Thursday, 30 January 2014

Dinner at La Polenteria



La Polenteria is a brand-new addition to the eclectic mix of establishments on Old Compton Street in London's Soho. It's not very big, but the small size adds to the intimate and homely feel of the restaurant. What also makes this new eatery stand out from its many neighbours is that all dishes served are gluten-free. Many of the options are also vegetarian and some are even vegan, so there is plenty of choice on the menu for people with all sorts of dietary requirements.

The main ingredient in most of the dishes served is polenta, which originates from Italy and is made from cornmeal boiled into a porridge which is then baked, fried or grilled. As polenta consists of just cornmeal with water or milk it is a great substitute to bread and pasta for those who are on a gluten-free diet.


When we arrived at the restaurant we were met by the friendly waiting staff as well as owner and manager Cristina Sparcaci, who had made the special effort to welcome us personally. The lovely welcome and excellent service continued throughout the evening, making our visit to the restaurant a very pleasant experience.

While there were no appetisers on the menu when we visited (a new menu will be rolled out soon) we were treated to a taste of what is to come as we were the first to try the appetising starter shown above. These little bites don't have a name yet but we can say that they are made from a delicious combination of polenta, olive spread, artichokes and cheese, and they provided us with a perfect savoury and slightly tangy taste of what was to come.


For the main course there's the choice from one of the traditional polenta dishes as well as sandwiches and salads. We of course both opted for polenta, after all, when in Rome. My friend chose the vegetarian Burrata with fresh chopped cherry tomatoes. The burrata cheese placed so elegantly on top is made from mozzarella and cream and despite being soft in the middle it held its shape well, which made for a stunning picture on the plate.


Even though I was very tempted to pick the same main as my friend, it looked so very pretty after all, for a full picture of the diversity of polenta I ordered the Pollo alla Romana instead. The initial taste sensation was that of a good stew on top of a pudding. This was magnified by the fact that in the Netherlands we have a very similar sweet dessert that starts off the same as polenta and so the first few bites were reminiscent of that, except savoury.

Once I was able to get past the strangeness of a savoury pudding I thoroughly enjoyed my first proper introduction to polenta. The plates served aren't excessively full yet the meal was pleasantly filling. Eating the homely and warming dish was very satisfying and the denseness of the texture was broken up nicely by small sips from the Prosecco we had ordered with our meal.


Despite the filling qualities of the mains we were easily tempted by the desserts menu and in particular the Ferrero Rocher cupcake which sounded absolutely divine on paper. I'd been craving chocolate all day so the treat had a lot to live up to and thankfully it didn't only live up to my expectations, but even exceeded them. The dense cake was complimented very well by the super sweet and rich icing on the top and the crunchiness of the nuts added a lovely bit of texture to the dish as a whole.

This delectable and intense chocolate dessert alone is worth visiting the restaurant for as an after theatre treat. Though if you can spare the time for a proper sit down meal we recommend the polenta mains as well, especially if you haven't had the opportunity yet to try this Italian dish as once you've had a bite you will definitely want more.

La Polenteria, 64 Old Compton Street, London W1D 4UQ.

Book review: It Felt Like a Kiss by Sarra Manning


My edition: Paperback (proof), to be published on 30th January 2014 by Corgi Books, 480 pages.

Description: Ellie manages a swank Mayfair gallery, but it's her life that’s a real work of art. Great job, really good hair, loyal friends, loving family. It's only her succession of lame duck boyfriends that ruin the picture.

Oh, and the world-famous rock-star father she's never met, who won’t even acknowledge her existence.

Then Ellie's perfect life is smashed to pieces when her secret is sold to the highest bidder and her name, face (and pictures of her bottom) are splashed across the tabloids. Suddenly everyone thinks she's a gold-digging, sex-crazy, fame whore.

Enter David Gold. Charming and handsome David Gold. On paper he's even more perfect than Ellie, if only he wasn't her father's ruthlessly ambitious lawyer whose job is to manage the crisis – and her. He certainly doesn't think that Ellie's the innocent party and she doesn't trust him at all. So why is it that every time they're alone together, damage limitation is the last thing on their minds?

Rating:

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Book review: Last Bus to Coffeeville by J. Paul Henderson


My edition: Paperback (proof), to be published on 23rd April 2014 by No Exit Press, 384 pages.

