Life and Style

The odds are stacked against the Wright Brothers. First of all, their latest restaurant is in Spitalfields Market, which nobody aged 30 or over should ever be seen near. Second, this is a seafood place, and I've just come back from Italy and Cornwall, where I had so much fish that the thought of another crustacean makes me ill. Third, this restaurant is out and proud about its crustacea – which means you have the dubious pleasure of seeing them fighting in huge tanks barely two metres from the seating area. Fourth, this opening is part of a chain (the third of its kind in the capital, following openings in Soho and Borough market), and your correspondent demands higher standards from chains. Fifth, I am in an extremely foul mood, had you not twigged, having just had my latest in a series of contretemps with a fellow journalist.

Review: Marriage Material By Sathnam Sanghera

The increasing liberalisation of British social rules and values may be good news for women and minorities, but it must make hard work for writers of contemporary fiction. It’s a nicer world in which we can all own property and marry whom we like, but it removes much of the obvious drama from modern life and leaves all the best stories in history. Where would Romeo and Juliet have been if he could have just sent a text message? Or Pride and Prejudice if Lizzie Bennet had gone off to work in the City? Or The Old Wives’ Tale if the Baines sisters had grown up in late-20th-century Wolverhampton?

Paperback review: Roads to Berlin, By Cees Nooteboom (Translation by Laura Watkinson)

Cees Nooteboom, a Dutchman, was living in Berlin when the Wall came down, and this is an acute, searching meditation on that time as well as on the way Germany has adapted since.

Review: The Goldfinch, By Donna Tart

The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt’s keenly anticipated third novel, was inspired by Carel Fabritius’s painting of the same name – a mini-masterpiece whose fusion of hyper-realism and trompe l’oeil blurs the lines between art and life. Tartt’s Goldfinch attempts something similar, but does so by expanding Fabritius’s canvas a trillion per cent. Whereas the painting is modest (the goldfinch is no bigger than a goldfinch), the novel is vast: 771 pages. Yet, despite its scale, this extraordinary work manages to remain intensely intimate, thanks largely to Tartt’s microscopic powers of description. The Goldfinch exults in using three adjectives where one might suffice. The effect in the opening pages is challenging but oddly gripping, as if fictional time has slowed to that of real life.

Paperback review: The Book of Barely Imagined Beings, By Caspar Henderson

Jorge Luis Borges’ The Book of Imaginary Beings (1967) is populated with fantastic creatures from literature and folklore: it contains such strange visions as the Humbaba, from an ancient Mesopotamian poem, whose tail and penis end in snapping snake’s heads, and the Celestial Stag of Chinese myth, a “tragic animal” that lives underground and melts into a “foul smelling liquid” on contact with fresh air.

Lisa Faulkner: The actress-turned-food broadcaster and writer talks McDonald's, sea urchins and roast-dinner cuddles

Winning 'Celebrity Masterchef' changed my life People usually go on to that show to have a nice time, but then go back to their day job. But I fell so in love with the cooking, I didn't want to stop. Since I won, I've worked in a number of kitchens, such as [London restaurant] Smiths of Smithfield, and published several cookery books. It's so nice to be doing a job where I'm not worrying whether the phone is going to ring [with an acting job].

Restaurant review: Gordon Ramsay's Union Street Café is a terrific Italian but what's the Beckham connection?

Union Street Café is not a café, and isn't strictly in Union Street (see address below) but it's certainly the most talked-about new restaurant of the autumn. This, you'll doubtless know, is because it was rumoured that its owner, Gordon Ramsay, the former footballer who once had a trial with Rangers, was going into partnership with David Beckham, the well-known foodie.

Man about Town: The grand opening...of an oyster shell

The British Oyster Opening Championships drew in the UK's fleetest shuckers

The 10 Best kitchen scissors

From pruning herbs to cutting pizza and cracking shellfish, we look at the best ways to cut through everyday culinary tasks

Portugal's Ria Formosa: Spot the exotic visitors as they fly in

Birds and planes are major features of the Ria Formosa. Sophie Lam takes to the water to explore this extraordinary lagoon

Ile-de-Brehat

Postcard from... Ile de Bréhat

Postcard from... Porto

Porto’s Mercado do Bolhao market, the best known of northern Portugal’s capital city, is hugely colourful and bustling. But the two-storey market’s dense, twisting patchwork of tiny sales counters and stalls, offering everything from crates of live hens to wooden domino sets, port-tasting sessions and sackfuls of dujao and mantiga beans, contrasts painfully with the battered building it occupies.

Portfolio: Annie Marie Musselman finds enlightenment at Sarvey Wildlife Care Center

Annie Musselman first came across the Sarvey Wildlife Care Center by happenstance: on finding a sick pigeon wobbling around her home city of Seattle in the US, she called the emergency services. Moments later, she received a call from a man at Sarvey – 50 miles away – who said he'd be there within the hour.

Place the scallop shells on plates, arrange the sea vegetables on the scallops and spoon over a little rapeseed oil

Steamed scallop with seashore vegetables

Serves 4

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