The whole theme behind my Destination: Desire series is falling in love while traveling far from home. In some of the books, that meant a work trip, a vacation, and even foreign exchange. Most of the places mentioned in this series, I’ve been to myself, which meant I got to experience all the wonderful (and sometimes strange) sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of these exotic locales.
Probably the most fun thing I do while I’m away from home is try new foods and restaurants, so I wanted to share with you some of the most entertaining dishes I’ve tasted while trotting around the globe. If you ever go to these places, you have to try these!
- Aussie Pizza. I tried this dish in Sydney, Australia. At first, it looks like an all-meat pizza, with pepperoni, Canadian bacon, and prosciutto. But then you look a bit closer, and you see that there’s a scrambled egg cooked in with the cheese. Finally, you bite into it, and you realize there’s tangy BBQ sauce mixed into the marinara. It sounds funky, but it tastes fabulous.
- Navette. This little gem was delight from Marseille, France. It’s shaped like a little boat (navette), and it seems like a pretty simple cookie at first. Flour, eggs, butter, sugar…ah, but then you get to the secret ingredient. Orange blossom water. This one extra component gives these morsels a light, sweet citrusy taste that blew my socks off.
- Mandazi (or Mahamri). Sticking to my desserts, this is one I tasted in Kampala, Uganda. It was a triangular donut that was less sweet than the kind of donuts I’m used to in the States, but I still loved it. Instead of the usual sugar-explosion, this was sweetened with coconut milk, spiced with cardamom, and came with a fruit dipping sauce. It was served with a hot cup of masala chai, which was the perfect complement (especially for a tea-lover like me).
- Currywurst. Back over to the savory dishes, this is one I tried in Frankfurt, Germany. It was a simple bratwurst that had been kicked up a notch by adding a curry ketchup sauce sprinkled with curry powder. I know what you’re thinking—curry ketchup? Ew!—but this didn’t have quite the sweet-tangy aftertaste you get from ketchup in the US. It was more a tomato-curry sauce, but they call it “curry ketchup” there. It was delicious, and that’s all I cared about.
- Berliner. Here’s a second dish I found in Frankfurt (despite being named after Berlin). This is another donut dessert (can you tell I love a good donut?), which is fluffy and round and doesn’t have a hole in the middle. Instead, it’s filled with some kind of yummy jam. I tried one with an apple jam that made it taste a whole lot like an apple pie donut, and another with a spiced plum butter called Pflaumenmus. I couldn’t decide which flavor I liked better, so I had another set the next morning with breakfast. Not exactly healthy, I know, but totally worth it!
About Crystal Jordan
Crystal Jordan began writing romance after she finished graduate school and needed something to fill the hours that used to be eaten away by coursework. She spent far too many years in school and now has degrees in History and Library Science…but swears that both of them help enormously with her writing and research.
Her family sprawls from Texas to Illinois and from California to the United Kingdom. She has three brothers, several rather adorable nieces and nephews, a quirky grandmother who pushed her into writing in the first place, an indispensable best friend codenamed the Mad Madam M, and her very own hero, the Professor Moriarty (who codenamed himself after Sherlock Holmes’s arch-nemesis. Who wouldn’t love a man who loves a good villain?).
Never one to stay in one place very long, Crystal has lived and worked all over the United States. Currently, she serves as a librarian at a university in her home state of California.
Clearly they’ve lost their minds. Or their hearts. Or both.
When Camille Kirby breaks her glasses—and forgets her spare pair—while out of town at an engineering conference, it’s a major disaster. She’s half-blind without her specs. She needs an optometrist fast.
Though the office is technically closed for a holiday weekend, Dr. Dalton Wakefield can’t resist a damsel in distress. Especially one with freckles, an unruly mop of red hair, and a mind as sharp as a tack. He quickly realizes theirs is more than just instant attraction. Of course, just his luck, she’s only in Gatlinburg for a week.
Camille’s first impression is a blur of tall and nicely shaped, with a melted-chocolate Southern drawl. When her new contacts go in? Oh, my. Jackpot.
Coffee turns into multiple dates, then spending every free second together. But soon the tough, no-nonsense Camille, who was all for a quick, no-strings affair, has to admit she’s falling for him. And Dalton is groping for a way to keep Camille from walking out of his life at the end of the week.
Warning: Outdoor adventures that lead to major allergy attacks. A near-sighted heroine who stumbles into the hero’s line of sight, and an optometrist who’s got a prescription for her every need. Whether it’s glasses, massages, or really naughty mattress mambos.
Romance Contemporary [Samhain Publishing, On Sale: July 19, 2016, e-Book, ISBN: 9781619230316 / eISBN: 9781619230316]
Excerpt from Gatlinburg Getaway (Destination: Desire, Book 7)
Half Moon Bay, California
The nerve of those bastards.
Her business partners were ganging up on her, trying to kick her out of the office.
