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Saturday, November 17, 2018
She’d actually given up drinking but she made an exception today. The food kept coming, white peach bellini, squid with chilli, a plate of raw sea bass scattered with pansies, rabbit pappardelle, blue beef, panna cotta like a severed breast, a hazelnut cake, white wine, red wine, espresso. They walked home, hand in hand, kissing by the swans……. You cannot be immune to downfall, loss and dirt, Kathy knew, but sometimes an afternoon is separate, its own gold sphere.
from Crudo by Olivia Laing (2018). Recommended.
Friday, November 9, 2018
We found a highway turn-off that led down to a parking lot… As we rolled in our headlights panned across tables and benches and grass and the water beyond. It looked real picturesque: the kind of spot Tracy and I might have have gone for a little picnic lunch, to eat potato salad and strawberries and these salami sandwiches she was fond of making. Of course, such thoughts of her now seemed all the more dreamlike and beyond reach, in the dark of the parking lot, with our inept plan unravelling and the stolen horse weighing us down like a curse.
from No Good Brother by Tyler Keevil (2018). No Recommendation.
Friday, November 2, 2018
They sat at a table by the window. The restaurant was full but not crowded. McLoughlin watched Elizabeth. She was sitting back in her chair. All the earlier tension and sadness gone from her face. She twirled her wine glass in her fingers, then drank.
‘This is lovely. You are clever. I’m useless at choosing from a wine list,’ she took another swallow, ‘this is truly delicious. What is it?’
‘It’s an Alto Adige from the north of Italy.’
‘Where you saw,’ she paused, ‘him, James Reynolds?’
from The Therapy House by Julie Parsons (2017). Highly Recommended.
Sunday, October 28, 2018
As Heather picked her way through the closely packed tables in Bewley’s, she could feel the stress of the morning melting away. There was something about Dublin’s legendary café that instantly cheered her. The smell of roasting coffee and warm scones… In one corner a stunning dark-haired young woman…. It was Sinead O’Connor… In another corner, a punk with a green-tipped blond Mohican was gently pressing his teabag against the side of his mug while holding an ancient Penguin paperback in his other hand. Only in Bewley’s.
from One Bad Turn by Sinéad Crowley (2017). Recommended.
Saturday, October 27, 2018
And he taught me how to cook damper and johnnycakes and whatnot… And a couple times I went back to the ridge country and popped a roo to give us a break from goat. Fintan loved a bit of roo. He boiled the tails for a stew. A few times I frenched him out a rack or two to do in the oven but mostly he liked to fry up a fillet with pepper and a tomato. Said it reminded him of beefsteak lunches at the Shelbourne, which is a pub in Ireland.
from the Shepherd’s Hut by Tim Winton (2018). Highly Recommended.
Friday, October 19, 2018
Nobody knew about the long-term effects, but one piece of recent research has indicated that ‘Girls born to Dutch women who were pregnant during the famine at the end of the Second World War had an above-average risk of developing schizophrenia.’ Another, earlier study indicated that those who had survived by eating tulip bulbs did better than those who had included wheat in their diet, but when they consumed American bread parachuted in at the liberation, they rapidly succumbed to coeliac disease.
from Arnhem, The Battle for the Bridges, 1944 by Anthony Beevor (2018). Highly Recommended.
Friday, October 12, 2018
In a proclamation to the Irish people, de Valera urged them to show discipline and to be ready to resist should force be used….
Dublin greeted the Truce with joy.
Crowds flooded into the streets, and overladen trams took tens of thousands to the seaside. Members of the Auxiliary Division commandeered military vehicles to join them. Ice cream vans sold ‘Gaelic ice cream’, and the city’s dealers laid out the fruit and vegetable on their handcarts in patriotic displays.
from De Valera Rise 1882-1932 by David McCullagh (2017). Very Highly Recommended.
Friday, October 5, 2018
After the ceremony, Miguella and I shared a lunch of snails and roast pork in nearby Guimerà.... before driving back to Barcelona, feeling all the better for having honoured the legendary Cruyff, and discussing Messi, a player who owes part of his success to the Dutchman’s influence at FC Barcelona, and Miguella’s mediation.
Miguella shared his story thus: ‘When the financial crisis hit Argentina…. A friend of mine, an Argentine lawyer called Juan Mateo Walter, rings me and says, “Look, there is this incredible kid from Rosario I have for you.”..’
from Cristiano & Leo by Jimmy Burns (2018). Recommended.
Friday, September 28, 2018
“Before you take wine into you,” Gocha said, “before you put wine on its feet, caressing it is necessary. Something so sacred, divine, and godly should become the core of your being. Making and drinking wine is a process of gratitude. When a person is full of love, that love becomes more intense because of wine. The drink is not merely an alcoholic beverage. It is the means for deep communication with other people. And in this way, life and wine need caressing.”
from For The Love Of Wine by Alice Feiring (2016). Very Highly Recommended.
Friday, September 21, 2018
Tonight, after all the week in Crete had demanded of him… drinking the smallest amount of wine would knock him under one of the Czar’s tables. He hung on to a half-filled glass of Dafni for dear life. “What is it, Kapitan, you don’t like the wine? You’re not drinking.”
“Mr Deputy Chairman, the wine is excellent.”
“Then drink it. You travelled nearly four thousand miles to secure it, did you not? Do justice to this fine vintage.”
from The Road to Ithaca by Ben Pastor (2014). Recommended.
Friday, September 14, 2018
-Yeah, said Darren.
-Black or blue?
Jimmy Sr ducked in under the hot plate and got out a bottle of Blue Nun.
