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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Foodie Sunday: How to enjoy a bumper crop of tomatoes and a spicy prize draw!

By Beth

What to do with all of the wonderful tomatoes that are beginning to come into season? I find that I simply can’t resist them! Every year I plant way too many varieties and every year I’m blessed with the same results…a bumper crop of so many wonderful tomatoes that by the end of the season I’m giving away bushels and I still have almost too many left. I love fresh vine ripened tomatoes and I’m spoiled…. I pretty much refuse to have anything to do with that luscious red fruit (Yes the tomato IS a fruit!) at any other time of the year. The fragrance of a tomato plant is incredible, I hardy know how to describe it. I love running my fingers across the leaves and I've often said that if I could find a perfume that smelled like the freshly crushed stems that I would wear it forever. Any suggestions? The closest I've found is the room diffuser in "Tomato Vine" by Saint Parfum. It was incredible to walk into my bedroom all winter long when it was so icy outside just to smell the warmth of summer vine ripened tomatoes at my bedside...bliss!

I eat tomatoes during the hot summer months practically everyday and my favorite summer meal consists of sun warmed slices and fresh burrata cheese drizzled with white truffled olive oil and lemon juice and then dusted with sea salt, cracked pepper and served on a bed of arugula. My favorite comfort food breakfast? Open faced toasted cheese on white toast with tomatoes. I think that this is left over from my childhood, when my mother (who was bit of a Dixie Chick) used to make me my favorite open faced grilled cheese with tomatoes and bacon on toast for breakfast everyday before I went to school!

I can remember being a little girl,crawling out of bed and sitting in the kitchen still in my pajamas watching her make it. There was one radiator in particular that was warmer than the others and I loved sitting by it. My mother’s kitchen was so cozy and warm and she’d always bring me a steaming cup of tea and that wonderful sandwich on a pretty Spode plate. It was the very thing that kept me warm inside while I waited outside for the bus on those cold, dark wintry mornings!

If you want to try this, it’s really a very simple and satisfying sandwich to make. Just spread a piece of Pepperidge Farm white bread with a bit of mayonnaise that you've mixed with some fine herbes and a little bit of minced fresh garlic. Put several slices of tomato that you salted lightly and top with several slices of American cheese. Put the whole thing under the broiler for a few minutes and you've got the oozy, gooey toasted cheese that you remember. Add bacon or thinly sliced ham or turkey… Delicious! Add some homemade tomato basil soup ( or even Campbells) and it doesn't get much better! Another favorite? White toast spread lightly with salted butter and layered with thinly sliced rare roast beef, thinly sliced red onion, a wee bit of goat cheese and a spoonful of olive tapenade. Perfect for tea or anytime!

We've reached 103 in the shade here in Northeast Ohio so toasted cheese definitely wasn’t on the menu today! The sandwich shown above was though and it was wonderful and vegan too! Ezekiel sprouted bread,rice "Cheese", Vegannaise , freshly picked vine ripened tomatoes and those flowers are peppery edible nasturtiums also from my garden, chives and fresh basil too! I dusted the whole thing with a bit of sea salt and ate it with absolute pleasure! Quick, Delicious and so very good for you!

Tonight's meals is simple too....juicy diced tomatoes and cucumber and sliced onions with torn pieces of a day old baguette, fresh olive oil, sea salt ,pepper ,garlic and lots more of my fresh genovese basil all tossed together into a bowl with a sparkling of chopped almonds on top. On Wednesday we had freshly steamed zucchini tossed with diced tomatoes, onions and garnished with lemon verbena and fresh basil!

Tomorrow? Gazpacho! Tuesday? A huge pot of sauce for some homemade pasta! Fried green tomatoes? Everyday if I can...

Bacon Bloody Mary’s with bacon flavored vodka, garden fresh tomato juice, a bit of pickle juice , olives, horseradish, some special seasoning and a perfectly grilled strip of bacon ? Well - when isn’t it time for a Bloody Mary? Put a raw oyster in the bottom of a shot glass and add a bit of this intoxicating mix....shooters anyone?

My favorite presents this year will definitely be my new freezer and foodsaver vacuum storage units, a fairly selfish ( in the best way) gift from my delightful and always hungry husband. I went a little bit wild with my garden and I'm going to need them. Nothing is better then eating freshly steamed sweet corn that's frozen at the peak of freshness on a cold winters day or serving succotash on Thanksgiving that you made in August with that same sweet corn and crop of tomatoes! My favorite variety of tomato is the Black Krim which is a delightfully dusky smelling heirloom with thick juicy lobes. I also love the zebra striped ones and the huge oxheart varieties. If you're interested in learning about heirloom varieties go to , a wonderful organization devoted to saving seeds and plants and educating us about all of the lovely vegetables and fruits that we CAN eat, not just the one or two common varieties that we find in our markets everyday. 

So tell me...what's your favorite way to enjoy a fresh tomato? Mine's directly out of the garden eaten like an apple with only a bit of salt! Enter your favorite way to enjoy garden fresh tomatoes and I’ll enter you into a drawing for a jar of my favorite Bloody Mary spices so that you can make your own for your next brunch!

Have a fabulous Foodie Sunday y'all!

Pictures by Beth Schreibman Gehring/all rights reserved

PS. the winner of the Royal Bermuda Yacht club drawing is Joanna

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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Memories –Comme Des Garcons Series 3 Incense Avignon

I used to go o church every Sunday as a child, and on high holidays like Christmas or Easter I went for up to five days in a row. (Easter is a busy time for Catholics.)

There were times when I protested, but mostly I just went to avoid strife and because, later on, I found ways to enjoy myself like playing the violin in the church orchestra or singing in the choir. Making music in church was great. Also, I was a Girl Guide and we all had parents who sent us to church regularly, so we teamed up and together it was almost a party, albeit a quiet one of whispered conversations an hushed giggling in the back rows.

Catholicism played a huge role in my childhood and the scent of incense is closely bound with those memories. But many incense fragrances I like evoke the outdoors (like Tauer Incense Extreme or Armani Privè Bois d’Encens), are calmly meditative (like CdG Kyoto or Heeley Cardinal) or combined with other interesting materials and thus deflecting my associations away from incense that was used in the church of my youth.

Not so Avignon. Avignon is the incense of Sundays past, the direct path into my memories, one spray of Avignon and I see our beloved, old, now passed away, priest standing there and swinging the censer. All the smells, bells and costumes are instantly back with a whiff ofAvignon.

Created by none other than Bertrand Duchaufour in 2002, Avignon includes notes of Roman chamomile, cistus oil, elemi, incense, vanilla, patchouli, palisander and ambrette seeds.

