Showing posts with label Beverages. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Beverages. Show all posts

Friday, November 16, 2018

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "Marilla of Green Gables" by Sarah McCoy, Served with a Recipe for Cranberry Cordial (+ Five Favorite Cranberry Recipes)

Happy Friday! I'm excited to be today's stop on the TLC Book Tour for Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy, the story of Marilla Cuthbert before we meet her in the Anne of Green Gables books. Accompanying my review is a recipe for Cranberry Cordial, my seasonal take on the red currant and raspberry cordials mentioned in the book.

Publisher's Blurb:

A bold, heartfelt tale of life at Green Gables . . . before Anne: A marvelously entertaining and moving historical novel, set in rural Prince Edward Island in the nineteenth century, that imagines the young life of spinster Marilla Cuthbert, and the choices that will open her life to the possibility of heartbreak—and unimaginable greatness.

Plucky and ambitious, Marilla Cuthbert is thirteen years old when her world is turned upside down. Her beloved mother dies in childbirth, and Marilla suddenly must bear the responsibilities of a farm wife: cooking, sewing, keeping house, and overseeing the day-to-day life of Green Gables with her brother, Matthew and father, Hugh.

In Avonlea—a small, tight-knit farming town on a remote island—life holds few options for farm girls. Her one connection to the wider world is Aunt Elizabeth “Izzy” Johnson, her mother’s sister, who managed to escape from Avonlea to the bustling city of St. Catharines. An opinionated spinster, Aunt Izzy’s talent as a seamstress has allowed her to build a thriving business and make her own way in the world.

Emboldened by her aunt, Marilla dares to venture beyond the safety of Green Gables and discovers new friends and new opportunities. Joining the Ladies Aid Society, she raises funds for an orphanage run by the Sisters of Charity in nearby Nova Scotia that secretly serves as a way station for runaway slaves from America. Her budding romance with John Blythe, the charming son of a neighbor, offers her a possibility of future happiness—Marilla is in no rush to trade one farm life for another. She soon finds herself caught up in the dangerous work of politics, and abolition—jeopardizing all she cherishes, including her bond with her dearest John Blythe. Now Marilla must face a reckoning between her dreams of making a difference in the wider world and the small-town reality of life at Green Gables.
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: William Morrow (October 23, 2018)

My Review:

I jumped on this book tour both because I adore Sarah McCoy and her books (see my reviews of The Baker's Daughter and The Mapmaker's Children) and because the Anne of Green Gables books have had a place in my heart since childhood. Marilla Cuthbert was never my favorite character in the books--especially in the beginning when she is so cold to Anne, but she grew on me as the series unfolded. It's intriguing to learn about her and how she ended up unmarried and living with her bachelor brother when they decide to take in an orphan boy to help with the farm work and end up with Anne instead. In Marilla of Green Gables, Anne is not in the picture and instead we meet thirteen-year-old Marilla, growing up in her somewhat isolated family home on remote Prince Edward Island. Marilla's world is small and feels safe with her parents, older brother Matthew, and a new sibling soon to be born. Her world is shaken up with the arrival of her Aunt Izzy, her mother's twin and a shock to Marilla who had no idea her mother was a twin and really no concept that twins existed. Marilla starts to form a bond with Izzy when tragedy strikes and the baby is stillborn, Marilla's mother dies in childbirth, and she makes a promise to her that she will care for her father and brother. It's a promise that spurs Marilla to distance herself from her neighbor, family friend and romantic interest, John Blythe--and one that alters her future. 

It was a comment from Marilla about John Blythe in Anne of Green Gables that prompted McCoy to write this book... "John Blythe was a nice boy. We used to be real good friends, he and I. People called him my beau." McCoy's imagining of Marilla's early life is touching, interesting and offers insights not just about Marilla, but about other characters like Matthew Cuthbert, John, and Marilla's friend, Rachel Lynde. The book takes place from 1837 to 1876 and gives glimpses into the history of the times from the beginnings of women's suffrage to the impact of slavery and the U.S. Civil War in Canada and that country's own strife and rebellions. Marilla's story captured my imagination and touched my heart, as well as made me want to reread L.M. Montgomery's beloved series. Even if you aren't acquainted with Anne of Green Gables and its characters, if you like well-written historical fiction, books set in the nineteenth century, and books that take place in Canada, you will enjoy this one.

