Thursday, December 30, 2010

Best of 2010

Obsession of the year:
Swimming with seaweed and seals in Sunset beach. I've written about this so much that I don't think I need to remind you how much I love the ocean and how grateful I am for every sunny-enough day and water temperatures of 16c or over that enable me to swim in real salty ocean water with living creatures without suffering from hypothermia.
And as a result -

Favourite Accord:
Seaweed and rosemary.
Prepare to be introduced to 2 seaweed-based perfumes this coming year…

Favourite Note:
The leathery, apricot/peach and tea-like qualities of osmanthus are lovely and complex.
I can't get enough of it this year - in perfume, in tea, in truffles, and in shortbread cookies. I seem to not be able to get enough of osmanthus and you'll smell more of what I created with it in the past year in 2011 (hint: mark your calendars for March 8th, aka Mardi Gras!).
I'm also thrilled to have finally found an Osmanthus Oolong that is fragrant and to my liking, and am looking forward to trying the osmanthus tea (flowers only) from Shaktea, which is very fresh, almost moist-looking, and with an even fruitier aroma than the dried osmanthus flowers I'm accustomed to.

Discovery of the year:
Spicy Orientals
I think I finally nailed down the trick for making these one smell irresistible and scrumptious, rather than a patchouli-spicy mess.

Tea of the Year:
Milky Oolong

Incense of the Year:
Japanese Osmanthus incense from my friend Noriko.
Not the classic Japanese incense, and not as pure - but did I mention how much I'm into osmanthus this year yet?

Favourite Natural Perfume:
Dawn Spencer Hurwitz's Bancha. Citrusy and fresh and classy. Not usually the fragrance family I'm drawn into, but this year was unusual in my selection all around. It's refreshing and well constructed and reminds me just a little bit of green tea.

Candle of the Year:
After making my dream candle come true (Bois d’Hiver), Gabriel’s Aunt surprised me with her newest creation, Winter Moss: green and bitter with loads of oakmoss, cypress and galbanum. This is what Rainforest or Grin would have smelled like if we were to turn them into a candle. I’m fascinated by the possibilities of naturally scented soywax candles.

Favourite Tea House:
Michi Espresso & Waffle Bar (the name is deceiving). They are so close that I just got to love them!
Unforutnatley, they changed their menu and no longer serve their AMAZING matcha shortbread cookies (which were the best I've ever had and just to die for). So they are now my favourite spot for pure tea only - either the Japanese cherry white tea, or classic Japanese matcha.

Household Product of the Year:

Nelly’s laundry nuggets and dryer balls – both unscented and fabulous. No more synthetic musks in my laundry, thank you!

Most Fabulous Fragrant Moment this Year:
Smelling ozone in the water while swimming in Sunset beach (did I mention yet how much I enjoyed my ocean swimming this year?)

Most Peculiar Fragrant Moment this Year:
If you stand in front of the sunglasses store on Robson street, just between La Vie En Rose and the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, you will get more than just a waft of what could be the closest thing in real life to Rosine’s Rose Praline – melted butter and chocolate fudge from the Rocky candy shop merged with synthetic rose fragrance from the lingerie chain shop. How the ladies there can keep up with the scent for their 8 hour shift is above and beyond my imagination.

Spice of the year:
Black Cardamom!
I got introduced to black cardamom just a couple of months ago, while reading Vij’s at Home – East Indian home-cooking by this inspiring couple – Meeru Dhalwala and Vikram Vij (they own the restaurants Vij’s and Rangoli in Vancouver). Black cardamom is smoky and more rustic than the green fancy one more commonly used in chai and desserts. I enjoy experimenting with black cardamom, in the savoury reciped from that book (black chickpeas with tamarind and star anise) and in my own dessert experiments – Black Beauty truffles, for instance.

Favourite Scented Body Product:
Vetiver soap bar by Royal Herbs. Other than that, I was mostly using my own sugar scrubs and body oils (my personal favourite is Song of Songs).

Classic re-discovery of the year:
Vintage 1000 by Patou
This got me on a roll with osmanthus as a note - probably the most dominant perfume influence on me this year, in addition to Un Crime Exotique.

Most worn this year:
Admittedly, I was mostly wearing my own perfumes – not ones that you are familiar with, but those that are in the works (the rosemary-seaweed drenched Orcas and my ginger and amber one whose name I won’t release for now). Aside from that, the ones I’ve worn the most from other lines were:
Eau d’Hermes
Eau d’Orange Vert
Un Crime Exotique
Le Parfum de Therese
1000 by Patou

The Disappointment of the Year:
Voyage d'Hermès
Synthetic musk all over again. It made me even less interested in trying any perfumes with synthetics for the remainder of the year - to the point that I can say I'm in a no-musk olfactory diet of sorts.

Most promising perfumer:
Jessica Buchannan of 1000Flowers. I'm looking forward to smelling what she will come up with when her all-natural/sustainable synthetic line will be launched, and will be using macrocyclic musks (which should be safer than the nitro musks and polycyclic musks that are used at large in detergents and such). Jessica is from Canada (Nelson, BC to be exact) - and moved to Grasse to study perfumery, so I'm really looking forward to smell what she will come up with.

