Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Lunch at Hélène Darroze

BreakfastAtTiffanysTitle: Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Author: Truman Capote

Synopsis: It’s New York in the 1940s, where the martinis flow from cocktail hour till breakfast at Tiffany’s. And nice girls don’t, except, of course, for Holly Golightly: glittering socialite traveller, generally upwards, sometimes sideways and once in a while – down. Pursued by to Salvatore ‘Sally’ Tomato, the Mafia sugar-daddy doing life in Sing Sing and ‘Rusty’ Trawler, the blue-chinned, cuff-shooting millionaire man about women about town, Holly is a fragile eyeful of tawny hair and turned-up nose, a heart-breaker, a perplexer, a traveller, a tease. She is irrepressibly ‘top banana in the shock deparment’, and one of the shining flowers of American fiction.

Refreshments: Martinis of course -classic gin ones are the best.

Review: Not sure how or why it’s taken me so long to read this book, and a short book it is too, but I finally got around to it thanks to a family member buying it me for Christmas. Capote has amazing flair for creating distinguished and unique characters, something that doesn’t really need to be said but I’m doing it anyway. His most iconic creation Holly Golightly is a most charismatic young lady who has men falling at her feet, she’s damaged, completely self-centred and utterly wonderful. We are offered little in the way of information on the narrator, a writer himself, and also those who remain stuck fast in her orbit -although notable exceptions are those of Miss Wildwood and ‘Rusty’ Trawler.

A beautiful story revealing the flaws in human nature and the dark shadows that lurk under the frothy topping of the American dream.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Where: Hélène Darroze, at The Connaught MayfairHelene

What: Two Michelin-Starred restaurant “a thrilling expression of French culinary craft, delivered with a contemporary flourish, enjoyed in a truly elegant setting.”

When: Sunday Lunch in February.

Food & Drink:

There’s the option of three, five or seven courses -we went for the five which includes one dessert. You’re provided with the menu which comes, as you see in the photo above, as a game of the most delicious marbles ever. Each of the marbles has just one word which describes the key ingredient of each dish.

I selected: Onion, Scallop, Turbot, Pigeon and Pineapple with accompanying matched wines -because it was a treat.

I don’t want to spoil the surprises and overall experience of going to this incredible restaurant for anyone, so I won’t wax lyrical too much about how astoundingly delicious every plate of food was. especially the onion. How someone can pack that many different tastes, textures and smells from one vegetable is ridiculous and I for one will never take it for granted again.

One of the signature dishes and one which my dining partner -and birthday boy- chose was the Signature Savarin. Light as air cake with tart, and refreshing, sorbet of green apple finished off with one of her brother’s, Francis Darroze, Armagnacs poured over the top giving it a leathery and boozy punch.

The wine pairing was exceptional and the sommelier was one of the best I’ve encountered. Incredibly informative and also conversational, happy to share more insight when pressed and alerted us to an Artisan Wine Fair that will be taking place in Shoreditch in May. One of the most memorable of the wines paired was the one with the turbot which was a glass of Condrieu, “La Petite Côte”, Yves Cuilleron.

The passing of each dish was a bittersweet affair as I knew we were edging closer to the end of the culinary delights coming out of the kitchen. Good lord this was incredible and with the prices definitely a dinner for  a special occasion, hopefully one we can repeat again very soon.

Rating: 10 out of 10

 

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The Stylist by Rosie Nixon

Screenshot 2015-11-05 15.05.00Title: The Stylist

Author: Rosie Nixon

Publisher: Mira

Publication date: 11th February 2016

Synopsis

When fashion boutique worker Amber Green is mistakenly offered a job as assistant to infamous, jet-setting ‘stylist to the stars’ Mona Armstrong, she hits the ground running, helping to style some of Hollywood’s hottest (and craziest) starlets. As awards season spins into action Mona is in hot demand and Amber’s life turned upside down. Suddenly she catching the attention of two very different suitors, TV producer Rob and Hollywood bad boy rising star Liam. How will Amber keep her head? And what the hell will everyone wear?

