Design, Interiors & Lifestyle Blog
Design, Interiors & Lifestyle Blog

Author Archives: littlebigbell

About littlebigbell

Hello! I am Geraldine and welcome to my design and lifestyle blog – Little Big Bell. I am a doctor by day and blogger by night. Here is where I explore and curate a collection of new talents and trends in the world of design and decor. I hope you enjoy reading my blog and I'm always happy to hear from my readers. You can contact me on littlebigbell@gmail.com

Champagne tour and tasting at Taittinger in Reims, France.

On our recent drive home from Grasse to Calais, we decided to stop over at Reims. Here’s a photo of the beautiful Reims cathedral.

I was last in Reims more than 10 years ago for a French wedding, and all I could remember was a small quaint town, lots of feasting and the customary champagne sampling.

Well, how times have changed. Reims is now bustling with shops and restaurants. One thing has remained the same though, and that is the Champagne. champagne tour in Reims We were kindly invited to tour the major Champagne house Taittinger, and to sample their champagne. Taittinger is one of only five Champagne houses to cellar its wines in the famous “Crayères” of Reims – chalk caves originally dug out by the Romans.

Champagne merchants found that the caves provided the perfect conditions for aging wine. The Taittinger cellars are located in the Abbey of Saint-Nicaise, built in the 13th century in Gallo-Roman chalk pits that dated back to the 4th century.

The Abbey was destroyed during the French revolution, and all that now remains are the cellars.

Above is a reconstructed model of the Abbey. It’s now the location of Taittinger champagne house.

The Taittinger Champagne house did not exist until 1932. champagne tour It was originally founded in 1734 by Jacques Fourneaux, then his grandson Jérôme and Antoine Forest started the business, and finally, Pierre Taittinger bought it over.

Today Taittinger is one of the most famous and largest family run Champagne Houses in Reims.  The vines that make Taittinger Champagne cover 712 acres distributed among some of the best 34 villages in the Champagne appelation area. I was interested to read that Taittinger extends the aging time of their champagnes beyond the legal minimum time, with three to four years for the Brut Réserve and nearly ten for its prestige cuvée Comtes de Champagne. champagne tour taittinger During the tour we descended deep into the caves. The lower we went the colder it got. champagne tour The caves were previously used as air raid shelters during the war. You can still see the etchings and carvings on the chalk walls,  made by people who sheltered there. champagne tour Can you spot a face amongst those chalk walls? The tour was so informative,

Did you know that the names on the labels indicated the sweetness and dryness of the Champagne?

‘Brut’ refers to dry Champagne with low residual sugar. ‘Brut Nature” champagne has the least amount of sugar.

I also learned that “Sec” indicated the sweetness of the Champagne, with ‘extra Sec,’ ‘Sec’ and ‘demi-sec’

Extra Sec is the driest of Champagnes with a sugar content of 12-17 g/l, Sec contains 17-32 g/l and demi-sec is the sweetest with a sugar content of 32 – 50 g/l. champagne tour How many bottles of champagne do you think are in this tunnel?

Well, the answer is 100,000. Scroll down to see the mirror image of this tunnel, so you can appreciate its depth. champagne tour Amazing right? Imagine, making so many bottles of champagne to fill up this void. Taittinger’s Comtes de Champagne is one of their most recognized and premium Champagnes, and we were lucky to sample it after our tour.

Made from top quality Chardonnay grapes grown in ‘Grand Cru’ vineyards, Comtes de Champagne is one of the greatest Blanc de Blancs champagnes.

Comtes was first produced in 1952. A Champagne with the potential to age for decades. It was absolutely delicious with light sparkling bubbles and floral citrus notes. We bought a few bottles.

Finally, I leave you with another fun fact:

Did you know that Champagne bottles have names according to their sizes? For example, a Magnum is 1.5 litres, a Jeroboam is 3 litres and a standard bottle or Champenoise is 75cl.

If you fancy a short break, then I recommend a visit to Reims and a tour of Taittinger.

Have a wonderful week ahead.

holidaying from home I was excited when London estate agent Marsh and Parsons asked me to be part of their ‘Holidaying from Home Campaign’.

The campaign plays on the idea that it’s not easy to get away right now, so instead we’re looking at the home with fresh eyes to find a little bit of paradise in London.

Giving our homes a holiday feel can do wonders for our general mental health and wellness.

Many people may not be travelling this year, for obvious reasons due to the Pandemic.

A change in decor, no matter how small, can help us get out of that “staying at home” rut.

I’ve decided to transport my home above to the colourful warmth of Havana. holidaying form home Admittedly, I’ve never been there before, but it’s on my list of places to visit.

The streets of Havana are a visual delight of colourful colonial houses, old vintage cars and vibrant street style. I was inspired by the colourful photos on An Adventurous world’s article on things to do in Havana.

I’ve styled a corner of my home mingling bright hues of pinks, yellows, blues, oranges and green together.

There is no set rule on how to style this look as long as you bring at least 3 to 4 colours from the palette above to your room. Don’t be afraid to mix and clash colours together. ‘Holidaying from home’ Havana style also bring Mojitos, the rum based signature cocktail from Cuba to mind.

I’ve created a slight twist on the Mojito at home, using Aperol instead of rum, mixing it with sugar syrup, soda water and wedges of citrus limes and lemons.  holidaying from home So, this is now my new haven to sip chilled cocktails from, a space to lie back and feel the sun on my face.

Even if there’s there’s no sun, you could bring the warmth of Havana in with some lush green plants. I’ve placed a Fiddle leaf fig tree next to my sofa.

All the items I have used to create this look can be bought from U.K. stores:

Bespoke yellow Harper velvet sofa with blue trims from sofa dot com

Limited edition prints by David Newton from Print Club London.

Anglepoise Type 75 floor lamp Margaret Howell edition.

Hand blown Splash vase by HAY from Black Bough.

Rainbow cushion and throw from Peachy Parrot.

White around coffee table by Muuto from Nest.

Molly rug by Pappelina from Twentytwentyone. Hope you’ve enjoyed the post and that it has put you in the mood to create your own holiday corner at home. If you want more easy tips on how to bring colour into your home, then do check out Marsh and Parson’s post here.

( All photography and styling are by Little big Bell. This is a paid partnership post with Marsh and Parsons, all opinions are my own).

crème cookies Crème. The tastiest chewiest new cookie dough cookies to hit London.

I had to simply share it with you, because it is too good not to.

Think freshly baked chunky, scrumptious and crunchy external yet chewy warm cookie dough centres.

I found out about them from my daughter, who brought some home from a visit to their SOHO shop recently.

It’s called Crème, French for cream because they wanted a name that sounded soft, warm and cosy, like their cookies. creme cookies Made by Executive chef Jeremy Coste, who trained in classic French patisserie at Institut Paul Bocuse, followed by a period working under 2 Michelin-Starred chef Jean Francois Piege in Paris.

They come in amazing flavours such as Double Chocolate,  milk chocolate , white chocolate miso and banana dark chocolate cookie dough. The great thing is, if you are based in London, they can be delivered to your door. Just place them in the oven for a few minutes to recreate that gooey yummy just baked chewy cookie taste. I’m getting hungry writing about this, off to have some.

If you are passing through London, then do go try. They are so delicious and my new favourite comfort food.

Oh, and the packaging is absolutely divine isn’t it? Fits in so well with my interiors.

Hope I haven’t made you too hungry. Have a beautiful day all.

( All photography and styling are by Geraldine Tan, editor of Little Big Bell)

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