Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A Brunch to Remember

I had something very exciting happen Saturday. Earlier in the week there was a writing contest. The contest was being run by North by Northwest, a weekend morning program on CBC Radio. To enter you had to write a paragraph of no more than one hundred words using titles from books published by Alexander McCall Smith. The six best entrants would win a pair of tickets to have brunch with Alexander McCall Smith Saturday morning in Vancouver at Barbara-Jo's Books to Cooks.

I entered the contest and anxiously waited to see if I would get an email informing me I had won a pair of tickets. Sadly, no such email ever arrived in my inbox. But one did arrive in my friend Cindy's! She had written a great entry, and the judges obviously thought so too. When she asked me if I wanted to go with her it took me less than half a second to say yes. (The half second was spent feeling guilty because if I went that meant her daughter Jennifer wouldn't be going.)

We headed into the city early so we would have time to browse at the bookstore, one neither of us had ever been in before. It was an incredible place! Also, a dangerous one as my friend pointed out before we arrived. (We both have a weakness for cookbooks.) Imagine a whole store devoted to nothing but books about food. In addition to cookbooks there were books about travel and food, and classics that have a strong food theme running through them.




At the far end of the book store there is a kitchen, and an island to seat people. The store does quite a few cooking classes, as well as hosting events like this one the CBC was sponsoring. Here they are, prior to the brunch, getting things ready.




Aside from the fact I was in a store filled with nothing but books about food, the biggest surprise for me was being given a drink before we ate. And by drink, I don't mean a nice cup of tea. The only other time in my life I've had alcohol before noon is when I've indulged in a splash of whisky over my porridge.




The brunch itself was delicious, sort of a take-off on a traditional full English//Irish breakfast.




As soon as we finished eating the host of North by Northwest, Sheryl MacKay, interviewed Alexander McCall Smith. That interview will be on the radio either this Saturday or Sunday. You can check the link at the top of this post later in the week if you are interested in listening, and if you can't listen to it when it's broadcast you can always catch the podcast.

He is an incredible man, and also happens to be my favourite living male author. At one point in the interview he talked about the importance of forgiveness, and about how we have lost our sense of community. They were the very words you would expect to hear Mme. Ramotswe speak on those subjects. It wasn't all serious stuff though. The humour you read in his books also comes out in real life when he speaks.




His latest book is another in the No. 1 Ladies Detective series, The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine. There's something very appealing about that title. There was something also very ironic about it, as Vancouver was in the midst of what is known as a rainfall event. Here we are, getting our copies of the book signed.



Thanks Cindy for inviting me!

And for those of you who are wondering what was in that drink, here you go...

Flemington Cocktail from the book: Apothecary Cocktails by Warren Bobrow
3 Tablespoons muddled stone fruits ( I used frozen pitted cherries)
1 ounce Honey Simple Syrup
3 ounces Scotch Whisky
1/2 ounce Sweet Vermouth
Few drops Angostura bitters
1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 large sage leaf, chiffonade
Muddle the fruit in the bottom of a cocktail shaker.  Add the honey simple syrup, Scotch Whisky, sweet vermouth, bitters and lemon juice and shake for 20 seconds.   Strain the mixture into a martini glass and garnish with the chiffonade sage leaf.  Sip slowly until the dark clouds start to lift.

22 comments:

  1. Food, alcohol and an admired, engaging author. That was well worth the trip into the city. I think your entry was probably a winner, but it was disqualified since you're a professional author yourself. That wouldn't have been fair!

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  2. How exciting for you! I love the idea of food and books all in the same store.

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  3. That looks a wonderful event. I'm surprised you weren't one of the winners! It's good that Cindy won and invited you along. We have a literary festival this week so we are looking forward to going to two events to meet the authors we won't get so well fed and watered as you did! Sarah x

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  4. The bookshop sounds fabulous, and how wonderful to get to hear Alexander McCall Smith speak. He was a long way from home I think! I still haven't read one of his books, but now I know you rate him as your no.1 living author I shall make sure I do. Glad you had such a good time. The cocktail sounds very invigorating! CJ xx

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  5. What a treat. I love the #1 Ladies Detective Agency. Must have been such a fun event.

    Christy
    Lilbitbrit

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  6. I'm so envious; I really love his books and he does seem like such a nice chap. I shall look forward to the new one. xx

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  7. How wonderful!!! What a lovely friend you have to have invited you. Congratulations to her for winning this great prize and for sharing it with you! A great day indeed! xx

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  8. How very exciting, Kristie!. I thought for sure you were going to say that you'd won. I suspect you were near the top, though, so it was very fitting that you got to go anyway. Will your friend post her winning entry somewhere?

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  9. so happy for you. What an exciting adventure!

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  10. That sounds like a really fun event. She must be a fantastic writer. I'm so glad you had the chance to attend with her. You're a pretty wonderful writer yourself.

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  11. I could probably live in a book shop like that! I am very happy that you got to go there, and meet your favourite male author. Christmas come early. x

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  12. What a thrill for you Kristie. I have read some of the books, and they are fun and easy to read. Also heard an interview on radio and remember what an interesting man McCall Smith was. So glad you got the chance to go - you are a pretty good writer too, you know :))

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  13. How brilliant. A shop full of cookbooks, delicious brunch and hearing AMcS speak. The cocktail sounds pretty good too. I love AMcS's books and have read most of them – I really like his gentle style. Sam x

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  14. Excellent! What a good friend you have to invite you along too. Glad you enjoyed it so much.

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  15. Wow, that is terrific. He is one of my favourite authors too, especially his books set in Scotland. Sounds like a terrific location too. What a wonderful friend you have!

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  16. Great post Kristie! I agree with "Ricademus" re why your entry was not chosen. You looked amazing in your fancy clothes......

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  17. As a giant bookworm, a huge CBC lover, and a reader of (ok, only a few) Mcall-Smith books I'm loving this post. Sounds like something I would love to do too. I'm glad you had a good time.

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  18. That sounded like a great outing! I have never gotten into his books, but maybe I should try again!

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  19. What a delightful day - a bookstore is one of my favorite places. I read (and re-read) the McCall books slowly so they last, I like his people and places and the purpose of the books. I'm glad you have such a lovely friend.

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  20. Oooh, like Netablogs, I can't cotton to his books, though I so much would like to, and have tried a number of times. (Don't throw anything at me, please....) But he is indeed wonderful in person; I enjoyed him speaking at Harbourfront in Toronto a few years ago and the audience was in stitches the whole time. And he is such a sweet, charming guy.

    North by Northwest? I've never heard a syllable about it here in so-called Eastern Time Zone; fortunately there is internet so I will have to do a little time travelling and check it out.

    Yum, that breakfast. Fried everything. Or... no, wait. That looks like poached egg on toast with grated cheese, and then under the broiler for a minute. I'm getting hungry. Time to get up and experiment with breakfast.

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  21. how exciting!! you are famous now, well almost famous now. You have a friend you should keep forever :)

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