Saturday, March 21, 2015

Almond Blossoms



It’s time for my annual visit in the holy land,  and luckily for me, there are still some almond trees in bloom. Their delicate appearance is very nostalgic and precious. They are not unlike cherry blossoms, but are far more delicate, fragrant and sweet. They have less petals too than most ornamental cherry varieties. 

The scent of almond blossoms is wonderful and comparable to sweet pea and honey, with surprising hints . It is not as powdery and heavy as plum blossoms yet not as subtle and floral as sakura (cherry blossoms).  

The kernels of almond, cherry, apricot, plum and peach and also apple seeds contain significant amounts of amygdalin, a glycoside that breaks up under enzyme catalysis into two glucose molecules, and one of benzaldehyde and the toxic hydrogen cyanide. Benzaldehyde is the main contributor to the “almond” or “cherry” type of scent, as can be found in so-called bitter almond oil (the oil is not typically produced from bitter almonds, but rather from a combination of the other kernels mentioned earlier). Of course, much care is taken as to remove the prussic acid (hydrogen cyanide) from bitter almond oils. 

Curiously, benzaldehyde also naturally occurs in oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus). But as an aroma, it is more familiar to us from pastry ingredients such as almond paste, marzipan and bitter almond oil, which was first extracted in 1803 by the French pharmacists Martrès, and synthesized less than 30 years later by German chemists Friedrich Wöhler and Justus von Liebig. Most “bitter almond oils” on the market are synthetically produced and only few are true almond oils. This is a very popular flavour and aroma ingredient, which the world consumes about 18 million kilos of, and it is much easier to . Therefore, one must make thorough inquiries before purchasing if wishing to avoid synthetics. 

But I digress. I’ve written plenty on the subject of bitter almond oils for Tu BiShvat. Before they fade completely and become green almonds - I’d like to focus on the almond blossoms in all their delicate glory. Smelling them fresh or the first time in a long while - it’s interesting to smell the connections between bitter almond notes and orange blossoms, for instance. As well as between almond flowers and benzaldehyde. Pressing my nose to the fresh flowers, I’m noticing that sweetness that one finds in orange flowers (also in season now), and the sweet-peas that are also in bloom. 








Friday, March 13, 2015

Preparing for Event with Smadar


I met with Smadar yesterday morning to plan our event together for next week. Her space is the old family house, a transplanted Swedish wood cabin, where they lived for many years when they just arrived to the village. Her husband, Yossi, was my 1st grade teacher, and for many years the couple ran a successful business of artisanal goat cheese and yoghurt and I babysat their kids. Once the family built a new home, they transformed their old house, with its 70 years old wood and all the memories it has soaked over the years, into a restaurant where my sister in law worked as a waitress for a while. So doing an event in this space is nostalgic and heartwarming also on a personal level.

Now the space holds many seats, some arranged indoors surrounding rustic wooden tables. There are more on the patio outside, under the grapevines (Smadar means grapevine flowers, by the way). Outside you'll also find Smadar's other creative outlet: mosaic tables that she makes herself from fragments of pretty plates and broken ceramic tiles. We started the morning with smelling some of the liquid treasures I brought with me - oils of wild orange, orange blossom, lavender absolute and more; and I let Smadar smell the simple yet irresistibly wonderful spice essences of cardamom and ginger CO2 and nutmeg absolute which not surprisingly have sparked Smadar's imagination.



And I got to taste her wonderful Earl Grey-infused créme brûlée, which is velvety and caramel-like, and also her wonderful homemade jams: kumquats from her orchard - sliced to perfection and candied with cloves, and a classic strawberry jam with whole strawberries scattered inside a clear red jelly. But what we will serve in the evening we have planned for Thursday, March 19th (5-8pm) is going to be a surprise. All I will say for now is that it will offer a generous flight of homemade desserts paired with wonderful beverages such as organic wines from Lotem Winery, artisan teas (including a freshly made version of my Charisma tea - jasmine tea with herbs from Smadar's garden), and the guests will also experience matching perfumes and learn about the ingredients that all of these extravagant treats have in common - both in the raw form (spices, as well as herbs and flowers from the garden), and their essences (CO2, essential oils and absolutes).

To make reservations, call Smadar 054-8184345.

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Monday, March 09, 2015

Smadar be'Clil



We’re pleased to announce that next Thursday, Ayala Moriel Parfums will be co-hosting a magical evening of perfumes and desserts at Smadar be'Clil restaurant.

This is Ayala’s first event in Israel, and it is particularly exciting because it will take place in her home village in the scenic Western Galilee.

