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Five Good Things: what to book, cook, visit and bid for this January

New year, new us? Not quite. We’re back as usual with a bumper crop of blues-busting distractions to keep you feeling jolly in January

Five Good Things: what to book, cook, visit and bid for this January

Contemporary and Post-War Art sale, Lyon & Turnbull (Edinburgh), 11 Jan

In with the old and the new, we say, upon learning that Scotland’s longest-standing auction house is to sell part of the art collection of one of London’s most historic charities. On 11 January, around 11 works belonging to the House of St. Barnabas are going under the hammer at Lyon & Turnbull in Edinburgh as part of its Contemporary and Post-War Art sale. Many of the lots have been donated by the artists themselves, who include Kate Malone, David Shrigley and Julian Opie, as well as Karen Knoor and Afsoon.

The aim is to raise funds for the House of St. Barnabas, which has been helping those affected by homelessness since 1862. In 2013, the charity broke the mould when it founded a not-for-profit members’ on Soho’s Greek Street, incorporating an Employment Academy as part of the endeavour. Participants learn their craft in front-of-house roles, in the kitchen or in the charity’s offices; 68 per cent of graduates secure lasting employment. If supporting such a cause isn’t worth waving a paddle for, we’re not sure what is.

For details, visit Lyon & Turnbull’s website.

Table for Two: Recipes for the Ones you Love’, by Bre Graham, 19 Jan

Is it too early to talk about Valentine’s Day? Probably. Instead, we’ll just leave Bre Graham’s new book, Table for Two, here for you to ponder while you definitely don’t think about what you might cook on 14 February.

Drawing on her celebrated newsletter, Dishes to Delight, which is all about the crossover between food and love, Bre has whipped up a wonder of a cookbook. With heart-warming essays on the likes of the joy of takeaway pizza and the pleasures of laying up for two, as well as 80 delicious-sounding recipes for high days, holidays and quiet days, this charming new cookbook is for lovers and pals alike, as much a bible for boyfriends and girlfriends as it is for best friends. Cook something for your soulmate, your mate or mum. Just make sure you cook something. It’s a joy.

The book, available for preorder now, will be on sale from 19 January and costs £20. For more information visit publisher DK’s website.

Poon’s takeover at Carousel, 19-20 January

Regular Almanac readers will remember our interview with Mei Umei chef Tony Truong last year, who spoke poetically on the power and symbolism of Lunar New Year in Chinese culture. “It brings the people we love together,” he remarked, going to tell us how it “is all about inviting good things into your life, leaving the mishaps and bad parts of last year in the past”.

If those celebrating don’t fancy making Tony’s wok-fried seabass to mark this special occasion, may we make a suggestion? On the nights of 19 and 20 January, wonton peddlers, sauce purveyors and occasional popper-uppers Poon’s will be taking over Fitzrovia’s Carousel, throwing a traditional Cantonese ‘steamboat’ Reunion Dinner, so-called for the big bubbling pots of broth normally served at such family feasts.

There’ll be bountiful bowls of the stuff, ready for diners to poach prawns, pork meatballs, tofu, vegetables and more, all of which will be followed by a customary sweet sticky rice cake called nian gao. “Nian means year, and gao sounds like the word meaning tall,” Amy Poon explains, “the sentiment being that the coming year should be better, higher, than the one before.”

To see the full menu and to book, visit Carousel’s website.

The Decorative Fair, Battersea Park, 24-29 January

‘Shop till you drop’ could be the unofficial motto of this thrice-yearly extravaganza, such is the wealth of wonders on display just begging to be brought home. But for the winter 2023 edition of The Decorative Fair, it seems particularly apt. This time, the fair’s special showcase is dedicated to the fabulous design pieces and curiosities of retail history – think metal shop signs shaped like teacups and top hats, French milliner’s mannequins, and madcap models for window displays.

Beyond the curated exhibition, more than 130 galleries and dealers will be selling antiques both fine and formal between 24 and 29 January. As ever, we’re looking forward to a bit of a rummage. Though where to head first? Peter Last, with his array of fabulous frames? Panter & Hall, for affordable 20th-century European paintings? Or Linda Jackson Antiques, for dazzling silverware? Decisions decisions.

For details, visit the fair’s website.

‘The Art of the Broken’ kintsugi workshop, Studio Pottery London, 29 Jan

The grief felt when an irreplaceable dish gets broken is real. If only there was a way – and a beautiful one, at that – to mend both your pot and heart…

Enter kintsugi, the Japanese repair method that uses urushi lacquer dusted with gold or other precious metals to restore ceramic vessels. The idea is not to hide the break, but celebrate it; to find beauty in its flaws, a story amid the smithereens. It’s a good message for life, really, and one championed by Nishikawa Iku, the founder of Kintsugi Oxford, who is committed to spreading the word about this centuries-old technique.

On 29 January Nishikawa is hosting two classes, introducing students to the principles of and key skills involved, at Studio Pottery London. Participants are invited to bring a glazed vessel to work on before going away armed with the knowledge of how use kintsugi at home. The class costs £129.95 and if you can’t make it this month, there’s another on 25 February. The requirements for your brought item are simple but specific; be sure to check the details on Studio Pottery London’s website.

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