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Tasty Side to Life Tours Website

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Braised Wild Boar in a Red Wine Jus with Truffle Polenta and Crispy Onion Rings (Hurley's in Napa Valley, Ca)

BRAISED WILD BOAR red wine jus- winter vegetables- truffle- polenta.

A hearty, rich and cozy dish which is PERFECT for a cold winter night! Wild boar is a great alternative to farmed commercial pork and a beautiful meat to cook. If I could eat wild game (ie elk, bison, boar, etc) instead of hormone filled  commercial  meat each time I ate meat I would! I mean wouldn't you? When braised Wild Boar becomes beautifully tender and paired with a red wine jus, creamy polenta and truffle it becomes the perfect winter treat. This recipe is courtesy of Hurley's in Yountville, Ca.  
Makes 6 Servings
Combine and Marinate Overnight
  • 3 pounds Wild Boar Shoulder de-boned, fat scored in diamond pattern
  •  (can substitute hormone free Pork Shoulder)
  • Pinch of Sea Salt
  • 10 juniper berries, crushed
  • 3 Bay leaves broken up and several sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1.5 cups Red Wine (Syrah, Cab or Barolo)
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup rapeseed oil or peanut oil
  • 1 tbsp crushed black peppercorns
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 large carrot, peeled an diced package of Sugar Snap Peas
  • 5 Tbls of Olive Oil
  • 2 ribs of celery, diced
  • 1 onion peeled and diced
  • 3 shallots
  • 3 cloves garlic (green inner garlic spring removed)
  • 2 quarts veal stock
  • For the Polenta
  • 1 cup Polenta
  • 1.5 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup cream

  1. For the marinade place all ingredients in a glass bowl, add the wild boar and mix together. Cover and place in the fridge to marinate for 24 hrs.Remove boar from the marinade and set it aside.
  2. For the Wild Boar Preheat the oven to 300. Remove the meat from the marinade and pat it dry with kitchen paper. Reserve the marinade.
  3. Strain all solids from wine marinade and set aside. In a saucepan, heat wine to a simmer and skim all the impurities from the top while reducing it by half.
  4. Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in deep dutch oven, season the well dried boar well with salt and pepper and brown the boar for 3-4 minutes until golden brown. Set aside
  5. Add the reserved vegetables to the now empty pan to lightly  caramelize them. Add the shallots and onions to the pan and cook until softened and transparent and slightly caramelized. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Next add the celery and carrot. 
  6. When vegetables are softened add them to reserved meat. Add wine, reduce again by 1/3 and finally veal stock to cover (if you find yourself short on veal stock, use a fortified chicken stock). Stir well. It is important that the meat is covered with liquid during the braising. Bring to a simmer, cover and place in a 300 degree oven for approx. 3 hrs or until very tender (after 2 hours, check every 30 mins or so). 
  7. Baste regularly by pouring cooking juices back over the meat and adding more stock if necessary. Just before the boar is done cooking uncover the pan and cook for a further 10 minutes or so. When the meat is tender, remove from the braising liquid. strain all solids from the liquid and discard. Leave the meat covered in a warm place to rest for 30 minutes.
  8.  Place the braising liquid in a saucepan and reduce slowly while skimming off the fat and impurities.
  9. Reduce until it reaches desired volume, viscosity and flavor (generally by at least half). While the sauce is in progress, take the partially cooled meat and clean off the major fat and set aside. 30 mins before serving combine meat and sauce. Re-heat gently.
  10. For the Polenta: In a large heavy based saucepan bring the chicken stock to boil over medium heat. 
  11. Add the polenta to the hot stock in a thin, steady stream. Stir immediately with a wooden spoon and continue stirring for 2-3 mins. The polenta will thicken and have the texture of a mashed potato when cooked. 
  12. Stir in the cream and season with salt, pepper and truffle oil.
  13. Slice the wild boar and serve with the pan juices and creamed polenta and garnish with herbs.
  14. For the thinly sliced onion rings follow this great detailed recipe 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Best Napa Wineries and Restaurants-Flavors of Napa 2013 and The Appellation trail Event

I was lucky enough to attend the mother event of all Napa food events a couple of months ago, ie Flavors of Napa (Napa, California)! I had a 2 day press pass with my company Tasty side to life tours and was able to watch, taste and learn from the best Chefs in the industry (sans  The French Laundry's Thomas Keller and Chef Christopher Kostow of Meadowood). 

