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Tasty Side to Life Tours Website

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Absolute Best Champagne for Valentines Day!

Happy Day of LOVE! How about 3 Valentine's today instead of 1? Tell your partner it's going to be OK, were just talking about BUBBLES. Or, more specifically gorgeous, amazing grower fizz Champagnes that is. Our top 3 picks for Valentine's Day are below and a link to have them at home here and here. Our Motto today via one of our favorite interior designers This La Holiday is-Love is more than just a day, it doesn't just sit there like a stone, it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new :) xo

Champagne Lelarge Pugeot Rose de Saignée $55

An amazing 100% organic and biodynamic producer which we love! 100% Pinot Noir, this Rosé is a blend of 90% of white wine and 10% of red wine. A blend from 3 vineyards: Les Maupas, Les Clos and Les Champs Chevaliers. This has refined texture and fruity notes of cherry, strawberry and toasted brioche. Aging: Aged for three years. Alcohol 12.4%, acidity total 4.3g, S02 total 34mg, Dosage 7g/l

Champagne Assailly Rose $50

A new producer for us! In Grand Cru village of Avize or Cote de Blanc this producer operates in some of the best terroir in all of champagne! This Rose is 87% Chardonnay and 13% Pinot Noir. Aromatic nose of red fruit. On the palate red fruit again with some hints of citrus. Style: rich and complex. Dosage: 4 gram/liter Brut

Champagne Stroebel Logos de Heraclite Rose de Saignée 2005 $107
A small, garage style winery Tim is awesome! Organic de Saignée 2005 which is aged 10 years and gives off a gorgeous ring of complexity. This wine has soul, heart. No Filtering, no cold chamber, 0 dosage, indigenous yeast, biodynamic, deep roots, increased complexity. This cuvee is straight MAGIC.  Long slow fermentation, 50 year old vines from 1964, 36h maceration, notes of lemon peel, elegant, feminine, delicate, lifts on your palate! YES! Only 814 bottles produced. RARE. 1er cru. 
If you want to order any of these gorgeous bottles minimum quantity is 6 bottles of a mixed case and shipping is free. Arrival in 5-7 days. Click on this link to see catalog and fill out this sheet to buy. Email: tastysidetolifetours@gmail.com to place an order or call + 1 510 590 0943. If you ever make it to champagne do think of Tasty Side To Life Tours (us) to chauffeur you around on a wine tour in champagne.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A Summer Brunch- Brioche stuffed french toast with fromage blanc, passion fruit, lemon curd and huckleberry, blackberry compote and much more

Stuffed Brioche French Toast: with sweetened fromage blanc, passion fruit, homemade lemon curd and huckleberry, blackberry, blueberry compote served with creme fraiche, raspberries and pure Vermont maple syrup inspired by Girl and the Fig in Sonoma, ca    

So, I wrote this 5 years ago on a balmy summer morning in Paris and it somehow poof disappeared from the blog so I decided to resurrect it and repost b/c well, it's a keeper!!

Summer in Paris is all about forever sunlight to 10/11pm, huge open air markets w/ fruit filled to the top and spilling off vendors carts and new inspiration from seasonal fruits and veggies. This was a test brunch from back in my days of wanting to open a supper club at my Paris flat which sadly never actually came to fruition. My dream was to play black and white french old school movies, serve rare small producer champagne and cook a 4 course brunch or dinner for friends of friends in a relaxed super club type of environment. This was a nice brunch "test" menu during a Parisian lazy Sunday among 11 friends.
Brunch Menu
This is a bright and seasonal menu for a summer brunch 

  • STUFFED BRIOCHE FRENCH TOAST with sweetened fromage blanc, passion fruit, homemade lemon curd and huckleberry, blackberry, blueberry compote served with creme fraiche, raspberries and pure Vermont maple syrup 
  • DUCK CONFIT AND POTATO HASH with a touch of ratafia, poached eggs, hollandaise and black truffle oil
  • LEMON AND RICOTTA PANCAKES with ginger cinnamon creme friche

The Table Setting with Some Small Producer Champagne from Huot et Fils. The stuffed brioche french toast plated

My inspiration: Duck Confit & Potato Hash with a touch of ratafia, poached eggs, hollandaise and black truffle oil
My version of the potato hash after a bite or two

Lemon and Ricotta Pancakes with ginger cinnamon creme friche- my inspiration photo

