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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Rerun: Perfume Slumming: The 70's Revisited

By Tom

Note- I'm sorry I don't have a fresh post- I'd forgotten that I volunteered to help count homeless people, so I was out late. Here's a golden oldie from 2006.

The other say, a friend of mine who lives near Pasadena invited me out to dinner at a wonderful restaurant near her in the valley. At 8. I work in downtown Los Angeles, and live in a lovely shack in what is known as the "industrial triangle" area of beautiful Beverly Hills, on the westside of LA. Dinner at 8 in Pasadena means killing a few hours- the beauty of living on the westside and commuting downtown is that you are running against prevailing traffic. It takes me about 25 minutes to get home. I know from bitter experience that it can take years to get from the westside to the valley at rush hour, since there are only three canyons that one can get through. So killing time in other people's AC was on my mind.

I ended up in a mall in Burbank. I thought that I had stumbled across the Glendale Galleria and was looking forward to a cruise through the Apple Store, a traipse through L'Occitane, sidle up to Nordstrom's and the hours would fly by. The reality was Burbank Town Center, featuring Macy's, Hooters, and Hot Dog on a Stick. Oh well, I had found a great parking space (and parking is everything in southern California), and I was here.

Macy's is of course, Macy's as I am sure that every reader of this Blog knows (haven't they swallowed up every department store in the US? I mourn Filene's, I weep for Marshall Field's, I snarl that there is not a Bullock's to be found). They have their selection of fragrances that I smugly dismiss as "trainers". I wandered further. There was a Sears. Having a weakness for electronics, I went in, and I discovered.. a perfume counter. Well, counter was putting it generously, it was a shelf. It was a shelf stocked with some of the sad remains of the past few years: Some J Lo, some other Lo's, etc. But then I spied a bottle of something that I had not even thought of since I was in junior high: Pierre Cardin Pour Monsieur.

Pierre Cardin Pour Monsieur was to the 70's what CK one was to the 90's. It was a fairly unisex scent in the most phallic bottle that the company could get away with picturing in the ads, which always played up the shape of the bottle. Manly, yes, but I like it too. Cardin sold this scent like hotcakes for a long time until he had so oversold his name (he licensed himself to everything from towels to telephones to tie tacks) that his cachet fell and his fragrances disappeared from department store shelves.

But what you may ask (if you’re still awake) does it smell like? Well, I could take a cheap shot and say the 70's. It certainly took me back to the time that I bought my first bottle at Steiger's in the Hampshire Mall with money I earned mowing lawns as a kid (yes, you could tell even then). Getting those memories out of the way, it's held up surprisingly well. It starts with a bracing citrus nicely complemented by lavender and basil, moves through leather, sandalwood and geranium before settling into a powdery amber with leather. Objectively, it's a nice, somewhat simple scent that deserves better than being relegated to the dustbins of drugstores and discounters. Subjectively, I think I could never wear it myself. I'm not the kid who rode his bike to Steiger's anymore: it's so intrinsically tied to my young yoof that I just cannot bring myself to go there again. That particular veil has been drawn.

Pour Monsieur by Pierre Cardin is available various places like drugstores and warehouses, as well as on the Internet such as for as little as $15 for a 4 oz splash. If you have a kid on a bike that's getting interested in scent of either sex, you could do far worse than starting him or her on this one..

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Foodie Sunday: Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Peaches and Fresh Herbs

by Beth

Sometimes, there's nothing like a flavorful roasted pork tenderloin. Lately it's been so very snowy and when the weather turns wintry like this I long for a smell that says that all is well, the larders are full, the hearth is lit and the cats are happy. In my home such a day calls for a beautifully roasted piece of meat that I've laced with fresh herbs and fruit so here is my recipe for a lovely roasted pork tenderloin that is a delicious addition to a cold winters night.

This is a very simple recipe so feel free to have fun with it and make it your own! Take a pork tenderloin and rub it with a paste of garlic oil,chili sauce, fresh rosemary, sea salt, pepper and sage and let it marinate for several hours. Layer a baking dish with slices of cappicola ham (either sweet or spicy will do depending upon your taste!) and lay the pork tenderloin on top of it.