Author Notes: Sarah McCoy is the New York TimesUSA Today, and internationally bestselling author of the novels The Mapmaker’s Children; The Baker’s Daughter, a 2012 Goodreads Choice Award nominee; and The Time It Snowed in Puerto Rico. She has taught English and writing at Old Dominion University and at the University of Texas at El Paso. She lives with her husband, an orthopedic sports surgeon, and their dog, Gilbert, in North Carolina.
Sarah enjoys connecting with her readers on Twitter at @SarahMMcCoy, on her Facebook Fan Page, on Instagram at @sarahmmccoy, or via her website,

Food Inspiration:

Sarah McCoy books have plenty of the foods of the time and setting of her stories and Marilla of Green Gables is no exception. Food mentions included bread, cocoa and gingersnaps, angel cake baked with red currant wine, sweet biscuits with sweet butter and homemade preserves, warm milk and sardines for Skunk (the family cat), picking sorrel for soup, cellar turnips and pickled vegetables, profiteroles filled with plum and crabapple preserves, black tea, dried red currants, Easter scones, porridge with maple syrup, potatoes, peas, roasted chestnuts, corn, butter nut cakes, brown bread, cake with strawberry jam, creamy neep soup (turnip soup), toffee puddings, guinea hens, spring bean succotash and sponge cake, soft-boiled eggs, cheese curds and apple slices, cabbage soups, asparagus, fruit juice, cordials, cucumber boats, pickled eggs with creamed mustard, herb bannock (a kind of bread), beef pie, mackerel, pea soup, breakfast oats, Darjeeling tea and vanilla cake, raspberry cordial, Dinner hampers filled with stewed oysters, biscuits and lemon pudding, jelly chicken, pickled cucumbers, cherry tarts, plum preserves, chocolates from London, ham and mushroom pastry, sweet almond gingerbread, beef olives, potato balls, cottage loaf, figs, a jar of sweets meats, and raisin Bath buns, fried potatoes and sausages, tomato stew, potato soup, string beans, pork and pea soup, baked sugar shortbread and maple creams, roasted beef, fruit cake, mulled currant wine, "buttermilk biscuits studded with sweet currants, sprinkled with cinnamon, and drenched in maple syrup," coffee, applesauce, jarred blue plums, leg of mutton with garlic and rosemary, ham with brown sugar and vinegar dressing, green peas, tart apple turnovers, oatcakes and cold bacon, and hotcakes. Whew!

For my book-inspired dish, I feel like the book called for either a fruit wine or a cordial--either the Cuthbert red currant versions or perhaps a raspberry cordial in honor of the Ladies Aid Society fundraising efforts. Either would be a pretty red color but, needs must, I also needed a cranberry recipe this week and so I looked for a recipe for an equally red cranberry liqueur or cordial recipe. In Diana Henry's Salt Sugar Smoke, she has several recipes for fruit syrups, liqueurs, and sharbats (Middle Eastern syrups). I ended up using her Black Currant Syrup recipe as my base, switching out the black currants for fresh cranberries.

Cranberry Cordial
Adapted from Salt Sugar Smoke by Diana Henry

4 cups cranberries
juice of 1 1/2 lemons
1 1/2 cup sugar, or to taste

Put the fruit into a saucepan with 2 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, until the berries are completely soft and pulpy. 

Pour into a jelly bag suspended over a bowl to catch the juice, and let it sit overnight.

The next day, measure the liquid. Add the lemon juice and sugar (2 cups sugar for every 2 cups of liquid). Heat gently until the sugar has dissolved, then pour into a warm, sterilized bottle and seal. It will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of months.

Notes/Results: I'll be honest, I did this all in one night, pushing the berries through a lined sieve with a wooden spoon, then putting them back on the stove to cook down a bit with lemon and sugar. It would have been nice to let it sit overnight but I fell that there was still plenty of cranberry flavor coming through. The flavor is pleasantly sweet-tart--not too much of one or the other and deliciously fruity. You can mix it with water--plain or bubbly, or add it to a cocktail. I used an apple-flavored sparkling water and really enjoyed it. This would make a pretty gift in cute bottles for the holidays and it's a great way to use up extra bags of cranberries. I will happily make it again. 

