Thursday, March 21, 2019

Happy Norouz!

Persian Chickpea Shortbread & Hyacinths for Noruz

Happy Spring Equinox! Happy Norouz! Happy Purim Eve!

So many thanks to celebrate in one day... And as if that's not enough already, today is also the official 18th anniversary of Ayala Moriel Parfums.
As if to celebrate with us all this beauty, life and abundance - millions of butterflies were migrating yesterday through our skies,
Thank you for being my customers and readers for so many years, and supporting what I do. It means to me more than I can express to each and every one of you personally.
As a symbol to my gratitude, I am offering you an 18% discount with the code Chai18 when you order online. This offer will continue till the end of March.
Persian Chickpea Shortbread Cookies for Noruz
P.s. The above cookies are Nan-E Nokhochi (Persian chickpea shortbreads), which I am still looking for a good recipe for. Mine came out a little sticky but the flavour was amazing, with cardamom, pistachios and a splash of rosewater. They are gluten free and should be melt-in-your-mouth marvellous!



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Saturday, March 16, 2019

New Sign

New Sign
Our new address is now official, with the first street sign ever installed in my village. It took a long time for a sign to the village to be installed (and not removed). For the village to be "on the map" even, with its very strong headed 700 or so inhabitants unwilling to conform to any standards.
In any case, I am here and I like my new address on the Incense Route. Perfect timing as this month I'm celebrating Ayala Moriel Parfums' 18th year anniversary. It really should be a year around celebration, but that would be rather exhausting, would it. 
New Sign
(This pic serves as a bit of context, and also in case you passed the entrance, this is how it looks from the other side of the road.) 

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Four Copals Incense

Four Copals Incense Cones Drying
I'm getting deeper into the world of incense again, which is like coming a full circle (for those who don't know me, my perfume path began with incense). I enjoy the earthiness of this occupation, taking into consideration other aspects that are not relevant to the ethereal perfume making, such as shape, colour, texture of all the materials and how they need to be processed by hand. And also I'm a bit of a self-confessed incense addict when it comes to burning good incense. It's a great way to start the day with and clear all the cooking smells after breakfast. It helps me to concentrate when I want to practice Pilates or meditation. And it changes the atmosphere in the room within a few moments, sometimes also making people who are terribly chatty and obnoxious swoon and start to really listen to what's around them. This is especially pertinent to large groups that sometimes visit my studio.

It's much trickier than making perfume, so I am progressing very slowly. And find it a challenge on all fronts - first of all there is the challenge of designing the fragrance to smell good in all stages, including after the burn (aiming for that wonderful afterglow you find in a room long after an incense has been lit in). This is affected by many other factors besides the actual materials, including the shape of the incense. And this is where I'm still struggling majorly.
Four Copals Incense Making (Dough stage)
I've been trying to form incense sticks and almost every time I make a batch specifically for that shape it ends up impossible to make them properly (these fuzzy sticks in the pic below are not what I'm after!).
Untitled
So again, I resorted to making cones. These are lovely looking albeit labour intensive to shape by hand. What I like about them is that they stand on their own and don't scatter ashes all over the place. They can be placed on any heat-proof surface and will hold their shape after combustion. What I like less about them is how fast they burn and how much smoke they make. Because their circumference of ember keeps growing, they only intensify in smoke as they progress down the cone.
Four Copals Incense Testing
The result of these Four Copals incense cones is almost as perfect as I wished them to be. Their base is a combination of sandalwood and trailing arborvitae, the latter was added as a last resort because the mixture was far too soft and moist. I wish I added something more neutral - I have a feeling this creates extra smoke. But I was worried about making it sandalwood-dominant. It has a pinch of Palo Santo, and other than the sandalwood, it is very heavy on the copal: four types were used and ground by hand in a marble mortar and pestle: Mayan Copal, Gold Copal, Black Copal and White Copal. They are now available for purchase (very small amount was made, but I will happily make more if you like!).

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Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Persian Carrot Jam

Carrot Jam

Carrot jam is a traditional Persian jam made for the holiday of Nowruz. I always like to find new recipes for using carrots - to me they are like magical golden roots, and their existence is surprising especially if you know the wild carrot (Daucus carrota), AKA Queen Anne's Lace. Although this is an impressive plant - its root is thin and colourless. How it became to be the plump orangey sweet thing that it is today is nothing short of amazing!


The recipe below is a spin off on Yasmin Khan's recipe from her book The Saffron Tales, with small adjustments of my own - because I can't follow a recipe straight as it is without adding my own "flavours", especially when I have wild oranges ripe on my very own tree! Also, I would advise using pectin for this jam as it is very runny and syrupy even after exceeding the cooking time. 


I intend to serve it at Vashti's High Tea this Thursday, an event I planned to coincide with the Vernal equinox. However, due to Purim happening that same night, we'll celebrate it a week early. It is not going to be as lavish as my tea parties in Vancouver, because Israelis don't understand half a thing about tea... To them "tea" means any bunch of herbs picked from the garden and thrown in a glass of water. Which is charming and delicious but not "tea" in the proper way as it is known in Asia and many other parts of the world that truly appreciate tea!




Nevertheless, it is going to be fun and flavourful. And most importantly - this is going to commemorate 18 years of my brand's existence. If you can't make it to the event can still enjoy an 18% off your online purchases with code Chai18 throughout the month of March. Chai is not so much for the type of tea but the word in Hebrew meaning life, and which is also the number 18, numerically speaking. If you're jewish you know exactly what I mean... If you're not then look it up


Now, let's cook some jam!

