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Tasty Side to Life Tours Website

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Slight Obsession with Africa and 2010 World Cup

So, i will be the first to admit that I am not even close to a legitimate football fan but its hard not to get super into the World Cup especially when it's in South Africa.

got to watch games on my tiny weeny plasma while cooking a dinner party for 10 and making watermelon gazpacho soup for the first time with cucumber creme fraiche and fried shrimp. The next few times were on a huge big screen in Milan peering down from the top of the duomo, squeezed into a tiny bar in Venice as thunder and rain poured from above, stuffed in a small corner of a bar in an Island called Vis in Croatia (a super fussy version of Germany lose) and lastely in a small italian restaurnat by the real life world or Avitar (Plitvice LakesNational Park in Croatia).

It really is an amazing sport and I'm glad the US got so far and hopefully now more will be invested into football.

I've been lucky enough to make it to Capetown and Stellenbouch a few years ago and I offically have the biggest itch to move to the glorious town of African music, fog that rolls in every afternoon over table moutain and a city with a hilly beautiful coastline with spectactular views of the ocean.

Hopefully my dream will come true soon and I'll be blogging about my new culinary adventures there one day!!! I'm slightly obsessed with these Waka Waka Cameroonian inspired songs which is the repertoire of soldiers in Africa. Super catchy rhythm and how cute is Shakira. Wish I could dance like that.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Hip French Culinary Market Scene

I love the freshness and abundance of markets in France.

At almost every corner you can find a butcher with a fresh farm raised rack of lamb, a seafood shop with live crab and king salmon, a pastry shop with that oh so delicious 90 cent baguette hot and crispy from the oven, a little fruit stand, a cheese shop with 50 different varieties and a flower stall.

It really is the culinary Mecca of ingredients at your doorstep and is the real deal. America has caught on and started to have markets everywhere but the French markets just feel old school and are for sure the real deal. The only thing they need are more food stalls where ingredients are cooked and you can buy something tasty and hot while meandering around and buying your weeks worth of groceries!

Some of the pics below are from Amien, France where I went for a weekend trip outside of Reims. The market experience here was quite unique as it had lots of African spices and was significantly less expensive than the usual market. As such it was a bit messy but I saw my first albino eggplant which was pretty cool!

I love the somewhat chic marche bio or the organic market in the 6th not far from the bon marche. Its a bit expensive but they have a bunch of food stalls that cook potato pancakes that are pretty good but a bit greesy. They also have really good vegan food and real deal english muffins for eggs benedict!! Its on Blvd Raspail and is Sundays from 8 to 1.

Paris 6e
Marché Bio du Boulevard Raspail
- rue de Rennes à Sèvres Babylone
- Le dimanche matin de 8h à 13h
Marché 100% biologique
- C’est le
marché le plus chic et le plus cher de Paris, mais on y croise des stars et ça, ça n’a pas de prix !

Check out the pics below from various markets in france:

Monday, July 19, 2010

Yum Cinnamon Chips & The Bread Garden Bakery, Berkeley

I like the idea of cinnamon chips and I'd never heard of them before today. Can't you
imagine making some yummy cinnamon vanilla cupcakes with a buttercream frosting?

I'm dying to buy these and make some innovative treats. Maybe even homemade cinnamon bread with cinnamon chips? Sounds tasty right? I'll be blogging about the creations I make with them soon for sure. You can buy the chips below.

If you live by San Francisco you have to stop into Berkeley one day and pick up a loaf of cinnamon bread from The Bread Garden Bakery next to Rick and Anne's. It is a simple loaf of bread that when toasted oozes cinnamon gooeyness and is oh so good!

With a small sliver of butter in the toaster oven it is incredible. Also, if you've never been to Rick and Anne's for breakfast you should really stop in. They have incredible potato pancakes and eggs and the last time I was there I saw the lead singer of Green Day.

The Bread Garden Bakery

4.5 star rating
60 reviewsRating Details

Categories: Bakeries, Desserts [Edit]

2912 Domingo Ave
Berkeley, CA 94705
Neighborhoods: Claremont, Oakland Hills
(510) 548-3122

Rick & Ann's Restaurant

2922 Domingo Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94705-2454
(510) 649-8538
Open Mon 8am-2:30pm; Tue-Sun 8am-2:30pm, 5:30pm-9:30pm

Rated 3.7 out of 5.0

152 reviews - Write a review
"Best breakfast in the East Bay. Creative fresh fare prepared perfectly."

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Ultimate San Francisco To Do List Thanks to Gwyneth Paltrow

Gwyneth Paltrow's blog Goop is one of my favorites. She just did a special on San Francisco hot spots and she, along with the Turlington sisters, nailed it. Seriously she included everything, even my favorite nail spot, Teashi. http://goop.com/newsletter/92/en/

Check out the blog above and the list that follows. The only thing she left out was:

1) Sam's Cafe in Tiburon- either take the ferry over from SF or rent a car and drive over the GG bridge about 20 mins and head over to Sam's for a crab sandwich and bloody mary brunch
2) Kokkari-best greek food in town
3) Hiking Tennesse Valley-perfect 3 mile hike through valley's, past wildflowers and eventually to a sand beach and the ocean
4) Rose's Cafe- Best Breakfast place in Cow Hollow right by the Marina. They have the most amazing breakfast pizza and coffee served in huge bowls.
Love, love, love.


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Simple 30 min Cold Zucchini Soup with a Touch of Curry and Homemade Parmesan Croutons

Yesterday I made this Zucchini Soup with a touch of curry & finished with a dallop of creme fraiche and big homemade parmesan croutons

I love when the days are long, the breeze is warm and the sun shines bright leaving the tips of your shoulders perfectly bronzed and freckled and your cheeks a little rosy. I think this time of the year is the perfect time for cold soup and the perfect time to use an ingredient bursting out of local gardens, zucchini.

