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Colin J. Herd "colin j herd" (Edinburgh)
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Jamie Does...
Jamie Does...
by Jamie Oliver
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.40

104 of 117 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Holiday Snaps I Can Stomach, 15 April 2010
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This review is from: Jamie Does... (Hardcover)
A new Jamie Oliver book is always a cause for celebration and I had literally been licking my lips and biting my finger nails with anticipation since watching the first episode of the accompanying T.V. series last night. He really brought the food of Marrakesh to life, and made me think again about it. For some reason I thought much of it was very sweet and rich- I didn't know it was also so fresh and vibrant. The Morocco chapter of the book adds a few recipes to those on the T.V. show, such as a very intriguing 'Moroccan Fish and Chips' (spicy marinated fish), Kefta meatballs, grilled sardines and a recipe for making your own preserved lemons. The stand-out recipe of this chapter is the one featured on the show for Vermicelli and Prawn stuffed fish- wow that looks great. I think I'll try it if i can get hold of a nice big sea bass because I'm not sure if we can get dorade here... maybe we can?

My favorite chapters are the Morocco, Greece, and Sweden chapters, probably because I haven't cooked much from those cuisines. I think Jamie's book is a perfect introduction to some of the flavour pairings and techniques of the cooking in those countries from which I intend to spring-board off into my own research and exploration and maybe even travel (though this depends on my purse-strings as well as my apron strings!!). I was lucky enough to be in Sweden recently and I tasted a delicious cardamom bun. I had wanted to have a go at making them when I returned but hadn't found a recipe yet until this morning and, whichever way you look at them, Jamie's buns look great.

I really look forward to trying some Greek stews, especially the sticky pork one. Last year I bought the fantastic tome 'Vefa's Kitchen' which is a great encyclopedic greek cookbook but to be honest I haven't cooked much from it. I can tell I will cook Jamie's greek recipes and they will lead me on to and open up some of the recipes in Vefa's Kitchen. Jamie is inspirational and this book makes me want to travel, explore, go diving, charm snakes and above all cook fantastic food.

When I first heard about this book I thought it sounded interesting but it had the potential to be a little bit like your grandmother showing you holiday snaps... it is in a way like that, if your grandmother just happens to be Jamie Oliver.

p.s. O.K., I've just had another flick through and the French, Spanish and Italian chapters are just as good as the rest (!), including a stunning-sounding recipe for Prune and Armagnac ice cream that I'm about to make a start on so it's ready for a late-night treat this evening.
Comment Comments (12) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 20, 2010 9:27 PM BST


How To Eat In
How To Eat In
by Adam Byatt
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £25.00

27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Won over by the beef short rib cottage pie..., 13 April 2010
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This review is from: How To Eat In (Hardcover)
I have to admit after a brief flick through this book when it arrived this morning I was just about ready to give it a very bad review. I opened it at a page for 'Roast chicken my way- with all the trimmings' then 'Ultimate Fish Pie' then 'Chocolate hot pot' and the thoughts running through my mind were something along the lines of: "o please not another book like this". It felt like the worst kind of cookbook in my opinion, a well-known excellent restaurant chef hastily, lazily penning a 'Food for family and friends at home' cookbook, reeling off standards that we've seen oh at least twenty times from similar chefs. Even the title of the book feels a little familiar...
(And anyway, how many 'ultimate fish pies' can a boy cope with in his cookbook library. I'm almost afraid to make a fish-pie since it feels like such a final, fateful decision...)

However, I have since come around, and the truth is, Adam Byatt's book is very informative, very well-organized and easy to follow and there are some very impressive, imaginative, exciting recipes. It's unusual, for example, to have a recipe for homemade butter, and for some reason I have a naughty urge to try it out. There's an excellent section on Venison featuring a few different ways of serving that delicious meat.

Adam Byatt is famous for his legendary Beef short rib and onion cottage pie, which they present at his restaurant Trinity with rosemary aflame (the herb, not an elderly waitress) to release its aromas. The recipe is included in the book and I look forward to trying it to see how it works at home, though I doubt I'll do the pyrotechnics because I'm a wimp.

Cherry and poppy-seed marshmallows caught my eye too. As did maple-glazed belly of pork with cockles and saffron. There is also an interesting section on bread-making which presents a few basic recipes; the most enticing is what he calls 'Trinity Bread', a kind of sour-dough like roll which he blanches first before finishing off in the oven. As Byatt points out, this makes it very convenient for home-cooks because they can freeze it at this stage then finish off when required.

The final sections I'd like to mention are the seasonal guide and the supplier list. These are useful resources for tips and information and it shows good attention to detail that they were included.