Ingredients:

500 g carrots, grated
5 green cardamom pods
A few strands of saffron
Zest of one small Seville orange (you may substitute with another citrus rind to your liking, i.e. sweet orange, blood orange, lemon or lime)
500ml water
250g granulated sugar
3 Tbs Seville orange juice
1 Tbsp rosewater
- Wash and grate the carrots (peel if they are not as fresh and the skin is bruised etc.) 
- Peel the cardamom pods. Crush the seeds in a mortar and pestle.

- Add the seeds and the cardamom shells in a medium sized pot, as well as the saffron strands and citrus zest, water and sugar.


- Bring to the boil and then turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, allowing the sugar to dissolve completely and the water to reduce.
- Add the grated carrots and bring to a rolling boil. Cook for 20 minutes until the carrots are soft and the water is syrupy. 
- Meanwhile, sterilize your jam jars:  Preheat the oven to 140C/ 225F, wash the jars and lids in hot soapy water and put them in the oven for about 10 minutes. When they have dried completely remove them from the oven and leave to cool.
- Once the carrots have cooked for 20 minutes, and are completely soft,  lower the heat, add the citrus  juice and rosewater and cook for another 5 minutes or more, until the syrup has thickened a bit. Remove from the heat, transfer the jam to the sterilized jars and seal.

- Leave to cool completely, store in the fridge and eat within a month.

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Monday, March 11, 2019

Hyacinth Enfleurage

Wild Hyacinths (Hyacinthus orientalists)
Wild Hyacinths on Mt. Meron, which preceded my cultivated hyacinths by only a few days.
Hyacinth Enfleurage, 1st Batch
Cultivated clusters of hyacinths from my garden  on enfleurage fats
Hyacinth Enfleurage, 1st Batch
Enfleuraging hyacinths in vegetable fats.
Hyacinth Enfleurage, 2nd Batch
Different colours, same fragrance...
Hyacinth Enfleurage, 2nd Batch
2nd batch of hyacinth enfleurage
Hyacinth Enfleurage, 3rd Batch
Another colourful hyacinth harvest.
Hyacinth Enfleurage, 3rd Batch
3rd batch of hyacinth enfleurage
Hyacinth Pommade
Hyacinth pommade, ready to be extracted into alcohol and produce hyacinth extract from enfleurage. This will be macerating for several weeks before it can be used anywhere as a perfume. I kept some of the pomade as it is to be used a solid perfume.


Friday, March 08, 2019

Wild Cyclamens Treasure Trove

Wild Cyclamens Treasure Trove

Wild Cyclamens Treasure Trove

Wild cyclamens, (Cyclamen persicum) in Hebrew عصا الراعي  רקפת מצויה in Arabic, or Persian Cyclamen in English -  have a very peculiar scent, subtle and unnoticeable to the unsuspecting nose, but if you do make the effort to bring your nose close enough to their rocky hiding spots (they grow mostly in the crevices of rocks, where they have a nice storage of water and less chances for the wild boars to dig them up) - you will be surprised.
These pink, fluffy and symbolically shy flowers have a dark-leathery, mineral, mossy and almost tar-like (there are lichens here in creeks and forests that smell like tar hence the mossy reference).
Wild Cyclamens Treasure Trove
It is very rare to see so many of them together like in this photo - so the smell is usually very subtle and only noticeable if you bend over and press your nose to them... Finding this treasure trove of cyclamens in this pine forest, shrouded with this tarry, mineral scent - was an interesting experience to be sure.
Wild Cyclamens Treasure Trove
Wild cyclamens are a protected species, but it is allowed to pick a few leaves (up to 2) per bulb, and use them for food for personal purpose. They can be stuffed and cooked much like grapevine leaves. Something I must try soon before the leaves are all gone! The leaves have a stunning, reptile-like design, and each bulb produces leaves with its own unique and recognizable pattern. So you can easily tell if you picked enough from a bulb and allow it to grow and produce flowers and more seeds quietly and store more energy for next year.

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Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Carmelit

RIcotia lunaria
Carmelit (Ricotia lunariaכרמלית נאה is a delicate flower from the Cruciferae (Brassicaceae) family which grows in large groups and blooms in late winter and early spring. If you look at an individual flower alone (which is rare, because it always grows in large groups), it does not stand out at all, expect for its definite crossed-bones-like shape. It is named after the Carmelite order, which was established on Mount Carmel in the 12st Century (the same order also invented the famous Carmelite Water), whose symbol of a cross with heart-shaped tips it resembles. Other English names for the flower are Maltese Cross Ricotia (whose cross it also resembles) or Egyptian Honesty.
Ricotia Lunaria (Carmelit) כרמלית נאה
The flower is endemic to Israel and Syria (which means it grows nowhere else by these two countries - in Israel it grows only in the north of the country). Because these plants grow together, their blossoms cover large areas creates an impressive effect like floating purple haze above the ground. Which is nothing short of magical. Another aspect which is not any less magical is their fragrance: a delicate perfume that is the epitome of wild flower fragrance, reminiscent of night-scented-stock with hints of carnations when it's sunny, and becomes almost too heady on dry and hot spring days; and becomes all delicate, demure and cold-flower-smelling at nightfall. 

Here are a few more photos, which will hopefully transfer some of their magic despite the fact that their scent is inimitable.
Ricotia Lunaria (Carmelit) כרמלית נאה

Ricotia Lunaria (Carmelit) כרמלית נאה





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