Top Things to do in Burgundy

For our first wedding anniversary the Englishman and I decided there would be no better place to celebrate than in France.  We had both been to Paris before, so we decided to check out some other regions in France and our first stop was Burgundy, which is about 3 hours southeast of Paris, right in the middle of France. And while I am no expert on the region at all, here some top things to do in Burgundy.

nuits st georges wineBurgundy consists of three provinces with one of them being Cote-d-‘Or which is where we spent our time.  We stayed in the small town of Nuits St. Georges, which was about 22 miles south of Dijon and 15 miles north of Beaune.  Nuits St. Georges was great because it was right in the middle of everything, and was a small enough town to navigate quite easily by foot.  I highly recommend staying in Nuits St. Georges for a few nights if you find yourself in Burgundy.

les halles market dijonAnother must do is visit the Les Halles Market in Dijon.  It’s a large covered market that has food stalls selling everything from fresh produce to meat and cheese.  The Englishman and I had a kitchen in our place in Nuits St. Georges, so we took advantage of all the fresh food at our disposal in the market.  This was also the place where I bought the best goat cheese of my life (no joke) and proceeded to eat it with everything over the course of two days.  Dijon is also known for their mustard, so be sure to stock up on a few jars when you are in the city.

dijon mustardThe small town of Beaune is home to numerous wineries and the famous Hospices de Beaune.  To be honest, the Englishman and I weren’t sure if we would like the hospices, but they ended up being really interesting and the architecture was amazing.  My only regret is not taking more pictures.

BeauneCourtyardBeaune also hosts a weekend farmer’s market, and we spent a Saturday afternoon sampling some food before settling in for a picnic in one of their many gardens with baguettes and fruit.  It’s a perfect way to spend an afternoon in my opinion.

When you visit France, it’s pretty much a requirement that you hit up a boulangerie or two.  The French are definitely not afraid of carbs, and the croissants melt in your mouth like butter.  I was only able to indulge in boulangerie fun for one day before my stomach got other ideas, but having a freshly baked croissant was SO worth it.

boulangerieOf course, you can’t come to Burgundy and not go wine tasting.  Admittedly we didn’t get to taste as much wine as we would’ve liked (but made up for it in Epernay) largely due to the fact that many of the tasting rooms require that you purchase a bottle with your tasting, which is quite different than in the US.  The key is to look for the degustation rooms, where tastings are often complimentary, albeit the pours are pretty small.  Our favorite winery by far was Dufouler Pere & Fils in Nuits St. Georges.  The people who worked there were lovely and the wine was affordable and quite good!

wine tasting nuits st georgesIf you get a chance, bike through a vineyard or spend time hiking in some of the nearby hills.  We unfortunately ran out of time so we didn’t get to do either of these activities, but the countryside is so lovely that you need to take advantage!

Next up: Epernay.

Mammoth Bar

And just like that we are back from France.  Expect some recaps on the blog soon, but let me just tell you that it was amazing, the food was fantastic, and I even tried chicken liver for the first time (and didn’t hate it!).  But first let me tell you about a new-to-me paleo bar I tried before I went on vacation: Mammoth Bar.

Mammoth BarI know what you are thinking – another paleo bar?  But hear me out, cause these bars are the jam.  And unlike some other bars out there, Mammoth Bar uses more unique ingredients like dried egg white protein and baobab (which is a superfruit loaded with antioxidants and vitamin C).

Each Mammoth Bar also contains raw sprouted nuts, dates and spices, making them the perfect protein packed snack or breakfast on the go.  The bars come in four flavors: Almond Vanilla, Cashew Cinnamon, Trail Mix Goji and Coconut Macadamia.  And I loved each and every one of them.

One issue I have had with some paleo/protein bars in the past is that I’ll eat one and will feel hungry 30 minutes later.  This definitely wasn’t the case with these bars.  In fact, I ended up packing all 4 bars in my travel “snack pack” and even had a Mammoth Bar for breakfast when we were en route from Paris to London and wasn’t starving on the short flight over to England.  If that isn’t a testament to how good these bars are, then nothing is.

Mammoth Bar SnacksEach bar is packed with about 10g of protein, and all of the sugars come from natural sources like dates and coconut.  Right now you can only order Mammoth Bar online, but I’m hoping they will pop up in some local stores soon!

