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Tasty Side to Life Tours Website

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Ahh.....The Beauty of French Cheese and Baguette

3 Cheese Recommendations

Sometimes I forget where I am. Yet last Sunday I gave myself a quick reminder as the beauty of a newly discovered Church and exquisite french cheese instantly lifted my spirits. I swear this year, moving alone to France, is meant to test every inch of my being. Yet, my little solo adventure in the market on a gray cold day in France was enough to lift me out of my somber state and help me realize the beauty of where I'm currently living :)

The market was the Jean Jaures Market in Reims and it was walking distance from the Cathedral. If you're in Reims for the weekend might be a good idea to stop by one of the daily fresh markets before 1400 and buy some things for a picnic on a bench by the Cathedral. I sware the back benches give you the most amazing view. Here is website that lists all the markets. http://www.reims-tourism.com/tourism-office-of-reims/practical-information.aspx

Delice de Bourgogne-(below)

I strolled around the Sunday market last weekend, bought some fresh vegetables, some eggs and lastly stopped by the little Cremerie Bruck (0681855488) and chose 3 delicatable looking cheeses for 6 euro. It was really almost a blind purchase as I had no idea what I was choosing yet it turned out beautifully.

I bought an ever so creamy Delice (which must have been a good choice because the lady behind me took some as well) a cumin seed infused Tomme Savoie Bauges and lastly a petite hunk of Langres. The Delice de Bourgogne is triple cream cheese that is incredibly rich, soft and sultry. I could barely put this one down and Im surprised there was enough left over to save some in the fridge :)

The 2nd cheese, Tomme Savoi Bauges (pictured in the top of the page) is only produced in the French alps. It's uncooked, pressed and semi hard and made of raw cow's milk. It's filled with small holes and the one I bought had cumin seeds in it as well.

The last cheese, the Langres, has a very strong smell as it comes from the family of Epoisses and Munster. I'm afraid if your not a cheese person you probably wouldn't like this one. Yet, if you can handle the slight pungent fumes the Langres melts in your mouth and has quite a complex taste. It's made in the high plains of Champagne. Its origin is traced back to the 18th century. There is a slight impression in the top of cheese so you can actually pour Champgne into it. Amazing idea but not quite sure how it would work and where the champagne would trip into...I'll leave that one to your imagination :)

I stopped into one of the few boulangeries open on Sunday on the way home and bought a baguette to eat with my new purchases. I ate a good 1/4 of it before I even walked into my apartment door :)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Some Valentines Day Inspirations

I will be in Dublin, Ireland for Valentines Day so no cooking at home for me (maybe a glass of champagne on the plane?) but I think this recipe looks pretty tantalizing. I know chocolate, beef and rosemary sounds like a pretty odd combination but I think the flavors might create an amazing combination. If not, the richness of the soup shot and the crunchy outside and ever so soft and succulent inside of the potatoes daulphines will make up for it. If you have never had potatoes daulphines then you are in for a real treat. They are a much more seductive and fancy version of the American tadertot :)

For Valentines Day, I am definitely of the opinion that a home cooked meal is the best option b/c going out can be a little stressful and at times a tid bit too cheesy :)

Here are the recipes below:

Beef Tenderloin with Rosemary and Chocolate, Potatoes Daulphines and a Shot of Onion Soup ou le "plein couer: d'entrecote Black Angus avec Pommes Dauphines et soupe.

*Elle uses Beef Tenderloin below but I would use Filet Mignon or a nice cut if you can afford it *

This dish is based on a classic Italian recipe that calls for a touch of grated chocolate or cocoa to add complexity to a red wine sauce. The sauce doesn’t taste chocolatey; rather, it has a full-bodied, extraordinary flavor that you just can’t pin down. You can make this with any cut of roast beef or steak and the sauce can be prepared a day ahead.Serves six.

1 2-lb. beef tenderloin roast
1/4 tsp. table salt, plus more to taste
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
4 tsp. olive oil
1/2 cup chopped shallots
1 small carrot, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1 clove garlic, minced (about 1 tsp.)
2 cups dry red wine
2 cups low-sodium beef broth
2 Tbs. tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 Tbs. unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Season the meat with the salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat the 2 tsp. of the oil over medium-high heat until good and hot, then add the meat and sear until well browned on all sides, about 10 minutes total.

