Where: Mele e Pere, 46 Brewer Street, Soho London.
What: Italian Trattoria and Vermouth Bar
Food & Drink:
Starter: Salt cod Mantecato, squid ink mayo, potato crisps
The dish arrived beautifully presented in a jam jar. The fresh lightly salted cold was substantial and with a thin layer of the mayo on top so when you dug in your enjoyed all the levels of flavour across the palate – especially if you used your potato crisp like a cracker.
Main: Mediterranean stew prawns, mussels, cod & samphire
Salty samphire resting on top of perfectly cooked meaty pieces of cod that flaked at the lightest touch, nestled between two substantial prawns and a number of mussels (all of them open and ready to be demolished) and all swimming happily in a hearty and robust tomato sauce that brought the whole dish together. A welcome surprise was a doorstop wedge of fried bread in olive oil which helped mop up all the aforementioned sauce.
Dessert: Summer Morello cherry, pistachio, marshmallow & lychee ice cream
Cherries are not really my favourite thing in the world but I was intrigued by this dessert and the collection of flavours that were involved. Highlight was the lychee ice cream which was fresh and palate cleansing after the previous courses, the marshmallow was pleasant but slightly overbearing in sweetness especially when combined with the sweet yet extremely tart cherries. Pistachios added a nice crunch and contrast in texture.
Price: Dinner for 2 = £50 (£20p/p for 3 courses & a glass of proscecco).
Rating: 7 out of 10
Title: Natural Desire in Healthy Women
Author: Gary Dexter
Publisher & Pages: Old Street Publishing, 224 pages
Why: At an event in Belgravia Bookshop I happened upon a startling beautiful cover and then caught sight of the title and I was hooked and had to purchase it -so obviously I did.
Amber Haldane, doughty campaigner for contraceptive rights, wishes to free the masses from the chains of sexual repression and nasty-mindedness. As she gathers contributions for her new periodical, Birth Control Monthly, she encounters the luminaries of the age: H.G. Wells, preoccupied by the appearance of mysterious green spheres in his apple trees; T.S. Eliot, eager to pick her brains about glandular secretions; and Wilhelm Reich, whose theory of orgastic potency is fundamentally Misleading, Damaging and Wrong.
Brilliantly eccentric Dexter weaves together poignant arguments with a satirical flourish. The characters which include a ribald collection of notable thinker, writers and revolutionaries pop into the narrative with ease. One in particular -Margaret Sanger- is a favourite with her formidable opinions and overbearing deliverance. Old beliefs are ridiculed with acerbic and intelligent strokes of the pen and Amber is glorious throughout even when in defeat.
Entertaining and enlightening Dexter introduces readers to the history of contraception and has prompted me to read further into the previously taboo subject.
In summary -and as many have stated before- Dexter provides welcome originality and humour to the genre of literary fiction.
Rating: 9 out of 10