Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday: Books set in kitchens



Welcome to this week's edition of Top Ten Tuesday which is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week's theme is Books Set In X (Pick a setting and share books that are all set there. This could be a specific continent or country, a state, in outer space, underwater, on a ship or boat, at the beach, etc.) I am choosing to do books set in and around kitchens, so could feature cafe owners, cooks and more!

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus - a scientist becomes a TV cooking show host. (my review)

The Kitchen Front by Jennifer Ryan - Four home cooks compete for the chance to co-host (my review)

The City Bakers Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller - A pastry chef flees Boston after a culinary disaster and finds herself in small town Vermont (my review)

Celebrations in Bellbird Bay by Maggie Christensen - Sandy, the main character in this book, owns a baking and catering business (my review)

Finding Family at the Cornish Cove by Kim Nash - Gemma is running the local cafe in this book set in Cornwall (my review)

The Enchanted Garden Cafe by Abigail Drake  - This cafe is run by a character called Fiona and is located in Pittsburgh. (my review)

Love and Saffron by Kim Fay - This is a story of inter-generational friendship that formed from a mutual love of food (my review)

Sweet Bean Paste by Durian Sukegawa - Another story of inter-generational friendship set in a cafe that only sells doriyaki. My review for this one will be posted in January.

Battle Royal by Lucy Parker - Two bakers compete for the opportunity to cook for a royal wedding.

Finding Love at the Christmas Market by Jo Thomas - Connie loves baking, and is looking for love online which leads her to a German Christmas market.

Where did your list take you this week?

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Weekend Cooking/Cook the Books: The City Baker's Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller

This book the current selection for Cook the Books. It's not one I remember hearing about before but I read it while I was on holidays and I thoroughly enjoyed it. With some books you know from the first chapter that it is your kind of book, and this was one of those books.

Olivia Rawlings is a talented pastry chef, but she does have other talents too, specifically for getting herself into troublesome situations that she then runs away from. The book opens when she accidentally sets fire to the restaurant she works at while carrying a Bombe Alaska.  Thankfully she knows that she can run to her friend's home in a small town in Vermont, which will allow her lay low until the dust settles.

Once there she begins working at the Sugar Maple Inn, where her boss, Margaret, is a very opinionated woman with extremely high standards and very little warmth. Livvy needs the work and a place to live so she accepts the role regardless of the challenges that she knows she will face. Fortunately, other people in the town are more welcoming.

The food descriptions in this book were amazing! I often found myself wishing I was able to eat the food that was being described. It's not only about food though. There is lots of music, a story of found family, and yes, a touch of romance!  One of the things that surprised me was the reference to a version of square dancing which took me back to my childhood years. My parents were square dance callers and they ran clubs. As an aside, I can't quite believe that it has taken me 18 years of blogging to mention that! 

Livvy was a good character despite her tendency to run whenever the going got tough. I love the relationships that she build with some of the older characters in the novel.

This was Louise Miller's first novel and I am excited to read more from her, especially if the future books have a foodie feel to them too!

One of the big components of the book is that the owner of the inn, Margaret, wants to her pastry chef to be able to bake the perfect apple pie so that she can win the local baking competition, especially in the face of her lifelong feud with one of the other contestants.

When I was thinking about what to make it seems obvious that the best recipe to cook would be apple pie, but that wasn't really ap-peel-ing to me (see what I did there!). There was even a recipe for apple pie included in the book. I did, however, still intend to do something inspired by apple pie so I went looking for some recipes using that as my search term. I did look at some really very fancy Apple Pie Cakes but I must confess I have lost my confidence in making really complicated cakes. I should challenge myself to do something complicated again but not when I just got off a plane. It needed to be something simple this time.

