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Tasty Side to Life Tours Website

Thursday, November 26, 2020

A more intimate, brighter Thanksgiving menu for a year like no other

I still can't quite comprehend that we are in November. What happened to May, how about JULY, and October? I mean I didn't even find time to carve a pumpkin b/c I didn't realize October was ending! Did you? 

Months all disappeared in the blink of an eye. I feel fortunate that in Northern California people believe in masks and we have done a pretty good job at keeping the virus at bay albeit we are still in what feels like the thick of it 9 months later! Ouff. 

I don't know about you but I have been surviving via looking forward to this meal all week! Monday I was already very much ready for the holiday :)

I also have been keeping Covid sane via sticking to a couple daily rituals that keep me both of sound mind and grounded. I love this list of daily rituals and the quote "you are your morning"  from yogis. Check it out.

The first of my rituals is my daily transcendental meditation for 20 mins. If you are interested I learned in SF here and essentially it's a meditation with a daily mantra or a word you repeat over and over for 20 minutes. This word your brain likes the vibrational sound of and it puts you into a deep state. It's a very profound meditative process that relieves a ton of stress. I LOVE IT! It's my own little rule that I will not get out of bed in the morning until it is done. It feels great, makes you happy and reminds me what I'm grateful for!

So for me, I wake up, I meditate, and I play the same morning song everyday Church featuring Earthgang. It's almost like gospel and just makes you want to dance. I play it to give me energy as energy is life. I bop my way through slipping on my workout clothes and run up the stairs to start the day, carrying my 11 year old Springer Rocco up to save his hips :) I then fill my days with lemon water, attempt to save the planet with my work to reduce GHG emissions, go on a quick Rocco walk past changing falling leaves and schedule my tennis and golf for mid week/ wknd. 

I'm excited for Thanksgiving tomorrow and hope these recipes below brighten your day and help you brainstorm what you are cooking if you haven't yet come up with your plan yet!! 

Cooking is my biggest passion and I was asked this year to make cranberries. Cranberries?! Is that even a dish to be cooked? Haha. Oh well you can't win em all and I am grateful I had a friendsgiving this past week with friends and was able to cook to my hearts desire! We wore masks and ate outdoors to be safe! It was the most gorgeous day. 

WHAT TO COOK: I LOVE the idea of duck instead of Turkey and adore this recipe here: I'm not sure if I would poach it or not though but I did LOVE LOVE LOVE having the broth to drink as bone broth all week after. My cousin is the duck genius, 100% duck king and expert and I cook it b/c I tried his and feel in love. 

His tips are: "If it's Thanksgiving and if you're going to go all then why not make 2 ducks: one super, super simple with just salt and then another Peking style! These are his notes... "Traditionally cooking a duck in the west, we just let it go for like 2-3 hours and the meat gets sort of fried in its own fat, sort of like duck carnitas.  I was pretty skeptical about cooking something like that for 3 hrs. It becomes super crispy and the meat is dark. Like this: https://youtu.be/U9RmFuh8x5w

Then the Peking duck is a whole another story. The basic story here is that you stuff the duck with goodies (garlic, ginger, scallions, cinnamon, star anise, or whatever else), sew it up, and then give it a bit of a shower. You braise the skin with hot broth, Chinese cooking wine, soy sauce or whatever you have. 

Instantly each hot ladle of liquid makes the skin pull tight and it looks like another animal. You then let it dry out, and brush with a glaze. You continue this process of brushing a layer of glaze and letting it dry to your heart’s content- a Chinese restaurant would do this for 3-7 days. 

For thanksgiving, I think I only let it dry for a few hours. The drier the skin, the crispier the duck will be. If I remember correctly, I only cooked this duck for like 40 minutes. I’ve also cooked a plain duck for ~40 minutes before and it also tastes great- it’s really just a matter of preference. Check our this video, which is maybe a bit extreme with the bicycle pump, but gives a sense for the steps: https://youtu.be/gqXjCFNX6HQ Good luck, skip any step you want- you really can’t mess it up! It will be delicious jo matter how complicated or simple you cook it.". I mean I think you guys should try a duck this year!

STARTER: This is 1000% my go to soup recipe Butternut squash soup with a rosemary cream and gruyere sage croutons. I do little 1/4 bowls so guests don't get full. This I got from my Aunt Tag and love that she brought this to the meal!

SIDE: These Joel Robuchon mashed potatoes are the by far, 1000%, the gold start on top of the tree mashed potato recipe. My friend Nat is the biggest foodie ever and tried them and nearly cried. Only trick is you must buy a potato ricer. Don't worry b/c it is $30 and worth it! You only need 4 things ie Yukon gold potatoes, unsalted butter, cold, cut into small cubes and organic whole milk. Voila! This is your dish this year. 

WHOLE MENU: I'm obsessed with this entire menu from Farmstead St Helena here. Deviled eggs with caviar, , Herb Brined Heritage Turkey with Black Truffle Gravy, Roasted Apple stuffing with sage sausage (PS what is better than sage sausage??), cranberry sauce with blood orange, garden salad with goat's milk cheese, roasted brussels with wild California pecans, buttermilk rolls, mashed potatoes, honey squash soup with brown butter, chocolate cream pie and pumpkin with spiced whip cream. Sold. 