Review

Most women, and men for that matter, whether they admit it or not, hold a fascination with the life and times of ‘celebrities’ – the glamour, the extravagance and the swapping of bed partners – there’s a reason the Mail Online’s side-bar of shame is the widest read newspaper in the world.

Witty and with an edge of genuine experience and insight into the industry – thanks to Rosie’s extensive experience working at glossy magazines like Glamour and Hello – The Stylistprovides a genuinely entertaining, and indulgent, addition to women’s commercial fiction and one where I can already see Jennifer Lawrence stepping into Amber Green’s cinematic shoes.

The Brits definitely come out on top in terms of character traits; Amber is intelligent and fun, gets drunks at the worst times after one bottle of wine often turns into two – an eventuality that is all too familiar with certain friends of mine. Her best friend Vicky is a strong supporting act and one I hope is brought into the spotlight a little more in the next book. Equally I am amused by Trey, a director, who provides some comedy gold towards the end.

Our friends across the pond don’t get off so lightly. Mona is insane, tragic and absolutely brilliant a bit like how you imagine Karl Lagerfeld to be (although he’s French and Male) but also with echoes of Eddie and Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous. Mix those altogether and you’ve got Mona. Equally Beau, an up and coming actress, epitomises those celebs who hold the belief that somehow they’re above ‘normal’ people and therefore able to use, abuse and manipulate whenever they want.

Smart and addictive Rosie Nixon delivers her debut novel with panache

Rating: 7 out of 10

Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan

Screenshot 2015-07-25 10.11.01 Title: Bonjour Tristesse

Author: Françoise Sagan (translated by Irene Ash)

Publisher: Re-issue by Penguin Essentials (2011)

Pages: 112

Screenshot 2015-07-25 10.16.08Where to read: Ideally by the French Riviera but if getting there isn’t logistically possible a quiet corner of a park – I chose Battersea Park on a bench near the water fountains one sunny day and happily whiled away a very pleasant few hours reading.

Where to buy: Belgravia Bookshop – I’m not on commission I promise I just simply love everything about this bookshop -location, atmosphere and of course the titles it sells-  a real haven for book lovers.

Refreshments: I was in the park so didn’t have much at my disposal aside from my packed lunch which was an Ottolenghi recipe of chicken and couscous salad which isn’t exceptionally French. However, I did finish the final pages sat on my tiny balcony drinking a dry gin martini (with Tanqueray No’10  which was rather delightful -and perhaps more refined!

Review:

The French Riviera: home to the Beautiful People. And none are more beautiful than Cecile, a precocious seventeen-year-old, and her father Raymond, a vivacious libertine. Charming, decadent and irresponsible, the golden-skinned duo are dedicated to a life of free love, fast cars and hedonistic pleasures.

But then, one long, hot summer Raymond decides to marry, and Cecile and her lover Cyril feel compelled to take a hand in his amours, with tragic consequences. “Bonjour Tristesse” scandalized 1950s France with its portrayal of teenager terrible Cecile, a heroine who rejects conventional notions of love, marriage and responsibility to choose her own sexual freedom.

Cecile is our narrator for the heady three months of summer spent in a villa on the Riviera. Vibrant, manipulative and conflicted in her every waking thought and action she epitomizes the confusion of a woman emerging into adulthood and one whose equilibrium is upset by an outsider. Her father Raymond is a romantic and has his head turned by the swish of a skirt and a teasing smile the thought of growing old and domesticated is both appalling and appealing. I quickly fell in love with both of their characters and was drawn into the swirling vortex of their superficial lives and captivating beauty – one that caught anyone within a mile radius and swept them away so they forgot themselves and their lives before Raymond and Cecile.

Remarkable and aloof, Anne, entangles herself into their lives and attempts to adapt them to a life both decent and bourgeois. She is depicted as being acerbic and condescending but in actuality is trying to find her footing in a game that is being played with rules she doesn’t understand.

Sagan weaves these individuals lives with aplomb and the descriptions and detail of Cecile’s inner turmoil is simply stunning. A novella that will fit in your back pocket, handbag or simply your hand as you stroll off to the park I would recommend reading this to everyone -it’s a triumph and just so…French.

Rating: 10 out of 10