Subscription Boxes

Moon Hauls: Explore Okinawa Sakuraco

Explore Okinawa SakuraCo

Subscription box: SakuraCo

Theme/Month: Explore Okinawa, August 2021

Ownership: Subscribed on their 3 boxes option. If you are interested in purchasing a Sakura Co subscription, you can do it on their website.

SakuraCo is a new box that focuses on Japanese tea, sweets and snacks from local makers for you to enjoy. And the idea is that you take a unique snack journey around Japan with the contents of the box. I’ve been subscribed since the first box and so far enjoyed the journey.

This box was all about purple potato, and interesting more savoury flavours. So let’s see what was inside, starting from the top left and going clockwise:

  • Kombu Arare Crackers, crispy and with sea flavours.
  • Beni Imo Pie, which has a crispy puff pastry and a potato sweet paste inside, it is odd but tasty.
  • Sanpincha Tea
  • Beni Imo Tart, this looks like they had just made you a little pastry and poured the fresh pastry on it. Tastier than the pie.
  • Owan Bowl with a sakura pattern, currently have mine willed with sweets.
  • Brown Sugar Shisa Candy, perfection. Hard shell, soft caramel sugar goodness inside.
  • Okinawa Tofu Chips, nice chips and crispy.
  • Lightly Salted Red Bean, a bit dry but delicious.
  • Yuzu Monaka, citrusy and delicious.
  • Kogane Shikuwasa Manju, also a bit dry but not too sweet or sour or bitter.
  • Shikuwasa Jelly, refreshing.
  • Apple and Mango Melange Jelly, delicious, I want more of this please!
  • Brown Sugar Manju, I am probably not the fondest of manju but the brown sugar part was delicious.
  • Issa Cracker, they are more refreshing and light than I expected. Seaweed flavoured.
  • Snow Salt Chinsuko, very soft and flaky, almost melt in your mouth.
  • Sata Andagi Beni Imo Doughnuts, very nice, wished for more because it is like little doughnut holes filled with a sweet potato paste.
  • It also came with a postcard and the leaflet with a description of everything alongside more details about why they included them, etc.

Probably not my favourite one as it was a bit repetitive and a lot of manju therefore a bit too dry and not as tasty but still quite good.

Subscription Boxes

Moon Hauls: Matcha Moments Sakura Co

Subscription box: SakuraCo

Theme/Month: Matcha Moments, April 2021

Ownership: Subscribed on their 3 boxes option. If you are interested in purchasing a Sakura Co subscription, you can do it on their website.

SakuraCo is a new box that focuses on Japanese tea, sweets and snacks from local makers for you to enjoy. And the idea is that you take a unique snack journey around Japan with the contents of the box.

A matcha focused box sounded awesome, so of course happy to have it and also, it is the second box so curious about how well it will keep on performing and making me feel for it. So let’s unbox, starting at the bottom right corner and going clockwise:

  • Strawberry and cream cake, it was absolutely delicious. Not too sweet, not too bland, just right.
  • Postcard, which I am enjoying as an extra treat, they are gorgeous and delicate.
  • Gold plum tea, which is very much a sweet and sour mix. Probably my least favourite item, surprisingly.
  • Match Kinsuba, delicious red bean jelly which was a nice surprise.
  • Match pudding, also nice but not much to write home about except it was like a gelatin pudding and nice.
  • YamechaMonaka, I find the whole something inside fragile wafer fascinating.
  • Plum Yokan, one of my favourites with a soft crumbly buttery feel and delicate plum flavour.
  • Matcha Mochi, which was super sticky and hard to eat but delicious nonetheless.
  • Matcha waffle, toasted slightly and absolutely perfect!
  • Matcha Senbei, these surprised me with a delicate wafer like but also biscuit quality.
  • Sakura Yunomi, a cup for your tea. to match the plate on the previous box.
  • Sakura Karinto, like fried dough bits and I don’t know why but utterly loved them, could eat bags and bags of them.
  • Sakura Sugar Cube, it mixes agar jelly and sugar foamy mousse and loved them. Very delicate
  • More monaka cuteness.
  • And finally a matcha roll, I expected them to be bigger but they were lovely, again, not too sweet, not bitter.

Overall really enjoyed the contents of the box and finding my way around the flavours a little better. Some real gems here that I would absolutely keep as staples if I could keep getting them, like the karinto, the waffle and the yokan. I had been worried it would be too boring just everything matcha, but I had still an explosion of flavours, textures and choices. Still very worth it for me.

