Wine Review: Famille Perrin Côtes du Rhône Réserve

October 19, 2016

Good Cheap Wine: Famille Perrin Côtes du Rhône Réserve |

Wine: Famille Perrin Côtes du Rhône Réserve
Region: France
Retailer: Trader Joe’s
Price: $6.99

One perk of marrying a Frenchman is that you now have a mini sommelier with you at all times.

I love to watch the monsieur choose wine. He’ll stand in the aisle staring at all the bottles and I can practically see him rifling through all the folders in his brain full of info about different regions, grape varietals, and more. This Côtes du Rhône was a product of one of our recent trips to Trader Joe’s and quickly became a favorite.

Though a Côtes du Rhône can be a blend of up to 23 grapes, this one is a traditional “GSM blend” meaning it comes from Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre grapes. It results in an herbal, earthy nose. Tastes are subtle yet strong with hints of red fruits. There is also something spicy and almost peppery there too. On a final tasting note, the finish is dry and long in a good way.

You can pair this wine with practically anything. Our friends just poured a Côtes du Rhône along with roasted chicken and a pumpkin side dish. It was heavenly. You can also serve it with roasted lamb, your Thanksgiving turkey, or a cheese and charcuterie board.

It’s versatile enough to serve alongside Northern African dishes, Mediterranean food, stirfry, or even pizza (yes pizza!). Overall, it’s an easygoing wine that goes down easy, which is just how we like it in laidback Southern California.

P.S. Another laidback wine for lazy days and a pinot noir IN A CAN.

French Connections

October 4, 2016

French Connections |

The monsieur and I are currently caught in a whirlwind of work so all we can think about is a Hawaiian vacation where we do absolutely nothing. Okay, maybe we’ll do a few things like search out the best shaved ice or go on a hike but most of our days will be eat, sleep, beach, repeat. If you’ve ever been to Kauai, then I’d love to hear your tips. In the meantime, enjoy these wining, dining, and styling links.

15 cabernets under $15 from Trader Joe’s.
• Gotta try this recipe for giant, cheesy puffy dough things.
Something to consider when buying cheap wine. Note to self.
• Vanessa Jackman’s recaps of Paris Fashion Week are always my fave.
A great tutorial on making zee best cheese plate.
• If you’ve got a little chica in your life, then this is the perfect gift.
• The Madewell et Sézane® collection launched today! Youpi!
Rosé gummy bear recipe? Yes way!
• Finally, a workout plan that I can actually get behind.

Photo from my Instagram.

Modern French Wardrobe for Fall and Winter

September 27, 2016

Modern French Wardrobe for Fall and Winter |

French Girl style is a thing. Believe me, I’ve read every single article, blog post, and book about it. It’s the striped shirt, ballet flats, and trench coat all wrapped up in a little bit of je ne sais quoi.

However, French Girl style may not be a real thing. See, my French girlfriends have styles that are wildly different and I have yet to see one of them dressed exactly like this. Maybe all these perfectly Parisian pieces are just for French wannabes like me?

Whatever the case, this is what I’ll be wearing in the fall and winter. You’ll see a bunch of classic cuts in white and black (so much black). The neutral color palette allows for mixing and matching so getting dressed in the morning is easy breezy.

Most of my clothes come from J Crew, Madewell, Banana Republic, Gap and Uniqlo, but every once in a while I splurge for something big like the Reed Krakoff Atlantique bag or that pair of Chelsea boots in the finest, butteriest leather. It’s the perfect mix of high and low, which is a trick of stylish women everywhere.

Enough musings on French Girl style, let’s get to the heart of what is actually hanging in my closet.

11 Tops: Black tee, white tee, light blue button-up, white button-up, black silk button-up, white long-sleeved tee, black long-sleeve tee, white blouse, black sweater, gray sweater, and striped long-sleeved tee.

6 Jackets and Coats: Navy pea coat, navy cropped trench coat, collarless light down jacket (a great layer under any of the other coats!), black leather motorcycle jacket, black wool toggle coat, and trench coat.

3 Dresses: Long-sleeved black dress, black button-up dress, and black tee dress. Full disclosure: I have a three dresses that aren’t pictured here including a super cute dress from the Gap x Vena Cava collection a few years back.

