Friday, July 30, 2010

In With The New!

In With The New!, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

As the maple-wood display clears some space, new perfumes are allowed to enter...
While I didn't have any plans of launching a new perfume till the wintertime, I'm adding these to the studio display only, so I can see how these 4 fragrances are received and decide what to add to the collection in the future. Most of these are made with rather rare ingredients, so they probably will be limited editions.

And while we're at it, I'd like to hear your opinions: which types of scents are missing from my collection? Are there any perfumes you're dreaming about and would love to smell in the near or far future. Comment below and enter to win samples of the limited editions Jasmine Pho and Tea Rose.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Out With The Old...

Out With The Old..., originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

I reorganized my testers this afternoon to make room for some new limited editions at my studio.
The testers for these fragrances - Arsenal, Coeli, Guilt and Magnolia Petal - have stepped out to make room for new fragrances, about which I will be posting shortly.

P.s. Attention online shoppers: There are still last few bottles left for these - 1 flacon and 1 roll-on in Magnolia Petal; 1 miniature of Guilt; a 10ml roll-on of Arsenal. Coeli is completely sold out.

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Etsy Shop Closing

Those of you who are my Facebook friends or follow me on Twitter know that my Etsy shop will be closing soon. How soon? As soon as my last listing expires. The very last one would expire September 12th, but there are older listings that will expire only a few days from now, and will never be offered on my website in the future - i.e. the Zodiac perfumes.

Since Etsy seems like such a fun online community of crafters and artists and their shops - and since I have met some amazing people and very wonderful clients and customers as a result, I think it is important that you know why I made this decision. It has nothing to do with the people who frequent it. It has to do with how this site is managed and how Etsy treats their customers and sellers.

In all my 9+ years of business, I've been priding myself on giving the best customer service I can possible provide, even though I am a one woman show. When there is a problem with orders (i.e.: lost, stolen, or spillage en-route, which is inevitable when you make your living off volatile liquids) I always managed to successfully solve the problem to my customers satisfactory. And up till recently (being a bout a month ago), I've never had a single chargeback in my entire business history.

Unfortunately, when dealing with an intermediary website, some things go out of control. Especially when the said website has business practices of ignoring emails of both customers and their own sellers (which is how they make their money to begin with). The manner in which Etsy has handled customers inquiries (ignoring them) and how accountable they were in the process of chargeback negotiations (again: ignoring them, unless you count automated responses as dealing with the issues at hand) forces me to conclude that this is a risky place to be doing business at.

Ignoring customers and sellers inquiries and providing no information whatsoever to help me recover lost money AND merchandise from a customer who "changed their mind" about the order some 5 months later is what I experienced. And even though it is one very isolated and rare case, I'm at no financial position to take that risk of losing my business reputation and credit, not to mention the money and merchandise I've lost in this incident. And all because of Etsy's poor business practices.

And to top it off, it turns out that Etsy now allows sellers to list products that are not made by themselves, but by their "employees". This is where art and craftsmanship ends and sweatshop and commercialism begins in this website. I bet we will be seeing a lot of "crafts" with a littelg olden "Made in China/Taiiwan" stickers on them listed on Etsy soon.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Bath Salts Poll

Last Christmas I create a line of five pampering bath salts. Over a year later, they all seem to have been warmly received, except for the Lavender one (with vanille and licorice notes), so I will cease from producing it (there are still a few jars left, so you can still order them while quantities last).

Would you like to see another scent replacing the Lavender one? Or would you be satisfied with the four remaining scents - Hinoki, Geranium, Spruce or Yuzu?

Here is a poll for you with some ideas of scents that could possibly go well in bath salts preparation. Let me know your thoughts! Your opinions are valued and appreciated.

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Gilded Lily - New Perfume from Ineke

My friend and collegue Ineke in San Francisco has just informed me of her new perfume to be launched September 2010, titled Gilded Lily. Intrigued by the Goldband Lily of Japan (Lilium aurantium), which is now the basis for many of the modern lily hybrids.

Gilded Lily is a fruity Chypre, with top notes of pineapple and rhubabr, heart notes of goldband lily, and a base of oakmoss, patchouli and amber. I will tell you more about it after I smell it.

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This is the last you smell of...

After a long time of trying to give these perfume a chance to make it to my customers, I've finally given up and I'm going to file all the vats in a box that will be labeled "Unloved" and just leave it at that. There is a bit of a relief in admitting one's failures, and I'm glad to share them with you as well as my guesses to why they are such a flop. And my definition of flop is selling 5 bottles or less, so please don't beg me to bring them back in. It's just not going to be worth it. Although as usual - I will be glad to make a minimum batch 15ml just for you if you are such a lover of any of these scents.