 If you break down the components of an apple pie, there is pastry, apple filling with cinnamon notes and then it is served with cream. So instead of apple pies, I bring you Apple Turnovers. I sort of took inspiration from a few different recipes for making this

Apple Turnovers

4 Granny Smith apples, peeled and dices into small cubes
2 tsp cornflour
1 tspn cinnamon
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch salt
2 square puff pastry sheets 
1 egg , whisked

Put apples in a large saucepan and then toss with cornflour and the add the rest of the filling ingredients. Cook on medium to medium-high heat, stirring regularly, for 5 minutes. Apple should be softened and the sauce slightly thickened.

Spread the filling on a large plate then let it cool completely

Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F (180°C fan).

Line a large cutting board  with baking paper.

Allow the pastry sheets to thaw slightly and then cut into 4 squares (approximiately 12.5cm). Brush 2 edges with egg, then pile filling on the egg brushed side. 

Fold over, seal with fork dipped in flour (prevents sticking to pastry) and then place on the paper lined cutting board.

Refrigerate for 20 minutes 

Slide the paper with the turnovers on it onto a large baking tray. Brush turnovers with egg. Pierce a couple of times with a knife and then bake for 25 minutes or until golden.

Serve warm with whipped cream or fill with stabilised whip cream once cool, if you can wait that long.

These were delicious. The only thing was that my frozen pastry was a bit old and so there were parts that were a bit dry. Next time we buy some pastry I will make some of these again with fresh pastry.

The next selection for Cook the Books is Under Cooked by Dan Ahdoot. I will also be sharing this review with Foodie Reads hosted at Based on a True Story.

Weekly meals

Saturday -  
Sunday -  Apple Turnovers
Monday - 
Tuesday - Mexican Chicken and Rice
Wednesday - One Pan Butter Chicken
Thursday - Out
Friday -Takeaway

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Sunday Salon: Historical Fiction Reading Challenge Statistics - September and October

Each month I share the statistics for the previous month for the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge,although I didn't get to do the September statistics last month as I was on holidays. So today, I am sharing the statistics for both September and October. I always find it interesting to see what are the books that people are reading and reviewing! 


In terms of the books, September was a good month for reviews with 84 reviews linked up for the challenge, shared by 19 participants, which is a 20 more than were reviewed in September last year.  There were 81 individual titles reviewed, written by 78 different authors. There were 7 reviewers who reviewed 5 or more books each this month. Thank you to everyone who shared their links whether it be 9 or just 1. 

Let's move onto the books. There were 2 books that were reviewed twice during September. They were:

A Lady's Guide to Scandal by Sophie Irwin was reviewed by both Helen at She Reads Novels and at Staircase Wit.

Mrs Porter Calling by A J Pearce was reviewed at Staircase Wit and at The Chocolate Lady's Book Review blog.

In addition, there were 3 authors who had multiple books reviewed. 

They were Agatha Christie whose books Murder on the Orient Express and Appointment with Death were reviewed by Shellie from Shellie Loves Books.

Susan at Reading World reviewed Beloved and Lost Lover by Mary Lancaster 

Christopher Morley's books Parnassus on Wheels and The Haunted Bookshop were reviewed at Belle's Library.

It probably worked out quite well that I have combined the statistics for these two months.  There were 34 individual titles reviewed, written by 33 different authors in October. There were 3 reviewers who reviewed 5 or more books in October.   However, there were no books reviewed more than once, and the only author who had more than one book reviewed was Agatha Christie. Her book Black Coffee was reviewed by Shellie at Shellie Loves Books and Halloween Party was reviewed at Laura's Reviews.

My thoughts are very much turning towards next year's challenge. My plan is to put the December linky up on 1 December as usual, and then the sign up post for the 2024 challenge will be up within a couple of days. I will also put up a linky to enable to link up any wrap ups for the 2023 challenge to be shared.

Are you starting to think about your reading challenges in 2024. I hope you will consider joining the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.

Saturday, November 18, 2023

Weekend Cooking: What We Ate on Holidays - PNW and San Francisco

And so we come to the last part of our trip. Our first week was in Hawaii, then we went to Canada, and then we visited a town called Bellingham in the Pacific North West and San Francisco.

