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KatherineA

KatherineA

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since 08/07/2004

31

Zizzi, St. Albans 24/07/2006

Busy Zizzi

Zizzi, St. Albans Take Pizza Express and Cafe Uno, put them together and then make 20% better and you have Zizzi. My local Zizzi (St Albans) can get very busy but it's worth the noise and clatter for the good food they offer at reasonable prices. ~ Prices ~ Zizzi provides good quality food at reasonable prices. Starters are priced from £3.10 to £4.45. Their pizzas are from £5.30 for a basic Margarita pizza, up to £8.50 for a Calzone de Pesci which contains oak roasted salmon. The menu also contains a wide range of pasta dishes, ranging in price from £5.80 to £8.65, and a small selection of main course salads, priced from £6.85 to £7.95. Desserts are priced from £2.25 for ice cream, up to £4.45 for a Mela Crocchate which is an Italian Apple and Amaretto crumble served with cream or ice cream. It's possible therefore to have a 3 course meal, without wine, for under £15 per person. ~ The menu ~ What attracts me to Zizzi over its rivals is the menu. As well as an eclectic mix of pizzas, there is an excellent selection of interesting and tasty pasta dishes and additionally salads. The pizzas are made with an extensive range of toppings including smoked salmon, anchovies, leeks, baby spinach, goats cheese, pancetta, artichoke, rosemary, crayfish, thyme, dill. I don't usually have a starter if I'm planning on a filling pizza but if you won't something to nibble while everyone else is having their starters, Zizzi offer a dish of mixed marinated olives that is a nice touch and good ...

Pride And Prejudice (DVD) 15/10/2005

Don't be prejudice...

Pride And Prejudice (DVD) Pride and Prejudice is the story of Elizabeth Bennet, one of a family of five sisters in a English lower gentry family at the start of the 19th century. Their mother is determined to see them married and secure because their estate is entailed to pass to their nearest male relative on their father's death. The BBC filmed a TV series of Pride and Prejudice which first aired in 1995 and starred Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet and Colin Firth as Darcy, but there has not been a big screen version apart from and since 1940 when Aldous Huxley adapted a film from a stage version. The Oscar-winning 1940 film stared Greer Garson as Elizabeth Bennet and Laurence Olivier as Darcy. I've seen both the 1995 BBC series and the 1940 film, and for a lot of fans of the book such as me, the 2005 film will stand on how it stands up to its predecessors. I think it stands up well. If the BBC's 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice was all about balls and Chippendale elegance, then the 2005 film is set in a farmyard. Longbourn, the Bennet's home in Hertfordshire, is not a scaled-up doll's house. There is clutter on the tables, muddied hems and shoes, and the window sils need a lick of paint. The sensuous feel and detail is rife. The sun shines when the Bennets are happy. rain showers down heavily when there is a crisis. There is a moment as Mr Bennet hussels a beloved pig through the hallways at Longbourn; another as he lifts a prize plant down from a high shelf. Uninportant in ...

Carthaga (Tunisia) 12/10/2005

Uncovering hidden Carthage

Carthaga (Tunisia) 'Here,' our young female private guide said enthusiastically, 'you can see where the temple would have been-' Having absorbed a hurried account of various Punic wars, I'd stopped listening by then, and was content to gaze down the hill at the modern crouched white villas of today's Carthage stretching down to the sea on one side. On the other, a vista that stretched as far as Tunis sandwiched between its salt lake and the sea. The sky was blue, the sunshine warm although it was January. We were on the other side of the Mediterranean - Africa. Tunisia. And we were on an important hill that for centuries had counted as a critical centre of civilisation. I was determined to see Carthage. 'You want to see the museum,' the helpful lady behind reception at our hotel had said, 'and the ruins.' Wanting to escape being press-ganged into a tour by an over-eager taxi driver my husband and I decided we'd do Carthage on our own. The Carthage ruins are spread out over an area a couple of miles in circumference. We were prepared for some walking. However, the map of the Carthage ruins, given to us at the Tourism Office in Tunis, had the archaeological park marked in the wrong place. We'd walked about a mile in the wrong direction before we realised this, but we'd wandered some way into the real Carthage. It felt like the South of France. Low villas behind walls with lush gardens wound down to the sea. We passed the Hotel de Ville, a 1930s art deco building which dated its surroundings ...