This is the last you will smell of the following scents:

Coeli - Apparently, my customers are not too keen on aquatic florals. Point taken.
It was hard to let go of this one, because it's one of the very few (if not the only) natural aquatic floral perfume.

Democracy - the name must have scared my customers away. Clearly, perfume and politics don't mix well.

Arsenal - either there is something offensive about this name (though I doubt it, by the reaction I see at my studio and other events, usually it induces giggles and humorous comments. I think the reason this is doing so pathetically bad is because it's such a light citrus scent. And for my price margin, you really want to get something more long lasting than a citrus. For a citrus kick, you will get more for your bucks by buying 4711. Another reason why nobody seems to excited about adding this to their arsenal of fragrances, is because it's a bit of a novelty scent: everyone likes to the refreshing aroma of gin and tonic, but who actually wants to smell like that?
There's a 10ml perfume oil of Arsenal, and that would be the last time I'll make this cocktail.

Sutul - This white floral started out as a personal joke about Samsara's name. I'd have really hard time to describe what this means in Arabic (and Hebrew slang). So those of you who speak either will probably get the joke... Anyway, it's a sheer white floral with lots of jasmine, sandalwood and rosewood. It's pretty, but it's not as exciting or unusual as my other white florals. There are a handful of sample, and the 5ml roll-on bottle we got now will be the very last of it.

I also have my doubts on bottles that have been selling more than the hopeless flops mentioned above, but very sporadically although they have been around for a while. So these ones too are going to go:

Guilt - Is it the name or the fragrance? I can't tell... And I got to admit: I'm still on the fence with this perfume and whether or not to discontinue it. While the perfume sells very slowly, the truffles named and flavoured after it (dark chocolate with orange blossom and wild orange) sell like hot cakes. Next year I will be launching my Guilt sugar scrub (those who are coming to my tea party August 8th will get to test it!). Perhaps the concept of "Guilt" works better for luxury food and body care products?! That being said, there is still a flacon left if you like chocolate, amber and orange blossom.

Coralle - this is a Ylang Ylang soliflore. Although usually a low-profile floral (albeit heady), it's not as alluring as jasmine, tuberose or orange blossom (Yasmin, White Potion and Zohar are my best selling soliflores). I think it did well for a limited edition, but now it's time is up. There are one flacon and one miniature left, and that's it. After they are sold there will be no more Coralle made in my studio.

Magnolia Petal - another limited edition soliflore, that should have been taken off the shelf long ago, but everytime someone wants it back. Magnolia is not usually a very popular soliflore theme, and I love the scent so that's why I wanted to create a soliflore. But I think it's time to let go. There is magnolia in quite a few other scents that are more sophisticated and interesting (Cabaret, Hanami, Razala). One parfum extrait flacon and one roll-on are still in stock, and that's that.

And last but not least - Ayala. It's hard to let go of the scent that has such significant personal history for me, but it's time to move on. Ayala was my first formulation, and I loved it and worn it a lot. It has its following, but I've definitely improved along the way enough to forget all about it.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Black Summer Truffles

amiamo il tartufo, originally uploaded by Firenze&Boboli.

Those of you who missed the fabulous fashion show last night will still be able to enjoy the new truffle flavour I've just invented and included in half of the goody bags (in the silvery sachets): Black Summer Truffle!*

The idea came to me when I discovered black summer truffle flavoured salt from Maison Coté.
This gourmet sea salt contains 3% dried black summer truffles, and 1% of truffle flavour.

Admittedly, I'm not a huge truffle fan. I like the scent, which is unusual, musky, earthy and heady. But as an aroma and flavour it's a bit much. So I used just a pinch of the salt in the truffles, and mellowed it with earthy wild mushroom absolute (aka Porcini or Cèpes). And to make a good thing even better - a shot of Bailey's Irish Cream!

Midsummer Tea Party will take place August 8th. Reservation is required for attending as space is limited. I hope to see you among my guests!

*The other half, in the golden sachets, were filled with orange blossom truffles - some were Guilt and some were Saffron Robe (I like variety when I need to roll hundreds of truffles!).

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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls: Polymath's Fashion Show @ Opus Hotel Tonight

This summer is busier than ever - and tonight I'm happy to share with that I will be taking part in Polymath's fashion show & private sale event at the Opus Hotel's bar Elixir. I'm sponsoring the event's goody bags (for the 1st 100 guests!) and I will have also a little display with my perfumes, jewelry, candles and some AMAZING new truffle flavours that I've been concocting this summer. I'm so excited to have my perfume line displayed alongside Tenth & Proper, AnyHat, and of course Emily Miller's fabulous dresses for Polymath Fashion!

