Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Book review: The Nordic Diet

By Trina Hahnemann
Published by Quadrille

The Mediterranean diet, with its vibrant colours and rich flavours, is an icon of well-being and joyful eating. As an Italian, I can only verify this. As an Italian living in the UK, however, I can also verify the difficulty of finding bright red, sun-kissed tomatoes on British supermarket shelves. That is exactly why the ‘the Nordic diet’ is so beautiful: British and Scandinavian climates are relatively similar and the kinds of food that fill the pages of this exciting new book can be easily found in our local shops.

This glossy volume, published in January by Quadrille, is neither a cookbook nor a diet book per se. Chef Trina Hahnemann, who wrote The Scandinavian Cookbook in 2008, has created a guide to adopting healthy eating habits which, as the elegant front cover simply states, will allow you to ‘eat your way to health and happiness’.

Before introducing her simply delicious recipes, Trina outlines the fundamentals of the Nordic diet. These include consuming ‘balanced meals with an emphasis on whole grains and seasonal vegetables’ and ‘eating game, chicken or meat only 3 times a week at the most’. Her approach is not only healthy but environmentally friendly too. She spurs us to help reduce climate change and global warming by buying locally sourced products as well as using the car less in favour of walking or cycling.

A lot of importance is also given to more traditional aspects of the food culture. The Danish chef heartily recommends that we should cook from scratch all of our three daily meals, as well as in-between snacks. Home-cooking with fresh ingredients is essential to the success of this diet, as is the time taken to eat the food with friends and family. A modern lifestyle based on tradition, which has earned her the nickname of ‘Denmark’s Delia.’

The first section, informative and extremely helpful, is followed by Trina’s simple and mouth-watering recipes. Ideas for breakfast and light lunches, vegetarian dishes, fish and meat... the superb photographs by Lars Ranek make everything look so appetising that you will want to try out every single recipe, one after the other. Being a bread-lover I think I will be ‘adventurous’ and try making my own bread, indulging in smørrebrød (open sandwiches) or dunking it in one of the many inspiring soups.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Competition time: 5 copies of One Moment, One Morning

***This competition is now closed.***

For a chance to win a copy of this wonderful book by Sarah Rayner, courtesy of Picador, simply leave a comment below telling me how you like to spend your time when travelling by train.

One comment per person. One entry per comment. Please make sure to leave your contact details.

How can you get extra entries?
1. Become a follower of this blog
2. Follow me on Twitter for one extra entry
3. RT my competition-related tweet for another extra entry

Five copies available. The competition ends on Friday, February 5th at 14:00 GMT. Winners will be chosen at random and contacted on the same day.

If you missed my review of the book, please click here:

ThePrizeFinder - UK Competitions

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Book review: One Moment, One Morning

By Sarah Rayner
Published by Picador

There are books that grab your attention from the very beginning and never let it go. One Moment, One Morning is one of them. One Moment, One Morning is also one of those books that leave a lasting impression and will linger at the back of your mind to suddenly jump into the foreground when a sound or an image reminds you of them.

In her new book, Sarah Rayner takes us on a journey on the 07:44 train from Brighton to London. It’s Monday and Anna and Lou are travelling on the same train, packed with commuters. They don’t know each other and are sitting in different compartments. Anna is reading a magazine and Lou is listening to music while observing her travelling companions. Next to her, on the opposite side of the aisle, are Karen and Simon. A happily married couple, they are going to London to sign the contract for a new house. Suddenly, Simon collapses. He dies instantly, of a heart attack.

In that same instant, many lives are changed. Karen’s, who loses her life partner and is faced with the upbringing of their two children as a single-mother and Anna’s, Karen’s best friend, whose life balance is thrown upside down by Simon’s departure. Simon, the perfect husband and friend, puts her own relationship with alcoholic Steve under a new light, one that she doesn’t like. And then there is Lou, a counsellor who by chance shares a cab with Anna after the incident and finds herself drawn to the lives and sorrows of the two women.

One tragedy, one moment, one morning. Three women who form a strong bond and, by sharing experiences and emotions, acquire strength and build hope for the future. Friendship, love, grief, loss, new beginnings. All of this and more can be found in Sarah Rayner’s brilliant fiction. A book hard to put down – even when reaching out for a tissue – and characters so credible and real that I found myself looking out for them on the streets of Brighton.