Transfer the meat to a rack set on a baking sheet. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers 140°F for medium-rare, about 30 minutes, or to your desired degree of doneness. Remove it from the oven, cover with aluminum foil, and let rest until the sauce is nearly done before slicing.

While the meat cooks, make the sauce. Heat the remaining 2 tsp. oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the shallots, carrot, and celery and cook, stirring a few times, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more.

Add the wine and broth and stir in the tomato paste. Add the bay leaf and thyme and bring to a boil. Simmer until the liquid is reduced to about 1/2 cup, about 40 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a small saucepan. Stir in the cocoa and rosemary and season with salt and pepper. Serve on the side with the sliced tenderloin.

From Book The Food You Crave, pp. 180

2 lbs.potatoes
4 T. butter
1/2 cup milk

For the choux pastry
1 cup flour
1 cup water
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter
6 eggs

Boil the potatoes till soft. Drain the potatoes and add the milk, butter, salt and pepper, mash till lumps are gone. Set aside.
In a pan heat the water, butter and salt till the butter melts. Bring to a boil then take off the stove. Add the flour at once, all of it and beat with a wooden spoon.
Continue beating till the flour dough starts to form a "ball". Let cool for just a minute tehn beat in two eggs, stirring to incorporate well then add the remaining eggs one at a time till it is glossy and falls from spoon. You may not need all of the eggs, so with the last egg inspect the choux first and if it is loose and shiny, don't add the last egg.
Now beat the choux into the mashed potatoes.
Heat the oil to 350*F. Drop the mixture (carefully) into the fat in small 1 1/2 inch size balls. Add only 4-6 at a time and cook, turning them as needed, till they are brown and golden. This will take about 5 minutes or less.
Drain on paper towels or brown paper bag. Keep in a warm (300*F ) oven until all are cooked. Keep them from touching each other to ensure crispness.


French Onion Soup Recipe-

*The key to this recipe is definitely the Vermouth so don't leave it out even if it might be a tid bit difficult to find*


  • 6 large red or yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced.
  • Olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon of sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 cups of beef stock, chicken stock, or a combination of the two (traditionally the soup is made with beef stock)
  • 1/2 cup of dry vermouth or dry white wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon of dry thyme
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 slices of toasted French bread
  • 1 1/2 cups of grated Swiss Gruyere with a little grated Parmesan cheese


1 In a large saucepan, sauté the onions in the olive oil on medium high heat until well browned, but not burned, about 30-40 minutes (or longer). Add the sugar about 10 minutes into the process to help with the carmelization.

2 Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the stock, vermouth or wine, bay leaf, and thyme. Cover partially and simmer until the flavors are well blended, about 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Discard the bay leaf.

3 To serve you can either use individual oven-proof soup bowls or one large casserole dish. Ladle the soup into the bowls or casserole dish. Cover with the toast and sprinkle with cheese. Put into the broiler for 10 minutes at 350 degrees F, or until the cheese bubbles and is slightly browned. Serve immediately. (For this step, if you are doing just shots of soup the flavor of the slow roasted onions will be enough and you don't need the cheesy crust).

Serves 4-6.


Monday, February 8, 2010

Meat Free Mondays- Livestocks surprising effect on the environment

So, coming from a household with a dad who eats a lot of red meat and a hippy free spirited mother who pretty much only eats vegetables, fish and tofu left me kind of a “unique eater”. As such, every so often I definitely can appreciate a juicy steak or slow roasted beef short ribs that fall off the bone-dripping with succulent flavor from hours of cooking. But, most of the week, I contain my carnivorous cravings for the sake of my body and I eat like a vegetarian.