From Emily's original invite:

"Polymath will be having a fashion extravaganza at the Opus Hotel showcasing a best of label feature inspired the romp & circumstance of the best of Russ Meyer :**Beyond the Valley of the Dolls**

Our Pop up shopping experience will take place in the Velvet Room and will feature some irresistible products and discounts by local companies. This is your chance to snap up a Polymath original at summer sale prices! You could literally view something worn on the catwalk and swagger out wearing it if it is love at first sight :)
Handbags & the season's other must have accessories showcased by Tenth & Proper and handcrafted perfumes by the immensely talented Ayala Moriel.

Join us to celebrate the summer in style over Bubbly + Canapes at one of Vancouver's finest venues....... Gift bags, Media wall and more surprises to come at the event!"

Designers and Sponsors:
Ayala Moriel Parfums
Hong Photography
JK Models
Opus Hotels
Pollymath Designs
Pink by Yellowglen
Tenth & Proper
Vancouver View Magazine

It's also listed on Facebook here so you .

Friday, July 16, 2010

Bloedel Conservatory Saved from Extinction

Could this week get any better? Apparently, this is the week of good news all around. Today I got the news that our efforts paid off and the Bloedel Floral Conservatory will not shut down after all!
I'm so excited about it, and if you you are new to this blog, click here to find out why this place is so important to me.

Also, those of you who can, please attend the upcoming Park Board Services and Budgets Committee meeting, which will happen this Tuesday, July 20 at 6:30 PM at the Park Board offices. To find a map to the offices, click here.

Thank you to all of you who helped me support the Bloedel Floral Conservatory by purchasing Frangipanni Gloves. As I promised, since Bloedel is saved, and with it the frangipanni bushes that grow within it, I will be continuing to produce Frangipanni Gloves for your enjoyment. And I will also continue to donate proceeds from this perfume to support Bloedel in the future.


Thursday, July 15, 2010


Last night’s swim brought an interesting olfactory surprise. I swam in the water of Sunset Beach, all the way to the large float that marks the boat traffic territory. The setting sun nearly blinded my eyes and I was hardly able to make out the couple in the rowing boat ahead of me. I stopped for a while, blocked off from my goal (to reach that big red ball and than swim back…) by the couple and while waiting for them to move on I noticed an unusual scent in the air.

The middle of the water is the place I least expect to smell anything around. Unlike a walk in the neighbourhood with its abundant gardens, it’s not as if you’d stop to smell the seaweed when you go for a swim… But surprises are what you find in the least expected friend. Just a few days before, I knocked into a good old friend in that very same water. So really, I should know better than to expect less than the unexpected!

The water was very cold, which is pretty much it’s normal thing year around in Vancouver. A peculiar scent, yet not at all unpleasant, wafted above the water and gently blew in my face fragments of raw fish, seaweed and something quite floral and strange. I believe to be the scent of ozone, at least partially, wafting just above the water. It was not unlike calone, but with none of the harsh, sickening quality of rotting fish and piercing rusty metal that I got when I smelled a 10% dilution of the watermelon ketone. Apparently, it could very likely have something to do with a particular brown algae’s metabolism or pheromones.

I’ve never felt that calone was in the least floral, but I can now see where perfumes such as Cool Water and l’Eau d’Iseey found their inspiration. The perfumers must have been either swimming or sailing in a very cold ocean at sunset searching for brown algae…

Bewildered, I turned around and swam back to the beach. It weakened as I approached the shore. But when I went back to the red float (the sailing couple was gone), the scent was there and as strong as before, and it was haunting me ever since. I tried wearing l’Eau d’Issey (which bears some similarities, and to my surprise smells a lot more like sheer woodsy incense scent now, but this is the parfum extrait). I went to the beach again the next day, but the scent was gone.

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The Velvet Room

I'm excited and proud to announce that Ayala Moriel Parfums are now sold at The Velvet Room.
2248 West 41st Ave Vancouver (Kerrisdale) 604-264-8664
Mon-Sat 10:30 am-5:30 pm and Sunday 12-4pm
The boutique carries Bon Zai, Roses et Chocolat and Tamya.

The Velvet Room exclusively showcases Canadian designers. All products are designed AND manufactured in Canada!
I can't begin to tell you how thrilled I am to have my perfumes displayed at the same location as some of my local fashion herose whose designs I adore and wear all the time.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Georgia Straight Interview

Read my interview to the Georgia Straight - "Moriel's natural scents subtle and intimate" which will be coming out in print tomorrow all over Vancouver!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Realizing A Dream

Ayala Moriel Parfums are now in two new retail locations at Dream in Vancouver.

