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Tasty Side to Life Tours Website

Monday, December 20, 2010

Champagne Tasting Trip in France

I had a fantastic time leading another group of clients on a luxurious champagne tasting trip this past Thanksgiving. We had a great day filled with Champagne tastings at various small producers, a 3 hr Michelin star lunch in the middle of the vineyards, a tasting at a foie gras farm and a nights stay to a 17th century Chateau!

My clients day started at 10h at the train station in Reims where the chauffeur and I met them for the start of our journey. The first stop was Rilly La Montagne and we had a 10:30 appt at a small producers Champagne house which was founded in 1872 with 11 hectares and vineyards filled with 60% Chardonnay, 37% Pinor Noir and 3% Pinot Meunier.

This house is actually unique as they are one of the only in the region to harvest their champagne in oak giving it especially interesting notes. We tasted 3 nice and very different cuvees here and briefly saw the oak that the Champagne was resting in. We were lucky to meet some hilarious Brits just finishing their tasting when my clients arrived and had a great talk with them about a new Chateau to add to my list for my clients. I can't wait to visit and recommend!

After commencing our trip and shocking the body a bit with the first taste of bubbly before 12 we moved on to tasting number 2! This second house was equally as small (10 hectares) with a production of 95,000 bottles making up reserves, millesimes, rose's, blanc de blanc's etc. We sat with the owner in the tasting room and tried the blanc de blanc, brut and millieseme which had won numerous awards in the Hachette de Vins 2010. The clients really enjoyed the fruity notes and delicacy to this producers Champagne and walked away with a few bottles here.

Next it was off through the beautiful town of Mailly where my clients were able to see a birds eye view of the region and have a close up look at a picturesque windmill which was used as an observation post during WWI.

Our drive through Milly was followed by a great little lunch at The Grand Cerf http://www.le-grand-cerf.fr/. A 5 course 1 Michelin star lunch for 33 euro was a great break to the day and the food was impressive to say the least. The main course was accompanied by the most velvety potatoes combined with the most beautifully cooked piece of meat I had ever eaten. We started with an amuse bouche, pumpkin soup with fresh cream and toasted almonds, followed by Souffle de Saint Pierre, sauce homardine, filet mignon de porc with mashed potatoes, sauteed leeks and onions, a selection of cheeses and a dessert of caramelized pineapple, a light and airy coconut square and coconut ice-cream in a homemade cone.

After lunch we drove 20 mins to another beautiful small town called Boursault. We passed through Boursault and ended up at our 3rd producers house in Festigny.

At this house we did a full tour of the cellars, saw their caves and had the entire process explained to my clients and myself and the driver translated everything into english. This house had a 5th generation leading the tour (a 26 year old boy). It was incredible to see how early he had started working with the family and how passionate he was about his work.

The day ended with a quick stop in Trelou at a Foie gras farm with 900 ducks where we sampled a few different types of foie gras before driving the clients back to their 17th century Chateau to stay the night and wake up the next day and visit a few of the large corporate houses on their own!

All in all I think my clients, Olga and David, enjoyed a great day of luxury. A perfect little 45 min side trip from Paris complete with secret small producer Champagne purchases, local foie gras, incredible views of small towns and rolling hills of the region and a nights stay in a beautiful Chateau. I can't wait to plan my next trip for tourist coming to France!

If you're coming to France and interested in a luxurious small producer trip to Champagne email me. SydneyKrueger@gmail.com

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Glorious Weekend Spent in Champagne

La Poire aux Epices

Two weekends ago I spent a great weekend at http://habitsdelumiere.epernay.fr/. It was 2 days filled with light shows, private Champagne tasting, degustation courses and 9 small cooking classes taught by the Champagne regions top Michelin chefs. All of this was topped off by being invited to stay the weekend in a beautiful old Chateau by Madame Elisabeth Vollereaux.

It was incredible to meet the owner of Pierre Jouet, to visit Champange Demoiselle and to drink at Boizel all the while being shown around by Elisabeth. The next morning I braved the cold and stood outside at the local morning market and watched chef after chef prepare their favorite meal where they used Champagne as an ingredient. The weekend was perfect and I grew a new found appreciation for the little town of Epernay.

I will post some of the Michelin star recipes and videos I took of the chef's teaching us their favorite combination of a dish combined with Champagne in the posts that follow.