Avignon opens with incense and myrrh, deep, somber, holy. It widens into a dark resinous heart, rich and smoky, later it calms considerably drying down to a woody incense with a hint of vanilla on the edges.

For me it is all there: the old wooden pews, the cool, slightly stale air, the incense of course, the burning candles, the flowers on the altar and the many, many people in their Sunday best avidly listening, thinking of entirely wordly matters or some even silently asleep.

What I liked best during a service, when I was still a small child and had not yet grown into my other in-mass occupations, was looking at people. It was very interesting to watch their behavior, watch their faces and imagine their stories.

There was “Bear-Man”, a huge older man, with the stature of a boxer and the nose to match, was very fascinating in that he managed to irritate many a pious woman in his vicinity with his incessant and completely unapologetic snoring. He was fast asleep during most of the early eighties, as far as I could see.

Then there was a woman I called “Die schöne Helena” in my head, because I thought she was exactly like Helen of Troy, the most beautiful woman in history. I had read about her and was fascinated with her beauty and power over men. The Helena in my church was standing out of the crowd, when she entered the church, a hush fell over the crowd, men and women alike, although for entirely different reasons, stared at her and followed her down the aisle with their gazes. So did I. One time she sat in the row before me and my family. She was wearing a red coat and a black fur shawl. Her long blonde hair was open and flowed down her back. My mother looked slightly scandalized whenever Helena swung back her mane of golden hair. I remember wanting to touch it and sitting in an undecided agony of tension for the entire service. Every time she swung her hair over her shoulders, I got a whiff of the most delicate scent, soft and flowery. I decided then and there that I wanted to grow my hair long. This was a point of endless discussions with my mother from then on. As soon as she could not object any more I grew my hair long, and wear it long still. I wish I could see Helena now, I bet she grew old in style.

I could go on and on, but realizing this is a perfume review (in theory) and not my memoir, I’d better get back to the subject at hand – Avignon.

Avignon is cool, deep and dignified. It is not something you apply without second thought, at least I can’t, when I wear it, it is an occasion to be marked.

Avignon is an outstanding fragrance, longlasting, well-made, the reference incense, a necessary part of any Perfumistas collection. But that is just my opinion.

Image source:,

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Fairchild by Anya's Garden

By Tom

Anyone who thinks that natural perfumes aren't as rich, as lush or as transportive as ones made with commercial synthetics have never tried scents like the ones created by Anya McCoy. There several of hers that I really love. Fairchild is one of them, even if it isn't really me.

Fairchild is all about the tropics: a technicolor tropics straight out of an MGM musical, one of those lush ones with Dorothy Lamour in a sarong. It's all lush jasmine and citrus blooms and salty waves. Unlike some other scents that try to do the south-seas vibe, there's no cliché coconut, no eau de Coppertone. What there is there is an incredible richness that makes me think of a 40's scent, but not with a lot of throw. You have to lean into this one. Trust me, you'll want to.

Maybe this is me after all..

$100 for 15ML. I sampled from her website ($7 for .5ML)

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Summer Of Patchouli Love, Part Three: The Teacher’s Pets – And A Prize Draw

By Donna

Perfume-Smellin’ Things has been invited to participate in one of the biggest group blogging projects to date, and certainly the most complex one that I have ever been involved with. Monica Miller of Skye Botanicals and the Perfume Pharmer blog has coordinated a truly impressive array of natural perfumers, testers (“The Patch Test Bunnies”), judges including our own Marina who owns Perfume Smellin’ Things, and even celebrity participants, all centered on one concept: Thirteen natural perfumers were challenged to create a an alcohol-based fragrance in Eau de Parfum (at least 15% oils concentration) with at least 25% pure patchouli essential oil in the mix. In Part One of this series I explored the cooler and greener perfumes in the range, in Part Two, The Rebels, I wrote about the ones that did not work for me, the ones who defy authority and just won’t play nice. In this the final chapter, I am revealing my top three, the Teacher’s Pets, plus the closest runner-up, I guess you could call them the valedictorian and salutatorians. These were the entries that answered all the answers correctly, so to speak.

The fragrance that landed in fourth place was Number Eleven, which was later revealed to be a creation of one of my favorite perfumers, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz of DSH Perfumes, and it has now been named Bodhi Sativa. It is a very serene, calming scent, minty “tea with milk” on me with a slightly sweetened gourmand aura to start, and later the tea subsides as the fragrance gets richer and warmer without becoming overly sweet or strong, and it’s as elegant as a polished stone. I enjoyed this fragrance very much and Dawn’s expert hand is apparent in the balanced execution. In fact it was this subtlety and smoothness that caused it to not quite make the cut since I felt that I wanted to choose a fragrance that had a strong patchouli character yet be something I could really like, and the project is all about patchouli. It’s a beautiful fragrance and I would definitely wear it, but for me it just did not have that standout patchouli zing I was looking for in the winning composition.

Number Two was my bronze medalist and it was also quite popular with the other testers. It is by perfumer Liz Zorn and is called River Walk. It’s a comforting old-school style patchouli perfume, easily recognizable but not in any way a crude “hippie oil” concoction. The patchouli itself is of particularly fine quality and I would love to smell it in anything; that’s saying a lot coming from me! It’s a full, rich scent, very wearable and cozy. The prominence of the patch might bother me in a fragrance of lesser quality, but this is Liz Zorn after all, so no worries there. It develops an enveloping, spicy warmth on skin as it develops. My paper test notes for River Walk said “rich, spicy, gourmand, complex, very good.” On skin it was even better and to me it was the most “edible” of the bunch, with frequent pressing of my nose to my arm to inhale its goodness, almost like gingerbread made with patchouli. Now there’s an idea!

My penultimate selection was Number Thirteen, which is Wild Child by Opus Oils. I think this might just be the most applauded one in the bunch for all the Patch Test Bunnies and the celebrity testers and judges alike, and for good reason. It’s easy to love and absolutely delicious with its buttery floral character and coconut-infused tropical tanning oil vibe. I get a lot of gardenia in this, so it’s a foregone conclusion that this White Floral Queen would fall for this hothouse flower of a perfume. It’s seductive in a classic “bombshell” way and all the better for it, but the patchouli, while evident as the fragrance develops on the skin, takes a back seat to the florals and gourmand notes. I think that may be the reason why I did not also select Wild Child as my winner as many others did– it is packed with so much else besides patchouli that even someone who really hates the stuff would like it. It was virtually a three way tie at the top, but I wanted to reward the one that was obviously a patchouli perfume to my nose.