All in all, I am a convert and I think this will prove to be a useful book to have. It has made me very hungry to try Trinity some time.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 28, 2010 1:37 PM BST


Shoplifting from American Apparel (Contemporary Art of the Novella)
Shoplifting from American Apparel (Contemporary Art of the Novella)
by Tao Lin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ice ice iced coffee, 24 Jan 2010
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I love this slim coolly designed book. Melville house are fast becoming the biggest of the go-to presses for contemporary fiction.

Some books are inflected with the rhythm of walking; some books seem more 'driving' in style, some are contemplative, or very writerly, or very readerly, or talkative or 'stalking' books. The prose of 'Shoplifting From American Apparel' is inflected by the rhythms of gmail chatting, and by standing around at parties, and by breaking up, and by shoplifting. I guess that seems obvious because these are the events of the novel's plot, but it's not always the case that a novel has the rhythms of the act it describes. Tao Lin's prose is extremely minimal. But when something is minimal, I always want to ask what's left out. Here it's description of emotions, descriptions of feelings, authorial comment on any of these.

I'm sure it's of no relevance and risks grossing the more imaginative among you out but I read this book in one sitting, in the bath, as the water cooled and cooled and cooled. I think it probably gave a special focus to the dynamic in the novel between urgency and aimlessness. Between matter-of-fact-ness and wackiness too. Being in the bath while reading also meant I couldn't stop thinking about surface and depth and I also couldn't help feeling kind of bare and exposed and uncomfortable. Especially after the bubbles melted. The white walls and bowls and tiles and ultra-cool water complemented Tao Lin's Minimalist prose quite well too. I wish I could have written this review in the bath but I'm too precious about my laptop to risk submerging it.

SFAA is very funny and very sad and I guess a little boring and aimless but also somehow affirmative. It affirmed that I ought to get out of the bath.

I realize now that I read other Tao Lin publications in similar situations. His novel 'Eeeee Eee Eeee', I read on an airplane, in considerable discomfort. His two books of poetry were read in one sitting too, at home this time, but I don't have that comfortable a home. Thinking about those books it's striking to see how much Tao lin has actually changed- more stripped down, more achingly realist and minimalist and hard.

I am very very excited to see where Tao Lin goes next.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 22, 2012 10:00 PM BST


The Essential Goa Cookbook
The Essential Goa Cookbook
by Maria Teresa Menezes
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.91

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I thought I'd have a goa, and I've never cooked bac(k)alhau!!!, 22 Jan 2010
I've never been to Goa. I'd like to. That Carnival seems a bit wacky but it'd be nice to see those glorious beaches and I think the famous Mahalasa temple would tempt me too.

Mainly, though, (and at the risk of raising a derisive smile), I let my tummy be my tourguide, so Goa sounds just about perfect. The last couple of years saw two good Portuguese cookbooks come out- Tessa Kiros' 'Piri Piri Starfish' and 'The new Portuguese Table' by David Leite and Nuno Correia, so I have become a wee bit acquainted with that cuisine, and what a pleasant acquaintence it has turned out to be, quite as quite as charming as could be, but with a rough and rowdy edge. Still it really was about time I got in touch with her glamourously exotic cousin, a notorious party-animal by the name of Goa... and that is why I bought this book.

I haven't been disappointed. The book's helpfully arranged into the sort of sections you might expect: appetizers, soups, fish, chicken, mutton and beef, pork, sweets, breads etc. Particularly strong sections are the fish, of course!, the bread, and well the soups, and the chicken.

As the other reviewer mentions, the prawn curry recipes are delightful, especially a mild and delicate one with white pumpkin (which I replaced with kohlrabi). But there are equally great variations of fish curry- mild, hot, hot and sour etc. The hot and sour is incredible.

What else am I dying to try? Mussel tarts, you bet. Oyster patties... how could i resist (weak willed glutton that i am)? and I'm just raring to try the crab curry, the lobster curry, the famous almond drink Orchata and the savoury rice cakes known as Sandon.

And then there are the unexpected dishes like salted mackeral salad and Goan Beef Olives!

Plenty of treats to warm up the winter months with an exotic and intricate and fun cuisine.


Bengali Cooking: Seasons and Festivals
Bengali Cooking: Seasons and Festivals
by Chitrita Banerji
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.24

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Where can I get my hands on some koi?, 22 Jan 2010
(As everyone knows) it is very easy in Britain to forget that Indian Cuisine is so regional, so diverse and intricate. Learning some of these variations, and appreciating where and why they develop is a current project of mine, a project made all the more tasty I hope by picking up recipes along the way. I have to admit that my mind is a bit like a 'chalni' at the best of times, so there's nothing like a good recipe to help some cultural and culinary history block up those pores!