Feng Liu, Levi Eisenberger, and Camille Kirby were about as opposite as any three people could get, but they’d been friends since college. That didn’t mean she was averse to killing them, especially when they were trying to manage her life.
“I thought Levi was the one who was supposed to speak at this conference,” she groused, giving both men the stink eye.
Levi heaved a long-suffering sigh. “My niece’s bat mitzvah got rescheduled because she had the stomach flu. My older sister decided we shouldn’t be puked on for attending, and I can’t fault her logic on that, can you?” He waved a dismissive hand. “Why the date was moved doesn’t really matter—what matters is I can’t miss this party. Bubbe Rose would never, ever let me live it down. Ever.”
“You’re going to have a great time, Camille. Gatlinburg is beautiful.” Feng fluttered his long, glittery false eyelashes at her. He’d decided since they were already too casual to have a casual Friday, he was making it cross-dressing Friday.
Whatever. She figured it meant he didn’t have to go home to get primped for the drive up to whichever San Francisco dance club his boyfriend was taking him to that night.
She was just jealous Feng had a boyfriend and she didn’t. But it wasn’t his fault her love life was pathetic. Nope, that one was on her for never making time to, you know, date.
“It’ll be good for you,” Levi chimed in, rearranging the Star Wars action figures on his desk.
Camille rolled her eyes at his enthusiasm, patently false for her dour, pessimistic, caffeine-addicted colleague. “You shouldn’t put a Sith Lord next to Luke Skywalker. You’re going to open up a black hole in a galaxy far, far away.”
He scowled. Ah, there was the gloomy expression she knew so well.
“Quit antagonizing him. He’s right about it being good for you. Plus, your workaholic ass needs to get out of the office.” Feng blew her a kiss. “We just wrapped up a major project, Levi’s going home for the bat mitzvah, and I can definitely hold down the fort for a slow week on my own, so now’s the perfect time.”
“You could go.” She poked a finger at him.
“Besides Levi, you were the one who worked most closely on that project, so you get to go in his place.” He gave her a pitying look. “Are you afraid to leave the office?”
She didn’t even dignify that with a response. She was just grateful he didn’t mention that she hadn’t taken a single vacation day since they’d gone into business together. It had been a necessary sacrifice, in her opinion, which let them take their little company from making pennies to a lucrative firm creating innovative products in the software engineering market. They’d carved a niche for themselves in under two years, and they’d done it on their own terms. Walking away from incredibly high-paying jobs in the Silicon Valley hadn’t been easy, but they’d been bored out of their minds. Camille had convinced her friends to move to her tiny seaside hometown and set up shop.
Thank God, she’d been right about that. She’d have felt guilty forever if her scheme had bankrupted them all.
That didn’t mean she was pleased about this forced quasi-vacation.
Levi broke in, “Look, it might be in a resort town but it’s a professional conference, so it counts as a business expense, which I know your Scroogey self likes to consider. Go, have fun. That’s an order.”
Scrooge? “I was raised with three older sisters in a single-parent household, so resources were always stretched thin. You’d be money-conscious too, in my place. Also? You’re not the boss of me.”
Feng waved a hand to encompass the office. “It’s an equal partnership, two against one. You’re out voted. Get out of town and relax, for God’s sake.”
She peered over the tops of her glasses at him like a displeased librarian. “You realize it’s Memorial Day weekend, right?”
“Yep, and we know you don’t have plans.” He smirked. “Your sisters are all going to be out of town, which means you were planning to work. So go work in a resort over Memorial Day and the whole week after.”
“Only engineering nerds would think scheduling a conference over a holiday was a good idea,” she muttered, because she couldn’t deny what he’d said. She reached out to tidy her already pristine desk, which was a marked contrast to Levi’s clutter and Feng’s unsanitary mess. She tried not to look at his workspace too often or her anal retentive tendencies might kick in. She wasn’t the maid or the mommy, but damn
the disarray bugged her.
“We already confirmed that you’ll be speaking about the project we partnered with Stanford’s Computer Science department on. They’re sending a couple of grad students to talk about their part. Go make us look good—we might get a few more research institutions on board with our products.” Levi reached out a long arm and snagged a sheaf of papers from his printer. “Here are the talking points I prepped for the presentation, plus your plane ticket, car rental info, conference registration confirmation, and hotel reservation. I called to make sure you get a suite with a hot tub, so you can soak your knee if needed.”
“Thanks.” The word came out far more grudging than it should have.
Five years ago, Camille had been in a catastrophic automobile accident. The memory of it still had the power to give her nightmares and wake her up in a cold sweat, screaming because she thought she was still trapped in a burning car. The guy who’d swerved into oncoming traffic and hit her head-on going eighty miles an hour had died on impact. To this day, she still didn’t know if she was grateful or not that she’d been spared ever having to confront him for what his irresponsibility had wrought. Life as she’d known it had been over in a split second—her body had been broken in ways that all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put back together again. Collarbone, six ribs, both arms. Plus, her left leg had been so damaged they’d had to perform a total knee replacement.
