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Tasty Side to Life Tours Website

Sunday, March 27, 2011


Does this video not make you want to jump on a plane and head to Iceland? I am D.Y.I.N.G to go and can't wait to make this trip happen. It looks like an incredible place to visit. This is from a great travel blog I like.

Iceland from Ken Grunberg on Vimeo.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Adventures in Truffles in Paris

David comparing his truffle experience to eating "lettuce" or "arugula"?! Really?

I accidentally ordered this plate of cheese and truffles in the middle of a great tasting menu at Saturne the other day. The busboy came by and asked a bit discreetly "Est ce que vous voulez de fromage". I was like "well, yeah, of course we will have same cheese in between courses." That sounds delicious. Next thing I know he was asking if I liked truffles. I mean, who doesn't? Did the man secretly know that I have truffle oil in my cabinet and that I make daily excuses about how truffle oil is the 1 and only condiment that goes with e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g?! I think somehow he did...

I was surprised when this large plate below arrived yet a bit fearful that we had just been snubbed as "tourist" and this little plate of bliss was going to be over 100 euro! Immediately I got a bit fiesty and called the little busboy over (who mind you I had watched chug a few beers in the back of the bar just before courageously approaching our table for this random order). He confirmed the plate was 37 euro, pas mal.

The plate was so huge we ended up accidentally "playing" with our food and taking a series of photos of our adventures with black truffles. David was convinced that the truffles tasted exactly like lettuce, which I think avid truffle fans would not appreciate but shhhh...I do think they lost a "bit" of their luster after eating about 15 of them each :) I crossed my fingers that it wasn't exuberantly expensive and luckily it wasn't. After a 5 hr tasting menu, a plate of truffles and a very antsy little dog under the table, we were pleasantly satisfied and glad we had found a new resto gem.

Restaurant Saturne,
17 rue Notre Dame des Victoires,
Paris, 2nd Métro Bourse
01 42 60 31 90

Lunch menu: 35 €
Dinner, 37 € for 4 course, 59 for 6

Open: Monday through Friday lunch and dinner, wine bar with small plates opening soon

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Dreaming of a Sunday at Big Sur

Would love to spend a Sunday hiking on the beach in Big Sur 45 mins from San Francisco. C'est mon reve maitenant.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Ahi Tuna Burgers with Lemon Wasabi Olive Oil

So, after spending a good long week in 80 degree heat on an island my brain is a bit clouded with summer recipes, bbqing and dreams of eating outside on a big wooden bench. While it still may be in the 40's in France a girl can still dream of her next island escape and eat like she's still on the island. I think this is a nice twist on a traditional burger and is super quick to make. All you need is some fresh Ahi from a good fish market, bread from a your corner baker, some wasabi from a little Japanese store (or a few packets you saved from your last sushi endeavor) and a lemon and voila you are good to go. I think the lemon olive oil adds an nice different punch of flavor and the cucumber leaves the dish bright and airy.

Mini Ahi Tuna Burgers

Brioche buns, Microgreens, cucumber and a Lemon, Wasabi Olive oil

Serves 7

This is a deliciously light burger that is bright and healthy and won't leave you with the normal after burger guilt from having just ingested all that fat :)

  • 5 4 oz High Grade Ahi Tuna (sushi quality if you can find)
  • 2 Tbls Vegetable oil for frying
  • Pinch of Sea Salt
  • Few handfulls of Microgreens
  • Good Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Lemon, zested and 2 Tbls lemon juice
  • 1 Tbls Wasabi paste
  • 1 Loaf of Great Quality Brioche Bread from a local bakery
  • Touch of Soy sauce
  • 1 Cucumber- sliced thin with a mandolin or a very sharp knife. Mandolin is really best here if you can find one.
  1. Wash and pat dry the tuna steaks. Quickly marinate them in a light dash of soy, and salt and pepper on both sides. Leave in the fridge to marinate for a few minutes
  2. Meanwhile, slice the cucumber with your madolin being careful with your fingers
  3. Wash and reserve the microgreens
  4. Slice brioche into bite site mini buns about 2 inches by 2 inches. Create perfect little squares for nice presentation.
  5. Zest and juice 1 lemon into the olive oil, add a teaspoon of wasabi, stir well and let stand in order for the flavors to combine
  6. Heat a pan over med-high and add 1 Tbls vegetable oil to the pan. Add the Tuna steaks and sear for 3 mins per side including a quick sear on the tiny side edges.
  7. Remove the tuna and allow them to rest
  8. Assemble mini burgers. Place the tuna steak on top of the bun, top with a slice of cucumber, a pinch of microgreens, another layer of sliced cucumber, a 2nd topping of microgreens and finish with a drizzle of lemon, wasabi olive oil
  9. For a bit more heat add a tiny pinch of wasabi on the very top just before placing the bun. Voila!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

New Blog to Check Out: Velvet FoxTail

A friend of my sisters has the greatest new blog that you pretty much HAVE to check out. http://www.velvetfoxtail.com/. Beautiful photography (how badly does this make you want to go to India?), random tid bits + awesome new indie songs to add to your playlists. I love, love it and think you will to. Can't stop listening to these two songs she just posted :)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Veuve Clicquot vs. Mumm Champagne Tour, Reims

During a sleepy winter day in Reims we got to experience the allure of a tasting and tour at Veuve Clicquot and Mumm. It's so hard to pick which champagne house to taste with when you are visiting the region and hope this article will help a bit in deciding between the two houses! If you want a driver and english speaking guide for the day then check out http://www.tastysidetolifetours.com.