Ayala is visiting from Vancouver, Canada, where she has established a world-renown perfumery that specializes in natural fragrances, and also offers courses and workshops. Ayala collaborated with chocolatiers and tea masters to create a unique collection of scented chocolates and teas.

Guests will enjoy an evening of Smadar’s seasonal desserts with matching perfumes, all inspired by the same ingredients, some in Smadar’s own garden and orchard - such as orange blossom, rosewater, ginger and lavender. They will be further paired with organic wine from Lotem Winery.

When: Thursday, March 19th, 5-8pm

Where: Smadar be'Clil

How much: 80 NIS

Reservations: Call 054-8184345

מסעדת סמדר בכליל שמחה ונרגשת לארח את אילה לערב מתוק של קינוחים ובשמים.
נחווה ונלמד על הקשר הקסום בין טעם לריח. נזהה בבשמים ארומות מוכרות.
אילה מוריאל גדלה בכליל ומגיעה אלינו מוונקובר קנדה. היא מחלוצות הבשמנות הטבעית בעולם. הבשמים שעיצבה זכו בפרסים והוקרה עולמית. אילה מלמדת סדנאות וקורסים לבישום טבעי וקטורת, רקיחת מוצרי טיפוח, ובישול ואפייה ריחניים.
בערב המתוק נהנה ממגוון קינוחים יצירתיים המשלבים ריחות פרחים ופירות משכרים מעולם הבושם , ויינות תואמים מיקב לוטם אורגני
נריח בשמים מקוריים - כולם עם מאפיינים או רכיבים משותפים
המחיר למשתתף 80 ש"ח
להרשמה סמדר 054-8184345



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Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Tarnished Silver

Naming has the power of brining our attention to the subtle qualities of a scent. In Tarnished Silver, botanical extract expert Dabney Rose brings forth the metallic qualities of violet. I've been fortunate to experience several of Dabney Rose's innovative botanical enfleurage of hyacinth, which she added to my order of hydrosols, and have also traded a copy of my book for her gorgeous pommades of tuberose breathtaking butterfly ginger which I have recently reviewed here. Tarnished Silver is the first perfume blend I'm experiencing from this talented lady. This time it arrived in my mailbox completely unannounced (though most welcome!) alongside a beautifully assembled collection of handicapped Kyphi incense. They all arrived right before I left for my trip, and I left them behind, knowing I will not have the appropriate conditions for incense burning on my travels.

Tarnished Silver, however, was tucked in my carry-on and I'm enjoying it immensely. I am now riding the train to the north part of Israel - the Western Galilee. Stretches of fields, meadows, orchards, and factories pass by the window, and glimpses of the Mediterranean sea delight the spirit as the train gently rocks and hums its way to our destination. There is wi-fi here (which I won't easily come by when I reach my home village, and off-the-grid hippie haven). So here I am again with a dab of Tarnished Silver on each wrist, enjoying the scenery.

It opens with a melancholy tinge of violets: at once sweet yet also bitter. Sharply green yet soft and diffused, almost powdery. It's amazing that fresh violets can be captured so beautifully with this vegan enfleurage - truly a labour of love. To the sweet ionone facets are added some other notes though subtle: honey, perhaps a tad of hay or flouve as well or something else that gives it a bitter sweet coumarin undertone. A touch of rose and oaks give it a very vintage feel, like Chypre from the turn of the 20th Century.


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Tuesday, March 03, 2015

EauMG Reviews Sandal Ale

"Sandal Ale smells like a sandalwood Indian Pale Ale (...) it’s effervescent and fizzy like an apricot pale ale with a shot of spicy ginger beer (...) this perfume completely surprises me. It’s this warm, spicy sandalwood that is woodsy but somehow delicious with a cool, refreshing elderflower liquor. And there’s a sheerness to it that makes it refreshing, like a cold pale ale on a hot day. It’s like a “splash of sandalwood”."

Visit EauMG to read the rest of Victoria Jent's review of Sandal Ale, my newish release from 2014 that melds together and celebrates sandalwood and craft beer.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Fresh Nose



A huge part of my work is educational, either spontaneously via interactions with customers and random encounters at social events; or intentionally through workshops and classes I offer. 
This past winter holiday season, I had a blast interacting with children at a Christmas show last year. Unlike their parents, they're not spoiled yet with misconceptions against fragrance (like so many folks in Vancouver - everyone claims to be "allergic", where in fact they are more like just ignorant and close-minded). These children's curiousity and sheer delight at smelling something new was so refreshing that it stuck with me for months after the fact! 

