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Friday, December 28, 2012

Best of 2012!

It's that time of year again, where we talk about what we loved in 2012. Whether it's new, old or in between, these are the scents that we wore and adored:


For me, the holidays are a blend of magnificent, fragrant sensations. Because I'm a cook as well as a perfume obsessed writer, the smells of the season tend to blend together for me in  a gloriously fragrant stew starting from Halloween through the New Year. There are so many fragrances that I love that are synonymous with this time of year, but I've been told today that I have to choose only five. This is not an easy feat for someone like me, but here goes! 

Most of you who read my musings know that from November the 1st until January the 2nd,  I will only wear Caron's magnificent Nuit de Noel. I love it because to me it smells like a crackling fire with a split of champagne and a bouquet of slightly warmed roses in a vase nearby.  Nuit de Noel is full of spicy amber, musk and a bit of oak moss… some may call it a chypre, but to me it's a true oriental. Last year I was gifted with a bottle of the vintage perfume that I ritualistically applied this year during this week of Christmas…1 drop on each wrist, one drop in the cleavage . It's just beautiful…an entirely different animal than the EDP and to be cherished.
True to my word I put my Nuit de Noel away sadly every year come the second of January, but because I do so it's a bit of magic that's never lost it's ability to enchant  me year after year.

The second of my favorite holiday scents is  the Noel candle and home spray from Annick Goutal. This is possibly my favorite home fragrance  anytime of the year, but during Christmas it is just so beautiful to me. Several years back they actually discontinued it, but the hew and cry must have been intense because thankfully it wasn't gone very long! Noel is the classic balsam and pine smell of Christmas with a touch of fresh orange and spicy mandarin.  It gives me a lift all year round but never more so than during the holiday season when it is completely and understatedly appropriate .

To me synonymous with the holiday season is a shopping  trip to New York City and  the roasted chestnuts that can be found on every other street corner is  my idea of simple and perfect fast food. A bag of them in my lap while snuggled up against my husband in a Hansom carriage is as far as I'm concerned the best time to be had in the world.  I love them…peeling them leaves a roasted , woody aroma lingering on my fingertips  and eating them is a sweet and sinful pleasure. These same roasted chestnuts and champagne are a perfect pairing and lets take it up a notch and talk about marrons glace! To make those you'll take those same roasted chestnuts and simmer them over and over again in a bath of simple syrup until the moisture in the chestnuts has been replaced by the sugar, leaving them crystalline and  aromatic.  Crumbled over fresh vanilla ice cream and sprinkled with a bit of candied ginger you won't find a much more delightful and festive dessert to enjoy with even more of that Champagne. 

Every year on Christmas morning I would walk into my mothers kitchen where she would be making the same breakfast that she had cooked and eaten for almost her entire life. Creamed Chicken a la King on buttered toast points, egg strata with cheese and smoky bacon,  a fresh pecan roll , stewed fruit and a pot of coffee . Since she's been gone I make it every year (my family would riot if I didn't!)  and it's a wonderful way to spend my morning thinking of her. All of the aromas of that breakfast are wonderful, simmering onions and warm yeasty sugary  dough , but the stewed fruit is especially amazing. It's a simple recipe too, water and about 5 different sorts of dried fruit go into a saucepan along with a cup or two of mulling spices, two cups of brown sugar, a cup of sherry and a sliced lemon and orange. It simmers for hours until the whole thing is a syrupy , delicious mess of fruity, spicy goodness. There's always plenty left over because a little goes along way. Around New Years I'll put it back on the stove, add an onion or two and simmer it down some more and serve it with a pork tenderloin and some crispy roasted potatoes.

The last of my favorite holiday aromas is perhaps the simplest one. It really can't be called Christmas if I don't have a batch of my mothers Christmas Chocolate Pears. This is possibly the simplest recipe in existence and it was first discovered by my father and me at a wonderful old Atlantic city restaurant  called "Bruno's Pen and Pencil". It took my mother years to replicate it and when she finally did we were in heaven because it is just so good. You must have freshly whipped cream and you must use canned pears and a thin layer of the very good chocolate. At Bruno's they made these in individual servings but for a party you can layer the pears in a crystal bowl.  Then layer the whipped cream on top of them, and place them in the freezer . Melt the chocolate, add a little bit of the canned pear juice into it and then pour a thin layer of the chocolate over the top of the whipped cream and pears. The chocolate will harden into a delightfully bittersweet coating that cracks when you touch it with the spoon. Each mouthful is a decadent bite of pear, chocolate and whipped cream and is simply perfect. Thankfully my dear friend makes it for us every year so that the tradition continues as I would prefer to never have to be without them.


