Author Nancy Jardine talks foods

Today, I welcome back a wonderful author friend, Nancy Jardine, whose blog tour continues as she celebrates the release of her latest novel, Topaz Eyes, a romantic mystery. The hunt for the missing jewels is on!

Of course, on their trail across the world, Keira and Teun come across places offering lovely food and drink. So, Nancy's chatting about European foods here today. Nom nom...

Hello Cathie, it’s lovely to be here with you today on what is almost the last of my blog stops for the launch of my ancestral mystery, Topaz Eyes, published by Crooked Cat Publishing. 

During my blog tour for the launch of Topaz Eyes I’ve tried to find something new for each one: to prevent boring followers of the tour; and as exercise in avoiding repetition. The problem I’ve encountered is finding a new topic without giving away too many spoilers that would detract from a reader’s enjoyment in reading the story. This post might repeat some European locations, but I’ve put a different slant on the content. 

What would my main characters find that’s traditional to eat and drink in the European cities they visit? 

Keira’s first stop is Heidelberg. It’s not her first visit, but it is for Teun, the American who becomes her partner in the search for the Tiru Salana jewels - a fabulous collection which has been in hiding for many years. What German fare would Keira recommend Teun try? 

(Apologies to my blog host as she’s from Heidelberg herself, and would possibly recommended something entirely different!)

My first short visit to Heidelberg was thirty three years ago with a nine-month old daughter in tow. Back in those days restaurants weren’t entirely child friendly and tended to shut up shop early with last ordering around eight p.m. Fiona’s needs meant we ate out a lot during the day, and less at night since daytime pubs were more inclined to accommodate us. We ate local fare whenever possible. 

Fast forward twenty-one years and I was visiting Heidelberg again with my younger daughter, Sheena, then twentyish. We were there to visit Fiona who had morphed into a languages student studying at Heidelberg University, during her last year of studies. Fiona was so keen to take me back to tourist haunts I’d visited when she was a baby (though obviously she had no memory of that) and to show them off to Sheena. Being a student she also wanted us to sample the pub fare that she was able to afford, yet typically wanted to go to the restaurants she couldn’t ordinarily frequent! We had a ball sampling the mainly cheaper food, since her mother (me) is a stingy Scot!  

Some of the things we sampled are what I imagine Keira, from Topaz Eyes, would have Teun try since she was also a student in Heidelberg and budget was an issue for her, too! 

German sausage - Free image 

Teun would have to try real German sausage, “Wurst”, at some time, or other. Perhaps he’d nibble on “Bratwurst", or "Knackwurst”. Fiona encouraged me to try "Nürnberger" which I believe to be a specialty of the area – though my memory may not serve me totally correctly. (Help from Cathie, perhaps?) It was eaten with a drizzle of mustard and wedged between a crispy white bun - though I remember it being different from a burger bun. 

They might try Kartoffelsuppe, the potato soup which seems to vary from restaurant to restaurant in presentation yet still, amazingly, has the same basic ingredients. 

Kartoffelsuppe with Frankfurter sausage - Wikimedia Commons

For a main course Teun might try a pork dish with potatoes, like “Steak mit Pilzrahmsoße und Pellkartollfeln”. He might also like a Sauer Kraut dish of cabbage. Keira would really encourage him to try a black forest cake for dessert. The old city of Heidelberg was dripping with drinking places that were fantastic, and naturally Teun would have to try the pubs which sold different beers. I’m not a great beer drinker, but I loved the local wines. The Schnapps was to be missed either! 


Move now to Vienna. Since Keira has never been to Vienna they might both try a traditional soup with dumplings. I’ve been to Austria a few times, my first time in 1964 when I went skiing near Innsbruck. The abiding memory I have of the food was of loving the clear soups which nearly always had dumplings floating around – large, medium and small - and soup with noodles. In 1964 the pork schnitzels were a novelty for me and definitely to my taste - with or without any accompanying sauce.  Move forward to 2002 when I re-visited Vienna. I could afford to go to some finer restaurants serving world dishes, but my husband and I sleuthed out the side streets which still served traditional Viennese dishes, and served the local wines and beers. We were not disappointed. 

Some Austrian food might seem bland, but that’s what I imagine Teun and Keira would also want to sample – whatever is local! Something that maybe resembled this dish.

Wikimedia Commons

There is, of course, a famous pastry shop/coffee shop that’s near the Vienna Music Hall. It has the most fantastic supply of cakes for afternoon tea. It’s not cheap but is a very tasty luxury – many varieties of coffee and tea on offer there too. I think if Teun heard about the place, he’d drag Keira there as a treat! 


Then move on to Amsterdam. Traditional Dutch food is much like German, Belgian and Austrian fare. The basic meats are pork or chicken and traditionally cooked in light gravies, rather than complicated heavy sauces. Having lived in Holland for 3 years I think Keira, who has also had some experience of Holland, would be encouraging Teun to try the simple dishes with interesting vegetables as accompaniments. I loved the spinazie – spinach - served with a poured over thin nutmeg white sauce, a auce that’s used to top many green vegetables. 