Dream Apparel in Gastown
311 Cordova Street West (between Homer & Cambie)
Vancouver, BC V6B 1E5
(604) 683-7326
This location carries Bon Zai, Ayalitta and Tamya.

Little Dream Apparel Articles for People on Granville Island, in the Netloft building
130-1666 Johnston Street
Vancouver, BC V6H 3S2
(604) 683-6930
This location carries ArbitRary, Film Noir and White Potion.

Dream showcases local designers of fashion, accessories and jewelry (by the way - the lovely white leather bag in the window is made by my dear and talented friend JolaV). I'm really excited about this new collaboration and having my fragrances in the same space as so many favourite designers whose lovely wares accompanies me on a daily basis. Thank you, Dream, for realizing my dream of being in a retail space in Vancouver, at last!!!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

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Lavender Season!

Lavender Season, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

It's lavender season again!
I got back from the Farmer's Market with 3 bunches of fresh lavender flowers (I love baking with fresh lavender buds...). And I also picked up a bar of handmade goat's milk and lavender soap from Royal Herbs.

The lavender growers are from Bowen Island and you can tell they are at the market before even seeing them - the whole block has a gentle scent of lavender wafting about it...

Royal Herbs makes the most incredible vetiver soap imaginable - it smells great and I find it very moisturizing. Luke, the owner, told me that the lavender soap is actually the most moisturizing of all their soaps so I thought I'll give it a try this time. I tried it once, and although it smells very nicely of lavender and with a hint of goaty earthiness about it, I'm extremely partial to the vetiver still. I will have to give it a few more tries but the vetiver was instant love, while this one is just ok. The bar smells great though, and would make a nice linen freshener while using up other soaps. They also make a lemongrass soap, and a honey and almond soap. But knowing my personal taste and how much I enjoy the tranquil woodsy earthiness of vetiver, I think none will be a worthy contestant of the vetiver and French clay soap. I will keep you posted though.

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Sunday, July 11, 2010


Girl and Dog, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

With every dip or swim in the ocean, no mater how short or long, I come out feeling cleansed, purified. It feels as if I left something behind in the water... Something I probably did not need to keep carrying on my shoulders. I don't know what it is that has lessened my burden, but it sure feels good.

It’s evening. Rocking on my swing-bench in my balcony upstairs, I’m sensing my state of mind and typing it through my fingertips. The balcony is open to the skies that are now covered with summer clouds. Hinoki incense is burining, producing smokeless smoke, which feels more like vapours in a dry sauna.

Every muscle in my body is at once relaxed and exhausted. My brain, which nearly froze every time I put my head under the Pacific ocean’s grey and algae-specked water, is floating in a cheerfully wobbly place above all troubles.

I know there are many things I could worry about – a busy week ahead of me, with opening in (hopefully) 3 retails locations. I will need to work like mad in the next few days to get all the perfumes bottled and packaged neatly, and put together all the necessary display materials. And this is just one part of what needs to get done this week. But I’m feeling strangely unworried. Even though I can never be sure that everything will fall into place perfectly and with no challenge (when does that ever happen, anyway?!), I have a sense of peacefulness that nothing will disturb right now.

The ocean – a big mirror of unknown depth that takes away suffering and reflects our interior landscape of emotions, fears, fascinations and misery. Each wave takes away an obsession and turns it into an inspiration; transforms our suffering into grace and compassion. And while those healing powers exists for me year around as I frequent the sea in all its moods and season, the ability to immerse in it gives me a renewed sense of appreciation that goes beyond the sheer pleasure of being able to swim under the sun without the risk of hypothermia.

The sea bears many treasures – fish, pearls, ambergris... The the ocean’s greatest gift to us is the sea itself. I am grateful.

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Friday, July 09, 2010

Eau de Tinkerbelle

100 Jasmine Concrete
100 Muguet de Bois (Blanc)
50 Ivy
10 Citron
200 Snow Orchid (Silver)
30 Cloud Essence (Citrine-Vert)
1000 Liquid Air (Pink)
1000 Midnight Dew from Snow Orchid
Distill in a crystal ball for 24 hours, while shaking your bells vigorously.
No additional filtration is necessary

Eau de Tinkerbelle, a boronia soliflore I created in 2004, is back by customer request. I'll be blending one small batch for Princess Ellie, and than there will be 2 extra bottles for the boronia lovers among you to snatch and savour. The ingredients are really, really rare, which is why I will only be making a tiny amount of this.

