Ruin & Rising Tour: Grisha Food Chat with Leigh Bardugo + series giveaway!

June 9, 2014 2014, author interview, fantasy, food in books, giveaway, leigh bardugo, Wendy 181

Leigh Bardugo

Leigh Bardugo enjoys a Russian country salad.

The Grisha series is beloved by every single reviewer at The Midnight Garden, so we’re tremendously excited for the release of Ruin and Rising on June 17th, 2014.  Can you believe it’s almost here?

As part of the official blog tour for the book, I sat down with author Leigh Bardugo for lunch at Mari Vanna, a beautiful, relaxed restaurant in West Hollywood named after a Slavic fairytale grandmother who welcomed hungry travelers for a home-cooked meal. Since the trilogy is set in Ravka, a world inspired by Russia, the setting could not have been more perfect for this interview. We were seated outside in the lovely garden patio, with birdhouses hanging from the trees and a samovar fountain right next to our table! At one point, a bird flew in and drank from it, and we were thoroughly charmed.

Originally we’d talked about meeting up after the book was published so we Midnight Garden ladies could grill her about what happens in the final installment of the series, but instead Leigh and I met to talk about a subject dear to both our hearts: food! If you’ve read the novels, you know that they’re brimming with mouth-watering descriptions of quail roasted in honey served with fresh figs, braised oxtail, sweet iced wine, and all kinds of other culinary delights. I wanted to get to the bottom of how food came to play such a significant part of Alina’s story, so pull up a chair and join us for the chat!


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Wendy: Well, friends, I told Leigh I expected her to look ravishing when she showed up, and she arrived in a shirt with sea horses printed on it. I love it when authors deliver exactly what you want.

Leigh: You know authors, we live to serve. You wore butterflies. I wore seahorses. We are all whimsy all the time.

Wendy: I suppose we fit right in with this decor! I’d basically like to live in this restaurant, please.

Leigh Bardugo Mari Vanna

Mari Vanna entrance and menu.

Mari Vanna Los Angeles

Matryoshka dolls and cards with vintage Russian prints on the entrance table.

Wendy: As you know, I am quite taken with the food porn in the Grisha trilogy. Why spend so much time describing the food in your books?

Leigh: Have you met me?

Wendy: It’s true that every time we’ve seen each other, there has been lots of food and drink consumption, but this is for the record! It’s very clear to anyone reading your books that you have a deep appreciation for food, but I’m curious why you wanted to include that level of detail.

Leigh: Food can play a big part in forming the texture of a world. It can make a place feel familiar and real in a very immediate way. But I think the trick of fantasy is to take something familiar and give it a twist, so that the reader feels grounded but transported. I haven’t had brandied cuckoo and I doubt most of my readers have. But they’ve had some kind of poultry, and they know the taste or smell or at least the color of brandy. It’s a fantastical dish that still creates a sensory connection.

Wendy: That was certainly a dish that tickled my fancy. Are there any real foods or meals that inspired the food in Ravka?

Leigh: As you and I have previously discussed, the cream-filled pastry tower is inspired by croquembouche, though of course I couldn’t call it that. Some of the foods, particularly the staples, came from research, but some just came out of my head.

Wendy: Like this gelatin baby deer. WHICH IS MY FAVORITE THING EVER. I want to coo over one so badly.

Leigh: Who wouldn’t want a baby jello fawn? Actually, gelatin is a common dessert now, but it used to be a delicacy that only the very wealthy could afford.

Wendy: I actually knew that! Novelty aside, that’s partly why I appreciated its inclusion in the extravagant feast at the dacha in Siege and Storm. It’s because it took ages to render the stuff off the bones, so you had to have lots of servants with the time to do it, so the mere fact that it was there told you a lot about the owners of the house. I do love a good meat aspic.

Leigh: I’m fascinated by food trends. There’s a book called The Tastemakers: Why We’re Crazy About Cupcakes but Fed Up with Fondue by David Sax that I’m dying to read. I can finally learn about the peppermill trend! I don’t trust people who don’t think about food.

Wendy: Since I am pretty obsessed with food, I don’t really understand non-food lovers, either. A meal can be the summation of an entire culture or lifestyle, so it feels like there’s something fundamentally lacking in those who don’t have any interest in it; it’s nourishment for the body, but also for the intellect and soul. If you’re interested in food, I think you’re often a curious, open-minded person as well.

Leigh: You learn so much when you listen to people who are food enthusiasts, or farming enthusiasts. There’s a specificity to their language and a depth to their vocabulary that you can’t get anywhere else.

When our food arrived, we shared svekolnik, a refreshing cold beet soup, a pretty Russian country salad, thin blinis with house-cured salmon, and delicious lamb and eggplant on grilled toast. We finished with Napoleon cake–we didn’t believe the waiter when he told us that the Russians have a long tradition with this dessert, not just the French–but apparently he was telling the truth! The food was amazing, and was such a great accompaniment for the topic of our conversation.

beet soup Mari Vanna

Traditional Russian cold beet soup.

blini with salmon Mari Vanna

Blinis with smoked salmon, served with sour cream.

lamb and eggplant sandwich

Open-faced lamb and eggplant sandwich, with cilantro and pomegranate seeds. Roast lamb is one of the dishes featured in the Grisha trilogy.

Wendy: Tell us a little bit about your history with food. Did you grow up with an appreciation for it?

Leigh: Not really, I grew up on TV dinners. My grandmother was a terrible cook and I was raised by a single mother who was working. I ate a lot of Van DeKamps enchiladas; I remember the big treat was to go to Otto’s Pink Pig for prime rib. I remember it had blue vinyl booths and paper place mats.

Wendy: Sounds like a lot of kids’ childhoods. So what was the turning point for you?

Leigh: The meal that changed the way I looked at food was at Tra Vigne in the Napa Valley. We got all dressed up and it was so fancy! I had salmon with blood orange sauce, and my first bite was like that scene in Ratatouille. I’d never had anything like that before, and I thought “This is what food can be.” And the whole world opened up.

Wendy: I love that. I’ve been obsessed with food ever since I can remember, and have a special fondness for books that include it. I still associate certain foods strongly with the books where I first read about them–I will never see Turkish Delight without thinking about Narnia, for example. But I didn’t learn to cook until after I was married.

Leigh: I didn’t start cooking until I was in my twenties and living in Seattle. I was stuck in a terrible job and I was so bored that I needed to take up something new. And cooking was such a challenge for me because I hadn’t grown up with it. I even started making my own bread from scratch. Even now, when I need to distract myself, I’ll cook or bake something because it’s still so foreign that I have to focus on it completely. It clears my mind. It has a beginning and an end and then you get to eat the product. It’s done. You can’t go back and the revise the meal so it’s a nice antidote to a process like writing.

We also ordered a flight of vodka, which Mari Vanna infuses in-house. We tried out a variety of flavors: tomato-basil, cucumber-dill, pear (Leigh’s favorite), pineapple, and honey-oat. Our chatty waiter was very enthused about our food and drink choices, and brought us some extra vodkas to try, including olive oil-flavored (ick! the only one we didn’t care for at all) and an experimental, hush-hush apple-cinnamon vodka from the cellar (Wendy’s favorite).

Leigh Bardugo

Vodka. There was lots of vodka.