Description: Nancy Skidmore has Alzheimer's and Eugene Chaney III once more a purpose in life – to end hers.

When the moment for Gene to take Nancy to her desired death in Coffeeville arrives she is unexpectedly admitted to the secure unit of a nursing home and he is constrained to call upon the help of his two remaining friends: Bob Crenshaw, a man who has been officially dead for forty years, and Jack Guravitch, a disgraced weatherman in the throes of a midlife crisis.

They 'kidnap' Nancy and drive to Mississippi in a stolen tour bus once owned by Paul McCartney. Along the way they are joined by a young orphan boy called Eric who is searching for his only surviving family member – an exotic dancer named Susan.

Rating:

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Sunday post #19



Sunday is when I sit back with a lovely cup of tea and write about all the wonderful new books I've received and purchased in the past week. This post participates in fab memes Showcase Sunday and Stacking the Shelves.


A Hundred Pieces of Me by Lucy Dillon (review copy)
A Little Love by Amanda Prowse (review copy)
A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy (market research)
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell (market research)
Flora and Grace by Maureen Lee (market research)
Leopold Blue by Rosie Rowell (competition win)
Love on the Rocks by Veronica Henry (market research)
Rage Against the Dying by Becky Mastermann (market research)
The Vintage Girl by Hester Browne (review copy)



Last week I went to a market research at Orion Publishing (which makes the total amount of publishing houses I've been to in London eight now :)) and we got a stack of ten books to take home afterwards, which was fab! I already put most of them on my shelves but I did add a few to my to-read pile for review, which are listed above.

Because I'm growing out of my room I've also started to do a major clear-out of my things, including books. I'll have about 100 I know I definitely won't read (again) and I will be donating to the library and to friends. Some of them though are worth a few quid and I'd like to sell. Does anyone have any tips of what would be the best and easiest way to do this?

I've considered eBay but writing the ads takes forever and because of high shipping costs people won't bid more than a few pence making it not worthwhile in the end. Amazon only pays about £0.25 for paperbacks (if they accept them at all), and second-hand book shops I assume don't accept recently released fiction titles as they are more after antiques.

The books I'll be parting with are mostly all brand-news fiction paperbacks and hardbacks, some are signed and one of them is according to my mad Google skills sold online for £100+ (a first edition hardcover copy of Man Booker Prize winner Eleanor Catton's first novel The Rehearsal, which is in perfect unread condition and with original dust jacket and bookmark). It'd be great if I can get something back for these, so any tips are much appreciated :)

Anyway, long story short: I got some amazing new books recently and I'm cleaning out to make space for them.

How has your week been? I hope you guys have bought, received and read some lovely books as well! ♥

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Book review: Mrs Sinclair's Suitcase by Louise Walters


My edition: paperback (proof), to be published on 27th February 2014 by Hodder & Stoughton Ltd, 294 pages.

Description: Roberta likes to collect the letters and postcards she finds in second-hand books. When her father gives her some of her grandmother's belongings, she finds a baffling letter from the grandfather she never knew - dated after he supposedly died in the war.

Dorothy is unhappily married to Albert, who is away at war. When an aeroplane crashes in the field behind her house she meets Squadron Leader Jan Pietrykowski, and as their bond deepens she dares to hope she might find happiness. But fate has other plans for them both, and soon she is hiding a secret so momentous that its shockwaves will touch her granddaughter many years later...

Rating:

Monday, 20 January 2014

Book review: The All You Can Dream Buffet by Barbara O'Neal


My edition: ebook, to be published on 4 March 2014 by Bantam.

Description: Popular blogger and foodie queen Lavender Wills reigns over Lavender Honey Farms, a serene slice of organic heaven nestled in Oregon wine country. Lavender is determined to keep her legacy from falling into the profit-driven hands of uncaring relatives, and she wants an heir to sustain her life's work after she's gone. So she invites her three closest online friends—fellow food bloggers, women of varied ages and backgrounds—out to her farm. She hopes to choose one of them to inherit it—but who?

There's Ginny, the freckle-faced Kansas cake baker whose online writing is about to lead her out of a broken marriage and into a world of sensual delights. And Ruby, young, pregnant, devoted to the organic movement, who's looking for roots—and the perfect recipe to heal a shattered heart. Finally, Val, smart and sophisticated, a wine enthusiast who needs a fresh start for her teenage daughter after tragedy has rocked their lives.