Eau de Tinkerbelle is a green and playful attribute to the little envious fairy from Peter Pan. A single floral of the exotic and rare Tasmanian Boronia - a beautiful absolute reminiscent of freesias and violet, with a hay-like, sea-breeze undertone.

Top notes: Mimosa, Cassis
Heart notes: Boronia, Jasmine, Hyacinth
Base notes: Green Tea, Ambrette, Sandalwood

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Lime and Focus

Lime, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Yesterday’s session with my Orcas perfume turned out pretty well, but with one major conclusion: I need seaweed absolute. Badly. In fact, I think there would be no point to make more mods until I get seaweed absolute in. The seaweed I have is an essential oil and is very light. As a result, it only succeeds in playing a minor role in a formula where it has to be the centerpiece.

That being said, I’m happy with the direction this project is leading me, because it is fun, interesting and quite refreshing in the heat wave we are experiencing in the city again (yay!). I’ve been swimming in the ocean 2 nights in a row and intend to do so as long as the weather continues this way.

It is perhaps too early to cast real judgment on the mod of yesterday, because at least a week in the bottle make all the essences act and interact differently than when they are fresh. In this mod, I’ve decided to go back to lime after replacing it with lemon and bergamot in the past 3 mods (2-4). I stayed away from it only because I’ve noticed that every time I want to create something “masculine” I end up with both lime AND juniper. I was trying to avoid doing this again, but this part of the game is over. Lime reminds me of the beach, for whatever reason. Maybe it’s because it’s used in Coca Cola, which everyone seemed to want to drink at the beach (I’ve never gotten into coke, personally). But more likely – it’s probably because of the lemon-lime flavoured bubble gum that we used to indulge in as kids at the beach in the 80’s. There was this crazy brand of bubblegum that came out in the 80’s, in wicked flavours such as coconut, banana-punch (which is basically, cooked strawberry and banana flavour) and lemon-lime was one of those. What was special about those gums was not only their flavours (juicy and a little longer lasting than all the usually Israeli gums), but also they made the most enormous bubbles that we would cover your entire face once they popped. We literally blew bubbles the size of our heads and that was the coolest think we could think of doing, besides catching waves and escaping jellyfish stings.

By I digress. My point is: if lime reminds me of the ocean, I should stick with that! Keeping focus of an idea is always a challenge when you work your way through various mods. It’s so easy to side track and forget that what I wanted was… Wait a minute, what was it? Oh, yes: a woody marine, and preferably masculine.

This mode is actually quite focused, but like I said – there is a real urgent need for stronger seaweed to join the waves of woods and citrus and rosemary. It’s very similar to the last mode because like the last one it has the violet and boronia and cassie. Yet berries less sidetrack it and I used Virginia cedarwood this time to add a little dryness. I’ve also refrained from using oakmoss, and used cedarmoss instead, which is dryer.

Another danger when going through all the mods is redundancy. I already have Rainforest, which is a very West Coast, moist and musty green forest scent. And I already have l’Ecume des Jours, a marine floral, which has boronia, cedarwmoos and seaweed. I need to be sure I’m not repeating myself too much.

Mod. 5 starts very lime-like, than the rosemary comes to the front, with some seaweed, and than what I’m left with is mostly sweetness. I’m surprised at how sweet this is. There is no vanilla; there is no labdanum or amber. It seems to me, that at this particular ratio between the spruce and the vetiver, the blue spruce remains more balsamic than it ever were in previous mods. Now all I need is some seaweed absolute to reinforce the saltiness… And balance that foresty balsamic sweetness. I was thinking of other notes too – such a curry leaves and coriander seeds to add saltiness, but I don’t think this will be enough. And I’m also tempted to add some juniper, but I’m refraining from this because of fear of being redundant.

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Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Mossy Whale

Mossy trees, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

The moss sculpts its way on the tree trunks and branches along the Wild Pacific Trail. And I’ve heard it has something to do with how crisp and clean the air is there… The mosses and lichen love it and adorn the trees with their moss-green velvety ropes and silvery laces… And nearby, whales spit a mist of water from their lungs which towers abaove the water and they weave in and out of its depths along the rocky shores.

I wanted to play on these themes of moss and marine creatures in the 4th mod. As it turns out, I went a little too far though… I was a little adventurous, and rather than adjusting the formula a bit by changing only an element or two, I added many different elements and nuances.

First, I wanted to see what happens if I add some more violety notes, so I added even omre cassie absolute, which has a wet-wood and leather quality to it and also boronia absolute, which I find to have a certain oceanic quality about it that is hard to explain, but if you smell it you will understand what I’m talking about. And added even more Haitian vetiver!

