Thursday, 24 April 2014

Bon's Book Club March - Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Oh Bonnie, I said it last month and I need to say it again "we need a decent book, I book I can love, a book that ignites my love of reading" and NONE of the choices so far have done it for me. They are just so Blah. Maybe how they are picked next year needs to change. Its frustrating me a little..... but still the majority voted and the majority chose this book - I'd say Thanks but I wouldn't mean it. On a similar note to Divergent last month (read my scathing review here)  this became a real toil for me to finish. I didn't love it, I didn't hate it but I didn't particularly like it either it was just so "meh". 

not gonna lie it was neither Dazzling or Enchanting
The novel's plot is fairly straightforward: two magicians of indefinite but certainly magically long lifespan – one a public performer named Prospero the Enchanter, aka Hector Bowen; the other known only as "the man in the grey suit" or "Mr. A. H---" – are engaged in a profound rivalry, played out over many generations by appointed pupils. But this simple plot becomes so complex because Morgenstern massively overstyles her writing.  I just found it really over pretentious; very "whimsy" which I think just left me all frustrated.  I always feel like that sort of style is really contrived and I think it definitely was in this novel. 

What made me so cross in this instance was that she would rattle away for ages about the imagery and didn't focus on perfecting her plot. Because it was a weak plot and it just made everything so long and drawn out. I'm not a long and drawn out kind of girl. Urgh it was annoying. and to be honest just meant that I whizzed through much of the book. And for someone who loved to go into so much detail, things in the book were never really explained and so I was left wondering why certain things had happened. 

To be fair this sort of stuff just isn't my genre. I love Narnia and I'm ok with Harry Potter but I'm just not into fantasy or science fiction. Its not what I ever choose to read and while I'm open to trying new things Divergent and Night Circus have proved to me that it's not my cup of tea.  I finished this book as a big confused mess. I literally have no idea what went on or why or how. 


So please do tell me, am I missing something? Did everyone else love this? 

As I did last month may I suggest an alternative? My recommendation is that instead of this book we should have read "The Magic Toyshop" by Angela Carter. An amazing amazing book where imagery and excellent writing supporting a really strong plot. Read it and forget this book because it is instantly forgettable. 

I’m going to stick with the book club as I really believe that you have to stretch yourself when it comes to reading, but my oh my I hope I like the next one -  The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman. Fingers crossed right?!

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Lately I've been.....

Baking Hot Cross Buns and Cinnamon Rolls (recipes to be posted soon)


Cooking Pasta and sauce, amazing sauce (find recipe here)


Reading Night Circus, ready for Bons Book Club. I'm not sure on it yet so I've also been re-reading Caitlin Moran's "How to be a Woman" because its just an hilariously funny book and full of such wisdom

Click on the photo to find out more about Bon's Book Club, its great! Join in the fun!

Exercising by starting running...... it's tough and I am not a natural runner but I'm going to learn to love it. Kudos to the man for training me. I'm prone to being a bit sassy with him when we start out! I want new running shoes but that will have to wait until frugal times are over with.
I need these in my life. Found here

Loving the 5 day weekend I have starting tomorrow... thank you work. Also loving my Man more than ever... still cant believe I lucked out finding him.

Looking forward to spending time with my whole family over Easter, all of us are home for the holidays I can't wait! I talk about my bond with my siblings here and its still one of my favourite posts.

Drinking LOTS of water... the weather is warmer and I'm fanatic about keeping hydrated

Wearing My bee necklace that I mentioned in this post. I love it.
Organising Hen Do's!! One of my best friend's is getting married this year and I am Chief Bridesmaid and so i am in charge of the hen do.... its fun but also hard work and tiring! I feel I';m constantly chasing people for info, payments, clothes sizes etc...... It will be worth it in the end though I am sure!!! Any tips anyone???

That's all for now folks;  I'll update with some yummy recipes real soon

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

The only tomato sauce recipe you will ever need or want

I used to swear by ole' Nigel's tomato sauce and while it I will still continue to use it on occasion, I have switched my fickle affections to Marcella Hazan - sorry Nige you'll have to make do with being my bit on the side.

This sauce was a revelation. All intensely tomatoey, rich, melt in the mouth consistency, it also clings to the pasta in a most satisfying way. I can see now why this sauce kind of has cult status across the tinternet! I have never come across Marcella's cooking before and I'm pleased that I found this recipe (thanks Instagram, follow me @girlinthekentishkitchen), her book is now in my amazon basket ready to purchase at the end of frugal month. Or maybe if someone wants to purchase it for me (HINT)?!

The best thing about it is that it is so frugal. You need next to nothing to make it and everything in the recipe are ingredients that I had in the fridge or my cupboard. But it tastes so special and spaghetti and sauce is always a good thing. Always.

Marcella's Tomato, Butter and Onion sauce

adapted from recipe here

1 tin (400g) tomatoes, use good quality ones
1 onion, peeled and cut in half
4tbsp butter
1tsp sugar
Pasta - cooked according to instructions (I used spaghetti)

Put the tomatoes in a pan and the fill up the tin halfway with water and add that in as well. Place the onion halves, the butter, sugar and season in the pan.

