- Created: 23 April 2015 23 April 2015
- Hits: 2597 2597
We were in Italy a few weeks ago and our dinner partner, a retiring Cambridge professor, held up his glass and said, “I have decided that life is too short to drink bad wine!” I dare say that is pearl of wisdom that should be added to the national curriculum!
- Created: 09 January 2015 09 January 2015
- Hits: 2078 2078
Having been to Istanbul twice in the last 18 months I must admit, the city’s wealth of charm, history, noise, vastness and perpetual motion kept me enthralled for the entire visit. The first trip was to attend a conference a couple of hundred metres away from Taksim Square during the 2013 June protests. Myself and other delegates were unintentionally caught up in the throng and ended up being teargassed by police and running the back streets, identity badges bouncing in the furore. Thousands of young secular Turks challenged brutal police behaviour in an emotional, yet peaceful uprising against the conservative corruption of then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Elderly people banged empty cooking pots with utensils from first storey windows in solidarity with protestors and the adrenaline pumped to the sound of ear splitting chanting.
The second visit was more subdued to the Patriarchate to discuss a potential interview with His All Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew. It didn’t materialise but the next few days lost in the Grand Bazaar and surrounding streets were very memorable. Sitting out on roof top terraces looking over the Golden Horn, or towards the Sea of Marmara, watching the passage of endless ships, felt splendid in the February sunshine. We then took a boat across the Marmara towards Izmir at the behest of the wine bureau to meet up with two leading wine producers and taste their produce. The experience was titivating and rounded off nicely with a trip to the ancient city of Ephesus, home of Socrates.
Why all these memories? Well because retrospectively they felt like a small bit of time travel. I wanted more though. I wanted to experience more of Istanbul, ancient Constantinople. It’s been on my mind and I hope to return this year.
With these latent desires existing just beneath the surface I couldn’t help finger off the shelf a paperback by an author unknown to me, called Jason Goodwin. I was in the Carnegie Library in Herne Hill Road (where I am often!) and the book for some reason caught my eye. I read front cover idly, ‘The Jannissary Tree’, then the back cover and thought, “I’ll have some of this!”
The central character is the decadent eunuch Yashim, humble servant of the Sultan, who is the first call of anyone in the city seeking discreet solutions to problems that often involve affairs of state, life and death, extremely fine Ottoman cuisine and plenty of Polish vodka.
It is hard not to like Yashim, his integrity is faultless, his will weakened by beautiful, either aristocratic or partially nymphomaniac ladies, described in such a way that makes them the envy of Ottoman society (if not slightly dangerous). The edginess from my visit is echoed in Goodwin’s stories as the people, ever risible, present an ongoing threat to the authorities in both the first two stories.
Goodwin’s real charm is to share his infinite and passionate knowledge of a city he knows so much about, right down to inhabitants taste and mannerisms. He does this effortlessly without leaving the reader lingering on the page. The city is brought to life in many forms from the layers of culture to hidden gems such as the ancient colonnaded cistern beneath the old city that is a gem to behold. I had visited it myself but had no real idea of its complexity until reading the sequel to Goodwin’s first book titled, ‘The Snake Stone’.
The books are fast paced, Yashim’s apartment is an envy, his recipe’s inspirational (I think there maybe a book on the way just to present these fine dishes to a wanton fan base!), the colour in every page undeniable and the adventure insatiable.
If you are not a Yashim fan yet, step up to the plate… you soon will be! I am about to start number 3!
*Please note that the carnegie Library’s copy is no longer available as the copy I borrowed was lost during a mugging incident in Zurich at the beginning of December 2014. I will replace the copy but haven’t had time.
Reviewed by Nick Breeze (Twitter: @NickGBreeze)
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- Created: 07 January 2015 07 January 2015
- Hits: 2019 2019
The orientlaist period is one that we at InDulwich find quite ethereal and fascinating... full of opiatic wonder. Here is a small selection from the gallery collection at Darnley Fine Art in Chelsea. If you can't get over to Darnley then at least visit the Dulwich Picture Gallery to get a dose of the treasures that lie within. Everyone needs art therapy now and again!
- Created: 15 December 2014 15 December 2014
- Hits: 3191 3191
The winter has arrived brandishing all kinds of wintry weaponry… the best defence is obviously the cosy confines of the home with windows sealed and glass brimmed with something ruby red, a silly tannic structure and a range flavours that make it an easy going dinner guest or simply a perfect partner for unwinding with festive music.
I walked into Dugard & daughters butcher and deli under the arches in Herne Hill and picked up a bottle of Il Faggio, Montepulciano D’Abruzzo for about £10. This Italian staple red wine is one that is so versatile, soothing and welcome in the evenings, that I urge anyone to give it a go. Perfect for intimate parties (where at least you stand a chance of getting a glass for yourself), home dinners, or just chilling in the bath.
It is smooth with hint of the expected dark ripe cherry fruit and attractive herbs, perfect for a range of wintry food dishes. It really is a winner.