If there was one nightmare worse than the burning car, it was the sick, helpless horror of being completely immobilized, mummified in plaster, and held together with metal pins. Camille hated being helpless more than anything else in the world. She’d been raised to stand on her own two feet.
For a while, it had been unclear if she’d have two feet left to stand on.
She’d kept the foot, but not the knee, and she’d been damn glad that was the only body part she’d lost. The scar formed a pinkish-white lattice from her lower thigh to her shin where they’d stapled her shut after surgery.
“How’s your leg been doing lately?” Levi asked, eying her as she subconsciously ran her thumb along the top of her scar.
“Fine, actually.” Which was true. She crossed her legs as if to prove it. “I’m used to it by now, so it rarely bothers me. It might if I were trying to run marathons or something, but I have a desk job and I take yoga and Pilates classes.”
If it weren’t for the accident, she might still be a gym rat sprinting on a treadmill, but now she needed lower-impact sports. Swimming had been a godsend at first—something one of her older sisters, Nora, had suggested. Nora was a nurse and had come to stay with Camille for a couple of months after the crash, helping her get her life back together.
Thank God for Nora. There were no words to express how appreciative Camille was for all her sister had done for her. In total, it had taken six surgeries and fourteen months of physical therapy to regain full mobility, and most people would never guess by looking at her now that she’d been through such a traumatic experience.
Except for her knee, the scars were all on the inside.
She lived within walking distance of work so she didn’t have to drive unless the weather was bad, which it rarely was in California. Not climbing behind the wheel did a lot to keep her stress level down every morning. She did just fine on short stints, but the unpredictable Silicon Valley traffic had sucked ass, and a long road trip was like a hazing ritual. She was much, much happier in HMB.
Taking the papers from Levi, she sighed. “Thanks for thinking of the hot tub though. Sitting on a plane makes everyone stiff, whether they have bionic parts or not.”
“Hey.” Feng grinned. “If the leg is doing well, I think you should share the tub with a gorgeous man and have wild and crazy sex with him.”
She pushed up her glasses and cocked an eyebrow. “I’m going to find a gorgeous man at an engineering conference?”
An exaggerated look of dismay crossed his face. “Good point. Maybe you can pick up a local.”
“Hey, there are nice guys at engineering conferences.” Levi’s chin jutted pugnaciously as they hit a sore point for him. He was the quintessential nice guy who never managed to score a second date. He wasn’t bad looking, but when he was around women he found attractive, he tended to overcompensate and turn into a spastic dork with verbal diarrhea.
Camille could only be glad there was exactly zero chemistry between them, and they’d been like brother and sister since the day they’d met. With Feng, that had never been a concern, for obvious reasons.
“Nice and gorgeous are not the same thing. No, no, no. It’s not even close.” Feng’s hands moved in flourishes as he spoke. “You have gorgeous men bend you over and do bad, bad things to you that you never tell anyone else about but enjoy a lot. Nice guys you marry and take home to Mama.”
“Feng is wise.” Camille nodded sagely.
Levi harrumphed, flicking his fingers against the top of her paperwork. “Go home and pack. Your sister is coming to pick you up and take you to the airport in ninety minutes.”
“Which sister?” she asked sweetly, knowing he was terrible with names and wanting to needle him for kicking her out of the office.
“The redheaded one,” he retorted.
“Ha. Ha. So funny.” All of the Kirby sisters were redheads. Anne and Nora, the two oldest, had bright, flame-red hair. Hazel and Camille had slightly darker shades, but still undeniably red.
“You need a break, darling.” Feng grabbed an elastic band and clubbed his long locks into a ponytail. “Have fun. Do your presentation and then sit by the pool and work on your tan.”
“I freckle, darling, I don’t tan.” After pushing out of her desk chair, she tucked her laptop into her oversized purse and slipped the strap over her shoulder. “I’m out of here, but don’t think for a moment I’ll forget this. Or that I’m not already plotting my revenge.”
Appearing unimpressed by the threat, Feng drawled, “I’m quivering with fear, I promise.”
“You should be.” Levi straightened in his seat, his already pasty skin going paler. “Remember that time junior year when our TA tried to flunk her because she wouldn’t fuck him?”
“Jesus, yeah.” Feng’s sparkly lashes fluttered as he flinched. “I doubt that guy has recovered from the psychological trauma.”
“He’s certainly never going to father children.”
Both men crossed their legs and gave her wary looks. She returned a sunny smile. “Bye, boys. Have a good time without me, thinking about all the terrible ideas I’m coming up with for how to get back at you.”
She wiggled her fingers in farewell and sailed out the door, barely holding in a laugh. That should teach them not to mess with her again.