Slice about 5 yukon gold potatoes into 1/2 inch slices and place  them in a roasting pan. You'll also need a jar of whole peaches in light syrup, (the spiced ones are especially good and please reserve the syrup!) to layer in between the potatoes. Take a good sized red onion, and slice it thinly and sprinkle it all over the pork, potatoes and peaches. Slice a nice size bunch of green onions into about 2 inch pieces and sprinkle them all over top!

In a bowl place a cup of savory barbecue sauce, 1/4 cup of Red Stag bourbon, 6 cloves of crushed fresh garlic, about 1/3 cup of chopped crystallized ginger and about 1/4 of a cup of hoisin sauce. Stir into this mixture the reserved peach syrup and pour it all over the meat and vegetables. Roast for about 25 minutes per pound in a 350 degree oven, basting frequently. The meat will caramelize on the outside and is delicious . Let the pork sit for about 20 minutes before slicing. Arrange the slices of pork on a pretty platter with the onions, potatoes and peaches as a side garnish.  On the stove whisk together 1 tablespoon of butter, 2 tablespoons of peach jam and a 1/4 teaspoon of truffled salt as a glaze and brush this over the top!

I serve this roast often with pumpkin soup, and a salad of roasted beets, arugula, red onion,  a touch of creme fraiche and a bit of caviar. Another wonderful accompaniment would be a small plate of gnocchi dressed with olive oil,  garlic, walnuts  and spinach.  I'm generally a wine drinker, but in this case the absolutely to die for Organic Apricot Ale from Sam'l Smith is the way to go. Just trust me on this one please! The fragrance is sheer and shimmering summertime in a bottle!

For fun this pork tenderloin will also make a wonderful hors d'eourve if you're in the habit of making your own potato chips! If you've never made your own potato chips before it's really fun and terribly easy. Bring some fresh peanut oil up to frying temperature (you'll know it because when you toss a test chip in it will instantly begin to bubble!) and slowly add potatoes that you have sliced very thinly and patted dry. Watch them and take them out of the oil when they are a little more than golden and drain them on a paper towel. That's all! Just take a fresh chip and put a shred of the pork loin on top of it with a dollop of a chutney made from caramelized onions, blue cheese and peaches. A fresh sage leaf and a bit of crystalized ginger completes this ambrosial treat!

Whatever you're eating tonight please remember to take the time  to set the table, light some candles, play some music and enjoy your dinner slowly with someone  special even if it's just yourself and the cat! No one deserves the kid glove treatment more than you and your family who will remember it long afterwards and besides absolutely nothing can make the heart warmer than a delicious meal savored slowly with those you love!

So what are you cooking today? Recipes please!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Revisiting: CB I Hate Perfume At the Beach 1966

By Tom

I reviewed the Secret History series a little more than six years ago (have I been doing this that long?) and was a little put off by At the Beach 1966. I wrote then:
I was really transported by this one: I was once again a 12 year old at the beach at Niantic, wet bathing suit at all. Of course, this scent makes for the most romanticized 12 year old in a wet bathing suit you can imagine, but since I am not 12, and not looking to [CheapShot] try to seduce R. Kelly [/CheapShot], I do not think that I will be getting a bottle of this one.
I found it to be a great piece of perfumers magic unto performance art, but not something I could really see myself wearing. This past Sunday I was wandering around West Hollywood and decided to pop into ScentBar (I know, shock of shocks. My reaction to winning best actress in a musical or comedy, being released from prison or stubbing my toe would likely end in "pop into ScentBar". My reaction to Lotto winnings would be "buy ScentBar") and spied the water perfume version of this. I gave a spritz to my wrist and gave it a few minutes. I don't know if it's the fact that the water perfume isn't as concentrated but the scent slows down quite a bit. It's lighter and I can smell the white flowers (datura and tuberose I think) and the coconut along with the sea air and the wet sand.

