Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Back home again

Settling back in after another weekend away. These are champagne problems, I know. My hubby and I had a wonderful weekend in San Francisco to celebrate our fifteenth wedding anniversary. Some foodie friends recommended more restaurants than we could have possibly visited, but we chose to dine at Quince and Delfina, both of which were wonderful.

We also took a long walk from the Marina to Fort Point, just under the Golden Gate Bridge. The photo at left is of the bridge from inside the fort. I didn't have my camera, just my phone, so this is the only picture really worth posting. The rest are fuzzy or lopsided or both.

The weather was gorgeous, and so was the city. And the kids had fun staying with my parents, so everyone was happy.

I'm still full from all of the eating.

I did a little reading, too. I downloaded a couple of the Fairacre series of books on my Kindle, which I started. I got through Miss Clare Remembers and Emily Davis (The Fairacre Series 4 & 8). The Fairacre series chronicles life in a rural English village from the late 1800s through the middle of the next century. Not a lot actually happens in most of the books, but they are full of atmosphere, and I'm enjoying them.

I also started The Middle Place, by Kelly Corrigan, which I'm reading for my book group. It's a memoir about her battle with cancer, and her father's battle with cancer at the same time. I'm enjoying Corrigan's voice, and somehow, despite the obviously difficult subject matter, it's not really a depressing book. It's not just about cancer; it's about being a daughter and a mother, and so far, I like it.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Weekend in New York

I spent last weekend in New York, visiting a friend who recently moved there. It was freezing by Los Angeles standards, in the 40s and raining, but that didn't stop us from walking all over the West Village, Soho and Chelsea, exploring, shopping, and eating. It was a rare weekend away from the kids, in a city I love to visit.

I didn't have much time to read, except on the plane rides. But I did finish David Lebovitz's food memoir, The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World's Most Glorious - and Perplexing - City. I really enjoyed his conversational style, his funny anecdotes about living among Parisians, and especially his recipes. Lebovitz learned the pastry chef trade at Chez Panisse, and writes wonderful cookbooks and a blog that I love to check for recipes. I love how he writes about chocolate, because chocolate is something I can't live without.

So when my friend gave a dinner party for me in New York, I pulled out the book and made David Lebovitz's Mocha Creme Fraiche cake for dessert. It's a dense, chocolate-y, flourless wonder, and it was a big hit, and the recipe is definitely a keeper. I'll be pulling it out the next time I'm entertaining any chocolate lovers.

Now I'm back in good ol' 80-degree Los Angeles weather, kind of missing my New York gloves, boots, scarf and wool coat. Maybe I'll get to pull them out again when we all head up north to San Francisco next weekend...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Book Group Madness!

After a summer's hiatus, and a September's worth of back-to-school events, my book group finally got back together to discuss the passle o' books we've read over the last couple of months. Mocha chocolate chip cookies, pumpkin pie bars, Guatemalan chocolate chip bread, baba ghanoush, stilton with apricots, pinot noir--all big hits. The books were less consistent.

People of the Book, by Geraldine Brooks. This was probably the most successful book with the group overall. Most everyone really liked it, though some had trouble connecting with the present-day main character. I particularly enjoyed how Brooks brought history to life with involving characters and vivid historical details.

Lush Life, by Richard Price. Most everyone enjoyed this novel for its atmosphere. Set among the world of cops and crooks in Manhattan's Lower East Side, it's a novel to be enjoyed for its ear for dialect and attention to detail rather than its plot.

Darling Jim, by Christian Moerk. A horror fairy tale, with a lyrical Irish lilt. I didn't finish this one, but the others in my book group found it to be either page-turning mind candy or really yucky, because of the gory subject matter.

Engleby, by Sebastian Faulks. Okay, I admit it, I did not read this book. I meant to, but I kept forgetting to get a copy. I really enjoyed Sebastian Faulks's book Birdsong, many years back, but the idea of this book, a sort of psychological thriller/whodunit with a remorseless main character, didn't grab me. It didn't grab many of my fellow book-groupers, either. I would say it generally got a thumbs down.

The Help, by Kathryn Stockett. For me, this was a page turner. Almost everyone in the group loved this book. The main character was really appealing to most, and the subject matter really engaging. There was only one dissenting voice--one reader who didn't think the book covered any new territory. I liked it because the writer created some real tension for me--I was actually afraid of what might happen to the main characters.

As usual, great discussion, good friends, good food, lots of wine, and many laughs made for a successful book group evening.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Booking Through Thursday--Would You Lie?

Here's this week's Booking Through Thursday question:

Saw this article (from March) and thought it would make a good BTT confessional question:

Two-thirds of Brits have lied about reading books they haven’t. Have you? Why? What book?

My answer is an ashamed yes. I have lied about reading books I haven't. It's been years since I did it, because at this point in my life I really couldn't care less what books people think I have or haven't read. But at one point it I felt like I hadn't read enough of the classics, and I would just nod my way through conversations about some of those books, not really committing to the fact that I hadn't read them. I couldn't pinpoint a particular book, but I seem to recall pretending to have read War and Peace. And guess what, I haven't read War and Peace. And I don't have any plans to read it at the moment, though I'm sure it's a wonderful book.

What about you, have you lied about reading any thing in particular?