FRIDAY FEAST with Paula Roe

56 Replies

Today I’m delighted to welcome Harlequin Desire author Paula Roe to Friday Feast. Not only is Paula an award winning author and all round lovely person, she designs gorgeous websites, with mine being just one example of her talent.

As for her post today, well, all I can say is that I’m extremely jealous. Not to mention more than a bit peeved I’m ineligible for her giveaway, because you just wait until you see the prize she has for one lucky commenter!

Here’s Paula’s quick bio:  British-born and Aussie bred, Paula is not only one of Silhouette’s rare Australian Desire authors: she’s also a Twitter, Facebook and odd-book-facts addict, serial RWAustralia volunteer (including six years as HeartsTalk editor) and former contest diva.

She’s worked as an assistant/secretary/PA, office manager, software trainer and aerobics instructor and writing since the age of eleven after getting hooked on the glorious historical romances of Johanna Lindsey, Kathleen Woodiwiss and Shirlee Busbee.  As a published author, her books have finaled in many awards, including the Romantic Times Readers’ Choice and RWA’s RBY.  She’s also a two-time Best Category Romance winner as voted by the Australian Romance Readers Association.

Take it away, Paula!

Thanks, Cathryn, for inviting me to be a Friday Feaster!

So, last weekend I went on my first ever cruise – three days of sea, food and relaxation (or so I thought).  While there was indeed lots of sea, the relaxation thing didn’t really happen -at least not long enough with a 11 year old boy in tow 😀 But you can bet there was food – and lots of it!

THURSDAY: We had booked a suite, and after priority check-in, we discovered a few delightful treats.  First, the bottled water was free (awesome!  I drink like a fish!) as was the fridge contents (Coke and diet, lemonade, Sunkist) and the fabulous Nespresso machine refills. (BTW I think I’m a convert).  Plus, a plate of beautiful canapes just waiting to be eaten… which I promptly did.  Camembert and mango, salami, prawn, smoked salmon, pate. YUM!!!

Then the phone rang.  Would I like to reserve a seat in either the Bordeaux or Burgundy rooms for dinner?  After much umming and ahhing, I decided we should check out the buffet, so I declined.  Not a problem, said the perky maitre d.  But if I changed my mind, she’d be on call.

Even though we hadn’t sailed yet, the restaurants were open for lunch, and we were starving.  We ended up at the Burgundy Room with the a-la-carte menu, and ordered fresh rolls with real butter, chicken nuggets with chips, delicious beef with wedges and mushrooms, and a decadent chocolate brownie with vanilla bean ice cream to follow.

Of course, some ship exploring was necessary at this stage, which is when we found the New Zealand Natural ice cream bar.  🙂  A tub of bubblegum ice cream later, we returned to our room where another surprise awaited.  Our personal on-call steward, Rex, let us know we could order room service breakfast the next day, plus a complimentary afternoon tea.  Waaay-hey!

Then, another knock on the door – a complimentary fruit bowl with grapes, apples, pears, a banana and an orange.  Yep, I’ll take that.

After spending some time in the video arcade, dinner rolled around.  The buffet was crowded, so we ended up at the Burgundy room again, where the perky maitre d remembered our names (always a good sign).  We had the rolls and butter again, some lovely fish and chips (the chips were apparently, “just as good as McDonalds!”) and grilled red snapper fillet with garlic and olive butter, three bean casserole and silverbeet.  Unfortunately the snapper was dry and by this stage we were both beginning to feel the effects of seasickness.  So we went to bed early (even our pillow chocolates couldn’t tempt us!), to the disturbing rocking motion of the open Tasman sea.

FRIDAY: two adult servings of breakfast arrived – boiled eggs, bacon, sausages, toast and fresh fruit…!  OMG.  After a bit of a walk-round, then watching Voyage of the Dawn Treader twice in a row (they have daily movies on a loop) lunch was on offer – a buffet which included potato, pasta and green salads, hamburgers, hot dogs, bocconcini and rocket rolls, chicken wings.

