Friday, 29 October 2010

The Island - Victoria Hislop

I've recently started reading 'The Island' by Victoria Hislop; there has been some discussion about this book a few years back, with very positive reviews but for some reason I didn't have the chance to read it (usually I kind of chase such books). After I've found out that the book got its own TV series, I thought I was on to something. And I was! After a lot of effort since the copies at the public library were always on loan (I had vowed that the only chance I'm buying books again is only if it is for reference or if I can't borrow it - this comes from a serial book-buyer), I had the good fortune of borrowing it from a friend, although unfortunately not in the original language it was written.

I haven't finished it yet (although I've read half of it in two days - this being in between lectures and tutorials), but I loved it. I like the way Hislop writes, with detailed descriptions but without being pompous at all. I'm impressed with how well-researched this book is and how did Hislop manage to be so detailed about a reality she did not experience herself, or about a place which is not her home!

Concerning the plot and the three-dimensional characters, I was struck with how successfully they were used to bring out  the hardships of the time: the prejudices against people with Hansen's disease, the poverty, the turmoil of war and the locals' reactions to it. Most importantly, however, emphasis is put on the conventions of the human nature that have not changed one bit through the centuries: death, promiscuousness, jealousy and alienation within the family and of course, weakness. Weakness of the body, weakness of the spirit, weakness to understand, to accept and to forgive.

Concerning the series, I liked it as well, with talented actors and very good direction with attention to detail. However, as it always happens when books turn into TV series or films, the book is beyond comparison. Nevertheless, a very good attempt to bring to life the tragic story of The Island.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Happy National Mushroom Day!

15th of October is National Mushroom Day according to a tweet from Foodimentary!

I won't go into details about mushrooms, that would be too boring. But I am going to tell you about my relationship with them. When I was younger, I hated them. I would even pick them out from pizza which I loved. My mother tried repeatedly to convince me of their nutritional value, with no effect of course (I was a very highly opinionated child), and that would be for the simple, straight-forward white button mushrooms, let alone the - then - scary chinese, shiitake enoki etc mushrooms.

As years passed, however, my relationship with mushrooms blossomed slowly but steadily. I think at the beginning I started to taste them because I was too bored to pick them from the rest of the food. Firstly, I had one small bit. And then another, and another. Fifteen years later, mushrooms became one of my favourites. I like them in pasta sauces, as a pizza topping, or in salads, but I absolutely love them grilled on their own: with a bit of olive oil, lemon juice and salt, with no extras to disturb their nutty and earthy flavour.

Oh, and the best thing? They are highly nutritious, with no fat or cholesterol and low in calories, sodium and carbohydrates.

Enjoy! :)

Sunday, 10 October 2010

US Masterchef Final, Rustic VS Fine Dining

The thre judges: Gordon Ramsay, Joe Bastianich and Graham Elliot

Given that I love food, I LOVE food shows. So I couldn't not comment on the US Masterchef final! The two finalists were Whitney, a 22-year old student and David, a 29-year old software engineer. Let me tell you, they were the two polar opposites in the kitchen. They had two hours to cook a three-course meal, probably the most important meal in their lives, given that there were 250 000 dollars and the opportunity to publish their own cookbook at stake.

Whitney chose fairly low-budget ingredients: black eyed peas, shrimp and turnips for her appetizer, chicken for her entree and white chocolate and raspberries for her dessert. David, on the other hand, leaned towards a much more extravagant meal: a scallop ceviche for appetizer, beef wellington for entree (That's Gordon Ramsay's signature dish!) and nectarine crepes for dessert.

Whitney less than 10 minutes before time was up dropped her chicken on the floor, and had to make another one in something like 7 minutes. And guess what? She won! She's proof that simple, home-cooked food, with clean flavours, if executed well enough can beat other flamboyant, intricate dishes found in fine dining restaurants. Of course, David's over-ambition may have played a role as well.

Whitney Miller, the Masterchef winner

Can't wait till her book is published! :)

The double life of a celebrity lawyer who hid a dark secret - Independent Oct2010

After reading this, I remembered a quote I've never really thought about in the past. That everything comes at a price. But then again, I'm not sure that in this case it is this guy's work to blame for his suicide. I mean, he was a celebrity lawyer, with a six figure annual income, and sure the it must have been hell for him to deal with all this pressure day in and day out. However, he began drinking from the age of 13 and thought Alcoholics Anonymous was 'not for him'. Instead, he gave up, decided he could no longer take it, and shot himself in his house, claiming that he loved his wife, but he was not the man she needed.

Apparently, he was right.

PS: Another quote that fits in this story: Συν Αθηνά και χείρα κίνει, meaning it's not enough just to call for help from the Gods, you have to do something yourself as well.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Snuggled under a blanket

It's Wednesday morning, cloudy with a chance of rain and I'm reporting from my student's room in the UK. Although UK's "good weather" certainly does not match the equivalent in Cyprus, I kinda prefer it here. Has a more romantic feel to it: the rain, the cloudy sky, hot chocolate in hand looking out of the window at the lake and the nearby forest (no I'm not in London, obviously!).

On the background: romantic spanish instrumental music

Monday, 4 October 2010

The trends I love for F/W 2010 - Knits

Chunky, yet stylish, I love knits as well! Although I don't really like the wrapping under endless layers of knits (make me feel fat and awkward), I love a knit dress with opaque tights and thigh-high boots or an oversized V neck knit top with skinny jeans and ballerina shoes. Enjoy my favourites from this trend from Stella McCartney and Diesel:

Stella McCartney


Saturday, 2 October 2010

The trends I love for F/W 2010 - Fur

I love it (faux that is)! Nothing screams luxury like fur does. I loved these fur coats by Dsquared²  and Burberry Prorsum: they are big, they are warm (i'd say) and above all, they are glamorous!
Burberry Prorsum


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