My winning entry did not even make the podium for most of the other testers, but I thought it had the whole package: Number Four, now known as Haight & Ashbury by Jane Cate of A Wing & A Prayer Perfumes. It’s bold, it’s sensuous, it’s happily wearable, it’s unabashedly a patchouli-centric fragrance, and I still loved it. My notes for the paper strip testing said: “fruity, gourmand, lightly earthy, rounded, sexy, incense, love it!” All of these qualities were confirmed on skin, and more. It started out as deeply complex and well balanced incense and patchouli with a gentle fruitiness that I could not quite identify, and then it developed a wonderfully appealing muskiness that reminded me of Musc Ravageur, the genially outrageous sensation by Maurice Roucel for Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle. After all, this project is called the Summer of Patchouli Love, and this one really emphasizes the” love” part in the carnal sense. But don’t worry, it’s not hippie oil either, despite the name and even though the perfumer was directly inspired by the Haight-Ashbury district in San Francisco and a little shop on the corner that once sold patchouli perfume. No one will move away from you on the bus if you wear this, but they just might move closer. I can’t stop smiling and sniffing when I wear Haight & Ashbury and I really surprised myself by liking it so much. Congratulations to Jane Cate and all the other talented perfumers who made this patchouli skeptic into a believer.

The full list, revealed at last:

1) Alfredo Dupetit, Indiéne
2) Liz Zorn, River Walk
3) Shelley Waddington- Go Ask Alice
4) Jane Cate - Haight and Ashbury
5) April Aromatics - Bohemian Spice
6) Perfume by Nature - Happiness
7) Providence Perfume Company – Rose Boheme
8) Lyn Ayre - Patchouli Paisley
9) There is no # 9, to avoid any confusion with #6 for the testers
10) JoAnne Bassett - Tetu
11) DSH Perfumes – Bodhi Sativa
12) Amanda Feeley – Queen of Punk
13) Opus Oils – Wild Child
14) Theraputate – Royal Water

To see all the participants in this project, including previous blog posts leading up to the main event, which will run throughout the summer of 2011, please visit this page on Perfume Pharmer. Some of the writers will have their reviews published there as well while others will post on their own blogs, and all the links are on this page. You can also get a sneak peek of everyone’s top three favorites! We even have celebrities on board, including actress Kim Novak (!!!), singer Simone (daughter of Nina), musician Bruce Langhorne and actress Jodie Foster, and an international roster of perfumers who graciously agreed to lend their considerable talents to the challenge. Peace, Love and Patchouli – PLAP - to everyone!

And now for the prizes – we have two fragrances generously donated by the perfumers, a 5 ml silver toned purse spray of Number Two, River Walk by Liz Zorn, and ½ bottle of Number Four, Haight & Ashbury by Jane Cate. Please leave a comment if you would like to be entered, tell us what your own favorite patchouli perfume is, and specify which one you would like to win! (U.S. mailing addresses only, please.)

Image credits: Summer of Patchouli Love logo courtesy of Monica Miller and created by graphic artist Elizabeth Whelan

Photo of “Further,” one of the famous hippie school buses used by Ken Kesey & The Merry Pranksters, by photographer Joe Mabel from Wikimedia Commons.


Friday, July 22, 2011

A Little Vanilla With Your Vanillin?

by the Botanically Inclined Nerd Girl, Marla

I finally decided to splurge and buy a small bottle of real vanilla absolute from India. Like most Americans, I grew up with vanillin, the synthetic version of a compound that exists in actual vanilla, and its cousins, ethyl vanillin and ethyl maltol. I didn't realize that actual vanilla pods have hundreds of aromatic compounds in addition to vanillin.

The waxy absolute surprised me with its complicated, rich, woody scent. It isn't particularly sweet, though vanillin is obviously present. Papery/woody notes similar to sandalwood and amyris, and a very subtle peppery undertone, create a sophisticated, almost ready-to-wear perfume. In fact, vanilla bean absolute could easily be worn on its own, and with hundreds of components, it really is an actual perfume already.

To make my acquaintance with vanilla even more complete, I was shown vanilla orchid vines at the American Orchid Society HQ in Florida. The lush, fleshy vines wound themselves all around the ceiling of the greenhouse, and several green pods, each about 8 inches long, were ripening. The botanist-in-residence explained that the orchids bloom for only 24 hours, and during that time, they must be hand-pollinated. Even then, pods may not grow from the flowers. The pods must be protected while they ripen, then dry out to the brown, hard things we see in gourmet shops. I had no idea it was so labor-intensive, and that so much had gone into my tiny bottle of absolute. It feels quite precious to me now.

Spaniards brought vanilla orchids back to Europe, along with chocolate, in the early 1500s (smart moves, those!), and Thomas Jefferson brought vanilla beans home to the States in 1789 after his ambassadorship to France. To this day, the French and Americans are the nuttiest people on the planet for vanilla, and consume far more than any other groups.

Vanillin was initially extracted from the seed pods of the orchid Vanilla planifolia, but demand far outstripped supply, and several synthetic processes were pioneered, as the French and Americans were growing desperate. Today most vanillin is made from lignin, a byproduct of the paper pulp industry. Ironically, it does not have even a whiff of cardboard, unlike the actual vanilla bean, which does. A glitch in the Matrix, obviously.

What is your favorite vanilla perfume, and do you know if it’s vanilla, or vanillin, or both??


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Smoking: Mona di Orio Vanille

By Tom

Vanille is part of the Nombre d'Or collection from this year that somehow I managed not to investigate despite the fact that it contains ingredients that should have called me from across the room. There's vanilla of course, and this is the rich version, not thin and boozy, but plush. Well, plush and boozy, since there are also a goodly shot of spicy rum in there. There's none listed, but I smell tobacco in there as well, leafy and woody.

"Rich" and "plush" are the adjectives that keep coming up in my head. "Strong" is another one; I would dab this one instead of spraying unless you seriously want to be smelled. I mean, I'd follow the person wearing this anywhere, but potential office-mates might not feel the same way, so go steadily or save the whole affair for, well, an affair. Yes, it's fine for a man or a woman. I'd wear it in a heartbeat. 