Wendy: Did you intend for the food in your books to serve as a sort of metaphor for Alina’s relationships or for the world opening up to her? It’s interesting to see how the food in the trilogy ranges from very simple hard cheeses when she’s on the run to lavish spreads that include suckling pigs, flavored ices, champagne, and so on. And the ceremony of dress and the politics of seating and so on are fascinating as well.

Leigh: I didn’t plan for the meals to be symbolic, but food is never incidental. The act of cooking for people, of breaking bread with friends is so important. Even something like sugar and the rationing of it turned into an important social moment for Alina in the books.

Wendy: You know, Madeleine L’Engle said that sometimes you write the story and then you find the meaning in it later. The roll that Alina and Mal share at one point certainly brings back memories for them, and there’s that lovely bonding moment that happens as well.

Leigh: Yes, those bird-shaped rolls are a spring tradition in Russia. A reader brought some to me once at a signing.

Wendy: Oh, that’s lovely! Bread is such a culturally and historically significant food, yet it’s such a simple one, too–it’s nice to see it included in this way. Can you give us a hint of the food that we might see in Ruin and Rising?

Leigh: Since they’re at war, there isn’t as much food in the third book, and there’s even a scene where some of the characters talk about the luxuries they miss. There are a few little details though—hard cider, lamb sausages. I can’t resist.

Wendy: Well, I am very excited to meet up with Sturmhond again. I mean, to find out how this story concludes, whether there’s food porn in it or not. I’m also excited for this new companion series you’ve just announced! What can you tell us about that?

Leigh: It’s basically my Oceans 11, Inglourious Basterds, ragtag band of misfits, impossible heist story. It’s set in Kerch which is basically the hub of all world trade—legal and illegal—so it’s a very different place than Ravka: different politics, different players, and yes, different food.

Wendy: Thanks for joining us here at The Midnight Garden again, Leigh. I associate all of our meetings with vodka or champagne and delicious things to eat, but I think this fairy tale lunch has been my favorite outing yet.

Leigh Bardugo

Russian-style Napoleon for dessert.

Ruin and Rising, the final volume in the New York Times bestselling Grisha trilogy, will be available online and in stores on June 17th, 2014. The Dregs, a new series set in the “Grishaverse,” debuts in 2015.

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Further Reading:

History of Gelatin
Easter Baking: Bird-Shaped Bread Rolls
Make traditional Russian Napoleon cake here, here, or here
From Russia, with love: getting to know the country’s traditional cuisine

Previously at The Midnight Garden:

A Conversation with Leigh Bardugo (our visit to a vodka bar from last year)
Our reviews: Siege and Storm are here and here and Shadow and Bone is here.


Leigh Bardugo Mari Vanna

Leigh with her first two bestselling books. Notice the birdhouses hanging behind her.


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Win the complete Grisha Trilogy!

Thanks to our wonderful friends at Henry Holt, we have a set of all three books in the Grisha trilogy to give away to our readers. All you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form and leave a thoughtful comment below telling us why you LOVE this series or why you’d like to start reading it!

Open to U.S. and Canadian residents aged 18 and older, or 13 and older with parental permission. Please see entry form for complete details. Good luck!

grisha trilogy ruin and rising blog tour

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Our thanks to Leigh Bardugo for graciously meeting with us for this interview, and to Henry Holt for providing the giveaway copies. Follow along the rest of the Ruin and Rising Blog Tour for additional Q & As, poster giveaways, and more!

Photographs by Wendy Darling for The Midnight Garden.


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181 Responses to “Ruin & Rising Tour: Grisha Food Chat with Leigh Bardugo + series giveaway!”

  1. Jasmine Duong

    I read the first book and loved it. I loved the character and the storyline. It’s so mysterious and intriguing. Dark and edgy. I really love it. I can’t find the 2nd book anywhere at my local library. Only the first book. :(

  2. Kate I.

    This series has received so much fantastic feedback, but I never started it because I wanted to wait until the final installment was available before cracking open the first. Now that R&R is out, I have no excuse, other than the usual lament about a groaning TBR pile. Perhaps I will fully experience the Grisha over the impending 3-day holiday weekend?

  3. Elena NyBlom

    I have been wanting to read this series for a LONG time but I never bought the books. I have met the author and I will be meeting her again later this month! I don’t have any of her books but because of all the good things I’ve heard I’m really interested in the series.

  4. Holly Letson

    I keep hearing such amazing things about this series.

  5. Stephanie Sterritt

    I’ve heard so many great things about this series! I can’t wait to read it!

  6. Molly McB

    I am really looking forward to seeing how Alina comes back into herself in this one! And Sturmhond, of course!! Great interview Wendy :D

  7. komal

    I haven’t read this trlogy but ever since Ruin and Rising was released I’ve been seeing this series everywhere! And now I’m curious and really want to read this!

  8. Rainey Lynch

    Bardugo seems like such an interesting person. I’d love to have a meal with her and have a chat about inspiration in all its incarnations.

  9. Jessica R

    Oh. My. Goodness. Wendy, not only was this a fantastic interview with some gorgeous pictures, but all that food talk has me starving… and I just finished lunch! Thank you for sharing your lunch chat with Leigh with us because as torturous as hearing about all that food was, I still really enjoyed it ;)
    I’m new to the series but since everyone I know ADORES it (and since I trust the judgement of the good people of The Midnight Garden), I know I need to read it!
    Jessica R recently posted…Review: If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch

  10. Catherine

    Oh. My. Goodness. I can’t comprehend half the amazingness in this conversation! It’s always nice to know my favorite characters won’t go starving (though there are certainly thousands of other things we need to worry about– namely, who’s going to die in Ruin and Rising. Because you know it’s going to happen to someone, and this is the reason I need to read the last book as soon as I can.)
    Catherine recently posted…[Writer Discussion] Do You Ever Use World Building as an Escape?

  11. Tinaaa

    Well, /cough/ cough/ the legit reason i would request the trilogy is to have a print copy of the series (i borrowed the books) T_T Darkling, ahh the feelings i have for you ~ i would re read it for the sake of the moments he appears in (when he’s not all fighting)

  12. marjorie

    Those PICTURES! I’m so going to the NYC outpost of this place. I thought I didn’t like Russian food (I’m sorry! Blame refusenik relatives who cooked for us after they finally got out and traumatized wee me with gelatinous gefilte fish). But the decor is so cute and the food looks amazing.

    MORE IMPORTANTLY: I loved loved loved the first two books in the series and went to my local bookseller (McNally Jackson, woot) yesterday to buy the third and went to the info desk to say “Do you have the new Leigh–” and the clerk (boy) interrupted “–Bardugo? It’s so good! We’re sold out but we get two more on Tuesday.” He didn’t even have to look at his computer. This is why we love indie bookstores. I’ll go back and buy it after my kids head off to camp, as a reward for surviving the pre-camp lice check and fighting over who has to take the butterfly sheets and be shamed by peers for infantile bed linens.

    If I win I will read first (GREED) then donate to my older kid’s public school library.

    (And I want to say to Aqsa — I mostly hated high school. My mom kept saying “all you need is one good friend,” which isn’t precisely true, but it helped. And she also said, “it will get better in college,” and she was mostly right. Hang tough. Books help. Hugs to you.)

  13. Faith

    Any book where food plays a significant role is a book I want to read. (Ah, now I’m hungry!)

    On a more serious note, I’ve had this series in mind to read for a while…unfortunately I own so many books that I haven’t read yet (curse you, $.50 paperbacks from Strand!) that unless I have a physical copy in front of me, other books tend to get pushed to the bottom of the list.