And a few bites gone

Brunch didn't start til 2 to 3pm and lasted so looooooong, per the usual Parisian tradition amongst my friends, that as we were finishing up cleaning we were actually able to see the Parisian sunset. I'm not even sure you can call something that ends that late brunch :) Regardless, it's truly the best hr in Paris when at about 9pm everything turns pink. It's incredible really.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Sydney Australia the chic foodie guide

Park Hyatt Lunch and View of Opera house
From a sky filled with gorgeous tropical wild larakeets and yellow crusted cockatoos swooping above, to sun-blazed, bikini doted beaches with sandstone rock pools camouflaged into the cliffs, to watching perilous open-ocean swim competitions in great white invested waters- Sydney is all sorts of amazing. 

It's the sort of place where you can enjoy a Park Hyatt pre- lunch cocktail of out of this world rich, creamy Sydney rock oysters paired with minerally elegant Ruinart champagne followed by an insane tasting menu consisting foie gras, rhubarb and hibiscus with red and black berries and brioche in front of the Sydney Opera house. I mean, insane.

Sydney truly is a cosmopolitan city filled with a multi ethnic mix of people, culture and undeniable beauty. Below is a glimpse into some of the "Must do's" compiled from some of my favorite local friends. 
Coogee to Bondi walk
1) Coogee Beach- Bondi Beach walk. This is the place to start your Sydney adventure! Hands down. Stay away from the touristy sites and come STRAIGHT here and hang with the locals. The Coogee Beach-Bondi Beach walk is a cliff top coastal walk filled with stunning views, beaches, parks, rock pools and swimming spots. It's 6k or 3.5 miles and a perfect morning jog or walk. Most of the beaches have changing rooms, places to eat, have a picnic, go to the bathroom, etc. Tamarama, Bronte, Coogee and Maroubra have free electric bbqs! 

Waileys Baths

Tamarama Beach is the place to be seen, snorkeling is bests at Clovelly, Mackenzie point and Bronte are both the fav for surfers. Bondi has Icebergs for lunch which is iconic. I loved Coogee but I might be biased because one of my favorite friends lives there. I also adore Wailey's baths which is just past Coogee and a perfect place to relax and swim for the day. Feels like you're in Croatia or a Geneva Switzerland beach!

Coogee Beach on a 90 degree day with fog!

2) Hang in a locals neighborhoodPaddington- This area is night and day different from the sun drenched beach communities of Bondi or Coogee- the good historical, chic, gorgeous kind of different. Paddington is laced with 1800's terrace style housing, trendy shopping, great restaurants and is just a short walk from the center of the city. It's sophisticated and certainly a "must see". 

Josh Goot

Come here to check out designers on Williams street or Oxford street or at an area called the "Intersection". Here you'll find: Scanlan Theodore, Ellery, Camilla and Marc, Alice McCall, Josh Goot, Sass and Bide and Alannah Hill

For restaurants check out Williams St wine bar, Ampersand Pantry Cafe and Bookstore, Berkelouw Books and Cafe 1812, Underwood Cafe a hidden gem with a Balinese style deck, Ovvio (book a consult) for a visit to a naturopath, homeopath and herbalist. In the earthy surrounds of the Apothecary the herbal magic happens! Here they formulate and dispense liquid herbs and other natural remedies for clients. LOVE. 

OVVIO is the brand behind Sydney's acclaimed naturopath, homeopath and herbalist, Athia Koulouros.
Book a consult or peruse the organic health, beauty and home products, teas or spice blends

3) Go to Surrey Hills- Another sweet inner city neighborhood is Surry Hills. It's artsy, vibrant and filled with great uber creative foodie spots. The area sort of has a run down or up and coming vibe. Starting on Crown street is a good idea, make sure to stop a few galleries and checkout a few gasto pubs, outdoor dining spots and hidden bars. Make sure to check out Nomad (insane roasted carrots with dukkah and creme fraiche), 

Bourke Street Bakery (for a Strawberry rhubarb tart, ginger creme brulee tart or a savory chicken, sweet potato, pea, lime pie)

Bourke Street Bakery
 Bills in Bondi, Darlinghurt or Surrey Hills (for brown rice and sweet miso porridge, coconut yoghurt, mango and lime or ricotta hotcakes, banana + honeycomb butter or zucchini fritters, deep fried egg, haloumi, parsley salad, tahini yoghurt and pickles)

The Winery (just a cute little outdoor wine spot surrounded by plants and attractive people,

Winery, Sydney
Longrain (yummy cocktails, soul of SE Asian cooking and legit Thai street food),

Reuben Hills (
Banana Peanuts and Espresso Bread w /salted caramel butter, Ancho orange salmon w beetslaw, asparagus & goats curd, Lemon myrtle, lemongrass, licorice and ginger root tea or pancakes w/ Date caramel, pecan praline and quandong icecream. I mean.... YUM. Ah huhhh Sydney legit food.