It was very hard to choose just three top fragrances for 2012, because so many good ones have been launched. I could have closed my eyes and pointed, and picked any number of others, but since I have to decide: 1. Neela Vermeire Creations Bombay Bling! was a delicious surprise, a mango fragrance that was much more than just a fruity novelty. Of course, the fact that it was composed by the great Bertrand Duchaufour doesn't hurt! 2. Providence Perfume Company Moss Gown, an all-natural perfume with a vintage vibe that entranced me completely. It smells like the kind of fragrance that mainstream houses gave up on decades ago. 3. Arquiste Flor y Canto, just a beautiful white tropical floral with the twist of pungent marigold to make it interesting. It was a standout for me among the Arquiste scents, all of which are very good.


If I had write this last month, I would have vacillated between three fragrances, looking for my one Top 1 of 2012. It so happened, however, that in the beginning of December I attended the Nutcracker, the Balanchine version, at the Lincoln center, with the big tree going up and the saucy Coffee of Arabia (all the dads in the audience were wolf-whistling) and the cute Candy Cane (all the moms in the audience wished they knew how to wolf-whistle) and all those magical trimmings that made even this jaded heart go aflutter, like a 10 year old's. And for that occasion I finally, hands shaking, opened my vintage Nuit de Noel, in its packaging with all the trimmings, the black bottle, the golden wire, the green tassel. And the combination of the two magics was absolutely perfect and truly powerful. And then I vacillated no more. Nothing compares to Nuit de Noel with its "slight patina of olfactory dust, the texture of old Persian lamb fur, still glamorous but worn so thin that now it looks and feels more like velvet. The kind of texture that makes it hard to distinguish notes in a composition, leaving one with a general impression of a Perfume and a feeling of vague nostalgia."


Since we have done nine scents so far I am going to pick just one, that was from 2012 and that I reviewed on this blog. So it has to be Anat Fritz Tzora. I called it in my review an "instant classic" and I stand behind that. It's a pitch-perfect blend of peppery orange, subtle florals with cedar and a deliciously musky patch drydown. It's even decently priced at $130 for 100 ML. It's marketed as a masculine, but like really great "men's" scents it is entirely unisex.

So please chime in with your best of 2012, and also please check out the other participating blogs: Grain de Musc, Now Smell This, Bois de Jasmine and Perfume Posse



Blogger Unknown said...

Isn't it great to look back on all the wonderful creations of 2012. I've really enjoyed all your reviews, thank you all so much for your always interesting perspectives!

2:36 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not wanting to repeat myself on all blogs I am picking some different things because the year has been plump with fabulous releases. The Guerlain deserts trio were too yummy and at least one will be an FB by early 2013, Naomi Goodsir had 2 wins for me and the Devilscent Project blew my mind too.
Portia xx

5:28 AM EST  
Blogger Charna said...

Donna, thank you for choosing Moss Gown as one of your favorite perfumes of 2012! I'm honored to be included in such esteemed company.

11:40 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Francesca- Thank you!

9:45 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


Best to you in '13 and I hope one day we can meet in person!

9:46 PM EST  
Blogger carmencanada /Grain de Musc said...

Marina, definitely envy that vintage Nuit de Noël (though mine being from the late 80s now counts as vintage, doesn't it?). And Beth's contribution got me drooling a bit... I'll be heading for the "marrons chauds" vendors as soon as I get back to Paris!

5:28 PM EST  
Blogger Flora said...

Thanks for stopping by, Charna! I have noticed that Moss Gown is on several other Best of 2012 lists - as it should be!

5:40 PM EST  
Blogger Beth Schreibman Gehring said...

I haven't gotten a chance to write about it yet, but Moss Gown definitely is one of my favorites from 2012....Green, Goth and just smoldering, dripping , oozing sensuality.....

3:50 PM EST  
Blogger Jeniffer said...

Excellent post of 2012, I have been reading many blogs but i did not such a nice humor no where. It was a great post indeed. :)
I must say that you should have a look on perfumes from as well !

6:16 PM EST  

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