Champagne Comtesse Lafond with Benoit Visbecq of Chateau de Courcelles

Moet and Chandon and Vincent Dallet Chocolatier Createur
Gratin de Pommes Facon Tatin au Champagne et Citron Vert-Gratin of apples made in the tarte tatin style with limeChampagne Boizel with Christophe Bernard of La Grillade Gourmande
Filet de sandre Poele Sur sa peau aux lentillons champenois, sauce au champagne-Pikeperch skillet served on with skin exposed and with Lentillon Champagne, champagne sauce
Champagne Demoiselle & Jacky Louaze of Le Foch-Cromesquis de Pied de Cochon Escargot et Jus de Persil
Pigs feet with escargot and juice of parsley
The desserts being passed around at Perrier Jouet

All the Champagne houses were lit up like this!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Champagne Region Event-"Habits De Lumiere" Champagne, Light and Gourmet Food Festival

So I just got a bit too excited about the weekend on a Wednesday...This weekend is another superb Champagne region festival that is not to be missed. If you happen to be around the Paris region and can take a quick skip, hop, jump 45 min train to Epernay this weekend I say do it! http://www.voyages-sncf.com/

The Festival of Lights is a real deal true Champagne holiday season festival filled with pleasures for all the ‘ol senses. I’m talking views of incredible light shows and ancient Champagne houses decorated in schemes of brilliant glittering colors, sounds of classic jazz and Mozart playing in the background and lastly tastes from the regions best chefs paired with top Big Producer Champagne from Mercier, Moet and Chandon, etc. (Of course my obsession/love is small producer Champagne but this event is only the big guys).

At 18:30 on Friday night, spectators will gather along the Avenue de Champagne for the inauguration of the weekend of celebration. Spectators are invited to stroll over two kilometers of shows, performances, light installations, live music, champagne bars set up by large Champagne Houses. The night will end with a huge fireworks display. Here are a few of the houses which are participating.

Moet & Chandon-Illuminations of buildings, Champagne Bar, Hot meals and fast, Musical entertainment 20, avenue de Champagne

Esterlin, Illumination of facades, 25, avenue de Champagne

Perrier-Jouet-Illuminations of buildings 28, avenue de Champagne

Pol Roger-Illuminations of buildings, Champagne Bar *Jazz musical atmosphere, 34, avenue de Champagne

A. Shepherdess, Illumination of facades, Champagne Bar Musical ambience 38, avenue de Champagne

Damsel, Illumination of facades 42, avenue de Champagne

Boizel De Venoge, Illumination of facades, Champagne Bar, Musical entertainment with the band Hinterland (folk, traditional music)46, avenue de Champagne

Castellane-Illuminations of the tower and façade 63, avenue de Champagne

Mercier-Illuminations of buildings, Champagne Bar *Musical ambience, Balloon (depending on weather), 68, avenue de Champagne

Comtesse Lafond, Illuminations Castle. 79, avenue de Champagne

* Rates vary according to the cut bars. Alcohol abuse is dangerous for your health, consume with moderation.

Also Saturday morning will have great activities including the regions top chefs cooking their favorite dishes for free in a conference hall. This is followed by a Champagne tasting class by a famous French author. Ahhh can't wait! :

From 9am,

In partnership with the Regional Council of Champagne-Ardenne and with support from the wine school Avize http://les-enfants-de-la-viti.com/-actualite

the best Chefs from the region will team up with Champagne Houses on the famous Avenue de Champagne to create an original recipe at a demonstration and tasting open to everyone.

The event will take place at the Halle Saint Thibault in the traditional market.

A partir de 9h, Habits de Saveurs- Samedi

En partenariat avec le Conseil régional de Champagne-Ardenne et avec le soutien du lycée viticole d'Avize.

À proximité de la Halle Saint-Thibault et du marché traditionnel, les Chefs parmi les meilleurs de la région s’associent aux Maisons de Champagne de l’Avenue de Champagne pour créer une recette originale lors d'une démonstration-dégustation ouverte à tous.

Christophe Bernard • La Grillade Gourmande / Maison BoizelMartial Berthuit • Auberge le Relais / Maison Perrier-JoüetVincent Dallet • Chocolatier / Maison Moët & ChandonMaurice Lefondeur • Le Mesnil / Maison De VenogeDominique Giraudeau • Le Grand Cerf / Maison MercierGilles Gœss • La Briqueterie / Maison Pol RogerJacky Louazé • Le Foch / Maison DemoiselleDavid Marlien • Aux Armes de Champagne / Maison A. BergèrePatrick Michelon • Les Berceaux / Maison De CastellaneThibaut Serin-Moulin • Château de Courcelles / Maison Comtesse Lafond

Also on Sat is a Lecture and Tasting

With Francis Martin, author of "The taste of champagne, a special approach to the tasting."
In partnership with the General Union of Champagne Winegrowers
17:30 - Media center
Admission free, booking advised
 Enquiries 03 26 53 37 85

Conférence-dégustation- Samedi

Avec François Martin, auteur du livre "Le goût du champagne, une approche particulière de la dégustation".
En partenariat avec le Syndicat Général des Vignerons de la Champagne
17h30 - Médiathèque centre-ville Entrée libre, réservation conseillée 
Renseignements au 03 26 53 37 85

Lastly, a


Book Fair

Exhibition and sale of books organized by the Rotary Club, in partnership with the library the Apostrophe, accompanied by meetings on copyright and book signings.Profits will be donated to the fight against illiteracy.