ANOTHER WHOLE MEAL VARIATION: My friend Kelly is the most gorgeous rustic chef ever. She made a porchetta with a bright salad with chicories from the garden and roasted some onions and squash with a salsa verde. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVm8oSzaxxA. I made the salad with toasted pinenuts, currents soaked in verjus, big roasted croutons of Acme bread, squash, persimmon and a dressing of shallots soaked in sherry vinegar. It was a hit! I'm making it again tomorrow.

MY MENU- My menu was butternut squash soup with gruyere sage croutons, Roast Duck, Chicories bread salad with pine nuts and currants, brussels with pecans thanks to my friend Luc and an Apple Pie

APPLE PIE: I loved this Joel Robuchon recipe mix. Crust- http://lecuisin.oz.blog.over-blog.com/article-la-pate-sablee-de-joel-robuchon-87794753.html. Use google translate its in french :) Filling: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/classic-apple-pie-recipe-2043582

This was so decedent and rich! I did a pate brisee which had vanilla bean in it, but your supposed to make a pâte sablée which is more salty. Either would work! I LOVE a classic french pastry dough and I always support the principle that you should turn to a french recipe when baking!

Other things I'm loving this month...


READING THIS: https://itstartswiththeegg.com/ as I preserve my fertility

WATCHING THIS: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-53499195

 Have a lovely Thanksgiving and stay safe and healthy!!


Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Have a lovely week!

Thanks for reading my blog! I know I haven't been that active yet this year BUT 2020 I am changing that! I feel like this year we all could use a little more enrichment in our lives.

I'm excited to share my fav food, travel, home, relationship, culture, friendship posts and teach more about wine. I hope I can bring joy to someone out there :)

Stay safe this week and hope this list below helps pass some SIP time during COVID-19:

This book "The Universe has your back". We are all struggling right now with some fear, loss of our freedoms and restrictions to our day to day life during SIP. This can trigger so much.... ie past trauma, the desire to control, depression, anxiety, stress, etc, etc. My worry is that people get stuck in this fear after COVID-19 is over. Fear can be addictive and it makes us resist happiness. This book teaches you how to transform your fear into faith and focus on joy!

The book reminds you that the presence of fear is a sure sign you are trusting in your own strength. Yet, this isn't the right approach. The moment you realign with love and stop relying on your own strength your life will flow naturally.

So focus on the love of your partner, love of your family, love of your friends and love of food right now... just focus on love, not fear! Approach your fear with love, then let the fear go and this will clear your path to happiness.

This knotted headband on sale and is so cute!

This always makes me laugh. Agenda for today- let the dog in, let the dog out, let the dog in, let the dog out

I want to make this healthy burger this week- The PLANT veggie burger from San Francisco, CA the secret is Beets, Lentils, Mushroom, millet to hold it together

This cookbook author David Lebowitz is always my go to for recipes! He's an American expat in Paris and has the best food taste in my opinion. You know the type of chef you just trust and love anything he makes?

LOVED this Carnitas recipe and I used a mix of David's recipe and this. The question is the braising liquid. Do you use beer, water or Mexican bottled Coke? I served it with rice and beans and guac.  I used this recipe for rice vs water amounts but watched this video to cook the rice! The secret is to watch someone from Mexico make Mexican rice so it's authentic :) It's all about blending the onion, garlic, tomato in a blender and then adding chicken stock and using that as your liquid to cook the rice!! Also made beans and margaritas and Neko's guacamole with lots and lots of lime that keeps it green. I swear this guac gets even better on Day 2 and Day 3!

The perfect gift for someone's upcoming bday- these Tiffanys rings for $210 and the LOVE ring is amazing I love it!

Dreaming of Orange natural wine and my friends who make Altura wines in gorgeous Isola del Giglio. Francesco Carfagna and his wife Gabriela has the most zen approach to wine and I adore it and him and his whole family. I wish I was there right now. Check it out

My favorite 8am daily free workout - ex soccer players lead this and it gives you mental and physical training that we all need so much during these tough times! He inspires you to get off your couch, to stay positive and to push forward.

This happy playlist to blast during the day and keep the endorphins up

Monday, May 4, 2020

Gift Ideas for Mothers while Social Distancing!

Here is a clip from today!! https://www.ktvu.com/news/gift-ideas-for-mothers-day-while-social-distancing. We are so excited KTVU also wrote an article about us and the ways to spoil MOM! Email us at tastysidetolifetours@gmail.com if you want the send her the box of 3 wines and register for the Zoom here: 

Zoom info: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcvc-ypqTgtHt0ILtutCsVqSGsPx5cPKU12. Password: Mothersday. 5/10 at 6pm PST. 

Email us to signup at tastysidetolifetours@gmail.com

Also every THRS at 6pm PST we are leading a virtual wine tasting on new wines each week! We can ship you a box of 3-6 wines the week before. 