  14. Jasmine V

    This series gets the most amazing reviews! I remember reading and loving the first book but I never got around to finishing out the series!

  15. Sarah O.

    Thanks for the Giveaway! I just really love this series! The relationships are awesome and I love Sturmhond! The ending to the last book was so heart wrenching I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next! And of course I want to see more Sturmhond and Mal. ;)
    Sarah O. recently posted…Crushing on the Mother’s BF in YA Lit.

  16. Maria Medeiros

    Here are my thoughts….OMG OMG OMG! HOW AMAZING IS THIS GIVEAWAY! :D cooool
    I haven’t read the trilogy well because I can’t afford to buy the books. totally sad i know. lol
    but anyhow on the positive side WOW! This giveaway ROCKS! so ya and I love the pictures! Look how amazing they look! BABUSHKAS! I love babushkas! :D okay I’m calm now…YAY! Thank you for the opportunity to win. *FINGERS CROSSED* sweeeeet!
    Maria Medeiros recently posted…Summer Reading Suggestions and a Hot Contest!

  17. Mary P. Johnston

    This is actually perfect timing, because I just finished reading Shadow and Bone for the first time yesterday! I loved it very much, though I have to admit, I was the teeniest bit upset when– SPOILER– the Darkling and Alina didn’t get together. But it makes me wonder– what happens in the next book? Does the Darkling live? Will he ever find redemption? What about Alina and Mal? Where will they go? What will they do?!

    This story is very intriguing and I enjoyed it very much. I can’t wait to read the next two books! ^.^

  18. Mary P. Johnston

    This is actually perfect timing, because I just finished reading Shadow and Bone for the first time yesterday! I loved it very much, though I have to admit, I was the teeniest bit upset when– SPOILER– the Darkling and Alina didn’t get together. But it makes me wonder– what happens in the next book? Does the Darkling live? Will he ever find redemption? What about Alina and Mal? Where will they go? What will they do?!

    This story is very intriguing and I enjoyed it very much. I can’t wait to read the next two books! ^.^

  19. A Canadian Girl

    All those pictures of food are making me hungry! Sigh, if only I could cook or bake … but my extent of being in the kitchen is boiling water.

    I just got my hands on a copy of Ruin and Rising and can’t wait to find out what happens to the Darkling and Sturmhond. Oh, and Alina and Mal, but really I’m more concerned with the fate of the previously mentioned characters. Clearly, I’ve got my priorities straight ;)
    A Canadian Girl recently posted…Review: Free to Fall by Lauren Miller

  20. Lori Hopkins

    I am always on the look out for a new series to read, and I have heard a lot of good things about this one!

  21. Nikki

    I’ve been looking forward to reading this series for a while now but I’m one of those people that does their best to wait until the whole thing is completed so that I can read them back to back with no pauses :)

    • Miriam

      The reason why I would really like to read this book is because it just came out yesterday and I have already heard a plethora of people fangirling about it including a whole bunch of really popular authors who have written many great books. Also, many of my friends have been telling me about it but I haven’t had a chance to start reading it lately.

      • Miriam

        The reason why I would really like to read this book is because it just came out yesterday and I have already heard a plethora of people fangirling about it including a whole bunch of really popular authors who have written many great books. Also, many of my friends have been telling me about it but I haven’t had a chance to start reading it lately.

  22. Giaochau N.

    The Grisha Series was so good. I can’t wait to read the third book.

  23. Sarah K.

    I have heard really good things about this series. I think it’s about tome to read it.

  24. Thomas

    I’d like to win the series mostly because everyone at the Midnight Garden has praised it so highly. The amount of effort within this post – the well-lit pictures, the delicious descriptions of food – all speak to how much you and the other writers on this blog care about this series and want to see its author successful. Either way I will read it eventually, though reading about it at midnight with my stomach aching has definitely made me more inclined to check it out, in an odd misattribution of arousal way. :)
    Thomas recently posted…Gives Light by Rose Christo

  25. Harman

    I haven’t read this series yet but I am really looking forward to! I’ve heard absolutely amazing things about it and I really want to read it once I have my own copies so this is a great opportunity! Thank you so much!! :)

  26. Perla

    I’m really looking forward to what happens between Alina and The Darkling. He’s just such an amazing villain and all the teasers are driving me crazy.

  27. Stephanie @ Inspiring Insomnia

    What a beautiful restaurant. I’m pretty sure nothing like that exists here in North Carolina. I’m not a food person, sadly. That is, I eat PLENTY of it, just not the type that I can talk about with much embarrassment! That said, I loved reading this post and looking at the pictures. I might not appreciate eating good food, but I can appreciate looking at it. :)

    Shadow and Bone was one of the first YA books I read after I whetted my appetite with The Hunger Games. I really hadn’t even read much adult fantasy, so S&B opened up a whole new world for me.
    Stephanie @ Inspiring Insomnia recently posted…Speculations on the Game of Thrones Season Four Finale

  28. Christine T

    My favorite thing about this series is all the great characters in it (Sturmhond, Darkling, Alina…). I can’t wait to see how it all ends, though I’m still in the middle of Siege and Storm.

  29. Lia

    I am excited to see if Alina vanquishes her greeed ( and the Darkling). Also . . . I love Sturmhound.

  30. Vania

    I haven’t started the series yet, but I’ve heard many many good things about these books. And after reading this post, I see how Leigh Bardugo seems to be such a lovely lady, and that only makes me want to read her books even more.

  31. Rachel

    I’ve been putting this series on hold because I wanted to read one right after the other, so this is perfect. Mari Vanna looks wonderful! I love the pictures! I’ll have to go try it out. Looks like you two had some fun, the picture with the empty shot glasses actually reminds me of the scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark where Marion acts drunk in a drinking contest. Good times and great post ladies! Thanks for the giveaway! :)
    Rachel recently posted…Review & Giveaway: I Want to Hold Your Hand by Marie Force

  32. Brittney Gabbard

    I work at an Indie bookstore, and I’m like the only one of my coworkers who has read this series. They’ve read tons of other fantasy YA novels, but this just didn’t make their radar. In the days leading up to the release I’ve been flailing about and gushing much more than usual.

  33. Yusra

    This has quickly become my favourite series, primarily I enjoyed it because it was inspired by Russian stories, and off I can’t resist anything Russia related. Then when I immersed myself in the story I really enjoyed the characters and the plot, of course the Darkling being the best. So that’s basically why I have to read this last one, as it ended on such a cliff hanger! Thanks for the giveaway!

  34. Darith L.

    It’s been on my tbr for so long! And the series sounds awesome! High fantasy? Yes!

  35. AnQi

    I loved Shadow and Bone + Siege and Storm because it brought me back to the wonderful world of YA after getting swamped in many years of schoolwork and assigned literature. It’s also such an amazing series – great plot, three dimensional characters, beautiful writing, etc. etc. – and I think it represents some of the best reading in the young adult genre. Thanks so much for the awesome giveaway!
    AnQi recently posted…Feature & Follow (2)

  36. Des

    I love the Grisha trilogy because of the incredible world-building and character depths that we get to see as each book unfolds. I find it amazing that each character can be so distinct from one another and yet still so practical and realistic. Also the Darkling. Ahem.

