The Secret of the Irish Castle {book 3} by Santa Montefiore

scretcastleNovels with an Irish setting?  Bring it on!

This is the last book in the trilogy and I can say I enjoyed all the books immensely.  Book 1 is The Girl in the Castle, Book 2 is The Daughters of Ireland and The Secret of the Irish Castle wraps it all up neatly.  Perfect ending if you ask me.

The author does a good job of recapping things from previous books so you’re not lost if you haven’t read the other two books in quite a while.  That being said, you need to read these in order for the character development to make sense.

We continue with the story of Kitty Deverill , Bridie Doyle and Jack O’Leary.  Lots of scenes with the fun characters Harry Deverill, Boysie and Celia. There are ulterior motives for assisting one another with exposing Bride’s husband the faux Count – Rosetta wants to help her friend while Grace is helping so she can get back in Michael’s good graces and his bed.

There are times it’s a soap opera or Facebook drama but if you are a fan of the series, what a page turner.  It’s always nice to be an armchair traveler and visit Ireland.

There were a few food items mentioned but it’s the usual tea, scones, biscuits, cake and fish.  For a fancy dinner salmon mousse, roasted duck and pheasant were served.

Linking up with:

Heather for the June 2018 Foodies Read

Joy’s British Isles Friday

 

 

 

Advertisements

The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen

tuscan

This past February my book buddy Katherine (who writes at I’d Rather Live in a Library) read and reviewed The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen.  Her review is HERE and, if I may say, I ought to just point you in her direction as she mirrored my athoughts with this book.

The story is told in two timelines.  We go back and forth between present day England and Italy with the bulk of the narrative in 1944 Italy.

in 1973 Joanna Langley returns to her childhood home after her father Hugo dies.  While cleaning out his home she finds letters addressed to a woman named Sofia who lives in Italy.  It’s clear her father was deeply in love with Sofia yet he never spoke about her or his war service.

Joanna plans a trip to Italy to see if she can locate Sofia and learn more about her father.  During her stay she meets a wonderful woman who mothers her and tries to teach her to cook.  She also has run-ins with Sofia’s son, now a handsome  businessman and heir to an estate by the man who adopted him after Sofia abandoned him.

Or did Sofia abandon her young son? The plot thickens!  While it turns into a predictable story line it kept me interested.  The end was wrapped up too neatly and wasn’t believable but that doesn’t take away from the overall story.  I particularly loved the scenes in Tuscany and all the food and drink.  Reading this made me hungry!

There is quite a bit of food mentioned in this book and I think it would make a fine candidate for Cook the Books!

  • Roasted lamb
  • A soup of beans, macaroni and vegetables
  • Bruschetta with chicken liver mixed with anchovy, tapenade and thin slices of fennel with goat cheese.
  • Fagioli al fiasco sotto la cenere – white beans cooking with rosemary, sage and garlic.  It’s put in a Chianti bottle and cooked slowly overnight in the embers of the dying fire. Spinach, mushrooms and garlic slowly simmering.
  • Rabbit ragu started with pancetta, onions, sage, garlic and tomatoes.
  • A platter of fresh tomatoes, a slab of white cheese, a few sticks of salami, a bowl of olives and a big crusty loaf of bread.
  • Fried zucchini blossoms and artichokes
  • Mushroom risotto, aubergine Parmesan and panna cotta
  • Limoncello, mussels and clams in cream sauce, Florentine beef steak and a rich almond cake with gelato for dessert.

“Joanna had grown up with simple English cooking – steak and kidney pie, shepherd’s pie, fish and chips, lamb chops and takeaway Indian and Chinese.”

Tuscan

I was planning on the soup and life got in the way so I made the side dish of spinach and mushrooms to go with one of our dinners.

Rhys Bowen in a New York Times best selling author.  She was born in Bath England, studied at London University and now lives in the United  States. This is my first book authored by Bowen but I would now like to read more.  In particular I’d like to acquire In Farleigh Field as the setting is World War II, an era I like to read about.

Linking up with:

Heather for the June 2018 Foodies Read

Joy’s British Isles Friday

Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking Series

Ireland the Best by John McKenna and Sally McKenna

ireland

Ireland the Best by John McKenna and Sally McKenna

What a wonderfully comprehensive guide for touring Ireland! Having traveled there for two vacations I can say that this is THE guide to take along if you are planning a trip.  I’ve used other guides in the past but this one will have a place on my travels next time.

If it’s a particular county you are looking for you can easily click on to that section of the book. This will be fabulous for planning a trip in the future as well as a handy reference guide while traveling.  Plus it’s on my Kindle so that makes it super easy to tuck into a purse.

One of the sections I am interested in is the prehistoric sites such as Newgrange and the many dolmens. I have been to Newgrange once and it was magnificent. Also the Hill of Tara, but how can you go wrong if you are interested in passage tombs?
There are sections devoted to gardens, literary places, graveyards, castles, abbey and cathedrals and much more. The Strolls, Walks and Hikes section is a must-read if you are heading to Ireland as there are so many beautiful places to hike.

