Well, I've finally had a thorough read through of all the (incredible!) entries for The Colour of Tea. I have to admit - judging has been more challenging than I imagined. Everyone has gone to such an effort and translated the story, settings and characters in such diverse and personally meaningful ways; I had a really REALLY tough time! If only your Cook the Books club members were a little less creative and talented... ;-)
Right, so, here we go.... I was enchanted by Rachel's teaeggs, even if she wasn't in love with the end result, they looked beautiful and reminded me of the century egg congee I used to eat in Macau (and how pretty they would be for Easter!). Simona's roasted carrot scones looked gorgeous (especially pictured with her homegrown delicate pink rose) as well as tasty; scones are a personal favourite for me too. I was very touched that Ana made pavlova, as it is practically New Zealand's signature dessert and I had never drawn the connection between macarons and pavlova before - very clever! Of course, I loved your raspberry-almond oat bars - the sweetness of raspberry paired with teeth-satisfying firmness, just the sort of treat I'd eat in my "office" too ;-) Then, the tarts from Marla, Louise and Heather - ooooh, I do love a tart... Louise's was the closest to the tart Grace made for Pete in the book but Marla's was so divinely simple and Heather had me at 'smoked sea salt'. Heather had made a delicious tomato tart previously, so I was very impressed she edited using seasonal produce (asparagus) and made yet another delightful tart dish. Danielle had me desperately craving a perfect NewYork bagel and very happily drawn into her life and loves through her great blog. Debra's macaroons were so versatile - I'm a huge coconut fan and had never thought of making them that way with a space for a filling - delicious genius!
And now for my two favourites - pomegranate-vanilla macaronswith chocolate ganache by Claudia and vanilla-chamomile cremeux by Camilla. Firstly, hats off to Claudia for making macarons! Dark chocolate ganache is my favourite macaron filling, cuts perfectly through their sweetness and pomegranate is a great, unique flavour idea, I'm jealous I didn't think of it myself! I can just imagine the gorgeous pink and brown delights in the glass cabinet at Lillian's. A creation Grace and Gigi would be proud of. And finally, the vanilla-chamomile cremeux. I loved the simplicity of this recipe with the addition of chamomile and topped with some thyme. It was the recipe I most wanted to make and could imagine Grace cooking it with Faith at her side, wearing a tiny apron and dipping her fingers into the cremeux. To me, the macaron and cremeux recipes would be Grace's favourites and somehow represented her life and her future. For that reason these are my two winners and I'd love to send Claudia and Camilla a little New Zealand food-themed prize if they would like to send me their addresses.
As an aside, I appreciated all the feedback your readers had about The Colour of Tea. I know it is not everyone's style of novel but your readers were gracious in their criticism and genuine and thoughtful with their compliments. I laughed when I read that your readers were frustrated with Grace...I was too! Lol! But that's her - flawed and somewhat obsessive but ultimately looking for love and purpose just like the rest of us. I hope your readers grew to like her like a friend as I did. Regarding the model on the cover, I'm afraid I don't have much of a say in cover design but yes, the model is not a red-head and that amused / confused me too, although I think the overall design is lovely. If there are any other questions or feedback please let you readers know that I love being contacted and have contact forms on websites www.forkandfiction.com and www.hannahtunnicliffe.com.
A huge big thank you for organising, Deb, and involving me (and The Colour of Tea) in Cook the Books! Let me know if I can help out in any other way;
Very best wishes,
Woohoo. I'm so excited about the New Zealand food-themed prize that'll be headed my way. In the meantime, we're reading M.F.K. Fisher's How to Cook a Wolf next. Join us!