Remembering the rotting squids also made me want to add something animalic and marine to the mix – and that’s when the ambergris joined the game. My original concept of making this a simple and not crazy expensive perfume (except for the seaweed, which is essential) pretty much flew out of the window right that moment.

I should have probably stopper right than and there to see what transpires of my efforts. But I was unhappy of whatever result was going, and added a little more of this and that – which included more citrus (lime) and more woodsy notes (juniper, cypress). But where everything went out of control was when I decided to go with nothing else but cherry cedar, which is distilled locally, and I thought would be very appropriate for this British Columbian theme. What I added accounts for just about 2% of the formula was clearly too much. All I could notice now was cedar, cedar, cedar… Red, local, whatever…! It was too much.

I let it rest for just one week. I came back to it yesterday, and the thing has transformed into the craziest berry-cedar perfume I’ve ever smelled in my life. And than it turns interestingly salty with the seaweed and boronia and the moss. It’s not bad at all. But it’s not Orcas yet - unless you are imagining a killer whale that picks wild berries and carves canoes from cherry cedar.

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Rosemary & Sea

Rosemary & Sea, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Before I went on to another bottle, I made some adjustments to what I told you about earlier. I sharpened and accentuated a few ideas – i.e.: increasing the seaweed a bit, as well as the spruce absolute and added some cypress to flesh out the woody element and in hopes of making it more “masculine” so to speak. I also increased the violety presence by adding a smidgeon of cassie absolute. I also added some citrus notes – bergamot and lemon – to brighten things up a bit and give the whole thing a lift. Egyptian geranium was necessary for added body at the heart notes, and to accompany it - a bit of a very high quality palmarosa, which added a clean yet floral freshness, expansive airiness to the composition. This still remained true to the original concept but just a little more developed.

I was also hoping to increase the salty levels in the composition by adding some atranol-free oakmoss, which I find to be more sheer and marine-like than the nearly ambery-musky full-profile oakmoss absolute (all oakmoss absolute sold these days have the atranol removed. It’s part of EU regulations, and since all oakmoss is produced in Europe – usually harvested in former Yugoslavia and extracted in Grasse) that’s all we’ve got, unless we stashed some oakmoss away.

At the same time, I felt that the rosemary was still quite strong, and the seaweed was not enough present. Which is quite strange given how potent it always seems on its own and how light the rest of the notes were.

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Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Rosy Rhubarb Crumble

Summer Fruit, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

As promised, I’m sharing with you my rhubarb crumble recipe. I couldn’t help but add something perfumey to the otherwise quite simple North American classic of rhubarb and summer berries bake – probably owing to the fact that I’m a Middle Easter perfumer, the pairing with rose was just inevitable.

Rosewater and rose sugar complement the tartness and slightly floral nuances in the rhubarb, strawberries and raspberries in this otherwise easy and laid-back recipe. It’s a heavenly summer treat and with reduced sugar comparing to other rhubarb recipes I’ve seen. I think the tartness is refreshing and overdoing the sugar takes away from the flavour (this is true for many recipes – and in fact, I usually cut the sugar in half in most North American dessert recipes – sugar is way overrated and overdosed in our continent!).

For the fruit "filling":

4 stocks of fresh rhubarb

2.5 lbs fresh garden strawberries

0.9 lbs fresh raspberries

2 Tbs. rosewater

2 Tbs. corn starch

½ cup raw cane sugar

1 Tbs. butter for the pan

- Butter a large and deep rectangular pan
- Clean and stem the strawberries and cut into half
- Place in a bowl and add the raspberries
- Slice the rhubarb and add to the berries
- Sprinkle the rosewater and sugar and toss well
- Sprinkle the cornstarch and toss until evenly spread within the berry and rhubarb mixture, and spoon into the prepared pan.
- Preheat the oven to 350F.

For the crumble topping:

1 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1 oz. butter (about 2 Tbs.)

¼ tsp. salt

2 Tbs. rose sugar (reserve 1 Tbs. for topping)

2 Tbs. Demerara sugar (reserve 1 Tbs. for topping)

50 gr. Sliced almonds

- Stir the oats, flour, salt and half of the sugars together.
- Cut in cold butter and mix with fingers or with a hand blender, until large crumbs are formed
- Mix in the sliced almonds
- Sprinkle the crumble topping onto the rhubarb and berry mixture in the pan. Sprinkle the remaining 1 Tbs. each of rose sugar and Demerara sugar on top of the crumble.

