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Meg Brodtmann – Rob Dolan Wines

Meg Brodtmann – Rob Dolan Wines

Episode 31 – Wine and Books

Meg Brodtmann – Rob Dolan Wines

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Rob Dolan Wines is a lovely Winery and Cellar Door in South Warrandyte part of Victoria’s Yarra Valley wine region. Founded by local legend Rob Dolan after 25 years of making wine for some of Australia’s most iconic wineries, this is the only winery which I have joined the wine club of, ever! The goal here is extreme drinkability and I must say, I have tried all their wines and am never disappointed, there is not one which I haven’t enjoyed!

Earlier this year Master of Wine Meg Brodtmann joined the team and I just had to have her on the podcast for a chat! Meg initially undertook a Bachelor of Science (Hons), majoring in Microbiology and Immunology. However, after a few years working in medical research and some extensive travel, she realised wine was a far more interesting career option.

Meg actually started her winemaking journey in Australia with Rob before heading overseas and eventually ending up in beautiful Chile. She became the first Australian woman to pass the Master of Wine exam in 2002 and came back to Oz in 2008 working for wineries and sharing her knowledge and love of wine through education and is now the Education and Global Outreach human for Rob Dolan Wines!

The pairings:

2020 Rose – A fresh and youthful wine, pale strawberry in colour with aromas of cherry, red currant, pomegranate + rose petals this is red currant on the palate, crisp and textural with a dry and savoury finish

I absolutely love Rose wine and was so excited to see this one on the tasting list! It’s such a wonderful spring/summer drink and I have the perfect book to pair with it!

The Other Side Of The Sky by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Prince North’s home is in the sky, in a gleaming city held aloft by intricate engines, powered by technology. Nimh is the living goddess of her people on the Surface below, responsible for providing answers, direction—hope. Below they think the people in the sky are gods. In the sky, they think there’s nothing below. When Prince North falls to the ground there is a clash of culture and confusion. North believes in technology while Nimh believes in magic. North’s and Nimh’s lives are entwined—though their hearts can never be. Linked by a terrifying prophecy and caught between duty and fate, they must choose between saving their people or succumbing to the bond that is forbidden between them.

A beautiful blend of technology and magic this book is super fresh and youthful having only just been published in September and is a Young Adult book. The world-building is so vivid and the characters are lively and fun. There’s loads going on and it ends on a bit of a cliffhanger. It is a really fun read, with great characters and an interesting story which you’ll get through far too quickly and you’ll want more where it came from … just like this Rose!

2017 Black label Arneis – Italian for little rascal, and rightly so, this grape which originates in the Piedmont region is tough to grow but worth the reward. Lean, crisp and mineral with almond notes, this wine is an industry favourite and a cracker for food pairing.

The book I am going to pair with the Arneis is a lot older than the last one I mentioned … it was published in Italy in 1996 and translated into English in 1997 and again in 2006.

Silk by Alessandro Baricco

When an epidemic threatens to destroy the silk trade in France, the young merchant Herve Joncour leaves his doting wife and his comfortable home in the small town of Lavilledieu and travels across Siberia to the other end of the world, to Japan, to obtain eggs for a fresh breeding of silk worms. It is the 1860s; Japan is closed to foreigners and this has to be a clandestine operation. During his undercover negotiations with the local baron, Joncour’s attention is arrested by the man’s concubine, a girl who does not have Oriental eyes. Although the young Frenchman and the girl are unable to exchange so much as a word, love blossoms between them, conveyed by a number of recondite messages in the course of four visits the Frenchman pays to Japan. How their secret affair develops and how it unfolds is told in a narration as beautiful, smooth and seamless as a piece of the finest silk.

This is a slim book, more of a novella even, written by an Italian and set in France and Japan … but don’t be fooled into thinking this small, romantic sounding tale is anything less than stunning! It has those crisp, textural and ripe elements of the Arneis and for such a small book there is so much to it, layers of beauty which will linger long after you finish reading it. It might be tough to find these days but it’s well worth the effort!

 

2017 White label Cab Sav – A deep crimson purple colour with aromas of blackcurrant, forest fruits, bay leaf + cedar and juicy dark fruits and mocha on the palate this is a balanced and complex wine with fine tannins.

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

 A foundling, an old book of dark fairy tales, a secret garden, an aristocratic family, a love denied, and a mystery make up The Forgotten Garden.

