Category: Review

The first asparagus of the season

When I saw that the asparagus man was back at the market on Sunday, along with the strawberry man and rows of beautiful fresias, tulips and daffodils,  I knew it was Spring. I also knew that I would have to make something delicious to do the first asparagus of the season justice. And somehow my mind went to eggs- the one food I don’t like and never have. Despite this, I think the baby inside me does like eggs because I have found myself wanting to eat them throughout the pregnancy. So here is a way to eat eggs without tasting them- a rich and creamy asparagus tart, especially good for thin, young asparagus that hasn’t been left to get tough and woody.

Asparagus Tart

1 packet of filo pastry
3 eggs
200mL cream
Small handful of Italian parsley
Freshly grated parmesan, about a handful
Salt and pepper
A big bundle of fresh, new asparagus

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Snap the woody ends off the asparagus and discard them. Then chop off about the same again and boil until tender. Whiz them up in a blender with the egg, cream, parsley and parmesan and then pour into the filo casing. Par boil the remainder of the asparagus (the long slim stems) and arrange these across the tart. Pop in the oven for about 35 minutes and voila! A beautiful looking and tasting asparagus tart best enjoyed with a fresh green salad with a lemon, olive oil and grainy mustard dressing.

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My Top Reads of 2014

A couple of years ago I set myself the challenge to read 50 books in a year. About one a week, not too hard for someone who always has a book on the go and is a tad competitive. I came in at 51 books for that year, 56 for the next, and I have started on my list for this year. What is great about it is not the number of books, but the fact I write them all down. When someone asks me what I have read lately, I don’t just stare blankly at them as I try and remember, I can look at my list and recommend something they might like.

So here are my top five books from 2014, in the order they were read;

The Goldfinch- Donna Tart

I was utterly obsessed with Tart’s first novel, The Secret History when I was eighteen. Part of my reading list for an American Literature paper, I sat in my hostel room and devoured it imagining myself at an East Coast university, part of an elitist and drug fuelled secret society. The Goldfinch is her third novel and a huge epic about a stolen painting, but more so a coming of age story. I love the way you cannot trust the narrator entirely- you are getting their version of the story and little by little you realise that may not be the whole truth as you piece the parts of the puzzle together.
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The Light Between Oceans– M L Stedman

Read this if you want to be devastated and cry and feel for every flawed and beautiful character on the pages. A story of everyone trying to do the right thing, and yet everyone losing in some way, this is a must read from a new Australian author.

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Run– Ann Patchett

I discovered Ann Patchett when I read Bel Canto- a beautiful observation of human nature, and have been reading everything of hers I can find since then. Run is an analysis of family relationships, ethnicity and America told beautifully. It makes you think about nature versus nurture, how privilege affects everyone, especially interesting for me living in the States where the ‘every man for himself’ mentality certainly wins out.

80566The Children Act– Ian McEwan

Ian McEwan is my favourite author. The way he uses language is so precise and perfect and… British I am in complete awe of him. Although I feel his last few novels have not been nearly as good as his earlier works, The Children Act was amazing. I found a signed first edition at my local bookshop and devoured it in a day, relishing in the powerful punch McEwan’s writing delivers.21965107

Bad Feminist– Roxanne Gay

Not usually a non fiction reader, this collection of essays on gender and race was fantastic. Gay nails the mix of anecdote with academic research for an intelligent and engaging read. I would recommend this to men, women, and teenagers who think that the fight for gender equality is over, or feel that the term ‘feminism’ isn’t for them.

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What do you suggest for my reading list of 2015?

What I’ve been reading…

I often get emails from friends asking what I have been reading lately, and there is nothing I love more than discussing books and how people felt about them. It doesn’t need to be an in depth literary analysis, deciding who would be the biggest babe of all the characters is just fine by me!

So here we have what I have read since I last posted about reading. Besides from my beautiful new copy of Nigel Slater’s The Kitchen Diaries…

I just finished NW by Zadie Smith this morning. I enjoyed it, but not as much as her last two, On Beauty is such a great novel. I really enjoyed The Flame Thrower by Rachel Kushner but want to find someone to discuss the ending with. It was one of those ones where you turn the page and are surprised it is over. Goodbye Sarajevo is written by two sisters Hana Schofield and Atka Reid who escaped from the Bosnian war and came to New Zealand as refugees. It made me realise how little I know about the conflict, despite having been to the countries effected while backpacking round Europe. I also got on a San Francisco buzz and read The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, a novel spanning generations of Chinese immigrants to the city. And a more contemporary take on the city, society and the impact of technology on our interactions, David Egger’s The Circle. To top this off, I have just finished the manuscript of a friend’s first book, very exciting!

Any recommendations of what to read next?

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The Mill

If you are in San Francisco, I have one cafe you must go to. The Mill on Divisadero St, just around the corner from our apartment, and therefore, just around the corner from the Full House houses. It’s a win win situation.

It is home to Josey Baker Bread and  Four Barrel Coffee. The menu is simple- toast with a few different options on top. You can have home made nutella, cream cheese and cracked pepper. Sounds kind of boring… until you taste the bread. Wow. You can also get chocolate and sea salt cookies which will blow your mind.

The coffee is fantastic, the space is beautiful, the food is good. I feel very lucky to have this place as my local.

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Good Things on Friday

Two exciting things happened on Friday. First of all our beautiful Nodi rug arrived from India. Our amazing and talented friend Livs designs her own rugs and has them hand knotted in India. The result is luxurious and original, the perfect addition to our new bedroom. It is sitting very happily at the base of our bed. Check out her website here.

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The second thing was we went out for dinner to Nopa, a restaurant around the corner that has a two month waiting list. We went in, had a cocktail at the bar, and the next thing you know we are being seated. It was really good food- think rabbit and mustard pappardelle, smoked trout with quinoa and cherries, pork hock terrine- accompanied by some seriously good wine from the region AND great company. Thank you Charlotte for organising this blind friend date, we can’t wait for the next one!

It was a pretty awesome Friday.

Gluten free? Not a chance.

And so the first weekend in our new city draws to a blustery and blue skied end. Most of it was taken up with the continued hunt for a place to live, but we managed to sample some of the best things the city has to offer. Bakeries. Really good ones.

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1. The Mill

Beautiful clean space with fresh bread and good coffee. I had a Asian inspired sesame brioche and Ollie had sourdough toast with homemade nutella.

2. Craftsman and Wolves

Delicious rolls filled with salami, gherkins and mustard as well a whole cabinet of sweet treats I could not possibly have chosen from!

3. Tartine Bakery

The most incredibly light and buttery pastry made for a delicious pain au chocolat with raspberries. I can’t wait to go back for the toasted sandwiches they make.

Tonight? A very green spring minestrone soup for dinner. Maybe with some fresh bread…

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