We went to Bellingham to meet up with some friends who I originally met online in an author forum nearly 20 years ago. The author lives in the city and so we were able to meet up with her for coffee and then on the Saturday night we cooked dinner for her. It was very cool. Guess what we forgot to do though...take photos! The menu took a lot of negotiations as we needed to take into considerations food allergies, likes and dislikes but we got there in the end.  Roast chicken (using this recipe) plus roasted vegetables including rainbow baby potatoes, carrots, onion, served with salad and seriously good gravy. We then had a gluten free apple grunt with whipped cream,whipped by my husband by hand hence why he was inducted into the girls weekend with a whisk! It is something that happens every time we get together. It definitely impresses the girls every time. At home, he uses a hand held mixer. It was a delicious meal.

On one of the days my husband went off to the Boeing factory, and we decided we wanted to see some nature so we took a drive towards Mt Baker, which was just over an hour away from where we were staying. It was absolutely gorgeous, and I got to walk on snow and touch it, much to my husband's annoyance. When we went to Europe at Christmas time he was really hoping for snow and we got none, and then he missed this view as well.

We then travelled to San Francisco, and what is one thing that you need to eat in SF? Seafood chowder which we had for lunch on the first day and fordinner on the last day before we got on the plane to come home. We were staying down in the Fisherman's Wharf area so we had to go to the famous Boudin bakery.

In between those two meals, there were a few other highlights

Whilst this is the third time that I have spent time in San Francisco, I had never been to Alcatraz, so that was the first thing that we booked for this holiday, even before we had booked flights or accommodation. Of course, I was interested in the kitchen. Below is the menu for the last meal that was ever served at Alcatraz. It was a very interesting place to visit, and we also got to see some whales out in the bay.

On another day we went on a wine tasting tour to Sonoma and Napa Valleys, with a stop at Muir Woods and then lunch in the town of Sonoma. It was a great day. I didn't love the wines but the wineries were lovely, the last one in particular.

On our final day we wanted to just wander around a couple of different parts of the city. The first was to walk through Chinatown. It was pretty early so there wasn't a lot open. After that we chose to go and wander through Golden Gate Park, and we spent some time in the Japanese Garden. It is such a peaceful and beautiful place.

We decided to stop and have tea in the gardens. We chose karage chicken, Japanese cookies and  Doriyaki which I was very excited to try after reading a book called Sweet As not too long ago. I have the review for that book scheduled for January.

And so, we come to the end of our travels for this time. Time to start seriously planning our next big trip, which won't be until August next year, although I wouldn't mind sneaking a quick trip in but I am not sure my husband is convinced on that!

Weekly meals

Saturday -  Away
Sunday -  Steak, baked potato and salad
Monday - 
Tuesday - Pork Nachos
Wednesday - take away
Thursday - OUt for dinner
Friday - Green Curry Chicken Pie

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Blog tour - Celebrations in Bellbird Bay by Maggie Christensen


If I was to do a count of reviews by author, I think Maggie Christensen would be right up there as one of the most reviewed authors on my blog. I always look forward to reading a new book from her.

This book, Celebrations in Bellbird Bay, is the eighth instalment in the Bellbird Bay series. Bellbird Bay is a magic place, where opportunities for second chance, late in life romances abound!

Sandy Elliott is busy building up her new catering business, Celebrations, when the building burns down. At the same time she gets a call to say that her mother's friend Ruby has had an accident, so Sandy and her daughter head to Bellbird Bay. The plan is to only be there for a few months. While she is there she can continue baking cakes for the local garden centre and even run Ruby's B&B business, just to keep things going while Ruby recovers.

Rob Andrews is a Bellbird Bay local. After leaving the armed forces after a difficult tour of Afghanistan, Rob started Bay Bikes. He is proud of his business, but personally he had closed himself off, sure that he is too emotionally damaged by the things he saw in battle. He suffers from nightmares and can't ever imagine himself letting anyone special into his life.