  37. Des

    The reason why I love this series is the incredible time and effort Leigh puts into building not only the world, but also the characters. She’s made characters with hidden depths, desires and aspirations, and it’s thoroughly enjoying to just be able to witness all of that. Having the Darkling in these books also doesn’t hurt. Just saying.

  38. Louise

    I’m so happy that you’re hosting this giveaway! I read the first book in the series and started on the 2nd, but had to return it b/c a patron had it on hold… and they still haven’t returned it >:( Anyway, I’ve been waiting quite long enough!

  39. Britt

    I LOVE this series – I love the setting (its Russiany, obviously), the unique world-building, and most of all, the characters. Well, mostly Sturmhond. Who wouldn’t love a rakish pirate?

  40. starryeyedjen

    Oh, wow, I always love these types of posts from you, but this might be my favorite. My dad’s sid of the family is Russian, German & Hungarian, so a lot of these foods are at least semi-familiar to me. Such a beautiful post, but also fun. Food porn, FTW! Also, YES to the vodka and the tower of empty shot glasses. You ladies are my kinda people. :) But Wendy, we’ve talked about this…Sturmhond is MINE. MINEMINEMINEMINEMINE!!!

    Oh, yeah…congrats to Leigh on the spin-off series. I just love this world soooo much! :D
    starryeyedjen recently posted…{Joint} Review: On the Fence by Kasie West

    • Linda Canniff / La La in the LiBrArY

      I also want to say that Shadow and Bone, and Siege and Storm both received one of my rare five star ratings on Goodreads. I came a little late to the party on discovering the Grisha Trilogy, with both books having already been released, so I am going to review the entire trilogy on my blog after Ruin and Rising comes out. I am also looking forward to reading the folktale novellas. Besides being able to read R&R soon, the other thing I am twitterpated about is the news that the next trilogy will be set in the same lush and exotic world as the Grisha books. I have nothing but big smiles about this!!
      Linda Canniff / La La in the LiBrArY recently posted…CANCELED DUE TO LACK OF INTEREST

  41. Tabitha (Not Yet Read)

    Now you have made me seriously hungry. Luckily I have some fresh baked bread downstairs. gelatin….a delicacy – fancy that. It’s always so neat hearing tidbits like that.

    *seeing your reply to someone’s comment about mine…YES STURMHOND is the dreamiest! Seriously he’s the only one upfront with his motives.

    Anyhow I definitely adore the series…just a few more days now…just a few more days.
    Tabitha (Not Yet Read) recently posted…Review: The Silk Map by Chris Willrich

  42. Rhonda M.

    I’ve had this on my to read list but that list is really long. Just seems like the type of series I would like. I need to get to it already.

    Also, the food pictures made me hungry…

  43. Anna Gerlach

    oh my goodness! That dessert looked especially yummy!

    Ruin and Rising…I cherish every scene with The Darkling, so I look forward to reading more about him, and trying to understand him. There’s just something intriguing about him! I love this series for so many reasons- the characters, the descriptions of everything from the people to the clothes to the scenery. I truly feel like I’ve been transported to another world while I’m reading.
    Anna Gerlach recently posted…Blog Tour for INTO THE FAE by Quinn Loftis (Includes Excerpt and Giveaway)

  44. Kara

    That eggplant salad made my mouth water! I didn’t know the Russians had a relation w/ the cake also. I’m not very familiar w/ this but I’m interested to read, because the genres in the books interest me. . . fantasy, romance, & Dystopia. I love fantasy books . . . w/ good imagery I can feel like I’m visiting the author’s new world.

  45. Lisa (Fic Talk)

    I could talk about food and books all day long, especially now that I’m into growing my own food. It is SUCH a delight to watch things grow and then to make a meal out of them. This post was ABSOLUTELY beautiful!

    I must binge-read the series once the last book comes out. I have forgotten so much. :(

  46. Katie F

    I would love to start this series! It seems like everyone adores it and I love the book covers :)

  47. Christina R.

    I LOVE the author! She’s so talented and her world so rich in detail, but I really read for the characters! I want to know what Alina will do :)

    Lovely interview :)

  48. Cari S.

    So many amazing things about this series so far, where to start? The food, world building, relatable characters, and beautiful covers are good jumping off points. But what I love most, perhaps, is that the culture (so tied to a Russian heritage) is nothing like the one I have grown up with, yet it still seems so familiar and relatable.

  49. Mary G Loki

    Alina is so meek in the first two books, I really want to see her get angry! Really angry and just throw down! :D I love the way this series is written it’s just so beautiful and leaves me wanting more! Also I really really hope Alina ends up with the Prince! Her childhood friend is too loose with women and besides they just do not connect well. Alina’s happy when he is with her; not hunting and he is miserable. He is happy when Alina looses (that important thing at the end of book 2)and Alina is miserable!!!

  50. Mee

    The pictures on this website are just phenomenal! That aside, is it strange to say I was wary of this series at first because of all the raving hype? I’ve been waiting for my mind to clear before I started the series so that my opinion wouldn’t be subconsciously comparing it to what others thought! But enough of that – I want to say thank you so much for posting such an awesome giveaway!

  51. Lia

    I love the world in which The Grisha Series is set. Sturmhound is also quite wonderful . . .

  52. Celina Meza

    This was a great read!! You never disappoint!! I even want to go to that restaurant, it looks absolutely divine!! Well, where do I start about why I love this series??!! I love that the heroine is very easy to relate to. I don’t have special grisha powers, but I can relate to having to learn to embrace yourself and abilities. Also, that Darkling? YUM. But nobody has my heart like Nikolai!! I would love to win the books because I need to find out what happened to my favorite privateer ASAP!! Not only is this series amazing, but how about that Leigh Bardugo?? I love how she interacts with her readers!! WHAT ISNT THERE TO LIKE?!?!
    Celina Meza recently posted…Photo

  53. Ariana

    I’m so excited to start this series! I love books where the world is cleverly thought out and has some basis in history and unique cultures- it makes the story feel both more real, and makes it easier to delve in and accept the fantastical.

  54. Elizabeth

    I absolutely love this series! Everything from the characters to the setting to the plot is amazing. If I had to choose one thing I love most though I’d say it’s the characters. Alina is my favorite, because of everything she says/does (she has a very tough, distinctive personality that’s very entertaining to read) and because she can control light which is like the best power ever!

  55. Amanda

    This was fun to read about the Russian traditions going along with food. I love the Russian influence in this series. I’m about 1/3 of the way through the first book and am loving it so far. I can’t wait to read more about Alina’s journey!

  56. Emily Crowell

    This is one of the best series ever… not only does it combine beautiful storytelling with an immersive and unique world, but the characters are also so likable and connectable that I feel like I am the character!! Reading the Grisha books has truly been a treat… with so many young adult books I fins myself counting down until the last page, but with Ms. Bardugo’s it’s exactly the opposite– I find myself checking how many pages I have left, just hoping to have more time in each beautiful book! I JUST REALLY HOPE WE HEAR A LOT MROE ABOUT STURMHOND IN RUIN AND RISING!!!

    Thank you so much for the giveaway opportunity- loved the post!!

  57. Jessica Cooley

    P.S.- I should mention I just found this series and really love it. It’s strange though because part of me feels like Alina will die at the end I’m strangely ok with that…I think it’s all the saint talk and my Catholic background…
    Jessica Cooley recently posted…Shadow and Bone

  58. Jessica Cooley

    This was such a fun read. What an amazing experience! I LOVE IT! The vodka tasting sounds so fun, I would have to have a driver though because wow, that was a tower of shot glasses!
    Jessica Cooley recently posted…Sparrow Hill Road

  59. Emma

    I haven’t read them yet, but I have want to read these for some time now, and just haven’t gotten around to them yet. I would really like to read them!

