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Tasty Side to Life Tours Website

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Have a cozy weekend- below is a great superbowl menu

What are you up to this weekend? I went to temple last night and today I ran on the beach just as the rain broke which is the most amazing feeling, am headed to corepower yoga, to lunch with some of my favorite champagne client friends and tonight we majorly splurged and are headed to the warriors game vs La! Tomorrow I'm doing a 1.5h Sikh mediation at the special monthly kundalini Gurdwara in the haight ashbury, it's 1x a month and awesome/ weird/ special/ great. Also going to a super bowl party. Hope you have a good one! In case you are celebrating the superbowl this weekend are some fun links to help you plan:

The best 8 Super bowl menu items: Ps please stay away from 7 layer dip, those frozen meatballs and pigs in a blanket and try something new, healthy and fun!

1) This insane beef chili with skillet cornbread and hot honey butter- I mean this is classic, classic. What's better than letting guests add chives or cheese and then servicing it with rustic cornbread? I also ADORE this recipe by Panera. I know a corporate giant Panera but it's the best idea to mix up the complexity of beans (color, texture, etc) and make a healthy chili with poblano peppers, ground turkey, chili powder, black beans, pinto beans, navy beans, corn and edamame in it!

2) These shrimp lettuce wraps- yes to shrimp that cooks in minutes, a platter of lettuce cups, mint sprigs, chopped peanuts, sliced cucumbers, and the reserved sauce or these with steak

3) Homemade trendy/ hipster pickles like these- Yes, yes, yes to the perfect amount of sweet, salt, and tang going on. The brine is best with persian cucumbers and these are good for you!

4) Spinach and Yogurt dip- YES. Please this or something israeli or middle eastern over 7 layer dip (GROSS) or artichoke dip which is so unhealthy. This is called borani esfanaaj in Iran. This is walnuts, spinach, mint, greek yogurt, lemon juice, made into the most gorgeous rustic messy looking spread to eat with pita.

5) These Cindy Pawlsyon Chicken wings- secret is mushroom soy sauce, brown sugar, honey, garlic, fresh chives, scallions and marinating them for 12-24hours

6) These Korean chicken wings- This is all about gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste) you can buy in china town! Essentially you cook these almost plain w/ oil, salt and pepper and fry them until crisp and lightly charred, 5–10 minutes then whisk gochujang and 1/4 cup hot water in a large bowl. Transfer wings to bowl with gochujang and toss to coat. Voila!

7) Or lastly Bobby Flay's Wings- Love bobby's idea of ancho chili powder, garlic powder, red wine vineager, chiptole chilies, chili powder, honey. etc. He fries them in peanut oil, 2 inches. Simmer the sauce then add wings and toss to coat

8) Gluten free tahini brownies

We're thinking of just ordering amazing pizza in SF the best is from Tony'sDel PapoloZero zeroCapo or Tommaso's and they'll deliver through caviar or uber eats and I think I'll make my friend Nico's famous Cuneo Ragu al carne with polenta. A big hearty meat sauce and you take a big spoonful of polenta in the center of your plate, make a hole in the center of the polenta and pour the ragu over, top with parmesan (the real stuff!) and a touch of red pepper flakes. Serve all of this with an appetizer plate of raw fennel with olive oil and pepper, artichoke hearts, black olives, and marinated peppers. Basta! All done!

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Top 10 Best Restaurants in Reims- including the most gorgeous champagne picnic

Anyone dreaming that it is already spring and you're picnicking in champagne? We'll, we are. As we watch this polar vortex sweep across the midwest we're thinking a number of you might be too. I mean wouldn't you rather be here overlooking that view? We would always rather be here!

Our favorite thing to do in champagne, other than of course drinking champagne, is to go to one of the farmers markets in champagne and then have a picnic in Hautvilles in a secret spot behind Dom Perignon's church! We can bring you here if you need help with a driver/ guide.

The best farmers markets are on Tuesday, Thrs, Saturday and Sunday. Our favorite is Saturday at Halle Saint-Thibault in Epernay. It's this gorgeous covered old railway station and it has 50 or so vendors and everything is so fresh, delicious and perfect! I'll do a separate post on farmers markets in champagne so you have the whole list of what we can bring you to on a champagne tour. If I had it I would always have a guide to help you point out all the best super regional stuff to buy ie- pate en croute, jambon de reims, mousseux de boeuf, cheeses like chaource, langres and comte, fraises de bois or wild strawberries from the forest, etc, etc.

