Top Autumn Sensory Discoveries
This ties in nicely to my Autumn Aromas & Fall Flavours series of posts, but is actually part of a joint blog project for the season that Helg at Perfume Shrine has invited us to participate in. Visit the blogs at the bottom of this post to expand your sphere of sensations!
This year I have discovered the sense of touch. Not that I lived without it or wasn't aware of it before; but I feel that I have been re-acquainted with it, and after living my life through my nose for many years, I'm now connecting these sensations with the tactile world... Reading Diane Ackerman's A Natural History of the Senses certainly helped me to notice that and understand better the meaning that the sense of touch plays in my life. There is more to skin than appearance...
And this spills over to my creative efforts of perfumery in surprising ways that I could have not expected - particularly with Zangvil which is due to launch 20.11.2011, on which I will talk about at much length as its release date approaches... For now I'd like to touch upon a few new sensory delights I've discovered recently.
Touch: Wool & Cold Skin
Wool, as it turns out, is not always itchy and irritating... And in the Pacific Northwest it is our best friend, hairless creatures that we are... I stumbled upon a rare find - a 2-way stretch wool tights by Metalicus that I can spend the whole day in without feeling the urge to undress or scratch my thighs; and we all know how marvelous Cashmere wool feels, and how little of it is enough to keep us wrapped in warmth... And me and my woolen shorts (often paired with over-the-knee socks and colourful boots) are pretty much inseparable, regardless of how sunny or rainy these fall days may be. They also make me either look very happy or very ridiculous - eitehr way I don't care, because it sure garners smiles from passers by whichever way I go.
The other extreme of fall is that of the dropping temperatures. And while it can be sunny and beautiful out, the water temperatures drop significantly once October rolls in. Not that this stops me from the occasional ocean swim... I find it interesting that my friend Jolanta, who was the first lady that fell for my perfume Zangvil, likened its scent to the experience of swimming in a cold glacier lake up in the Rocky Mountains: An experience that was all about the extremes: bracing cold water contrasted by the dry hot mountain air int he middle of the summer. Perhaps it is that extreme sensation that I crave when I go for my ocean swims. The hot/cold confusion that makes the blood rush and circulate so much faster, making the cold air feel warm, and makes life feel tangible after every cell of my exterior wrap is punctured by an icy needle of ocean water below 15C.
Flavours: Black Cardamom & Star Anise
New spicy discoveries include, undoubtedly, black cardamom. But I'm also feeling an increased love for star anise - which has a mysterious yet very sweet and licorice-like taste, using it in both savoury and sweet treats. It's marvelous in Vij's recipe for black chickpeas in date & star anise masala, and it's phenomenal for poaching pears. I'll be posting more recipes using either or both black cardamom and star anise in the next few days (and I have a project on the horizon of a pomegranate & black cardamom chocolate torte).
Culinary Textures: Pear & Quince
Not that these are the only textures I enjoy with food, but they are certainly evocative of the season. The texture of cooked or baked quince is matched only by that of poached pears (which are more delicate - less grainy - though Bosc peras are quite similar). Because quinces are so tough to cut, I usually buy them only once a year. This time around, I'm planning to poach them in red wine, then bake them in a chocolate frangipane tart!
And speaking of pears, for a little taste of heaven, make yourself a a brie & pear sandwich on fresh croissant - begin with spreading a bit of cassis mustard, top with a slice of room-temperature brie cheese, and finish with ripe sliced red Bartlet pear.
I've been avoiding wearing red for at least a couple of years now, for reasons unknown to me. It used to play a huge role in my wardrobe, especially with contrasting black and white... I've moved into the real of cool colours instead - teal, sea blue, kelly green and even electric blue! But fall (and Apothic Red...) is my pitfall for enjoying reds all over again - there is nothing quite as soothing to the eye as Japanese maple leaves at this time of year. A picture is worth a thousand words:
Sound: Acoustic Guitar
About anything in my life goes back to skin, somehow... Which might explain why now of all times I'm drawn to guitar music (Flamenco, jazz, blues but especially flamenco). When played by master musicians that are more than just virtuoso, listening to a guitar is about as close as it gets to caressing the skin...
Oh, and I love listening to Rodrigo y Gabriela when I'm doing Pilates. It gets the heart pumping at the exact correct rate!
Scent: Dying Rosehips
There is nothing that I like better than start my day with a morning stroll in Coal Harbour as the sun rises. And thankfully, we can still see many sunrises in the autumn, even in Vancouver. There is something soothing about watching the aquaplanes coming in and out of the harbour, leaving a vanishing trail of whiteness in the water as their jet-fuel excrement mingles with intense saltiness of seaweed and clammy odours of sea barnacles drying on the rocks at low tide.
Tonight, as I strolled on the seawall in Coal Harbour and noticed a new scent as I passed by a rose bush, I noticed a new smell: decaying rosehips. Reminiscent of the forest floor's rotting fallen leaves mingled with wine-like fermenting sweetness.
Last But Not Least: Perfume
Fall is when I return to old friends such as Mitsouko, who await me patiently while I spend most of my year trying different scents that I'm working on at various stages...
I've been also returning to wearing Agent Provocatuer occasionally after a couple of years of hiatus, and really enjoying a lot its saffron facets and intense, bluntly sexual/animalic personality, saved only for the softness of rose.
And a comfort-scent to turn to is the gourmand Un Crime Exotique (poached pear, this is when you enter again...).
Aside from these three, I've been mostly wearing my own intense killer-tuberose which won't be launched till way later in 2012, and another narcissus perfume I'm working on with costus... Overall, I've been craving costus a lot lately, and I even included some in my creation for the Clarimonde project (you will read more about it over the weekend), which is another thing that is scenting my nightlife (you will see why very soon... Trust me!).
My other olfactory discoveries lies in non other than fine Japanese incense sticks (I'm yet to learn how to warm incense properly koh-doh style) - particularly the one that I'm burning tonight: Fuin Kyara stick that has just arrived in the mail after some major messing-up on behalf of Canada Post (I ordered it in August!) and I'm immensely enjoying its woody, sweet and slightly animalic aroma underlined with earthy, musty nuances and an overall sacredness that reminds me of the effect of burning frankincense - only with much less smoke. The incense keeps changing aromas as it progresses through the stick, which makes me think that it is designed that way...
I've also received a precious gift of hand-rolled Rose Nerikoh from Yuko of Phyto Perfume, and a loose incense blend from Ross Urrere. But these deserve their own post at another day.
Incense is one sure way to connect through our breath and the olfactory world into our subconscious mind and the depth of our heart... But that's already looking like the beginning of another post.
Discover more sensory delights over at:
Katie Puckrik Smells
The Non Blonde