7 Bottoms: Black pleated pleather skirt, black skirt with flared hem, black a-line skirt, black wool skirt, black slacks, dark denim skinny jeans, and black skinny jeans.

8 Shoes: Black patent pumps, silver pumps, black high heels, red ballet flats, black booties, black Chelsea boots, black kitten heel pumps, and black ballet flats.

Accessories: Cat-eye sunglasses, black aviator glasses, black structured purse, black envelope clutch, black beanie, camel scarf, and gray scarf. I also have two pairs black tights (one matte and the other opaque) and a small collection of jewelry that are not shown here.

P.S. How to dress like a French Girl in the spring and summer and five ways to dress like the French.

French Words: Chin-Chin (or How to Say Cheers In French)

September 13, 2016

French Words: Chin-Chin (or How to Say Cheers In French) |

The act of saying cheers in France is serious business. There are subtle rules built on years of tradition that turn a simple act into a cherished ritual.

First, you must wait for everyone to be served. Then, you raise your drink and say cheers while being sure to clink glasses with everyone at the table. This seems easy enough.

However, here’s where it gets hard. While clinking, it’s extremely important that you 1) do not cross someone else’s arm to clink another person’s glass, 2) look everyone in the eye when your glasses meet, and 3) acknowledge everyone in the group whether it’s an actual cheers or a head nod from across the table.

Sound stressful? It kind of is! No worries though because the French have no problem correcting your behavior so you end up learning pretty quick. Plus, practice makes perfect, non? Just in case you need another excuse for wine time (wink wink).

Now that we’ve gone over how to cheers in France, let’s go over the French words you say. You can always use santé, a vôtre santé, or à la vôtre. These expressions basically wish the other person good health and are regularly used.

However, being a laidback Californian gal, I prefer to use the more casual chin-chin, which is sometimes spelled tchin-tchin. It is pronounced cheen cheen, which is kinda cute in my book. Perhaps it’s a repetition thing because I also love the word boui-boui. Je ne sais pas…

Above all, I love the chin-chin because it means one thing: Drinks are present and it’s time to celebrate. So, next time you raise a glass, do it the French way with a casual chin-chin!

P.S. A great wine from Trader Joe’s to cheers with and great music to play in the background.

How to Organize Your Recipes with Gmail

August 30, 2016

How to Organize Your Recipes with Gmail |

Once I started getting into cooking, I quickly amassed a collection of recipes ripped from magazine pages, scrolled on pieces of scratch paper, and hastily bookmarked online.

At one point, I got tired of trying to hunt down my favorite recipes and decided I needed a place where I could easily access all of them. After some trial and error, I finally settled on a recipe saving system using Gmail.

Why You Should Organize Your Recipes with Gmail

Gmail is an easy, digital way to save your favorite recipes.

You don’t have to install a new app on your phone, which means you don’t have to keep track of yet another username and password. It’s also pretty accessible, especially if you are like me and are always logged into your email with your phone (almost permanently) attached to your hand.

Another plus is that it’s super easy to share recipes. If someone asks, just find the requested recipe and forward it along to your friend. Boom, done.

How to Organize Your Recipes with Gmail

The basic premise is that you email recipes to yourself and save them in a special folder in Gmail. Though fairly straightforward, here’s a detailed description of how to go about it.

1. Scroll down the left sidebar of Gmail and click on “Create a New Label.” Type “Recipes” into the box under “Please enter a new label name” and then click on “Create” to create the digital folder where you can gather your emailed recipes.

2. Start a new email and enter the recipe you want to save. If it’s online, simply cut and paste it into the body of the email. If it’s an old family recipe, then take the time to type it out or snap a photo of the handwritten recipe.

3. Now it’s time to organize your recipe within the email. Warning, it’s about to get a little OCD! First, put the recipe title in the subject line of the email. Then, organize the recipe in the body of the email using the following format: Ingredients, Preparation, Tags, Source, and Link.

Tags are like hashtags or keywords that will help you find a recipe and can be as detailed as you want them to be. You might tag a recipe with the meal (breakfast, lunch, or dinner) or recipe type (like starter, main dish, side dish, or dessert). You could even include key ingredients.

