14 October 2011

Food In Fiction #2 - The Beach Café

Welcome to the second post in my Food In Fiction Series.

I have noticed more and more the tie-in between food and fiction. As foodies, I am sure you love when food takes center stage in a novel and when the author kindly includes some recipes, well that is just an added bonus.

My title this edition is The Beach Café by Lucy Diamond (aka children's author Sue Mongredien, who also writes as Daisy Meadows).

I was in the middle of reading a library copy of this book when I headed off on holiday, so I took it with me and finished it off on the plane. A flight has never gone by so quickly or been quite so pleasant. A great book which I couldn't put down.

Lucy has kindly given permission to print a recipe from the book and taken part in an interview, which is further on in the post.

The Beach Café by Lucy Diamond

..... is the story of Evie, who at the ripe old age of thirty two hasn't exactly set the world on fire. She doesn't have a mortgage, a successful career or a family, unlike her two sisters, who seem to have it all. She is definitely the black sheep in the family. What she does have is a rather boring boyfriend who would rather squirrel his money away than spend it on her and a succession of rather hellish temp jobs.

Things change for Evie when her beloved Aunt Jo dies in a car crash and leaves Evie her Beach Café in Cornwall. Of course Evie's family think this is a big mistake. How can Evie run a business? This makes Evie even more determined to take over the cafe and to prove her family wrong, so Evie packs up her life and heads to the coast.

Evie has wonderful memories of her time in Cornwall helping her aunt in the cafe, but when she gets there everything seems very different from what she remembers. The cafe looks a little rundown, the staff are worse than useless and the locals are openly hostile. Evie begins to wonder if she has made her worst decision yet.

After her chef walks out Evie realises she cannot open the next day without something to offer her customers and so sets about making some scones using her aunt's recipe. It takes her a few tries, but she gets there in the end...

.... and Lucy has kindly included the recipe at the end of the book for us to try.

print recipe
Classic Scones
The perfect scones to fill with jam and cream for afternoon tea.
  • 350g self-raising flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 85g butter
  • 3 tbsp caster sugar
  • 175ml milk
  • 1 egg, beaten (to glaze)
1. Heat the oven to 220c/gas mark 7. Mix the flour, salt and baking powder. Cut the butter into cubes then rub in to the flour mixture until it resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar, then make a well in the mixture.2. Warm the milk then pour into the dry mix and stir to combine to a dough.3. Sprinkle your work surface and hands with flour, then tip out the dough. Fold it over a few times, then pat into a round approximately 4 cm deep.4. Take a 5cm cutter and dip it into some flour. Cut four scones from this round, then reshape the remaining mixture to cut another four. Brush the tops with the beaten egg, and put on a baking tray. 5. Bake for 10 minutes until risen and golden.6. Serve your scones warm or cold, with butter, clotted cream and jam, plus a pot of tea and your nicest crockery. Sea view preferable but not essential. Enjoy!
Total time: Yield: serves 8

Interview with Lucy Diamond (aka Sue Mongredien)

1. Evie starts of as a reluctant cook with some memorable disasters, moves on to the determined-to-have-a-go stage and then on to become a fairly competent cook. Do you associate with one of these stages yourself or do you really love to cook?

I really love to cook, although I've certainly had my fair share of disasters. Now that my children are a bit older and I have more time on my hands, I've actually really enjoyed being more experimental in the kitchen and trying new recipes. There's something so creative about cooking that appeals to me - and I must confess to enjoying eating the results too.

2. Do you have a dish that is a family favourite?

There are five of us in our family and I think we'd all have the same reply to this question: Sunday dinner. My husband usually cooks this (hurrah!) and he does the most amazing roast potatoes - fluffy on the inside and crunchy on the outside. He took a tip from Jamie Oliver and always gives them a gentle squashing with a potato masher halfway through roasting. It works!

3. Do you have a culinary party piece for dinner parties?

I don't have a specific dish I wheel out each time, I tend to make something different according to who's coming round, and what time of year it is. A big bowl of pasta and a variety of salads is always a good standby option though. And a fabulous pudding, of course...

4. Is there a cookbook you find yourself returning to again and again?

I love Nigella's books - I've done a lot of baking from her Domestic Goddess book. I've tried lots of Jamie Oliver's 30-minute dinners too, although I've never yet managed to do everything in just half an hour! I've recently bought the 'My Daddy Cooks' book which has some brilliant, easy and foolproof ideas for family meals in too.

5. Now, back to your own books. Where do you write and are you a fan of good old pen and paper or do you work on a computer?

