making great poached eggs…Vinegar! And having the eggs pre-cracked in separate bowls.

Bring a pot of water to a simmering boil (small bubbles everywhere, but not rolling).

Add a teaspoon or so of vinegar to the water. This helps the eggs coagulate quickly.

Drop eggs in one at a time, gently, in a clockwise manner. After about 2-3 minutes, they should be set and ready to go.

Turn of the heat and remove eggs. Start with the first egg you put in and work clockwise. Drain with a paper towel to remove excess water.