Easy Italian

Chuck out those takeaway menus . . . there's a far tastier alternative to fuss-free cooking to be found in Aldo Zilli's 'Simple Italian Cookery'. This full-colour book offers recipes that are big on taste but low on hassle. Divided into sections that include soups, rice dishes and pasta sauces, meat, fish and desserts, each dish is colour illustrated and reverts to the old-fashioned idea of including step-by-step illustrations to keep learner cooks on track. If you've ever wanted to perfectly sear a tuna steak, create the ultimate tiramisu or get confident with carbonara, this is the bible that shows you how.

Screen saver

With customers from Dublin 4 to the Aran Islands, screenclick. com's DVD library service has certainly taken off.

It's simple . . . log on, create your wish list and wait by your post box. Whether you chose to pay for one title at a time ( 20 per month), two ( 30) or three ( 40), the company dispatches the DVDs for you to watch and return in the pre-paid postage envelope whenever you want. Best of all, join up now and recieve a token for a free 500ml tub of Haagen Dazs ice cream.

Cooking up a rave

By Sunday afternoon those back-to-school blues are starting to creep inf Thankfully, for Dublin's in-the-know clubbers there's a way of keeping them at bay. Al Keegan's weekly BBQs at the back of McGrueders bar in Thomas Street offers just the right balance of beer, burgers and beats from 2pm till 10.30.

With a roster of up to nine DJs (and various random percussionists), the advice is to get there early and bring your bongos.

Straw deal

If there's an enduring accessory from this season, it must be the straw stetson. Everyone from supermodels to muddy festival goers have rocked their summer look with one of these blonde raffia hats. Get with the fashion elite for some 'studied casual' chic. Monsoon Accessories does the perfect version, priced 33.

Story Bud?

Following a successful season of painting Dublin venues red (quite literally) back in June, the Bud Rising festival makes a more high-profile return to the capital later this month.

Four gigs . . . featuring The Chemical Brothers, Basement Jaxx, Mylo, Scissor Sisters, Franz Ferdinand, Kings of Leon, and the Pixies . . . ensure there's something for everyone. And best of all, because the concerts are day-long events in Lansdowne Road and Marlay Park, you can go home to the comfort of your own home after each onef no camping, minimal portaloo action, just the best of what live music has to offer. We have five special double festival passes to offer Tribune readers. That's two tickets to each of the four gigs to ensure you see all the action. To enter, email your name, address and contact phone number to hotshots@tribune. ie by 10am, Tuesday 9 August, with the words 'bud rising competition' in the message box. Five winners will be chosen at random and notified.

Fish food

It's no longer a Friday thing . . .these days, we Irish actually like our fish, as proven by the shoal of specialist restaurants opening around the country.

The aptly named Fish in The Crescent, Monkstown, Co Dublin, adopts a back-tobasics approach that puts more focus on the quality of ingredients than in complicated culinary gymnastics.

Offering veggie and carnivore options, there's also an excellent brunch menu on Sundays from mid-August and an early bird sitting running Monday to Thursday. And kick back to the live music on Friday and Saturday.

Special Agent

In the past decade, foxy lingerie brand Agent Provocateur has made its mark on the bedroom. Turning women into pussycats (and a number of other predatory creatures), its constantly evolving collections of frilly, lacy, ribbony, fringed, peephole, barely-there bits and accessories make being a girl simply the best fun. Now a year in Ireland, its in-store boutique in Brown Thomas Dublin receives regular deliveries of new styles, accessories, jewellery and hosiery.

Many happy returns, Agent Provocateur!

Boxing clever

While it may be ridiculous to be thinking about Christmas already, Microsoft has 'holiday 05' etched firmly on its mind with the launch of the much-anticipated Xbox 360.

This super-slick console heralds a new generation of gaming, with cordless controls, interchangeable skins (the front of the machine), personalised on-line identities, a removable hard drive and free access to Xbox Live (the online gaming community).

Backward compatible with most existing Xbox games, there'll also be around 25 Xbox 360 titles available from launch with promises of plenty more.

Melanie Morris hotshots@tribune. ie