Linking up with I Heart Cooking Clubs where this week is our Monthly Ingredient Challenge: Cranberries

Here are five of my other favorite cranberry recipes from our IHCC chefs:

Tessa Kiros Cranberry Syrup Two Ways

Jacques Pépin's Brie with Pistachio Crust & Cranberries

 Tessa Kiros's Cranberry Sorbet

Diana Henry's New York Sweet Cranberry Mustard

Nigella's Cranberry and White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies with Pistachios

I'm also sharing this post with the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.

Note: A review copy of "Marilla of Green Gables" was provided to me by the author and the publisher, Harper Collins, via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.   You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.  


Thursday, August 16, 2018

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "The Art of Inheriting Secrets" by Barbara O'Neal, Served with a Strawberry-Coriander Lassi

I am excited to be on the TLC Book Tour for The Art of Inheriting Secrets by Barbara O'Neal--an author whose work I really enjoy. Accompanying my review is a unique and refreshing Strawberry-Coriander Lassi inspired by the book.

Publisher's Blurb:

When Olivia Shaw’s mother dies, the sophisticated food editor is astonished to learn she’s inherited a centuries-old English estate—and a title to go with it. Raw with grief and reeling from the knowledge that her reserved mother hid something so momentous, Olivia leaves San Francisco and crosses the pond to unravel the mystery of a lifetime.
One glance at the breathtaking Rosemere Priory and Olivia understands why the manor, magnificent even in disrepair, was the subject of her mother’s exquisite paintings. What she doesn’t understand is why her mother never mentioned it to her. As Olivia begins digging into her mother’s past, she discovers that the peeling wallpaper, debris-laden halls, and ceiling-high Elizabethan windows covered in lush green vines hide unimaginable secrets.

Although personal problems and her life back home beckon, Olivia finds herself falling for the charming English village and its residents. But before she can decide what Rosemere’s and her own future hold, Olivia must first untangle the secrets of her past.

Print Length: 359 pages
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (July 17, 2018)

My Review:

Barbra O'Neal's books are perfect for when you want something on the lighter side to escape to and especially if you like that escape to have a foodie element. She writes women's fiction, often romantic fiction with heroines that may have tragedy or sadness in their past and are starting over, often discovering things about themselves and their pasts. Her characters are appealing and easy to root for. Take Olivia Shaw, the lead character in The Art of Inheriting Secrets, for example. Olivia recently lost her artist mother only to find that she has inherited a crumbling English estate and is now Lady Shaw--family history her mother never shared with her. Olivia heads to England to learn about her past and why it was kept from her and to solve the clues her mother has left her. In the village surrounding Rosemere Priory, Olivia meets a cast of characters including a hunky and younger roof thatcher, his sister--a talented cook and restaurant owner, an elderly friend of her grandmother in the titled set, who befriends and advises her, and a group of townspeople and neighbors that may be out to help her restore the estate or may want to buy it out from under her. I liked Olivia--I could relate to her sadness over losing her mother and I envied her job as a food and travel writer and editor for a food magazine. There are no big surprises in the story, the romance, and the family mystery--but that's okay. Sometimes I just need a book that draws me in, takes me away, keeps me absorbed (and occasionally drooling over the food), and leaves me feeling satisfied--and The Art of Inheriting Secrets accomplished it all. A great book for your end of summer reading list and if you haven't experienced Barbara O'Neal's writing before, I also recommend her How to Bake a Perfect Life, The Secret of Everything, and The Garden of Happy Endings.  


Author Notes: Barbara O’Neal is the author of eleven novels of women’s fiction, including How to Bake a Perfect Life and The Lost Recipe for Happiness. Her award-winning books have been published in a dozen countries, including France, England, Poland, Australia, Turkey, Italy, Germany, and Brazil. Barbara lives in the stunningly beautiful city of Colorado Springs with her beloved, a British endurance athlete who vows he’ll never lose his accent.

Connect with Barbara on her website, blog, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Food Inspiration:

Barbara O'Neal writes great foodie novels and so there was plenty of food inspiration to choose from in The Art of Inheriting Secrets--especially Indian cuisine from one of the side character's restaurant--called Coriander and some classic English fare. Food mentions included fish-and-chips, ale, a hearty English breakfast of eggs, beans and tomatoes, a venison stew, cinnamon rolls and Chelsea buns, paneer prawn tikka with mango chutney and red onion, papadum with mint coriander chutney, raita, paneer, lamb kheema with jeera rice, gulab jamun, chicken shawarma and Israeli salad, carrot cake, hot chocolate, lemonade, fresh strawberries, lemony soup with parsley and spring onion, fish and rice, oatmeal with blueberries, a strawberry-coriander smoothie (aka: a 'posh' lassi), asparagus with soft eggs and toast and coconut asparagus with black mustard seed, cumin, garlic and chiles, a latte, mulligatawny, chapatti, a rose lassi, chai, donuts, and nutbreads, scones and tea.