  60. Debbie W.

    This sounds like a weird reason, but one of the reasons I’m looking forward to reading Ruin & Rising is to find out the Darkling’s actual name! I’ve loved this series since it came out, so I’m really excited to see what Leigh will give us next!

  61. Makaela

    I haven’t been able to read Siege and Storm yet, but I was completely satisfied by her novellas. After reading Shadow and Bone I felt like it was a great universe; tons of potential, and after reading The Witch of Duva I realized she is a great storyteller. Wow! I really can’t wait to continue the series.

    I’m hoping my library gets in the extra copies of Siege (they only have 2 because all the others were “lost”) before my hold for Ruin becomes available! It’s making me nervous.
    Makaela recently posted…May Update & June Releases

  62. Peyton

    I am seeing great things about this series everywhere online, especially since the conclusion is coming out so soon. I really want to give it a try and see what it’s all about!
    Peyton recently posted…Sekret by Lindsay Smith

  63. Sarah

    I have heard such great things about these books and I love the covers. They have been on my to-read list for a while, but I hate reading a series before all the books are out because I go crazy waiting for the next one, so I would love to win my own copies of all three and start reading!

  64. Chelsea B.

    This series sounds so amazingly original and intriguing! The summery just SUCKED me in! I am SO looking forward to starting this series!

  65. miranda lewis

    Ive heard a lot of good things about this series from friends and book reviews, would love to read it just to see what all its about. :)

  66. Lucy

    What a fun lunch! I love the look of Mari Vanna. I haven’t started this series yet, and now that it’s complete I think it’s high time to catch up! Thanks for sharing your fun foodie adventures with us! Is it time for lunch, I’m getting hungry!
    Lucy recently posted…Top 14 Books I’ve Read in 2014 (So Far)

  67. Alice

    I am looking forward to reading this series because not only I’ve heard a lot of people talking about it, I also find the storyline really interesting. It definitely looks like a series I would enjoy getting into. ^.^

  68. Linnea Pietsch

    So, I first read Shadow and Bone, because I saw it on the bestsellers list so I figured I’d give it a shot. It quickly became an obsession and I couldn’t take my eyes off the book for a second. The writing is just so magical and it’s very easy to fall into the world. Not to mention you just have to keep reading for some more of that Darklina action! ;) By now I’ve read Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm about 8 times. My heart is soo close to exploding now that Ruin and Rising almost out. I just can’t wait to find out who Alina ends up with.

  69. Amelia @ YA Bookologists

    Why did I read this. Now I will have to find some really good food and fast. Sighs.. I don’t have time for that though. Please send magical Ravkan food in the mail.

    Amelia @ YA Bookologists

  70. Charlene @ Bookish Whimsy

    I’m so looking forward to Ruin and Rising, and reading this post has alleviated some of the anxiety somehow – it was so lovely to read about your outing with Leigh! The restaurant and the FOOD looks fantastic! I love that I also have a new restaurant to try – I’ve never even heard of it! This was a fantastic post to read!

    BTW, I hope I’m not overlooking something obvious – but I was curious what the story is behind that paper in the vodka shots picture with Twilight at the top?
    Charlene @ Bookish Whimsy recently posted…The Refined Reader (12) Origins of the Mystery Genre

    • Wendy Darling

      I’m behind on answering comments since there’s been a veritable flurry on them on this post, but I’m popping in to answer your question, Charlene. YOU HAVE EAGLE EYES, hah. The photo with the vodka is actually a bit of a visual clue to a super secret author project we’ve been cooking up for months–it will make its bow later this week! You’re the only one who spotted it, or at least the only one who asked. All will be revealed, and you’re going to love it. :D

      I’m so looking forward to Ruin and Rising, and reading this post has alleviated some of the anxiety somehow

      And aw, thank you so much! This was such a fun interview to do, and I highly recommend Mari Vanna. This location just opened up in LA last fall, so that’s probably why you hadn’t heard of it. They have locations in New York, DC, London, and Russia as well.

        • Wendy Darling

          We’re excited too, Charlene! We did have to push back the post date until next Wednesday, June 18th, though, so be on the lookout for it then.

          And yes, stop by Mari Vanna sometime. It’s a lovely girls-brunch-type place. :)

  71. Angie

    This is one of the best blog tour posts out there. I usually skim them or don’t even read them. This one was so personal and interesting. I know that not everyone can sit down with an author for blog tours but that made this one even more special.
    Angie recently posted…Read What You Want!

  72. Cari

    Such a beautiful place!! It looks like you guys had lots of fun… and fantastic food too! I’d love to read “Ruin and Rising” there. After reading “Shadow and Bone,” I was completely hooked. “Siege and Storm” was even better. Not only is the story great, but the characters will definitely draw you in… and the Darkling will make you swoon :)

    I really appreciate the attention to detail the author put in her world building: clothes, traditions, landscape, history, food, lore… There is so much of Ravka, you’ll really feel as if though you’re there.

  73. Ashley Jellison

    I’ve actually been interested in this series since I saw it come out. It’s always looked really awesome and I finally got my hands on a (used, sigh) copy of Shadow and Bone. EEEK!! I haven’t been able to start it, but I’d love to have a set that isn’t dirty and kind of cringe-inducing to call my own.

  74. Gianne

    This interview is just GREAT. Like food, out of all the topics? Genius. (I’m a huge fan of delicacies and whatnot.) Would definitely love to have the Grisha trilogy as a full physical set <3 I definitely loved the first novel, with the introduction of the Darkling, Mal, and the lovely Alina. <3<3<3 Thank you for this wonderful interview and this giveaway!

  75. Simran

    Honestly cannot wait for Ruin and Rising! I am beyond excited to read it!

  76. Alise

    I absolutely cannot wait for Ruin & Rising! And seriously, awesome food pictures. You’re killing me over here. I pretty much live for food, too. I had NO idea there were going to be companion novels-now I’m even more excited :D Great post, Wendy, looks like you had fun :)
    Alise recently posted…Review: One Tiny Lie by K.A. Tucker

  77. Cameran

    OMG! This is one of those times that I am so glad to live in the LA area, because I am having food lust and have just added this restaurant to my list!

    Crazy to think Ruin and Rising is only a week away, but I am very excited to finish the journey with these characters. I think what I love so much about this series is its ability to transport me.

    Thank you so much for the giveaway, and congratulations to Leigh!

  78. Melissa Golden

    I would love to read this series! I actually bought the first book and loaned it to someone. Mind you I loaned it out before having the chance to read it and it been 2 years. Sadly I think its found its new home. Thank you for the chance to win though!

  79. Lizzy

    Darkling is by far one of my favorite villains in a YA series. It actually made me so mad when he didn’t get what he wanted at the end of the first book that I forgot that I was reading a book…and not dealing with actual people.