Having a picnic in champagne is truly one of our favorite things to do on a champagne tour (if you're in the region April- Oct). Other than a picnic, below are our top 10 favorite lunches in champagne. Ok, we snuck in an 11th, was too hard to resist.

If you want a driver and guide to help bring you on a tour contact us, here

Top 10 Best Restaurants in Reims or Champagne 

1) Les Crayeres Le Parc- 2 stars and 69€ menu for 3 courses. OUi, oui, oui
2) La Briqueterie- sit outside surrounded by their Rose Garden
3) Picnic overlooking the vines in Hautvillers
4) L'assiette Champenoise-major splurge 3 stars, rich, divine and so special
5) Le Grand cerf- 1 star adore
6) Les Avises- eat like the locals do! Drink Selosse
7) Le Royal or Racine
8) Les Crayeres le Jardin- Their steak and french fries are AMAZING
9) Symbiose - most beautiful bistro in Epernay
10) Le Foch- Michelin star
** Ok we had to... here's an 11) La Cave a Champagne or Au 36 - both fab for groups!

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! What are your plans? Is anyone headed up to Napa to wine taste? Its finally gorgeous weather again to do it and Restoration hardware opened their restaurant in Yountville! Woho! I'm going Sunday but in the meantime I'm staying local and eating just 30 minutes outside San Francisco. My cousin is making 2 ducks and it is the most joyous thing ever and 10x better than Turkey! Would you ever go off the cuff and do a different meat?

My sister was here 2 weeks ago from Paris and she hadn't had Thanksgiving in a whopping 6 years so I made her 33rd birthday dreams come true, woke up at 6am and made her the entire incredible Thanksgiving meal from scratch! You guys, surprisingly its do-able to do the WHOLE THING solo!

I'll include my favorites of all the classic Thanksgiving dishes to help you have the best Thanksgiving ever ie the best mashed potato recipe (ie it involves 2+ sticks of butter, a fine sieve, the best variety of potato and a couple tricks ie never use a hand blender), my step mom's insane cornbread sausage/fennel and chorizo stuffing, my step aunts delish cranberries (the secret is lots of orange zest and walnuts), sweet potatoes (a souffle and no marshmallows) etc! Have a wonderful week and here are a few fun links from around the web of things I'm loving..

My favorite boutique champagne for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Champagne De Souda 3A- $66/ bottle including shipping

I sell it here for $66.  This biodyanamic champagne producer has straight rock star terroir!!! He owns the BEST land and has a huge rose quartz crystal in his barrel room to bring "good vibes" to the barrels. He plays Mozart to his sleeping barrels. I mean! Biodynamic crystals are sprinkled over the earth to protect his 60-80 year old vines. He has vines in the best Grand Cru villages- Avize, Bouzy, Ay, Ambonnay and the most delicate elegant bubble due to long aging on the lees. His wine has incredible salinity, finesse and lingering freshness! A blend of 50% chardonnay from Avize, 25% Pinot Noir from Ambonnay and 25% Pinot Noir from AY. Deep, bold assertive nose, wealth of creamy spices, lemon blossom, grapefruit, weight, presence and deep persistent fruit. Drink now or wait 3 years. 

Fun links for you guys:

The # 1 thing on my holiday wish list is this that Meghan Markle wore here. Obsessed. It is a splurge but you only need 1 thing right 

The Best Thanksgiving Feast Recipes!

CORN BREAD STUFFING- My step moms stuffing is cornbread stuffing with spicy chorizo sausage and also pork sausage. Make cornbread for about 8 -12 people I make cornbread in a 9X12 inch dish. Make the cornbread the day before and cover and leave out on counter. On thanksgiving saute celery, and onions in butter and a little olive oil until they are translucent. Add red pepper flakes to this mixture if you like it spicy! In a separate pan saute the chorizo ( I take it out of the casing the chop up small). Chorizo is very greasy so drain it well on paper towel before adding it to the dressing. Then saute the pork sausage I used whole foods fennel and pork sausage and drain this sausage also. Once the celery and onion are sauteed and the sausages are complete you can assemble the dressing. Crumble the cornbread into a large bowl into bite sized chunks add the onion and celery plus one additional cube of butter that has been melted. Add the sausages and mix well. I add some fresh thyme and a little sage, salt and pepper. The mixture will be a bit dry so add some chicken stock until it looks moist but still holds together. Dry or wet stuffing is not good. You will just have to try it. You can also add some dried cranberries for a little sweetness.

