From The Leonard Cohen Food Files: Chili Dog Events

I suspect the list of music icons throughout history who favored Chateau La Tour 1982, Lagavulin single malt Scotch, and various cognacs and also enjoyed a well prepared hot dog resolves to one entry; Leonard Cohen. But, at least three Cohencentric posts attest to the Canadian singer-songwriter’s frankfurter fetish.

Today’s offering features an unrequited request for a chili dog. It’s also a pretty good story about an getting an interview with Leonard.

Twenty-five years ago, almost to the day, I sat in the bar of Toronto’s King Edward Hotel asking Leonard Cohen questions about Art and Life, Truth and Beauty, the Sacred and the Profane. A week earlier, in a different establishment across town, I’d been asking him whether he wanted fries or salad with his chili dog. He’d just come down from the mountain — Mount Baldy near LA, that is, where he’d been rigorously observing an ascetic lifestyle in a Zen monastery — and there he was, in my section, ordering a hot dog and Coke. Fortunately, the restaurant happened to be empty apart from Mr. Cohen and his female companion (the distraction of serving my biggest idol might have doomed my other tables). Not so fortunately, as the chef tardily informed me, we’d run out of chili dogs. After working up the courage to break this news — which (must’ve been the Zen thing) he accepted with admirable composure — I worked up the courage to ask him for an interview. I was a 21-year-old waiter and would-be writer working in downtown Toronto (some things, apart from age, don’t seem to change). The woman I was living with, in a dying relationship, was perhaps an even bigger Cohen fan than myself. When she heard that I’d met Leonard and would be interviewing him at the King Eddie, where he was filming I Am a Hotel, and when it was quite clear that I would not be divulging his room number, she threatened to split up with me. It was one of those let-me-get-this-straight moments: if I refused to provide my girlfriend with the directions to another man’s bedroom, I would be history. But such was the allure of Canada’s “melancholy bard of popular music.” (By the way, Suzie, it was Room 327!)

From Encountering Cohen: A Reminiscence On The Eve Of A New World Tour by Steve Venright. Mondo Magazine: August 15, 2008 (original interview date May 1983).

Credit Due Department: Photo by bryan… from Taipei, Taiwan – 起士熱狗堡, 皇后美食館, Queens Cuisine, 台北, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons.

“[‘Always’] by Irving Berlin was originally in ¾ time, and I turned it into a 4/4 song, and I always loved it.” Leonard Cohen On His Transformation Of Always Via “A Drink That I Had Invented Called The Red Needle”

[‘Always’] by Irving Berlin was originally in ¾ time, and I turned it into a 4/4 song, and I always loved it. It’s very beautifully constructed as a song, and I think the lyric is very touching. So, I went in there with Steve Lindsey, a producer, and some really excellent musicians, and we prepared a drink that I had invented called the ‘Red Needle.’ It’s basically, Tequila, Cranberry juice, and lime, and some other elements. And after I had distributed this drink, and people had sampled it, we produced this track.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

Interview With Leonard Cohen by by Chris Doritos. KCRW, Los Angeles: February 18, 1997. Retrieved 09 July 2014 from LeonardCohenFilesOriginally posted at, a predecessor of Cohencentric.

More information about Leonard Cohen’s Red Needle cocktail can be found at Leonard Cohen on the preparation of his Red Needle cocktail & its effect on recording sessions.


“He Called Me His Dharma Sister” Sharon Robinson Talks About Songwriting & Studying Zen With Leonard Cohen – And His Cooking

Our writing process in general applied to almost everything we worked on. He’d present lyrics to me, I’d work on some music, then I’d go meet him at his house in Los Angeles. He’d make me something to eat first; tuna salad, or he’d scramble up some eggs, or egg salad. He made a great egg salad. Oh, and a roasted chicken! He loved roasted chicken and cauliflower. He’d done a lot of cooking at the Zen monastery. He had a certain very refined sense of hospitality, and he enjoyed when people would come by. Then there would be some discussion of his latest ideas that he was investigating about life and religion and philosophy. Or we’d talk about family and friends. There were these long periods of sort of setting the tone for the work. And then he’d listen to the music, several times, before deciding whether it was something we wanted to move forward with. We studied Zen together, and there were often just quiet moments, with incense and no words. He called me his ‘dharma sister.’ We toured for so long together, and sometimes it felt like we were soldiers preparing for battle. But traveling with Leonard, there’s a quiet, monastic tone to the whole thing. You’re just respectful of his space and his sense of contemplation. He would carry his own guitar; sit in the front of the bus, or the middle of the plane; sometimes he would write, but there wasn’t a lot of hoopla going on. We benefited from his aura. Still, he would always tell jokes—some were pretty corny, pretty dry and always with a twist. Even though his image is that of the very dark, solemn poet, Leonard loved to laugh.quotedown2

Sharon Robinson


From He Called Me His Dharma Sister by Sharon Robinson (Texture)

Credit Due Department: Photo by Marc Roed

Chef Naz – Leonard Cohen’s Caribbean Connection In Fredericton, New Brunswick

“Leonard Cohen, most humble soul I’ve ever met.” Chef Naz of Caribbean Flavas – Fredericton

On May 11, 2008, Leonard Cohen inaugurated his 2008-2010 World Tour (although no one knew it would be a three year tour, let alone be followed by tours in 2012 and 2013 then) at The Playhouse in Fredericton, NB, a venue that seated about 700.