  80. Keertana @ Ivy Book Bindings

    First and foremost, the restaurant you two ate at looks gorgeous! I’d love to just see the decor there, forget about the food (though it looks SO GOOD!). Anyway, I’m a huge fan of food in general, so I love this post — especially as I’ve never really associated this trilogy with food, but the more I think about it the more I can’t believe I haven’t made the connection before. I’m so excited for Ruin & Rising, so I can’t wait to see what food is in that final installment (though the spin-off series sounds fantastic…seriously, can that just release this year too? I can’t wait!). Thanks for sharing, Wendy, and beautiful photos! :)
    Keertana @ Ivy Book Bindings recently posted…Review: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

  81. Markella

    Great interview! I really can’t wait to read about Strumhond. He is my favorite character in the whole series so far. Also, I love Leigh! I met her at a signing and she took the time to write a nice personal message in my book. She’s so great and friendly.

  82. kimbacaffeinate

    Fabulous post and now I am hungry. I am a foodie, and appreciate a well done dish, and certain dishes evoke memories of family, and special moments. I love the restaurant images too Wendy and would feel quite at home there. I have book one of this series and look forward to getting lost within its pages.
    kimbacaffeinate recently posted…The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings

  83. Candace

    Only a little over a week left!!! I’m so excited! I’m actually seeing Leigh in Seattle next week so I’ll grab the book then. Or maybe I’ll just run out and buy it Tuesday so I can read it first. Not sure. But I’m excited to read it!
    That restaurant looks amazing! How exciting that you could meet up to chat. And it’s a more unique post, which I always enjoy. It looks like a fantastic time, thanks for sharing with us! I know I’ll read anything and everything by her!
    Candace recently posted…The Mortal Instruments Series & a hoodie #Giveaway #COHF

  84. Kate Roth

    I love the unique setting and in-depth world building.

  85. Aaliyah

    I love the fantasy part and basically this whole world that Leigh Bardugo has made. I’m really excited to find out what happens to all the characters! I want to know what happens to the Darkling ;) And who Alina ends up with…so many ships! Also, WHO’S GONNA DIE??? THAT’S VERY IMPORTANT. Haha :D THANKS SO MUCH FOR THE GIVEAWAY!

  86. Kristie M

    I have read Smoke and Bone, I loved it! There is soooo much in this book, I love the world! I can’t wait to see how the rest of this series goes. Great interview!

  87. Bonnie @ For the Love of Words

    What a darling little place you guys went to! Croquembouche. Drool. I love the concept of detailing food in order to form the world. It doesn’t seem like that would be integral to world-building but it makes a world of difference. I will never forget that gelatin baby deer. lol
    Pear vodka sounds delicious but apple cinnamon does as well. Olive oil sounds appalling. lol I can see why you guys had to try them all. :D
    I’m so looking forward to Ruin and Rising. So sad to see this series come to an end but there’s always re-reads. And more fabulous books from Leigh to come I’m sure. :)
    Bonnie @ For the Love of Words recently posted…Something To Look Forward To – Week of June 9th, 2014

  88. Brenda

    I really enjoyed reading this post and all of the pictures were lovely. How wonderful to have a series of books that introduce all these foods and man the ones in the restaurant look to die for. It’s always fun to try new things when traveling, it really gives you a sense of the culture. Love the idea of making “sensory connections” too. I think that’s why some scents just connect with us. I can’t smell baking bread and not think of my grandma, or peanut butter cookies and not think of my dad. This sounds like a series that I would enjoy thanks for the recommendation.

  89. Ashley Smith

    Great interview! I just read Shadow and Bone and loved it! The idea of a companion series is amazing and I can’t wait to continue the series.

  90. Karen

    Mari vanna is gorgeous! I could probably just wander around and forget all about the food.

    Oh who am I kidding! I would eat everything! lol

    I grew up much like Leigh – a very boring, frozen dinner, mac & cheese, hot dogs kind of food existance. What changed for me was living in Seattle after I first got married. Sadly, I didn’t eat much the whole year I lived there :-( but during our last week before moving I had salmon (I would never eat seafood before that) and a few other things that were strange to me and it was like a lightbulb went off.

    I would love to get back there and enjoy all the great, fresh food I was too afraid to try before.

    Great post ladies!
    Karen recently posted…BEA 2014 Wrap-up post…the good, the bad, and the clusterf*ck

  91. Leah Hanson

    I love the Grisha series and CAN’T wait for some more Sturmhond! I just finished re-reading S&B and fell in love with the characters all over again. Your conversation and lunch with Leigh actually made me think I should give Russian food a try again. I went to Moscow with some friends several years ago, and did not fall in love with the food. But I love Leigh’s point about how food can make a world seem so real. Brian Jacques Redwall series will always stick out in my mind as a food, food, food! Can’t wait for Ruin & Rising….

  92. Lily

    This review just got me really hungry, like really really hungry *goes in search of food* *comes back with TONS of food* and i’m also now EVEN MORE excited fro Ruin and Rising!
    I love the idea behind this post Wendy!
    Lily recently posted…What I Thought Was True: Review

  93. Carina Olsen

    Oh, how I love this post. Thank you so so much for sharing, Wendy :D And Leigh. <3 Ack. I love The Grisha Trilogy so much :) Dying to read Ruin and Rising, hih. <3 And I adore Leigh as well. She's amazing :D And I love love love the pictures you guys took. So cute! I'm so jealous that you got to meet with Leigh, Wendy. <3 Sigh. You both sound so so adorable, hih :) I'm glad you had an amazing time. <3 Ack. FOOD. I love food, lol. So much :) But yeah. I cannot cook.. not yet, anyway :)
    Carina Olsen recently posted…Review: The Perilous Sea by Sherry Thomas

  94. Tanja

    This might as well be the best interview I have ever seen and read. Firstly the pics are amazing and your food talk even better. Now I’m starving, especially after seeing all that food. I still haven’t read this series but I’m waiting for my Ruin and Rising pre-order to arrive and then I’m entering this world.
    Amazing post, Wendy :)
    Tanja recently posted…Quote of the Week: Lovely, Dark and Deep

  95. Christina H.

    I didn’t know that fact about gelatin, but that definitely changed my view on that scene.

  96. Holly U

    Oh my gosh, I LOVED Shadow and Bone! It was one of my favorite books of 2013. I still have yet to read Siege and Storm though, but I’m hoping to finish the trilogy this summer! And oh, what a cool interview! I’m a food enthusiast myself, and it was fun reading. And I agree with Leigh–food can play a part in building a world. :)
    Holly U recently posted…Dragon’s Lair by Chantal Fernando Blog Tour

  97. Susan T.

    I haven’t read this series yet and I keep hearing how awesome it is! I have some Russian roots so I love to see all the food in this post. It makes me hungry!

  98. Melinda Christensen

    I would love to win this series. The food looks great. I noticed the Matreshka dolls, they are lovely. I collect them. I also noticed the Vodka. Yum!

  99. Kayla C

    This is one of my all time favorite series, and it’s one of the series that made me fall in love with fantasy again. Character development is huge for me, and Leigh is AWESOME at it. If I get to the end of a book and genuinely care about what happens to the characters, I believe that the author did their job well. These books give me all the feels and I am excited, yet terrified, to see what Ruin & Rising has in store for us.

  100. Rachel Bostick

    I love this series to pieces. It’s so hard to find a fantasy novel with such amazing characters and excellent world building, but this series has all of that and more. And by more I mean the Darkling because I don’t think I’ve ever loved (or lusted after) a villain quite as smoking as him ;)

  101. Emily Zuleta

    Thanks for the giveaway! I’m reading the first in the series right now and I’m LOVING it!