Small towns being small towns, after initially meeting Rob and Sandy keep on running into each other. Rob is emotionally unavailable, Sandy is only staying in town for a short while, and she doesn't like his beard and tattoos, and yet, there is something between them. The question is will either of them be brave enough to take the first steps to explore the connection

Ruby has always been something of an enigmatic character in the previous books. She appears, makes a subtle prediction for the future, and disappears, leaving everyone wondering what her prediction could possibly mean. Oh, and everyone talks about her cakes. It was therefore nice to get to know Ruby a bit more.

As always, the book is populated with many of the characters that we have come to know in previous books. They are a friendly bunch, and very accepting of newcomers. But don't let that worry you if you are new to the series. Of course, I would always recommend reading a series in order, but there is enough back story here to mean that you would still enjoy this book. 

Do yourself a favour though and read the whole series. The books in this series always transport me to the beach side community! It almost feels like you go and sit at the surf club, and have a beer, watching the people come and go and know exactly who they all are! They are comfort reads for me, guaranteed to make me feel very content once I get to the end of each book! And this one was set around Christmas so it was festive contentedness!!

Needless to say, I will be reading the next book in the series.

Thanks to the author and Rachels's Random Resources for the review copy.

About the book

Celebrations in Bellbird Bay: An uplifting, emotional and festive story

Sandy Elliot is devastated when a fire destroys her new business and doesn’t know how she can go on. When she receives a call from her grandmother’s old friend seeking her help, a trip to Bellbird Bay seems like the answer to a prayer.

Rob Andrews is proud of what he has achieved with Bay Bikes, the business he set up when he returned from Afghanistan. But the memory of his time there still plagues him and has always prevented him from forming any close relationships, afraid his deep-seated guilt and recurrent nightmares would scare off any woman foolish enough to become involved with him.

Upon meeting, it’s certainly not love at first sight. Sandy hates his beard and tattoos while Rob, though attracted to Sandy, doesn’t believe he deserves to find happiness.

But Bellbird Bay is a small town, and their paths continue to cross, making it impossible for them to ignore each other or to deny the attraction between them.

With the festive season approaching, can Sandy and Rob overcome their pasts and enjoy a celebration of their own?

Purchase Link - https://mybook.to/CelebrationsinBB

About the author

After a career in education, Maggie Christensen began writing contemporary women’s fiction portraying mature women facing life-changing situations, and historical fiction set in her native Scotland. Her travels inspire her writing, be it her trips to visit family in Scotland, in Oregon, USA or her home on Queensland’s beautiful Sunshine Coast. Maggie writes of mature heroines coming to terms with changes in their lives and the heroes worthy of them. Maggie has been called the queen of mature age fiction and her writing has been described by one reviewer as like a nice warm cup of tea. It is warm, nourishing, comforting and embracing.

From the small town in Scotland where she grew up, Maggie was lured to Australia by the call to ‘Come and teach in the sun’. Once there, she worked as a primary school teacher, university lecturer and in educational management. Now living with her husband of over thirty years on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, she loves walking on the deserted beach in the early mornings and having coffee by the river on weekends. Her days are spent surrounded by books, either reading or writing them – her idea of heaven!

Social Media Links –


Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Blog Tour: The Tuscan Orphan by Siobhan Daiko

I have read a number of Siobhan Daiko's books now. I have enjoyed the ones set in Asia, but I really liked the previous books set in Italy. This was therefore a book that I volunteered to read straight away. 

In this book there are really two stories which converge into one meaningful arc.  One is the story of a Texan nurse named Carrie, and the other is a young man named Vito who is a resistance fighter. The first part of the really story is really giving us Carrie's story as the author gets her to where she needs to be

Carrie is a nurse in the American Army who finds herself stationed initially in Africa but subsequently in various places in Italy. In one of the locations a young girl is bought into the hospital with a head injury. The girl's name is Mimi, and she is the daughter of a Jewish couple who have gone missing. As Carrie cares for her, she becomes more and more attached to her and determined to find her parents.

