Sunday, 6 December 2015

Eats | Bouillon Racine, Paris

On one of my recent days in Paris, I went with my fiancé (that's another story) for a dinner at one of our favourite restaurant in St Germain, the Bouillon Racine. We had been there some years ago when we first went to Paris, and now almost a decade later, we decided to return.

We booked a table online with ease and were well attended when we arrived. The restaurant itself has a unique style inside - turn of the century, belle époque, with beautiful weaving metalwork and wood panelling. Very atmospheric.

We began with two glasses of champagne - a celebration of engagement - and then had a nice bottle of Bordeaux. 

Starters (not pictures unfortunately) were snails for him and beef carpaccio for me. Both starters were delicious. Second course was duck with a fruit sauce for him and a scallop risotto for me. The duck was juicy and tasty, and my risotto was surprisingly filling. Generous amounts of well cooked scallops, well seasoned risotto with a creamy, shellfish sauce. Perfect.

Dessert was a chocolate mousse for me and a trio of berry fruits ice cream for him - definitely a highlight! We were very pleased with both desserts but the ice creams were so well flavoured and actually complemented the rich chocolate mousse very well. 

We left feeling well fed, not horrendously out of pocket, considering, and like we had had a true celebration. My French is well meant but not always triumphant, but we met with nothing but friendliness from the staff - which is not always the case in Paris.

Highly Recommended.

Bouillon Racine, 3 Rue Racine, 75006 Paris, France,

What I've Been Reading | November 2015

December has suddenly swung into view and it is time for a little jaunt around my November reading! I did quite well this month - 6 books in total, including 1 audiobook, which I was able to enjoy on the line train trip across France.

Running Girl by Simon Mason

This is a YA crime novel, where the young protagonist is a teenage boy genius - but he is also a wastrel and a truant. Uninterested in anything in his life, he fills his days with drinking and smoking in the local park with his mates, until a body is found in a local pond. That body turns out to be his ex-girlfiend, and he determines to find out who has murdered her.

I enjoyed this one despite not really seeing much appealing about the main character. It was quite a long book which was humorous but had some very dark subject matter, and the conclusion of the whodunnit is very dark indeed. It is YA, and it is concerned with teens; the adults involved are sidelined, occasionally unhelpful caricatures. Nonetheless, I would consider reading a sequel.

12 Years a Slave by Solomon Northup

I picked this one up on 2 for 1 on Audible, as I had not seen the film but thought it would be one to read. The story itself is horrifying - a free black man kidnapped and sold into slavery in the southern states of the USA. The memoir style of the writing took some getting used to, and occasionally the preoccupations of the writer as not always what the modern reader would focus on; however, the story is compelling and I am very glad I have read it. 

The Tell Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe

A set of gothic and mysterious tales from the master himself; these were enjoyable as always and a very quick read.

An Expert in Murder by Nicola Upson

Having read 'Fear in the Sunlight' a few months ago, I asked for and received the first book in the series for my birthday. Effectively an introduction to Josephine Tey and her regular characters in future books, this story revolves around the murder of a young theatre goer, who is mysteriously connected with Tey and her current theatre production. 

The mystery is interesting with lots of twists and turns. For people new to the series, however, definitely start with this one first; unfortunately my previous Upson book actually spoilt the big reveal of this one!

Tender is the Night by F Scott Fitzgerald

We were going on a holiday to the French Riviera so I felt it was an opportunity to pick up this novel, one I had never tried before. I actually found it more compelling than I expected, although still, I felt, a rather abrupt ending. Set in 3 parts, we see from 3 different perspectives, and in each part we see that what we thought about the characters, particularly the main husband and wife, is not what it seems. Concentrating on themes of love, lust, mental health and the nature of marriage, this book was an intriguing, if sad, read.

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

The final YA novel of the month, I confess I picked this up due to the way it has been put together. A modern, sci fi update on the epistolary novel, Illuminae is told entirely through reports, chat logs and emails. Set the distant future, it tells the story of two teens who escape the invasion of their planet, only to find themselves trapped on 2 escape vessels with a deadly virus and a potentially made AI computer. Whats more, the 2 teens have just broken up from a relationship, and are each stuck on a different ship.

The story took a while to take off but once it got going, it was very enjoyable. I did not always see the plot twists coming, although the final twist I felt unnecessary. If there are further books in this series, I may well pick them up. 

Is anyone else really getting into their reading groove with the long nights? I have a whole week off at Christmas and cannot wait to get stuck into my ever increasing TBR pile. Happy Reading!