  102. Lauren @ Love is not a triangle

    So now I’m completely craving this book and all that food you consumed above. My mouth can’t stop watering, and my heart is fluttering about what’s to come in R&R. That Lamb and eggplant sandwich looked especially delish. I’m desperate for this book and also so so nervous! I’ve had a disappointing run with finales this year, but I’m hoping this will be the one that’s going to win them all. Thankfully we’ll all be reading it around the same time so we can discuss. Another lovely blog tour post from you, Wendy!
    Lauren @ Love is not a triangle recently posted…Take Me On by Katie McGarry

  103. Sashana

    My favorite thing about this trilogy is the Darkling (does that make me a bad person?). I literally know nothing about Russian cuisine so thank you for these wonderful pictures, Wendy! The food looks deliciously intimidating.

  104. Rebecca

    Is Sturmhond a valid reason for loving this series? Seriously, though, it’s definitely one of my favorites. I’ve especially liked seeing how Alina’s character has grown and changed, and I can’t wait to see how everything wraps up in Ruin and Rising.

  105. bethany

    I’m so bad about getting out of the West LA bubble and trying totally new things… but the idea of reading (or re-reading) the Grisha trilogy and eating/drinking at such a quaint place like Mari Vanna~~~so tempting! PS: Napoleon! Omg!!

  106. Nidoran

    I’m so excited for Ruin and Rising. I read Shadow and Bone back in January and was so excited to pick up Siege and Storm, but I purposely made myself wait a few months to read it because I knew I wouldn’t be able to wait for book three if I marathoned the first two. But now I’m done with Siege and Storm and still can’t wait! Just eight more days! (I think. I’m really bad at math.)

  107. Alison H

    Darkling! Ruin and Rising (Ruin and Racy) better contain good Darklina scenes. I’ll be fine if the Darkling narrates the story (but that isn’t likely).

  108. Hazel

    What a great interview! Leigh is the best. I seriously cannot wait for Ruin and Rising! It’s scheduled to be released the day before my birthday which is so fortuitous.

  109. Michelle V. B.

    Such a great interview! I loved you both discussed the parallels of food and relationships, in the book and in life. Absolutely adored the pictures that accompanied this interview. It makes me want to go back here! (It’s been a while since I’ve left LA.)

    This series has me by the proverbial balls and I can’t seem to stop thinking about it. I love how the imagery acts as an important character that depicts the setting and seriousness of the scene. I get lost when reading the series, and that’s a huge testament to Bardugo.

  110. Emily

    I can’t wait to read Ruin and Rising. The food looks amazing, and I love what texture it adds to the world of Ravka! Thanks so much for this post!

  111. Breana M.

    It’s always interesting to hear what authors have to say in interviews especially when it’s about their inspiration for their books, and In this case the food. Also, can I just say that Napoleon dessert looks delicious. :D

  112. Samantha Kazanecki

    I LOVE the Grisha trilogy mostly because of the Darkling. He’s a complex character that you want to hate but can’t help falling in love with. At the end of the second book, Alina has a growing list of romantic prospects and I know the Darkling is evil but my hope is that he’ll find redemption in Ruin and Rising. We’ll have to see….
    Samantha Kazanecki recently posted…Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins

  113. Eileen Lee

    I have heard so many wonderful things about this series so I just had to pick them up! Everything about this series is awesome~~ The food looks so delicious! I’m very excited for Ruin and Rising!!

  114. Deirdre

    I really love this series! I’m looking forward to Ruin and Rising because I want to see how the trilogy ends.

  115. fishgirl182

    That’s so amazing that you got to have lunch with Leigh. She is a woman after my own heart and I love seeing food descriptions in books and am always trying to see what people are eating in movies and TV, too. I’ve never actually tried a meat aspic though you and Julia Child are making me consider it.

    Great interview and lovely pics. Cannot wait for Ruin & Rising next week!
    fishgirl182 recently posted…Manicure Monday (66): Grasshopper Jungle

  116. Stephanie T.

    I lol’d so hard when I saw that “I don’t trust people who don’t think about food.” was bolded. The restaurant looks beautiful! All of the food looks delicious, even though I’m personally not a big fan of Russian dishes (though I’ve only ever been to a Russian meat restaurant). It’s nice to see these author talks.

  117. Heidi D

    I haven’t had a chance to read the Grisha Trilogy yet. I’m an impatient person, I’ll admit. I wanted to wait until the trilogy was complete before starting it. I’ve heard nothing but great things about it, though. I’m looking forward to reading the books.

    This is an awesome giveaway. Thanks for sharing.

  118. S. G.

    Cannot wait for this! I would have to say one of the parts I love most about the Grisha series is how it involves Russian culture along with the story. Its such a diverse setting that no one really touches on, so its always refreshing to find a series as good as this one.

    Also, love the fact that we’ll be able to see more of the world in the new series! If this involves Nikolai in any way my life is complete. Who am I kidding, I’d buy it anyway. *back to re-reading Siege and Storm*

  119. Sue

    I really appreciate that the series is consistent and the characters are likable. It’s very compelling.

  120. Ann

    I haven’t read this series yet but have heard several people raving about it. I would love to immerse myself in this story.

  121. Mary @ BookSwarm

    First off, can I say that restaurant is gorgeous? Wow. And that was a lot of vodka — how very Russian of you! I don’t trust non-food people, either. Even though I don’t cook, I’m lucky enough to have a good friend who’s a Cordon Bleu-trained caterer and he loves to keep us in yummies. Food adds so much dimension to stories and I think a lot of authors miss out by not including enough of it (big exceptions: Leigh Bardugo and George R.R. Martin).
    Mary @ BookSwarm recently posted…Harry’s at it again: SKIN GAME by Jim Butcher

    • Wendy Darling

      Heh, does it speak ill of us to say that it was no problem going through all that vodka? ;)

      You’re lucky to have such a fancy food friend! Cooking food is definitely gives you an appreciation for it, but loving to eat is a fine occupation, too. I loved food on a deep and meaningful level long before I learned to cook.

      I totally agree with you re: food adding dimension to stories. I always think of Laura Ingalls Wilder when I see pies, and certain candy associated with certain middle grade books, or tomato sandwiches with Harriet Welsch, or red gummy bears with Ramona Quimby. I thought it was so interesting to hear about how she thought about the familiarity of a dish could ground you, while a twist on it could transport you at the same time. (This was about the point in our lunch when I started furiously scribbling notes.) And of course, that kind of thought goes into all the other details in her books, too, not just the food.

      I will say that I recently just finished a book where the author tried to add texture with food descriptions and I was REALLY not feeling it, though. Somehow “dark, silky pigeon meat” just doesn’t do it for me. *shudder*

    • Wendy Darling

      Funnily enough, I heard all the hype for S&B but put off reading it. I was tempted when I saw the beautiful hardcover though, so even though I rarely buy new hardbacks without having read them first, I couldn’t resist and ended up speeding through it in pretty much one sitting! Both late night books for sure.

      That’s so exciting that you got your mother to read them! I’m so glad she enjoys them, too. We bought my mother-in-law the first two books for mother’s day, so I’m waiting to hear her reaction.

      DARKLING. He has a lot of ‘splaining to do.

  122. Sarah Rimmer

    This is absolutely my favorite series. I’ve read both books several times. Love the darkness, the romance, and that it keeps me on the edge of my seat… or bed where I usually read. ;) Dying to read Ruin and Rising!