Mimi had been found sheltering in a convent by Vito when he was looking for his sister. Vito was also injured and as a result Carrie and Vito start spending time together. At first, Carrie was reluctant to let her feelings for Vito to grow stronger because he was younger than her, but also, more importantly because war had already resulted in heartbreak.

I appreciated that we truly got to feel the uncertainty of never knowing where Carrie would be assigned to next, the fear of the falling bombs even in hospital where there should be no bombings at all, and the unbearable loss of loved ones.

Whilst I really enjoyed this book, there were times where I felt like the research was showing in the story. There's no doubt that there would have been a lot of interesting research, especially seeing as so many of the characters were based on real people and events.

The author talks about her love of Italy, and it really shows. Her descriptions of the countryside had me wishing that I could visit the areas described. I also found myself thinking about how amazing it is that so much of the country was rebuilt in the aftermath of the destruction of WWII, and that it is available to us to still see now.

The author's note mentions that her next book will once again be set in Italy, and I am there for it!

Thanks to the publisher, Netgalley and Rachel's Random Resources for the review copy. I will also be sharing this review with the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge which I host.

About the book:

The Tuscan Orphan

1944 - When an air raid strikes the hospital she’s been working in, Carrie’s life irrevocably changes. But as a nurse in the middle of wartime, she has no time to grieve, as she has too many people relying on her.

For resistance fighter, Vito, nothing is more important than seeking vengeance for the atrocities his fellow comrades have suffered. But when he liberates a convent, finding a group of Jewish children in hiding, he suddenly has even more to fight for.

Little Mimi is injured, scared and alone. Together Carrie and Vito vow to find her parents, a loving home. But under the shadow of war, is it wise to make promises you’re not sure you can keep?

Heartbreaking and immersive, this powerful story of the strength of the human spirit will delight fans of Kristin Hannah, Fiona Valpy and Rhys Bowen

Purchase Link - https://mybook.to/tuscanorphansocial

About the author

Siobhan Daiko writes powerful and sweeping historical fiction set in Italy during the second World War, with strong women at its heart. She now lives near Venice, having been a teacher in Wales for many years.

Social Media Links –

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/siobhan.daiko.author
Twitter https://twitter.com/siobhandaiko
Instagram https://www.instagram.com/siobhandaiko_asolandobooks/
Newsletter Sign Up: https://bit.ly/SiobhanDaikoNews
Bookbub profile: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/siobhan-daiko

Monday, November 13, 2023

Blog Tour: The Door to Door Bookstore by Carsten Henn

Is there anything that a book lover loves more than a book about books? I am sure that it is appealing to most of us, and this is a good one! And given that this was originally published in Germany, this love is worldwide.

Carl Kolhoff has worked at the City Gate bookstore for many years, almost considered part of the owner's family. But things are changing. His boss has retired, and his daughter Sabine has taken over and is making some changes. Carl's job is to hand deliver books to a select group of customers. He knows exactly which book that each of them needs, and he meticulously wraps each book ready for delivery.  Carl has made up literary nicknames for each of them, and whilst he would like to have a more personal interaction but his own rules prevent him from getting too involved. One of his main rules - he delivers alone. Well, except for the cat he has named Dog.

Among the people he delivers to are an impeccably dressed woman whose smile never reaches her eyes, a nun who refuses to leave her nunnery, and a man who reads to the the works in a cigar factory as they roll the cigars. 

One day, Carl is not pleased to be joined by a young girl called Schascha, despite his protests. She doesn't respect his rules and soon his interactions with his customers are changing. This is not the only thing that is changing. The kind of service that Carl provides doesn't really have much of a future in this world where you can order online, but the question is, who would Carl be if he wasn't the Book Walker?