10am to 17:30 - Media center

Free admission

Enquiries 03 26 53 37 9537 85

Salon du livre gastronomique

Exposition-vente de livres organisée par le Rotary Club, en partenariat avec la librairie l’Apostrophe, accompagnée de rencontres d’auteur et de dédicaces de livres. Les bénéfices seront reversés à la lutte contre l’analphabétisme. 
De 10h à 17h30 - Médiathèque centre-ville Entrée libre 
Renseignements au 03 26 53 37 95

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Fashion inspiration

Obsessed with this fashion blog. If you've never looked at it you should http://carolinesmode.com/stockholmstreetstyle/



Avocado Mousse served on a spoon w/ Lemon Olive Oil, Garlic and Creme Fraiche- Topped with Purple Broccoli Sprouts and Radish

This dish is so bright, fun, healthy and delicious. It is a great amuse bouche, beautiful starter or appetizer at a party. You feel the acidity of the lemon, the depth of the roasted garlic and the smoothness of the avocado. It's very simple and quick to make as well!

Makes enough for a party of 40

8 Avocados
1 Large Container of Creme Fraiche
1 Bulb of Garlic
Salt and Pepper
5 Lemons
High Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Packages Colorful Broccoli Sprouts for decoration
6 radishes for decoration


Make homemade lemon olive oil for the avocado. Use a bright fresh and flavorful extra virgin olive oil if you have it. Zest 1 lemon into the oil and then squeeze a few tablespoons into the mixture. Stir and reserve. Cleanly scoop out the insides of 2 avocados. Turn on the oven to 300 and roast a whole head of garlic or 4 to 5 cloves in the oven. Roughly mix up the avocado in a bowl and add salt and pepper. Add roasted garlic and 1/2 cup creme fraiche. Add the lemon olive oil to the bowl. Using a hand emersion blender mix together the ingredients creating a very smooth paste. Taste and adjust seasonings. Using two spoons drop dollop size rounds onto decorative spoons or asian soup spoons. Top with a a pinch of bright sprouts and a sliver of a radish cut very, very fine with a mandoline. Insert the radish vertically to add some height to the dish. Alternative presentation is scoop the avocado back into the shell to present and serve. Style with a sprig of fresh dill! Voila... (If you are making ahead of time make sure to leave a few avocado pits inside in the bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap to prevent oxidation or mixture turning brown. If it turns slightly brown just skim off top layer and stir. Scoop onto spoons just before serving)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Kiko-A Japanese must in Paris

Really excited that I just discovered that this resto is only a 4 min walk from my flat. Adorned by food critics this restaurant looks to be a great Japanese gastronomic spot in Paris. Open for 1 year by a chef with over 35 years of experience from Zuma, Ozu and Nobu this place is tiny yet looks incredible. Can't wait to give it a try this week and eat some assorted Japanese tapas, amazing miso and black sesame crème brûlée ! 25 euros lunch and 35 euro dinner set menu only.

56, rue Richer 75009 Paris
Tél : 01 44 83 02 30
Also, if you're craving some Japanese bubble tea apparently Kikoumaru Cafe is the place to go. I need to make my way down here as well :) http://www.kikoumaru-cafe.com/

Kikoumaru Café
43-45, rue de la Roquette 75011 Paris

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Les Petites Chaises Art Expo- Paris

"Diving into the miniature world through the creative eyes of Alexandre Mussard, 25 years, you are thrown into a universe filled with poetry and humor which enchants the young and old like…" -Le Figaro, Paris

Alex Mussard is displaying his art in Paris for the next month until the 31st of December. After seeing his 1st exhibit a year ago I was astonished with his new pieces which include huge installations, large sculptures and a quite incredible and mesmerizing revolving Vietnamese hand weaved tent titled "Le Chapiteau"(shown in the video above). His pieces are all almost obsessively fixated on 1 main subject: his miniature, delicate, and perfectly constructed little chair. Prices range from 400 euro-15,000 euro. If you're in Paris the month of December you should really stop by!

Alexandre Mussard : Les Petites chaises

Galerie Antonine Catzéflis - Paris Ier

Du 17 novembre 2010 au 31 décembre 2010.
mar à sam de 12h à 19h.

01 42 86 02 58

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