Monday 29 September 2014

The Paris Gourmet

I knew that I would buy this book as soon as I saw it on Carol Gillot's amazing Parisbreakfasts blog last year. If Trish Deseine could teach Carol a thing or two about Paris- then I knew she could teach me too. So I bought it quickly and took my time to read it.

I can't get enough of this sort of book. Sweet Paris. The Sweet Life in Paris. A Family in ParisParis, My Sweet. They make terrific guidebooks. I even did my own Paris, My Sweet Challenge last year. But Paris is vast and always changing, there's always something new, or old, to find.

Trish Deseine is Irish, but has lived in Paris for nearly thirty years. She is a cookbook author, publishing in French and English, and restaurant reviewer. She has invaluable tips for any first time visitor or old hand alike.

Paris has always offered itself up as the perfect playground for exploring all these avenues: you can eat in opulent temples of haute cuisine; cafés littéraires, resonating with history; hearty bistros; modern, world trend-leading restaurants; or romantic bars and cafes. Indoor and outdoor markets and the best food and artisan shops in the world are endless sources of knowledge, inspiration- and ingredients, for cooking at home. 

Ten chapters offer up Trish's recommendations for her favourite restaurants, shops, markets, palace hotels, food blogs and tours. You could dine out and shop on Trish's suggestions for months without needing to double up. The restaurants that Trish recommends range from simple neighbourhood bistros to the most elegant (and expensive) of Parisian three star extravagances. There is a two page spread about how to book and make the most of your Parisian restaurant experience.

I'm yet to eat my way through
La Patisserie des Reves
One Paris-Brest coming up!

Patisseries, bakeries and chocolate shops are some of my very favourite places in Paris. A whole chapter lists many emporiums of delight, most are already my favourites too- La Patisseries des Reves, Pierre Hermé, Patrick Roger. There are many more that I haven't tried yet- Jacques Genin, really I still can't believe it- three trips to Paris and I haven't managed to visit him yet, and Du Pain et des Idées where "everything is unbelievably good" . These droughts will break on my next visit.

Even though I read Paris blogs and sites almost constantly Trish also included some bakery suggestions that were new to me- Boulangerie Secco in the 15th for their tarte au citron lined with white chocolate, and Gontran Cherrier in the 17th and 18th for squid ink baguettes and "genius rye flour flaky pastry on his galette des rois". Trish is not afraid to speak her mind - she says of one famous patissier- "his chocolates look more exquisite than they taste"- and I do agree. And I almost squealed with delight when she said that Christmas buche display starts around the end of October. Carol has been tasting these on my behalf at Parisbreakfasts for far too long.

We went to Carl Marletti last trip
sadly it was Monday,
and the shop was ferme/shut

Another item on my hit list for my next foray to Paris will be the "gooey loveliness" of the "incomparable salted caramel" crepe at Breizh Cafe in the 3rd. We'll be staying in the Marais for part of this trip and I will be very interested to see another side of Paris- I'll try to take her tips on Marché des Enfants Rouges, Popelini at 29 rue Debelleyme, or stop off for Tartines at Cuisine de Bar de Poilane, 38 rue Debelleyme.

Books on France, a great 2014 challenge
 from Emma at 
Words and Peace

Dreaming of France is a wonderful Monday meme
from Paulita aAn Accidental Blog

Saturday 27 September 2014

Rue René Goscinny

There are so many unexpected highlights to any trip to Paris. Last year on one of my morning walks I took the Metro to the rather remote 13th in search of Rue René Goscinny.

René Goscinny is a French icon- creator of the enduringly popular Asterix, amongst other things. I wasn't sure what Rue René Goscinny would have to offer. But was suitably delighted with how he is commemorated.

At first glance, it looks like an ordinary street
on a quiet Sunday morning

But there is something special going on here

Bollards are everywhere in Paris,
and in a few areas they are decorated

Some I thought were surprisingly Anglo


Clearly, the Simpsons are big

Betty Boop seems more Parisian

Astro Boy?
I'm not sure who this verdant green vixen is 

Naturally this was ferme on Sunday morning
You can take a video walk down
Rue Rene Goscinny here
I can't wait to find out wait unanticipated delights await me next time.

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Friday 26 September 2014

The Summer Book

The Summer Book is my second read from Scandinavian legend Tove Jansson. I read Comet in Moominland, the first of the Moomin books, a few years ago. I didn't love it, but enjoyed having read it. The Summer Book is not a Moomin book at all, but rather a small family story set on an island off the coast of Finland. Being a child of the 70s  who has never travelled to Finland I imagine all islands off Scandinavia to be like the magical Viggso, where Abba had a writing hut. 

