Posts Tagged ‘book launch’

We are back in France after a week in London to launch my new book Healthy Eating for Life.


Friends from N-S-E & W–some we hadn’t seen for years–came to Blenheim Crescent in Notting Hill on a rainy night last Thursday and were bemused and happy to meet others they themselves hadn’t seen for ages.

The publishing team from Constable and Robinson were out in force; marshaled by my editor Judith Mitchell they sailed round with plates of nibbles–cooked by resident cook Clara Grace Paul from recipes in my book.

It became more than just a launch party–it was a reunion.

In fact it was a blast!

Even the bookshop seriously underestimating the number of books they’d need in place–(they sold out just over half way through)–didn’t dampen the spirits!

Magician Meredith, the mistress of ceremonies, had surpassed herself–the book was on its way!

Next day I decided to give us/me a treat.

I bought Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s newish cookbook.


These two cooks, born on opposite sides in the divided city (one Israeli, the other Palestinian), met in London and have created a revolution in dining and eating.

Their food manages to be sumptuous and simple at the same time–and eminently cookable at home.

On Saturday the treat was extended to lunch at their small restaurant in Islington.


They don’t take bookings so you wait in line;


Forty minutes in our case–but we didn’t mind.

We passed the time staring at the heaving counter of prepared salads, trying to make up our minds what to eat–a mouth watering, morale-boosting exercise!


“Please come forward–we can seat you now”


We’d made our choices–here are mine–and settled down to enjoy our treats.


top left to right: char-grilled broccoli with chili, butter bean hummus with caramalised red onions, green beans and mangetout with red salad leaves, grilled aubergine rounds topped with tahini!


one happy punter sits opposite another!

…and did we!

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First “post-launch” post–we’ve been busy!

Twenty-two friends (many of whom, in one way or another, had helped with the book) sat down for lunch on Friday at tables set end on end under the trees–

Ma's Gazpaccio waiting patiently

–nicely protected from the sun but rain could be a problem and it has been uncharacteristically wet this year.

The skies were scoured for signs, forecasts checked hourly and finally a prayer went up to the heavens.

We were blessed–not a drop fell the entire afternoon.

A friendly sounding hum rose early from the throng–Ma’s Gazpacho was hitting the spot; as was the mellow Tuscan red poured from a 3 litre magnum–a gift from our friends Keith and Helen.

It–“the book”–was launched.

Hope James–the book’s illustrator–was there and I read this out from our friend Eva Marie’s email, received that morning:–

“Her beautiful sketches brought me right back to your cozy home and the French countryside. I am suddenly missing you and Meredith!”

That’s what they do–they bring the book to life.

Chicken was next, with unfamiliar spices–sumac and za’atar–[see part two–tomorrow– for the recipe]

An Ottolenghi special that lends itself well  to large parties.

Marinaded overnight on Wednesday, cooked in three batches Thursday afternoon and gently reheated–stacked in its juices–an hour before we ate it.

Served with plain green beans, a garlicky yogurt sauce and toasted Moroccan bread.

Then followed two lovely surprises–for me.

Fellow Poldark actor Donald Douglas [his chilled cucumber soup features in the book] tapping a glass and rising during the cheese course, meant only  one thing–he was going to speak.

He not only spoke–he sang!

“There is nothing like a Dame” from South Pacific–adapted for the occasion.

“He played Ross the brave and bold

Now here he is grey haired and old”.

Now another surprise.

My old friend George–one of three distinguished judges present–touched me and everyone with his words on long lasting friendship.

What a day!

[A second helping promised for tomorrow…!]

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