Any number of the Indian dishes mentioned would have made me happy, but the Strawberry-Coriander Lassi (which Pavi a smoothie as it sold better that way) kept calling to me and so it had to be my book-inspired dish. I love a good, cool and creamy lassi (there are six on the blog right now, including a Vegan/Dairy-Free Mango Lassi I recently made for another book review.) I decided to make this one without dairy too. It's not traditional as they usually include yogurt, but with some recent hazy skies already this week, my asthma and allergies didn't need any help in making me stuffier. If you want a more traditional version, replace the non-dairy ingredients with milk and regular yogurt. 

Vegan/Dairy-Free Strawberry-Coriander Lassi
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves 2)

2 1/2 cups frozen strawberries
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup non-dairy yogurt, plain or vanilla
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh coriander/cilantro leaves
sweetener of choice to taste if needed/desired--I used 2 tsp of maple syrup in mine
ice cubes/ice water, if needed/desired

Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth. If the mixture is too thick, you can add a little ice water or ice cubes as needed and continue to blend until smooth and pourable. Serve immediately. Any leftovers can be stored, cover in the fridge for a day or so.   

Notes/Results: I loved the hit of of coriander with the sweetness of the strawberries--it makes the lassi even more refreshing. Of course, if you are not a fan of cilantro, you can omit it. I left out any additional spices or flavors wanting to keep the strawberries and cilantro the focus, but you could pop in some cinnamon or coriander or even a little rosewater if desired. The lassi got a little short-shifted in the picture department as I was not able to take photos in daylight and I was exhausted getting home from work and commuting this week, but it made for a delicious and reviving part of my evening meal and the leftovers were a great breakfast drink. I will happily make it again.

Garlic and Sapphires is my eighth foodie book entry for the Foodies Read 2018 event. You can check out the August 2018 Foodies Read linkup, hosted by Heather at Based on a True Story, to see what everyone is reading this month.   

I'm sharing this post with the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post. (Note: This week I'm hosting so look for the post here on Saturday!) ;-)

Note: A review copy of "The Art of Inheriting Secrets" was provided to me by the author and the publisher via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.

You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "A Place For Us" by Fatima Farheen Mirza, Served with a Recipe for a Cold and Creamy (Vegan) Mango Lassi

I'm very excited to be a stop on the TLC Book Tour for A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza, the first novel from SJP for Hogarth, a collaboration between Sarah Jessica Parker and the publishing group. Accompanying my review is a cold and creamy, vegan Mango Lassi that was inspired by my reading and is a delicious summer treat.

Publisher's Blurb:

The first novel from Sarah Jessica Parker’s new imprint, SJP for Hogarth, A Place for Us is a deeply moving and resonant story of love, identity and belonging

As an Indian wedding gathers a family back together, parents Rafiq and Layla must reckon with the choices their children have made.

There is Hadia: their headstrong, eldest daughter, whose marriage is a match of love and not tradition. Huda, the middle child, determined to follow in her sister’s footsteps. And lastly, their estranged son, Amar, who returns to the family fold for the first time in three years to take his place as brother of the bride.

What secrets and betrayals have caused this close-knit family to fracture? Can Amar find his way back to the people who know and love him best?

A Place for Us takes us back to the beginning of this family’s life: from the bonds that bring them together, to the differences that pull them apart. All the joy and struggle of family life is here, from Rafiq and Layla’s own arrival in America from India, to the years in which their children — each in their own way — tread between two cultures, seeking to find their place in the world, as well as a path home.

A Place for Us is a book for our times: an astonishingly tender-hearted novel of identity and belonging, and a resonant portrait of what it means to be an American family today. It announces Fatima Farheen Mirza as a major new literary talent.  

Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: SJP for Hogarth (June 12, 2018)

My Review:

I was exited to jump on the tour for A Place For Us, both for the subject of the book--I love immigrant stories, especially when they involves family and the Indian and Muslim cultures. I also like Sarah Jessica Parker and I admit to being intrigued about what smart and book-loving female celebrities are reading, enjoying, and supporting--whether by including a book as a book club selection or backing it, as in this partnership between the actress and Hogarth Publishing. I hoped the story would be as good as it sounded from the description and it was--a beautifully written book that drew me in from the start, kept me engrossed throughout, and made me sorry to reach the end.