I still don't know that it's something I'd reach for much, but that's because salty and beachy aren't really my thing. (I prefer Miller Harris Fleurs de Sel with it's marshy goodness for that) I will write that it was perfect for this week in the 70's here in Los Angeles, and at $80 for 100ML I might just have to treat myself. The lasting power isn't stellar- I get four hours or so. But that's what re-applying is all about..

I tested and asked for a sample at Scentbar. Available at LuckyScent,, and other stores.

Image of Rocky Neck Beach in Niantic, CT from Wikipedia

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Foodie Sunday: Hot Dogs

By Tom

I suppose it's the exact opposite of being a foodie to admit that you like something as plebeian as a hot dog, but I do. Hot dogs from the street vendors in New York. Hot dogs at Pink's on La Brea. The one I really miss is Tail O' The Pup.

You know it even if you don't know it. It's been in movies like Body Double, Ruthless People and LA Story. It was one of the last vestiges of "programmatic" architecture in Los Angeles. They served hot dogs, obviously, and fries and onion rings and soda. They were first on La Cienega, then forced out in the 80's to make way for the wholly unnecessary Hotel Sofitel. They moved a block away to San Vicente where they stayed for quite a while until they lost their ground lease to the promise of GLBT elderly housing.

A decade later, it's still an empty lot.

I had the single best star sighting ever at this place. Ella Fitzgerald enjoying her onion rings while her Mercedes Landaulet with liveried chauffeur waited at the curb.

To this day I am jonesing for an extreme (chili and cheese dog) with onions.

So; hot dogs, yay or nay?

image: Wikipedia

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Cold Weather Scents

By Tom

You might have noticed in the news that we in SoCal have been having a cold snap. We've had daytime highs in the mid-fifties and lows below freezing in some areas. I know the local news coverage has been sent up by no less than Jimmy Kimmel. Of course to someone in Minnesota this is practically Spring. But people in Minnesota have something we usually don't: insulation and heat. I live in a typical 50's era LA building. The heaters is a small gas-powered contraption that automatically cuts overnight, meaning that you will be getting up to a 33° bathroom either way. It's hardly fatal, but does make showering interesting.

In anycase, it does mean that I can pull out some of the heavy hitters that in summer would be considered "a bit much". Ones like MKK, Patchouli 24 and Cumming.

So what are you all wearing this winter?

Image: Wikipedia Commons

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Heaven’s Just a Sin Away: The Devilscent Project, Chapter Three

By Donna

The Devilscent Project is the brainchild of blogger (The Alembicated Genie), author and all-around provocateur Sheila Eggenberger whose novel, Quantum Demonology, poses a most intriguing question: What happens when you try to seduce the Devil? What trickery and charms must you use to ensnare the One whose home address is 666 Hades Circle? A select group of artisan perfumers has tried to answer this question with their mysteriously scented concoctions, all with this one thing in mind. Each was tasked with creating fragrances for the Devil himself and for Lilith, his eternal (and infernal) wife. A corresponding group of perfume writers was recruited to record our impressions of these potions. It works best if you read at least part of the book first to get the gist of the idea. (Warning: the book pulls no punches and is not for the faint of heart. Sheila takes us down to the very depths of depravity, and we beg for more.) Find their Devilscent Project writing on this page of Sheila’s blog and this page of Monica Miller’s Perfume Pharmer blog as they are published.