It’s mentioned how the food has improved over the years and I can say that the tired old stereotype about food in Ireland and England is incorrect. We have had some wonderful meals with fresh produce, seafood and fruit that was a real treat.

The index is very detailed and well laid out so you can search out a particular subject easily. Here is a photo of one of the pages, may be hard to read but it’s a good example.

ire1

This book was published in March 2018. Check it out at Netgalley and kindly request a copy for your Kindle or other reading device. I can say, this will remain on my Kindle for future travels.

Much thanks to Netgalley giving me access to this to this advanced reader’s copy.

Linking up with Joy’s British Isles Friday

   BriFri-logo

The Lost Family by Jenna Blum #TheLostFamilySupperClub

bookLostFam

I am honored to have been invited to the Lost Family Virtual Supper Club hosted at the Book Club Cookbook site.

This is the first time I have participated with a virtual supper party and I’m thrilled to see some other food bloggers I know on the guest list.   Jenna Blum is a new author for me and I can say, after diving into this page-turner, I am now hungry for the menus included as well as Blum’s other publications.

Jenna describes her book this way: “The Lost Family is a novel about a German-Jewish Auschwitz survivor named Peter Rashkin, who emigrates to New York, starts a restaurant, and falls in love—only to find his new American family haunted by the wife and daughters he lost during the war.

The story starts in the 1960’s and spans roughly 30 years. It’s about love, loss, understanding and forgiveness.  Peter Rashkin, the handsome owner and chef at Masha’s restaurant is the star of the story.  He is a man haunted by his past, torn between the ghosts of his old family and his new family.  While the other story lines focus more on June and Elspeth’s point of view Peter is indeed the main character. There is wonderful imagery in this novel, you feel like you are sitting in on the conversations.

There are so many passages that feature food, drink and menus that I can’t list them all. Well, I could but then I may not post prior to this fabulous book being released on June 5, 2018 – so let me just say there is plenty of culinary inspiration.

A cold gin martini with a few Queen olives will start me off here.  No recipe needed.

martini

I loved this particular passage:

In every time of trouble in his life, large or small, Peter had gravitated to the kitchen. During his childhood, in flight from his father’s bullying or his mother’s disdain, Peter had sought the large square room in the back of the house where Hilde let him stir soup, roll dough and – most excitingly, and provided he held the knife just as she showed him – chop vegetables. During his teens Peter’s sole act of rebellion had been to apply for a job as Adlon commis instead of clerking in the family law firm.”

“Food is essentially the same. Julienning carrots or chiffonading basil was the same in Skokie or Berlin. A rutabaga was a rutabaga. Vegetables, meat and technique had no language. The kitchen, any kitchen, was Peter’s home.” (pp. 134-135)

I thought about Peter as he chopped vegetables and herbs, as rolled dough to make bread, losing himself in the kitchen environment.  Relaxing and creating.  Personally I find making bread therapeutic.  I love the process of making bread, the slow kneading of the dough and creation of something  everyone loves to see gracing the table. Hot, fresh bread. Yes.

bubble bread 011

Herbed Bubble Bread

3 – 3 ½ c flour
2 T sugar
1.5 t salt
1.25 oz yeast (1 pkg)
1 ¼ c milk
2 T vegetable oil
1 egg
1/4 c melted butter or margarine
2 T Parmesan
1 T sesame seeds
1 teaspoon each of garlic salt, paprika, parsley, rosemary &  thyme

Lightly grease a 2 quart deep round casserole. In a large bowl combine 1 cup flour, sugar, salt and yeast.

In small saucepan heat milk and vegetable oil until very warm (120 -130 F).  Add egg and warm liquid to flour mixture. With electric mixer beat 3 minutes at medium speed.

With wooden spoon, stir in remaining flour to make a soft dough.  Turn dough out onto lightly floured board. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 1-2 minutes.

Place dough in warm greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover; let rise in warm place, free from draft, until doubled in bulk, 45 minutes.

Punch down dough. Pinch off walnut-size balls of dough and dip in melted butter. Place in prepared casserole forming one layer.  Combine cheese, seeds, garlic salt, paprika, and herbs. Sprinkle half over layer of bubbles.

bubbread1

Make a second layer of buttered bubbles; pour remaining butter over bubbles, sprinkle with remaining seasoning mixture.  Cover and let rise in warm place, free from draft, until the “bubbles” almost reach top of casserole, 30 – 45 minutes.

Just before rising time is up, preheat oven to 400 F. Bake 25-30 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes; loosen from pan with spatula and remove. Serve warm.

A labor of love

This book will be released on June 5, 2018. Many thanks for this advanced reader’s copy!  Please check out what others have brought to the party.

TLFSupperClub_large-768x251

More Info Here!
Twitter
The Book Club Cookbook site
Instagram
Pinterest

I am sharing this with Beth Fish’s Weekend Cooking Series and Heather for the June Foodies Read.

WeekendCooking   2018FoodieRead

*Disclosure: I  received an advance reading copy of The Lost Family by Jenna Blum, the Book Club Cookbook and Harper Collins so I was able to participate with the  #TheLostFamilySupperClub party.