Krakow (Poland) 23/01/2005

A romantic, historic and compact city

Krakow (Poland) My advice - go to Krakow, quickly, before the rest of the world does! ~ WHY GO NOW? ~ Krakow is changing fast and rapidly becoming a major tourist destination. Not only does the city have a charming, medieval Old Town with royal palace and cathedral, the largest medieval market square in Europe, and famous Jewish quarter, but with the museum at Auschwitz, and the UNESCO World Heritage-listed salt mines, Krakow are drawing huge numbers of tourists from Europe and North America. Go now while you can still sit among Poles in the cafes and eat Polish food in great restaurants, before the Poles and tourists turn this place into just another European city. I saw Krakow’s first kebab and pizza-slice shop there last year. And I’m sure this will continue. ~ ARE YOU TELLING ME YOU KNOW THE PLACE? ~ Yes. I first went to Krakow in 1990, just after Poland had become a democratic country. Then it was a beautiful city, decaying, but the bars and jazz clubs were going strong and the main historic buildings were being lovingly looked after. We went to the Wawel Castle then and our guide so it turned out knew my mother from when she had lived there in the 1960s. He took us behind the scenes… into the rooms with the paintings stacked up against the wall because there was no room to show them… out onto a private royal balcony which overlooked the city. In the quiet, away from the tourists, he lit a cigarette and talked about the city’s problems. In 1990 the Rynek Glowny - Krakow's ...

Srtrada, Panton Street, London 09/10/2004

If you like relaxed, delicious Italian...

Srtrada, Panton Street, London Strada is a new concept from the people who brought us the Belgo chain of restaurants. Namely, good quality Italian food in pleasant, modern surroundings without breaking the bank. Wait a minute - haven’t we already got Pizza Express, Ask, Zizzi, all trying to do this exact same thing? I was a little sceptical that Strada would be anything special. Newly opened Strada on Panton Street is only a stone’s throw from Leicester Square which is usually reason enough to give a restaurant a miss. However, it's close to a friend’s office so we thought we’d try it out for a working day lunch. Wooden floors and tables, comfortable looking chairs and smart, friendly staff hit you as you walk in. We were shown to a table for two on the ground floor. The place was nearly full but, because the tables aren’t sardine packed, the atmosphere was buzzy without being claustrophobic. Later, when I ventured downstairs (toilets - very clean) I discovered around another twenty tables, mostly empty. I expected the menu to be the usual pizza and pasta. However, there was a good selection of antipasti and Italian main dishes, plus specials. We were given complimentary bottle of purified water which saved having to order mineral water as it was very drinkable. Though we stuck to soft drinks, the wine list contained a couple of dozen fairly priced Italian wines. I went for pizza – couldn’t resist because the toppings included delights such as Italian ham and rocket – and my friend went for ...

Country Life 16/08/2004

What's your opinion on country life?

Country Life Coffee tables throughout the British countryside are littered with a magazine that has been a bastion reporting on countryside matters for years - Country Life. It’s thick and glossy with pages and pages at the front of property for sale, from whole sporting estates to chocolate-box cottages. Once past the property advertising and into the meat of the magazine, superb wildlife and nature pictures will catch your eye, as well as text from some of the columns and features: …. wildflower meadows under threat… …. government windfarm strategy is off course – sign the Country Life petition… …. organic farmers unconfident for the future… …. today, there are less than 40,000 craftsmen with the necessary specialist skills to maintain our historic environment… What you quickly realise is that Country Life is not simply some rural glossy with pretty but staid articles filling in the space between the property and green wellie advertising. It has an openly political agenda. ~ COUNTRY LIFE AND THE COUNTRYSIDE MOVEMENT ~ Other countryside magazines promote the idyllic British countryside and wear blinkers to some of the real countryside issues and rural concerns. I suspect that Country Life was a bit like this in the past. My personal acquaintance with Country Life started in the 1980s as a child. I grew up in a farmhouse and Country Life was always there, a new and shiny edition every week without fail. My own experience with the magazine consisted primarily of ...