Since this is all a little esoteric, here’s an example of what a recipe looks like. Bonus! This is a Guamanian recipe from my mom’s side of the family that’s pretty darn tasty.

Chicken Kelaguen

6-8 pieces of chicken (legs and thighs preferred)
1 small yellow onion
2-4 lemons
Small bunch of green onions
1 fresh coconut (optional)
1 serrano pepper (optional)

Salt and pepper chicken to taste. BBQ chicken on grill until just barely cooked through (don’t worry, the lemon juice will cook it the rest of the way). Take chicken off grill and let cool. Separate meat from the bone and chop into fine pieces.

Finely chop onion and mix with the chopped chicken. Add lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste. If you have access to a fresh coconut, halve the coconut and grate it with a hand grater. Add the grated coconut into the mixture. You may also add in finely chopped peppers if you want a little heat.

Cover and allow to rest in fridge for a few hours. Garnish with sliced green onions before serving.

Source: Family Recipe
Link: N/A

4. Finally, email the recipe to yourself and drag it to the “Recipes” label in your Gmail sidebar.

Et voilà! That’s how you get your first recipe into Gmail. Continue and repeat until you have all your favorites saved via email.

Once your done, you’ll always have your favorite recipes at your fingertips whether you are cooking at a friend’s house, whipping up a meal on vacation, or in the middle of Trader Joe’s trying to remember what you need for your favorite dish.

Do you have a method to organize your recipes? If so, do you store them online or prefer an analog style?

Why You Need a Cheese Dome

August 16, 2016

Why You Need a Cheese Dome |

In the United States, storing cheese is not that big of a deal.

Here you can re-wrap that cheddar in the packaging it came in or throw a hunk of cheese into a Tupperware. Heck, you can even get cheese in a can and it will probably keep for…well…eternity.

However, in a country like France where there are more than 350 types of cheeses, you can imagine they take their cheese storage seriously. Hours of research revealed a super fancy (and super expensive) wrapping paper, some very strong opinions about plastic wrap, and one tip to leave it on a windowsill as long as you live in a colder climate. In a word, cheese storage can be very complique.

Why You Need a Cheese Dome

Enter the cheese dome aka the laidback, low maintenance queen of the cheese storage world. It’s sturdy, reusable, and looks just as nice in your fridge as it does on your table.

A cheese dome also creates the perfect climate for your favorite fromage. The bell-shaped curve of the glass top allows some humidity to form within the air of the cheese dome. This atmosphere mimics the cold, slight dampness of a cheese cave.

Most importantly, a cheese dome allows your cheese to breathe. See, there are million bacteria that work hard to make your cheese tasty. Suffocating those little guys can cause bad mold to grow quickly or, worse, can lead to an ammonia -like smell. Quelle horror!

How to Use a Cheese Dome

Cheese domes are best for soft, semi-soft, and washed rind cheese. This includes cheese like Brie, Camembert, Havarti, Basque cheese, Gouda, and others.

For the record, we’ve kept all different types of cheese in our cheese dome from fresh goat cheese to Parmesan and it always seems to work well. The only cheese I would avoid are ones packed in liquid like fresh mozzarella or feta.

Keep your cheese dome on a shelf in fridge. Before serving, take it out of the fridge and leave it on a counter for 1-2 hours. This allows your cheese to come to room temperature, which inevitably enhances the taste. It also allows softer cheeses to get back to their original texture (i.e. helllllo creamy goodness).

Where to Buy a Cheese Dome

Currently, we own this marble beauty from Crate and Barrel. The white marble is on trend and really does look pretty against our wood table. My only complaint is that the marble is a bit heavy.

You could also go for a cheese dome with a wooden base like this one, this modern one, or this traditional one. However, moisture can pool on the base and eventually crack the wood.

Complaining and slightly dissatisfied with all types of available cheese domes…c’est très français, non? Since this post is quickly turning into the worst praise of the cheese dome ever, let me turn a corner here.