I know that curry and zucchini might sounds like an odd combo but the curry just adds a hint of spiciness and I think makes an interesting twist. You could always go the traditional route and just leave it plain possibly with a dash of nutmeg.


2 small white onions
3 cloves of garlic
Few Tbls extra virgin olive oil
2 zucchini
1 teaspoon of Curry
pinch of Sea Salt and pepper
1/4 cup of vermouth
2.5 cups of homemade chicken broth (or 1 bullion cube and a few cups of water)
1/4 cup cream if more richness is desired
dollops of creme fraiche
1 baguette diced into large croutons

Step 1: Dice the onion and garlic.

Step 2: Add the olive oil to a large soup pan and over medium heat add the garlic until it becomes fragrant.

Step 3: Next add the onion and cook for about 5 mins until it becomes soft and translucent.

Step 4: Add the diced zucchini, sea salt, pepper and teaspoon or so of curry. Simmer on med high until you achieve a nice light golden brown on the veggies.

Step 5: Add the sweet vermouth and cook off for a few minutes.

Step 6: Now add the chicken broth and bring to a bowl. Cover and reduce the heat to low. Bowl for about 20-30 mins.

Step 7: While the soup is cooking add the croutons to a hot 400 degree oven. Sprinkle the bread with olive oil, a touch of curry and a sliver of parmesan. Watch carefully and take out after about 7 mins.

Step 8: To finish the soup, take your soup immersion blender and blend the soup until desired consistency (I like pretty smooth for this soup). Add the 1/4 cup of cream if you want a richer soup.

To Finish: Serve in small soup bowls or big mugs for a trendy touch. Add 2 or 3 croutons to each cup followed by a touch of olive oil, a tiny sprinkle of curry and a pinch of sea salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature or chill in the fridge for 20 mins before serving. I plated this with daisy's i picked from the garden. A few bent from their stems so I picked off the loose flowers, filled a little dish with water and had them float. I love this look because it's simple and tranquil looking and creates a relaxed setting.

I also like this vegan recipe for Mexican Zucchini soup http://www.vegalicious.org/2008/07/07/mexican-zucchini-soup/

Friday, July 16, 2010

Clafoutis aux Cerises- Cherry, Lemon zest and Poppyseed Cake

This is a beautifully rich and moist cake with a hint of lemon, a sour bite of cherry, a nutty dash from poppy seeds and a perfect light and creamy finish through a splash of milk.

I'm fresh back from an incredible 14 day journey across Europe to my ultimate destination- Croatia. It was an absolutely extraordinary trip and I truly have so much to blog about. I feel like I took over 1000 pictures and I have so many recommendations from everywhere from Lyon, France to Slovenia and so many stories including facts about the cute little family we met in Vis, Croatia. We ate great, met amazing people, heard fascinating life stories of war and refugees in the bomb torn Syria and Bosnia and swam, snorkeled and floated in the bluest water I have ever seen.

I'm back in the Champagne region of France and spending my days relaxing in this little country town and cooking away. Tomorrow we have a picnic at the Pommery Champagne house followed by plans to bike to Champagne houses.

The family I'm staying with has a little plot in a community garden a few meters from the house. There is nothing that I adore more than taking a lingering pre- dinner stroll to the garden to pick something to cook with for the night. Sometimes I feel like I'm a retired 65 year old women in a 28 year olds body with my hobbies :)

This week there are tons and tons of haricot verts (green beans) and enough sour cherries or cerises to make so many different things. Yummmmm. We meandered around the garden and spent 30 mins balancing over a tiny chair and reaching up as far as our fingers could to pull at the branches and grab the cherries at the top of a cherry tree. We succeeded in picking a small bag of cherries and decided to make a dessert. I can't wait til the peaches get ripe enough to pick. We left with some haricot verts, a handful of daisy's for table decoration and some cherries. I've been eating the green beans with a dressing of shallot, garlic, mustard, and lemon infused olive oil) for presque tous mes repas (almost all my meals!). Yummmm not sick of them yet!

With my garden fresh treats I made a beautiful little cake today. I was inspired from my absolute favorite food blog Canelle et Vanilla. http://cannelle-vanille.blogspot.com/2009/08/red-currant-and-poppy-seed-cakes-arroz.html You have to check this blog out. Her pictures are beautiful and the food she makes is so glorious looking. Enjoy my adaptation of the recipe below.


Cherry and Poppy Seed Cake or Clafoutis aux Cerises

Should make 1 large cake or 3 small loafs

170g butter
250 grams sugar (plus more for dusting over the cherries)
Zest of 1 lemon
2 eggs
180 grams of milk or buttermilk if you have it
180 g flour
1 packet of levre en poudre or 4 grams of baking powder
pinch of salt
2 Tbls of Poppy Seeds
100 g or 2 big handfuls of deseeded cherries ( we used morello or sour cherries b/c it was what we have growing fresh but use whatever you find). You can also substitute raspberries here or another berry

Cream the softened butter with the sugar until it's light and fluffy. Add the lemon zest (this part is essential as it really brings out the flavors in the cake). Now add the eggs one at a time. Mix the flour, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl. Add the milk and stir. Add the flour mixture slowly to the wet ingredients. Add the poppy seeds and fold in the cherries. Pour the batter into a well buttered cake pan or 3 loaf pans. Set the oven to 170 cel or 350 far and bake for 20-30 mins. The batter should be quite wet but not too too wet. If it looks too wet add a pinch more flour. The end product should be a beautifully rich and moist cake with a hint of lemon, a sour tint of cherry and the creaminess of the milk and nuttiness of the poppy seed.

Bon Appetit!!!

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