Ally with a gigantic bottle of Veuve

Both Mumm and Veuve Clicquot are two "Grands Maisons" de Champagne in Reims. Visting both houses while in Reims is fun and you will have a tasting and tour of two very old and prestigious houses in Reims with history of nearly 250 years of champagne making! (This history is awesome but keep in mind that its always nice to do a mix of these huge corporate giants and small charming local spots. I'd personal like a mix of Veuve and following the locals secrets ie driving out 15 minutes outside Reims to taste with small producers, loung in cozy tasting rooms, get dirty in the fields around vineyards and chateaus. It's hard to do on your own b/c these houses don't speak english but hire a driver from a company like ours.

To American's Veuve Clicquot is a mainstay name. From popping a cork for a celebratory promotion to the clinking of newlywed glasses, Champagne and Veuve in general has engrained itself in American society! The story of how Veuve Clicquot pioneered a Champagne movement is a fascinating story of a determined widow who at the age of 27 lost her husband, Francois Clicquot and thus was thrown in charge of her family's wine business. She took over reins amid totally chaos, during the Napoleonic wars. During this time she became a prominent female leader in a hugely male dominated industry and has grown her small family business to what it is today.

Mumm I think for many Americans is regarded, unfortunately, as a cheap bottle of California sparkling wine. While yes this is true, their real deal Reims originated Champagne dates back centuries and lies inside a beautiful old Chateau. I've been to a party in a private cave here and let me tell you it was incredible and is a tasting and tour in champagne not to be missed. Mumm was founded by 3 brother winemakers in 1827 and is famous for it's red ribbon or the Cordon Rouge which is a replica of the ribbon given for a legion of honor.

The blanc de blanc was really nice. Love the shape of this bottle.
The bottle rotation process explained at Mumm
Tasting at Mumm with some new random friends

While both houses are unique and memorable, it certainty was tasting at Veuve Clicquot who blew us away. Our tour guide seriously might have a career in Hollywood, no joke. She was like a little actress, in her own little cinema and painted the most amazing picture of Madame Clicquot, her life, her struggles and her passion. It was inspiring and we honestly somehow hung on to every word, making that final moment ie the tasting even more anticipated. The only downside is that the tour is a bit expensive compared to others (26 Euro compared to 10 euro at Mumm) BUT you only taste the highest quality Champagne while at other houses you have the choice between quality.

Veuve Clicquot does not only purchase juice but also owns land on some of the best "terroirs" in the region in Bouzy, Ambonnay and by Trepail France
And the tasting begins

Champagne Louis Roederer-owner of the famous Cristal
Champagne Jacquart
Deleans Chocolate Atelier, Reims
Buying huge bars of chocolate before our second tasting

Veuve Clicquot-1 Place des Droits de l'Homme, 51100 Reims, France
+33 3 26 89 54 41 . Definitely call about 2 weeks before for a booking. Tasting and Tour is 30 euro per person and last about 1.5 hours. House is located walking distance to Pommery and Les Crayeres so an easy combo to combine the two tours

Mumm- 34 Rue du Champ de Mars, 51100 Reims. Call a few days before for an appt. Tour and Tasting is 10 euro but varies with Champagne choice. A bit hard to walk to from center of town. Grab a taxi or add this onto a tour with http://www.tastysidetolifetours.com

Tasty Side To Life Tours for a private driver/ guide can be contacted here:

Sydney Krueger
USA +1 510 590 0943 
france +33 (0)688151255

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Laisse Tomber Les Filles-France Gall

A little french music for your Saturday evening. Just maybe a trip to Paris is in order....

Champagne Quotes

"One of the world's most expensive bottles of Champagne, 1907 Heidsieck Monopole was recovered from the Baltic Sea in 1997 and sold by the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Moscow to a Russian collector for $35,000"

"Champagne, if you are seeking the truth, is better than a lie detector" - Graham Greene

"One night at the Ritz, Tallulah Bankhead drank Champagne from her own slipper"

"Too much of anything is bad, but too much of Champagne is just right" F Scott Fitzgerald

"Champagne is full of polyphenols, the plant chemical which scientists believe expands the blood vessels-great for boosting brain and heart power"

"Champagne is the only wine that leaves a woman beautiful after drinking it"- Madame de Pompadour

"A Champagne cork is said to pop at around 38-40 mph, 100mph is the fastest recorded pop"

" As symbols go, Champagne is extraordinarily powerful, it makes you feel like it's Sunday and better days are just around the corner- Marlene Dietrich

"There are about 25o million bubbles in a bottle of Champagne"

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Paris Fashion Week-Smoky Eyes

It's Fashion week in Paris and I think the smoky eye is simple, classic and beautiful. It creates a mesmerizing and smoldering look and I'm dying to give it a try!