Ernest Shackleton

shackletonOne thing that attracted me to this movie was it is a true story about  Sir Ernest Shackleton.  In 1914 he set off on an Antarctic expedition, something he probably shouldn’t have survived but he did.  But not only did he make that epic journey, he kept his entire crew alive after their ship was destroyed in ice.  The worst possible conditions anyone could conjure and they survived.  Barely.

The lead role was played by Kenneth Branagh. Most recently I have watched him in Murder on the Orient Express and of course I am fond of his role in the Harry Potter series.

It’s a total of almost 4 hours and I believe this could’ve been cut short if they had spent less time focusing on his fundraising and more time on the actual journey. They was a bit about his wife and his mistress, as well as conversations those women had, which I thought had no place in film. You could’ve replace that bit and told us more about what happened at the end. While it’s an amazing story it seemed at the very end they had to hurry to wrap it up.

I just read that Tom Hardy will reprise the role of Shackleton, read that HERE. So far any movie I’ve seen Tom Hardy has been a hit with us.  OK, the exception would be the movie This Means War with Chris Pine.  Hardy will be amazing in this role.

Again they could’ve spent more time telling us what happened to Shackleton‘s men, his other explorations and how he had ended up having a heart attack.  Also I would ahve liked to know more about the crew of the Endurance rather than wasting time with some of the fund raising and the scenes with his mistress.

If you’re in the mood for a true story about an epic journey to explore Antarctica then I would suggest this film. I think there are other versions but our library happened to acquire this one.  It was made in 2002.

Linking up with Joy’s British Isles Friday

BriFri-logo

Thursday’s Children by Nicci French {Book 4 in the Frieda Klein series}

thursdayThursday’s Children is book #4 in the Frieda Klein series. This one moved slowly.  I’m glad it wasn’t my first acquaintance with Frieda Klein as I may have put the series on the back burner.  So, having read five books in this eight book series, I will still say the Sunday book is still by far the best.

Looking at the positives first, I will say I learned more about our elusive main character in this book than any of the others. It dragged a bit when she went back to her childhood home of Braxton and I think the story line could have been abbreviated.

I like how her friends gather to bring her nice meals, the support they show her, the wine, the mystery aspects of the story and the English setting.  Both London and the little rural town of Braxton.

My favorite supporting character is still Josef.  Hoping to see more of him in the next few books.  I felt very sorry for Frieda’s boyfriend and thought she was too cold with him.  Don’t want to reveal spoilers but I will be adding my thoughts on Goodreads where I can hide the spoilers.  I had it narrowed down to two characters as the main perpetrator but have to say I was actually surprised who the baddie turned out to be.

Side note on an unrelated documentary:   The musical group Thursday’s Children was focused on in the book, however, Thursday’s Children was also a documentary  about the Royal School for the Deaf in Margate, Kent.  It won an  Academy Award for the Best Documentary Short of 1954. The subject deals with hearing-handicapped children.  They learn what words are through exercises and games, practicing lip-reading and finally speech. Richard Burton was the narrator.

It doesn’t appear the name of the fictional band has any relation to the documentary.  There isn’t a mention or connection in the novel.

Food mentioned

Hot buttered tea cakes
Avocado, arugula, sun –dried tomatoes and hummus on focaccia bread.
A sandwich of goat cheese, tomato and salad leaves.
Butternut squash soup with rolls
Garlic- mushroom soup and eggplant and red pepper flan.
Oysters, scallops with bacon and risotto.

“Reuben cooked only four or five dishes and he served them in rotation.  Frieda had eaten them all, over and over again.  There was chili con carne, lasagna, baked potatoes with sour cream and grated cheese.  Tonight it was pasta with the pesto he bought from the local deli.”

“There was a bowl of thick red soup with dumplings, there was something wrapped in cabbage, large sausages, pickled fish, beetroot salad, chopped potatoes and unfamiliar kind of little mushroom, a huge wheel of bread, small pastries, a whole duck, pancakes………..”

Representative meal is a risotto with wild rice, herbs and bay scallops.  A glass of Chardonnay is a great pairing here.

risotto

Linking up with:

Heather for the May 2018 Foodies Read

Joy’s British Isles Friday

Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking Series

Murder on the Orient Express {Meh}

We watched this recently and didn’t find it remarkable.  I wish the other characters had more time to develop. Branagh didn’t work for me as Hercule Poirot. Loved him as Gilderoy Lockhart in Harry Potter but Poirot wasn’t a good role for him. (in my humble opinion)

gilderoy-lockhart

It’s amazing you can gather such acting talents as Judi Dench, Penelope Cruz (they managed to dowdy her up!), Derek Jacobi, Michelle Pfeiffer (LadyHawk 🙂 and Olivia Colman and it doesn’t grab you.  ( I loved Colman’s character Ellie in Broadchurch, just FYI)

Maybe that’s just me but…this movie was one I looked forward to but found a bit dull. I have a British series called Peaky Blinders at the library so I will give that a go next week.  So far the big winner for British shows has been Taboo with Tom Hardy.  Let’s see how The Peaky Blinders work for us.

Linking up with Joy’s British Isles Friday

BriFri-logo