Monthly Archives: August 2011
Thank you to Danielle of Cooking for my Peace of Mind for becoming a follower of Novel Meals!
I know I missed out by not reading A Thousand Days in Venice before starting the Tuscany follow-up. It’s not a sequel but I think I missed the blossoming love story in Venice . So, that’s on my list now too. Hmmmmmm…the to-read list gets longer and I fear I won’t live long enough to complete it.
A Thousand Days in Tuscany
Marlena de Blasi has my dream job. Chef, writer, food consultant and traveler………bliss. Evidently she met her soul mate in Venice . The start of a Thousand Days in Tuscany has the couple headed to Tuscany to live in an old farmhouse. It is not in the promised condition but they certainly make do. The new neighbors give them a hearty welcome, getting the entire community to pitch together with housework and feeding them.
Her writing has you imagining all the quaintness of a small village, enjoying the interactions and scenery as she paints it in the book. It was a relaxing read because I wanted to imagine myself in Italy and she sure did a good job with description.
Most of the chapters end with a recipe. You have The Holy Ghost’s Cherries, Deep fried flowers, Vegetables and Herbs, Castagnaccio, Winemaker’s Sausages roasted with Grapes and more…..
Recipe may be found at Squirrel Head Manor
I am placing this review on the Italy in Reading 2011 site. This completes my fifth book in the challenge.
Marlena de Blasi, who has worked as a chef and as a food and wine consultant, lives in Italy , where she plans and conducts gastronomic tours of its various regions. She is the author of four previous memoirs: That Summer in Sicily , A Thousand Days in Venice , A Thousand Days in Tuscany , and The Lady in the Palazzo—as well as three books on the foods of Italy
Faithful Place is the first novel I’ve read by author Tana French. Loved it….found out later it was the third of her novels and she wrote about the main character, Detective Frank Mackey, in the previous books. Oh well…..no problem as far as I have read since these are stand alone novels so …I didn’t jump ahead.
Faithful Place begins with a snapshot of Frank at nineteen. He is standing in Dublin on a cold December night waiting for his girlfriend Rosie Daly. They plan to elope to London and have a good life together, away from the misery of their neighborhood in Faithful Place . Frank is from a working class family but sadly, his father never held a job long and drank away much of what he earned. Rosie’s father worked at Guinness and earned a good living – he hated the Mackey family and was not going to have his daughter mixing with that clan. So, the kids planned to start fresh in England.
Rosie never showed up but Frank kept his vigil, hope fading but he waited until dawn. He went into #16 (a notorious hangout for kids) and found a note from Rosie, stating she was sorry but was leaving and would come back one day. He assumed the note was for him and he was dumped, that she left for England without him. She is the one with the ferry tickets.
Twenty-two years pass. In the start of the next chapter you read Frank is an undercover detective for Dublin police, divorced and gets weekend visits with his much loved daughter. Suddenly he gets a call from his sister telling him Rosie’s packed suitcase has been found stuffed behind a fireplace in #16. Frank returns, after 22 years, and sees his family for the first time since he left. The sisters are welcoming, the youngest brother still idolizes Frank and the oldest brother makes it known he is not very welcome. After looking through the suitcase he meets with Rosie’s family and gets permission to start up an investigation. It would be a cold case so he knew it would be filed and not seriously looked at…..but he has connections and gets the Murder Squad down to look into things.
After that, the first two chapters, you have a very suspenseful mystery mixed with a detailed passionate story of family emotions, personal stories and intrigue. Frank’s voice is the story teller here and I can not wait to read more about him…but evidently from the viewpoint of his earlier years…since I read book 3 first.
“The Liberties,” the first person narrator explains about the district in which Faithful Place is located, “grew on their own . . . .and the Place is a cramped cul-de-sac tucked away in the middle like a wrong turn in a maze.” It is a place that has its own rules—the rules that create character: “no matter how skint you are, if you go to the pub then you stand your round. . . ; you leave the heroin to them down in the flats; even if you’re an anarchist punk rocker this month, you go to Mass on Sunday; and no matter what, you never, ever squeal on anyone.” It is a world where there is no more important motivation than saving face. And for most people born into it, it is a dead end.
There are several big twists and unexpected events which I don’t want to reveal here (in case anyone reads this) and I was quite surprised. That is so nice to read a book and not peg who-dunint and how at the start.
Many food scenes in Faithful Place take place in pubs over pints of Guinness, plates of sandwiches and pub fare. The inspired dish is a Beef and Guinness Pie. Since I have made this before I will link you to the original recipe post HERE
As always, we enjoy a hearty dish such as this one and have thoughts of our previous vacations roaming about Ireland.
Want to take a gastronomic odyessy from the comfort of your living room?
Take this book to the beach and enjoy SEAsoned: A Chef’s Journey with Her Captain by Victoria Allman.
Sprinkled with over 30 mouthwatering recipes and spiced with tales of adventure. Published by NorLights Press
“I’d never seen the ocean turn that particular shade of grey. I could barely tell where the steel grey waves stopped and the concrete grey sky began, especially when the boat heeled to a forty-five degree angle.
Smash! The starboard cupboard flung open with a force that catapulted half a dozen glass vases from their shelf. They broke apart on the floor like sputtering tomato sauce on a hot stove.”
With an opening paragraph such as this, how could you not want to read on?! Victoria Allman brought together memories from her last 12 years at sea with her husband Patrick, initially working together as first mate and chef, the moving on to their own yacht where her husband is also her captain and boss.
They cruised to the Bahamas , Italy , France , Spain and Greece with their own crew, making memories, preparing great food and combining work with pleasure.
Among the many recipes in this book (over 30 great recipes) I have prepared Turkish Lamb Kebobs with Greek Tsatziki, Mojo Marinated Grilled Chicken and plan on the Applesauce Cinnamon Muffins very soon. This book is an easy adventure read with many amusing stories and is chock full of good recipes.
The kebab recipe may be found at Squirrel Head Manor.