With this in mind, I picked up Chitrita Banerji's slim volume devoted to the cuisine of Bengal and my ignorance very quickly reared its head: not only is Indian Cuisine rich and various but Bengali Cuisine too has many diversions and variances due in large part to the dietary differences between the various communities of which its societies are made up. These differences can even be political, and are now of course in some sense 'national', so getting an understanding of Bengali Cuisine itself is quite a project! Luckily, Chitrita's Banerji very knowledgeable and anecdotal approach is just the thing (if you have patience). It's a very readerly book. It's not one to turn to without reading, for a quick recipe. Though there are plenty of excellent recipes.

At one point, Banerji describes a conversation with a Muslim friend in Bangladesh where she comments upon 'the comparative richness and heaviness of Muslim cooking versus the lightness and delicacy of Hindu cooking'. Her friend was determined to prove that Muslim cooking too could be delicate and cooked the following dreamy-beyond-belief menu:

plain boiled rice with moong dal, ginger cumin and chilli

fried aubergines

koi with orange

aubergine with tamarind

dessert orange-flavoured sweet rice

Wow. Now that is a menu i want to serve.

ENDNOTE: This book is the exact opposite of that Gordon Ramsay lark that was on the tv recently. Sure, his antics were quite entertaining but the way he spoke about Vegetarianism etc. really showed very very little attempt at understanding or respect. I know it was all in good spirit etc, and i enjoyed it. I'm just saying this is a completely different kettle of koi.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 9, 2010 3:15 PM BST


The Climb
The Climb
Offered by Direct-Offers-UK-FBA
Price: £3.15

18 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Love Joe McElderry, 13 Dec 2009
This review is from: The Climb (Audio CD)
Joe McElderry has won the X-Factor and must be having a big celebration right now. He's not the only one, because in my house, we are too. What a sweet strong beautiful voice, a nice smile and i liked the blue shirt with the weird strappy thing he wore yesterday to sing Luther Vandross. The faint check suit he won in rocked too.

I like this song a lot; I am always a bit suspicious of the choirs=emotion equation but in this instance I'll shut my eyes and quiver my lip.

"Joe is an amazing singer" Ronan Keating.

Nice one jOE!!!


Boom! [DVD]
Boom! [DVD]
Dvd ~ Elizabeth Taylor
Offered by FilmloverUK
Price: £7.20

6 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "a-a-and... I wanna, Kabuki-wooky with you", 27 Nov 2009
This review is from: Boom! [DVD] (DVD)
i ALMOST DISAGREE more strongly with THE reviewers who gave this 4 stars than the one who gave it two..... 4 STARS? 4 STARS SAYS, NICE TRY, BUT YOU DIDN'T QUITE PULL IT OFF. IT SUGGESTS MEDIOCRITY. IT IS,

LIKE,

IF they wanted to AND TRIED HARDER, they could make this better?

PRAY TELL ME HOW???!!!

(now we've got those caps out the way the rest of the review will be tippy-tippy-toes small letters because as we all know everyone is entitled to their own reviews and that's beautiful).

i mean, you either love car-crash, free-wheeling, indulgent, crazy, unpredictable, boring, overblown, swankily-designed, vomit-inducing-no-i-mean-sublime films, or you don't. i do, and i am crazy about this film. that exclamation mark is great too. as if 'Boom' doesn't get the point across it's... Boom!

joseph losey is my personal favourite director ever. coward is pretty wacky. his entrance is extraordinary: 'the [w]itch would have me here at high tide so i should get there looking like a bit of sea-----weed'.

elizabeth taylor's kabuki is mesmerising. i want one. it's even better when she starts yodelling, and dining on unusual delicacies.

burton's a dope. that's my opinion. he's not bad though.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 29, 2012 4:43 PM BST


The Original of Laura: (Dying Is Fun) A Novel in Fragments (Penguin Modern Classics)
The Original of Laura: (Dying Is Fun) A Novel in Fragments (Penguin Modern Classics)
by Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £22.50

22 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Delight of Nabokov (Reading is Fun), 20 Nov 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I hope it will not be misunderstood if I say I'm glad Vladimir Nabokov didn't complete this novel. I love it, just the way you are.

The fragmented, the untidy, the smudged, the not-quite-laid-down-yet, the eccentric, the unfinished, up-in-the-air, down-in-the-dumps... are exactly the qualities of language that get me excited. Especially when the novel is dealing with death, self-erasure, deletion, writing, and the-state-of-having-a-massive-stomach-shaped-gap-at-the-centre-of-your-self-assessment.