I was inspired not only by the book but by the perfumes themselves, all so different from mainstream offerings that some of them don’t even have a point of reference in conventional perfumery. I took artistic license and created my own story, with some parallels to Quantum Demonology but from another time and place. In the first installment, the scene was set. The second chapter of my exploration of these potent perfumes took us to a very dark place, and when we left the story, all hope seemed lost. Let us go back and see what happened to our heroine and her mysterious companion….
She has been carried to one of the couches and lies there, still as death, one arm trailing to the floor. He sees how pale she has become, like a woman made of marble, and she is just as cold to the touch. Someone brings him a chair and he sits next to her, lifting her limp arm and interlacing his fingers with her icy ones. Not for the first time does he note her unusual beauty; her bright russet hair is almost the same color as her satin gown and her skin is nearly translucent with its natural blush quelled. Faint blue veins make her seem even colder than she is. As he leans in to look at her, he catches her scent; over the fruity tang of her fragrance a chilly, autumnal pallor lingers, as though her very life force is seeping away into the night air. He can even smell damp earth, and an aroma like mushrooms and crumbling forest humus, as if in preparation for the grave that seems determined to claim her. He knows that in order for their plan to reach its final stage, her life must not be jeopardized, at least for a while, and he calls out urgently for a warm blanket and some brandy. (Perfume: Lil 1 by Ellen Covey of Olympic Orchids.)
She awakens slowly in a darkened room. She cannot remember where she is at first, her head is throbbing so, and nothing is familiar, from the heavy furniture to the smell of wax to the thick blanket that covers her. She thinks for a moment that he is at home in her own bed and has simply had a very bad dream; the kind that lingers on after sleep has ended. She wonders what it was she had to drink that could have given rise to such feverish images, such wild scenarios, such intense emotions. Whatever it was, she thinks ruefully, she will pour it down the drain as soon as she gets out of bed, whenever that might be. She won’t be drinking that again. What was she thinking, to imbibe so carelessly, and it was not even New Year’s Eve! Living alone has its good points, but drinking alone is not a habit she wants to form. Oh, how her head hurts….

Suddenly she hears a sound at the door, and the knob turns slowly. Someone is breaking in! She swings her legs over the side and tries to stand, but she is so dizzy and disoriented, she has to sit down abruptly. Her legs are tangled up in the blankets – no, wait, it’s a long dress, and she is wearing it. How can this be? The door opens, and when she sees who steps into the room, the haze in her mind finally clears and she realizes that alas, this is no dream, she is still inside the great stone house in the forest, and she is a captive at the mercy of the man standing before her.  Using every ounce of her will, she raises her eyes to his.

“How long have I been asleep?” She is afraid of the answer.

He smiles and says, “You call that sleep? It was more like Snow White after she ate the poisoned apple.” He crosses the room and parts the curtains, revealing a grey and misty dawn, then leaves her alone again. The bleak light does not make her feel any better, but at least it is too weak to hurt her eyes. So it is morning now, and that nightmare of an evening is over. Now what will happen next?  A wave of utter hopelessness washes over her; how can she ever get out of this place - and time - and back to her own life? No carnal pleasures on Earth are worth the price of coming face to face with such evil. What were those people doing here, especially that…Nazi?  The word makes her shudder, even though she does not speak it aloud. Why, and how, is Devon mixed up with him and his ilk?  Why is that man not in prison for his crimes?  And who were all those others, dressed in their silks and furs and drinking champagne all night long? Reluctantly trying to recall everything about the night before, she realizes that it had been some kind of celebration, but of what? The house is silent now, so she assumes that the revelry continued well after her ignominious exit, and that everyone else was still sleeping it off. How will she ever face them? She feels so very alone, with the acrid odor of fear lingering on her skin, and the bedding holds the faint smell of stale perfume and chilled sweat, everything blanched and listless on this ominous day. (Perfume: Devilscent No. 2 by Amanda Feeley of Esscentual Alchemy.)

She gets up finally, reluctantly, and finds that there is one good thing about being imprisoned in a great house; there is a private bathroom just through a side door. She takes a hasty bath, and then realizes that she has nothing clean to wear. But she has underestimated Devon; draped on a chair in the corner is a change of clothing for her, and she is grateful that at least he chose well, for it includes a warm sweater in loden green, tailored tweed trousers and sturdy shoes. She dresses quickly and pulls her hair back into a practical French twist. Whatever happens next, she must be ready to face it. She takes a deep breath and opens the door into the unknown. Since she has no memory of coming up here, she has no idea how to get out, but she sees a stairway at the end of the long carpeted hallway, and heads for it. As she descends, she smells the aromas of breakfast food and hears the clanging of pans; apparently, whoever inhabits this house has a staff of servants who rise early to please their masters, for no one else seems to be up and about. She reaches the main level and looks out the window into the courtyard, where a few of the long black cars remain. There is no sign of Devon’s mysterious chauffeur, however. Does that mean that he has left her alone here? No sooner has she thought of this alarming possibility than he joins her, having come in quietly as she had her back turned. “Are you feeling well, my dear?” He takes her hand and brings it to his lips, and against her will, she responds. He is so very charming, and she is still in shock from the previous night’s events. He draws her close, and she breathes deeply into his shirt, trying to collect her swirling thoughts.