A story of six year old Sophia spending her summer holiday on the island with her father and grandmother. Told in 22 "crystalline vignettes", the writing is lyrical

The sea lay glossy and listless in a shroud of heat, and over the coast towered the usual wall of deceitful clouds. The gulls barely lifted as they drove by.

It’s perhaps a little too gentle and lyrical for me. The story drifts along, with not a lot to hold your attention. There isn’t really a narrative thread. I kept thinking back to the introduction to my New York Review of Books edition:

-on the one hand you could say nothing happens, there is no plot, and on the other hand that everything in the book is driven by a single event, so fleetly mentioned as to be almost occult: “Sophia woke up and remembered that they had come back to the island and that she had a bed to herself because her mother was dead.”

I don’t know that this gentle story would have held my attention as a child, it barely did it now as an adult when I can admire the quality of the writing- which is lovely.  I didn’t like the later chapters much at all. I didn’t feel that I got to know the girl or her grandmother really. I didn’t get a particular sense of either of them. And I certainly didn’t get a feel for the father- perhaps he’s absent and grieving? But if it’s about the death of the mother then why not talk about it? At least sometimes. Not just once. 


Thursday 25 September 2014

27 Awesome Australian Books Every YA Fan Should Read

Buzzfeed has lots of fabulous lists. About all sorts of things, but I do like the book lists. Especially the list I'm sharing with you today. Even if I haven't read all that many of them.

1. Jasper Jones - Craig Silvey

2. On the Jellicoe Road - Melina Marchetta

3. Picnic at Hanging Rock - Joan Lindsay (see my review)

4. Cinnamon Rain - Emma Cameron (see my review)

5. Liar - Justine Larbalestier

6. Wildlife - Fiona Wood

7. Good Oil - Laura Buzo

8. Life in Outer Space - Melissa Keil

9. Zac & Mia - A.J Betts

10. Fury - Shirley Marr

11. Tomorrow, When the War Began - John Marsden

12. Graffiti Moon - Cath Crowley (see my review)

13. Stolen  - Lucy Christopher

14. Between the Lives - Jessica Shirvington

15. Obernewtyn - Isobelle Carmody

16. Every Breath - Ellie Marney

17. Puberty Blues - Kathy Lette and Gabrielle Carey

18. Beatle Meets Destiny - Gabrielle Williams

19. This is Shyness - Leanne Hall

20. The Messenger - Markus Zusak (see my review)

21. Girl Defective - Simmone Howell

22. Feeling Sorry for Celia - Jaclyn Moriarty (see my review)

23. Sabriel - Garth Nix

24. Girl Saves Boy - Steph Bowe

25. Sea Hearts - Margo Lanagan

26. The Simple Gift - Steven Herrick (see my review)

27. Raw Blue - Kirsty Eager


Rather an abysmal result for me. It is true that I've meant to read many of those books. But sadly that doesn't count.

Jan 2015 8/27

Dec 2016 9/27

Wednesday 24 September 2014

I Quit Sugar for Life

I'm doing Sugar Free September this month. I wasn't planning to. Actually I hadn't even heard about it before, but then a friend suggested it on Facebook because she was doing it, and after a brief hesitation I decided to do it too. A bit of acting in haste perhaps, and there has been a little bit of repenting at leisure. But it's been an interesting experiment, I've tried lots of new things this month, and it hasn't really been that hard (most days). Although I did have to miss the Best. Lamingtons. Ever.

I planned on getting I Quit Sugar out from hiding. I read it last year, and had modified a few things, learnt lots, but not really changed all that many behaviours. For the life of me I can't find it in the house, so I bought Sarah Wilson's new title I Quit Sugar for Life. It has a very similar feel to the original I Quit Sugar- very similar layout, font and vibe- which is not a bad thing. The content is quite different, and there are 148 new sugar free recipes to try.

I Quit Sugar helped people go through Sarah's 8 week sugar detox program. It's been wildly successful, and over 250, 000 people have done the 8 week program so far (the current one started today). I Quit Sugar for Life is designed to be the next stage. It's not as prescriptive as the first book, and I think could easily act as a standalone piece. I Quit Sugar for Life offers The I Quit Sugar Wellness Codes, a series of 9 mantras to help us live a sugar free, healthy life.