BT Converse 2025 14/08/2004

A brick, but it does the job

BT Converse 2025 I’ve only ever bought a corded telephone twice in my life. The first time was the day I lived in my first student house and we discovered that the previous occupants had stolen the BT telephone. I went into town and bought the cheapest thing I could find. That phone was ugly and awful but it worked for years. Until last year when it finally gave up the ghost. I wasn’t sorry at having the opportunity to buy another phone for our home office which had some of the features that I really wanted. ~ FEATURES (4/5) ~ I choose the BT Converse 2025 because I wanted a corded telephone that was not too pricey but had all the features. In summary, these are: ~ Caller ID display ~ Speaker phone button so you can use hands free ~ Large memory store for numbers ~ Two lines so more than one call can be taken at once The Converse 2025 is designed as a business telephone and so also has a number of features which you would expect, but I don’t really use, including: ~ Ability to conference call ~ Input socket for headphones ~ Data port socket ~ LOOKS & FEEL (3/5) ~ I liked the professional and sturdy look of the phone. I dislike it when you pick a telephone up and the plastic feels slippery in your hands. The Converse 2025 is made of thick, slightly grained plastic and the receiver is well shaped to feel comfortable to use. The colour is very dark grey and the numbering and labelling is in white which is easy to read. The telephone looks professional in an office ...

Recipes for Drinks 13/08/2004

Red wines to enjoy in hot weather!

Recipes for Drinks So you thought summer drinking was all white and rose? Rather than a Sauvignon Blanc or a jug of Pimms, how about pulling out of the fridge a bottle of red wine? And if you thought serving a rose to your friends was avant guard, read on very carefully. What would you say to a glass or two of Burgundy - red Burgundy - well chilled to go with your summer barbecue or supper al fresco? No need to grin and bear the white stuff in hot weather just because. If you prefer red wine, you can drink it. And you can cut a dash and create a point of conversation. Here's what you need to know about summer reds. It's a case of picking fridge-friendly reds. The key is tannins - you want to chill those reds which are low on tannins. Tannins are known for giving red wines their flavour, structure and taste. And, because of their antioxidant properties, they contribute to long and graceful aging of wines. Wines that are less tannic are therefore best drunk young. That's no problem because you want to buy them and drink them straight away. They may lack structure but their youthfulness contributes a noticeable quality - freshness. And a lack of tannins means no dry sensation on the tongue. You can relax and gurgle back these reds as easily as rose. Freshness and fruit, summer fruits. There is a snag with Burgundy, however. Price. I'd save your twenty pounds for a good bottle of something else - or in fact all three of the wines I'm going to recommend. Summer quaffing means ten ...

Everything that starts with G ... 12/08/2004

Put a fork in Scampi1's challenge...

Everything that starts with G ... A. If you'd been born a girl instead of a boy or vice-versa, do you know what name(s) your parents would have given you? Nicholas or Christopher. My mother still “ooos” and “ahhhs” over these names. B. Do you share a birthday with anyone famous? 5th September was also the birthday of Freddy Mercury and Jesse James C. Marmite, do you love it or hate it? Absolutely delicious. I lived off it when I was a student. All those B vitamins… D. What book are you currently reading, or have you finished recently? Several by Linda Howard who was recommended to me by a good friend. I have recommended them as new products to Ciao but so far its weeks and waiting. If you like women’s fiction (i.e. romance and some sex) and thrillers you’ll like Linda Howard because she combines both. E. Have you ever had your name in the newspaper (other than hatch, match and despatch or exam results listings)? Yes, because I write food and drink reviews for my local newspaper. F. What is your local MP called and which party do they represent? This really worries me because I don’t know…. He’s a Labour MP and I can visualise his photo… but… [note to self – get better memory] G. Heinz or HP Baked Beans, which do you prefer? Heinz for sure. It’s what I was brought up on as a kid and so the specific taste is forever imprinted on my tongue as being something good and wholesome. H. What's your favourite slang word for money? ”Notes” or “clicks” seem to be the ...