She finally draws back and dares to ask the question. “What are we doing here, and when are we leaving? I hate this place, and that awful man!” She grimaces at the memory of those cold blue eyes.

“I know you do, but we must remain for a few more hours. Do not worry, you are in no danger here; there is much that you do not understand, but it will soon become clear. Right now, you must be very hungry, since you never had dinner last night. Shall we go in to breakfast?”

Reluctantly, she takes his proffered hand, and she relaxes a little as they enter a large, sunny room where a sumptuous buffet of meats, eggs, pastries, fruits and juices is laid. It does smell wonderful, and she has not eaten anything since yesterday’s lunch. They fill heavy china plates with a delicious assortment of delicacies, and then go to a table near a window overlooking a walled garden. There is not much to see this time of year but wind-tossed black branches and a few birds eating red berries in a tangled hedge, so she looks around the room and notices a man in the corner, seated alone and reading a newspaper. She cannot see his face, but she can tell that he is tall and bulky. An impressive amount of food is already set before him, and just then, a uniformed servant enters carrying a large covered serving dish, which she puts down in front of him after removing an empty plate. Lila is surprised to see an entire roast duck, brown and crisp, in a thick sauce with stewed fruits, not exactly what one would expect for breakfast fare. It smells wonderful, and she wonders why he is getting such special treatment instead of eating from the generous buffet offerings.

Dev follows her gaze; his back is toward the big man, and he turns around. “Oh, Lila, here is our gracious host!” He stands and gives a little bow. “Sir, you do set a good table for your guests, and it is much appreciated.”
The man lowers his newspaper and nods toward Devon. His face is broad and ruddy, and so blunt it looks unfinished and somehow disturbing, like a bad clay molding of a sculpture. Then he looks directly at Lila and again, as she did with the German the night before, she feels the force of unwelcome attention. In his crude face she sees bottomless greed, and not just for food; it is a mindless avarice, unblinking, uncaring, gathering everything it wants before it without restraint, and it seems that what he wants now is her. Then he looks down at his plate and stabs his knife decisively into the duck. The smell of the rich food around her suddenly loses its appeal, and all she can think of is getting away from this assault on her senses. (Perfume:  Dev 3 by Ellen Covey of Olympic Orchids.)

Now she is even more dismayed at the prospect of spending any more time in this house, but she has no idea what to do about it; she is at Devon’s mercy. She keeps her face expressionless and eats a few bites. If she is going to get through this day, she must have all her strength. She forces a smile for Devon and looks out the window again, finding the chilly vista more pleasing than before. She notices that there is a rustic wooden gate at the back of the garden, and just then, a lone figure crosses the windswept lawn carrying a rake and a large bucket, opens the gate and leaves the garden. She wonders idly what kind of gardening tasks need to be done on a blustery day like this.

Finally, they are done eating and Devon escorts her back to the upstairs bedroom. She is feeling much stronger, but she tells him she needs to lie down again, and although he frowns slightly, he agrees that she still looks tired and tells her he will come back in a couple of hours to check on her. She waits for a while until she cannot hear any activity in the hall outside, then she slips out and hurries across the hallway to a darkened alcove. The coast is clear, so she heads quickly toward what she hopes is a stairway that leads to the kitchen and hence to the garden. However, it is a false start, since the stairs end at a landing that has an iron grillwork gate barring the way. How strange, she thinks; why would a stairwell be closed off in such a way? She retraces her steps and decides to go down a side hallway instead, as there must surely be more stairs in such a large house.  She finds what she is looking for at the end of the tapestry-hung hall. As she looks around her to make sure she has not been seen, her eye catches one of the wall hangings. At first glance, it is beautiful, antique silk with golden tassels and rich colors, but the subject matter is something else again. Fearsome figures, hairy, muscular with horns and tails, and lustfully naked, cavort gleefully among images of men and women bound with ropes and chains, their faces contorted in horror. The intricate border on the tapestry, upon closer examination, is a pattern of crimson and orange flames embellished with curls of black smoke. She shudders and goes down the steps as fast as she can. What kind of people are these? As she reaches the landing, she stops short as she hears a deep voice below. Devon! He must not find her here! She races back up and flings open the first door she sees and shuts it behind her. It appears to be an unused bedroom. She leans her head against the door and wonders when it will be safe to leave. Now she hears footsteps, and more voices. To her dismay, they stop right outside the room where she is hiding, and now she can hear what they are saying.

