FRIDAY FEAST with Fiona Palmer

Welcome to Friday Feast! I’m very excited about today’s guest. Not only is she a fabulous writer and gorgeous person, she’s taking us on an armchair trip to my favourite country, Italy!

First, an update from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf Weekly, because I know how much you hang on it during my beloved Sydney Swans off season. I’m beginning to believe that all the golf balls I buy are suicidal. Fiona Palmer author photoI can think of no other explanation for why they keep diving for eel ridden dams and blacksnake infested rough. Spookily, it only ever seems to happen to the brand new ones…

Enough of that. Time to say ciao bella to one of Australia’s favourite rural romance authors, Fiona Palmer!

Fiona is a born and bred country girl who shot to ru-ro (as we fondly call it) stardom with The Family Farm, following that huge success up with Heart of Gold, The Road Home and The Sunburnt Country. All best-sellers and complete heart-warmers. Now Fiona has another story for your rural library, and this is being touted as her best yet. Take a look at The Outback Heart.




The Outback Heart by Fiona PalmerIndianna Wilson is a country girl through and through. She’ll do anything she can to save her beloved home town from disappearing off the map – even if she has to die trying. She brings Troy Mitchell to her tiny outback town, with hopes that he can bring a breath of fresh air to the Saints football club and lift the wider farming community.

He’s just the spark they need in Hyden but it’s the fire that he ignites in Indi’s heart that takes her by surprise. She knows he’s feeling something too – why, then, does he insist on pushing her away? What is it from his dark past that’s preventing them from sharing a future?

As the town rallies together and their fighting spirit returns, Indi and Troy discover that sometimes life offers up a second chance – you just have to be brave enough to take it.

The most heartfelt and moving novel yet from favourite Australian rural romance writer and bestselling author of The Family Farm.


Footy, love and the outback, how can you resist? Hie thee down to your nearest bookstore or get that mouse a-clicking. Signed copies of all Fiona’s books are available now from her website, and between now and Christmas Fiona will throw in a stubbie holder with every purchase. Otherwise, for the paperback, try Booktopia, Bookworld, Dymocks, QBD The Bookshop, Angus & Robertson, direct from Penguin Australia, your local independent bookshop or nearest chainstore. For the ebook visit Kobo, Amazon (for Kindle), iTunes, Google Play, BigW ebooks or JB Hi-Fi.

Now enjoy your Italian holiday.


Pizza Passion


Thanks to my mate Cathryn for having me, I love her Friday Feasts. Today I thought I’d talk about Pizza. (An all time favourite of mine because its easy and my kids eat it!!) This is funny because I hadn’t eaten a Pizza Hut pizza until I was 18. We ate plenty of frozen McCain’s pizzas growing up but I’d never had a fresh made one. I was living in Perth and had part time work (while at College) at the Peppy Grove Pizza Hut and that was the first time I’d ever eaten one, especially hot out of the oven. Then I couldn’t understand why I’d never eaten one sooner.

Anyway the reason I’ve gone with Pizza for this Friday Feast is because I just recently went to Italy for 3 weeks on a ‘research’ tip for my next book. And I ate pizza. I didn’t go over board while there, I shared it around with the pastas and we cooked for ourselves for 11 nights while in Montone (a small village in Umbria) and we had lots of salads. (Must even up the carb/veg ratio)

But as I was looking back through my photo’s for a ‘Pizza’ pic I was quite shocked to see how many photo’s I had of me eating pizza! Crikey, it makes it look like that’s all I ate!

One thing I realised is that the pasta and pizza’s are really simple in Italy. They are not full of other ingredients. We make pizza’s or pasta at home and have heaps of vegies and herbs in them, in Italy its simple. In Pompeii we had a pasta dish which just looked like pasta with a tin of crushed tomatoes in it and a basil leaf on top.

But you know what? It was soooo tasty. We think it must be the delicious tomatoes grown in the volcanic soils. Maybe we put too much ‘stuff’ in our dishes? I do tend to load my homemade pizzas with every topping possible to make sure I’m getting plenty of vegies lol

Fiona Palmer aunt and cousin eating pizza in Florence

So here we are eating pizza in the street in Florence. We’d caught up with my cousin who just happened to be in Italy on her trip at the same time as us. My Aunty Lorna and I were the Pizza testers. I never pizza’ed alone. (We did wonder if we’d have to attend a Pizza Anonymous group when we got back!)