The Smokey Eye Shadow Tools: Estee Lauder Pure Color Eye Shadow in Black Crystals, $20, available at Estee Lauder; NARS Velvet Matte Lipstick in Madere, $25, available at NARS; Dolce & GabbanaSmooth Eye Colour Duo in Romance, $36, available in March at Saks Fifth Avenue.

La Bigarrade, Paris- A Serious Hands Down Culinary Gem

The Paris contemporary restaurant scene is a blaze in fire. It has been taken over by a series of artist like chefs whose imagination and unique flavor combinations are not only creative but also exquisitely prepared. Daniel Rose at Spring might have started the stir but chefs like Sven Chartier from Saturne, Chef Sato at Passage 53 and Christophe Pelé from La Bigarrade, are creating a full-blown movement. This upsurge includes cooking with michael jackson like gloves, 10th grade chemistry blowtorches and petri dishes filled with unusual condensations of carrot powder. Let me tell you the results are just short of magic. I am crossing my fingers that the new food explosion of provocative, inventive, but most importantly, delicious, food is still just on the brinks of it's full depth in Paris.

One of these gems, La Bigarrade, I had the pleasure of eating lunch at last week. La Bigarrade is really the epitome of the Franco-Zen movement, with a precession in terms of texture and perfectly balanced flavors. Dinner is booked solid for 4 months but lunch is possible. I was quite frankly blown away. The space is in the tranquil 17th and is quite small, about 9 tables and is filled with an airy, light and whimsical feeling. Cherry blossom trees are softly painted on the walls and the chairs are covered in comfy bright colors with cushions leaving you feeling like you could quite possibly be doing Yoga while devouring a exquisitely prepared meal from 2 geniuses.

Chef Christophe Pelé and Guiliano Sperandio offer 2 menus to choose from with either 8 or 12 courses. In reality the 8 ends up being more like 16 so I assume the 12 is more like 25. Chef Pele impresses while incorporating some next-level cooking techniques aimed at flawless continuity of flavor, born from dishes like scallops topped with almond butter, raw slivers of cauliflower, a thin piece of anchovy, capers and lemons, and sole with a huge slice of black truffle swimming in a sea of a soy accompanied with a light airy celery root puree, torched balanced almonds and fennel. I'm pretty sure La Bigarrade has taken Joel Robuchons place as my favorite Parisian restaurant. I mean 16 tiny dishes that leaves you perfectly satisfied and not too full for 45 euro?!

My opening course: A light, bright and airy palate opener. Oven hot focaccia topped with fleur de sel and a clean and fruity olive oil from Sicily
2nd Amuse Bouche. Lightly fried soft shelled crab served along side a pinch of sea salt and a grilled lime wedge. The result was a juicy lime that when squeezed over the fried crab brightened the dish and let the flavors of the crab shine.
Crab and scallions with a dollop of tabigo served rolled in a lemon vermicelli
A sliver of beer with a salty sliver of dried tuna. Beautiful + simple. A nice flavor combination of rich and buttery beef with a hit of salt in the dried fish.
St Jacques or scallop lightly cooked with a hand held torch served with a cascading display of slivers of fresh raw cauliflower, lemon, parsley, capers, almond butter and anchovy. This dish was springing with flavor. The raw cauliflower had a certain soft bite to it. The torching of the scallop created a soft caramelization flavor and the almond butter was nutty and divine.
Soft squares of butter jump out in this photo
Sole sitting on a sliver of black truffle and soy sauce accompanied with sweet, savory celery root puree, torched blanched almonds, fennel leaf. This dish was a bit of a meaty fish which I usually is not my preference yet was savory and sweet.

Mackerel slow cooked and finished with a crispy skin served with sweet roasted pumpkin seeds, a dollop of bright green chili, watercress and a citrus bergamot mousse
A very zen/ japanese influenced palate cleanser. A quick shot of sake, quail egg, seaweed and scallions.

Chevre, Asparagus dusted in sweet miso powder, a pinch of cumin and a cube of grapefruit confit. Simple yet my favorite dish of the night. The spice of cumin with the brightness of grapefruit, creaminess of chevre and bright crunch of seasonal veggie.

Trio of 3 desserts to start the final courses.
Passion fruit with a dusting of coffee

Pineapple topped with beets, passion fruit seeds and floating on a sweet bed of caramel sauce
Lemon mousse topped with a coffee bean.
Sweet vanilla custard with gingerbread crackers.
Icecream dusted with green tea and sesame seeds.
A chocolate course of homemade fudge with a Macadamia nut and a slice of chocolate and chocolate mouse cake with banana and a soft dusting.

A vanilla macaroon. The perfect french finish.

La Bigarrade, 106 Rue Nollet, 75017 Paris, France. Metro: Brochant. 01 42 26 01 02. Reserve well in advance.
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