The events was filled with renowned vintners and engaging experts and was a 5 day celebration including demonstrations, farm to table dining, world class wines, lectures, cooking classes and other awesome epicurean and enological experiences.
Culinary geniuses from Napa Valley included Rogelio Garcia ( head chef at Angèle but formerly at Hurley’sReddMichael Mina Cyrus Calistoga Ranch and  The French Laundry), Michael Gyetvan (Norma Rose Tavern and Azzurro Pizzeria e Enoteca)Scott Ekstrom (Angèle, Napa), the great Tyler Rodde  (Oenotri), Brad Farmerie (Public NYC and The Thomas and Fagiani's), Masaharu Morimoto (Morimoto, Napa) and Michael Chiarello (Bottega)
Lucy Restaurant-Sugar Pie Pumpkin Soup with Tempura Shrimp and Nutmeg Creme Fraiche
I soaked up every second of the live demo's, atelier's, cooking lessons and wine tasting lessons.

Some of the stars of the night were Angele in Napa's little Pork Belly Croque Monsieur which was just so tiny, decadent and perfect! It was a nice little hunk of pork belly, brioche with a egg yolk mousse w/ cream fraiche, a dollop of truffle marscapone and a sprig of parsley for color. I mean?! AMAZING. If I could eat it daily, I would. 
One of the stars of the night Pork belly Croque Monsieur

The Thomas and Fagiani's in downtown Napa. Black Pudding Waffle with Whipped Miso Butter and Spicy Poached Pair. The butter was ever so smooth, airy and sweet w/ that miso addition. The pears added a great spicy touch. This was by far one of my favorite dishes of the day!
Other stand outs of the night pictured below were the laid back Yountville's Hurley's which blew me away with their succulent Wild Texas Boar, Ca' Momi (organic eatery in Napa VPN certified to have authentic Napletana pizzawith Chef Valentina Guolo Migotto was outstanding with their cute little honey beignets and Norman Rose Tavern impressed me last year with their deviled eggs with apple and smoked trout and this year with Sour Cherry Bread Pudding with a Guinness Anglais. 
Here's a glimpse of what was going on:
Braised Wild Texas Boar with Truffle scented Polenta and Crispy Onion Rings. Gorgeous balance of succulent meat, savory polenta and crispy onions!
We're helping people taste with small great growers like this in Napa, Ca so if interested email Tasty side To life Tours or Tastysidetolifetours@gmail.com. Below ar more stand-outs of the night:
Sour Bread Pudding with Creme Anglaise. There is nothing like a great bread pudding. This one was perfect. Dying to try Norman Rose Tavern, Napa!

Chicken Liver Mousse on Crostini from Press St Helena
A classic Beef bourguignon from the great Bistro Jeanty
Morimoto...poached fish. YUM
Silverado Dolce Resorts
Farm at Carneros Inn-Pumpkin pudding with cranberry compote and cinnamon fluff. 
Love winding up the mt road up to Mt Veeder
Yummy milk and honey beignet from Ca' Momi- a restaurant which I'm dying to try as well!

Another knock-out was Chef Brad Farmerie of The Thomas and Fagiani's Bar. His dish was definitely the most ballsy of the evening-blood sausage in the form of a waffle! I know it sounds odd but it was HEAVENLY! Blood sausage in France is a staple and it's so great seared with a wedge of slow cooked apple. This was a waffle with a homemade miso butter and spiced poached pears. LOVED. 

In terms of wine I LOVED Spring Mountain Vineyard '09 Estate Blend Elivette (voted Best US Bordeaux @ Decanter World Wine Blind Tasting 2013) and their '01 Estate blew me away, Barlow Vineyard- Family owned with a great Bordeaux Blend Barrouge, Ackerman Family Vineyards '05-100% Cab which was great and very well balanced and '09-spicy and young, Jackson Family Wines-Bright, Fresh and Tropical Sauvignon Blanc 2012 and Lang and Reed Wine Company's 100% Cab France, Bouchaine '10 Chard had lots of buttery notes yet still maintained a great brightness and '11 Pinot, Cade '10 Cab with was dense and spicy, Amici '1 cab which was smooth and balanced at the top of Spring Mt, Cakebread had a surprising great '10 Syrah when they are mainly known for their chards and Bello Family Vineyards had a great oakey chard.