$190 for 100ML (ouch!) at Luckyscent, where I asked for a sample.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Holistic Honey: To Bee Perfume by Roxana Villa – And a Prize Draw

By Donna

What I was growing up in New England, we bought our honey in metal buckets from a local beekeeper. It was clover honey but it was nothing like the clear liquid in glass bottles sold at the grocery store. This stuff was raw, thick, grainy and dark and sometimes had bits of the comb still in it. The flavor was earthy and robust, and if you were used to a more refined variety it took some getting used to. Of course I loved it, and I liked honeycomb too; I would chew it until there was nothing left but the wax. Once in a while I run across some honey that is almost as sturdy as that rich elixir, but it’s a rare occurrence. Well, if I can’t taste it at least I can smell it, because now there is a perfume that brings the aroma of that back to the present, To Bee by Roxana Illuminated Perfume.

Modern honey perfumes can be problematic for many people, because the honey accord that is commonly used in commercial fragrances includes a material, phenylacetic acid, that smells urinous if too much of it is used and even when it’s not in sensitive individuals, and very strong to many people in any event. The worst offender is the infamous (to many) Miel de Bois by Serge Lutens. It is said that this one smells truly offensive to many people and even though I like it, I can certainly see how it could be too much. Needless to say this can be a deterrent to buying one if you love it but it offends the people around you. Perfumer Roxana Villa has solved this problem with To Bee, because it’s made of all natural materials, so it won’t go wrong on skin. It is composed with resins, woods, spices, mimosa, and absolutes of clover and beeswax. It also contains some special materials of Roxana’s own creation, including tincture of honeycomb (including some from rescued wild beehives) and a marvelous botanical leather accord of which I also have a sample. Essential oils, CO2 extracts and natural absolutes have been used with nary a synthetic in sight. I can detect the integration of the leather note in this fragrance and it really adds a depth and realism to the scent; after all, honey is made by thousands of living creatures and it’s “animalic” in that sense. Roxana’s concept for this fragrance was the atmosphere of the beehive’s interior, literally humming with life, and it’s all there; the wood of the structure, the waxy comb, the sweet floral scent of the honey, the sun-warmed sleepiness of high summer and the leathery, rich essence of concentrated life. Some of the beeswax in the solid perfume comes from Roxana’s own beehives, and it doesn’t get any more realistic than that!

My samples of To Bee are of both the liquid and the solid perfume, and the solid is in a base of beeswax and jojoba seed oil, which makes it especially rich and redolent. It is this one that especially made me do a double take when I first smelled it, as I was immediately transported to my childhood kitchen and that big bucket of dense, opaque raw honey. The liquid alcohol-based version is also excellent; for a brief moment in its early development it got a little bit disorganized, but not for long, and by the time they had both been on my skin for half an hour the effect was very similar for each and I can recommend either version of this perfume wholeheartedly. Even on a warm, humid day the perfume was not overpowering; although it is sweet of course, it’s not that syrupy overkill too often found in mainstream fragrances. The lasting power is impressive for a natural too - I put some of the liquid on in the early evening and the next morning it was still there, about 15 hours later, and it had settled down to a gorgeous hay-like sweetness, and the honey aroma was still true.

For anyone who has been hesitant to wear a honey fragrance for fear that it would be too strong and “funky,” To Bee is a great way to start. This perfume is available for sale at Roxana’s Etsy shop, and she has generously offered a giveaway of this innovative new release to a lucky PST reader, so please indicate in the comments if you would like to be entered in the draw. **Please note, the draw is open to U.S. mailing addresses only.**

The winner will receive the solid To Bee perfume in a beautiful mini compact, as shown here.

Photo credit: To Bee Perfume imagery courtesy of Roxana Villa

Disclosure: The perfume samples were given to me by Roxana Villa for testing purposes.

For more information about the plight of our precious honeybees and what the average person can do to help, please visit this page. For further reading, visit the Web site of The Honeybee Conservancy.

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Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Little Off-Topic: Southern Food and "The Help"

By Tom

If you've been to the movies lately, you've most likely seen the trailer for the movie "The Help". It looks interesting; I can quite decide if if they've watered down the wholly wonderful and difficult to read 2009 book by Kathryn Stockett. "The Help" chronicles the lives of women on different rungs of the social ladder in early 1960's Jackson, Mississippi from the ladies of the Junior League to the African-American maids that run their homes and raise their children. It's by turns, funny and heartbreaking and I consumed it in two evenings. It is not, however, a comedy, which the trailer sort of makes it, and I hope they didn't try to "humanize" the main villain. This isn't "The Devil Wears Pappagallo" and there's nothing redeemable about Hilly Holbrook. She is a monster. She makes Miranda Priestly look like Mary Poppins. I'll go see the movie because of the flawless cast (I could watch Viola Davis read a telephone book) but I hope it's not watered down.

Of course, being a book about domestics in the South, food is a part of the plot. I defy you not to get hunger pangs over the descriptions of fired chicken, grits and caramel cake. Here in Los Angeles we're lucky enough to have a couple places that serve excellent Southern food. Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles is of course renowned, with three locations in Los Angeles that are always crowded. More off the beaten track in Eagle Rock is Larkin's which mixes up traditional southern food with a bit of a twist. Chef Larkin Mackey sparks up his dishes with a dash of Mexican spice. I can highly recommend the fried chicken and the mac and cheese. Bring a friend or three; portions are large and you'll want to taste everything. Reviews on Yelp mention that the service can be kind of lackadaisical, but frankly I want to enjoy my food so I don't much care that they are taking obvious care in cooking it. I don't want chicken that's precooked and "held" for g-d knows how long before being finished and served to me.

If you're in LA it's really worth a trip to Eagle Rock. If you're in Pasadena it's only one stop away going West on the 134. The address is 1496 Colorado Blvd (between Loleta & Hartwick), Eagle Rock, CA 90041. They don't have liquor, but you can bring your own with no corkage (at least when I last was there). They also don't have much in the way of signage; they're on the South East corner in a little brown bungalow with parking in front. Cindy's Diner is on the South West corner; you can practically see that from space, so navigate by that.

Great, now I'm hungry..

If you have a favorite place for soul food (or read the book and are looking forward to the movie) please discuss in the comments.

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Saturday, July 16, 2011

What’s In A Name? Review: The Different Company Sublime Balkiss

Isn’t that name great?

I was always fascinated by the wonderful name of this perfume. Names are important, they give identity, but of course a pretty name, or a great one even, are not enough. With people and with perfume.

Balkiss was the name of the Queen of Sheba. I am not sure why this name was given to this particular perfume, I would imagine it would have been a better fit for a sumptuous oriental, or even a regal mega-floral, but not for this soft and unassuming “chypre”.

Created by Cèline Ellena, Sublime Balkiss includes notes of bergamot, cassis, blackberries, rose, lily of the valley, violet leaf, lilac, patchouli fraction, patchouli essence, heather.