CRANBERRY SAUCE Cranberry recipe that is easy and our favorite. The ingredients are 1 pound fresh cranberries, 1 1/4 cup sugar, 1 cup red current preserves or jelly, 1 cup water, 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts , 2 tablespoons grated orange peel. Combine all of the above, except orange peel and nuts , into a saucepan. Heat to boiling then reduce heat. Simmer uncovered 20 minutes. Skim foam off the top. Remove from heat and stir in walnuts and orange peel. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

TURKEY AND CHICKEN- Sicilian style whole chicken and turkey pieces with sage, lemon zest, thyme and milk simmered for 1.5h. YES! We didn't want a whole big Turkey but were not big meat eaters. So I bought some huge pieces of turkey thigh and breast and 1 whole organic Mary's chicken from Wholefoods. I'm obsessed with Sicilian ways to cook meat and keep them moist. I love this Jamie Oliver Chicken browned and then cooked in milk slowly in the oven for 2 hours at 375f with lemon, lemon zest, sage ( I left out the cinnamon for Thanksgiving) Recipe is here

SWEET POTATOES- I'm obsessed with Ruth Chris's recipe. It's sweet potatoes, eggs, vanilla, and then a topping of pecans, butter and brown sugar. I'm not a fan of marshmallows on my sweet potatoes. I think it's a oufff bizarre but I'm willing to be persuaded otherwise.

MASHED POTATOES- Joel Robuchon is the MASTER! He's a genius. Here is the video where he makes them. Take 2lbs Yukon gold potatoes, wash them and make sure they're the same size. Cover in water about 2 quarts or 2 liters cold water and 1 tbls course salt. Add 10g of salt per liter of water. The skin will protect the potatoes. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook them for 25 mins. Test them with a knife and poke them and if they fall on their own they're ready! Hardest part is to peel them hot! Drain them and peel them. Put them through a potato ricer into a large saucepan. Turn onto medium and turn the potato flesh quickly out a bit with a spatula to dry them out for 5 mins. Don't use a hand mixer! Put a tablespoon of water in another saucepan so milk doesn't stick add 20-30cl or almost 1 cup of whole milk. Now work with small flame, low and 250g of really cold butter cut into pieces! Add little by little the milk.  Stir it in energetically for a smooth, creamy finish. Taste for salt and pepper. Then push it through a fine sieve it and you'll have a very creamy mashed potato!

GREEN BEANS- The trick here was cooking them for literally 2-3 minutes! I know that's fast but then a quick ice bath and the olive oil and salt and pepper. Best secret is frying some shallots and sprinkling all over the top. The best! I used a recipe like this. Also love this recipe- Lemon roasted green beans with marcona almonds

33 Never looked so good! 

Friday, April 28, 2017

One of the Top 3 Restaurants in Reims-Le Foch!

Fine Dining at Le Foch in Reims France - Travel - @lacegraceblog1

A food and lifestyle blogger Tara came out on a private champagne tour with us this Spring and blogged about her lunch at the fabulous Michelin star Le Foch!

Her day with us at Tasty Side To Life Tours included a pickup at Le Foch, an afternoon tour from 1:30pm- 6:30pm with a visit to the UNESCO caves of Champagne Pommery with a tasting of 3 cuvees (where we taught Tara how to smell, compare bubbles size and complexity, look at color, remark on tasting notes and mouth finish) as well as a drive through the gorgeous countryside to do a tasting and tour with rare grower Champagne Bernard Pertois in the famous Grand Cru village of Mesnil sur Oger- where Krug is located.

In our opinion, Le Foch, is hands down one of the top 3 restaurants to eat at in Reims! The other two we love are L'Assiette champenoise and Les Crayeres le Parc or le Jardin. We are re-posting her article below. Be sure to check out her blog http://laceandgraceblog.com which is the best!

Fine Dining at Le Foch in Reims, France

Friday, April 14, 2017
Fine Dining at Le Foch in Reims, France - Travel - @lacegraceblog1
The journey continues on our Day tour with Tasty Side to Life Tours. Next it was time for some fine dining at Le Foch in Reims France. We had worked up quit an appetite exploring the town and visiting the Reims Cathedral (recap here) and were ready for some delicious and innovative grub!
Le Foch is known for its delicious French cuisine and even has an 1 Michelin Star rating! it is centrally located in Reims, not far from the train station and has beautiful modern decor. 
We went with the pre-fix 3 course lunch of:

First Course:

Brandade with Curry, Beets and Fresh Herbs. I loved this dish. The curry paired perfectly with the fish and the beets were a nice alternative to a traditional ‘bread’ sandwich. 