Some more exploration of the ship was necessary, and this time we found the gift store, spending some credit on chocolate and Pringles (as if we didn’t have enough to eat already!)  Back to the room for the afternoon tea – tuna salad sandwiches, cinnamon cookies, scones with jam and cream.  By this time, my son was getting the hang of the Nespresso machine and could make a mean cup 🙂

Dinner was a wonderfully cooked steak with sweet potato mash, and fish and chips (again!).  By this stage, the trip was beginning to feel like a never-ending loop of food.

SATURDAY: we opted for scrambled eggs, bacon, toast and fruit.  Still way too much (*four* slices of toast!) and I felt absolutely terrible leaving it.  But there’s only so much free food you can eat, right?

Lunch was simple.  Chips.  That was it.  Oh, and three viewings of Ice Age 2, The Simpsons, Chocolate Wars and Cake Boss (see, if we weren’t eating it, we were watching it!)

Saturday night Dinner was definitely one of the highlights – a 6-course degustation menu.  Pork belly with pickled rhubarb, duck consomme with shitake mushrooms, grilled barramundi with pesto jus, marbled steak with sweet potato and green beans, then a cardamom tart with vanilla ice cream.  I simply could not eat the blue vein cheese for the last course and finally, we rolled out of the dining room to our beds.

It was only the next day I realised our cruise had been advertised as a Wine and Dine special.  I really should’ve twigged when I saw the the program listed coffee appreciation, cheese tasting and ice carving as part of the on-board activities (damn – I really would’ve loved to do that cheese tasting thingy…  hmm… more food)

And so, on our final day, we braved the crowded breakfast buffet after being spoilt rotten with room service, priority disembarked and came back to our normal ‘eat or be eaten’ lives… where we promptly ordered Thai takeaway because we couldn’t bear to cook.

Which brings us to a giveaway and a feast of a different kind.  What’s your ultimate foodie experience?  Comment and you could win the brand-spanking new 2012 NSW Firefighters calendar.  That’s right – 12 months of lovely, shirtless real men!  Yum 😀

Paula’s next book, Bed of Lies, is a March Australian release with Harlequin Mills & Boon, but unfortunately contains no major food-drooling experiences.  She is, however, working on an idea which involves a reluctant heiress, a five-star cruise ship and an alpha male who’s determined to expose her as a fraud.   You can visit her at


Thanks, Paula. Loved hearing about your cruise. Sounds very indulgent. Right up my alley!

So come on, folks, get commenting. There are firefighters up for grabs! Entries close midnight Monday, 12th December, with the winner posted here and in the comments.


Natasha, please check the comments for details on how to claim your prize, and thanks to everyone who shared their ultimate foodie experience. It was huge fun!

56 thoughts on “FRIDAY FEAST with Paula Roe

  1. AvatarSuzi Love

    Oooh, Paula, very hard to think of an ultimate foodie experience to beat the one you had. I’m drooling at the thought of all your yummy cruise food.

    But okay, here goes my fantasy – coral island in the Pacific, two people staying in the six star bungalow with private beach, servers deliver food and drinks to our waterside cabana at regular intervals and leave….sigh!
    Menu consists of canapes, seafood, tropical fruit, washed down with lashings of champagne…oh, and did I mention seafood? Coconut crab dripping with garlic butter, lobster mornay, red emporer, clams in white sauce….
    Well, you get the picture! Total decadence.

    1. AvatarCathryn Hein

      Okay, I think I want to join in your fantasy, Suzi. Sounds beeeoooootiful! Don’t forget the champagne though. Can’t have a proper fantasy without bubbles!

      I’d also like a golf course nearby….with Adam Scott as the resident professional. Don’t want much, do I? *grin*

      1. AvatarSuzi Love

        No, couldn’t forget lots of lovely bubbles, could we?
        And this is our fantasy so of course you can have Adam….because I’ll be bringing….well you know who I’d bring! Keanu of course!

  2. AvatarHelene

    Wow, your cruise sounds like culinary heaven, Paula!!