General: St Kitts & Nevis 12/08/2004

Consider St Kitts for your Caribbean holiday

General: St Kitts & Nevis It’s twenty one years since St Kitts & Nevis became an independent nation (1981) but it remains one of the more British Caribbean islands. They are mad about cricket, have a KFC, a Courts furniture superstore, a Barclays bank and the roundabout in the middle of the capital of St Kitts, Basseterre, is called Piccadilly Circus. I visited for a two week holiday in 2002 on a special last-minute deal with Kuoni (www.kuoni.co.uk) costing £490 per person – 3 Star Room Only including flights and transfers. Visitors from commonwealth countries, including the UK, do not need a visa so its easy to book last minute as we did. To be honest I wanted to go somewhere “a bit different” in the Caribbean, and frankly, we booked St Kitts because, at the time, it was cheap. I checked out the prices for a holiday departing next year – and its still cheap for long haul. A week departing 15th June 2005 with Kuoni using BWIA airlines via Antigua is just under £700 per person, staying at the same resort we did, Frigate Bay: http://www.frigatebay.com/ ~ Our Resort – 3 star but air con, fridge, pool, great restaurant & 2 mins from beach ~ In fact I was very impressed with Frigate Bay. It’s small by resort standards – only 40 or so rooms, so there is one swimming pool but its large and has a swim up bar. We were on a Room Only deal but we found the restaurant in the resort very good and reasonably priced. Breakfasts were a great buffet with tons on tropic fruit and favourites such as ...

Harvester Restaurants 07/08/2004

Butterfly chicken that tastes of plastic...

Harvester Restaurants Let’s say you are desperate: ~ Your stomach feels as if its about to eat itself with hunger. ~ There are no other restaurants or take aways in the town in which you live. ~ All the supermarkets are closed. ~ Your fridge and freezer at home is empty – expect for a bag of oven chips and some supermarket own label fish fingers. BUT the Harvester restaurant around the corner is open. With a table free… (you can't book so you know this via telepathy) STAY AT HOME AND COOK YOUR FISH FINGERS AND CHIPS! Please. Vote with your feet and wallet for – well, value for money. So you are feeling lazy and you’d rather go to the Harvester… ~ WHAT TO EXPECT ON YOUR VISIT ~ I live within 500 yards of a Harvester restaurant, just for the record, so the above temptation is always there. Let me tell you what happened last time my husband and I succumbed: Early evenings, on weekdays, customers at the Harvester restaurant can receive a third off their bills – oh, the temptation was too much one evening when we got home from work and… we hadn’t been shopping for a while so it was only freezer food on the at home menu. ‘Let’s go to the Harvester,’ I said. And idyllic memory of a Harvester I had been to with friends in Scotland YEARS AGO in my mind. Either, I was younger and more naive in the past or Harvester were better restaurants.... I continued, ‘They have a salad cart.’ (I imagine for a moment that eating out is healthy and good for you). ‘Good wholesome food – it’ll ...

Corney & Barrow, London 06/08/2004

What you see is what you get

Corney & Barrow, London Corney and Barrow have been around forever – well, 1780 to be precise. They are London wine merchants with shops in London, Ayr and Newmarket, and regional offices in Berkshire, Durham, Hampshire, Northumberland and Peebleshire. What they are most famous for is the eleven wine bars they have in the City of London which is what this review is about. ~ CORPORATE HISTORY & DETAILS ~ These can all be found at the Corney & Barrow corporate website, a very pleasantly designed modern site: www.corneyandbarrow.com Not to be confused with www.corney-barrow.co.uk, which is the website for their small chain of wine bars. This isn’t clear. I spent a lot of time on the .com site wondering why they was all sorts of information about their regional sales centres but very little on their wine bars. C&B MARKETING, LISTEN UP – sort this out will you – at least put a link to the bars site on the front page of your corporate site. ~ CORNEY & BARROW WINE BARS INTRO~ If you work in the City of London you’ll have heard of Corney & Barrow, and chances are you’ll have visited one or more of their bars. They used to also have a bar in the West End – and excellent site on the corner of St Martins Lane, WC2, which shut a couple of years ago and is now The International – a restaurant. I haven’t been able to find out why the St Martins Lane wine bar closed. It’s a shame because I used to go there a lot – once for my birthday and if you are a wine drinker like me, it’s paradise. ...

sulis.co.uk 02/08/2004

Why buy cotton when you can have silk?