Also a COVID-19 update for you. During COVID-19 we hope you and your loved ones are healthy and safe! This is a difficult time for the world and we are missing you. We and our winery friends are sheltering in place both at home and in the caves. We’ve cancelled tours to Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne and all other regions. We are temporarily shut down. This is the time to come together, to look for silver linings and slow down, learn new things and connect virtually :)

We are shipping wines/champagnes to make your home meals long, slow and peaceful. 

Like we said before we are hosting wkly online wine and champagne courses each wk, 1x a week, and we’d love to see you there! Follow our stories for date/time. Thank you as always for your support over the last 10 yrs! Keep each other close during these challenging times and remember we will be back to showing you truly gorgeous views and delicious wines all over the world. We got through the Paris terror attacks of 2015 shutting us down and we’ll get through this!!! Until then stay safe and healthy.

KTVU FOX 2 San Francisco Mothers Day Virtual wine tasting!

We are so, so, so excited to have been featured on KTVU FOX 2 Mothers Day Special with the gorgeous Sadie Murray! She talked about the following Virtual Wine Tasting we are leading 5/10 this Sunday for Mothers Day and we hope you can join and drink with us virtually! Email here tastysidetolifetours@gmail.com to order the box of wine

  1. WHAT IS OFFEREDWe are hosting a Virtual Wine Tasting for Mothers Day for Channel 2 KTVU 2 San Francisco viewers and a box of special wine for MOM! This is for any Mom out there across the world!
  2. WHEN  Please join us on Mothers Day- May 10th 2020 at 6pm PST. Email here (tastysidetolifetours@gmail.com) to pay for the box of wine $90 total + shipping. The Virtual wine tasting class is free!! Please email address, best phone and we will send you a link to pay via square
  3. HOW MUCH- Box of 3 wines for $90 +shipping and handling which is $30/ bottle + shipping. Virtual wine class is FREE! You can just order 1 bottle if you would like to attend the live virtual class on how to look at color, find complexity, and judge the wine!
  4. DEADLINE TO PURCHASE- Wednesday 5/6/2020 so your wine will arrive by Sunday
  5. WHERE TO PURCHASE- Email tastysidetolifetours@gmail.com

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Mothers Day Virtual Wine Tasting 5/10 at 6pm PST!

Anyone excited for Mothers day? We are! We're hosting a virtual wine tasting and shipping a box of 3 wines for $30 each or $90 total + shipping and handling. Email here to order!

I feel like Mothers, this year especially, deserve an extra celebratory treat during COVID-19! This hasn't been easy for anyone- so many unknowns but also hopefully so many silver linings!! More time to be with family, to learn new things, to get to know your partner better and to expand our horizons. 

As moms and really all of us suddenly find ourselves distanced, there is nothing like wine to bring us back together!! It really is the perfect "Mom juice" to have a glass at the end of the day :) Red wine is shown to lower blood pressure and be good for the heart. Champagne is grown in chalky soil w/ minerals like calcium and magnesium that are good for our bodies! And wine is such a fun way to shower mom on her special day to give her a virtual wine tasting!! 

More details: We are hosting a Virtual Wine Tasting for Mothers Day for Channel 2 KTVU 2 San Francisco viewers and any Mom out there across the country.  Please join us on Mothers Day- May 10th 2020 at 6pm PST. Email here to pay for the box of wine $30/ bottle! $90 total + shipping. The Virtual wine tasting class is free!!

This Virtual Wine Tasting will be led by me Sydney Krueger Owner of Tasty Side To Life Tours. Our company Tasty Side To Life crafts chauffeur driven wine tasting tours to France!! 

This Mothers Day Wine Tasting will be a fun, interactive and perfect way to toast your mom!! Or we can setup one to boast team morale or to add a little something to your works team happy hour and make it virtual! If you want a private virtual wine tasting email us.  

On Sunday May 10th we will not only be tasting together BUT also learning about the French and Italian wine regions which will be so cool, wines, and producers. 

We have selected a couple of wines based on a great $30/ bottle price point and we can ship wines to you for delivery. Please orderASAP for the class Email here

3 Wines We are Tasting on Sunday May 10th at 6pm PST
  1. Champagne Chartogne Taillet Cuvee Saint Anne from Champagne, France
  2. Barbera d'Alba from Piedmont, Italy
  3. A Chateau from Bordeaux, France *either email us to ship to you or by similar wines at home!
What to Bring 
  • 3 wine glasses –  Or 1 that you can wash out
  • Rating system for Wine we will give you: This will be part of our tasting and how we learn about the wines. 

Storage Details: Don’t open your wines prior to the class! We know this will be hard to resist, but totally worth it! 
  • Store in a wine fridge at ~around 55 degrees and/or keep in a dark area, cool area (closest will absolutely work). 
  • Champagne: If you don’t have a wine fridge we will recommend to chill prior to the class –  the classic way to chill a bottle of Champagne is to place it in an ice-bucket, half filled with ice, half with water, for 20 minutes. 
Zoom info: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcvc-ypqTgtHt0ILtutCsVqSGsPx5cPKU12. Password: Mothersday. 5/10 at 6pm PST

Email Sydney at tastysidetolifetours@gmail.com to sign up for the LIVE ZOOM and to pay via square or call (510) 590 0943!

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!

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