Cassandra is lost, alone and grieving. Her much loved grandmother, Nell, has just died and Cassandra, her life already shaken by a tragic accident ten years ago, feels like she has lost everything dear to her. But an unexpected and mysterious bequest from Nell turns Cassandra’s life upside down and ends up challenging everything she thought she knew about herself and her family.

 Inheriting a book of dark and intriguing fairytales written by Eliza Makepeace—the Victorian authoress who disappeared mysteriously in the early twentieth century—Cassandra takes her courage in both hands to follow in the footsteps of Nell on a quest to find out the truth about their history, their family and their past; little knowing that in the process, she will also discover a new life for herself.

This is the first Kate Morton book I read, and although I like all of her books, this is still my favourite. It is beautifully written, with three generations of women telling their story.

Layered, delightful and seductive, this is an atmospheric and compulsively readable story of the past, secrets, family and memory, a book to savour, with a hint of darkness and perfect to read whilst sipping at this delicious Cab Sav!

 
 

 

This episode of Literary Elixirs was recorded via Zoom, please forgive any minor technical glitches!   

Into/Outro music is Mosquito Mojito by Rachel K. Collier. Sourced from Free Music Archive under a Creative Commons Licence.        

 

Bram Presser

Bram Presser

Episode 30 – Author’s Choice

Bram Presser

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This episode I am joined by lapsed lawyer, recovering academic, semi-reformed punk rocker, and now writer and stay-at-home dad, Bram Presser.

Bram’s writing has appeared in Best Australian Stories, Award Winning Australian Writing, The Sleepers Almanac and Higher Arc. His 2017 debut novel, The Book of Dirt, won the 2018 Goldberg Prize for Debut Fiction in the US National Jewish Book Awards, the 2018 Voss Literary Prize and three awards in the 2018 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards: the Christina Stead Prize for Fiction, the UTS Glenda Adams Award for New Writing and The People’s Choice Award.

 
 We talk about our love of browsing bookstores, Bram’s journey to writing a novel, writing a personal history as fiction and of course, we pair some delicious things to some fabulous books!
 
The pairings:  

The Door by Magda Szabo

A busy young writer struggling to cope with domestic chores, hires a housekeeper recommended by a friend. The housekeeper’s reputation is one built on dependable efficiency, though she is something of an oddity. Stubborn, foul-mouthed and with a flagrant disregard for her employer’s opinions she may even be crazy. She allows no-one to set foot inside her house; she masks herself with a veil and is equally guarded about her personal life. And yet Emerence is revered as much as she is feared. As the story progresses her energy and passion to help becomes clear, extinguishing any doubts arising out of her bizarre behaviour. A stylishly told tale which recounts a strange relationship built up over 20 years between a writer and her housekeeper. After an unpromising and caustic start benign feelings develop and ultimately the writer benefits from what becomes an inseparable relationship. Simultaneously we learn Emerence’s tragic past which is revealed in snapshots throughout the book. 

Bram called this the most beautiful book he has ever read, a modern classic, and a beautiful meditation on dignity and how we imagine people to be. To pair with the interesting and complex character of Emerence he suggests a classic Borscht with sour cream and a traditional Pilsner Urquell. 

The Curfew by Jesse Ball

 William and Molly lead a life of small pleasures, riddles at the kitchen table, and games of string and orange peels. All around them a city rages with war. When the uprising began, William’s wife was taken, leaving him alone with their young daughter. They keep their heads down and try to remain unnoticed as police patrol the streets, enforcing a curfew and arresting citizens. But when an old friend seeks William out, claiming to know what happened to his wife, William must risk everything. He ventures out after dark, and young Molly is left to play, reconstructing his dangerous voyage, his past, and their future.

 Bram called Jesse Ball the most exciting writer out of America right now and highly recommends this totalitarian dystopia with its surrealist and strangely beautiful experimental writing. The perfect pairing for Bram is a Corpse Reviver, made with absinthe, gin, cointreau, lillet and lemon juice … ooooof! It is weird, subtle, warm, sweetly discombobulating with a kick!

The Weekend by Charlotte Wood

Three women in their seventies reunite for one last, life-changing weekend in the beach house of their late friend. The four women have a lifelong friendship of the best kind: loving, practical, frank, and steadfast. But when Sylvie dies, the ground shifts dangerously for the remaining three.