Subscription Boxes

Moon Hauls: Discover Sakura SakuraCo

Subscription box: SakuraCo

Theme/Month: Discover Sakura, March 2021

Ownership: Subscribed on their 3 boxes option. If you are interested in purchasing a Sakura Co subscription, you can do it on their website.

SakuraCo is a new box that focuses on Japanese tea, sweets and snacks from local makers for you to enjoy. And the idea is that you take a unique snack journey around Japan with the contents of the box.

It felt suitable to post about their Sakura box, which is the first one so far, on the Spring Equinox since it has an amazing spring feel to it. As I write this, I have slowly been making my way through the snacks and enjoying them way too much.

So let’s see what was inside the box, which was packed to the rim and came in a bubble wrap packaging to protect the contents and box. Starting on the leaflet on the bottom and going counterclockwise:

  • A detailed “snack guide”, it is created in Japan so you read it right to left. It comes with an introduction, the area it focuses on, Niigata for this month, and a detailed description of each snack alongside allergens, makers and if it is suitable for vegetarians. I found this extremely helpful, as I could recognise some of the snacks but not all of them and this made it easy.
  • Sakura blossoms postcard from the curators.
  • Mini Sakura Senbei, which are soy sauce flavoured despite the pink colours.
  • Two Strawberry Castella cakes which are a perfect combination of sweet and tart and not too much. The sponge was to die for, honestly, perfectly springy and delicious.
  • Strawberry Dorayaki, I am particularly fond of dorayaki and this was delicious.
  • Sakura Madeleine, which looks absolutely delicious and perfectly moist.
  • Uji Matcha Castella, another sponge with one of the highest grades of matcha and red beans.
  • A peach sandwich.
  • Okayama White Peach Castella, more spongey goodness, I am converted to castella cakes.
  • Red Bean Taiyaki, exclusively made for this box.
  • Two sakura monaka, which are pink wafer enveloping red bean paste with a sakura scent.
  • In the pink box, Yoshino Kuzumochi which is an elegant mochi in syrup.
  • Two sweet sakura tea with blossoms in them.
  • A sakura strawberry crepe roll
  • Another monaka but this time with mochi in the little folded blossom square.
  • Sakura Konpeito, probably the item that gave me the most glee as I thought of the soot sprites from Spirited Away and felt like one of them.
  • A Sakura shrimp senbei
  • And below a sakurasen cracker which is a slightly savoury cracker.
  • Finally, as part of the collection and focus on Japanese afternoon tea, a sakura blossoms plate.

As you can see it was rich in content and as far as Ive enjoyed the treats, it has been well worth it. The box arrived surprisingly quickly and was a massive cheer up so as long as they keep this stunning quality, I am going to be hooked on it because it is so good.

Book Review

Moon Reads: Space Battle Lunchtime A Dish Best Served Cold

Space Battle Lunchtime Volume Three: A Dish Best Served Cold by Natalie Riess

Rating: MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px Grey

Read before: No

Ownership: Bought immediately after finishing Volume One.

Spoiler free review: No. In general illustrated or graphic novels may contain spoilers otherwise I end up just waxing lyrical about art and not much else.


After we finish the competition for Space Battle Lunchtime, coming second in the final, Peony goes back to “normal” life, but she is now going out with Neptunia and her success in the show has now invited her to make desserts for a royal catering gig for a space empress! We even get a small adventure trying to source some ingredients for the fancy desserts Peony is making.

But as the gala happens, and everyone is enjoying themselves, there’s trouble a foot with someone poisoning the empress as she samples the desserts that Neptunia helped Peony make. But is it that Neptunia is not trustworthy or is there something more going on that may be why the empress was poison?

Once again shenanigans and crazy trying to save people on time ensues while we also try to find out who poisoned the empress and how to save the whole party!

This was probably a much slower and less action packed book, but it is also laying a lot of groundwork on backstory for characters. We learn quite a lot about Neptunia and a little more about other characters as we go and partly also a bit more about the whole “space” dynamics, so less action and a lot of it packed tightly into it. And definitely a bit less food making and pacing a little different, but still interesting and worth reading. I hope it means there will be more to learn and come on the next volume.

Still recommended for those that love cooking shows, probably also good for murder mystery fans and revenge plots, and cute food and space shenanigans!

Book Review

Moon Reads: Space Battle Lunchtime: A Recipe For Disaster

Space Battle Lunchtime Volume Two: A Recipe For Disaster by Natalie Riess

Rating: MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px Grey

Read before: No

Ownership: Bought immediately after finishing Volume One.