Second Course:

Rabbit in Cream Curcima Sauce (Mom ordered a vinaigrette salad with stripe fish and capers). I have had rabbit probably only a few other times in life and I was a bit weary to try it again. (because you know.. bunnies are cute) The sauce was delectable. 

Third Course:

Creme a l’arabica, sorbet , cacao. This was a chocolate like creme sorbet. All I can say is wow. So so good!

To our surprise, after each course, we were brought an additional small dish as a transition from one dish to another. My favorite had to be the amazing ‘chocolate milkshake’ served with a small almond pound cake. It was absolutely amazing. Another favorite small bite was the Tuna Tartar. 
The service was unsurpassed by any other establishment I have ever been to. The waiter was very helpful in explaining each dish on the menu (which was all in French of course) and brought each dish not too quickly (I hate that) or too late and re-set the place settings each time.
This is definitely  a fine dining establishment and so worth the visit when in Reims and on the Tour of Champagne with Tasty Side to Life Tours!
After our meal was complete, our driver, Pascal, was waiting for us to start our Champagne Tour!
Check out some photos of our delicious meal below! Make sure you come back soon to see all about our 1st Champagne stop at Pommery!
Looking for more on our trip to France? Check out our hotel here, our tour of the Louvre with Walks of France – here, some Post Cards from Paris- here and the beautiful Cathedral in Reims- here
Fine Dining at Le Foch in Reims France - Travel - @lacegraceblog1Fine Dining at Le Foch in Reims France - Travel - @lacegraceblog1Fine Dining at Le Foch in Reims France - Travel - @lacegraceblog1Fine Dining at Le Foch in Reims France - Travel - @lacegraceblog1Fine Dining at Le Foch in Reims France - Travel - @lacegraceblog1Fine Dining at Le Foch in Reims France - Travel - @lacegraceblog1Fine Dining at Le Foch in Reims France - Travel - @lacegraceblog1Fine Dining at Le Foch in Reims France - Travel - @lacegraceblog1

Friday, March 24, 2017

7 tips to know before you to go on a private trip to champagne

One of our favorite past clients, Sherrelle Kirkland-Andrews planned a girls trip from the USA and brought such a great groups friends to champagne! She proceeded to post one of the best articles that we just had to re-post here. Sherrelle on her blog http://iamsherrelle.com/ wrote the "7 tips to know before you to go on a private trip to champagne." Take a look below! xo