Sublime Balkiss is a so-called modern chypre that has not much to do with the chypre category, maybe another name would be better here as well, since we are on the subject.

I already said that the name of this perfume always captured my imagination, but I seem to recall having tried it several times before it entered the review queue, but I had no recollection whatsoever what it smelled like. When I wore it in preparation for reviewing, I promptly forgot what it was, I put on, twice. It is safe to say that sadly, Sublime Balkiss is, unlike its grand name, not a very unique and memorable fragrance.

It is soft, shy, quiet and restrained. A berry opening sets the tone to muted purple and green. Patchouli (two kinds of the star of the modern chypre) anchors the scent. And that is about it. It is a fresh and green and violet-tinged berry patchouli. Sorry, that is the best I can do.

I have heard it compared to Thierry Mugler Angel, but to me that is like comparing an elephant to a mouse. Both happen to be grey animals, but that’s it with the similarities. But if you are looking for a grey animal that is lighter and smaller than Angel, Sublime Balkiss may be it.

Sublime Balkiss is mostly linear, it smells somehow familiar and it smells good. I am not saying this is a bad fragrance, just that it refuses to make a lasting impression on my mind. How about the lasting impression on my skin? Sublime Balkiss stays with me for about three to four hours, if I don’t forget about it before.

Somehow I believe, if this perfume didn’t have such an intriguing and imposing name, I wouldn’t feel quite so let down by its fragrant reality now.

Image source:,


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Summer Harvest: Jardin du Poete by Eau d'Italie

By Tom

You cannot put this on without smiling.

Bertrand Duchafour is the nose behind this new scent, which Marina describes as "sumptuous, soulful, summery deliciousness". It's a summer salad of sweet oranges and tart grapefruit served with basil and dressed with pepper and a touch of sweet immortelle served to you in a garden smelling of hay, lily of the valley and sunshine-dappled roses. 

 It has surprising depth and richness for what could have been a fleeting scent, with a wonderful vetiver/musk drydown that kept my wrist near my nose all day. Best of all is the fact that when you turn the bottle over there's a big warning label on it cautioning one not to spray it on your self (or some such language) which says to me that they're saying "sc$#w you Perfume Police, I'm using the real deal"

If that's the case then for that alone they deserve an award.

$140 for 100ML at LuckyScent, where I sampled.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Summer of Patchouli Love, Part Two: The Rebels

By Donna

Perfume-Smellin’ Things has been invited to participate in one of the biggest group blogging projects to date, and certainly the most complex one that I have ever been involved with. Monica Miller of Skye Botanicals and the Perfume Pharmer blog has coordinated a truly impressive array of natural perfumers, testers (“The Patch Test Bunnies”), judges including our own Marina who owns Perfume Smellin’ Things, and even celebrity participants, all centered on one concept: Thirteen natural perfumers were challenged to create a an alcohol-based fragrance in Eau de Parfum (at least 15% oils concentration) with at least 25% pure patchouli essential oil in the mix. In Part One of this series I explored the cooler and greener perfumes in the range, and in this chapter, still sticking with the high school theme, I am featuring the more “difficult” characters in the group, the Rebels, the ones who defy authority and just won’t play nice. (Note: most of the other bloggers are revealing the names and perfumers to match now, but I am sticking with numbers only until the Big Reveal in Part Three. If you can’t wait to find out, just click the link to Perfume Pharmer.)

Number One is not bad at all, but I found it to be a little odd. It has more than hint of mint, which comes off a little bit like chewing gum to start – not unpleasant, but not “perfumey” to me. I found it to be quite medicinal on paper, although it improved on my skin up to a point. I would almost call it “bracing” because of the mint’s presence, even though it is well integrated into the composition, it is always there. To me, Number 3 is like one of those things that you dab under your nose to avoid something else that smells unpleasant or to clear your sinuses, like a chest rub, Of course it’s not that strong, but you get the idea. It is certainly something that made me wake up and take notice, but I just can’t love it. I will say that the patchouli note in this one was very mellow and pleasant, however, and I would like to smell it paired with different partners. With that minty vibe I would have thought it would be refreshing, but it persists as more menthol than green leafy mint.

I found it interesting that Number 3 left two such very different impressions on paper versus skin, and I still have not gotten it figured out. When I first tested it on the strip, I got cool, churchy incense and I thought it might work for me since I really like incense in perfume, either as an accent or the whole show. However, it went wrong on me and morphed into something else entirely. Anyone who chose Number 3 as their favorite must really love patchouli, because it’s hugely dominant and pretty rough too, the kind of powerhouse that makes people dislike it in the first place. I can recognize that it is of good quality, but does not like me very much. On paper the patchouli and incense were nicely balanced, but on skin it lurched heavily over to the patchouli side. The patch never quite seems to mesh with the other notes; it sits off by itself glowering sullenly like the kid in the back of the classroom who won’t talk to anybody, alienated and distant.

Number 8 was a little bit scary -This is one big, bad boy! Earthy, rough, take-no-prisoners classic hippie-dippy patch, no frills, just wham, bam, thank you ma’am. My notes for the paper strip test say, “strong, earthy, mushroom, clay, rough.” Wait, what? Clay you say? Yes, instead of the loamy garden/forest floor goodness one usually thinks of when something is called “earthy’ it smelled like wet clay to me, the kind you slap on a potter’s wheel. Apropos of the patchouli image I guess but not the most inviting aroma on the world. It is less off-putting on skin but there is still something inaccessible about it because it stayed somewhat cold on me, unresponsive and not warming up or meshing with my skin chemistry at all. I think it would be a fine basic go-to patch perfume for people who like this style of scent, however.

At the bottom of the patchouli distilling barrel was Number 10 - Eau Neaux! This was the big deal-breaker of the group for me, starting with the paper testing where I judged it to be raw, strong and very musky. That was only the beginning of the story, because when this dark-colored behemoth came in contact with my skin, all my patchouli phobia came back with a vengeance. It smelled like a mélange of different things once it got going, none of which I associate with perfume; boiled hot dogs (the cheap kind), bongs, moldy hay and stale vase water. In addition, it’s so dark that it stained my skin iodine orange. This juice is seriously loaded with a very intense grade of patchouli and subtlety is not its strong suit. I tried to find something I liked about it but in truth it was the only one that I found to be a real scrubber and I couldn’t wait to get it off my skin after toughing it for a couple of wearings to confirm that it was a no go. I did find smelling it on the paper strip to be weirdly interesting, and it’s the only other one that I downgraded after the skin testing along with Number 3, since the others either improved or maintained their ranking on skin after the paper phase. This is only my personal experience of course, because several of the testers had Number 10 in their top three favorites; many other people are patchouli fanatics and I am not, so that factor must be considered. If you are one of them, this juice is probably your dream perfume.