They are Jude, a once-famous restaurateur; Wendy, an acclaimed public intellectual; and Adele, a renowned actress now mostly out of work. Struggling to recall exactly why they’ve remained close all these years, the grieving women gather at Sylvie’s old beach house–not for festivities this time, but to clean it out before it is sold. Can they survive together without her? Frustrations build and painful memories press in. Fraying tempers, an elderly dog, unwelcome guests and too much wine collide in a storm that brings long-buried hurts to the surface–and threatens to sweep away their friendship for good.

Justine says: This is a gently written, yet sharp look at relationships, growing old, the secrets we keep from others and the lies that we tell ourselves. I read it in a weekend and whilst the ending bothered me somewhat – because it didn’t tie everything up with a bow – I like that it’s an ending which continues, because these women continue. And the only thing that I could possibly pair with this book would be sparkling wine – given this book is set in NSW, a lovely local Hunter Valley sparkling, sharp and dry just like these women, yet made in the traditional method so with hints of cream and a fullness and body to it and of course it is to be guzzled with gusto amongst friends. 

 

 

This episode of Literary Elixirs was recorded via Zoom, please forgive any minor technical glitches!   

Into/Outro music is Mosquito Mojito by Rachel K. Collier. Sourced from Free Music Archive under a Creative Commons Licence.        

 

Buck Mulligan’s

Buck Mulligan’s

Episode 29 – Whiskey and Books

Buck Mulligan’s

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This episode I am joined by Eamonn Hennessy, owner of Buck Mulligan’s, a Specialty Irish Whiskey Bar and Bookshop in the heart of Northcote.
Buck Mulligan’s is a lovely space with a cosy snug as well as a leafy courtyard. There are books for sale as well as some available for borrowing or reading whilst enjoying a drink. Eamonn joined me to share three of his favourite whiskeys and talk about his love of books and of whiskey!
 
The pairings:
 On the nose this is cinnamon and clove with succulent sweet caramel flavours. Complex
and spicy with sweet American bourbon notes. To taste it is robust single grain spices with a touch of cracked black pepper give way to a buttery vanilla and charred oak taste. It is long and satisfying, ending with a silky combination of oak and barley.
 
Thinking of what book to pair I was struck by the word satisfying and the sweetness of this whiskey.
This epic fantasy tells of a great and perilous quest undertaken to fight evil and to journey across Middle-earth, deep into the shadow of the Dark Lord himself, and destroy the Ring of Power by casting it into the Cracks of Doom. This is a fabulously complex and yet utterly simple story. It is sweeping in scope and world-building, a whole language was created for this world too – Elvish – and whilst there is a darkness within this story there are so many sweet moments to cherish. It is one of the most satisfying books I have ever read.
I couldn’t help myself and chose a second book to pair with this delicious Irish whiskey!
 
 Dr Jonathan Murray fears his new-born daughter might not be as harmless as she seems. Sammy Agnew is wrestling with his dark past, and fears the violence in his blood lurks in his son, too.
The city is in flames and the authorities are losing control. As matters fall into frenzy, and as the lines between fantasy and truth, right and wrong, begin to blur, who will these two fathers choose to protect?
 An intense and complex read set in Belfast this is a thoroughly interesting, if somewhat violent, story, shot through with surrealist or magical realism elements that add a sweet undertone and of course, it’s Irish!
 
The nose opens with the slightest hint of apricot, coconut and plum, before revealing an intermingling of golden syrup and plum pudding. All wrapped in the spicy hint of cloves. Subdued and mouth filling. Orange marmalade overtones with characteristic rich nougat sweetness and well balanced oak. Rounded and well-finished, lingering to the very end. 
 
Eamonn chose a Victorian author to pair with this Victorian whiskey …
This was Eamonn’s pairing and his first lockdown read. The book begins with the question, ‘Must I write?’ What follows is both a chronicle of the images that have endured in the author’s mind, and an exploration of their nature. The clarity of the images is extraordinary, as is their range, from Mandrake the Magician to the bachelor uncle kicked in the ‘stones’ as a child, from the country cousin’s doll’s house to the mysterious woman who lets her hair down, from the soldier beetle who winks messages from God to the racehorses that run forever in the author’s mind, beyond the grasslands, to the place where the characters of fiction dwell before they come into existence in books.
On the nose this is powerful smoke, sweet malt, wet turf, coal. Develops chocolate & cinnamon.