Saturday, 23 January 2010

Book review: 1000 Garden Ideas

By Stafford Cliff
Published by Quadrille

Presenting one thousand garden ideas in 208 pages is no easy feat but design consultant and art director Stafford Cliff has successfully accomplished this task. The result is a delightfully glossy paperback book that, once opened, will take you on a journey to the most hidden corners of a garden.

I can easily see this book becoming the bible of many garden designers! This guide is not so much about plants, as you would expect, rather it will help you make those important decisions when it comes to giving your garden a structure, a personality of its own. Although trees and flowers can’t help being in the background of every picture – and there are over a thousand of them – the main stage is taken by gates, tiles, steps, pots, chairs, statues and anything else that you could possibly want for your garden.

The pages come alive with a beautifully arranged jigsaw of photos that the author has personally taken over forty years and that perfectly capture every clever solution spotted by his designer’s eye. You won’t need to struggle ever again to remember what was that caught your attention in that garden you once visited. Stafford Cliff has done all the work for you!

Before leaving the images to do the talking, at the beginning of each section the author briefly explains the main purpose of the item that will be explored and outlines the practical problems that you may encounter or consider when making your choice. He is very clear and concise but, I found, poetic at the same time. You can feel the passion of this talented design consultant as he underlines, time after time, the importance of creativity and inventiveness.

A list of useful suppliers’ addresses completes the volume, which will become one little but essential detail of your book collection. In Mr Cliff’s words, “like a stamp on a letter”!

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Competition time!

Win a "Lost Cinemas of Brighton and Hove" 2010 calendar, courtesy of QueenSpark Books!

All you have to do is answer the following question correctly: "Which Brighton cinema is celabrating its centenary year in 2010?"

To be in a chance to win, become a follower of this blog and leave your answer below in the form of a comment.

The competition ends on January, 31st and the one lucky winner will be notified by e-mail.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

It’s not too late to get a calendar!

The New Year has just begun and you haven’t got a calendar yet? Don’t panic! It is important that you choose something that you like, something that you won’t mind having in front of your eyes for the next twelve months... and teNeues has got something for every taste. Flowers, landscapes, design, art, humour... whatever takes your fancy!

Two of my favourite calendars from their range are Hokusai 2010 and Miffy 2010 – to make both adults and children happy! Every page displays months and week days in six different languages, all bank and religious holidays are listed and at the bottom of each page you can find a useful box to write notes in.

teNeues also has weekly calendars that can be propped up or laid flat on a desk. Each of the 52 pages displays a different image and, thanks to the perforation line, they can be used as postcards. Shells & Stones, with beautiful photographs by Laurent Pinsard is a very good example.

If you want to support a smaller local publisher, why not choose “Lost Cinemas of Brighton & Hove” by QueenSpark Books? A simple and elegant calendar, it introduces you to the architecture of twelve former cinemas around the city. Short commentaries and a smaller picture portraying the same buildings today give you an interesting overview of urban development and will make this calendar a collection item.

Book review: The Great Silence

1918-1920 Living in the Shadow of the Great War
By Juliet Nicolson
Published by John Murray

After The Perfect Summer, Juliet Nicolson returns with a new and extraordinary book that delves deep into the emotions that dominated the lives of the British population after the Great War.

Published at the end of 2009, The Great Silence focuses on the two years after the end of the hostilities and, as the author writes in her introduction, it is “a book about silence, the silence that followed the ‘incessant thunder’ of the four years and four months of the First World War.” Guns fell silent on 11th November 1918. People stood still and observed a two-minute silence on 11th November 1919, “to commemorate the Great War” and “to remember the Glorious Dead and their Great Sacrifice.”. On 11th November 1920 the Unknown Soldier was then lowered beneath Westminster Abbey shrouded in silence and “invested with the millions of identities that the bereaved willed upon him.”

The country was not silent on those three occasions only. Everyday life was tinged with a silence charged with grief, emptiness, anger and hopelessness as people tried to adjust to a peace time that was not much better than the war years as they had to come to terms with the end of life as they had known it before. Fathers, brothers, sons, husbands, fiancés, friends had died on the battlefields and were not coming back. And even those who had come back had been irrevocably changed by the horrors that they had witnessed. Human beings, however, are greatly adaptable and this book also shows us how men and women learnt to live and dream again.

Nicholson takes the perspective of different people and writes about all strata of British society, from under-chauffeurs to the King himself. This historical account has been superbly researched and it is presented with a great attention to detail. The book is completed by black and white photographs of the period and possesses a useful bibliography and a well-organised index that will make it easy to reference back to specific events and people.