Well, not exactly, but defying the dark, cold, drink-free theme of most January evenings, friends and fans of Fliss Chester turned out in force to celebrate publication day in the newly converted barn which will become the new shop face of Taurus, the wine company she and her husband run. With an apres-ski dress code, French fizz and fluffy white snowballs adorning the barn/chalet, it was the perfect launch for the clever, saucy fun that is Snowballs! and Fliss's trademark.
A real treat to see Katy Davidson presenting a segment on oysters for this weekend's Saturday Kitchen (iPlayer link here valid until 26/11/17), explaining why there are so many more reasons for eating oysters other than the fact that they taste great. Katy is currently busy organising the first London Oyster Week, which will take place in April 2018 - more to follow on that soon...
In an otherwise quiet August came the wonderful news that Emma Tarlo's Entanglement: The Secret Lives of Hair had been selected as the winner of this year's Victor Turner Prize for Ethnographic Writing. Writing with the news, chair Karen Richman stated that: 'The committee members were most impressed by your originality, innovative methods, experience-near approach, quality of writing, presentation and engagement with anthropological literature and theory... We found your book to be an exemplar of the best ethnographic writing and an important contribution to humanistic anthropology and the field in general.' Congratulations Emma!
Ever celebratory of its county's delights, the Yorkshire Post gave over its magazine front cover to Paul Robinson this weekend, with an interview plus review of Paul's hugely popular Fire and Dine event, which runs regularly at Swillington Organic Farm. Diners huddle round a beautifully laid wooden table, swaddled in blankets (not always necessary!), watching as carefully selected local ingredients are prepared and cooked in front of them over nothing more sophisticated than a carefully constructed fire. See the link for news of further events.
Red Trees, for which Leena Télen co-wrote the script, will be screened at this year's Cannes Marche du Film. In Red Trees, award-winning filmmaker Marina Willer retraces her father’s family journey as one of only twelve Jewish families to survive the Nazi occupation of Prague during World War II. Photographed by Academy Award® nominee César Charlone (City of God), the film travels from war-torn Eastern Europe to the colour and light of South America, and is told through the voice of Willer’s father Alfred (as narrated by Tim Pigott Smith), who witnessed bureaucratic nightmares, transportations and suicides but survived to build a post-war life as an architect in Brazil. As the world struggles with the current refugee crisis, Red Trees is a timely look at a family besieged by war who finds peace across an ocean.
With Nigel Slater away on holiday again, Joe Trivelli stepped in to the Observer's cookery column for two weeks over Easter, serving up a plethora of springtime treats as well as a feast for an Easter gathering. My money's on the Rabbit with Wild Garlic, although a chocolate version of pastiera can't go ignored...
Teaming up with her olds pals at the place where her appreciation of quality food began, Shu Han Lee and London Farmers' Markets are running a cookbook giveaway - see Shu's latest blog post and mummyicancook for further details, and meanwhile, you might just want to try out her claypot mushroom recipe while you're there...
Entanglement continues to pique the public interest, with Emma receiving requests for radio interviews from Texas and Ireland among others, and pieces in the Big Issue and the Smithsonian magazine. Elsewhere the book has been picked up by US Elle magazine and Flavorwire as one of their top books of November, and in the Literary Review Wendy Moore writes that 'Entanglement unravels a story that is by turns surprising, unsettling and disturbing, but never anything less than absorbing.'
Thursday night saw the launch of Emma Tarlo's Entanglement at Covent Garden's Ena salon, where guests participated in lively discussion of all subjects hair-related while sitting round in hairdressers' chairs.
Reviews so far include Nicola Shulman in the Oldie, who describes Emma as 'a writer as intrepid as she is intelligent', commenting that 'it's not often a book gives you new eyes for your everyday world'. Meanwhile, Lucy Hughes Hallett, writing in the New Statesman, sums it up as a 'clever, idiosyncratic book'.
Following Lady Barbara Judge's comments about long maternity leave being bad for mothers, Sophia Cannon took to the sofa of Sunday Morning Live, BBC1's flagship interactive moral debate show. Also discussed on the sofa with Naga Munchetty was the question of whether celebrities should get involved and politics and should we care.
Entanglement author Emma Tarlo began a flurry of pre-publication publicity with an appearance on Radio 4's Woman's Hour on Tuesday, talking to presenter Jane Garvey about the many aspects of the hair industry that remain almost unknown to most of us. A busy day then saw Emma on London Live TV, calling for better regulation of the hair industry, followed by a 90-minute interview for BBC online news. Meanwhile, the first reviews are coming in on both sides of the Atlantic, with the Oldie referring to Entanglement as a 'wonderful book' and Emma 'a writer as intrepid as she is intelligent'.
Leena Telèn, along with her husband Brian Eley, is now confirmed as joint scriptwriter for Marina Willer's documentary Red Trees. Having started life as a short film about Marina's grandfather's escape from the Holocaust to Brazil, Red Trees has now been financed as a feature-length documentary, scheduled for release in 2017.
Korean publisher Yiyaginamu has secured rights to Emma Tarlo's Entanglement, which it plans to publish in the next 18 months - a very fitting deal given Korea's central role in the recent history of the hair trade. And in China, the book will now be published by SDX Joint Publishing Company of Beijing.
This year's Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food & Drink saw Joseph Trivelli returning to cook one of his legendary sell-out lunches. With fellow guest speakers including April Bloomfield, Alice Waters, and Honey & Co's Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich, he was in fine company for one of the jolliest wee festivals in town.
Speaking on Radio 4's The Moral Maze as an expert witness last night, John Morrison put forward the argument for how far businesses should take on and operate with a certain level of moral responsibility, beyond what is imposed by the law, in his trademark calm, considered and confident style - not even Melanie Phillips could unnerve him...
Sophia Cannon will be arguing the case for staying in Europe as part of a Channel 4 News debate on the subject taking place on Tuesday 17th May. With Kwasi Kwarteng among her opponents, it'll certainly be a lively discussion - tune in to see the subject being argued by someone other than the overprivileged white men at the centre of this historical struggle...
How exciting that on the publication of Shu Han Lee's Chicken and Rice she got an Instagram shout-out from none other than Jamie Oliver! With endorsements also coming from Diana Henry and Ed Smith (of Rocket and Squash), among others, it's clear that Shu is set to lead the way in Southeast Asian cookery.
After the success of his autumnal recipe columns in October's Observer, it was great to see Joseph Trivelli invited back to fill the Nigel Slater-shaped gap, this time anticipating the arrival of spring with a celebration of broad bean recipes.
German publisher Dumont has secured publication rights to Shu Han Lee's Chicken and Rice, along with De Fontaine in the Netherlands. We won't even try to guess at what the Dutch title will be, but watch out for Chicken and Rice in all its many worldwide forms!