Coming together will change the Foodie Four in ways they could never have imagined, uniting them in love and a common purpose. As they realize that life doesn't always offer a perfect recipe for happiness, they also discover that the moments worth savoring are flavored with some tears, a few surprises, and generous helping of joy.

Rating:

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Book review: Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin


My edition: Paperback, to be published on 30th January 2014 by Phoenix (an imprint of Orion), 408 pages.

Description: Max is the perfect son, the perfect friend and the perfect crush for the girls at his school. He's attractive, he's intelligent, he's athletic. He's even nice to his little brother. Max is going to make his parents proud.

But if his secret gets out, his perfect life will be blown apart. The consequences are unimaginable. But someone knows his secret, someone close to him. And that person must not be trusted because he could do great damage to Max. In fact he's already started




Rating:

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Blog tour: Where Petals Fall by Melissa Foster (review + giveaway)


My edition: Ebook, published on 15 November 2013 by World Literary Press.

Description: On the surface Junie Olson's life looks idyllic, from her handsome husband and beautiful daughter to her successful business, the bakery she always dreamed of opening. But in the past few months her world has slowly unraveled. Her precocious child is withdrawing, showing unexplainable signs of emotional regression, a condition that frays the bonds of Junie's once impenetrable marriage.

When her father dies suddenly of a heart attack, Junie packs up her daughter and goes home to help her mother. Her homecoming stirs up memories of the nightmare she thought she had put behind her, the disappearance of her childhood friend, Ellen. Haunted by recurring memories of what happened on that fateful day, Junie must gather the courage to revisit her past and untangle the secrets surrounding her missing friend, and the trauma that has caused her little girl to climb back into herself.

As the pieces come together on the event that shook her small town, and at the risk of losing everyone she loves, Junie will question everything she thought she could rely on and everyone she thought she knew.

Rating:

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Sunday post #18



Sunday is when I sit back with a lovely cup of tea and write about all the wonderful new books I've received and purchased in the past week. This post participates in fab memes Showcase Sunday and Stacking the Shelves.


Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin (review copy)
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (competition win)
Last Bus to Coffeeville by J. Paul Henderson (review copy)
Leopold Blue by Rosie Rowell (competition win)
Mrs Sinclair's Suitcase by Louise Walters (review copy)
Players by Karen Swan (competition win)
Solomon's Tale by Sheila Jeffries (competition win)
Take Mum Out by Fiona Gibson (review copy)
The Book of You by Claire Kendal (review copy)
The Foster Husband by Pippa Wright (competition win)



*waves* Hello! Apologies for the lack of updates but I was in the Netherlands for nearly three weeks to visit my family for the holidays. I came back this week and it's such a adjustment (especially the horrific weather... at least all the rain fell at night in the Netherlands). As a quick update to my last post: I wasn't made redundant (which means my friend was), however, I'm still in limbo as the company in general isn't doing well and we have no idea what's going to happen to us after this month. We just moved offices to integrate us into the head office as we're surrounded by people we don't know awaiting our faith... It's not pleasant.

Anyway... because I was away for a bit there were quite a few books waiting for me in the post when I came back, which is always a nice thing. Except, they all looked so great that I didn't know which one to read first! So I'm reading them in the order I need to get the reviews up. I've just finished Golden Boy, which is an intense and profound piece of writing which I highly recommend. Full review will be up soon.

I hope you guys had a fab Christmas and New Year's and I look forward to lots of book chat in 2014! ♥

Friday, 10 January 2014

Book review: Fractured by Dani Atkins


My edition: Paperback, published on 1st November 2013 by Head of Zeus, 304 pages.

Description: Rachel's life is perfect. A handsome boyfriend, great friends and the prospect of starting at university in a few weeks means she's never been happier. But in a single heartbeat her world falls apart forever.

Five years later, Rachel is still struggling to come to terms with the tragedy that changed everything. Returning to her hometown for the first time in years, she finds herself consumed by thoughts of the life that could have been. But when a sudden fall lands her in hospital, Rachel awakes to discover that the life she had dreamed about just might be real after all.

Unable to trust her own memories, Rachel begins to be drawn further into this new world where the man she lost is alive and well but where she is engaged to be married to someone else...

Rating: