Monday 9 December 2019

The Pleaure List: Simply stylish new Nigella Lawson

Saucy As Ever: Nigella’s popular cookery books are being re-issued over the next few months, giving us all a chance to remember why we fell in love with her
Saucy As Ever: Nigella’s popular cookery books are being re-issued over the next few months, giving us all a chance to remember why we fell in love with her
Chester Beatty exhibition
Chinese terracotta warriors
Sotheby's: Omega Watch
Puglia food festival
Lost:This 10-week-old pup was found abandoned but has since been re-homed

Nigella Lawson's How To Eat, first published in 1998, is still a classic of the genre; a book that easily gathers both experienced and novice cooks under its wing, with something to teach them all, and a witty, confiding manner as it does so. Frankly, no kitchen is complete without.

So those of us who still consult an increasingly dog-eared, sauce-splattered copy on everything from how to make a simple, fail-safe Victoria sponge, through to baked Sauternes custard and the perfect easy winter lunch for six, will cheer at the news that How To Eat, along with the eight other titles that make up the Nigella Collection, have been reissued, with a stylish new design and durable hard covers.

Nigella Express and How To Be A Domestic Goddess kicked off the reissue, followed now by How To Eat and Nigella Summer, with the remaining five titles to appear in the autumn.

This is a chance to remember, all over again, just why we fell in love with Nigella, and perhaps lay to rest at least some of the recent troubles and drama of her life.

It's the easy, appealing recipes, the absolute conviction - winningly communicated - that caring about food is something wonderful and life-enhancing, and the sense that, were she to be actually standing over your shoulder, she would be as good fun as she is beautiful.

Team Nigella, as ever!

From amulet to zodiac at Chester Beatty

The Chester Beatty Library is a modest name for an exquisite museum, voted European Museum of the Year and regularly listed as one of the top three things to do in Dublin.

The charming, eclectic collection amassed by Sir Alfred Chester Beatty across the course of his life, on the effective principle of what pleased and interested him, then donated to the Irish State on his death, includes Chinese snuff bottles, jade books, illustrated religious scrolls, Old Master texts and fashion plates.

Although the purpose-built home of the collection lends itself easily to a wander, a new exhibition, running until February 1, 2015, Chester Beatty A-Z, From Amulet to Zodiac, showcases a selection of the collection highlights, tracking easily from embroidery to gardens and far more.

Beautiful woodblock prints by Hiroshige and Hokusai sit easily alongside the splendid Qur'an copied in Baghdad in 1001 by Ibn al-Bawwab. And when you're done, the excellent museum shop and Silk Road cafe are the next port of call.

March of time with China’s terracotta warriors

In 1974, farmers in the Chinese province of Shannxi were digging a fountain when they hit upon the tomb of the first emperor Qin Shihuangdi, who died in 210BC.

Before he died, he ordered the construction of a magnificent tomb, including an army of life-size warriors and horses to stand guard over his remains, confident that his dynasty would last 10,000 years and the tomb would be a seat of veneration and awe. Alas, time did what it does, and the emperor and his monument to self were largely forgotten until the stunning discovery.

Declared a world cultural heritage by Unesco in 1987, this incredible treasure can now be seen, in exact replica, at the Ambassador Theatre, Dublin. Over 100 statues and horses are on view, alongside a recreated section of the digging field, and 70 cases containing artefacts, jewellery, weaponry and work tools, in an effort to recreate the China of the first emperor's day. The history of the emperor and his army are related through sound, text and lightshows.

Pick up a puppy at Dogs Trust

'We never destroy a healthy dog,' is both promise and boast for Dogs Trust, the country's leading dog welfare charity.

This is a busy and determined charity, with a careful and concerted programme covering all bases, including a nationwide neutering campaign to stop unwanted puppies and prevent straying, and an education campaign targeting primary schools in Leinster and Munster, teaching responsible dog ownership to 5-12 year-olds (probably the demographic with the most influence in the getting of and caring for, dogs).

Other activities include the re-homing centre in Dublin, where abandoned dogs can be matched with new owners. The latest addition is a dedicated puppy wing, to the re-homing centre, dubbed the Pup-ternity Ward, and recently opened by Minister Simon Coveney. This will help save the lives of an estimated extra 500 pups per year, abandoned by their callous owners, or rescued from the many puppy farms that still operate in Ireland, despite recent changes to legislation.

If you are in the market for a new dog, the Dogs Trust puppy wing is the place to start.

Pulling out all the stops in Puglia Village

If it seems a long time since your last holiday, and longer again until your next, try popping into the Puglia Village, Georges Dock, Dublin for a taste of one of the least touristic but most beautiful regions of Italy.

Running until Tuesday, Puglia Village is a showcase of the traditional foods, flavours, music and hospitality of the area around the heel of the Italian boot. Stalls offer free wine tastings, olive oil tastings, local delicacies, and live demonstrations of how to cook typical fresh Puglian pasta.

These delights intermingle with play areas for children, and a virtual bike ride through some of Puglia's most remarkable attractions - which include the 12th-century Romanesque cathedral with Byzantine icon, the spectacular limestone caves southeast of Bari, Italy's longest natural subterranean network, and Frederick II's striking geometric hilltop castle - as well as stunning white-sand beaches, coastal towns and silver olive groves.

Music is courtesy of various bands and DJs, with workshops showing how to play the most traditional of Puglian instruments, the tambourine, and how to dance the pizzica, an ancient and contemporary dance art. For too many of us, Italy begins and ends with Tuscany or Umbria; here's a chance to look a little further.

Setting the clock at Sotheby's

For many of us, a watch may be the most significant and sentimental link we have with generations past. Frequently bought to commemorate life events such as engagement, graduation or coming-of-age, and bequeathed from parent to child down through the ages, how many of us still treasure a slender, delicate lady's wristwatch, or robust, leather-strapped old Omega, even if it no longer works?

Often constructed to be beautiful as well as useful, antique watches can be jewellery as much as time-keepers. However, whether they have any value beyond the sentimental is something few of us will really know.

Enter Sotheby's, experts in all areas of fine and decorative art, jewellery, wine, books and collectibles, who are running a free valuation day next Tuesday in their Dublin offices, on Molesworth Street, specifically aimed at watches.

Whether simple curiosity or a desire to realise the value motivates you, this is a chance to work out what exactly it is that you have been keeping all these years, as well as learning more about the history of watch-making. Also a chance to observe the possible drama of a real 'find'; like the Antiques Roadshow, we hope.

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