    When I lived in the Lake District in the Uk one of the five star hotels used to run a degustation menu with ten tiny courses. It was divine. They also paired wines with each course so even though the glasses were small (and there was no requirement to drink every one) the end of the night was usually pretty hazy 🙂 The detail that went into the presentation was exquisite. A group of us from the work used to go there for birthdays so the company was a perfect match for the food.

    1. AvatarPaula

      Helene, you lived in the Lake District?? :green: It was funny with the first course on the degustation, because we were sat next to a table full of blokes and when the 1inch square pork belly arrived, I heard them say, “you guys okay with going to the buffet after this?” LOL. They said nothing by the time the steak arrived… 😉

    2. AvatarCathryn Hein

      I LOVE degustation menus, Helene. Lots of small, perfect dishes all matched with wine. I’m constantly amazed at how food can affect the taste of wine and vice-versa. As for going to one in the Lake District, like Paula, you’ve just made me seriously jealous!

      1. AvatarCathryn Hein

        Okay, am now suffering a green eyed monster attack. I soooo want to go to Greece. I’ve been like an old woman nagging about it. At the moment I’m living vicariously through cooking shows and travelogues. Need the real thing!

    1. AvatarCathryn Hein

      Rome has fantastic food. I spent days trying to track down a place that sold suppli, which are kind of like arancini and supposed to be a Roman speciality. Finally found a shop in some back street that sold them. They were definitely worth the hunt.

      Come to think of it, the hunt was half the fun!

  3. AvatarShannon Curtis

    Well, my ultimate foodie experience thus far would have to be a degustation meal at Glass Restaurant, in the Sydney Hilton. Hubby and I went there for a very special anniversary dinner – and OMG, the food! I can’t remember how many courses – at least seven, all beautiful, perfectly-proportioned dishes. Candlelight. Soft music. Attentive waiters and sommelier – and a damn fine man across the table. I felt like I was in a dinner scene from The Young and the Restless. Suffice it to say, it has spoiled us. I don’t think any of my fantasies could surpass that real experience.

      1. AvatarCathryn Hein

        One of my best meals was had while walking the Cinque Terra. Nothing fancy, just fresh grilled sea bass, gorgeous salad dressed with local olive oil, and a jug of wine from the restauranteur’s vineyard. Mama cooking in the kitchen and her son acting as waiter with the Mediterranean glittering below us and my darling man holding my hand. Perfect.

  4. AvatarKylie Short

    Sounds like it was a food cruise, Paula! LOL Did you stop over at any ports? Or was the entertainment all on the boat?

    Hmm, my ultimate food experience? Actually I think it was a rack of lamb and vege – room service – at one of the RWNZ conferences. I arrived a day early, couldn’t be bothered going down to the restaurant so I ordered in. It was NZ lamb, of course, and was absolutely delicious!!! 🙂 But then, I do love lamb.

    1. AvatarPaula

      no ports, Kylie, just the sea… and the waves rocking…rocking…. 😕

      I love lamb!!! with mint sauce… yum. And of course, room service is always welcome 😀

  5. AvatarKylie Short

    Forgot to mention – what a great prize to throw out there as incentive!!! H-waaarrr!!!! 😀

    1. AvatarPaula

      Hi Nas and thanks for dropping by! I wish I’d had more time to check out the activities – and that the boat stayed in port 😀

  6. AvatarNatasha Devereux

    Hi Paula,

    Glad that you had such a great time cruising.

    Mmm. My favourite food treat happened in Paris in 2000. I had been soooo good – behaving myself and not overindulging. It was so hard. On our last day my late husband took me to a small cafe. Without my knowledge he had arranged our final meal there…AND IT WAS ALL DESERTS. There was a small serving of nearly everything I had drooled over but not given in to. The final temptation was a paper-thin crepe with fine slices of candied ginger, orange and lime in a cointreau sauce served with freshly made french vanilla bean ice cream. The only think that came close to topping this wonderful experiance was the episode soon after with the dishy frenchman in motorbike leathers and a red rose – but that’s a story for another time. Gotta love Paris!

