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!

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