In my third and final Summer of Patchouli Love post I will reveal my top favorites and there will be a prize draw, so please check back for chance to win!

To see all the participants in this project, including previous blog posts leading up to the main event, which will run throughout the summer of 2011, please visit this page on Perfume Pharmer. Some of the writers will have their reviews published there as well while others will post on their own blogs, and all the links are on this page. You can also get a sneak peek of everyone’s top three favorites! We even have celebrities on board, including actress Kim Novak (!!!), singer Simone (daughter of Nina), musician Bruce Langhorne and actress Jodie Foster, and an international roster of perfumers who graciously agreed to lend their considerable talents to the challenge. Peace, Love and Patchouli – PLAP - to everyone!

Image credits: Summer of Patchouli Love logo courtesy of Monica Miller and created by graphic artist Elizabeth Whelan.

Photo of Jimi Hendrix and his blazing guitar (literally) at the 1967 Monterey Pop festival from, original source unknown.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Foodie Sunday: Old Friends, Fabulous Food and a Fun Giveaway just in time for Summertime!

By Beth

I’ve had the good fortune of having my friend John staying with us all week! He’s traveling across the country with his fabulous dog Tonks to start a fabulous new life with his wife and year old son in Vermont. I’ve had a wonderful time cooking for him; we’ve had cocktails on the porch every night and we’ve also shown him several of our favorite new restaurants. Although John grew up in Cleveland it’s been quite awhile since he’d seen his hometown. We’ve had some marvelous meals and are continuing to do so; tonight we’re going to try out a brand new vegetarian bistro that just opened up about a month ago. We just got back from the farmers market where I had the most delicious Pad Thai and he was absolutely delighted with his Banh Mi from Umami Moto, one of our newest food trucks. Cleveland has finally emerged as quite a foodie’s city and it’s been a real pleasure to share it with my old friend.

Last night we ventured out to Tremont for the Art Walk, located in a trendy little neighborhood with some of the best art galleries, restaurants and vintage stores (my downfall) in town. We enjoyed the mac and cheese and Broccoli risotto at the Lincoln Park Bistro but we saved the very best for last stopping for a nightcap at my favorite bar in Cleveland, The Velvet Tango Room! In my opinion VTR is really the best bar in the city because everything is made from scratch, there's not a single mass market mixer in the place! Fresh eggs, limes, oranges , lemons and bottles of homemade bitters and wine syrup sit quietly on the bar, just waiting to be shaken or stirred into a wonderful handcrafted cocktail. Everything is weighed , poured and mixed to perfection.

There’s just no way to describe the experience and no matter how many times I’ve tried I can’t quite duplicate it at home. The Velvet Tango Room is a truly a period piece…a naughty yet wonderful speakeasy filled with film noir and smoky jazz. Spending an evening there is like going back in time to a place your mother told you about in hushed silky tones and the elegance and quality are so evident everywhere, but no more so than in their cocktails. Everything is fresh and the liquor is top shelf…each drink is made for you as you watch. The NY Times featured it as one of THE places to visit in their article “36 hours in Cleveland”!

Consequently the menu of cocktails served is incredible with everything ranging from an old fashioned Pisco sour to a Rangpur lime gin fizz which is an easy and refreshing summer favorite. Jim ordered the Moscow Mule, which featured homemade ginger beer and was presented in it’s traditional copper mug and John ordered a Brazilian (no snickers please, we already teased him too much!) which is essentially a dark and stormy with bitters added to smooth out the rum. Having so many choices can sometimes be difficult for me who wants to try a bit of everything, but last night I was very sure that I wanted MY new summer favorite ; a wicked little cocktail called the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club decadently named after the same!

The Royal Bermuda Yacht Club is a delicious rum based cocktail that would be wonderful sipped at your next summertime cocktail party!
Served with some wonderful appetizers like a curried chicken satay or grilled pork and pineapple the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club will make a refreshing addition served outside on your bar or if you want, serve it with a fabulous flaming dessert like Banana's Foster which is how I drank mine the other night! VTR makes the best Banana's Foster that I've ever had outside of New Orleans!

Have fun and use some colorful cocktail glasses for this one...I know that the traditionalists love a clear martini glass but I'm all about setting the mood so I think that some cobalt cocktail glasses accented with some fresh green lime wedges or skewered of rum soked grilled pineapple bits would be great. Either that or use the plain ones with some really silly Lily Pulitzer napkins...anything pink and green will do!

To make one Royal Bermuda Yacht Club the way that I love them you will need:

A couple of ounces of really good rum, nothing too sweet, I love good old fashioned Captain Morgan Private Stock which is a perfumistas dream spicy and filled with vanilla!

3/4's of an ounce of fresh lime juice

About 1/4 ounce of Cointreau

1 teaspoon of pineapple juice

1 teaspoon of fresh grapefruit juice

2 teaspoons of John Taylors Velvet Falernum - Falernum is an infusion of sugar cane syrup, rum, clove, vanilla, ginger, lime and almond that lends a delicious and spicy bite to the drink! If you can't find any, you can make your own! The Velvet Tango Room does!

Shake the whole thing over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass! Sip carefully and slowly. More than one and all bets are off! I’ve been known to even consider Karaoke after two and definitely Skinny dipping after three...........

So now that I’ve given you mine what’s your favorite summer cocktail and what do you serve it with? Recipes please! The one entices me the most gets a pack of those wonderfully silly Lily Pulitzer cocktail napkins and a fragrant treat or two to get this party started!

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Saturday, July 09, 2011

Russian Saturday: Bandit Robert Piguet

Любители винтажных ароматов знают, как больно смотреть на высыхающие капли редкого и малодоступного аромата, как расстрачиваются остатки нервов в ожидании особого случая, чтобы позволить себе их надеть. Пару капель винтажного Бандита в духах 1948 года я умудрилась растянуть на несколько лет. Пусть от них у меня останутся не только воспоминания, но и слова. Bandit – это черный кожаный плащ среди полынной степи. От кожи aka skin, долгие месяцы не знавшей ни солнца, ни ветра, пахнет "французскими духами". Свет, горечь и тепло тела. Каждая стадия аромата накатывает волнами. Сначала гесперидная, ослепительно-солнечная, и при этом мягкая, как прикосновение ладони. Подкашиваются ноги, слабеют колени – это пришла полынная волна. Высота взята. Все, что наступает потом (роза-жасмин-иланг, особенно иланг!, кожа aka leather), не менее прекрасно, но уже не имеет никакого значения.