The story focuses on a Muslim-American family where the father, Rafiq, immigrated to America as a teen and entered into a marriage arrangement with Layla, who immigrates after the marriage, leaving behind everyone and everything thing she knows. They live in California where they raise three children, daughters Hadia and Huda and the youngest, their son, Amar. The parents hold strongly to their faith and and the Muslim-American community with the children being pulled between these traditions and assimilation into American culture. The story starts with adult Hadia's wedding--a love match between the eldest child (a perfectionist and doctor) to Tariq (a more modern/relaxed Indian of a different sect). We see the family at the wedding and learn that there is much drama and estrangement between Amar and the family. The history of this family drama unfolds throughout the book as the author moves back and forth in time and the tale is told from the different perspectives of the main characters. I think the great beauty in a book like this is how you can find a family that in most all aspects of background, religion, and life in general, is so completely different from your own, yet you can find so many commonalities in the characters, their personalities, roles in the family, and experiences. Hadia and Amar as the oldest daughter and youngest son, tend to get the most notice--both good and bad from their parents, while Huda, the middle child, is more of a minor character--but no less relatable. The story touches on subjects such as addiction, cultural struggles, family dysfunction, and the impact of 9/11 on a Muslim family in America (the children are teens when it happens) and the ongoing fear, distrust and bigotry many have for this religion and culture. 

There were times that the back and forth in time and perspective got confusing to me as it moves quickly and often, with no clear identifying path. I found at one point that I must have put my bookmark in the wrong section and I missed about fifty pages and didn't notice it until something really didn't make sense, then I had to go back to read what I had missed. Still, the story is well-crafted and so impressive, especially for a debut novel, that the minor frustrations of having to unwind, slow down, and find my place were well worth it for the quality of the story. The way the author uncovered the story in pieces and learning the various characters' "whys" for their actions were smartly done and had me wiping away tears at an ending, that while not wrapping things up completely, left me satisfied. 

A Place For Us is not a light, breezy summer read, it requires thought and draws at emotions, but it resonated with me and I think it will with anyone that enjoys stories with family and cultural drama, beautiful and descriptive writing, and strong characters.

Author Notes: Fatima Farheen Mirza was born in 1991 and raised in California. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a recipient of the Michener-Copernicus Fellowship.

Find out more about A Place for Us at


Food Inspiration:

Centered around an Indian wedding and family life, there is plenty of food to be found in A Place For Us. Food mentions included mango and pineapple juice and a table of Wedding appetizers--including samosas with mint sauce and tandori chicken, wedding gift pouches of almonds and chocolates, popcorn, pomegranates and mangoes, ice cream--pistachio, almond and vanilla, Peanut M&Ms, lunches of pears, grapes, Goldfish crackers, wraps of roti and fried okra, cereal with banana, kheema and fried tomatoes, dal, tawa gosht, freshly-made roti, macaroni, spinach and egg, tomatoes and basil growing in a garden, biryani/rice, a blended iced coffee drink, chaat with yogurt, blackberries, pasta salad, and baby carrots, a favorite Thai restaurant with desserts of mango sticky rice, fried roti and fried ice cream, pizza, tea, and an eggplant dish.

For my book-inspired dish I decided to go with a mango lassi--partly because it has been hot and humid here and after seeing it referenced several times in the book, I was seriously craving one, and partly because it was something that had special meaning to Hadia as it was the favorite drink of her boyhood crush. I wanted to keep it simple and dairy free, and not too sweet--so it isn't the most traditional of lassis, but it is delicious.

Vegan/Dairy-Free Mango Lassi
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves 2-3)

2 cups frozen mango chunks
1 cup coconut milk
2/3 cup non-dairy yogurt, plain or vanilla
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
1/2 tsp rosewater (optional)
1/4 tsp ground cardamom (optional)
sweetener of choice to taste if needed/desired--I didn't use any in mine
ice cubes/ice water, if needed/desired

Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth. If the mixture is too thick, you can add a little ice water or ice cubes as needed and continue to blend until smooth and pourable. Serve immediately. Any leftovers can be stored, cover in the fridge for a day or so.