    • Wendy Darling

      I do that happy wriggle thing when I read these, Sarah. ;) Both books read late, late into the night, with major book hangovers afterwards! Just think what RUIN AND RISING will do to us. I CAN’T WAIT.

  123. Jaz

    I was drooling at this post omg woah. That blinis looks SO divine and the eggplant and lamb dish looks scrumptious. I’ve always been fascinated by the food in the Grishaverse and as a food lover myself this was the perfect post!
    I still remember the “simplicity” of the foods when Alina first joined the Second Army in S&B, with the fish and I was quite intrigued.
    The feast in S&S was insane, absolutely loved it – excuse me for comparing books, but it was like something from A Song of Ice and Fire! All these exotic tastes I’d never heard of but wanted to try.
    Btw, SO MANY SHOT GLASSES! How were you guys able to walk out of the restaurant sober?! I didn’t know vodka could come in so many flavours O_O
    Beautiful post and such beautiful pictures!

    Thank you Wendy!!!

    • Wendy Darling

      Omg, the lamb and eggplant on toast was my absolute favorite. My mouth is watering just thinking about it! Man, I am making myself so hungry reading and responding to comments.

      I brought a 3-page typed list of all the foods I could find in the first two books, hah. Interestingly enough, I’d also charted out the thing you noticed–the more commonplace foods in the first book or when Alina is with Mal, and how the food becomes more elaborate as the story progresses and when she’s with Sturmhond, and obviously the insanity of Nikolai’s birthday party. That was where my “food as metaphor” question came from, though that theory was shot down, hah.

      Leigh’s a big GAME OF THRONES fan, so I’m sure that comparison would make her happy. Also, I found it surprisingly easy to to drive/function after all that vodka–last year’s alcohol-focused interview was a lot more intense. We were there for six hours that time, though, so…

    • Wendy Darling

      The blinis were light as air, Mel–and the cool salmon and silky sour cream paired with them were just perfect. *sigh* I’d like to have some more right now.

    • Wendy Darling

      I personally think S&S was even better than S&B, Lory–I’m curious if you’ll agree! I love the way you describe the vivid writing and so on, too. Her writing is so detailed and immersive, and doesn’t feel like anything else out there in YA.

  124. Cali W.

    Thanks for the giveaway! All that food looks so delicious! I can’t wait to read the last book and find out what happens to all the characters! I love this series. <3

    • Wendy Darling

      The food was deeeelicious. I can’t wait to find out what happens to everyone, either! *bites nails* This series is definitely one of my favorites, too.

  125. Pili

    Wow! Now this is one hell of an amazing post for a blog tour!!
    That restaurant is straight out of a fairy tale, with the decor, the amazing looking (and I’m sure tasting too) food and getting to talk to a favourite author in person about the food in her series? I’m totally envious but also I have enjoyed reading this post and seeing all the photos immensely!

    My only bad choice was reading all this before lunch! I’m so very hungry now and drooling all over the laptop! I agree that describing food is a fantastic way to give depth and make readers relate to the world building in a different way than any other description would do! I specially love the descriptions of pastries and desserts, since I have a huge sweet tooth and love baking! Now I must make Napoleon cake btw… and maybe even a cupcake version of it somehow… *pondering*

    And now I’m completely off the track thinking of making some cupcakes for the trilogy that would involve jelly somehow…

    Well, anyways!! I’m super excited for Ruin & Rising even if it won’t have as much food in it as the previous books!!

    Thank you so much for such a brilliant post Wendy & Leigh!! *off to plot cupcake recipes*
    Pili recently posted…Mark This Book Monday: ARC Review of Her Secret Inheritance by Jen McConnel!

    • Wendy Darling

      Hah, thank you! I am pretty pleased with this post, it all came together beautifully.

      I was so, so excited when Leigh suggested this place for our interview. The LA location just opened up last fall, and somehow I completely missed hearing about it! And who knows how long I would have lived in ignorance. They have locations in Russia, London, New York, and DC as well. Leigh said that that same salad at the NY location is served in a flower pot.

      I’m excited for R&R, too! And I’m excited to see how what you come up with for this Napoleon cupcake.

  126. Rashika

    A conversation about food. A WHOLE CONVERSATION ABOUT FOOD. I am kind of jealous. And hungry since it’s around lunch time here.

    This is almost making me regret waiting to read Seige and Storm until Ruin and Rising comes out… because that feast *wipes drool off her face*.

    Also on an unrelated note, I totally flailed when you mentioned Madeliene (I have a tendency to do that.. don’t mind me).

    And really anyone who doesn’t appreciate food… well I am pretty sure it’s going to be hard for us to get along… especially since I have a huge sweet tooth.

    LOVELY (Hunger-inducing) interview, Wendy!
    Now if book 3 would come out faster… (and Wednesday).
    Rashika recently posted…Review: Riot by Sarah Mussi – RANT ALERT!!!

    • Wendy Darling

      I could talk about nothing but food and books for the rest of my life and be perfectly happy–so when those two things come together, it’s a sublime experience! It was so fun to do this with Leigh, she’s a great interview subject and just a pleasant dining companion all around.

      You MUST read S&S soon, Rashika–not only because R&R is out next week, but most of the really good food porn is in it! I wanted to eat everything described. I would even try the brandied cuckoo.

      And hee, Madeleine! When I mentioned Leigh telling me A SWIFTLY TILTING PLANET was her favorite L’Engle, this is where that conversation took place.

      But you know, the one good thing about being with people who don’t enjoy food is that you might get to eat all theirs. :D :D :D

  127. Aqsa Naveed

    Firstly, thank you so much for this giveaway Wendy!

    Secondly, I want to read the final installment because I need to see how Alina’s journey ends. As an almost graduate student, high school hasn’t been the best experience for me, and now Im really just waiting for that final moment that I can break down the door and follow what I believe is right.
    My journey of struggle reminds me of Alina’s, despite not being as awesome, and I think as a strong female character with confident goals in mind, she inspires me. :)
    So, I truly want to read Ruin and Rising because I need inspiration and I need strength.

    Also, the Darkling and Nikolai are quite the temptation (;

    Lastly, I just want to thank Leigh for being a fantabulous human being, an incredible writer and a lovely inspiration. :)

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh, it’s our pleasure to host the giveaway! Macmillan was extremely generous to let us give away all three books. I figured that would be good since not everyone has the physical books.

      And awww, I’m sorry to hear high school is kind of a bummer for you at the moment! Can I just say that I think a lot of people go through this? I know I did, and it really does get better. The parallels you draw to Alina’s character really are apt, though–she starts off very unsure of herself, but it’s pretty glorious to see her come into her own, both as a Sun Summoner and as a woman.

  128. Cait @ Notebook Sisters

    Oh YUM. *wipes drool off laptop* I haven’t gotten to book #2 yet, but just for lack of time, because I adored the first one. And it just makes me even more excited to see actual pictures of the food. (Also: food is the best. Just sayin’. It is.) Congrats on the full series, Leigh Bardugo!! THEY ARE AMAZING!
    Cait @ Notebook Sisters recently posted…How To Be the Ultimate TFIOS Fan

    • Wendy Darling

      Omg, read SIEGE AND STORM, read it now! You must meet Sturmhond, he’s just the dreamiest. Although hands off, Cait–I warn everyone, he’s mine. MINE.

      You’re just in time to read it before RUIN AND RISING comes out, though! And if you enjoyed this post, you’ll love S&S, that’s where most of the awesome food porn is.

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