For tickets for next years event click here or to visit the region on a guided tour click here:



Date:Friday, November 22Time:6:00 PM - 9:00 PMVenue:The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone | MapPrice:$165


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Travel Guide-Best Wifi Cafe & Pizza in Toyko

While on my last trip to Tokyo I stopped at a great little cafe for lunch one day, Good Morning Cafe- in Shibuja.

I jotted it down as a Shibuja jem! If you're feeling a bit jetlagged and looking for a cozy Western food spot with free wifi, foamy matcha tea lattes, an open, light and airy interior and vegetarian options this is your place.

Check out their awesome juices, acai bowls, veggie burgers, umami burgers, japanese curry, great salads and yummy pizza. All for $10-$20.
Daily Fresh Side Salad

Healthy Miso

Green juice

Fresh Vegetable Salad

Margarita Pizza for $9

Good Morning Cafe
Shibuya - close to Sendagaya JR Station. Cross the rd and go straight down
151-0051 and 1-20-3
Adresse : 東京都渋谷区千駄ヶ谷1‐20‐3 バルビゾン11号館 1F Japon
Téléphone :+81 3-5775-4800

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Harvest Party in Champagne- Le Gallais Fête des Vendanges

Credit: almaphotos.com

It's almost that special time of year in Champagne where the Autumn air becomes heavy with the scent of grapes being gently pressed. It's a special time in be in France-a time when 4th generation champagne families who have been producing elegant bubbly since the 1820's get to work picking the gorgeous Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. It's a time full of harvest events and activities celebrating this time of year. Make sure to not miss it! For more info look at the event website here :  http://tastysidetolifetours.com/Tasty_Side_to_Life_Tours/Harvest_Party.html

The past few harvests yielded quality wine, but the tumultuous weather conditions hampered fruit quantity and dampened some celebrations. This year, Mother Nature dealt the Champagne country a fantastic hand, so even with a late harvest there is plenty to celebrate. Shhhh.. don't tell but this just might be the best harvest in the last 17 years similar to the 1996 harvest which was the best in the last 30 years! That is something to celebrate! 

Credit: almaphotos.com

In champagne there aren't many parties to choose from but one that you should definitely mark on your calendar is at the Champagne Le Gallais winery, which is rarely open to the public.  Champagne Le Gallais is hosting a bash not to be missed (in partnership with Tasty Side To Life Tours champagne tasting tours). This will be a grand 'ol feast and requires reservations!  To reserve your seat send an email here or to tastysidetolifetours@gmail.com with your Name, # in party and title it "Fete de la vendange"! Or leave a vm or text @ +33(0) 688151255.
Credit: almaphotos.com

If you've ever romanticized about getting involved in the harvest then the Tasty Side to Life Tours and Le Gallais's party is the place to be. You will get a behind the scenes look at what happens during the harvest, you'll also have the opportunity to get involved, hands on. On Saturday Oct 5th 2013  you'll be able to come to Le Gallais in Boursault, France to pick grapes for 45mins to 1hr, sample pressed grape juice, and understand how champagne is made and even possibly taste it when it is fermenting.  If you can't make this event then you can participate in other activities Oct 2nd-13th 2013.

You'll learn how to read a refractometer and gain a deeper understanding about the importance of the balance between sugar, PH and acid levels in wine grapes. You'll meet the Le Gallais family, sample their various cuvees (Extra Brut, Brut, Rosé) and enjoy a family style lunch on the property surrounded by gorgeous vineyards, a 183o's gorgeous Chateau and an old green house.

We will be roasting a pig and serve it with a nice salad all prepared by the Michelin star chef Michael Nizzero from the regional 1 Michelin star La Briqueterie. A couple glasses of top notch grower Le Gallais champagne will be accompanied by the food and there will be music from a DJ to top it off.

Credit: http://www.dianeabroad.com/

In  2014 watch out for a Spring Blending Session and a Fall Harvest Session where both consumers and professionals will get to experience sparkling wine from an educational point of view (which will require a lot of tasting and hanging around gorgeous champagne villages). Champagne is known for it's history, incredible underground world of caves and world-class quality so it’s a great place to learn and explore!
Harvest Party is Saturday, October 5th| 10h – 14h30 | 150€

Additional events October 2nd-13 if you can't make October 5th. Please email to check availability.

To reserve your seat send an email here or to tastysidetolifetours@gmail.com with your Name, # in party and title it "Fete de la vendange"! Or leave a vm @ +33(0) 688151255.
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