We served this with stuffed pheasant legs, also from Dugard & Daughters, which were both good value and very tasty indeed. A top tip for locals!
Arch 286, Milkwood Road,
London SE24 0EZ
Most important movie of 2014? ‘Cowspiracy’ explores the darkest driver of environmental destruction on the planet.
- Created: 13 December 2014 13 December 2014
- Hits: 3500 3500
By Nick Breeze
As someone who spends a great deal of time interviewing climate scientists and writing articles on what climate change really means for us in our lifetimes, I have often overlooked the minutia elements in my own daily routines that are unnecessarily contributing to the destruction of the Earth’s life support system.
For parents striving to do the very best for their children in every aspect from education to exercise and social mobility, there is now the greater understanding by scientists that the challenges they will face in the next few decades alone will be driven by the impacts of climate change, only currently visible in the form of weird weather or remote extreme climate events.
However, the IPCC conservatively estimate a 2 degrees centigrade rise in temperature by mid century if we continue polluting as we are today. At 2 degrees centigrade we will have already triggered other warming processes within the Earth system that will accelerate the heating further. The predicted impacts on regional climates and other factors such as agriculture, mean that we will see an exponential rise in conflicts, food price spikes and shortages, mass immigration on a scale never before witnessed (and certainly not on UKIP’s radar!!), and much more.
Words like “sustainability” or “global warming” are now so tired, we tend raise our eyebrows in mock fatigue when ever they’re mentioned as if their relevance was a matter of yesterday, as opposed to today. However, our problems have never been more severe and one of the biggest drivers of climate change and environmental degradation, is virtually omitted from the national and even international discourse.
What is this hidden driver? I’ll give you a clue: Cowspiracy!
I am not a vegetarian and neither have I considered any radical shift in my dietary make-up. Over the last few years I took a lead from the McCartney’s ‘Meat-Free Monday’ campaign and started eating much less meat, trying to buy better quality meat and seeing its consumption as more of a treat. Earlier this year I was made aware that eating meat accounts for between 30-50% of a persons carbon emissions.
The makers of Cowspiracy have been very brave in uncovering an industry that is so unsustainable and environmentally destructive that we have to take notice. If we really see ourselves as animal loving, community loving, good and honest people, then this is one issue that will not pass the viewer by without some serious consideration.
In the film’s journey we see exposed how organisations such as Greenpeace in the US are refusing to discuss agriculture despite the fact it is the biggest driver of rainforest destruction in the Amazon (1 acre every second cleared mostly for livestock grazing), also water depletion (staggering amounts of water that go into producing 1 kg of beef), and associated disastrous impacts from producing the feed required for all these animals. The facts keep pouring out of the movie at an alarming rate.
Aside from all this there is also the wellbeing of the animals. One of the lasting images is of the cows being marched around the industrial meat complex, resembling the images we have seen from broken individuals in concentration camps or such like environments. This is surely not the mechanism for how an intelligent and empathetic species sees itself in harmony with the natural world?
I urge you to watch this movie and form your own opinion on the content. The more these issues are engaged with then the more we can encourage a change that will create a better world for the next generation.
Follow on Twitter: @NGBreeze
Review originally posted on Envisionation.co.uk
- Created: 24 November 2014 24 November 2014
- Hits: 2701 2701
A few years ago at the Royal Academy there was a show of Byzantine Icons, many of which had been sourced from the Monastery named after Saint Catherine 5000 feet up near the spot where Moses received the commandments from God. The Monastery itself is now a small fortress and the treasures within have survived their own existential threats including those posed by the iconoclasts where much art work of substantial beauty was destroyed throughout Byzantium. The monastery being so hard to reach was left alone.
Image Source: Darnley Fine Art (Orientalist Paintings Specialist)
The British Artist, David Roberts RA spent a great deal of time traveling through the Holy Land circa. 1839. He produced a number of spectacularly beautiful works that bring to life the whole region. His journey started in the Egyptian capital and he traveled to the Sinai Peninsula and on to Petra in Jordan and on to what is now Israel.
Roberts does perhaps epitomise the “orientalist” period and his pictures are as much a travelogue as they are great art. They bring the viewer in, offering a taste of the landscape, the period, even a chat with the local people of the day; a rounded insight that is cerebral in impact.
The Chapel of The Monastery of Saint Catherine (Source: Darnley Fine Art)
A few years ago I spoke to the artist Maggi Hambling about repeating David Roberts journey in a contemporary context. Maggi said, “Great idea but I am not a topographical artist!” She did however, suggest one of her students whom she described as “brilliant”. We contrived a documentary series in the footsteps of Roberts where Maggi would be the mentor and advisor, offering her own brand of sincere and charismatic advice. I still think it would have been a wonderful journey to take but sadly the Arab Spring was break out just at that time and the whole region became unstable. Trying to consider any documentary commissioner to fund such a project would have been a waste of time.