Then we get full-bodied, rich and mouth-coating palate. Sweet gristy malt and rich peat, oak spice & tannin, woodsmoke, bbq seafood. Then coal appears mid-palate. To finish this is very long, sweet and smoky, with the coal lingering longest.

 
The circus arrives without warning, It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. A fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose. Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. So of course they soon tumble headfirst into love.
This book is not as dark and gritty as you might expect to pair with this whiskey but it is beautifully descriptive and is a story which lives in the night and the dark and speaks to the chocolate, the cinnamon, to the sweet, mouth-coating and spice flavours and is definitely a story which lingers. Like the peaty whiskey it’s paired with this is not a book I liked at first, but now it is one which I cannot forget.  
 
Because Justine can’t help herself she also paired this whiskey with The Fireman by Joe Hill …

A book about a plague which spreads through the ash of the fires it causes … perfect!

 

 And Eamonn also recommends the Inspector Rebus series by Ian Rankin as a perfect Scottish pairing with this Scottish whiskey! 
 

 

This episode of Literary Elixirs was recorded via Zoom, please forgive any minor technical glitches!   

Into/Outro music is Mosquito Mojito by Rachel K. Collier. Sourced from Free Music Archive under a Creative Commons Licence.        

 

Michael Earp

Michael Earp

Episode 28 – Author’s choice

Michael Earp

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This episode I am joined by bookseller and writer Michael Earp.

Michael Earp is the editor of Kindred: 12 Queer #LoveOzYA Stories and contributor to Underdog: #LoveOzYA Short Stories. He has a teaching degree and a Masters in children’s literature and has worked between bookselling and publishing for over seventeen years as a children’s literature specialist. His writing has also appeared in The Victorian Writer and Aurealis.

We chat about recommending books, writing for young adults and of course, we pair some great reads with delicious things!
 
The pairings:
 
Identical twin sisters Summer and Winter live alone on a remote island, sheltered from a destroyed world. They survive on rations stockpiled by their father and spend their days deep in their mother’s collection of classic literature—until a mysterious stranger upends their carefully constructed reality.
At first, Edward is a welcome distraction. But who is he really, and why has he come? As love blooms and the world stops spinning, the secrets of the girls’ past begin to unravel and escape is the only option.
Michael asked his YA bookclub what they would pair with this book, but he didn’t like their answer and went with Scones with Peach Jam as he says of this book ‘It’s incredible how much can pivot on a scone …’
 

There are no more monsters anymore, or so the children in the city of Lucille are taught. With doting parents and a best friend named Redemption, Jam has grown up with this lesson all her life. But when she meets Pet, a creature made of horns and colours and claws, who emerges from one of her mother’s paintings and a drop of Jam’s blood, she must reconsider what she’s been told. Pet has come to hunt a monster, and the shadow of something grim lurks in Redemption’s house. Jam must fight not only to protect her best friend, but also to uncover the truth, and the answer to the question — How do you save the world from monsters if no one will admit they exist?

A fabulous recipe made in the book is Spatchcock chicken baked in duck fat with sourdough bread and Michael really started thinking about the sour in sourdough!

We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry

The 1989 Danvers Falcons are on an unaccountable winning streak. Helmed by good-girl captain Abby Putnam (a descendant of the infamous Salem accuser Ann Putnam) and her co-captain Jen Fiorenza, whose bleached blond “Claw” sees and knows all, the DHS Falcons prove to be as wily and original as their North of Boston ancestors, flaunting society’s stale notions of femininity in order to find their glorious true selves through the crucible of team sport. 

This novel is a paean to the 80’s with big hair and Emilio Estevez the order of the day and it’s narrated collectively by all 11 players which is not a perspective I can remember ever reading before. Teen witchcraft slash field hockey is not immediately a genre which I would normally be drawn towards, and yet I knew I would love this book from the moment when the team members pledge themselves to the forces of eternal darkness by signing their names into a spiral notebook with Emilio Estevez’s face on it. I too remember the 80’s and my love for Emilio will never die.