“That girl will be mine, I tell you. After the ceremony, but before the sacrifice, I will have her. This is my house, and your plan is being financed with my money. You won’t get far without my influence with the Senator, either. Buying him was not cheap! He is a pitiful weakling, but he has powerful friends. Now we only have to wait for the war bill to come up for a vote, and everything will be set in motion, just as you wanted. Then he will be a traitor and he will be trapped by his secret, forever bound to do our bidding.”

“Agreed. Just let me at her before the sacrifice, when you have finished with her. I want to see that fear in her face again. Let her final thoughts be of me, and of what I will do to her. That little bitch, how dare she humiliate me in front of our guests last night! She is nothing, nobody, and I will show her what happens to my enemies!”  The German’s voice oozes menace like poison.

“Calm down, gentlemen, calm down. We only have until this evening, and after sunset I will bring her to the altar room.  She will come willingly, I have seen to that. You have seen that she is perfect for our purpose, and once the sacrifice is done, the future will be changed forever. It took me a long time to find her, the one who can change the course of history, so do not be impatient. All will come to us in good time.”  

The last voice was Devon’s, and suddenly she can’t breathe or think. They moved away from the door, still talking, and headed back to the main hallway. What if he goes to the bedroom and finds her gone? What can she do now? He planned her doom and she fell right into the trap, seduced by his charm and magnetism. She feels utterly alone and betrayed, her own fear strong in her nostrils and a coldness seeping into her very bones.  From across the room, the ashy smell of a dead fireplace makes her feel even more desolate. The events of the past two days flicker in her mind like a bad movie, the images burning into her brain; the meeting in the café, the strange taxi ride, the  decadent night in the hotel, and the shock of meeting an infamous war criminal just a few hours ago. He has deceived her so completely, and she can’t comprehend the enormity of his treachery. (Perfume:  Dev 4 by Ellen Covey of Olympic Orchids.)

Now she runs for her life, down the stairs and into a small foyer. She heads toward where she thinks the kitchen must be, hoping there is a door that opens into the garden. It’s her only chance, because she will never get past the front door into the main courtyard. She knows it can’t be seen from the bedroom she was in, so she should be safe for a few minutes. There it is, a side door with a row of sturdy pegs next to it that holds boots and heavy winter coats. She grabs a bulky jacket and puts it on, flipping the hood up to hide her flaming hair. Mercifully, the door is not locked and she exits; dropping into a crouch, she moves along the wall where she thinks the window of the breakfast room must be and presses against it as closely as she can. Finally, her legs shaking with cold and effort, she reaches the upper end of the garden wall, and all she has to do is make it as far as the gate and hope that the man she saw this morning did not lock it behind him. She stands up and walks slowly down to the end of the garden. If anyone happens to look out a window, she hopes she will appear to be one of the gardeners. She can barely keep from breaking into a run, but she forces herself to walk normally. She reaches the gate and puts her hand on the latch; it swings open without a sound. Outside the wall is a forest without much cover among the bare birch and maple trees, but there is a small pine thicket a few hundred yards away and she makes for it, walking briskly but not yet daring to run just in case she can be seen from the house. Reaching its shelter, she plunges into the center until the trees surround her and collapses on the cold ground, weeping with relief and terror. She has to find a way out of this, but she is lost and alone and in the grip of something so evil that she can’t understand what is happening to her. After what feels like hours, finally sure that no one has seen her, she struggles to her feet and leaves the stand of pines, heading away from the garden. Now she breaks into a run, heedless of where she is going as long as it takes her far from this dreadful place. She dares to look back just once, and the house seems to be staring at her with hollow, haunted eyes as it recedes into the distance. She turns again and flees, unaware of where she will end up, but knowing that she has no choice but to put it behind her. Into the woods she goes, deeper and deeper, as the afternoon shadows grow longer and the night approaches.