The Conclusion about Cheese Domes

While the initial outlay of $60-70 may seem steep, a cheese dome can last many years. This makes the cost-per-use dirt cheap. And as we already covered, they are easy to take care of and do double duty as both storage vessel and serving platter.

That said, the most exciting thing about owning a cheese dome is that you can fill it with wedge upon wedge of glorious cheese. From strong blue cheese to a mellow gouda and satisfying triple cream brie, they’ll be waiting for you in the fridge stored at the perfect temp and humidity.

P.S. Get the best cheeses from Trader Joe’s for to store in your cheese dome and devour later on.

French Connections

August 9, 2016

French Connections |

Isn’t summer the best? Long days full of fun like block parties, margaritas and tacos, picking fresh tomatoes off the vine, and mornings at the beach. It’s just like heaven and I hope it never ends. What’s up next? That frosé for starters and then the perfect summer read (second to last bullet).

Yes way frozen rosé.
• A detailed guide to help you take care of table linens.
The thing your sandwiches are missing.
• The French would definitely approve of these table manners.
• Totally not a summer recipe but I totally want to make it.
• Bookmarking this fun travel guide for our next trip to Paris.
French wine barrels vs. American wine barrels.
• Adding this novel to my summer reading list.
• Some tips on how to look stylish while traveling.

Photo from my Instagram.

Wine Review: Espiral Vinho Verde

August 2, 2016

Wine Review: Espiral Vinho Verde |

Wine: Espiral Vinho Verde
Region: Portugal
Retailer: Trader Joe’s
Price: $4.49

There is something about drinking a cold glass of wine on a hot summer day. For a while now, it’s been all yes way rosé at our home, but last week a friend brought over this bottle of vinho verde and now we have a contender for best wine of the summer.

The Espiral Vinho Verde is a white wine with a light, pale yellow color. It smells of straight up, full-on citrus with a very faint mineral note on the edge. Taste-wise, it opens with a burst of tart, green apple and then eventually mellows out to a honeydew melon that’s just sweet enough.

Notice all the references to green fruit? Well, that’s partly because vinho verde is Portuguese for green wine. However, the name doesn’t reference the color of the wine and instead refers to the fact that these wines are bottled super young. As a result, they are ever-so-slightly effervescent and do a little dance on your tongue.

With something so bright and refreshing, it’s no surprise that this wine goes well with the summer food like grilled chicken, pasta salads, spicy seafood dishes, and citrus-infused ceviche. You could also go Mediterranean with your food pairing and serve with a chorizo sausage appetizer or saffron-heavy paella.

Most importantly, be sure to chill the heck outta this baby. Plunge it into an ice bath or chill it in your freezer for 30-40 minutes. That way, you’ll take one sip and forget that the words “heat wave” ever existed.

P.S. How to say tipsy in French and a great red for those who aren’t into white wines.

Best Music for Your Dinner Party

July 19, 2016

Best Music for Your Dinner Party |

The table is set, dinner is made, and guests are arriving when it hits you: You forgot the music. If you are like me, then you have the best intentions to make a playlist that matches the musical tastes of your guests AND the cuisine you’re cooking. But if you are also like me, a lot of other dinner party things get in the way of that.

Good news is that you don’t have to worry about le musique at your dinner parties anymore thanks to apps, streaming, and the wonderful world of the internet. Here are four easy ways to set the mood with some music.


Short for France Inter Paris, everything they play is laidback enough to give your dinner party conversation priority, but unique enough that people notice. What’s more, they have a knack for mixing genres and can easily switch from rock to French pop and then opera (yes, opera). We typically play the live stream, but you can choose one of the playlists like reggae for your next bbq or jazz for a fancier affair.

Delicieuse Musique App

Kind of like FIP’s cooler and younger sibling, this French-based music app offers up the best electronic music out there including house, disco, lounge, and more. You can stream direct or choose from one of their playlists. We have the best luck by clicking into the jukebox section and playing Happy or Excited.

KCRW Radio App

As a diehard KCRW fan, I am totally biased when I say that they are one of the best public radio stations in the nation. Why not find out for yourself? Download their app and tap on over to Eclectic24 for a mix of indie rock, laidback electronica, and other tunes.