This is such a fun, whimsical and yet fairly dark book but its strength lies in its portrayal of the difficulties of being a teenage girl in the 80’s, as well as the ways in which the 80’s weren’t exactly the best time for girls, let alone people of colour or queer people. And its darkness is really the darkness at the heart of all of us, but most especially teenagers. They are cruel, they are mean but they are also loyal and they love hard It was a joy to read and the ending surprised me.

There is a scene where one of the players, Abby, is eating a raw beetroot on a bus as the girls all talk about sex, her lips are getting stained this blood red and with the witchiness and Halloween references in this I did think about pairing it with a Blood Beetroot Cocktail – which is beetroot lemonade, Aperol and Prosecco but regardless of whatever drink you have I think you’d want to be eating a pizza, your favourite pizza whatever that might be, as long as it’s not too fancy but is oily and cheesy and tasty, it’s what the team would want you to do so that’s what I will pair with this book:

A Blood Beetroot Cocktail and your favourite pizza!

 

This episode of Literary Elixirs was recorded via Zoom, please forgive any minor technical glitches!   

Into/Outro music is Mosquito Mojito by Rachel K. Collier. Sourced from Free Music Archive under a Creative Commons Licence.        

 

Jane Rawson

Jane Rawson

Episode 27 – Author’s choice

Jane Rawson

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This episode I am joined by award-winning Australian author and environmentalist Jane Rawson.
 
Formerly editor of the environment and energy section of The Conversation, she now works for the Tasmanian Land Conservancy, writing about nature conservation, and is also the co-founder of Read Tasmania. She likes cats, quiet, minimal capitalisation, and finding out that everything is going to be OK … don’t we all!
 
Jane is the author of two novels, a novella and co-authored a nonfiction guide to surviving climate change. Her stories and essays have been published in the Guardian, Lithub, Meanjin, Overland, Review of Australian Fiction, Kill Your Darlings and Australian Book Review and in 2017 she won the Aurealis Award for best science fiction for her novel From The Wreck.
 
The pairings:
Winner of the 2020 The Australian/Vogels Literary Award
 
There is a woman, somewhere, here, in Van Diemen’s Land, unless she had died or otherwise departed, called Maryanne Maginn. Gabriel Fox, the young son of an old English house, arrives in a land both ancient and new. Drawn by the promise of his heart’s desire, and compelled to distance himself from pain at home, Gabriel begins his quest into Van Diemen’s Land. His guide, a cannibal who is not all he seems, leads him north where Gabriel might free himself of his distracting burden and seek the woman he must find. As Gabriel traverses this wild country, he uncovers new truths buried within his own memory.
 
For this Tasmanian setting written by a Tasmanian author, Jane suggested a Tasmanian wallaby stew, made with a Tassie Pinot of course, and whilst waiting for it to cook – ever so slowly – a Poltergeist Unfilterd Gin and tonic.
 
 
Brought up by unfriendly, ossifying nuns, ancient retainers, and countless skeletons, Gideon is ready to abandon a life of servitude and an afterlife as a reanimated corpse. She packs up her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and prepares to launch her daring escape. But her childhood nemesis won’t set her free without a service.
 
Harrowhark Nonagesimus, Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House and bone witch extraordinaire, has been summoned into action. The Emperor has invited the heirs to each of his loyal Houses to a deadly trial of wits and skill. If Harrowhark succeeds she will become an immortal, all-powerful servant of the Resurrection, but no necromancer can ascend without their cavalier. Without Gideon’s sword, Harrow will fail, and the Ninth House will die. Of course, some things are better left dead.
 
Everywhere I look by Helen Garner
Spanning fifteen years of work, Everywhere I Look is a book full of unexpected moments, sudden shafts of light, piercing intuition, flashes of anger and incidental humour. It takes us from backstage at the ballet to the trial of a woman for the murder of her newborn baby. It moves effortlessly from the significance of moving house to the pleasure of re-reading Pride and Prejudice.
This book is just filled with gorgeous little nuggets of observation and is so beautifully written. It doesn’t need to be read as a whole but is easy to dip in and out of.
 
I would pair it with a crisp, dry riesling and some perfectly fresh and crunchy salted or pickled cucumber sandwiches.

 

This episode of Literary Elixirs was recorded via Zoom, please forgive any minor technical glitches!   

Into/Outro music is Mosquito Mojito by Rachel K. Collier. Sourced from Free Music Archive under a Creative Commons Licence.