Reviews: Great Summer Culinarian Treats

A5The Travelling Tea Shop by Belinda Jones

To be Released: May 22nd, 2014

A delectable tale of love, friendship and cake…

Laurie loves a challenge. Especially if it involves tea-time and travel. So when British baking treasure Pamela Lambert-Leigh needs a guide on a research trip for her new cookbook, she jumps at the chance.
The brief:
Laurie and Pamela Ð along with Pamela’s sassy mother and stroppy daughter Ð will board a vintage London bus for a deliciously unusual tour of the USA’s East Coast, cruising from New York to Vermont.

Their mission:

To trade recipes for home-grown classics like Victoria Sponge and Battenburg for American favourites like Red Velvet Cake and Whoopie Pie.
All the women have their secrets and heartaches to heal. As well cupcakes galore, there’s also the chance for romance…
But will making Whoopie lead to love?”
Laurie moved from England to Manhattan and her lifestyle is a yummy gastronomic tour of what the big apple has to to offer. Her next project is the book “The Travelling Tea Shop” which she is researching along the New England Coast in a fitted out double decker bus. Every edible treat is richly described. I feel like I put on weight just reading it. It is such a wonderful journey of delight.

There are so many iconic things on this research trip, that it just seems like a foodies idea of a holiday. I know it would be mine.

This was such a light-hearted feel good book that was funny, clever and non-fattening. I highly recommend this book as the perfect summer read.

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 An Appetite for Violets by Martine Bailey
To be Released on May 22nd, 2014

“That’s how it is for us servants. No one pays you much heed; mostly you’re invisible as furniture. Yet you overhear a conversation here, and add a little gossip there. A writing desk lies open and you cannot help but read a paper. Then you find something, something you should not have found.

Irrepressible Biddy Leigh, undercook at the forbidding Mawton Hall,can’t wait to settle down with her sweetheart and set up her own tavern. But when her elderly master marries the young, enigmatic Lady Carinna, Biddy is unwittingly swept up in a world of scheming, secrets and lies.

Forced to accompany her new mistress to Italy, Biddy takes with her an old household book of recipes, The Cook’s Jewel, in which she records her observations. When she finds herself embroiled in a murderous conspiracy, Biddy realises that the secrets she holds could be the key to her survival – or her downfall . . . ”

This is a historical adventure told through the eyes of Biddy Leigh- an under cook at Mawton Hall in the 1700. The book starts off in Cheshire and ends up in Tuscany.

Biddy is entrusted with the “Cook’s Jewel” a journal/cookery book, that formed a collective over the years from different women.

In many ways this is an upstairs downstairs story with insights into slavery and those in service.

There is so much in this sumptuous dramatic mystery; even some time-piece recipes are included.

Martine Bailey really immerses you into the 18th century with her beautiful prowse and delightfully researched history.

An Appetite for Violets is a foodie’s book, that everyone can enjoy. It is full of intrigue and mystery as well as being an epicurious journey through Europe. Reading this book was a sheer delight and if you are looking for a great holiday read- look no further.

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a9Unmasking Juliet by Teri Wilson

To be Released: May 27th, 2014

“Ever since she was a little girl learning to make decadent truffles in her family’s chocolate shop, Juliet Arabella has been aware of the bitter feud between the Arabellas and the Mezzanottes. With their rival chocolate boutiques on the same street in Napa Valley, these families never mix. Until one night, when Juliet anonymously attends the annual masquerade ball. In a moonlit vineyard, she finds herself falling for a gorgeous stranger, a man who reminds her what passion is like outside of the kitchen. But her bliss is short-lived when she discovers her masked prince is actually Leo Mezzanotte, newly returned from Paris and the heir to her archenemy’s confection dynasty.

With her mind in a whirl, Juliet leaves for Italy to represent the Arabellas in a prestigious chocolate competition. The prize money will help her family’s struggling business, and Juliet figures it’s a perfect opportunity to forget Leo…only to find him already there and gunning for victory. As they compete head-to-head, Leo and Juliet’s fervent attraction boils over. But Juliet’s not sure whether to trust her adversary, or give up on the sweetest love she’s ever tasted….”

Unmasking Juliet is a modern retelling of the classic. This version it set in the gorgeous Napa Valley of California and the family business is chocolate. The Arabella’s and the Mezzanottes’ are Chocolatiers and bitter rivals.

When Juliet meets Leo at a masked ball, it is the beginning of the chocolate wars.

There is some great sexual tension as Leo and Juliet, try to resist the forbidden fruit that their attraction has become.

They can’t fight their feelings for each other and give into temptation. They want to be together but they know their families will object. Juliet and Leo try to heal the family rift through Chocolate. I loved the Roma Festa del Cioccolato details. It reminded me of those those wonderful cook-off shows on television.

This book was like written sunshine. The gorgeous vineyards and country locations leap from the page with images of grape leaves and hot air balloons.

The chocolate chaud is descried in taste-bud tingling details- you can almost feel the chocolate melt on your tongue.

Even though this is a loose adaptation of the classic Romeo and Juliet- all the doom and gloom has been replaced with a feel good vibe that will leave you smiling.

Unmasking Juliet is a wonderful cocoa scented read, perfect for the top of your to read on holiday list.

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