Django Reinhardt Playlist

Django Reinhardt was a Belgian-born French guitar player who rocked the world with his hot jazz style back in the 40s and 50s. Download “Douce Ambiance” and “Django in Rome” to play on a continuous loop. Alternatively, you can stream his albums from Spotify or find a Django playlist on YouTube. His music is fun and upbeat but also appropriate for all ages, which makes it great for meals with older friends and family.

P.S. Some tips for last-minute entertaining and a dinner party menu with a French vegan theme.

21 Best French Products at Trader Joe’s

July 12, 2016

21 French Products at Trader Joe's |

For a Frenchie living stateside, there’s no place like home when it comes to food. But Trader Joe’s comes pretty darn close! Here are twenty-one French products that we stock up on our weekly grocery trips.

1. Pain Rustique: The perfect everyday bread. When the French family comes to town, we go through a loaf in less than two days.

2. Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter: Creamy, salty, and so wonderfully buttery. It’s also $1-2 cheaper at Trader Joe’s than other grocery stores.

3. Haricots Vert: Small, skinny, tender green beans. When steamed, they make an easy (and healthy!) side dish.

4. Crème Fraîche: France’s lighter and more delicate answer to sour cream. A dollop goes a long way in soups and sauces.

5. Potatoes: Steamed, fried, baked, or mashed, the potato is a staple in the French kitchen and an easy side dish in any meal.

6. Dijon Mustard and Whole Grain Mustard: Just like Americans love our ketchup, the French love their mustard. The Dijon packs a punch while the whole grain is a bit mellower.

7. Cheese: Hard rind, ooey gooey, mild, and stinky…the selection of cheese at Trader Joe’s is solid and affordable. You can check out a list of the five best cheeses here.

8. Truffle Mousse Pate: “Tastes like meat butter,” said our cheating vegetarian friend. She’s right, it’s buttery, creamy, and meaty. Sounds gross but it’s glorious, I promise.

9. Salame Secchi: Though actually Italian, this salami is a close cousin to a French saucisson sec and it’s always the first thing to go on the appetizer plate when we entertain.

10. Cornichons: Sour and crunchy pickles in a miniature size. They go well with charcuterie or pâté and a nice glass of red wine, bien sûr.

11. Belgian Endives: Part of the chicory family, this veggie has a bitter-yet-sweet flavor. Healthy folks will chop, dress lightly, and serve as a salad. Unhealthy? Google endive and ham gratin.

12. Trimmed Leeks: Famously used in soups and stews, leeks are a sweeter and milder version of an onion. I also like them roasted with olive oil or topped with sauce gribiche.

13. Handsome Cut Potato Fries: Trying hard to avoid any references to Freedom Fries, but whoops, it just happened. These frites go particularly well with steak or a big pot of mussels cooked in white wine.

14. Red Wine Vinegar: In a country full of wine, apparently life sometimes gives you vinegar. This vinegar is a great as a vinaigrette base or as way to add umami to braised meats or stews.

15. Shallots: The refined and sophisticated cousin to the trusty onion. Many French recipes opt for the delicate taste of the shallot rather than the intensity of a yellow or red onion.

16. Fresh Herbs: French cuisine may be based in butter, cream, and carbs, but fresh herbs are its culinary exclamation point. Thyme is especially popular in French recipes.

17. European Style Plain Whole Milk Yogurt: A daily staple for most French folks. It’s typically eaten at breakfast, as a snack at goûter, or at the end of the meal as a substitute for dessert.

18. Dark Chocolate: Though the French have included chocolate in famous desserts like chocolate mousse and chocolate éclairs, many prefer to savor dark chocolate one square at a time.

19. Raspberry Tarte: Simple, straightforward, and delicious. Keep this one or the pear tarte in the freezer for an easy dessert at your next dinner party.

20. Dark Coffee: A strong, rich coffee that’s perfect for your café au lait. At only $4.99, it’s a great value for the high quality.

21. Macarons à la Parisienne: Made of meringue, almond flour, and magic, macarons are as tasty as they are photogenic. These satisfy a craving or make a sweet finale to a heavy meal.

P.S. Trader Joe’s is a great place to pick up wine and some books about French cookery.