Fiona Palmer eating pizza in Gubbio

This is yours truly pigging out on a yum slice of pizza in Gubbio. (An amazing Medieval town not far from where we were staying in Montone. We actually found this place by accident. A wrong turn somewhere landed us here. Much to our delight!)

A pizza meal Fiona Palmer enjoyed in Perugia

When we visited Perugia (another town south of Montone) we went to this little restaurant which was down a little alleyway. It was gorgeous with round exposed rock ceiling. And it seemed small but as you kept walking you came to other little eating areas. Just to note, my Aunty and I couldn’t finish these ones but took the rest home to eat later. 🙂

A pizza meal at Brancaleone, a bar and restaurant in Rome

When we were in Rome, we found a fantastic ristorante/pizzeria right behind our hotel. Sadly we wished we had found it two days earlier!! But we went there so often that we felt like locals and the managers were so lovely. Even their little girl was gorgeous.  They had a big pizza oven and the size of our pizza’s were huge. But the nice thin base made it possible to eat the whole lot! One night we had something different (see I didn’t always eat pizza) and they brought us one of the pizza bases which had been coated in oil, sea salt and sprinkled with rosemary. OMG it was delicious and perfect with our meal. They also served their own fresh cooked potato chips while we waited. Brancaleone the place was called. Loved it. I won’t mention the yummo choc cake we had too.

So that was a snippet of my time in Italy. I have since tried making a few of the things we had over there like the basic oil, sea salt & rosemary pizza base. Goes great as a side to salad. 🙂


Sigh. My jealousy of you right now, dear Fiona, is ENORMOUS! Italy is such a wonderful place. Gorgeous people, beautiful scenery and language, all that history and art, and the food! Simple and delicious.

Now, Feasters, we have a giveaway, Simply share your favourite pizza topping in the comments and you’ll go into the draw to win a signed paperback copy of The Outback Heart. Easy!

So… are you a traditionalist, and prefer a good old Margherita? Or maybe you’re a modernist and enjoy exotica like tandoori chicken or roast pumpkin, fetta and chorizo? I’ll admit to the youthful indiscretion of loving pineapple on my pizza but now I’m a Margherita girl through and through, although I did once have a wonderful pizza made with tiny slivers of potato, garlic and herbs that I’d be happy to scoff again. So what’s your preferred topping? Reveal and you could win!

Entries close midnight Tuesday, AEST, 19th November 2013. Australian postal addresses only please.

If you’d like to learn more about Fiona and her books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook and Twitter.


This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Melissa who has won a signed copy of The Outback Heart. Thanks to all who took part. I hope you’ll join in the fun again.


0 thoughts on “FRIDAY FEAST with Fiona Palmer

  1. AvatarPatricia Franks

    I just like it plain and simple with pepperoni and pineapple. A bit of sweet and a bit of heat. Yum.

      1. AvatarKate Redman Absalom

        Hi Fiona, I love to read all books of Australian Outback, keep up the great work. My favourite Pizza’s are homemade with plenty of vegies sliced thinly, ham or bacon, cheese and a couple of eggs cracked on the top. It s a great way to get kids to each vegies with out knowing it! I always make my own base using a scone mix.

  2. AvatarMelissa

    Well, Fiona, I’m super jealous of your trip to Italy which I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned many times on your facebook page while you were there!
    I LOVE margharita pizza however my husband believed (up until a week ago) that it didn’t deserve the title of a pizza. He just got back from a business trip to Italy as well & has since realised that it is actually the true definition of Pizza – I’m hoping that means I can start ordering them!!!
    I also agree that I used to enjoy pineapple on my pizza but now, I can’t stand it!!
    Thanks for a great read on a miserable Melbourne Friday morning!!

    1. AvatarCathryn Hein

      I think we’re all super jealous, Melissa! Wasn’t it fun to follow Fiona’s travels on Facebook?

      How funny about your husband. Hopefully he has now seen the light and you’ll get your Margheritas!

      1. AvatarMelissa

        Funnily enough, Catherine, I had a margarita pizza the other night, it was delicious and helped my sudden craving after reading about Fiona’s travels!

