The Lazy Cook’s Dessert: Frangipane Tart

This recipe is all about minimum effort expended for maximum effect. Complicated instructions are all well and good when you have the time or the inclination to use every utensil in the kitchen, but why bother when you can impress with something that is actually dead easy? As a supremely lazy cook (I prefer the term ‘efficient’), frangipane in all its guises has become my fail safe pudding. Anyone I’ve ever cooked for is likely bored to death of these tarts, but they’re so goddamn easy and delicious I can’t stop making them. Here’s how. Continue reading

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Musica a Palazzo: A Venetian Opera Review

I’ve only ever been to a handful operas over the course of my life and I have to say, I’m not mad keen. I’ve tried to understand why so many people are moved to tears by the great tragedies but, opera philistine that I am, I just don’t get it.

I couldn’t wait for Mimi to hurry up and die at the end of La Bohème just so it could be over. I nearly walked out of The Marriage of Figaro in the interval due to the cringe factor of this ‘comic’ opera, highlights of which included some crossdressing and lots of hiding in cupboards. Maybe it was funny in 1786. I almost enjoyed Verdi’s Nabucco and an opera adaptation of Il Postino, but the extended periods of ‘recitative style’ (singing with the rhythms of ordinary speech) made me want to claw my own ears off. I’m all for the arias, the duets and the big choruses, but speech which is sung instead of spoken cuts right through me. I’m not into it. Take me to the ballet over the opera any day. Or so I thought. Continue reading

Far Fom the Madding Crowd: A Film Review

There is no one, in my very humble opinion, who writes more beautifully about the world of nature than Thomas Hardy. Some choose books which allow them to escape to fantasy lands across distant galaxies but my preferred location for escapism is the inside of a Hardy novel. Perhaps not Jude the Obscure, but certainly the green, rolling hills and meandering lanes of Wessex, the semi-imaginary county which features in many of his novels. I do love a descriptive passage about nature, me. Especially when the charming landscape clashes so violently with the human tragedy unfolding within it. I read a Hardy novel every summer. He’s my fave. Continue reading