Nabokov fans need not worry. There are exquisite contortions of expression (that's at least 1/3rd of the reason why we read him, right?) aplenty (especially earlier on in the novel.)

Why else do we read him, again? Oh yes, his riotous wit, deliciously exquisitely thin irony and bald brave explorations of undesired desire and sexually-chagrined foibles. Well that's all here too.

A letter to Chip Kidd: You're the best damn book-designer out there. You can see how striking, classy, disconcerting and subtly faded the dustjacket is. Slip it off and you have a pencil-smudged hard cover to die for. It's fun. Inside the pages include the index cards Nabokov composed on, alongside a plain-text version. It's fascinating, stunning and beautiful and seductive and playful and every page felt like an event. It felt like the novel was coming together, emerging as I read. It is a masterstroke to see the smudges on the reverse of the index cards; what a little insignificant impression we leave behind us.

Dmitri's introduction is interesting. I found the descriptions of Nabokov's last while a little upsetting to be honest. Especially the slightly bizarre tale about him falling while butterfly hunting and returning with his shorts askew to the hotel. I don't know, I just so love those old photographs of a curious, mad, confident playful man with a net.

Laura sits beside Transparent Things, the one about the beheading, the eye, Sebastien Knight, Bend Sinister and Mary, Pnin, and The Enchanter among Nabokov's slighter works. But presented like this there is a temptation to read it as a more ambitious work, perhaps alongside Pale Fire, Lolita,, ADA and Look at The Harlequins. I forgot King Queen Knave that is great too, and sort of middling in length. Just speaking of size. It's my sense that Laura will take its place alongside these great books. I mean, it deserves to. It's much more than a well-presented curiousity. It is in a sense a culmination of Nabokov's art- a last foray into the 'venn-diagram'ish themes of power, control, writing, desire and narcissism. But it's a novel that resists culmination, fading away, effacing and evading instead.

This is a very moving and funny and intriguing book.


French Feasts: 299 Traditional Recipes for Family Meals & Gatherings
French Feasts: 299 Traditional Recipes for Family Meals & Gatherings
by Stéphane Reynaud
Edition: Hardcover

11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars NOT A REVIEW A QUESTION..., 13 Oct 2009
Does anybody know if this is the same book as 'Ripailles'? Ripailles means Feasts in French so I am guessing it probably is the same just with a newly translated title???

If that is the case, then it deserves 5 stars because it is a great fat book full of glorious rustic, authentic French food.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 27, 2009 12:02 PM GMT


I Know How To Cook
I Know How To Cook
by Ginette Mathiot
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.37

55 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Je Sais a good book, 11 Oct 2009
This review is from: I Know How To Cook (Hardcover)
This is to French cooking, what 'Silver Spoon' is to Italian, '1080 Recipes' is to Spanish and the recent 'Vefa's Kitchen' is to Greek. Which is to say, it's published by Phaidon, it's huge and it has many many recipes that are both authentic and usually very easy to make at home too. Not to mention, delicious.

The food is often such that you could not get at a restaurant, but would be served in many French homes if you went to stay for a few weeks. At least, that's the impression it gives... (and since i idealize the french I'm happy to go along with it.) The truth is, Ginette Mathiot was an exceptional cook with great flair and knowledge of French Home Cooking, and this is her masterpiece, first published in the 1930s I think.

Clotilde Dusoulier (of her blog/cookbook 'Chocolate and Zucchini' fame) has adapted the current edition, and it is absolutely, gobsmackingly, fantastically great. [any book that has a recipe called 'silly biscuits' is perfect by me].

Here's an example of what is so charming about this book: there's a recipe for crunchy Chestnut biscuits called 'Casse-museau'. Casse museau, we are told, translates as 'muzzle-breakers'. I love that kind of useless fun information. I like food with funny names.

The book is organized into the following chapters:

Sauces and Basic recipes, Hors-D'oeuvres, Milk eggs and cheese, soup, fish, meat, poultry, game, vegetables and salads, pulses rice and pasta, fruit, milk and egg puddings, ices,cakes and pastries, sweets preserves drinks.

If I'm not mistaken that pretty much covers everything you could desire. The sort of recipes you might expect are all here, like Beouf Bourguinon. But there are some surprises too... like... Melon Marmalade. I really want to try Melon Marmalade.

The chapters that stand out for me so far are the 'Milk eggs and cheese' (you could basically eat eggs a different way each day for months following this book) and the vegetables and salads section.


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