Tag Archives: travel

Nakd Bars

When we were preparing for our trip to Europe last month, I made sure to pack all the snacks and paleo bars to get us through the 10 days we would be there.  But what I didn’t account for is the fact that I literally would not be able to eat anything on the flight over and that we would find ourselves in France on a National Holiday when everything was closed.  So needless to say, by the time we got to London, my trusty bag of snacks was gone.  Enter Nakd Bars.

Nakd BarsOne of the things the Englishman and I love to do when we travel is visit grocery stores.  In France, we spent a significant time in Carrefour and as soon as we arrived in London, we made a beeline for Tesco to stock up on goods for our Air BnB.  I was looking for some grain-free bars to replenish my stash and stumbled upon Nakd Bars.  Not only was the cheeky packaging great, the bars were made with minimal ingredients which is an automatic win in my book.  Plus, they had all sorts of fun flavors like Rhubarb and Custard and Cocoa Orange.

And I have to say, these bars are quite delicious!  They are lower in sugar than some of their American counterparts, and it was the perfect snack to keep me going through the remainder of our travels.  In fact, I bought a few more to get me through the flight home, and Virgin Atlantic surprised me by having a Nakd Bar in one of our snack boxes (which was much appreciated since I had just watched the Englishman eat a tasty ice cream bar an hour earlier).

nakd bar flavorsNaturally when I arrived home I immediately reached out to the Nakd Bars team to see if they had any distribution in the US.  While the bars aren’t in stores, you can order them online….OR you can win a sampler pack for yourself right now!

Nakd bars PackagingThe Nakd Bars team was kind enough to send me a box of bars to enjoy and are offering one lucky winner their own sampler box!  This will include their more traditional gluten-free bars as well as some of their “crunch” bars with soy protein.  And with so many delicious flavors offered, chances are you’ll fall in love with the bars as fast as I did. Word on the street is there’s a new Bakewell Tart flavor I can’t wait to try!

nakd wholefoods logoa Rafflecopter giveaway

  Offer open to U.S. residents only.  Ends 7/2/15.

Champagne Tasting in Epernay

After spending a few days traipsing through Burgundy, the Englishman and I packed up our rental car and headed north to spend a couple of days Champagne Tasting in Epernay.  I thought Burgundy was tough to top, but I fell in LOVE with Epernay.  I’m already plotting my return because I loved this charming town so much.

champagne tasting in epernayEpernay is located about 2 hours north-east of Paris in the Marne region.  It’s known as France’s “champagne capital” as the majority of champagne producers are located in Epernay and nearby town Reims.  And a little fun fact:  only champagne produced in this region can truly be called champagne.  Champagne produced in other countries/cities is known as “sparkling wine.”

champagne houses epernayAs a big lover of the bubbly, I was quite excited to do some champagne tasting in Epernay, and the city definitely did not disappoint.  Right in the center of the city is the Avenue de Champagne, which is home to some of the world’s most famous champagne houses including Mercier, Moet et Chandon and Perrier Jouet.  The Englishman and i decided to start our champagne filled day with at tour at Mercier.

Mercier is one of the first champagne houses to be built in Epernay and one of the only to offer a tour of their working cellars.  After a brief overview of the history of Mercier, we were whisked down 30 meters underground to start the tour.

champagne tasting in epernay cellarsWe hopped on a little train and listened to an audio tour that explained the champagne making process from picking the grapes, to bottling and distribution.  It was really interesting to learn about the process from start to finish and I loved seeing the working cellar in action.

Champagne Tasting EpernayAt the end of the tour we were greeted with a glass of champagne which was a nice touch.  Nothing like starting off your morning with a glass of bubbly at 10:30am!

After our tour of Mercier, the Englishman and I started to pop in and out of various champagne houses along the Avenue de Champagne for tasting.  The crazy thing about champagne tasting in Epernay is that the prices are so cheap!  You can get a really high quality glass of champagne for roughly 4-6 Euro, which is about 6-8 US dollars (based on the current exchange rate).

Rose Tasting EpernayThe Englishman and I are both fans of champagnes that are more on the dry side and not very sweet at all, so we pretty much loved every glass that we tasted throughout the day.

The last house we visited was Janisson-Baradon, where we ended up having a lovely conversation with one of the owners, who is hoping to get distribution in the states one day.  His champagne was our favorite of the day, so we ended up buying a couple of bottles to smuggle home to the US.

janisson baradon epernayOf course no day of champagne tasting is complete without an amazing French meal after, but I’ll recap that in another post because it was THAT good.  I do have to give a little shout out to the creme brulee we had one night in Epernay, because it was probably the best creme brulee I’ve had in my life.

creme brulee epernayEven if you aren’t a big champagne drinker (like the Englishman), I feel like Epernay is a must-visit if you find yourself in France.  The food is fabulous, the people are super friendly and the champagne is GOOD.  Now if only I could get a job at one of the champagne houses….