There were so many things to love about this book. Obviously, a book about books is already a bonus, but adding in things like a heartwarming cross-generational friendship, and the development of community makes it a winning combination.

I thought in closing, I would share a quote about readers:

Carl divided readers into hares, tortoises, and fish. He himself was a fish, allowing a book to carry him in its current, as its pace moved between fast and leisurely. Hares were speedreaders, hurtling through a book and promptly forgetting what they had read just a few pages earlier, forever needing to flip the pages back to check. Tortoises flipped back too, because they read so slowly that months passed before they finished a book. Every evening they would read a single page, then fall asleep. Sometimes,they would read the same page again the next night, because they weren't sure how far they'd got. Each of these animals could, at a moment's notice, transform into a curious lapwing, leaping to the back of the book to see the ending first, before reading the rest. To Carl's way of thinking, that was like going to a restaurant and eating dessert first. Of course it was sweet and delicious, but the anticipation fueled by the preceding savory courses was lost.

Regardless of which animal a reader was, opening a new book was always a significant moment. It made Carl uneasy each time. Would it live up to the expectations generated by title, cover, and blurb. Would the language and style succeed in moving him?

This reader's expectations were definitely met!

Thanks to the publisher, Netgalley and Rachel's Random Resources for the review copy. My apologies for being a couple of days late with my review. Unfortunately there was a death in the family which meant I had to travel interstate at short notice.

Rating 4/5

About the Book

The Door-to-Door Bookstore

There's a book written for every one of us...
Carl may be 72 years old, but he's young at heart. Every night he goes door-to-door delivering books by hand to his loyal customers. He knows their every desire and preference, carefully selecting the perfect story for each person.

One evening as he makes his rounds, nine-year-old Schascha appears. Loud and precocious, she insists on accompanying him - and even tries to teach him a thing or two about books.

When Carl's job at the bookstore is threatened, will the old man and the girl in the yellow raincoat be able to restore Carl's way of life, and return the joy of reading to his little European town?

THE DOOR-TO-DOOR BOOKSTORE is a heart-warming tale of the value of friendship, the magic of reading, and the power of books to unite us all.

Translated by Melody Shaw

Purchase Links



About the Author

Carsten Henn has worked as a radio presenter, wine and restaurant critic, and has published a number of successful novels. He lives in Germany.

Social Media Links –


Saturday, November 11, 2023

Weekend Cooking: What We Ate on Holidays - Canada

Advance notice - this post is photo heavy!!

After the heat of Hawaii, we flew overnight to Seattle and then caught the first ferry from there to Victoria in British Columbia. Apart from having to wait around for a couple of hours for the ferry, this was a very pleasant way of getting to Victoria. We even saw some orcas from the ferry which was cool. This was my first time in Canada so we were very much looking forward to having a look around.

One of the things that we try to do at least once on every trip now is some kind of foodie walking tour. We had contemplated doing one in San Francisco, but we were going to run out of time so we decided to do one in Victoria which focussed on hidden gems, and boy were there some gems in there!

The meeting point was at a groovy cafe which is located near the former Hudson's building which means that straight away you are not getting just food but also history, which is one of the reasons why I love a good walking tour! The building is now home to public market. One of the interesting things about this market was that it had a community space that you could rent out, so you could hold a big get together, do all the cooking in the space and serve it there too

The first tasting was for a smoky corn chowder which I thought was delicious. It's not the kind of thing that I would necessarily have picked on a menu but it was good, but I might now, depending on what else was on there.

From there we went to what I think was my favourite stop which was a Indian cafe which features food from the Kerala region, which is in the south of the country. We tried a hot drink called Sulaimani, which was delicious. It is a tea drink which has spices such as cloves and cardamon added to it. The other thing that we tried here was an egg puff. This is puff pastry which has a masala curry and hard boiled egg filling! It was so good and something I had never seen before.