Spoiler free review: No. In general illustrated or graphic novels may contain spoilers otherwise I end up just waxing lyrical about art and not much else.


Peony was about to start the final for Space Battle Lunchtime when she was stolen away to the Cannibal Coliseum which is a competitor show where you not only cook but you may end up being cooked or rather, it is very much the end point of the competition, cook or be cooked and try to present a final dish.

Neptunia realises that something is definitely wrong since Peony didn’t make the “date” they had set up for the night before, so she enlists the help of the camera man to create a distraction while she figures out how to rescue Peony. Chaos, shenaningans, and more ensue, including Peony desperately trying to cook and avoid being cooked in Cannibal Coliseum, plus finding a way to escape and get back to Space Battle Lunchtime or at the very least away from Cannibal Coliseum.

As per the previous Volume, this has a lot of mood colouring and artwork. And the artwork is super cute, the new Cannibal Coliseum competitors are interesting and the “main” enemy that Peony is competing against is extra bundles of cuteness. I had so much joy out of reading and desperately wanted to go join a cooking contest, definitely NOT a cannibal one, or bake and cook new food and items.

Overall, as previously I highly recommend it for anyone that likes food competitions, queer relationships, fun space shenaningans and great characters. Have something yummy ready while you read, as this will make you hungry!

Book Review

Moon Reads: Space Battle Lunchtime: Lights, Camera, Snacktion!

Space Battle Lunchtime Volume One: Lights, Camera, Snacktion! by Natalie Riess

Rating: MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px Grey

Read before: No

Ownership: This was a gift from Kellybee who is an awesome friend but it was in my wishlist as something I definitely wanted.

Spoiler free review: No. In general illustrated or graphic novels may contain spoilers otherwise I end up just waxing lyrical about art and not much else.


We start our scene with our heorine, Peony, who is a baker at a small cafe on Earth gets whisked away to a space TV show to be emergency replacement of a chef that was actually going to compete. Peony has zero clue what this is except that it is a cooking show and that she cant just give up. So she cooks and bakes and does her best.

The competition is fierce and someone is most certainly sabotaging things, but Peony’s upbeat cheer, her helpful nature and stubbornness help her out so that she makes it to the final.

Look, for starters, the art is really good. The author went for a “go for colour vibe and feel then draw the thing” and it works SO well with the story. The story flows really well, the food made makes me hungry and it is also cool to see a take on different places of space where each of the competitors comes from.

I would totally watch this show if it existed!

As for the characters, Peony steals the show for sure but Neptunia also has some points there and just the whole cast is varied enough and it fits well. I won’t spoil the actual ending or where this gets to, but I immediately had to order the next two books because I couldnt wait to read more.

I think one of the key parts of this is that it is a cooking show comic and it is about food in a positive and competitive way alongside the whole space fun and the artwork and characters just add that extra flavour and layers to it that make it chef’s kiss quality.

Recommended for those addicted to watching Master Chef, The Great British Bake Off, and anything of the kind, if you like space, queer relationships, aliens, cooking or cute graphic novels, this one is definitely for you!

Book Review, Books

Natalie Tans’ Book of Luck & Fortune Review

Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck & Fortune by Roselle Lim

At the news of her mother’s death, Natalie Tan returns home. The two women hadn’t spoken since Natalie left in anger seven years ago, when her mother refused to support her chosen career as a chef. Natalie is shocked to discover the vibrant neighborhood of San Francisco’s Chinatown that she remembers from her childhood is fading, with businesses failing and families moving out. She’s even more surprised to learn she has inherited her grandmother’s restaurant.

The neighborhood seer reads the restaurant’s fortune in the leaves: Natalie must cook three recipes from her grandmother’s cookbook to aid her struggling neighbors before the restaurant will succeed. Unfortunately, Natalie has no desire to help them try to turn things around–she resents the local shopkeepers for leaving her alone to take care of her agoraphobic mother when she was growing up. But with the support of a surprising new friend and a budding romance, Natalie starts to realize that maybe her neighbors really have been there for her all along.

Rating: MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px

First review of the year, even though I read this last year (this is so weird to write), and breaking away from the usual puzzle background because Vixy was being a good model.

Natalie has been working on learning new foods and growing her repertoire of food and has been chasing her dream away from home as she didn’t see eye to eye with her mum. And as such she also didn’t see eye to eye with her neighbours.