Maggi hambling sitting on her Oscar Wilde Scuplture near Charing X, London (Source: Nick Breeze)
Provided the treasured icons survive this current period of tumult that is still lingering in the Middle East, we can but hope that one day we’ll be able to travel in the footsteps of David Roberts and taste the landscape and experience that he felt nearly two centuries ago. In these ancient landscapes nothing much seems to change, even conflict is nothing new!
- Created: 19 November 2014 19 November 2014
- Hits: 19565 19565
We are meant to be intelligent life forms, so surely we can make a trip to Gatwick work without it costing billions of pounds (that we don’t have) to get it wrong over and over again?
This morning I had to leave at 5am to get the train from West Norwood to Gatwick via Clapham Junction. The journey via Victoria is £22 (going via Zone 1), so it makes sense to knock £10 off the cost and go this route. Naturally with Oyster touch in and out points at both ends I assumed I could use my Oyster card for this journey. It makes perfect sense for a city like London to offer easy access to its international travel terminals. At least, that what I thought.
After a pretty seamless journey turning up at Gatwick perfectly on train having caught the connection at Clapham Junction, I was informed by a lady guard that the Oyster touch did not work. I was then redirected to the guard at the back where I was charged a £20 penalty. Thus so far, I had paid £15 on to my Oyster and touched in and was now being billed an extra unknown amount for not closing off my journey on the Oyster.
The guard was sympathetic but said quietly that the problem was that Southern rail and Transport For London (TFL) could not come to an agreement on how to divide up the revenue. The sadness in this is that two organisations who ultimately are trusted with making our lives run smoothly feel that it is acceptable to delay a solution that is logical, practical and in the interests of travellers. The end result is that the small things in life amount to ineptitude on the side of those that could do better.
Come on TFL and Southern rail…. raise your game!
- Created: 19 November 2014 19 November 2014
- Hits: 3958 3958
A series of tributes to the war poet who took a stand against the “jingoism” of war rhetoric. A soldier, poet and writer, Sassoon stands out with Wilfred Owen as one of the 1st World War’s major poets.
This poem, Autumn, is a touching and graphically emotive, depicting the “fruitless harvest” that war delivers and comparing the scattered lives of men to the falling Autumnal leaves.
Narrated by Nick Breeze
- Created: 19 November 2014 19 November 2014
- Hits: 8395 8395
I can see why this has won an International Wine silver medal - it’s quaffing delicious!
A nose of ripe cherries and hints of gentle vanilla from the oak. To drink it has more of those ripe fruits, soft tannins, rounded with age and nice balance that make it simple and fun.
The wine is from the little known Carinena, lavished with sunshine like hot kisses that transpire into really easy drinking wine that will make even your most tiresome over chatty friends seem interesting (especially at Christmas when they turn up in spades!).
Tesco have come up with a wine treat here offering great value at £4.99 - buy a case while stocks last.
- Created: 11 November 2014 11 November 2014
- Hits: 2458 2458
Whilst it is fair to say that services in Dulwich do seem to be slowly cutting back, one particular situation that is really worsening is the sabotage of rubbish on collection day everywhere. This is an issue that has serious health implications. Where waste food and other bits are spread around, we cannot expect the bin collection teams to start picking individual bits up off the street.
- Created: 09 November 2014 09 November 2014
- Hits: 2158 2158
We’ve been scouring SE London for decent eggs and have recently hit upon a top tip that you may have overlooked. As with so much fresh produce these days finding tasty food at good value prices is becoming an ever increasing challenge. If it’s not good tasting veg, healthy meat, fresh fish, or even eggs that fling us back to our childhood days of dipping soldiers in yolk… getting the inside tip is what its all about.
- Created: 06 November 2014 06 November 2014
- Hits: 2811 2811
Chateau des Jacqes 2010 is a the hot tip on my lips right now.
This is the season for warm complex seductive wines and this has all that charm and more. Based in the area of Moulin-à-Vent (named after a windmill!), the region is known for richer wines with a more Burgundian style. It’s not hard to be misled here. The wine has farmyard notes and an unmistakable cherry and plum aroma. The tannin is smooth but present enough to serve with all kinds of gamy meats. I actually had this with a very rare fillet steak and oily salad and was in heaven.
The best bit is that it is an absolute bargain at £15.99 form Sainsbury’s. I would have priced this at around £22-25 myself. Get one bottle, or two…. darn it, get a case in to steady the descent to Christmas!
Ch. des Jacques 2010, Moulin-à-Vent by Louis Jadot - Sainsbury £15.99
- Created: 04 November 2014 04 November 2014
- Hits: 1830 1830
Wilfred Owen is the most celebrated of the "war poets" and his work captures the tragedy of war, stripped from glamour and propaganda. One hundred years on, humanity still has much to listen to in the torturous words of these young men, breaking down in mental and physical agony to defend the values of their society.
Dulce Et Decorum Est is the first line of a popular phrase used at the beginning of World War I that translates as "It is sweet and right". The second part of the phrase, "Pro patria mori." means, "to die for your country."
Narrated by Nick Breeze