In the novel, Topaz Eyes, Keira takes Teun to an Indonesian restaurant in Amsterdam. Since the Dutch have an association with Indonesia of long standing, Indonesian restaurants are quite plentiful, and a Rijstafel is popular with tourists. This is a set meal for a number of persons (2,3 6..any number really) and is a banquet of small taster dishes. Some Amsterdam restaurants were known to serve as many as 30 different courses/ options back in 1979. Today, I’m not so sure of how many, but I think there will be a good number on offer. If unfamiliar with Indonesian cookery it is a great introduction to it, though some dishes are very spicy. It would be a good way for Teun and Keira to balance out the simpler dishes they’ve already tried. 
I couldn’t write Topaz Eyes, or indeed this blog post, without mentioning Poffertjes met boter en poedersuiker.
I totally love them! They are a dish of around 12 tiny pancakes topped with butter, a squirt of lemon squeezed over and a dusting of vanilla flavoured icing sugar added. Absolutely scrumptious! Some Poffertje Huises (cafes selling them) offer other toppings, though I believe what I’ve just mentioned is the basic traditional variety. Read Topaz Eyes to find out why Teun gives Keira a smacking great kiss in the middle of the Poffertje Huis! 

Poffertjes - Wikimedia Commons

Again, in Amsterdam there are different beers to try and of course Genever - Dutch gins of many types.  

These are only a few options for eating and drinking, the possibilities are many and very varied. Regardless of what they eat I can assure you Keira and Teun are having a great time!


Thank you, Cathie, for letting me share this with your readers. I hope you enjoy reading about Teun and Keira’s culinary adventures in Topaz Eyes

A peculiar invitation to Heidelberg embroils Keira Drummond in the search for a mysterious collection of extraordinary jewels once owned by a Mughal Emperor; a hoard that was last known to be in the possession of Amsterdam resident, Geertje Hoogeveen, in 1910. 

Who among the progeny of Geertje – hitherto unfamiliar third cousins brought together for the quest – can Keira rely on? Distrust and suspicion among them is rife. 

Which one is greedy, and determined enough, to hire thugs to tail her… and worse… as she travels to Vienna and Minnesota?  Can Keira even trust Teun Zeger - a Californian she is becoming very drawn to – as they pair up to unearth the jewellery? 

As they follow a trail of clues, will they uncover the full collection before the hired gun kills them? Details remain furtive and undisclosed until danger and death forces their exposure. And who harbours the ultimate mystery item that is even more precious than the Mughal jewels? 

Greed, suspicion and murder are balanced by growing family loyalty, trust, and love. 

Buy Links:
Amazon UK kindle
Crooked Cat Books

An ex-primary teacher, Nancy Jardine, lives in the fabulous castle country of Aberdeenshire – Scotland. Her husband mans the kitchen, her offspring only an hour’s drive away. When time permits, ancestry research is an intermittent hobby. Neglecting her large garden in favour of writing, she now grows spectacularly giant thistles. Activity weekends with her extended family are prized since they give her great fodder for new writing.

A lover of history, it sneaks into most of her writing along with many of the fantastic world locations she has been fortunate to visit. Her published work to date has been two non fiction history related projects; two contemporary ancestral mysteries; one light-hearted contemporary romance mystery and a historical novel, The Beltane Choice, also published by Crooked Cat Publishing. 

Nancy can be contacted at: 

Sunday Blog Hop!

Today, Nancy's not just visiting me, but also fellow Crooked Cat author, Jeff Gardiner - who turns up at her's too, chatting about his new release, Myopia!

Go have a read! :-) 


  1. Morning, Cathie! It's great to be having a blog hop today, since it has dawned very fine up here in Aberdeenshire.

    Pssst. BTW - I noticed a little mistake that I've made up there in my post. It should, of course, read at the end of the Heidelberg section " The Schnapps WASN'T to be missed either!" Poor typing? Or maybe just thinking of all those 'Schnapps' varieties on offer in a fantastic 'liqueur' shop we went to on the Hauptstrasse (?) where we filled our own gift bottles. :-)

    1. LOL those shops are dangerous. Love them, though.

      Great to host you on your fabulous tour. Hope Topaz Eyes is doing well. It so deserves to climb the charts.

    2. Thank you for those encouraging words!

  2. Very nice European Tours ... my father was born in Vienna and has a lot of friends in Germany, so I'm myself more than familiar with Viennese and German cuisine, yummy !! very best of luck with your book - hello Cathie !


    1. Hello BlackTulip,

      I hope all's well with you and you're prepared for Christmas.

      I loved Vienna. So much culture and good food. Thanks for stopping by. :-)


Post a Comment

Most read posts

Ascent: free on Kindle June 8th & 9th

Welcome romance author Maggi Andersen

Welcome romance author D'Ann Lindun