Sunday, November 23, 2008

Literary thriller - Critique of Criminal Reason

Had a few late nights finishing this great thriller: Critique of Criminal Reason by Michael Gregorio.

It was the perfect book to curl up in bed and read.

Darkly atmospheric it conjured up Prussia in the 1800s wonderfully. Set in Konigsberg in 1804,the book follows the hunt for a serial killer.
Adding a real historical flavour to the story is the fact that the young magistrate/hero of the story, Hanno Steffinis, is mentored by aging philosopher Immanual Kant.

I'm not too au fait with philosophy, having dropped it as a subject in first year uni, the book got me interested in Kant's ideas.

A thoroughly enjoyable and gripping read. I'm looking forward to getting my hands on the sequel - Days of Atonement.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Chocolate – A Bittersweet Saga of Dark and Light

My foodie reading continues unabated with my latest read: Chocolate – A Bittersweet Saga of Dark and Light. Mort Rosenblum presents a fascinating account of the chocolate business across various countries including France, Mexico, United States, and Belgium, bringing a real journalistic eye to it all.

Particularly fascinating is his tracing of the bitter rivalries between the big players like Hersheys and Mars (USA) and Cadbury and Frys (UK). And also the national rivalries, just as bitter, between the French, Swiss and Belgium as the nation who makes the best quality chocolate. Not surprisingly the USA were pilloried by all in terms of their chocolate!

Rosenblum writes with such enjoyment, regularly noting how he was too busy scoffing down the amazing chocolate being offered to take notes! But he is also conscious of the pretentiousness of it all, but can’t helped but be sucked in by the haute chocolate terms such as palet d’or.

But thankfully it isn’t all palet d’or, Valrhona and La Maison du Chocolate, the chapter on Nutella is genius! Hooray for the humble hazelnut spread, loved around the world – some of the stories about what people do for their nutella hilarious!

I’m so excited as after reading this book as have booked myself into a chocolate appreciation class at Monsieur Truffe.

One of my new rules in life – I will only eat chocolate with a cocoa content of 70% or more. Life is too short for anything else!

I’ve also got my hands on Rosenblum’s first book, the wonderfully titled: A Goose in Tolouse.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Glass of Time - Drama, drama, drama

The Glass of Time is the sequel to one of my all time favourite reads, The Meaning of Night. It follows the tale of Esperanza Gorst who is fulfilling a Great Task – I won’t give anymore away!

I finished this novel in 3 days.

It’s a rollicking good read, full of HIGH drama and lots of twist and turns. Some I saw coming, others where a surprise. Oh I revelled in the drama and loved the sly humour!

Cox is able to create such memorable characters, especially the main villain who goes from sympathetic one minute to capital B bitch the other! The narrator's constantly shifting opinion of her reflects the readers.

The narrative is sustained at a wonderful pace, no lulls and lots of action. It was also enjoyable to return to Cox’s beautiful writing, though I found this book not as dense and stylistically difficult to read as The Meaning of Night.

I agree with Independent Review, that no-one at the moment matches Cox's "exquisite period detail, scope and sheer readability".

These books are crying out for a movie to be made.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Waiting Tables: Service Included

Just finished Service Included - four star secrets of an eavesdropping waiter by Phoebe Damrosch.

Another NY Times review recommendation, this book is an enjoyable read about the trials and tribulations of working in four star NY restaurant Per Se.

Damrosch's description of the preparation and knowledge required of the waiting staff (the runners and captains) is fascinating. The section on waiting on NY food critic Frank Bruni a particularly thrilling and funny read.

This book provides a perspective from the other side of the 'food game'. Although it is not quite up there with one of my favourite food writers Ruth Reichl. I could have done without the 'love story/relationship' aspect of the book. Actually I skipped the parts that did not include the kitchen or waiting.

I did like how each chapter starts off with tips such as:
  • If you want to change the majority of the components in a dish, you might consider chosing another one.
  • "Give me" is a very unnattractive way to begin a sentence.
  • Do not touch your waiter.
My own tip is: How a person treats a waiter is always good indication of their character.

I have been on dates where the person does not even look the waiter in the eye. Once one of my dates actually clicked his fingers to get the attention of the waiter.

Needless to say the date ended very quickly.