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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
Family and friendships, relationships of all manner can be complicated. Add food to the menu and it can be a hot, spicy mix. When Zola opens her café in partnership with her gay roommate, Pierre, tensions flare in the neighborhood as the Michelin-starred restaurant across the street sees unwanted competition, or, worse, the possibility of lowering the standards around them. Mrs. Singh, who owns the established restaurant, is worried when her son, Darshan, a highly acclaimed food critic, sets his sights on Zola and a relationship begins, driving a wedge between restaurant and café and mother and son.
Mathis Bailey’s novel, Black Truffle and Spice, is a clever look at food and relationships. The plot revolves around the two competing eateries in Toronto’s bistro-infused, multicultural neighborhood, high end Bloor West. The story is realistic and humorous, as well as compassionate and engaging. The characters are well developed, the setting is described with flair and the food preparations and presentation will get the reader’s mouth watering. The plot is layered with multiple stories being brought together by the growing romance between a new café owner (Zola) and the food critic (Darshan), the one who could potentially destroy the café’s reputation before it even opens. And there is a hidden plot, a mystery that unravels slowly to be explained at the end. The book ends with a list of music to play while enjoying this delectable read and a few of the recipes mentioned in the story. Overall, this was an enjoyable read.