Bandit 1999 года совершенно иной аромат. Я пробовала для сравнения наносить оба Бандита одновременно, но оставила эту затею. Рядом со своим предшественником, современный Bandit старомоден и чопорен, чего не скажешь о Бандите винтажном. Мне даже сложно понять, почему он шипр. Возможно в духах аромат проявляет свою шипровость, но в парфюмированной воде это холодный, отстраненный цветочный аромат на сухой кожаной базе. Я его по-своему люблю, но он не сводит меня с ума. Даже наоборот. Bandit отличный аромат для работы. Он как внутренний начальник, беспристрастно напоминающих о поджимающих сроках. В верхних нотах аромата резкие и кислые, до боли в зубах, геспериды. Нероли? Нет, недозрелый лимон. В сердце (а оно у него есть, сердце?) холодные, хлесткие цветы, жасмин с илангом. Пахнет солоновато, немного подземельно. Кожа в Бандите черная, сухая и жесткая, как на старом портфеле, за которым давно перестали ухаживать. С этим Бандитом главное не переборщить. Он не даст вам расслабиться, даже если вам будет казаться, что на сегодня вы уже достаточно поработали. Поэтому я никогда не сажаю его на голову за уши, только на запястья. Не оставляю надежды, что в духах молодой Bandit будет способен носить не только портфель с бумагами, но и кожаный плащ. Ведь в современной парфюмерии духи – хранители лучшего, что есть в ароматах.

Bandit Robert Piguet (Germaine Cellier, 1944-1974/ Delphine Lebeau, 1999): neroli, orange, ylang ylang, galbanum, jasmine, tuberose, rose, carnation, leather, vetiver, oakmoss, patchouli and musk.

Lovers of vintage perfumes know how painful it is to look at the drying drops of a rare and hard to find fragrance, how many nervous cells are lost when one is waiting for a special occasion to wear such a fragrance. I managed to make a couple of drops of Bandit parfum circa 1948 last a couple of years. Let them leave behind not just memories but also words. Bandit is a leather trench coat in a field of sagebrush. The skin, which hasn't known sun or wind for months, smells of "French perfume". Every stage of the fragrance's development comes as a wave. First, hesperidic, blindingly sunny, and yet soft like a touch of a palm. My legs get weak when the wave of sagebrush comes. The peak is reached. Everything that comes after (rose-jasmine-ylang, especially ylang!, leather) is no less beautiful but already doesn't matter.

Bandit circa 1999 is an entirely different scent. I tried to wear both at the same time, for comparison, but abandoned the idea. Next to its predecessor, the modern Bandit is old-fashioned and prim, which is not true of the vintage. I find it hard to even understand, why it is considered a chypre. Perhaps, in parfum, the aroma displays chypre quality, but in EDP it is a cold, aloof floral composition on a dry leathery base. I love it, but I am not crazy about it. To the contrary, Bandit is a great fragrance to wear to work. It's like an inner boss, dispassionately reminding about the approaching deadline. The hesperides in the top notes are sharp and sour, to the point of tooth ache. Neroli? No, an unripe lemon. In its heart (does it even have a heart?) there are cold, biting flowers, jasmine and ylang. It smells slightly salty, a little bit subterranean. The leather in Bandin is black, dry and hard, like an old briefcase which hasn't been take care of in ages. With this Bandit, it is important not to overdo it. It won't let you relax, even when you think that you've done enough. That is why I never apply it behind my ears, only on my wrists. I still hope that, in parfum, the contemporary Bandit will be able to carry not only a briefcase with papers but also a leather trench coat, because in modern fragrances, parfum is the form that is the truest to the composition.

Bandit Robert Piguet (Germaine Cellier, 1944-1974/ Delphine Lebeau, 1999): neroli, orange, ylang ylang, galbanum, jasmine, tuberose, rose, carnation, leather, vetiver, oakmoss, patchouli and musk.

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Friday, July 08, 2011

Perfume Pharma: Or How Fragrant Nerds Calm Down and Get to Sleep

By Marla

I don’t know about you, but some aromatherapy manuals drive me nuts. Take the humble pine needle for example:

Pinus sylvestris: antimicrobial, antineuralgic, antirevolutionary, antirheumatic, antiseptic, antispam, antiviral, bactericidal, balsamic, cholagogue, demagogue, deodorant, diuretic, expectorant, insecticide, tonic, toxic, and xenophobic

OK, I added a few things, but did it take you a few seconds to notice? The problem is that most aromatherapy/phytotherapy guides include whatever a plant has been used for over many centuries. But Nerd Girl likes to know what’s up with that plant and current medical research. Out of that extensive list for pine needles, what’s really worked out scientifically? The Germans have been doing a good job investigating particular properties for particular plant preparations, and their doctors routinely prescribe phytotherapy along with the Big Pharma big guns. One plant group that REALLY interests me is Boswellia, the mysterious and legendary frankincense family. And there’s some interesting research on that one.

I was excited to see in May, 2008, Johns Hopkins University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem found that frankincense smoke is a psychoactive drug that relieves depression and anxiety in mice. The researchers found that incensole acetate, found in Boswellia species, activates a protein in the mammalian brain called TRPV3, which decreases anxiety and alleviates depression. Now I know why we’re constantly burning the stuff. And why religious authorities like it so much. And I can feel especially happy, spiritually and neurochemically, when I wear frankincense-based perfumes. Like Avignon and Cardinal. And Encens et Lavande. I’m blissing out just thinking about them.

Recently I tried a perfume that has quite a following, Sonoma Scent Studio’s Incense Pure. It’s a proper perfume, not an aromatherapeutic preparation. And it features frankincense and labdanum, another calming resin. I’m not at all surprised that I like to wear it in the evening before going to sleep. And sleep I do! And so does my DH when I wear it. We both feel very cheerful in the morning, too. (Which perfumista said “Sleep is the new sex”?)

I think that nose Laurie Erickson’s onto something, and I emailed the studio to get her to spill the beans on this lovely, possibly psychoactive perfume. Here’s what she wrote:

“Frankincense was calming to me from the first time I smelled it, which was not until adulthood…. Some ingredients took time for me to appreciate, but frankincense was love at first sniff…. A number of people have emailed me to say that Incense Pure is soothing to them and/or makes them feel like they are outside in a forest.” Count me as one of those people. So who else out there likes to activate their TRPV3, and what incense perfume (or actual incense) do you use to do it?