However, after her mother dies, she returns and decides that maybe she’ll open the restaurant she inherited and fulfill her dream. And as she does this, she also starts seeing her neighbours differently, tries to help them and cooks lots of delicious food.

The main thing was that this book made me SO hungry! Do not read while hungry or with any hint of hunger because you’ll be craving the food so bad. I kept drooling over the recipes, loving the simple and interesting magic in the “dishes” and just that hint at a slight bend between magic and reality as we see it.

The writing flowed, I felt for Natalie and her neighbours and I just wanted them all to be happy and succeed. And to make food. So bad. It was interesting to see her mother’s agoraphobia define her childhood and then to slowly find out why it got so bad and why her mother was so against Natalie’s dreams.

Another thing that I found interesting is how sometimes we think we know what is best for someone else and what the fix is, but it isn’t always what is best and meddling has consequences. Natalie has a good heart even if it is a bit broken, patched and mended, and she has a fear of commitment so it was interesting to see her grow through the story and find that confidence in herself, and to learn more about her family history, her grandmother and the neighbourhood in general.

Worth the read, keep snacks available while reading. I ended up being lucky that I was reading at a Thai restaurant while waiting for my food, so my cravings were relatively quickly satisfied but at other times, it was tricky not to want to immediately get delicious food.

Book Review, Books

Hungry Hearts Food Crawl! Moments to Return by Adi Alsaid

Hungry Hearts: 13 Tales of Food & Love edited by Elsie Chapman & Caroline Tung Richmond

From some of your favorite bestselling and critically acclaimed authors—including Sandhya Menon, Anna-Marie McLemore, and Rin Chupeco—comes a collection of interconnected short stories that explore the intersection of family, culture, and food in the lives of thirteen teens.

A shy teenager attempts to express how she really feels through the confections she makes at her family’s pasteleria. A tourist from Montenegro desperately seeks a magic soup dumpling that could cure his fear of death. An aspiring chef realizes that butter and soul are the key ingredients to win a cooking competition that could win him the money to save his mother’s life.

Welcome to Hungry Hearts Row, where the answers to most of life’s hard questions are kneaded, rolled, baked. Where a typical greeting is, “Have you had anything to eat?” Where magic and food and love are sometimes one and the same.

Told in interconnected short stories, Hungry Hearts explores the many meanings food can take on beyond mere nourishment. It can symbolize love and despair, family and culture, belonging and home.

Amazon | Goodreads | Barnes and Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

Photo Credit: Michael Meskin

Elsie Chapman grew up in Prince George, Canada, and has a degree in English literature from the University of British Columbia. She is the author of the YA novels Dualed, Divided, Along the Indigo, and Caster as well as the MG novel All the Ways Home, and co-editor of A Thousand Beginnings and Endings and Hungry Hearts. She currently lives in Tokyo, Japan, with her family.

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram

Caroline Tung Richmond is an award-winning young adult author, whose historical novels include The Only Thing to Fear, The Darkest Hour, and Live In Infamy. She’s also the co-editor of the anthology Hungry Hearts, which features stories about food and will come out in June 2019 from Simon Pulse. Her work is represented by Jim McCarthy of Dystel & Goderich.

Caroline is also the Program Director of We Need Diverse Books, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that advocates for diversity in children’s publishing.

After growing up in the Washington, D.C. area Caroline now lives in Virginia with her family.

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Pinterest


Welcome to my stop in this delicious Hungry Hearts Food Crawl! Today we’re going to talk about Adi Alsaid’s story, Moments to Return.

Adi Alsaid was born and raised in Mexico City, where he now lives, writes, and spills hot sauce on things. He’s the author of several YA novels including LET’S GET LOST, NEVER ALWAYS SOMETIMES, and NORTH OF HAPPY.

Website | Goodreads | Twitter

Moments to Return is about a tourist from Montenegro desperately seeking a magic soup dumpling to help cure his fear of death. And it starts with him inside the restaurant trying to decide what he would like to eat because he’s made the choice to try to cure his fear with food. The story made me extremely hungry and to crave delicious soup dumplings (the ones that have the soup inside them, if you’ve never had them, you should, it’s worth it!). The first time I had them, I also didn’t know the trick our narrator is told, which is to bite the top off to let it cool down a tiny bit and well, of course I burnt my mouth. Woops!

However, the reason he’s having this magical food is to cure his fear of death and as I read this story I couldn’t help but keep thinking of how differnet the perspective on death is and how tied to food it is even in my own culture (Mexican).