Keep on Keeping Off Sugar
Eat Fat and Protein
Ditch the Diets
Maximise Your Nutrition
Have a Morning Routine
Exercise Less
Cut Snacking
Shop Differently
Cook Differently

I really like what Sarah offers with these codes. They're not just about food, they're about lifestyle too. She cares about the environment, food wastage, getting us organised and healthy. And she's not afraid to speak her mind. She's a confirmed omnivore and not at all convinced about vegan diets, but gives suggestions for many other forms of modern eating- paleo, gluten free, vegetarian. Her suggestions are very creative, perhaps too much for some people, but she encourages us to get more vegetables into our diet every day with lots of great ideas- there must be something there for everyone I think.

There are plenty of delicious sounding recipes- Carrot Cake Porridge Whip, Paleo Choc-coco Muggin, Spiced Pumpkin Granola Bars, Festive Popcorn (flavoured with ras el hanout- one of my very favourite spice blends), Fennel Tarte Tatin, Vietnamese Chicken Curry. There are many suggestions too- the one that intrigues me the most (but I haven't tried yet) is to stave off snack attacks by eating a tablespoon of coconut oil. I'm not sure that I ready for that, but will give it a go- one day when I work up the courage.

I am still not intending to do sugar free for life, being sugar free for September is perhaps enough- but it's an interesting experience that I will extend somewhat in October, and I do enjoy thinking more about the food we eat and the life we live. News today that Sarah is hard at work on her next cookbook.

Foodies Read 2014!

Monday 22 September 2014

10 Books to Read Before You Go To Paris

I do love a good book list, and a good Paris book list is always special. This list from Fodors was offered up to me on Facebook recently. As always there's some books I've read, books I've been meaning to read for ages, and books I've never heard of but would now love to read immediately. Sadly I don't think I'll be reading any of these before my next trip to Paris-it's coming up too soon!

1. The Dud Avocado - Elaine Dundy

Deserves to be read
just for the title really

2. The Sweet Life in Paris - David Lebovitz (see my review)

3. A Moveable Feast - Ernest Hemingway

4. The Flaneur - Edmund White (see my review)

5. Paris Journal 1956 - 1964 - Janet Flanner (Genet)

6. Paris France - Gertrude Stein

7. Paris to the Moon - Adam Gopnik

I have been meaning to read this
for ever

8. My Life in France - Julia Child

9. Flowers of Evil - Charles Baudelaire

10. Between Meals: An Appetite for Paris - A.J. Liebling

Books on France, a great 2014 challenge
 from Emma at 
Words and Peace

Dreaming of France is a wonderful Monday meme
from Paulita aAn Accidental Blog

Sunday 21 September 2014


I'm so glad to have finally read this rather extraordinary book. Holes won the Newbery Medal in 1999  and if you even casually glance at pretty much any list of kids books Holes will be somewhere up near the top- lists like the 50 Best Books for Kids or SLJs Top 100 Children's Novel List, or even What Kiwi Kids Read. Of course it is one of my 1001 books too.

It's an extremely improbable story. Teenager Stanley Yelnats is overweight and unpopular at school, after he is convicted of stealing a pair of shoes he is sent to a work camp in Texas for reform.

Stanley was not a bad kid. He was innocent of the crime for which he was convicted. He'd just been in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

We know that Stanley is a good kid, and feel for him from the start.

It occurred to him that he couldn't remember the last time he felt happiness. It wasn't just being sent to Camp Green Lake that he made his life miserable. Before that he'd been unhappy at school, where he had no friends, and bullies like Derrick Dunne picked on him. No one liked him, and the truth was, he didn't especially like himself. 

An original, highly bizarre story, Holes is a very enjoyable read. I read it in just a few days. I like quirky books as a rule, but this is beyond quirky, it's downright odd. I would never have thought that onions, holes, yellow-spotted lizards, racial tensions past and present, smelly feet and a group of juvenile delinquents would make for a good story- but they certainly do. At least in Louis Sachar's hands. I hope to read more of his books.


Monday 15 September 2014

Keeping Paris Beautiful

I don't know that I would have paid any particular attention to any of this if I hadn't watched Griff Rhys Jones' Greatest Cities of the World- Paris in 2012 as part of the exhaustive preparation for my 2013 Paris trip. The show had a particularly fascinating section on the literal army of green clad people who keep Paris clean and looking her best- The Proprete de Paris.

So I was interested to see it all unfolding before my eyes on my early morning walks last year.

The workers always seem happy
 to be at their important task

Those trucks get everywhere

Clearly there is no water shortage in Paris as they flush the gutters each morning.

There are two water types in Paris- treated drinking water
 and untreated water for flushing the streets

There is always a green broom
like a little tree at the ready nearby

If the drain water isn't enough
they come along with a truck

The Proprete de Paris also take a more proactive approach to preventing rubbish buildup. Whilst picnicing on the Seine one evening (a must do Paris activity) another friendly worker was hanging out rubbish bags to the happy crowds enjoying the incredible Paris summer evenings.