To be continued…

Image credit: Special effects flower photo by Donna
Disclaimer: All the Devilscent perfumes were sent to me for testing by the participating perfumers.


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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Foodie Sunday: Soup for Supper!

By Beth

I love soup for supper! In fact, I've never met anyone who doesn't enjoy a steaming bowl of great soup, along with some good bread and a salad on a cold winters night! Last nights inspiration came from a wedge of Rogue Creamery's "Smoky Blue" that was leftover from our Winter Solstice party and a bottle of Tawny port that I hadn't yet put away! Add a bit a bacon, some potatoes and a generous ladleful of cream and you have a very elegant soup that you'll definitely want seconds of.
I've added a description from IGourmet for the Rogue Creamery blue. It's guaranteed to make you want to run out and buy the biggest chunk of it that you can afford! Trust me, it's worth it! The fragrance alone is incredible but the cheese is buttery and delicious .  So far I've melted it on hamburgers and pork chops,  crumbled it into salads, made this soup and served it with pears, grapes, apples and crusty bread.  Rogue Creamery smoky "Oregon Blue" can be found at any great cheese  counter near you! Don't buy it just on my recommendation though…Ask for a taste. Your senses will begin to dance…I promise!

"Rogue Creamery's "Oregon Blue" was the first blue cheese ever made on the west coast and they thought it only fitting that this cheese become the first blue cheese ever smoked. The result is magic! "Oregon Blue" is a classic Roquefort style blue cheese that is cold smoked 16 hours with Oregon Hazelnut shells. The smoking process releases a sweet creamy Smokey flavor that balances both the sharp blue flavor and sweet creamy flavor of the 100% natural full cream sustainable milk from Bonanza View Dairy."

This soup recipe is very simple. Just saute a cup of chopped onion, some fresh sage and about a cup and a half of diced, naturally raised bacon with a half a stick of butter in a stockpot until gently browned. Add 3 cups of diced yukon gold potatoes and 6 cups of good chicken broth and let the whole thing simmer for about 20 minutes. Then add about a tablespoon of fresh thyme,  2 and a half cups of crumbled blue cheese, for this I used a combination of the smoked blue and some stilton. Stir that in (it melts easily) and add a pint of heavy cream. (I said this was delicious but I didn't say it was low cal!) Let the whole thing just simmer nicely for about 10 minutes and then add about 2 shot glasses of port and give it one or two turns with an immersion blender ! This last step isn't necessary, but I like my soup a bit creamier! Last but not least,  I  added some chopped green onion and grated fresh apple for a pretty garnish. A twist of a pepper grinder makes it piquant, but you probably won't need any salt!

I served this last night as a main course with a simple salad of fresh pear and red onion dressed with a French apple cider vinegar and a bit of garlic oil and of course, lots of crusty good bread!  A glass of "Angry Orchard" or any other  hard cider is the perfect compliment for this soup, or a white wine that's a tad sweeter, perhaps a viognier ?  There is some of it leftover so tonight I will probably serve it as a first course with a pear and pecan puree  and a tiny bit of shredded organic ham for the garnish alongside the chicken that I'll set to roasting in the oven very soon!

So tell me. What are your favorite soups  to keep you warm on a cold winters day?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Magic Mushroom: Bruno Acampora Musc

By Tom

Katie Puckrik made a special guest appearances at ScentBar over the past few weeks, and of course I had to drop by and say "hi". She's exactly as she appears online: warm, funny and super-savvy about scents. Seeing her again was a pleasure.

Musc by Bruno Acampora was also a pleasure. LuckyScent waxes rhapsodic about it, writing of it as a "dramatic, untamed, sensuous musk that will get you noticed when you walk into the room and make the object of your desire weak in the knees". Well, okay.