I just read about this unique idea, Meat Free Mondays, from Gwyneth Paltrows blog or more specifically Paul McCartney and I think it’s an easy thing to implement into your weekly schedule. There is a plethora of amazing veggie recipes at http://www.finecooking.com/ or http://www.foodandwine.com/or you could simply add some beans to your meal, quinoa, tempeh, maybe some tofu, some fish and you would have enough protein to nutritionally leave meat out of your meal and I sware you will feel better after not ingesting animal fat :)

More and more sustainability is becoming increasingly important. So to do your bit to create a more sustainable environment this week try and have a Meat Free Monday. Instead of just recycling, driving hybrid cars, turning off your lights, etc not eating meat for one day a week can actually have surprisingly impressive results.

In 2006, the UN issued a report which stated that the "livestock industry as a whole produced more emissions than the whole transport sector put together".

Here are some more interesting facts that you might want to know about the effects of raising lifestock from the UN:

- The Livestock industry produces gases that are extremely dangerous to the future of our environment

-The 2 main gases, methane and nitrous oxide are considered to be more harmful than CO2 (methane is 21 times more powerful than CO2 and Nitrous Oxide is 310 time more powerful than CO2) so the data suggests that this is causing a highly dangerous situation for our planet and our future

-Methane remains in the air for 9 to 15 years; Nitrous Oxide for 114 years on average and is 296 times more potent than CO2-the gases released today will continue to be active in degrading the climate decades from now

- Livestock production is land intensive a recent report by Greenpeace on land use in the largest meat producing state in BRazil found that cattle production was responsible for vastly more deforestation than soya.

-1/3 of cereal crops goes into animal food

-Livestock production is water intensive and accounts for 8% of global human water use. It is the largest source of water pollutants, principally animal waste, antibiotics, hormones, chemicals, fertilizers and pesticides

- A number of schools have implemented meat free days. A town in Belgium, Brazil and Sweden.

Check out the link below to learn more about the cause:

http://www.supportmfm.org/ or


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

2 Restaurants in Paris I'm dying to try

So my friend Felix expanded my horizons last weekend and filled me in about all of his favorite little tid bits of Parisian life. I can't wait to go to the chocolate shop he recommended, see the view from the Sacre Coeur at night and eat at these restaurants that follow.

Both of these culinary gems that he recommended are relatively new Parisian hot spots which both have very craft ideas. Spring is run by a 30 year American guy from Chicago...( I know its weird that in Paris, an American cook is causing a stir but yes.. it's true!) Spring is a tiny hole in the wall restaurant in the 10th. The concept here is to only have one seating a night and offer a pre set affordable menu, crafted through the seasonal imagination of the chef, Daniel Rose. The chef launched the restaurant as a means to generate buzz surrounding the idea, which then he hoped could translate into marketing for his book. A good idea especially because 1 seating a night can't be too profitable :) Currently Spring has turned into Table 28. Daniel is building a new Spring restaurant in the 1st and in the meantime opened Table 28 in its place. He also opened a boutique by the Louve as well. A menu for 29-35 Euro with either Chicken or suckling pig on Thursdays sounds delicious and I can't wait to go....

The other restaurant I am absolutely dying to try is Il Vino which is a unique concept as well. It was opened by a famous Sommelier and the concept is that you only have the flexibility to order your wine and then you are simply served extraordinary food that compliments it. Pretty ingenious concept, isn't it? It's quite expensive at 100 euro for dinner but lunch is around 50 euro which its somewhat more reasonable...

After just spending a few painful days writing a restaurant financial plan and struggling through trying to achieve profitability I now look at restaurants a little bit differently. I think Il Vino has the right idea! I can't wait to indulge in a lunch here one day which I will probably follow with a long stroll along the grass at les Invalides so I can work off what I've just eaten :)

Il Vino d' Enrico Bernadaro
13 boulevard de la Tour Maubourg
75007 Paris
01 44 11 72 00

Spring/ Table 28 Details

aDDRESS28 rue de la Tour d'Auvergne; 75009
NEIGHBOURHOOD10th Arrondissement | See on map
METROPoissonnière [M7], Anvers [M2]
TELEPHONE+33 6 42 87 79 64
PRICEEUR 29 (1/4 chicken), EUR 35 (1/2 chicken)


SPRING rue de la Tour d'Auvergne is now closed...

SPRING Boutique is now open!
Tues-Sat 10h30-21h. 52 Rue de l'Arbre Sec (rue Bailleul)

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