They were out in force too on
Bastille Day at the Champ de Mars
keeping everything nice for the masses
I hadn't noticed Paris' recycling efforts as much before, but it's there if you look.

There are a few designs of street side
bottle recycling centres

My local recycling station on rue de Sevres
I personally helped fill it
with quite a lot of  champagne and red wine debris

It is a noisy process (but rather fun) so they respectfully
ask not to dump your bottles between
2200 and 0700

Parks have bins for general rubbish in green
and recycling in yellow

Dreaming of France is a wonderful Monday meme
from Paulita aAn Accidental Blog

Sunday 14 September 2014

Rules of Summer

Rules of Summer was actually one of the very first books that I read that was later nominated for the CBCA Books of the Year 2014. I saw this book in the shops before I first saw any reviews anywhere, and was of course immediately drawn to it, as I am drawn to any other Shaun Tan work. For a while then it was everywhere. Jennifer Byrne on Tuesday Book Club Dec 2013 edition proclaimed it "surreal for adults, delightful for children, a joy of a thing". Stephen Romei featured it in The Australian's Hot Reads for Summer 2013

His new one, the beautiful, haunting picture book Rules of Summer, which says so much with so few words, is one of the standout books of the year, full stop.

I bought it. I read it. A few times. And I don't think I quite understood it. I didn't know what to say, and so was reluctant to blog about it. I didn't immediately love it, and I've loved and admired Shaun Tan for some time. I wanted to like it, and I didn't want to be disappointed with a Shaun Tan book. So I let this post slip away unwritten, and left Rules of Summer on the shelf. I blogged about every other book shortlisted for the CBCA Picture Book of the Year 2014. And then last month Rules of Summer won Picture Book of the Year. Clearly it was time to look at this  book again.

And I still didn't understand it! I reread it several times once more. I needed to find the Teachers Guide and Shaun Tan explaining the book to me on youtube for help.

In the video Shaun tells us that he likes mysterious imagery, and that in Rules of Summer we're left with "a bit of a puzzle to what is exactly happening". He likes it to be not entirely clear as to what is going on and he leaves it to the readers imagination to construct what is going on. Perhaps this is where I'm failing? Rules of Summer is open to being read in all sorts of ways, that it does not have a linear or kinetic structure.

This is the sort of book you could open on any page and spend five minutes or an hour pondering the image. Close the book, and that would be sufficient experience. 

I love hearing about his creative process in the video. He doodles and draws, without worrying about meaning or content, and later spools out random ideas, like free association or daydreaming. And I come to realise why I'm not a creative person- my mind just doesn't work like that. I still admire Shaun Tan enormously and will avidly seek out his next book, it's just that Rules of Summer didn't strike a chord with me as clearly it did for many other readers.

Saturday 6 September 2014

Orange Regional Gallery

Regional art galleries often offer up amazing gems, like last years amazing Wunderkammer exhibition. They're usually relaxed and rather uncrowded. I recently visited Orange Regional Gallery again and was wowed by each of the three exhibitions currently on. Sadly two of them finish tomorrow.

Gallery One had Does Humour Belong in Art? (until September 28 2014)

Dali 2013 - Danno

Still Life 2014 - Terry Dacht-Ullman

There's fun and interest everywhere

The Hulkificaiton of Mr T 2014 - Mike Foxall 

Cocoon - Tony Giles 

Assorted Illustrations - Annie Walker 2013

Untitled - Will Coles
these solved a mystery for me

Prince of Denmark (for Alan) - Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro

Gallery Two had the incredibly beautiful With One Stroke, an exhibition of work by the International Chinese Calligraphy and Brush Painters Society. Their ink is made from the soot of pine trees, and fashioned into these beautiful images.

The essence of this art is that it is non-representational but must contain the essence or 'soul' of the subject. 

Springtime -
Martha Goedings ( The Netherlands)

Spring Cherry Blossoms
Camp Fire
Ransui Yakata (Japan)

Kalpa MacLachlan (The Netherlands)
(I love puffins!)

The tools of the trade

While The Green Desert was upstairs in Gallery Three. A collection of extraordinary photos of Lake Eyre/Kati Thanda  by Peter Elfes.

The Tangerine Sea II 
Reflections III

The Tangerine Sea I

Three rather different exhibitions. All fabulous.

Orange Regional Gallery
151 Byng Street
Tues- Saturday 10-5
Sunday/Public Holiday 12-4

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