Life Lately

I’m having a hard time believing that we are already halfway through December and Christmas is just a mere few days away.  I feel like the month (year) is flying by and I’m not even prepared.  I still need to bake cookies and watch all my holiday favorites! That being said, here’s a glimpse into life lately:

I never blogged about it but after we ran the Big Sur Half Marathon we drove down to Solvang to hang out at our favorite winery and stay for the night.  We had dinner at Succulent Cafe and these brussels sprouts were amazing and I can’t stop thinking about them.

brussels sprouts and bacon

The restaurant also had these cool little lights in mason jars and I want to re-create this in my house.

mason jar lightsNow that it’s FINALLY feeling like winter here I’m all about the tea, all the time.  Holiday teas are in full rotation around here but I also love matcha green tea with almond milk. With a side of Christmas tree.

tea and christmas tree_1I’m also still on the rose train and love throwing together a little cheese/fruit/nut plate and enjoying a glass on the weekend.  It’s my own little happy hour.

wine and cheese

I’m currently trying to come up with more recipes to use Dark Chocolate Dreams so I don’t just eat it straight from the jar…

flourless chocolate peppermint cookies

We had friends over for a paella party and I didn’t snap a pic of the paella!  But I did get a shot of our half-eaten appetizers.

paella party tapasKarla got me the Thug Kitchen cookbook for Christmas (because she’s the coolest) and I made the maple oat banana bread from it.  Amazing.


I made peppermint bark this weekend so now I can officially say the holidays are here.  I think I need to make my salted coconut almond bark next.

peppermintbark_slabAnd just for good measure, here’s a pic of Pip.

pippageNow who’s ready for Christmas?

Visiting Carlton

Our trip to the pacific northwest didn’t just involve Portland and all of it’s delicious food, it also included visiting Carlton, in the heart of the Willamette Valley aka Wine Country.

carlton wine countryThe Englishman and I are big wine country fans.  We got engaged in Temecula, love to frequent Napa, and are evening getting married at a winery in Santa Ynez.  We were both looking forward to getting out of the city and seeing what Oregon wine country had to offer.

Carlton is about 45 minutes southwest from downtown Portland, and is quite possibly the smallest town I have ever been in, as evidenced by the photo below.

carlton main streetThe actual main street of Carlton was less than half a mile long, a fun fact I learned from my garmin when the Englishman and I were out for a run.  And given that we were there during the week, many of the shops and restaurants were closed, which is definitely a novel concept for this Orange County girl.

While Carlton was quite small, it definitely had a lot of charm.  The people were lovely and incredibly friendly, and always eager to strike up a conversation.  Carlton may not have the hustle and haute cuisine of Portland, but it was the perfect wine country escape.  Here are some places you must check out if you ever find yourself visiting Carlton:

Carlton Bakery

carlton bakeryThis bakery was one of our favorite spots in Carlton.  There were fresh baked breads and pastries every morning, as well as other specialties such as quiche, sandwiches and other desserts.

carlton bakery pastriesEverything is made in house and the homemade Earl Grey shortbread were to die for.  I meant to save them for the plane ride home, but ended up eating them on the drive back from Portland.  We also loved their croissants, savory tarts and 10-grain seeded bread.

carlton bread 1Republic of Jam

I unfortunately do not have any pictures from the Republic of Jam, but this is seriously the best jam I have ever tasted.  They offer free jam tastings and have unique flavors such as Apple Beer, Pacific Berry, and Pineapple Vanilla Clove.  All of the jams are made with all natural ingredients and sugars, so a double win for that.  We brought home a few jars of the jam and can’t get enough.

Valley Emporium

valley emporiumAfter a long day of wine tasting and a 2 mile walk alongside the road in the 90 degree heat (long story), we needed a place to sit and relax and enjoy some wine.  Luckily, Valley Emporium was more than willing to accommodate and Val poured us some of the best wine we had on the trip.

carlton valley emporiumIn addition to offering delicious wine, Valley Emporium is also an a vintage store that has all sorts of interesting collectables.  In addition to the case of wine we ordered from Valley Emporium, I also got a Moose Cafe mug, which I am currently obsessed with.

valley emporium bigfootOh, and Valley Emporium also has a poster of a big foot drinking wine.  So that’s pretty cool.

 R.R. Thompson House

rr thompson houseThe Englishman and I stayed at R.R. Thompson House and Roselyn and Mike were lovely hosts.  The bed and breakfast is located just off the main drag, and has a bunch of nice rooms with private bathrooms.  It was nice to be staying in a B&B instead of a corporate hotel.

If you ever find yourself passing through Carlton, be sure to check these places out.  And if you are on a wine tasting adventure, you’ll definitely want to make a stop at these places:

Omero Cellars

Troon Vineyard

Carlton Winemakers Studio

So I’ve been to Napa, Temecula, Santa Ynez and the Willamette Valley.  Where should I go next for wine tasting?