- Bake in the pre-heated oven for 40 minutes.
- Serve warm or at room temperature, on its own or with vanilla ice cream, crème fraiche or whipped cream.

P.s. A little note about the crumble topping: since these fly out of the pan pretty fast, I actually double the recipe for the crumble and reserve half for the next batch. The crumble is the only “pastry” like part so that makes the next crumble a no-brainer to whip up even on short notice, as long as you got some fresh fruit around!

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Rose Petal Sugar

Rose sugar is simply sugar flavoured with rose petals. You can get it in gourmet stores, or make it yourself. It can be used as a topping for crepes, and baked good such as fruit crumbles, shortbread, etc. or used a substitute for sugar whenever a rosy flavoured is desired.

2 cups evaporated cane sugar

1 cup dry rose petals

Pulse the rose petals in a blender or a food processor until they turn into little crumbs. Add half the sugar and continue to pulse until the consistency is quite uniform (but not so much that the sugar is powdered). Add the remaining half of the sugar, blend and store in an airtight container until use.

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Olfactory Souvenir from Long Beach

Butterfly, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

My visit to Tofino last summer left a lasting impression on me, and I was determined to turn it into perfume one day. The scents of the ocean never cease to amaze me, and fortunately, there are some raw materials in my palette that are authentic in both their origin and their manifestation. Take seaweed, for instance (which comes in oil, absolute and more recently - molecular distillation). It is so true to the scent of seashore and ocean breeze that it makes my heart skip a beat every single time, just like when the sea line approaches on the horizon on a Beach Day and you can see the lifeguard’s red flag saying swimming is not forbidden but a still a little dangerous…

Tofino, for those of you who aren’t familiar, is a little town on the west coast of Vancouver Island, which faces the great Pacific Ocean. Unlike the beaches within the Georgia Straight – the waves there are high and forceful. There is a high risk of tsunami there, because it is not too far from the “junction” of no less than three tectonic plates!

There are many magical spots in that area, which is almost continuously draped in mist regardless of season. The iconic big rock at Long Beach, which looks like a giant altar for sacrifice for the gods of the sea; The rainforest there are so clear, that moss grows on the trees in abundance, moss that I’ve never seen anywhere else. Every place you turn is like pure magic, even the hundreds of dead squids that were washed to shore and made some of the beaches reek of rotting marine carcasses. But certainly, the most memorable thing was the Wild Pacific Trail, where we spotted whales blowing and gasping for fresh misty air above sunken ships from centuries past.

In my very early days of perfumery, I created Orcas. It was a strange oceanic that smells a lot like Coca Cola – because besides the seaweed and the rosemary, which provided the core of the “ocean breeze” theme, I also put some lime, rose geranium, litsea cubeba, cinnamon and cloves. I liked Orcas, but it never really made it. I phased it out when I did the name switch (from Quinta Essentia to Ayala Moriel). I felt it’s time to update this perfume and give it a new spin, and that’s what I’ve been working on in the past month. I Love the name and wanted to keep it that way. I want the new Orcas to be more on the masculine side, very expansive and light, and distinctively oceanic.

Oceanic, Aquatic and Ozone notes have probably began with Dune by Maurice Roger (created in 1991 for Christian Dior). Although rather complex with its array of notes (Broom, Wallflower, Bergamot, Mandarin, Lily, Peony, Jasmine, Rose, Amber, Lichen, Musk, Sandalwood, Vanilla) - it was more about creating the impression of sand, seashore and ocean air rather than an evolution of notes. It is also the first in the genre of oceanic perfumes, later on expanded into the ozonic/oceanic and aquatic-floral fragrance family, with the introduction of the man-made molecule calone.

Creating a marine or oceanic natural scent poses a challenge because the palette of oceanic notes is limited and narrow – primarily the seaweed essences I’ve mentioned. What can be built on top of that relies heavily on the perfumer’s imagination, creativity and their own association with seashore and ocean.

For some reason, I find rosemary to fit in perfectly with that theme. And so I’m quite set on focusing my attention on the seaweed and rosemary accord, which is quite lovely. My first version (or my second, counting the original Orcas) is very simple and minimalist, with blue spruce absolute, seaweed, Haitian vetiver (which has a certain ‘saltiness’ to it), angelica, violet leaves, clary sage, rosemary and fresh ginger. These notes to fit in together quite nicely into a Pacific mist meets rainforest kind of accord, and the rosemary (usually a top note) gets a surprisingly long appearance. But it’s not a perfume quite yet. There is a lot missing – a heart, for example.