Reuben Hills
The Rocks

4) Walk around the Food market at "The Rocks"-My favorite thing in the world is Gözleme. Yup Gozleme. They have a delicious one here. Brings me right back to 2007 or so in Turkey with my family when a gorgeous old Turkish lady was hunched over a huge, round open pan and mixed up a super simple little dough of flour and water, olive and salt, rolled it out ever so thin, cut a pocket in it and filled it with feta, spinach, zucchini, eggplant, leek, shallot and garlic. YUMM. The Rocks is THE PLACE to be Fridays from 9-3 or Sat/Sun from 10-5. Stop by one of the roof top bars after for a cocktail.

The Rocks
5) Check out Din Tai Fung is kind of a must if you like dumplings or Dim Sun. I've been in Singapore and Bangkok. Its literally the worlds tastiest dumpling. Every dumpling is delicately hand made to measure btwn 4.8-5.2 grams before being filled with 20 grams of filling. They're all made fresh in front of your eyes, steamed in exactly 3 minutes and on your table in seconds. It's gorgeous, delicate precious and quality control that makes this place INSANE. That and the fact that you can have truffles in your dumplings. Find it in Sydney, Taiwan, Japan, USA, Singapore, Indo, etc.  

6) Eat lunch at the Park Hyatt. Start with champagne and oysters at the bar and take in the view of the Sydney Opera House! Lunch is 1 course for $39, 2 $59 and 3 $69 at the Dining Room and it was one of my most favorite meals of my life. Hands down. While in this area go checkout the Museum of Contemporary art and maybe the botanical gardens.

Ruinart Champagne with Sydney Rock Oysters

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Paris Champagne Tasting Class

It's no secret that the French love their wine and in Paris a glass at 5-7€ can be cheaper than water! Wine is a fundamental part of life in France. To me it embodies all the things I ADORE about this country-their relentless standards of quality, tradition and joie de vivre!

It's not surprising that foreigners around the world admire the gorgeous, elegant, perfectly balanced and sophisticated wines of France. Yet, for many of these visitors french wine can be rather intimidating as it's marketed so differently. 

In France you can't order via "cepage" ie Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cab. You have to trust the french and their blends while at the same time understanding region, grape, vintage and of course the magical "terroir"! If you want a Pinot you need to know to order a gorgeous glass from Burgundy. If you're in the mood for a Merlot you can get a nice glass of Saint Emilion Bordeaux, etc. The same is true for Champagnes. If you want something rather complex and well aged you should order a Millesime (2004 and 2006 are GREAT right now in 2014 as they've aged 8-10 years). If you want something bright and fresh to go with oysters or shellfish choose a Blanc de Blanc. The act of navigating through a french wine list without knowing these various factors can be rather dauntingLuckily we are here to help. Our team specializes in champagnes and we teach you how to choose a bottle, analyze bubbles, color and complexity and of course the correct and easy way to open a bottle. We essentially demystify champagne! 

We regularly welcome guest for a Paris champagne tasting class and help you taste large and small producers Champagne while pairing these with gorgeous cheeses, crackers, fruit and spreads! 

During our time together we teach you how small producer champagne is able to deliver so much more complexity, depth, and flavor than you would ever find in the champagne of large producers of the world (such as Moet, Pommery, Veuve Clicquot, etc) which produce 10-30 million bottles a year! These small producers put their hearts and souls into creating truly fantastic champagne and for prices between 17-35€ euro a bottle it really can not be beat! We teach you how to drink it and how to find it!

Tasting in a gorgeous Parisian flat or cave

We either taste 3 cuvees from 1 producer or 1 Large producer, 1 Small and 1 Rose
Relaxing before the tasting
Analyzing the cheeses and champagenes!
Check it out! 
Here is a little snapshot below of what we will offer. 

