Monday, December 19

Food: La Sophia Click for more info

A halal French! Yay! Although having said that I can't say that I've ever had a particular hankering for French food per se so I'm not quite sure why I find this so exciting.

But still it's always nice to have options. Not that I took advantage of that fact, choosing to stick to the safe bets such as the Oven roasted aubergine with fried halloumi for starter and Linguini with king prawns & calamari for the main. Perhaps it's just my age but it seems that anything more exotic is wasted on me now. The fries were awesome too.

But the food was good, the atmosphere intimate and the service impeccable. The menu as it stood was quite pricey, but armed with a taste card those got slashed in half. All in all there really was little to complain about at La Sophia's - perhaps it's location was a little inconvenient - so it gets a hearty recommendation from me.

Sunday, December 18

Food: Khyber Pass Click for more info

"Of course not! This is the first and only real Khyber Pass restaurant" said the manager, as he pointed to the encircled R in the top right hand corner of his restaurant's logo.

And so we were convinced. Despite there being at least two other Khyber Passes within ten minutes drive of the one we were planning to eat in, this was the real deal, the one that they all copied. Apparently the fame has spread far and wide, with lands as exotic as Manchester boasting their own Khyber Pass. Amazing stuff.

But as interested as we were in the history and integrity of the place, we were there to eat. The menu is nice and straightforward; you order Meat or Chicken Karahi by the kilo and accompany it with rice or naan. We also ordered one of the other two remaining choices for mains, the Chappli Kebabs (the other was a daal dish that I would have tried if the crowd had been different).

The food was more than adequate, although the meat was a bit on the low quality side - a lot of it was fat and gristle and having to dig our way through that kind of spoiled the rest of the meal. The chappli kebabs were pretty amazing though (and of quite a novelty super size), and I would have been more than happy with just those and the decent naans myself.

Green tea and sweet rice were complimentary, and the price was a pretty decent 7-8 quid per head. All in all the place was decent value and a nice place to eat, but unfortunately the experience with the meat was enough to put me off going back. Quite the shame really.

Friday, December 16

Book: The White Tiger, Aravind Adiga Click for more info

The White Tiger proves that a good book doesn't have to be ambitious or challenging to read. In fact, I'd say it was in many ways as easy to read as any teen fiction is, with simple themes and characters guiding the reader along the way.

But this isn't teen fiction, and those same simple themes and characters turn out to be very adult and pretty dark. This contrast between the simple and complex is probably the biggest draw of the book.

The White Tiger isn't perfect though. During the beginning it's a bit of a chore to read as the author jumps around a bit too much, and I also felt that the end was a little too rushed and perhaps even contrived. But overall the book is quite inspiring in demonstrating exactly how effective simple story telling can be. Recommended.

Tuesday, December 6

Book: One Day, David Nicholls Click for more info

One Day is an interesting book. It's certainly gripping and engaging and an enjoyable read, but I'm left wondering why since technically it's not that accomplished. But hey; let's go through this one by one.

The main feature of the book is the "one day" device itself (which I totally missed until the fourth chapter or so). We follow the lives of Emma and Dexter over twenty years by covering what they did during the same date of each. Yes, it's very technical possibly redundant and probably a little gimmicky, but in the main it works pretty well. I did find that at times things moved a bit too fast - you don't really get a sense of the passage of time and if I'm honest I wasn't even considering the fact that a year had passed from one chapter to the next - but maybe it's this weird passage of time that was the point of it, how time does fly quickly once you're in your 20s. The auther did paint himself into a corner at times, but managed to get out by some not so artful "reminiscing", but I did get annoyed at missing some of the important bits just because they fell during the wrong month.

Technically the book was written well, and I don't have many complaints about the flow of it. I did trip up a few times over who was saying or thinking what as I kept flipping from third to first person mode, but I suspect that was mostly due to me coming from Shantaram.

Characterisation was okay, but not great. I fancied Emma, of course, but Dexter was largely a waste of words, particularly as he fell into being such a cliché. I didn't think any of the characters were real people though, and that was a little bit of a shame. I did love how so much of it was set in the places I knew and loved, and there were at least three places in the book that I read while actually being in the actual locations themselves.

Like I said, I did enjoy this book, although that was probably more in a shallow than deep way; a bit like watching a trashy TV show or something. I do think that it could have been a lot more, but despite that it does get a recommendation.

As an aside, my copy of the book has been stamped with a ID, something which is supposed to encourage random and promiscuous passing around of the book. I've registered my reading of it, and will now attempt to pass it onto a random stranger for it to continue the journey - if you've happened to come from there then please feel free to leave a comment and let us know what you thought of the book too.

Saturday, December 3

Game: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (PC) Click for more info

It was difficult not to get a little excited by the release of Modern Warfare 3 a few weeks ago. Despite my lukewarm reviews at the time, I have to concede that of all the Call of Battlefield games I find the time to play, I find myself enjoying the MW ones the most. It's all so gung-ho and heroic, I can't help but get caught up in the excitement.

And so here we go again: simply more of the same slick visuals, gameplay and, of course, scripting we've come to expect from the franchise. The story starts where 2 harshly decided to dangle us, not that I even remembered what happened. But still, it was good to see Soap and Price again. We even have the same dual-protagonist mechanic that made the second such fun to play.

Coming off of playing the recent Battlefield game, I was surprised at how fun this game was - it turns out that all FPS aren't actually the same after all. There's something more arcadey and instant about MW3 that gets lost in those other games. Whatever it is is worth mentioning though.

And that's pretty much it. You'll already know if you'll like MW3, and if you do you've probably already played it anyway. Makes me wonder why I bothered stretching this out to four paragraphs at all.