My office is down at the bottom of our house and was once used as the coal cellar in Victorian times, I believe! Now it is lovely and light, with French windows opening onto the garden. I write everything on a computer - I find it much easier to edit that way. Plus I can type much faster than I can write, after years of office slavery.

6. How does it feel when you finish a book? Are you reluctant to let it go or does closing the last page mark an end for you?

Finishing a book is the most wonderful feeling - a massive sense of achievement. I'm always rather sad to say goodbye to the characters, as I come to really know them over the writing period and would happily keep tweaking the text forever, given half a chance. It's a strange feeling when you've gone through the final set of proofs and know that, that's it, there will be no more changes, and it's off to the printers. Exciting, but nerve-racking too. Then, of course, it's straight onto the next book and it all begins again...

7. Would you ever return to a character or community to write more books?

Yes, I think it's possible. I never wrap everything up too tightly for my characters, so definitely feel there are stories still to tell. Not that I've got around to telling them yet, of course, but I'm not ruling anything out!

8. And finally. Evie bakes scones in an attempt to fill the cafe's empty cake stand and you have kindly given us the recipe. So, I have to ask you where you stand on the eternal scone debate that rages between Cornwall and Devon. What goes on first the cream or the jam?

Ha! I think I will be diplomatic and say that, as long as there is cream AND jam on my scone, then I don't mind which way round they go. It still tastes delicious!

A big thank you to Lucy for the recipe, the interview and for writing such fabulous books.

Disclosure Statement: I did not receive a review copy of this book or any other incentive. This was a title I borrowed from the library and loved so much, that I decided to review it. The opinions I have expressed are my own.


  1. Ooh, love stuff like this. Even American kids knew of the Famous Five, and "lashings of jam," and from The Wind in the Willows we all got a yen for ginger beer (though we had no clue what it was. And what the heck was a "lashing" of jam? We wanted it anyway.)

    The logo with the mom and kid in the kitchen is really cute.

  2. Thanks Tanita. Lashings is a great word, I may need to start using it myself.

    As you may guess you are on my list of authors to contact for Food In Fiction.

  3. oooh ! I was just going to write that I love this stuff too but Tanita has beaten me to it. I love Cornwall, scones and my littest is called Evie too (a big famous five fan to boot) - what is not to love? x

  4. Evie is a lovely name Lisa, but i sadly have never been to Cornwall. I was desperate to go after reading this book though :)

  5. Lashings is also a favourite word of mine, that and scones, jam, cream, cuppa tea, picnic etc! LOL!
    A Great interview and book review as well as a scone recipe too...I love scones, lashings of them!

  6. What a great & grand interview & that scones recipe is a winner!

    An excellent read that was! :)

    I also olove the new look on your blog!

  7. I love your list apart from the tea Karen, yeughh!

    Thanks Sophie. Will have to come and have a visit. Haven't been by for a while :)

  8. This sounds like a great read, just my kind of book so I think I'll be adding it to my wish list for Santa. And how great to get an interview with the author too!!

  9. Sounds like ideal holiday reading. Lashings? Surely that is lashings of ginger beer? I must have read every Famous Five book in the library by the time I was about 10. There are so many challenges now, I want to do them all but time seems to be in short supply at the moment. Lovely post and well done on getting the interview.

  10. I know Chele and Lucy (or Sue as she is called in real life) is just lovely.

    Thanks Janice, I was more into Malory Towers than Famous Five :)

  11. Lovely post - I really like your interview, it's always interesting to 'meet' the authors behind the books.

    I love scones, so they're always a winner here!

  12. Loved this post Jacqueline and of course love a good scone too.

  13. Love these scones I have to make soon! Love your blog Jacqueline because is sooo good and my daughter is veggi!LOL xxgloria

  14. I love it when novels capture food really well - and it sounds like this one does! A good scone is a thing of beauty....and I'm glad to see you've put the jam on first!

  15. Thanks Val :)

    Oh well, you will not be stuck for ideas then Gloria :)

    I am not getting caught up in that CC, hehe :D

  16. great post - I have had my share of hellish office jobs - would no doubt love this if I could just find more time for reading - though I would get some done on our holiday this year but hardly got near any books - am more likely to be baking scones - love them!

  17. Oh, what a fun series...right up my alley. such a great post and interview, can't wait to see more like it!

  18. Great post Jac. Had never heard of Lucy Diamond or any of her pseudonyms until now. That book is now a must read for me - not only a feel good book about baking and running a cafe, but it's in Cornwall - yeah! Loved your question about the jam & cream debate and the very diplomatic answer she gave.

  19. I couldn't live without books Johanna. I always manage to fit in some time.

    Thanks Heather :)

    I am so glad I was able to introduce you to Lucy. You are going to love her books Choclette :)


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