    1. AvatarCathryn Hein

      Oh, yeah. You’ve gotta love Paris!

      What a great story, Natasha. Very romantic, and the French are awesome at desserts.

      Think I want to know more about this leather-clad Frenchman with his rose though!

      1. AvatarNatasha Devereux

        MMmmm. Picture this Cathryn. It was Paris – 2000 – and I was of a more slender build than now. While waiting for the airport bus to pick us up from our Montmartre pension we had wait on the steps on the no-parking side of the narrow cobbled street. The roar of a high-powered motorcycle made me look as it came down the steep road (I am a rev-head). It slowed and the rider gave me one of those slow top-to-toe looks before speeding off. A few minutes later the sound was repeated and this time he slowed and raised his visor and winked at me so I gave him a finger flutter wave and he roared off. My husband thought it was amusing and told me he couldn’t take me anywhere. Imagine my surprise when the bike roared into rue Tholoze again. This time his bike mounted the curb, he stopped, kissed my hand and then gave me a red rose that was tucked in his jacket. My Frenchman (sigh) then remounted and rode off – never to return. My husband just stood there with a smile on his face, shaking his head saying that no-one would believe it.

    2. AvatarPaula

      Have to also add – Natasha, what an awesome guy! The way to a girl’s heart is paved with yummy desserts served in Paris 🙂

      1. AvatarCathryn Hein

        Well, that’s just a little bit unfair, Natasha. Not to mention amazing. What a great story!

        And to think all I got when I lived in France was a geriatric stalker who used to follow me around the markets trying to convince me to have coffee with him. Maybe he should have given me a rose…

  7. AvatarPaula

    Hi Natasha

    oooh, PARIS!!! Yay! Best. Quiche. Ever. And you know Denmark is the best desserts ever – authentic stuff made with real butter :wink:, not the rubber garbage they mass-produce here.

  8. Avatarrachaeljohns

    Food is always the highlight of any holiday for me too. Especially the dessert!!! I’ve never been on a cruise but would like to give it a go one day. My ultimate food experience isn’t very original – but I LOVE San Churros and any Pancake place!! Can you tell I have a sweet tooth?

    1. AvatarCathryn Hein

      I’m with you, Rach. Great food can really make a holiday. Some of my best memories from living and travelling overseas (and locally) revolve around food experiences. But the most important thing is who you enjoy it with. Put great food and company together and magic always happens.

  9. AvatarPaula

    Hey, Rach! Dessert is always welcome – will order a small meal or forgo the entree just to fit it in 😉 What I don’t like are the fake cream ones, or the fancy cakes that look better than they taste.

      1. AvatarPaula

        Should be a felony! And it’s so true about the holdiday/eating experience, cathryn. Moussaka in the Greek Islands, giros in Athens… And the best EVER apple strudel with fresh custard in Austria ::sigh::

  10. AvatarJenn J McLeod

    Oh Paula. You are such a hoot! The Pringles were for medicinal purposes, right? I understand that! Salt is great for sea sickness. Don;t ask me why. Maybe it’s a salt vs salt thing hehehehehe. I loved this post Cath but for someone who could not sleep and got up at 4am this morning to eat peanut butter on toast I am now feeling a little bulimic LOL

    1. AvatarPaula

      Peanut butter on toast *with jam*, I hope Jen! I have a few of those little restaurant packets still left over from the cruise 😀

    2. AvatarCathryn Hein

      I’m still feeling that way after yesterday’s overindulgence, Jenn. Someone needs to remind me that fruit mince tarts are bad, bad, baaaaad. I’m sure your peanut butter on toast would have been much healthier!

    1. AvatarCathryn Hein

      It does, doesn’t it, Annie? One of those trips where you return home a weeee bit heavier than you left but with every extra gram worth it.
      Thanks for popping by!

  11. AvatarBronwen Evans

    Hi Paula and Cathryn

    I’ve had so mnay lovely dinners out at soem top restaurants but the best food experience ever was when I was young and we would take the boat out on Lake Taupo and catch fresh trout fro breakfast and cook it on the bar-be for breakfast.