For more comprehensive best-of lists, read what the other participating scent blogs have to say about 2010:

Roxana Illuminated Perfume
Scent Hive

Tomorrow I'll share with you my New Year's Resolutions for 2011!



At December 30, 2010 12:03 PM, Blogger Carrie Meredith said...

"Prepare to be introduced to 2 seaweed-based perfumes this coming year…"

Music to my ears! I am only now getting into seaweed in scents, and will really be looking forward to yours!

At December 30, 2010 2:01 PM, Blogger EauMG said...

Seaweed! Yes! I can not wait! The world is seriously lacking in seaweed perfume! My entire life, I have dreamed of a seaweed/plum like shiso meshi. Oh, but a seaweed rosemary! I moved to the PNW 2 years ago and those are some of my favorite "accords" of the area.
OK, I'm going to have to buy that Gabriel's Aunt candle. Moss and woods, that seems like something that I'd like very much.
Great list! I love the addition of flavors.

At December 30, 2010 7:12 PM, Blogger Flora said...

Ayala, I love your list, it embraces so much more than perfume! I can't wait to hear more about the seaweed perfume project.

Jean Patou 1000 is one of the all-time greats, I just adore it.

And you had me at black cardamom - it's my favorite spice of all, so I must seek this varaint out ASAP!

At December 30, 2010 7:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOVE your list and all that seaweed, Ayala! :) Thank you so much for naming Bancha your best Natural Perfume! That's huge praise, especially coming from you. I will have to try some of your chocolates SOON! I swoon every time I read about them. Many blessings for 2011~

At December 30, 2010 10:20 PM, Anonymous Nikki Sherritt said...

Ayala, you are so wonderful! Thank you for the support and love of the Winter Moss. I am so surprised at how quickly it has become my best seller. Your list is wonderful. I finally have a sample of Bancha and it is so lovely. Happy New Year to you my friend!!!!! xoxoxo Nikki

At December 31, 2010 5:50 AM, Blogger Rose said...

I need to go and stand on that street!

I'd love to smell vintage 1000, I like the modern one well enough but I imagine the vintage is silk to the modern cotton.

I liked Voyage but I can see that is is quite synthetic.

Really enjoyed reading this and taking part in the project with, best wishes for 2011

At December 31, 2010 10:41 AM, Anonymous Ragna Rostad-Ruffner said...

So you love to swim in the ocean..??? tell me more...Just kidding:-)
Thanks for sharing all you "loves" Ayala!
I saw the "oak moss" candle and was reminded of the scent I created with the same name although different notes (of course)I will revisit some old creations for my own end of year review.
And, I too love 1000!!!
I look forward to smelling your new creations in 2011 and wish you incredible joy and success!!


At January 03, 2011 7:14 PM, Blogger Ayala Moriel said...

Thank you so much for all your fine comments! I'm sorry it has taken me forever to respond - so here we go:

Carrie -
I hope you will enjoy the seaweed-y perfumes I've concocted. I've been enjoying them immensely and can't wait to share them with the world!

EauMG -
Ditto. And like you I love shiso and plum. This one is quite different - way more West Coast and not all at all Japanese in feel (though I do have created a shiso & seaweed one this year as well, however there was one raw material there that is too tricky to obtain again, so it would be a few more years probably till this one comes out...).
Flavour/aroma and the whole gourmet area in my life is becoming more prominent especially because of the tea parties and all the other projects (tea, chocolates). And it's so fun and creative!

At January 03, 2011 7:17 PM, Blogger Ayala Moriel said...

Flora -
Black cardamom is so different from the green variety it was a revelation to "meet" it.

Dawn -
I'm looking forward to experiencing more of your perfumes. This year I'm dedicating to trying perfumes by people I know rather than try to get those niche perfumes that were probably made by the big 5 anyway...
I have quite a few samples I have got already from Laurie, Andy and Liz that I'm looking forward to finally spend some quality time with, and some of yours but not nearly close to my "to sniff" list from your very tempting website!

At January 03, 2011 7:23 PM, Blogger Ayala Moriel said...

Nikki -
I'm glad Winter Moss is gaining popularity, but I'm not surprised - it's so different from everything else, and it's a real candle. Most of the interesting high-end candles are just loaded with synthetics and the price is mostly related to branding and packaging. I'm smitten with your candles and always enjoy being surprised by your creativity and unique scent combination.

Rose -
I'll be leaning towards the fudge LOL...
1000 in the vintage form is cutting edge, dark, dense, moody and unsweetened. I love it.
I really liked the beginning of Voyage and than it turned into plain white musk :-(

Ragna -
These were fun times having you for that week at the studio! Funny how I started almost all of my students on moss...

Happy New Year to you all!
And thank you again for reading my blog AND for your insightful comments.
Looking forward to another year of blogging and perfumery.


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