Bonjour!  Here’s another post of my Paris trip with my girlfriends.
My vacation in Paris was filled with many wonderful days, but the day that we spent on a private champagne tour in Reims, France will always be one of my favorite memories.  That day was the absolute pinnacle of fabulousness!
We started our day on the TGV to Reims.  Thankfully our 1st class car was nearly empty because as usual, we talked non-stop all the way there.  Sydney, our driver and tour guide, met us at the train station with croissants (yum!).  She drove us through the lovely town of Reims to our first stop, Reims Cathedral.  Even bigger than Notre Dame, Reims Cathedral was breathtaking.  It  was the site of 25 coronations of the kings of France and is on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
champagne tour http://iamsherrelle.com
A short walk down the block from Reims Cathedral was our next stop, La Petite Friande chocolate atelier.   Although the shop is filled with many wonderful treats, we were there to sample the bouchons, little chocolate corks filled with champagne.  Sydney unwrapped a chocolate and demonstrated how we were to pop the entire bouchon in our mouth at once for the ultimate experience.
Reims Chocolate Bouchons http://iamsherrelle.com
Wow!  It was an explosion of champagne – intense and flavorful, like slamming back a shot!   That was the most delicious chocolate experience that I had ever had!  We bought bouchons for family and friends back home and piled back in the car to begin our tour of champagne houses.  Through rolling hills and quaint towns Sydney drove to our first champagne house, Pehu Simonet.  Proprietor David Pehu met us in his office, ready to educate us about his champagne and offer us several tastings.
champagne testing http://iamsherrelle.com
I wish that I could tell you all that David shared with us, and the commentary that Sydney provided about David’s small champagne house versus the big champagne houses, but we tasted 4 bottles of champagne, so understand when I say that I don’t quite remember the details of what David said.  By the second glass we were all more than a little tipsy and I seriously wondered if we were going to make it through the rest of the day standing upright – this was just our first stop!  I asked David to ease up on my champagne because I figured at least one of us had to be sober enough to get us back to Paris.   Sydney assured me that after a long lunch we would be fine.   Since she did these tours all the time and has surely seen people far worse off than us, I trusted her and continued to taste (albeit half-full glasses; I am a light-weight).  
Let me pause here to say that I rarely drink alcohol, but if I do, I prefer it to be champagne, Veuve Clicquot if possible.  All my friends adore champagne.    But I tell you, if you think you have tasted good champagne, you have not until you have tasted champagne like we did, straight from the producer.  We were completely and utterly blown away by the smell and taste of this small producer champagne.  Each bottle tasted better than the last and we had a hard time deciding which bottle to buy (and that had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that we were drunk by the time we left).
But Sydney was right.   A 20 minute drive and a two hour, 5 course lunch at Le Grand Cerf sobered us up and by the time we got back on the road, we were ready to drink some more.  The entire meal was delicious – bread, soup, seafood ravioli, fish, dessert and cheese plate.  From Le Grand Cerf we drove to the champagne house of Le Gallais, which is set on the most beautiful property.  That is Madame Clicquot’s chateau, Boursault Castle, right there on the property.  Gorgeous!  Hervé Le Gallais welcomed us to his house and made us feel right at home.  He explained the champagne process from grape to bottle and stole our hearts with his charm, enthusiasm and warmth.
champagne tour - herve - http://iamsherrrelle.com
And then a special treat!  Hervé led us into his caves to taste a special reserve, vintage champagne.  I can’t even describe how amazing that experience was for us, really there are no words.  We would have stayed with Hervé all day if we could have; we loved him.
champagne cave http://iamsherrelle.com
Back in car once more, we drove to the town of Épernany and down Avenue de Champagne, which features the leading champagne manufactures like Moët et Chardon and Perrier Jouet.   We stopped at Champagne de Castellane for a tour.  Champagne de Castellane is one of the oldest families in France and a large producer of champagne.   This tour was different than the tours of the small producers; an official tour guide gave us a historical background of the champagne house before leading us past the vats and through the caves.  She explained the entire champagne process along the way and we ended the tour with a glass of champagne.
If you ever visit France and love champagne, then a trip to Reims is absolutely necessary.   It was the highlight of our vacation.  I can’t wait to share my champagne with my husband; I  think that we will open a bottle this Christmas season.  I know that with one sip I will be instantly transported back to France and that wonderful day I spent in Reims.

7 Tips To Know Before You Go:

  1. We arranged our private champagne tour with Sydney Krueger of Tasty Side To Life Tours.  I highly recommend using Sydney’s services.  Before the trip she answered all of our questions and put together a touring day according to our wants.   She was professional, but personable and her knowledge of the region and champagne history was impressive.   We immensely enjoyed our day with Sydney.
  2. It was much colder in Reims than in Paris; dress for warmth.  We did not and we were cold.
  3. Take the TGV to Reims.  After our botched train ride to Versailles, we were nervous about taking the train to Reims, but the Gare de l’Est train station was easy to navigate.  Seamless, picturesque and a quick 45 minutes, the TGV ride was lovely.
  4. Buy your TGV train ticket at one of the SNCF boutique agencies a few days before your trip.   There are many boutiques in Paris; we went to one right next to Jardin du Luxembourg on bd Saint-Michel.  You can buy tickets online, but that requires reading the schedule in French.  And while you can obviously buy train tickets at the train station, we didn’t want to risk sold out seats.  At the SNCF boutique the agent spoke English (and was patient with my broken French) and answered all of our questions.  She even told us how to stamp our tickets at the yellow machines before boarding the train.    Pay a few dollars more for the 1st class tickets; we practically had the car to ourselves.
  5. Bring cash (euros) to buy champagne.  While the larger houses will accept credit cards, the smaller houses may not.
  6. Expect to buy champagne.  You will want to bring some home, so leave room in your luggage (per TSA rules, you won’t be able to carry it on the plane).   If you remember to pack bubble wrap, you are exceptional.  If not, you can roll your champagne bottles in your clothes.  That’s what we did and all of the bottles made it home intact.   Champagne bottles are very heavy so your luggage will weigh considerably more on the flight home; plan accordingly.  I always pack an extra bag to accommodate my vacation souvenirs.
  7. If possible, tour the small producers over the big producers.  While the tour of the big producer was educational and nice to see, our experience was richer and more personable with the small producers.   I’m glad that Sydney suggested that we see Le Gallais instead of another big producer because it was the highlight of our day.
 À votre santé!

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