A Classical Afternoon

I love classical piano concerts. Every time I go to one, I wonder why I don’t go to more. Over the years, I’ve seen a fair few, with stand-outs including Yuja Wang at the marvelous Philharmonie in Paris, a Debussy concert with two pianos at Bargemusic in Brooklyn, and a concert of Chopin and Mendelssohn in Leipzig. My visit to Leipzig is also memorable because I located the site of the house where the great pianist Clara Schumann was born in 1819. []

Myth of the Sniper’s Bullet

In honor of the 100th Anniversary of the Armistice, I’m posting this story that I wrote after visiting my great-grandfather’s grave at the Somme in France. The story is part of a collection of my stories and vignettes in Pastel & Pen: Travels in Europe, now available in Print and Ebook editions on Amazon. The book is a “non-collaborative” collaboration that pairs my writing with a collection of pastels done over 27 years by artist Gregg Simpson. In Pastel & Pen, Myth []

Nigel Slater Cookbooks

On a beautiful Fall day, we gathered at Jacqui’s home and celebrated the food of Nigel Slater, billed as “one of Britain’s best-loved cookery writers.” Slater has written several cookbooks, including Real Food, Eat, and Appetite.   Mandarin Dream Cocktail We started the evening with a cocktail as has become our tradition. Our host, Jacqui, created Mandarin Dream. Made with Mandarin Vodka (wow!), the cocktail was extremely orangey and refreshing. It was also very strong! I’m not a huge vodka fan myself, []

Why I Broke Up With NaNoWriMo

I love NaNoWriMo, which is why this year I’m not doing it. Let me explain. First off, if you’re a writer and you’ve never heard of NaNoWriMo, aka National November Writing Month, be sure to check it out. Every year, writers sign up and pledge to write 50,000 words in 30 days. I first heard about NaNoWriMo in October of 2013. Several of my writer friends swore by it. My debut novel, The Towers of Tuscany, was already in production and I []

Cookbook Club Cooks British Columbia

The Cookbook Club chose this month to honour BC Day by making recipes created only by local BC chefs. BC Day is celebrated in British Columbia on the first Monday of August, so we decided that a Cookbook Club date of August 11 was close enough. Another theme that emerged as we sampled our dishes was Local Products and Local Produce. A great many of the ingredients used in our dishes this month were sourced locally, sometimes super locally as in our []

Cookbook Club Whitewater Cooks!

The Bowen Island Cookbook Club took a ride on the wild side with recipes from the wonderful Whitewater Cooks series by Shelly Adams in Nelson, BC.  We were down to just four members our of our usual seven, but that didn’t stop us having an amazing meal–soup, salad, tart, and dessert. Who needs a main course with food so good? We met at Helen’s lovely home in the middle of the Island and immediately assembled in her stunning back garden complete with []

The Cookbook Club Spends An Evening with Vij

Our  Cookbook Club get together on April 14 brought all seven of us back together at Mariana’s beautiful home overlooking a stunning view of water and mountains on the west side of Bowen Island. We could chose recipes from two Vij cookbooks – Vij’s at Home or Elegant & Inspired Vij’s. Vancouver residents are very familiar with the gourmet Indian cooking of Vikram Vij. His restaurants are almost always packed — and for good reason. Here’s an excerpt from Vij’s website describing []

Cookbook Club: Plenty by Ottolenghi

Becky’s lovely home on the southeast corner of Bowen Island overlooking Howe Sound and the city of Vancouver beyond was the setting for our third Cookbook Club evening featuring Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi. We started with a French 75 cocktail, so named after the French 75 millimeter field gun used in World War I. Apparently, that’s a thing! The cocktail itself consists of 3/4 ounce of lemon juice mixed with 1 1/2 ounces of Hendrick’s gin bought by Becky []

The Cookbook Club: My New Roots Cookbook

For the second meeting of the Bowen Island Cookbook Club, we chose My New Roots Cookbook by Sarah Britton — and are we ever glad we did! The dishes and the evening were a huge success. We met at Kate’s lovely cosy house a few minutes’ walk through the forest from Snug Cove, the hub of Bowen Island and the location of the ferry dock. The evening threatened snow, but we immediately warmed up with a cocktail that Kate created especially for []

Chasing the Middle Ages

Following is a piece that will be included in “Pastel and Pen,” a collection of my writing paired with selected pastel drawings by Gregg Simpson. “Pastel and Pen: Two Ways of Seeing” will be published by New Arcadia Publishing in Spring, 2018. This piece is accompanied by Gregg Simpson’s pastel entitled San Gimignano shown below. I alternate travel writing about modern San Gimignano with a fanciful journey seven hundred years into the past. The hill town of San Gimignano is famous worldwide as the []