Thursday, July 07, 2011

A Rock & a Hard Place: Valentino Rock & Rose

By Tom

Lately it seems I've been a bit rose-nutty, reviewing a slew of rose scents. One that's been sitting looking at me balefully for a while is the sample of Rock & Rose, which I've been avoiding. Avoiding because I utterly loathe it. I can't be bothered to even look up the history of it to tell you who's responsible or why it was done. I can only imagine smelling it that it was management that thought they'd try to market to the Goth set. Yes, Valentino for the Goth set. What next? Vuitton for Vampires? 

The thing about it is that it doesn't succeed on any level. A person who would buy Valentino clothing would sniff and dismiss it as a cheap little rose with a bit of Froot in the opening and too much musk in the base, while the Goth chiclets in their BPAL would smell the aquatic notes, lily and the powder, sneer a pierced upper lip and drop the old-lady bomb. I just find it annoying. 1.6 Ounces of this is available for less than $31 at Amazon, which is far better than the $68 you'll pay at retail. My sample was a gift with purchase.

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Tuesday, July 05, 2011

A Diverse Trio of Montale Roses: Highness Rose, Roses Elixir & Taif Roses

By Donna

The house of Parfums Montale is well known for its use of rose and oud in perfumes, both separately and together, and sometimes I think the very popular oud scents overshadow its excellent treatment of roses. Some of their most outstanding fragrances are based on the many different styles of rose, and recently I have had the opportunity to try some of them that were not in my local shop. This reinforced my already high opinion of the house, and if anyone is looking for a fine rose perfume for their collection, Montale is a great resource.

Highness Rose is a bit of a departure for Montale as it is a fresh, uncluttered rose soliflore with none of the expected embellishments so familiar to Montale fans. Dewy and a little green yet with a deeply honeyed quality, it is probably the most “innocent” fragrance from this house I have ever smelled. Rich yes, but pleasingly unadorned in order to let the qualities of the rose shine through, and it is obvious that this house is really using the good stuff in its rose scents. Highness Rose is one of the few fragrances from Montale, known for its over-the-top signature style, which can actually be worn in public in amounts larger than a single discreet dab. It’s the kind of rose fragrance that is very much at ease anywhere, even in hot weather where a sweeter one might get too heady. The slightly green aspect reminds me a little of another of my favorite rose soliflores, DSH Perfumes Rose Vert, but Highness rose takes the rosy part to the next level, as it is virtually nothing but roses, roses and more roses, as though they could not stuff enough of the blossoms into the perfume. The catch, of course, is that Highness Rose is in the Montale Confidential Collection and only available in their Paris boutiques, for about $900 USD for the large size, so I don’t expect to get a bottle anytime soon. If you have the chance to get a sample, please do so, because this is not a candidate for an un-sniffed purchase, no matter how good it is – and very good in this instance is an understatement.

On the other end of the range is the recently released Roses Elixir, a sweet confection of roses with a deliciously jammy strawberry, citrus, orange blossom, amber, musk and vanilla. I had eagerly wanted to try it since I am one of the apparently rare people who enjoy strawberry in perfumes, although I know it is a note that suffers a lot of abuse at the hands of perfumers making mainstream fragrances for the American teenager demographic. I once owned a delightful strawberry “soliflore” perfume from Fragonard that I dearly loved that was not an unfortunate and plasticky mistake like most of the breed, and I have been looking for another like it to no avail. Roses Elixir is not a replacement for the Fragonard since is very sweet, but not quite to the level of Montale’s tooth-revolving Mukhallat, which along with Chocolate Greedy is a rare Montale I cannot tolerate. It is also relatively linear and does not change a lot on my skin over time except for the gradual domination of the vanilla and amber base over the strawberry, or maybe it’s just getting even sweeter on my sugar-enhancing skin. It ends up being a comfort scent, hazy and warm and undemanding and I think it’s wonderful, although I can’t think of too many occasions for actually wearing it, since this is not a workplace perfume by any means. I have several perfumes that I mainly wear around the house when I am alone because they are too powerful for most social situations, but since I love them anyway I keep them just for my own pleasure. Roses Elixir would be in that category if I could ever justify buying a bottle, which would be much more affordable than Highness Rose at $115 for 50 ml. It can be found in the U.S. online at Luckyscent and finer stores that carry the line.

Yet another style of rose composition that is strikingly different from either of the other two is Taif Roses, a dry and exotic “desert rose” that is more akin to Montale’s core aesthetic so familiar to its ardent fans. It reminds me of a very upscale take on the old Ultima II Maroc, which I loved back in the day; it was a highly pitched and effusive rose of neon intensity, and if you did not like rose perfumes, well that was just too bad, because it broadcast itself far and wide with only a light spray. I still miss it, but I would be more than happy to own a bottle of Taif Roses instead. It is another one without any oud, but it has some of the oomph of Aoud Queen Rose, Aoud Damascus and Aoud Roses Petales, due to the use of the pungent geranium which gives it a lot of “throw.” There is an unusual farina-like note in this that I quite like and I don’t know what it’s from, but it is very pleasant and it provides a contrast to the sharpness of the rose/geranium complex. The rose character is pure Damask in the manner of its namesake Ta’if roses in Arabia. This perfume skirts the edge of having too much geranium for my taste when it first goes on, in the manner of the old Tea Rose by Perfumer’s Workshop, but it is grounded enough that’s it’s not too thin and it settles and smoothes out nicely after a short time. I don’t get a lot of civet, if any, until I have worn it for several hours, but I do detect a subtle ambery note in the base that keeps the fragrance from being too sharp. It seems to have been dropped from the line, but I was able to find it on several discounter sites for not much more than $100, which is a bargain for this niche brand.

Montale has taken a lot of flak for making too many similar perfumes, but at least they are making good ones that people like. How can you go wrong with a high quality rose perfume anyway? It’s kind of like complaining that Entenmann’s makes too many kinds of delicious breakfast pastries. I guess if I were not a fan of rose, oud, vanilla, sweet fruit notes or the other main ingredients in their fragrances I could find something to criticize, but what can I say, I love these big, rich luscious perfumes, and as long as they keep them coming all I can do is enjoy the show.

Image credit: Pink cake with sugar roses from, original source unknown.

Disclosure: The samples of Montale perfumes were all gifts from fellow perfume lovers.

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Friday, July 01, 2011


Olivia A - for “Foodie Sunday Fathers Day”
Alexandra- Foodie Sunday Baltimore Blue Crab and Oysters