A big thanks to the Mammoth Bar team for introducing me to your tasty bars! I’ll definitely be ordering more of these in the future.

Paleo Bar fans: what bar is your fave?

Costa Mesa Favorites

I have lived in Costa Mesa for nearly three years now, and I’ll be the first to say that I just adore my little neighborhood.  From the back bay trails to the coffee shops and restaurants, Costa Mesa is pretty much the best.  So here are a few of my personal Costa Mesa Favorites.

Best Coffee: Sidecar Doughnuts

costa mesa favoritesI’ve written about Sidecar Doughnuts a few times now, but I most recently discovered their delicious coffee.  I’m not really a coffee drinker at all, but there’s something special about their iced coffee, especially after a sweaty spin class at Grit Cycle (another Costa Mesa fave!).

Best Brunch: SOCIAL

socialcostamesaCosta Mesa is home to a lot of fabulous brunch spots, but SOCIAL is my current fave.  The brunch prices are decent, the menu is seasonal, and they have live music at brunch as well.  Plus, champagne with guava juice? What’s not to love?

Best Crossfit: Crossfit Vibe

crossfitvibegroupIt’s no surprise that Crossfit Vibe made the list.  I’ve been going to this box for nearly two years and I love it to pieces.  If you are local and want to try crossfit, I highly recommend them.

Best Salad: Mendocino Farms

MendocinoFarmsThe Sophisticated Chicken and Prosciutto Salad gets me every time. Mendocino Farms also has a seasonal menu and offers a wide variety of salads and sandwiches, but my heart belongs to the Sophisticated salad.

Best Drinks: Boathouse Collective

boathousecollectiveI’ve only been to Boathouse Collective once and didn’t try the food, but I LOVED the large outdoor space and garden.  Boathouse may have a small menu, but what they have is delicious.

Best Running Path: Back Bay Loop

backbayloopThis may be considered partially Newport Beach, but I love running the back bay loop.  I trained for both of my half marathons on this loop and it offers the right amount of rolling hills and lovely scenery.

Tommy Bahama Flavors of Aloha

One of my favorite things about dining at Tommy Bahama is their cool, Hawaiian vibe.  So when I was invited to attend the Tommy Bahama Flavors of Aloha event to celebrate chef Rick Rodgers’ new cookbook, I jumped at the chance to attend.

Flavors of Aloha is a cookbook exclusive to Tommy Bahama, and the recipes are all traditional Hawaiian-inspired dishes with a few unique twists here and there.  I’m personally a big fan of traditional Hawaiian cuisine, and loved how this cookbook paid homage to some of the islands’ signature flavors.

tommy bahama flavors of alohaOur evening started with a cocktail hour complete with leis, mai tais, and passed appetizers from the book.  My favorite appetizer by far was the Maui onion dip which was made with fresh onion, bacon and chives and served with taro root chips.

tommy bahama flavors of alohaSome of the other appetizers that were served included ahi poke in little cones, spam musubi (think spam sushi) and coconut shrimp.  I should also note that all these appetizers are in the Flavors of Aloha cookbook and can be found at Tommy Bahama restaurants.

Then it was time for dinner.  I had already informed the team of my food allergies so my meal was slightly different from everyone else but still quite delicious (also huge thank you to Orisi PR for helping me out!).

The first course that was served was a raw shaved papaya salad with chilled shrimp on top.  My lovely date for the evening Joelle was kind enough to give me her shrimp so I could taste part of the dish.

tommy bahama flavors of alohaI had a wedge salad with blue cheese and fresh tomatoes which was also quite delicious.

tommy bahama flavors of aloha For our main course, we were served two proteins: Kona coffee rubbed steak and grilled salmon.  I was served two pieces of salmon (minus the soy glaze) which ended up being quite fortuitous for this salmon lover.

tommy bahama flavors of alohaFor the grand dessert finale we were served either pina colada cake or my personal favorite, the vanilla creme brulee in a PINEAPPLE.  I packed up the pina colada cake for the Englishman, but the creme brulee was all mine.

tommy bahama flavors of alohaA big thank you to Chef Rick Rodgers and Orisi PR for hosting such a wonderful event!  I can’t wait to dig into the Flavors of Aloha cookbook and create some of the recipes for myself.  And make a return trip to Tommy Bahama for some more creme brulee.