    1. AvatarBronwen Evans

      Re-typed – didn’t have my glasses on!! I’ve had so many lovely dinners out at some top restaurants, but the best food experience ever was when I was young and we would take the boat out on Lake Taupo and catch fresh trout for breakfast and cook it on the bar-be for breakfast.

      1. AvatarCathryn Hein

        LOVE the sound of that, Bron. There’s nothing quite like the outdoors to heighten your appetite and it’s always so satisfying to eat something you’ve caught or grown yourself.

        Like you, I’ve been to some pretty flash eateries but my best food memories aren’t from them. It’s the simple ones, where everything has come together – the company, fresh ingredients, great location – that linger in my mind.

        Which reminds me of the 2 star Michelin restaurant we went to with friends in Aix-en-Provence. I can barely remember what we ate but I will never forget the size of that bill!

  12. AvatarSharon Archer

    A very tasty morsel, Paula and Cathryn!
    And what a great experience, Paula! All in the name of “research” for your next book by the sounds of it!

    I’ve just been to the Langham Hotel for lunch with friends for a pre-Chrstmas lunch. The buffet is seriously YUM!

    We travelled across the Nullabor to Perth on the train many years ago – great experience but it did feel as though we were on a food (and sitting) loop!

    1. AvatarCathryn Hein

      Hi Sharon and thanks for visiting. I am definitely going to try out the Langham’s buffet soon. From all I’m hearing it’s legendary!

      So, if Paula’s cruise was in the name of research, does that make it a tax deduction? In which case I think I need to write a book set in Greece…

  13. AvatarPaula

    Hi Bronwen! the restaurant experience is always special, but cooking a great meal can be just as good (or even better)! My writers group Christmas dinner is coming up on Tuesday and we all bring/cook a dish. It’s always so yummy! And even better with great company 😀

  14. AvatarPaula

    Hey Shazza! The Langham? Love the Langham 😀

    And you do know you can claim research trips on tax if you can link it to a book, Cathryn? I’ve done that twice for two set in Surfers!

  15. Avatarinfinitieh

    My favorite foodie experience (which I have missed for the last few years due to budgetary constraints) is the Cooking for Solutions gala at the Monterey Bay Aquarium – non-stop grazing of tiny morsels of superb food with good local wine. Since I doubt I can afford to eat at all the featured restaurants, this is the best option. I’m hoping to attend next years’.

    Of course, I have many yummy options here in the San Francisco Bay Area but this particular event is special.

  16. AvatarCathryn Hein

    That sounds right up my alley, infinitieh! Food and wine – can’t go wrong, and as you say it’s a great way to try dishes you otherwise mightn’t get to. I love the food and wine festivals held in our wine regions for the same reason. The Clare and Barossa Valleys do fantastic weekends, as does the Hunter in NSW.

    Gourmet Traveller and other mags have had features on the Bay Area, especially your famous Napa wine region. Would love to visit. I’ll get there one day, I’m sure. Sooner rather than later would be nice though!

  17. AvatarPaula

    So I pulled a number out of the air – 25 – and counted up to the 25th comment. And the winner of the firefighter calendar is Natasha! YAY! Natasha, can you email me at paula(at)paularoe (dot)com with your mailing address?

    Many thanks to everyone – and Cathryn! – for having on the Friday Feast! It’s been fab!

    1. AvatarCathryn Hein

      Congratulations, Natasha! Must’ve been that sexy story about your Parisian motocyclist that did it.

      Enjoy your fiery calendar and thanks for joining in the Friday Feast fun!

  18. AvatarNatalie Moress

    Oh, Paula, the food on your cruise sounds wonderful! And no cooking, or washing up afterwards! Heaven! I’ve been a bit inspired by the idea of firefighters, and my ideal foodie experience this fine morning involves the sexy hunk on the cover of the calendar, some warm caramel sauce, and a couple of dollops of double cream. And I won’t complain about the cleaning up, either….

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