Notes/Results: There is just something about a mango lassi--it's refreshing, satisfying, slightly exotic with the rosewater and cardamom and so good. With the coconut milk and coconut-based yogurt I used, this one was ultra rich and creamy and I found for me, it did not require any additional sweetener, but adapt it to your own tastes with whatever dairy or non-dairy milks and yogurts you prefer and sweeteners--honey, agave, coconut sugar, or a date or two would all work. I drank one of my lassis when I made it and saved the remaining to drink the next day, as well as stirred some of it into a vanilla chai pudding. I enjoyed it all and will happily make it again.

I'm sharing this post with the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.

Note: A review copy of "A Place For Us" was provided to me by the author and the publisher via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.

You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.


Friday, June 29, 2018

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "The Lost Vintage" by Ann Mah, Served with Recipe for Citron Pressé (Fresh Lemonade)

It's Friday and it's been another crazy week. I needed at least a bookish trip to the vineyards of Burgundy, France so I am happy to be a stop today on the TLC Book Tour for the new novel, The Lost Vintage by Ann Mah. Accompanying my review is (a better day-drink for me than wine) an icy cold glass of Citron Pressé, or as we know it here, fresh lemonade.

Publisher's Blurb:

Sweetbitter meets The Nightingale in this page-turning novel about a woman who returns to her family’s ancestral vineyard in Burgundy and unexpectedly uncovers a lost diary, an unknown relative, and a secret her family has been keeping since World War II.

To become one of only a few hundred certified wine experts in the world, Kate must pass the notoriously difficult Master of Wine examination. She’s failed twice before; her third attempt will be her last chance. Suddenly finding herself without a job and with the test a few months away, she travels to Burgundy to spend the fall at the vineyard estate that has belonged to her family for generations. There she can bolster her shaky knowledge of Burgundian vintages and reconnect with her cousin Nico and his wife, Heather, who now oversee day-to-day management of the grapes. The one person Kate hopes to avoid is Jean-Luc, a talented young winemaker and her first love.

At the vineyard house, Kate is eager to help her cousin clean out the enormous basement that is filled with generations of discarded and forgotten belongings. Deep inside the cellar, behind a large armoire, she discovers a hidden room containing a cot, some Resistance pamphlets, and an enormous cache of valuable wine. Piqued by the secret space, Kate begins to dig into her family’s history—a search that takes her back to the dark days of World War II and introduces her to a relative she never knew existed, a great–half aunt who was a teenager during the Nazi occupation.

As she learns more about her family, the line between resistance and collaboration blurs, driving Kate to find the answers to two crucial questions: Who, exactly, did her family aid during the difficult years of the war? And what happened to six valuable bottles of wine that seem to be missing from the cellar’s collection?

Hardcover: 384 pages  
Publisher: William Morrow (June 19, 2018)

My Review:

As you may know if you read this blog and my reviews, historical fiction, especially World War II historical fiction is one of my favorite genres. When you add a wine and food element to that, you get a book that hits all of my buttons and The Lost Vintage is that book. It takes historical fiction adds a foodie element and tells it, fairly seamlessly, within two stories or timelines--present day and the 1940s. In the present day we have Kate, a sommelier studying for her third and final attempt at the Master of Wine examination. On the advice of her mentor she heads to her family's vineyard in Burgundy to stay with her cousin Nico and his wife Heather (Kate's best friend from college), help with the upcoming harvest, and meet with local wine experts to improve her knowledge of the local grapes and wine. Kate and Heather start a huge project clearing out the basement filled with decades of their family's castaway items and Kate discovers a secret room with a collection of valuable wine and WWII French resistance pamphlets. Kate's family's reticence to talk about the past have she and Heather investigating and uncovering family secrets, including the existence of a young girl who would have been her Great-Aunt Helene and the fact that there are six bottles of an expensive 'lost vintage' that are missing from the secret room's cache of valuable wine. The second story is told through Helene's journal and covers the 1940s, right before the war starts and before the Nazis invade France, with Helene about to graduate high school and attend university to study chemistry. The war prevents Helene from escaping her life with her cold stepmother and she must stay home to care for her young stepbrothers. Back in the present, in addition to studying for her exam and trying to discover whether Helene and her family were collaborators with the Nazis or aiding the resistance, Kate contends with being being around her first love, Jean-Luc, Nico's friend and a neighboring winemaker (who seems to be well over Kate), as well as a possible romance with Walker, an American in the Côte-d'Or to do a 'stage' with Jean-Luc while studying for his Master Sommelier exam.  