Time and again, I meet adults that are so jaded about perfume (and probably life in general). They act like they've seen it all, even though it is more likely that they are too scared to step out of their comfort zone and experience anything new. How many times have you met someone who just jumps at the opportunity to rather than just claim that they "live life to the fullest" (a cliché I hear so many times that I want to scream and run for the hills), where in fact, they just want to do the same thing over and over again because they identify with the notion of being "au naturele" or whatever their rational or made up ideology is behind not wearing fragrance is.

Back to those sweet kids: their enthusiasm was heartwarming and their natural curiousity was inspiring, to say the least. I had two main encounters with them that stuck with me. One was with two friends who were about seven or eight years old. They smelled and tried different perfumes and when one of the girls inquired about price, she wasn't discouraged because she could not afford it (the point when most adults glide their gaze elsewhere and remove themselves as swiftly as possible from my booth) - but was excited that she can try it on. I also mentioned to her the price of the samples, in case her allowance might be closer to that. The other girl, who was by then exploring the tucked-away Zodiac line, came back after a few minutes, and asked me if Taurus had a sample... So sweet! Of course I sent them off smelling heavenly and gave them pretty postcards and scent-cards with some of the scents they liked.

The other pair were a brother and a sister, probably about ten and eight, respectively. The girl was smelling and enjoying the display of testers, while the boy went on and on with questions about how perfumes are made, how oils are extracted, whether or not I grow the plants and distill them myself, all dotted with clever attention to detail and more interesting questions than many interviewers in professional magazines ever bother asking. I was hoping they will never leave my booth because the rest of the show was mind-dumbing boring, thanks to the uninterested crowds.

And then there was a woman older than my mother, who visited the booth and was probably more excited about the notion of having a perfumer in the city than any other person I've ever met. She sat there for hours, sniffing, sharing stories, swooning in pleasure and near-ecstasy elicited by the scents I've created (what an honour!) and inviting anyone who as much as peeked at my room to come in and marvel at the rarity of the opportunity of meeting the perfumer who created them.

While I'm more than just a tad tired and bitter about the current state of affairs in my city during craft and holiday shows, and in particular what seems to be like a pathetic downhill tumbling of the city's culture thanks to the sense of entitlement so many people seem to have whenever they interact with one another -- I am most thankful for these three occurrences of graceful interaction with future generations and with the lady who truly appreciates perfume. Don't ever underestimate what a kind word to an artisan or a small business owner can do. They might just decide to not quit thanks to you!

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February Giveaway: NARCISO

Half of February has already passed, and I now realize I haven't even posted my giveaway for this month... Time flies!
So, for this month we've got a little Narciso beauty pouch with a scented body lotion, as well as eau de parfum spray samples of this fragrance.

Reminder for the rules: Each month, blog commenters (on all and any post) will be entered into a draw on the first day of the following month. The winner is selected at random. You must respond via email with a mailing address in order for me to be able to send you the prize. If a prize is not claimed,  it will go to another random commenter, or will be offered again at a later time. Winner who have already won something in the past 12 months will not be entered into the draw.

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Friday, February 13, 2015

Tuberose Pommade and a Flower Meditation



The other enfleurage pommade I ordered from Dabney Rose was a tuberose one. If you've smelled fresh-cut tuberose before, you'll be appreciate the glorious beauty of the living flower that has been captured in the vegetable oil base of this pommade. You can read more about the process and what pommade means in my post about the equally stunning Butterfly Ginger pommade.

Capturing a living flower's true scent is an enormously challenging feat. Dabney Rose does an incredible labour of love growing her own plants in a glass hothouse and her own little garden, and she must be tending to each blossom and petal with much care while growing them, and of course handpicking and placing them in the coconut-base vegetable alternative to enfleurage.

The Tuberose Pommade brings to mind spring eternal when the entire room is intoxicated from a single cut stem. It transports you to a hot summer night on the beach, adorned with a lei of tuberoses and gardenias. I am yet to experience this in real life, but my imagination is quite satisfying and a dab of real tuberose is enough to make it feel real. All is needed is to close one's eyes and surrender your senses to this beauty, for it is fleeting.

The pommade is not a solid perfume, but a pure, single note extraction - a rather antique method, like the one invented in the city of Grasse. It does not last long, which demands you do pay attention to it while it lasts. With such rare beauty, a floral meditation is in order, once you apply this white unguent to pulse points or even finger tips. Take a few moments off your stressful day to appreciate this beauty. Or better yet - start your day that way. Dedicating the beginning of your day to gratitude and appreciation is the best way to start the day. Invite life's blessings and pause to fully appreciate it, and more will come your way.

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