Happiness as Anarchy #174: Life in old buildings

I’m a big fan of old buildings, and I’m not particularly fussy about which era. Old, stylish, beautiful, ornate, well-designed … a few of those factors and my heart is happy. My favourite kind of old building is one that is being used, rather than the museum model. Struan House just north of Coonawarra in South Australia is a fabulous example. It is a magnificent house built in 1875 by Scottish pastoralist John Robertson, and is now home to the Department of Primary Industries and Regions SA (and where I had a meeting this morning – best board room ever!). The splendour and history of the building is only enhanced by the presence of people working in it. If you’re in the area and curious you can take a self-guided tour during office hours.

Happiness as Anarchy #173: Aged Cab Sav

It seems it’s a winey week. This evening, in the most unlikely of motels in regional South Australia, I had the pleasure of sharing a bottle of 1998 Cabernet Sauvignon with colleagues. The wine was not on the list, but on the shelf, and staff had to call the manager to find out how much it was – as it turned out, the same price as the other, much younger, wines on the list. I didn’t know the winery, but we thought we’d take a gamble, and it certainly paid off. A touch fortified on the nose, with lots of aged oak and remnants of fruit on the palate, and incredible length – the kind of wine that hangs around longer than your great aunt Beryl at a family funeral, but in a good way. Delicious, complex, and beautifully aged.

Simon Hackett Foggo Road Cabernet Sauvignon, Maclaren Vale 1998

Happiness as Anarchy #172: Riesling & Dark Chocolate

By pure chance I happened to take a sip of Riesling right after I’d eaten a square of dark chocolate. Quelle belle surprise! What a delightful flavour combination – the fruity, acidity of the Riesling perfectly complements the bittersweet smoothness of the dark chocolate.

The details: Mount Langi Ghiran 2015 Cliff Edge Riesling (from my cellar) with Cadbury Bournville Classic Dark Chocolate (on half price special at Coles).

Happiness as Anarchy #170: Spanish Hot Chocolate

The thick, dark delight of Spanish hot chocolate is a gastronomical experience everyone should have more often. I was entranced by it from the first moment I tasted it in Spain nearly twenty years ago and it has never disappointed me since. Something like chocolate mousse or chocolate sauce but served in a cup, it is the ultimate afternoon tea beverage – rich, bitter, sweet, spiced, and velvety. As it’s hard to come by in Australia, I make my own.

5 tbsp good quality dark cocoa powder

4 tbsp sugar

2 tsp cornflour

1 cup water

Spices to taste: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, vanilla – experiment!

MIx all ingredients together in a saucepan with a whisk until all lumps are gone. Heat on medium, stirring constantly until thickened. Enjoy!

Happiness as Anarchy #168: Performing Poetry

When was the last time you heard poetry being read out loud? Or read poetry to someone else? Tonight I read poems to the audience between songs at my Leonard Cohen gig. It’s such a gentle and vulnerable thing to do and to listen to – just the human voice and beautifully crafted words. With all the beauty and darkness of Cohen’s penmanship.
I recommend this little book of his poems to sooth a troubled heart.

Happiness as Anarchy #165: Toilets that flush properly

Argentina is in a bit of a time warp and one of the things that comes with that is difficult plumbing. I am very much appreciating the modern plumbing of Australia now that I’m home. Press the button and it flushes successfully every time. No need to hold the button down to ensure a proper flush, or to wait around to check that it worked. The good flush is a tiny, quotidian pleasure.