I really enjoyed Ann Mah's storytelling and her vivid descriptions of the scenery, food and life in Burgundy in the 1940s and present day. Both the stories, and Kate and Helene were interesting and I found myself happy settling into each time period. As I've mentioned in previous reviews, I like WWII historicals that show me a new perspective, make me think, and have me Googling more information, facts, and details. I was very interested in this look at the French in the countryside, the resistance and the collaborators and I learned some interesting information. This is the first book of Mah's I've read--although I do happen to have her first novel, Kitchen Chinese, loaded on my Kindle and I will make it a point to get to it sooner now that I've experienced the quality of her writing. If you love historicals, WWII novels, books set in beautiful France, novels with a food/wine slant, dual timelines, family drama, romance  and secrets, definitely add The Lost Vintage to your summer reading list.


Author Notes: Ann Mah is a food and travel writer based in Paris and Washington DC. She is the author of the food memoir Mastering the Art of French Eating, and a novel, Kitchen Chinese. She regularly contributes to the New York Times’ Travel section and she has written for Condé Nast Traveler,,, Washingtonian magazine, and other media outlets.
Find out more about Ann at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.


Food Inspiration: 

As Ann Mah is a food and travel writer, it is only natural that along with the wine, the food is plentiful in this novel--primarily French foods, although we get a bit of American food, "Thaitalian" fusion (made me chuckle) and Mexican food thrown in. I took two pages of food notes but here is just some of what was mentioned: Courgette (restaurant name), toast with cherry jam and yogurt, margaritas and tequila, lemonade, tea and shortbread, charcuterie, cheese and crudites, dark chocolate stuffed into a baguette, pork sausages, brownies, Comte and various French cheeses, pate, honey, pot-au-feu (beef stew), buttered tartine, roast pig, lentil salad, apple tarts, blanquette de veau (veal ragout), tapenade, pear frangipani tart, jam and pickles, avocado toast, quatre cake (French pound cake), rosemary lamb chops. vegetable terrine, potatoes and tripe stew, boeuf bourguignon, potted meat, calf's foot jelly, eggs, chicken vol-au-vents, individual beef Wellingtons and various appetizers, chocolate eclairs and raspberry tarts, sardines, poached eggs in meurette sauce, snails in garlic-parsley butter, steak frites, salad with sauteed chicken livers, Crème Brûlée, spaghetti, porridge, Lapsang souchong tea, Thaitalian artichoke lemongrass carpaccio and green papaya carbonara, a super-vegetarian taco, burrito, pasta with broccoli, garlic and chile, chilled crab and shaved white asparagus, and veal stew.

It's been the kind of week where I needed something simple and I needed to not be eating bread, desserts, and chocolate, so I went for lemonade as my book-inspired dish as it was mentioned a few times. I looked for traditional Citron Pressé (French lemonade) recipes, but then I saw Ina Garten's Fresh Lemonade recipe and liked the fact that it was whirled up with ice in my blender--quick, cold and refreshing--so that's what I did. Sometimes fast and simple is just what we need.

Fresh Lemonade
By Ina Garten via Barefoot Contessa at
(Yield 1 1/2 Quarts)

1 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice (5 to 6 lemons)
1/2 to 3/4 cup superfine sugar (I used the lesser amount)
1 cup crushed ice
4 cups very cold water

Place all the ingredients in a blender and process until completely smooth. Serve over ice. 

Notes/Results: A very refreshing and tasty lemonade. I used the lower amount of the sugar and a bit more of the ice-to-water ration and liked that it retained a delicious tartness, I think the blender is perfect for both pulverizing the ice and mixing in the sugar so it will be my lemonade-making tool from now on. I will make this again. (Maybe I'll add vodka the next time!) ;-) 

Linking up this Ina Garten recipe to I Heart Cooking Clubs where it is Potluck week. Any recipe by our current or past IHCC chefs. 

I am sharing this book and food pairing with Novel Foods #33, an event celebrating food inspired by the written word and hosted by my friend Simona at Briciole. This deadline for this round of Novel Food ends Thursday, March 23rd.

I'm also sharing this post with the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.

Note: A review copy of "The Lost Vintage" was provided to me by the author and the publisher, Harper Collins, via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.

You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.