I now live in the UK, but Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos) is one of my favourite parts of our culture. Now, I didn’t really know other countries were drastically different in treating death, for me it was something that happens and inevitable but we do our best to celebrate what has been rather than regret and be sad about it (it doesn’t mean we don’t do grief).

Anyway, once I moved to the UK, I realised how different the perspective on death was and how much of a taboo subject it was, so I decided to host my own Day of the Dead celebration explaining the culture, sharing food and bringing people together because at the end of the day, the magic of food is how it connects us and bring us together.

A feast of salsa’s, dips, toppings and chips to eat with the rest of the meal.

Being Mexican means I love preparing too much food and making people smile with food. And Day of the Dead is about making the favourite foods of those that passed away, going to visit our dead and talking to them, but also, sharing that food with others to rejoice in the life that was lived. It is a celebration of life, full of colour, with many skulls everywhere (I couldn’t get my hands on the classic sugar candy skulls we make, but those are a treat).

However, I made Pan de Muerto, which has a “brioche” base, a slight orange blossom flavour and it is rich and buttery, and the top has a cross of “bones”. Some say it is to represent the way the Dead have to go and to guide them home and back to the Land fo the Dead, others say it comes from Aztec knowledge of gods. To me it has always been a representation of our dead and to share with others.

Pan de Muerto, tortillas in a teacloth to keep warm, vegetarian taco filling and meat taco filling.

Of course, the party was a success, making people a little bit less shy about death and more open to talk about their loved ones that have gone ahead of us/them. It was a moment of sharing a meal, talking and opening up. Maybe there wasn’t the magic to cure fear of death, but it definitely makes you a little bit less afraid, a little more human and glad to have others there to share with.

A happy me hosting the party!

In the end, food has magic, and all the stories in Hungry Hearts let you experience some of that magic. Because making food is a kind of magic but eating it is also magic.

It delights you, fills you, and provides nourishment, what else do you need?

Come join the rest of us in our delightful food crawl (and probably go find some awesome places to eat delicious food, because you will be hungry after reading each of the short stories in it!).


Hungry Hearts Food Crawl Schedule:

June 10th – Introduction
Vicky (Welcome + Interview)

June 11th – Karuna Riazi
Naadhira (Review)

June 12th – Rin Chupeco
Bianca (Review + Creative Post) & Kate (Review + Recipe)

June 13th – Jay Coles
Nikki (Review + Creative Post)

June 14th – Elsie Chapman
Kevin (Review + Creative Post) & Natalia (Review + Creative Post)

June 15th – Sara Farizan
Em (Review)

June 16th – Caroline T. Richmond
Lili (Review + Creative Post) & Tiffany (Review + Creative Post)

June 17th – Adi Alsaid
Moon (Review + Creative Post)

June 18th – Sandhya Menon
Aimal (Review + Aesthetic/Mood board) & Dia (Review + Fave Quotes)

June 19th – S. K. Ali
Mish (Review + Creative Post)

June 20th – Phoebe North
Kayla (Review + Aesthetic/Mood board)

June 21st – Rebecca Roanhorse
Lila (Review + Aesthetic/Mood board) & AJ (Review + Aesthetic/Mood board)

June 22nd – Sangu Mandanna
Nandini (Review + Creative Post) & Prags (Review + Fave Quotes)

June 23rd – Anna-Marie McLemore
Nox (Review + Creative Post)

June 24th – Closing
CW (Review + Food Crawl)

Subscription Boxes

Eat, Drink & Be Merry Fanmail Unboxing

I love food, I have been craving teacakes for the whole previous week due to a book I read (review will come, promise). So food in fiction definitely has an effect on me, what about you guys?

20180430_191911

The fanmail box was full of nice things and I was very pleased with it. Let’s go around clockwise starting on the theme card:

  • Eat, Drink and Be Merry theme card, it includes shows and activities to see/do/eat.
  • Fandom Foods book, which has a series of possible foods to cook, from a couple of food nerds which I absolutely love and want to cook from.
  • A sampler Menu from The Book of Dust, it is all fancy fancy.
  • Mushu engraved chopsticks, they are metallic and beautiful and the cute engraving is at the top of the chopsticks and they came in a handy sleeve to hold them. Probably my favourite item in the box because I really find Mushu fun.
  • Three Broomsticks lunch bag(box?), it is insulated which is awesome because it is and I am happy for this since I only have a japanese lunch “bag” and now I have this one too!
  • Pop’s pot holders, made me very happy because we needed some new ones and it was just awesome!

All in all I was very happy with the box and definitely recommend it if you like fandom things that are thought well.