-Do the business with tha’, he said to Darren, and he held out the bottle to him.
-I’d better get back for their sweets, said Darren.
Jimmy Sr turned to Bimbo.
-There, he said. - Suck the cork ou’ a tha’.
from The Van by Roddy Doyle (1991). Very Highly Recommended.
Friday, September 7, 2018
The roller-coaster emotions of the day kept him off balance but had worked up his appetite. His brain was numb but his stomach growled. ….
He imagined a big bowl of hand-pulled noodles, beef lai meen, and a side of spicy tofu at one of the Fukienese soup shack on Eighth Avenue. A round of cold beers from the fridge couldn't hurt either, he thought, urging the Mustang home through the waking neon colours of the Bowery.
from Lucky by Henry Chang (2017). Highly Recommended.
Saturday, September 1, 2018
“I mean people act like every single malt is superior to every blended whiskey, but that’s just ridiculous. Some of them taste like ass. And frankly, I don’t really want a bunch of weird flavours in my scotch. I want it to go down smooth and not give me a hangover the next day. I’d take a gold label over a random eighteen-year-old any day of the week…” He was further expounding on this topic to another friend when a cool hand slipped around his neck and some kind of expensive perfume wafted over him.
“Random eighteen-year-olds been bothering you lately?”
from Dijin City by Saad Z. Hossan (2017). Recommended.
Saturday, August 25, 2018
They were sat at the special guest table. The cloistered, white-clothed mafia table had been generally unoccupied since the Irish brotherhood - na fir maith - were forced to close the government tab back in ’97, when one of its very coked-up boys let the cat out of the hotel window, instigating the Moriarty Tribunal. (The coke and the pussy and the hotel room had been paid for by the public purse. …. A helicopter to the races was the new working weekend.)
from Orchid & the Wasp (2018) by Caoilinn Hughes. (Recommended)
Saturday, August 18, 2018
She poured her coffee, raised her mug. Could a woman sit in her kitchen and drink coffee and wait for a muffin to pop in her toaster, and then smother it with apple jelly and bite into it and not weep for her dead son lost beneath the rubble? Could she listen to the news, the weather, the stock reports, the live phone-ins full of grief and outrage, and mentally calculate what her stock was worth. And still be a mother?
from Academy Street by Mary Costello (2014). Recommended
Friday, August 10, 2018
Emi’s daughter awakens her with a gentle squeeze..
‘Breakfast is ready,” YoonHui says.
Emi smells freshly brewed coffee, along with boiled rice and pan-fried white fish. Her stomach grumbles….
Her daughter has outdone herself. An array of dishes on small porcelain plates sits on the breakfast table next to two steaming bowls of rice.
‘You made my favourite banchan,’ Emi exclaims..
Yoonhui swallows and stare at her coffee mug.. and doesn’t look up when she speaks.
‘Were you a “comfort woman”?’ Silence falls between them like an invisible sheet.
from White Chrysanthemum by Mary Lynn Bracht (2018). Very Highly Recommended.
Saturday, August 4, 2018
Dr Joseph Fry opened his chocolate company in the mid-1700s, marketing the powder for medicinal purposes, but it was his grandson, Joseph Storrs-Fry, who achieved the historic breakthrough. Combining Van Houten’s pressing machine with the Watt steam engine, he began mass-producing cocoa cakes and experimenting with the mix of butter and flavourings to produce something they could mould into shapes. By 1847, Fry had the balance..just right, and began selling..the world’s first chocolate bars.
from Dictatorland, The Men Who Stole Africa, by Paul Kenyon (2018). Very Highly Recommended.
Friday, July 27, 2018
Soap clicked his fingers and called for the coats, his voice somehow able to compete with the string quartet’s crescendo. The maître d’ approached tentatively. His voice, when he was within earshot.. was honey; too sweet to be wholesome.
“And how would sir wish to settle the bill tonight?”
“He wouldn’t,” Soap said.
“I don’t quite follow. Is it the lady’s treat, perhaps?”
“No.” Soap puffed his chest.”The food was atrocious and the wine was mediocre. You phoney bastards don’t deserve a dime.”
“Sir, if there’s been—“
“This isn’t a negotiation, pal. Chalk it up to customer dissatisfaction and step aside."
“Surely there is some way we can settle this amicably?”
“Yeah, you can get the fuck out of my way, and put a little more effort in next time.”
from Disorder by Gerard Brennan (2018). Very Highly Recommended.
Saturday, July 21, 2018
Joan’s lemon meringue pie was one of the most glorious things I had ever put in my mouth: warm, painfully sharp lemon filling, the most airy pastry imaginable and a billowing hat of thick, teeth-judderingly sweet meringue. She squeezed the juice of five lemons into the filling, enough to make you close one eye and shudder. The pie was always served warm, so the filling oozed out like a ripe Vacherin.
from Toast by Nigel Slater (2003). Highly Recommended.
Saturday, July 14, 2018
She opened the top and the smell of bacon and warm bread billowed out. Her stomach growled.
‘It’s good,’ the man said. ‘I had one earlier. Eat.’
Andra knew she shouldn’t. He could have put anything in it. But the smell. And she was so hungry. She reached inside the bag, pulled out half a sandwich, took a bite.
‘Why don’t you sit down,’ he said. ‘Give me five minutes to explain.’
She perched on the edge of the bed, chewed, swallowed. ‘You’ve got till the end of this sandwich,’ she said. ‘Now talk.’
from Here and Gone by Haylen Beck (2017). Very Highly Recommended.