sulis.co.uk It all started when I got engaged to be married and began planning my wedding. My mother pulled a baby pink item of clothing out of a mothballed bottom drawer and said, ‘you may as well have this. For your honeymoon.’ The item of clothing proved to be a short silk nightie. The moths hadn’t got it, but the lace trimming was falling off and there were several small tears on the garment. ‘How old is this thing?’ I asked. ‘About thirty years.’ ‘Okay,’ I replied with a fake smile. ‘Thanks, Mum.’ I decided, though, that silk would be nice for my honeymoon. I would buy some new silk underwear of my own. ~ SILK UNDERWEAR NOT ON THE UK HIGH STREET ~ You would have thought that you could buy silk underwear on the UK high street. Well, no. Not really. I even struggled as my search extended to specialist shops and department stores in London. Nothing. Then my sister tipped me off that she’d seen a silk camisole and boxers in the shop, La Senza. I went to have a look but it wasn’t really what I wanted. I wanted a nightie, and a bra and briefs. Was it too much to ask? Surely someone made them! Then a friend, who I explained my woes to, suggested Sulis. Their name Sulis, means silk, and this is basically what they do. This was about five years ago. Sulis had no website and operated a mail order business. I sent off for the small catalogue and when it arrived flicked through and decided to order a bra and briefs. The nightie could wait for now. I wanted to see ...

Hardys Stamp Semillon / Chardonnay 2007/08 28/07/2004

An Aussie White to Avoid

Hardys Stamp Semillon / Chardonnay 2007/08 Australian wine is not what it used to be. ~ BACKGROUND ~ Five or six years ago, okay, in the UK, you could bet that any bottle of Australian wine you picked up would be very good quality and excellent value for money. Led by Jacobs Creek, and then a host of other brands including Hardys, Penfolds and Rosemount, Australian wine in the last ten years has promoted a revolution in British wine drinking habits. We've moved from drinking French into the New World - for where Australian wines led the way, others followed - New Zealand, USA, South Africa, Chile and Argentina. Hardy's Stamp range of wines includes reds, whites and a rose wine. They are widely available in supermarkets and off licenses and retail around the £5 a bottle mark. ~ POOR VALUE FOR MONEY ~ For £5 a bottle now, they really are poor value for money. Spend that fiver on a good bottle of Chilean (if you like red) or South African (for excellent whites). If you want to buy now, what your £5 was getting you in Australian wine half a dozen years ago, you need to be looking at £7-£8 a bottle. Why? The Australian wine market has rapidly expanded to keep up with the super-fast growing international demand. In short, they have had to drop quality to put enough bottles on the shelves. Not so bad in the mid 90s when harvests were very good, but since 1999 the quality of grape harvests in Australia has been falling. And its the cheaper, bulk quality wines that suffer from this the most. ~ ...

eharlequin.com 28/07/2004

Where I learned to write (properly)

eharlequin.com I asked for this writer's website to be put on ciao so I could write a review because, when I first discovered ciao, I was staggered it was not on here already. ~ INTRODUCTION ~ eharlequin.com I stumbled across last year. I was interested in finding out the guidelines for writing for Mills & Boon, and found Harlequin, which is based in Toronto, Canada, and Mills and Boon's parent company. Not just guidelines (which you will find on millsandboon.co.uk if you are interested) but a whole host of bulletin boards. And not only dozens and dozens of boards, but a real community - including a series of boards under the title "Writing Romance". Now, "romance" means something a little different in North America than it does in the UK. In fact, Harlequin is trying to rebrand itself as a seller of "women's fiction". In the UK "romance" is, aside for a few very small publishers, Mills and Boon, and M&Bs do get into the bestseller lists (check out booktrack.co.uk - the AC Neilsen book retail audit data) but... its not mainstream. In the US and Canada, romance is big business - 40% of retail book sales (source: RWA, www.rwanational.org) - and eHarlequin.com reflects this. So, writing romance? I'll talk about that in more detail in a moment - first let me tell you a bit more about the eharlequin site in general. ~ eHarlequin.com CONTENTS ~ eHarlequin.com describes itself as the "ultimate destination for women's fiction" and, so far as my own web surfing has ...
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