This Paris champagne tasting class is 70€ per person and is the perfect class for anyone interested in champagne with a desire to learn more. While tasting 3 different cuvees from 3 different producers, we will show clients the differences in small producer champagne, enlighten their palate and introduce them to champagne with great complexity and nice depths. We will teach you how to find flavors such as: white flowers, agrumes (lemons, grapefruits), toasted almonds, ripe summer fruits, etc.

We will essentially help clients undercover the mystery of Champagne without leaving Paris. You will learn which grapes are used in champagne. You will also be able to purchase the champagne you tried for 20-35€ a bottle. If you are a cheese lover than we offer a champagne class with cheese for 85€ and with lunch for 100€. 

Below are more details or contact Tasty Side To Life Tours Here at http://tastysidetolifetours.com/Tasty_Side_to_Life_Tours/Contact.html.

70,00€ (85€ with cheese pairing or 100€ with 3 course lunch)
(price per person)
Duration: 1.5 Hours, 2-2.5 hrs with cheese or lunch
Number of Champagnes sampled: 3 including one large Producer
Operating Days: Daily
Start Time: 11am or 5pm
Where?: 6th Arrondissement in a beautiful Parisian apartment
Near?: Place St Michel
(address will be sent after the booking)

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Authentic Experiences in Paris & an Authentic Cyling Tour in Champagne

Who wants to feel like a tourist when you're traveling? Not me! I always try and sneakily hide my map or fold it up as quick as humanely possible inevitably destroying it's perfect folds and scrunching it into a ball in my purse. Coming back from a trip to Paris with pictures of the Mona Lisa and an Eiffel Tower replica in your suitcase and actually believing that you have captured the essence of the city of lights is a pretty big faux pas in my book. As is thinking that you actually ARE going to bump into a real deal Parisian with a mustache outfitted in a beret and a striped shirt holding a baguette under his arm. Chances of that are low. Very low. What you should and hopefully WILL do is wander off the beaten paths to discover!

Marché d'Aligre is the BEST Parisian activity (before 13h) at Place d'Aligre 75012, Paris 
Touch, feel, experience things you didn't plan (like the Marche d'Aligre above with hundreds of 1500-1700 books or the cheese shop Barthelemy in the 6eme by Rue de Bac which you can actually SMELL 1 mile away before you even arrive)! One of the ways to experience something real is to hop on the 'ol train and come 45 minutes to Reims or 1h20 to Epernay in Champagne! Get outside of Paris just for 1 day and into the countryside where you can bike and taste with champagne producers!

Fabulous cheese shop in the Latin 6eme, Paris

Keep in mind that Paris and its neighboring regions such as champagne have MUCH more to offer and there is still authenticity to be found if you know where to look ;)

Traveling is so much more of an enriching experience and a personal one when you live and feel it while avoiding the row after row of souvenir vendors and clichés. Bike tours are a good example of this. They get you on the streets and allow you to cycle around a city.

Bike About Tours or Fat Tire Bike Tours are among those who make visiting Paris pretty fun. They give you an insider's look at the city and don't just show you what you're expecting to see. Paris is more than the Eiffel tower and Notre Dame, and don't get me wrong, they are marvels for sure, but there's so much life, so many smells, sights and small cobbled and winding streets filled with incredible little stores and cafés.

The same is true in champagne. The Champagne region is more than Veuve Clicquot, Dom Perignon and 200,000 person population of Reims. It's passionate growers, rows and rows of vines and bubbly flowing/ corks popping from house to house and village to village!

Instead of going straight to the capital of Champagne why not cycle around gorgeous vines and champagne taste with growers who supply to all the major brands ie Moet et Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, Roederer?

Traveling is about discovery and adventure, it's about learning what a culture has to offer. Go ahead and throw your tour book out for the day. Wander, get lost and do something authentic! If you need help doing so Tasty Side To Life Tours helps you plan champagne tasting biking trips in and around Reims and Epernay just 45 mins or 1h20 from Paris. Contact here if interested in a champagne tour. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Langoustine tartar- citrus, melba toast, impérial Baéri caviar. Cooking class in Champagne

 This post is courtesy of one of our past champagne tour clients who wrote a fabulous article on her blog about her Michelin  star cooking class in Champagne with our favorite 1 star chef Michael Nizzero from La Briqueterie in Vinay!