Our next stop was a Japanese shop which had all sorts of interesting treats in there, and we got to have onigiri. After very specific instructions on how to open the packaging from Brenda, the tour guide, we could choose from multiple different flavours.

The next stop was at a taco place called Maiiz which uses a process called nixtimilization to make their corn tortillas. This method of preparing tacos increases the nutritional values compared to using corn flour. We were even able to meet the chef who was very passionate about using this technique and producing great food.

Part of the tour wandered through China Town, which is the oldest in Canada. It was interesting to hear this history and compare it with the treatment that the Chinese received in Australia during the Gold Rush. There were lots of similarities. The most famous street is called Fan Tan Alley, a very narrow street which has many different shops. There was even a book set in the alley, where a woman enters a shop on the alley and finds herself flung back in time. The book is called White Jade Tiger by Julie Lawson. A couple of the people on the tour loved the book apparently.

Other stops included a mother and daughter run chocolate shop, a dumpling store which was a family owned business that grew out out of the pandemic and a local brewery which had some very interesting flavours available. I sampled a Scandinavian ale.

After the tour was finished we caught one of the adorable little water taxis that go all over the harbor. They are super cute and this was one of the highlights of Victoria for us.

From Victoria we caught the ferry across to Vancouver, once again a very civil way to travel, and it was gorgeous sailing through all the islands as part of the trip. We were staying on Robson Street in Vancouver, and there was a lot of food around the hotel. There was a ramen shop opposite the hotel which had queues of people there day and night. At one point, we thought about going there to see what the fuss was, but it didn't quite happen.

In Vancouver we had what was probably the best dinner we had on our trip. We just went to a local Italian place, which was packed even though it was a Monday night. The bread came out and instead of having butter with it there was a marinara sauce, which I haven't seen before. It was so delicious. We then had the Tomato and Bocconcini Salad, which was a lovely mix of different types of tomato. For mains I went retro and had Chicken Marsala which was so good. By this point, we were actually pretty full but everything had been so good that we decided to share a dessert. It was worth it!!

One of the things that we knew we wanted to do in Vancouver was visit Granville Island markets which we had heard about on a travel program a few months ago. It was a really fun place to visit. We bought the jars of Bubble Bombs I talked about last week plus some macarons but there were lots of interesting things to look at. Whilst it is a tourist destination, the food part felt like a place that people who live nearby would really shop at.

The one food thing that we really wanted to try while we were in Canada was Poutine. We asked at the hotel and they directed us to a nearby restaurant which is part of a chain, and not only was there no poutine, but the food was decidedly average! The next day though we found a place that had good reviews and had our first taste of poutine. Yum!!!

My husband enjoyed it so much that he ordered it again for dinner that night, but the one from the poutine place was better!! It's funny because chips and gravy is very much comfort food but I would never have thought to add cheese. We will be in future.

After our very disappointing dinner at the chain restaurant, we said no to dessert there but as we walked back to the hotel we decided to try some Japanese cheesecake tarts. I was most surprised when they were served up to us warm

On our last day in Vancouver we walked around Stanley Park and then found ourselves at Canada Place. My husband decided that he had a hankering for Belgian Waffles so we were wandering around looking for some, when we stumbled across a Dutch place so instead of Belgian Waffles, we had Dutch Pancakes and a hot chocolate which reminded us of those that we had in the Netherlands and France earlier this year.  It was such a pleasant place to sit and watch the world go by, especially as we were able to watch the sea planes take off and land right in front of us.

We loved our time in Victoria and Vancouver and we can definitely see ourselves going back to Canada again at some point.

Weekly meals

Saturday -  Chicken Enchiladas
Sunday -  Creamy Tuscan Chicken Pasta Bake
Monday - Out for dinner
Tuesday - Meatballs
Wednesday - Away
Thursday - Away
Friday - Away

It seems strange to be away again after we have only just got back from our holiday, but unfortunately my dad passed away this week so I had to travel to Perth for his funeral.

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page