Warm on a low heat for as long as it takes for the fat to separate from the tomatoes and for it to go an intensely red colour.

 As it cooked I stirred it quite a bit and squashed down any chunks of tomatoes. Cook your spaghetti and then mix it into the sauce.

 And you are done - eat with Parmesan sprinkled on, a glass of wine and a napkin tucked in to your white shirt!

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Whitstable (again): The Sportsman

I don’t think I shared my list of things that I want to do in 2014. It’s not a really long list about 10 things that my love and I have decided that we want to tick off. One of my favourite ones was “Eat a tasting menu at a Michelin starred restaurant”. Last week I got to tick that one of the list at my favourite place – Whitstable, well its actually in Seasalter but that's just a stones throw away. It was my birthday meal and it was outstanding. SO good that at times I couldn’t talk. That actually happened.

The Sportsman looks like a slightly tired pub from the outside. Nothing to write home about, I actually thought we had the wrong place. You go in and the food is just on the chalkboard. We went for the tasting menu which had about five items on it. Turns out to be more like 10. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water.
How all good meals should begin

Let me take you on my culinary adventure...

Amazingly clever presentation

 Yes we started with an egg. But my goodness what was in that egg was pretty special. Smoked eel (no I didn’t think I would like it either) with this creamy foam and then the egg yolk with a parsley like sauce. It literally exploded in mouth and really got my taste buds going. Twas immense.

The most amazing scallop
Next up was a scallop with seaweed butter (they use the seaweed from the beach which is right outside the restaurant) I don’t usually like scallops but this was delicate and beautifully cooked.

Oysters: My Favourite

I love Oysters they are one of my favourite things to eat.... This was a rock oyster which had been poached for just a couple of seconds in oyster milk with some caviar. I can’t even talk about how good this was. Usually I like raw oysters with shallot vinegar but this was just stunning – lush. The second was a native oyster with homemade chorizo – yup they make their own chorizo. Lovely it was too.

Who knew bread could be so wonderful

 Next up was my beloveds’ favourite. Three types of homemade bread with homemade butter. Yup they make their own bread and their own butter. And if I had to live of bread and butter ever, I’d hope it would be like this.

Vegetarian Loveliness
Next up was the dish that I wasn’t really looking forward too but that was a culinary delight. It was braised red cabbage with the most beautiful sauce and homemade cheese, YES THEY MAKE THEIR OWN CHEESE. It was beautiful and what I loved most about it is that it was unexpectedly beautiful. Being a fresh produce kind of girl, I loved the way that it was the main component of the dish – No meat, no fish just a really underrated vegetable cooked and served in a really exciting way. Kudos Sportsman, Kudos.

My absolute favourite

Our sixth dish was a simply cooked piece of sea bream, crab bisque and a crab croquette serves on a bed of samphire. My favourite. I loved this dish probably because I love seafood so much but it really was beautifully executed and the flavours were sublime.

Never thought I'd like pork belly so much

Pork Belly followed with some of the best mash potato I’ve ever had in my life. Mash potato is after all my favourite comfort food. The sauce was lovely and I’m not usually a fan of pork belly but this was good.

Hoe cute is that?
Next up was the funkiest palette cleanser– rhubarb ice lolly and cake milk. I love rhubarb and it’s really in season at the moment so the sharpness of the fruit with the creamy sauce just blew my mind and was so fun.

Then I failed as a blogger because I forgot to take a picture of the pudding which was a chocolate and salted caramel tart with blood orange ice cream which was every bit as good as it sounds.

I smiled my way through this lovely meal

Great staff, relaxed atmosphere, quirky, The Sportsman is a gem of a venue serving un-pretentious, brilliant food which showcases local produce at its optimum. Wheelers you’ve got a rival for my favourite restaurant ever. I can’t wait to’s our anniversary in July *HINT*
Go, you have to just go.

Whistable, how much do I love thee? Let me count......

This is such an overdue post.... opps

The man did good. Whitstable was where I was whisked of too for my birthday; and what an amazing weekend it was. We ate at a Michelin starred restaurant (I have written about this in a separate post here), drank in our favourite pub The Pearson’s Arms, ate fresh oysters in the harbour, sampled lots of ice cream, cycled 18 miles along the seafront to Herne Bay and then on to Reculver and then all the way back again and just relaxed a lot. We were blessed with amazing, unseasonably warm weather and I fell in love with Whitstable a little bit more, which I had thought was impossible.

 Our very quirky vintage cottage we stayed in, find it here. Central location and the sweetest place. We loved it. Emma who owns the place was just delightful as well!

The Sweetest bedroom

Best Breakfast table in the world, cutest kitchen tiles as well

Drinks on the beach as the sun set


How beautiful is that?

Cycling...... my bum hurt after 18 miles

The sun was in his eyes!
Fresh Oysters whilst watching the harbour


The Harbour


Yummy Oysters fresh from the Sea

Whitstable, you have my heart – I’ll see you real soon.