  3. AvatarPaula Beavan

    I’m going to the UK next year, and this post has made me wish I was going to give Italy a go. Never mind, there’s always next time. I love pizza, even GF pizza is good. My favourite toppings are chorizo and mushrooms. Anything along with this is fine, but must have the chorizo and mushies 🙂 Another book buy, FF is adding to my TBR pile each week 🙂

    1. AvatarCathryn Hein

      You could always catch a quick flight across, Paula. Spend a weekend in Florence or Venice or the home of pizza, Naples!

      Interesting about the chorizo. I bet the oil from it adds great flavour.

      And yes, feeding the mind and belly, that’s Friday Feast!!

  4. AvatarKeziah Hill

    I love the pizza at a local restaurant Leura Garage (where Ms Hein and I have sample their wares). Chorizo, another type of salami and some smoked ham from Trunkey Creek smokehouse in Orange. Yummo! Plus a glass of rose (accent on the e) to go with it. Great for a lazy lunch.

    1. AvatarCathryn Hein

      I feel another sample of this restaurant is in order, Keziah. There is much I haven’t sampled on the menu!

      Definitely going to check out the smokehouse. Another thing to add to my post-edits list.

  5. Avatarfionamcarthur2

    Loving the pizza descriptions. We seriously got into insalata caprasie ?sp we got pretty good at saying it anyway. And yep, plain base with olive oil and rosemary pizza … In Italy… Doesn’t get much better than that. Yum
    Thanks for that Fiona and Cathryn

  6. Avatarchristinestinson

    Ah, Italy. We’ll be back there next year and first lunch or dinner will definitely be a Margherita pizza at a local trattoria while we watch the passing parade. You’re so right about the taste of the tomatoes there, Fiona. Another great post, Cathryn and Fiona, thanks.

    1. AvatarCathryn Hein

      Another one going travelling. Aargh! Why can’t it be me?????

      It’s interesting, isn’t it, Christine, the difference in the taste of the produce. I noticed it in France, too, with a lot of the veg. Never had capsicums so sweet! I don’t know if it’s the soil or variety or what.

  7. AvatarJoan Kilby

    Fiona and Cathryn, thanks for another great Friday Feast. I was in Italy in May and loved, loved, loved the pizza. The Margherita is classic but I also like mushrooms on my pizza. And non-marinated artichokes. Those were a revelation. After Italy I’m a convert to minimalist toppings, whatever they may be.

  8. AvatarJM Bray

    I am a fan of many toppings, but if I’m getting a single topping pizza its onion. I know that may sound a little boring, but when some of them caramelize a bit while other’s still have some bite. YUM.


  9. AvatarJuanita Kees

    You had me at Italian! What else would a true blue, Holden-lovin’ country girl eat other than pizza? Now I have another book to add to my Fiona Palmer library. Look out BIg W, here I come!
    I’m blessed in so many ways: a) I have a hubby who cooks and b) we have a wood-fired pizza oven on our alfresco. In a family of Meatlovers, I have no choice but to add my own veggies. My favourite is pumpkin and feta with a light touch of basil and garlic. Yummo!

  10. AvatarLouise Reynolds

    Great post – very envious of all that wonderful Pizza eating. Having said that, our local pizzacheria won Australia’s best pizza award recently. Then promptly had its front windows shot out by a rival pizza maker. They do take these things rather seriously! Anyhow, they absolutely refuse to put pineapple on their pizza. My fave is tomato sauce base, mushroom, anchovy (and lots of it), fior de latte, basil. Ultra thin crust. Delicious. And probably shouldn’t say this but he has some pizza makers out from Italy on 457 visas!

    1. AvatarCathryn Hein

      Ha ha ha ha!!! Oh yes, they take their pizza veeeeery seriously down Melbourne way!

      Love that story, Louise. Sooo with you on the ultra thin crust. That’s a must.

    2. AvatarFiona Palmer

      Wow really Louise? Crazy. I miss out on all the fun living in the middle of nowhere. I’d love to have a local pizza shop nearby. It just never tastes as good when you make it yourself. 🙂

  11. AvatarNik Hurring

    Okay it might sound weird but….. vegetarian pizza with refried beans, onions, tomato and avocado is really GOOD! 😉

  12. AvatarIngrid

    It has to be pesto – lots of basil, a hint of chilli to spice it up and toasted pine nuts. When I really want to go all out I layer with a little thinly sliced tomato, olives and crumbled fetta.

    My mouth is now watering on the train and I have an urge to run away to Italy!