To be continued…

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Monday, July 05, 2010

Rhubarb and Beyond

Rhubarb, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

I admit: I was always a bit skeptical about rhubarb. The stalks look like nothing more than overgrown Swiss chard stalks, and when cooked I was never overwhelmed by the flavour OR texture. It always seemed more of a kind of a filler for strawberry baked goods than an entity of its own.

But three weeks ago, I found rhubarb at the West End Farmer’s Market that was so plump, red and thick that I overcame my prejudices and got 4 stalks, along with a basket of strawberries, all from the same farmers. I looked up a few recipes but it wasn’t until the morning of the following Saturday that I actually did anything with them (summer berry & rhurabr crumble, recipe will appear here soon).

When I set to slice the ruby-coloured stalks, I expected nothing besides a 2 minute long kitchen chore. Nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to experience. As the knife’s blade cut through those stems, a fragrance was released – so peculiar, and strange yet appealing – that my jaw dropped right to the kitchen floor. It smelled like crisp grass, unripe berries or fruit and ozone. The latter element is what makes it every so slightly repulsive and ever so much more interesting and not at all like its earthly Swiss chard friends.

I baked my crumble, and although I enjoyed it quite a bit, there was very little of the fresh rhubarb aroma left after the baking. So I thought – why not leave rhubarb in the raw and eat it this way?

My research for raw rhubarb recipes did not lead to much, except for a little vague recipe for a “fresh rhubarb compote” that the author had at Rendevouz.

One word of caution about rhubarb in general though, is that you must remove all leafy parts, as these are toxic (regardless of cooked or raw). The stalks are not toxic when raw, but most people do not appreciate the distinctive flavour and aroma of this peculiar vegetable and add plenty of sugar and cook it to death. I think that raw rhubarb feels like eating a modern perfume, only better because there are no synthetics involved.

Below is how I made it, two days ago. It finally was ready today and I had it for desserts and enjoyed every crispy, crunchy bite of the fragrant and tart rhubarb. And another good part is the bejeweled appearance of this salad - with ruby-like cranberries and citrine slices of apricot.

Rhubarb Salad, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

First of all, be sure to select the freshest, most plump and brightly red rhubarb stalks for this recipe. This is important for both the flavour and the texture, as this rhubarb will not be undergoing any cooking whatsoever. The following recipe will make 4 people curiously satisfied.

2 Fresh Rhubarb Stalks, thinly slices
6 Dried Apricots, sliced
2 Tbs. Dried Cranberries
2 Tbs. Honey
2 Tbs. Cointreau or Grand Marnier liquor
1 Tbs. Gin
1 tsp. fresh rosemary leaves

Rinse the stalks and scrape any unsightly browned bruises they may have.
Slice very thinly.
Add cranberries, sliced dried apricots, the honey and liquors. Sprinkle rosemary leaves all over the rhubarb and fruit. Seal in an airtight container and marinate in the fridge for 2 days. Be sure to shake and container twice a day for the flavours and juices to thoroughly flavour the entire salad.

Serve chilled, on its own or with a dollop of Crème Fraiche on the top.

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Friday, July 02, 2010

Hibiscus Rhubarb Iced Tea

P1070149, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Late discoverer of rhubarb, I'm having a blast this summer playing with the possibilities that this tart red stalk has to offer.
After pondering the possibilities of a rhubonade - a tangy refreshing infusion a-la-lemonade, I set on using freshly sliced rhubarb to a summery iced tea - rather than cooking them up with sugar and strawberries (as I've seen in some recipes).

Hibiscus flowers create a deep red infusion when steeped in boiling water. They usually form the base (along with rosehips) for fruity-flavoured tisanes. On its own, hibiscus tea is very popular in Egypt as well as South America. While it can be served warm, it has a far more appealing character when chilled, making it a wonderful, refreshing summer drink. I added a tad of honey to balance the tartness, and also the goji berries contribute their own flavour and sweetness, yet without being toothachingly sweet.

1.5 L fresh water
30 gr dried hibiscus flowers
2 Tbs. honey
2 Tbs. dried goji berries
1 stalk of fresh rhubarb

Place hibiscus flowers in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Bring the water to a boil, and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add goji berries and honey, and transfer to a pitcher. Bring down to room temperature. Slice the rhubarb thinly, and add to water. Refrigerate overnight and serve either strained or with a couple of rhubarb slices and some goji berries in each glass.

Rhubarb Hibiscus Iced Tea, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

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Thursday, July 01, 2010

Happy Canada Day!

Happy Birthday to Canada!
I'm celebrating with rhubarb and feeding the Canadian geese at Lost Lagoon.
Some fresh rhubarb recipes to follow shortly on this blog.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:N Lagoon Dr,Vancouver,Canada