During that trip, he was so impressed with a local restaurant, Caribbean Flavas, that he signed up owner, Chef Naz, to join the Unified Heart Touring Company on the road. As Chef Naz recounts it:

“He’s like, ‘okay I like this lunch … what are you doing for the rest of the week?”

It turns out that Chef Naz, who has catered to a number of music industry stars, was impressed with Leonard Cohen as well:

“He would sit with us, with us! The working folks…And eat, chat, make jokes. I’ve never seen that before.”

The full story can be found at Leonard Cohen’s return to the stage started with a flavourful stop in Fredericton by Jeremy Keefe. Global News Canada: Nov 11, 2016.

Anjani On “If Leonard Cohen Were A Vegetable, Which Vegetable Would He Be?” What Kind Of Cake She Would Be & Her Recipe For Kickass Shortbread

Introduction:In late 2007 and early 2008, Anjani Thomas (Leonard Cohen’s backup singer, collaborator, and romantic partner) and I exchanged many emails, most dealing with serious matters such as her life and career, her relationship with Leonard, music, meditation, cosmos emanations… and others focusing on — well, let’s go with goofy stuff.  The following falls into the latter category.


DrHGuy: A blogger who is both a serious cook and a big fan of Leonard Cohen inevitably asked,

If Leonard Cohen were a vegetable, which vegetable would he be?

I’m thinking something on the lines of an eggplant, but you, no doubt, have a more interesting response.

Anjani: Definitely a cabbage. First of all, it looks like a brain. Second, it’s got substantial weight, and when you cut it open it has those labyrinthine channels and layers tightly packed together. His mind is like that, his work is like that. And third, coleslaw is his favorite salad.

DrHGuy: Extrapolating from the veggie quandary, my next question is, of course, “If Anjani were a candy bar, which candy bar would she be?”

Anjani: Can I be a piece of cake instead? Because I’m not much of a candy eater but I am very big on cake. All kinds, as long as it is great. I won’t sully my love for it by eating less than great cake. I’d have a tough time choosing between fresh strawberry shortcake with whipped crème or the classic chocolate layer with an ice cold glass of milk. And another thing: I had to give up refined white sugar recently, (and this is more information than you asked for, I know) so ideally it should be made with half the amount of Rapadura sugar and with organic ingredients. But in a pinch, if someone’s mother has made it, I’ll just say a prayer and indulge.

I happen to have the easiest recipe for a shortbread that is so divine I had to stop baking it because I will eat half a batch before I can even think of sharing it. So if I were a cookie it would be this one. And just so you don’t wonder the rest of your life what it is, here ya go:

Kickass Shortbread
2 c. room temperature butter
2 c. sifted powdered sugar (I cut this to 1 1/4 cup)
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
4 1/2c flour

Cream butter and sugar.
Sift other dry ingredients and add to mixture.
Roll into 1” balls and flatten.
Bake at 325 degrees for 10 min.
Sift powdered sugar over them if you like.

And don’t blame me if you eat them all.

Credit Due Department: Photo by Dominique BOILE. Originally posted at, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“I was drinking about three bottles of wine by the end of the tour… before every concert. I only drank professionally, I never drank after the concert.” Leonard Cohen On Château Latour & His 1993 Tour

One of the reasons was that I was so wiped out physically by the end of my last tour because I was drinking heavily. I was drinking about three bottles of wine by the end of the tour… Before every concert. I only drank professionally, I never drank after the concert. I would never drink after intermission. It was a long tour. It must have been 60 to 70 concerts. [Interviewer: Why did you need to drink?] I was very nervous. And I liked drinking. And I found this wine, it was Château Latour. Now very expensive. It was even expensive then. It’s curious with wine. The wine experts talk about the flavour and the bouquet and whether it has legs and the tannins and the fruit and the symphonies of tastes. But nobody talks about the high. Bordeaux is a wine that vintners have worked on for about 1,000 years. Each wine has a very specific high, which is never mentioned. Château Latour, I don’t know how I stumbled on it, but it went with the music, and it went with the concert. I tried to drink it after the tour was over, and I could hardly get a glass down. It had no resonance whatsoever. It needed the adrenaline of the concert and the music and the atmosphere, the kind of desperate atmosphere of touring—desperate because I was drinking so much! I had a good time with it for a while, but it did wreck my health, and I put on about 25 pounds.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


Cohen wore earplugs to a Dylan show? by Brian D. Johnson (Maclean’s: June 12, 2008)

What Is That On The Table In Front Of Leonard Cohen?

One of the videos shown at the Nov 6, 2017 Montreal Leonard Cohen Tribute Concert has a scene (see above screen capture) that has occasioned queries from fans about the device being used by Mr Cohen. While I didn’t know anything about the implement, I did know someone who might. And, sure enough, Kezban Özcan (who served as Leonard Cohen’s personal assistant) identified the apparatus as an absinthe fountain. Now, what is an absinthe fountain? That answer comes from the Absinthe Fever site:

An absinthe fountain, contrary to what one might think, is not for dispensing absinthe, but rather for dispensing water. Absinthe is rarely drunk neat, and an absinthe fountain is an accessory used to deliver the required amount of ice-cold water into a glass of the high-proof drink…

To the absinthe connoisseur, however, an absinthe fountain is more than just a decorative water dispenser. As all serious absintheurs know, a quality louche cannot be achieved by merely sloshing water into a glass of absinthe; instead, a steady drizzle is required to witness the exquisite transformation of colour and to accomplish the all-important release of essential herbal oils. Although chilled water may be poured (slowly!) from a jug or carafe, absinthe fountains have long served as handy accessories that help to unlock the beauty, power, effects and true taste of great absinthe.