Hello dear Reader and a Happy New Year!
After such a long silence, it was high time we got together for a good start of 2013. Tell me, tell me, what did you read, what did you watch, what delicious foods made you happy during the holidays? My list is so long it would take a few posts to tell you all about it, so to make up for our long absence I chose for you:
one book, one movie and one tasty treat.
« A Game of Thrones » (GoT) is the first book of « A Song of Ice and Fire » by George R. R. Martin, a fantasy series taking place in three different settings with interconnecting plots: The Seven Kingdoms, The Wall and The East.
In the Seven Kingdoms, at the end of the Summer, in a world where seasons can last for years, this book is mostly centered on Eddard Stark, Lord of the House of Winterfell and his family. The plot revolves around his relationship with King Robert Baratheon, and the consequences of his nomination as Hand of the King, forcing him to leave Winterfell for the southern capital city King’s Landing.
In the North, the brotherhood of the Night’s Watch guards the Wall, huge barrier of ice stone and magic that protects the Seven Kingdoms from the wildlings and the Others, nightmarish creatures supposedly haunting the icy woods of the North. Men of the Watch come from all paths of life and swear an oath to serve a lifetime of celibacy and complete dedication to their duty.
Meanwhile in the Free Isles of the East, Viserys Targaryen plots tu use his sister Daenerys (Dany) to reclaim the throne of the Seven Kingdoms that was taken over from his father Aegerys Targaryen by Robert Baratheon. For that purpose, 13 year old Dany is wed to Dothraki warlord Khal Drogo and his barbaric army.
George R. R. Martin skillfully unfolds an amazing saga of love, war and magic, plots and revenge, dragons, wolves and epic quests. Creating universes as rich and complex as Tolkien’s, he transports us from icy desolate lands to luciously green cities and spicy deserts. In these amazing settings evolve a number of fascinating characters, each with their unique personalities, inner conflicts and relationships. As the author takes us from one to the other, slowly weaving the web that connects them all, you can’t help but want to know what happens next, feel the hot wind in your hair as you ride through the Dothraki sea of grass, be thrilled by the sound of the Starks’ howling direwolves or shiver at the idea of what lies and hides behind the Wall.
In spite of its size (700+ pages), I managed to finish it within 3 very busy weeks and am currently reading the second book (« A Clash of Kings ») so I would definitely recommend it to all Fantasy lovers.
Oh, and did I mention there’s a dwarf?
Speaking of dwarves, you must have guessed by now which movie was the highlight of my holiday season: the long awaited (by me at least) « The Hobbit, an Unexpected Journey » by Peter Jackson.
As you may recall, I had read the novel recently in anticipation of the film coming out. Well I wasn’t disappointed: keeping in mind that this is only the first part of three movies, Peter Jackson stayed quite truthful to the book and his few adjustments worked just fine for me. The characters were true to form thanks to some amazing acting (can I just mention Sir Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman and Richard Armitage here) and the decors up to any expectations we might have had after seeing The Lord of The Rings trilogy.
I must admit to having a slight bias as a previous fan of Richard Armitage, who plays Thorin Oakenshield, leader of the dwarves. How Peter Jackson managed to make a dwarf even remotely sexy is a mystery, but I am sure Richard’s deep barytone of a voice and intense blue stare didn’t hurt! I am yet to meet someone who doesn’t get gosebumps as Thorin is joined by his dwarves in a few moving choruses of the Misty Mountains by Bilbo’s fireplace. Gandalf’s facetious nature and sense of humour show perfectly through Ian McKellen‘s subtle acting and Martin Freeman really got the hang of the oh so British and conflicted Bilbo on his life changing adventure.
I’ll let you refer to my previous post on The Hobbit for more details on the story but as a final argument I will only add that after 2h50min of movie, my friend who knew nothing of the story or of Tolkien’s universe exclaimed:
« The end? How long do we have to wait to see the second part? »
My thoughts exactly!
What better way to conclude this post than with one of my favourite Christmas treats:
Chocolate Truffles. Chocolate truffles are very easy to prepare and make a delicious sweet or lovely gift but require a bit of patience (plan at least 2h30). So here’s a basic recipe with a few possible variations.
- 250gr dark baking chocolate
- 20cl creme fraiche (or double cream)
- Unsweetened cocoa powder
In a bowl, start melting the chocolate, either with 2 table spoons of water in the microwave (medium power) or in a water bath (bain marie). Boil the cream in a sauce pan then add to the chocolate. Mix until you get a smooth creamy texture. Let the preparation cool down in the fridge for about 1h30.
Once the mix is thick enough (hard), spread some cocoa powder on a plate, use tea spoons to make small balls of chocolate and roll them in the cocoa power. Your truffles are ready! You can present them in little paper cases.
Traditional recipes include 1 or 2 tea spoons of liquor or rhum. You can also replace the cocoa powder with grated coconut – I ran out of cocoa this Christmas and even tried almond powder which nicely counterbalances the very sweet chocolate mix. How about white chocolate truffles? Just let your taste buds fuel your imagination!
So, what book, movie and/or food was the highlight of YOUR holidays? Come one, share, we’re REALLY curious!