We bring clients to eat lunch at their gorgeous property during our Champagne Tasting trips. We usually squeeze in a cooking class from 15h30-16h30 just after a tasting at Dom Perignon and just before a tasting with an award winning champagne grower! Pricing for the private cooking class with the head chef is 150€ per person for a 1 hour class or 75€ per person for a 30 minute class. I wanted to share with all our readers the recipe and notes from Annette Freeman. Booking for your own private cooking course can be done here. Enjoy the article and recipe below from our dear Australian client!


Michelin star Cooking Class in Champagne

An opportunity for a cooking lesson/demonstration from a Micheline-starred chef in France? The answer is, naturellement, 'oui, oui!' Our chef was the amazing Michael Nizzero, presently at L'Hostellerie la Briqueterie at Vinay, near Epernay in the champagne region. A snippet of his impressive resumé from their website:

Michael Nizzero is a 28yr old Belgian Chef who joins us from The Waterside Inn, Berkshire, UK. Chef Nizzero spent 4 years at the prestigious 3 Michelin starred Waterside Inn as First Sous-chef, under Grand-chefs Michel and Alain Roux. Previous to this he was Head Chef of Pisces Restaurant, Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai. Under his guardianship
 this restaurant was awarded best seafood restaurant in Dubai 3 years in a row.This already tells us that the food is likely to be pretty wonderful, but we had checked this out by dining at La Briqueterie the evening before: foie gras, delicate fish, and a cheese trolley straight from heaven. What would Chef Michael have to show us in his high-powered kitchen the next morning?

The recipe, he said, was a favorite of his which he had included on the menu ever since he had begun at La Briqueterie: Tartare de langoustines aux senteur d'agrumes , toast melba et caviar d’Aquitaine. After a brief kitchen tour, and some attention to the day's supply of foie gras, prepping it to be baked, Michael turned to his ingredients, laid out on the stainless steel bench.

"First," he said, "kill your langoustine." They like things fresh at La Briqueterie. But if you don't have any handy langoustine, you can use instead yabbies, or scallops.

I'll give you Michael's recipe  - then add a photo tour of the proceedings.

Easy to make at home! After you catch your langoustine, of course. Bon appétit.

Tartare de langoustines aux senteur d'agrumes , toast melba et caviar d’Aquitaine
4 personnes

24 langoustines live or Scampi, peeled and cut into large brunoise pieces

For garnish 
X 1 green chili, finely diced 
X 1 red chili, finely diced 
X 1 bunch chives chopped 
Lime zest 
Lemon zest 
Orange zest 
Salt / pepper 
Shoots beet x 12 
Shoots red chard x 12 
Caviar d'Aquitaine x 40 gr 
12 Melba toast 

For the citrus vinaigrette 
Squeeze and zest 2 limes, 2 lemons and 2 oranges and whisk in a steady stream of a couple tablespoons of olive oil of Papillon, salt and pepper. 


Bring water up to a nice boil. Add live langoustines for 10 seconds not more and immediately submerge in an ice bath. Now separate the head from the body. Use your fingers to crack the back bone. Now pinch the tail and pull very gently the vein out of the langoustine. Now add the langoustine to the vinaigrette with the brunois chili, chives, salt and pepper. Arrange on a plate as pictured. Top with caviar d'Aquitaine.

*These are live so we don't need to worry about how fresh they are! Yet do keep in mind some simple tips of how to check freshness: look at the eyes which should be black, the shell or color should be red and there should never be a strong fish smell!

Juice of three different citrus: lemon, lime & orange.
Zest of the three citrus.
Quality virgin olive oil.
Combine half-and-half citrus juice and olive oil and season.
Chop previously prepared langoustine into 1cm chunks.
Add zest to chopped langoustine.
Mild red and green jalapeño peppers
finely diced (with the skill of a professional chef, of course)
Add diced peppers to the langoustine.
Chives, chopped finely with similar skill.
Add chives to langoustine.
Michael adds the vinaigrette to the langoustine.
Finished langoustine and vinaigrette mixture.
Spoon mixture into a small circular mould to shape for serving.
Decorate with tiny melba toasts.
Garnish with some delicate  greenery.
Michael's suggested brand of caviar.
Top with a generous spoonful of caviar.
That went quickly....

In case you need help with technique in terms of the langoustine go ahead and watch this Youtube video from Pavillion France of how to prepare the live langoustine!

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