Being a musk lover, I can't say it made me weak. but I did really love it. It's not as dirty as MKK, and certainly not as frighten-the-horses as JAR Fermes tes Yeux. The list of notes from LuckyScent are as follows: Musk, Rose, Violet, Vanilla, Cloves, Amber, Sandalwood.

The opening I get is mushrooms. Really good ones, like shiitake or chanterelles. You might be saying to yourself "I don't want to smell like mushrooms". Trust me, you do. It's delicious, and when it wears down it becomes a truly great musk. The lasting power is fantastic, so much so that if you get it on a sweater you'd better get out the woolite if you plan on trying to wear another scent. But you might not want to do that.

I can't wait to go back and try the oil..

$135 for 50ML, at LuckyScent, where I asked for a received my sample.

Image: Wikipedia Commons

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Foodie Sunday: Cooked Fruit

By Tom

Looking at a post online about the trend towards Orange pie I happened across a comment from someone who pointed out with horror that his mother used to serve as an appetizer grapefruit that was put under the broiler after a dusting of cinnamon (and I assume sugar) and served with a maraschino cherry. Some of the commenters bemoaned the idea of cooking any fruit as if it were anathema.

Now I am all for fresh fruit. But unless you're picking those blackberries from a shaded wild patch from a stand of New England trees in summer, you aren't getting the Apollonian idea of the fruit. Similarly to buying off-season tomatoes I've had peaches that had the consistency of pressboard and were about as juicy.

In short, those blackberries you bought at Trader Joe's in Ferbuary for $1.99 need some help, and cooking could do it.

Cooking can also be good with fruit that is past it's prime. I remember my Mom would put up preserves every fall, particularly buying a bushel or two of peaches that were trimmed (the dogs loved the smushy parts that didn't make it into the pot- likely bad for them but they lived a long time) and made into preserves. Raspberries that were not attractive enough to make it to the markets from the local farms or were so ripe they would be going off soon would be made into gorgeous jams that would be carefully laid down in the old coal cellar along with potatoes and apples that would last the winter.

It was a New England thing.

But back to that grapefruit.

I kind of remember that. I think we would have it at a fancy breakfast or Mom would serve it at a ladies lunch along with wafer-thin sandwiches made from brown bread with cream cheese and olive or white bread with a touch of butter and cucumber. Crusts off, of course. Back in the day, this was considered "diet" food. Well, since the men were having a filet cooked in butter, baked potato with sour cream and three Martinis in comparison I guess it was. After all, the closest they saw to a vegetable were the chives on the potato, since the parsley was just a garnish.

In any case, I think that grapefruit should come back. It's basically a great idea. Grapefruit I love, but a lot of people can't stand it because it's too tart. sprinkled with sugar and blasted with a salamander (expensive for broiler) takes care of that. If you can unearth a grapefruit knife (which I have not seen since my parent's 1970's kitchen), you can perfect the grapefruit (remove the soft fruit) then remove the bitter membrane and return the fruit to the shell, sprinkle with turbinado sugar and put under the broiler for 30 seconds to brown the sugar. Play around and add some raspberries or blueberries. Have some fun!

Don't get me started on the joys of prunes..

Image: Bon Appetit

Thursday, January 03, 2013

New Years Resolutions

By Tom

We all make them. We all break them. If we're lucky, we keep some.

Last year, I made some that I kept. I made a resolution to walk more and lose some weight. I managed to do that one. The one where I would buy no perfume in the year lasted until April, I think, when I fell. I did get back on the wagon and only slipped once more in the year. That's pretty good, right?

So I made a couple for 2013. One didn't make it 24 hours- I decided to give up chocolate and on the first discovered a Kit Kat bar that I bought after Christmas. I was raised that wasting food is a sin.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

I've made others, like being better about my diet and starting to take my vitamins again. We'll see how those go..

So what are your resolutions for the coming new year, and what do you think your chances are for keeping them?

We will return to our regularly scheduled perfume-related postings next week

Image: Internets