Thursday, February 12, 2009 6:00 p.m.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Thursday, February 12, 2009 6:00 p.m.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Some perfume lovers aren’t partial to olfactive and gustative combinations in perfumery, and find such contrasting fusions to be rough-hewn. These fusions exist in nature and their successful application in perfumery requires a deft hand. The appeal of gourmand contrasts depends on whether the contrasts create more compatibility than confusion. Champaca Absolute, a new addition to the Tom Ford Private Blend Collection, is an example of a balanced gourmand scent. The fragrance riffs on the mouthwatering fruitiness inherent in champaca (a tropical flower) by utilizing harmonious contrasts of bergamot, cognac, tokaji wine, vanilla bean, amber and marron glacé. A touch of violet lends a powdery quality that sugar dusts the lush floral elements in Champaca Absolute. What keeps this fragrance from becoming a hackneyed fruity floral is a green element that is present on skin throughout the drydown.
Eating a feijoa is a wonderful way to understand the nature of harmonious contrasts via taste and smell. When sliced, the yielding and juicy flesh reveals a jelly-like pulp that is divided into quadrants. The flesh closest to the rind is sweet, creamy and slightly gritty. Feijoas have an ambrosial flavor and taste exactly like they smell. Finding them can be a bit of a challenge as they are native to southern Brazil, northern Argentina, western Paraguay and Uruguay. Feijoas are commercially grown in New Zealand and California, so you may be able to find them at gourmet markets. The fruit can also be ordered from Melissa’s Produce. The cost is $24.95 for ten, plus shipping. For more information call (800) 588-0151.
The image of feijoas comes from Daley's Fruit Tree Blog.
Tom Ford Champaca Absolute is priced at $180 for 50ml and $450 for 250ml. It is available at select Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue stores nationwide.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Today is January 19, 2009. Martin Luther King’s Day marks the day before Barack Obama’s inauguration as the 44th President of the United States of America. My spell checker wants to call Obama “Osama”—it has been officially re-programmed to know better.
Tomorrow is January 20, 2009. Barack Hussein Obama's inauguration will commemorate the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth. He will be the first African American President this country has ever had.
It’s a cold winter night. The twinkling snowfall is enchanting and pure. You can bottle a lot of things, but there is no way you can contain the hope and excitement that is running through millions of people tonight. Change is in the air. You can smell it hanging on every brilliant snowflake…
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Tuscany is known for its rich agriculture and a landscape dominated by rolling hills. Its simple and mesmerizing beauty is reflected in the pages of Frances Mayes’ Under the Tuscan Sun, which was made into a movie starring Diane Lane in 2003. Cereal grains, olives and grapes are popular regional crops that support a culture where artisan foods flourish. There is something about the Tuscan landscape that plants itself in the soul of anyone whose feet touches its soil. Tuscany has a magical character and Penzeys has found a way to cultivate its essence in a spice mixture that includes: basil, oregano, red bell pepper, garlic, thyme, fennel, black pepper and anise. The result is an aromatic blend that is verdant, uplifting and bright.
Penzeys' packaging is simple; demure black-capped glass jars affixed with pastel yellow labels. There are no fancy pictures on the labels and the spices are permitted to speak for themselves through the glass. If you’re familiar with the ingredients in the mixture, flavors will begin to form in your culinary imagination as the taste of the blend is anticipated. A palette of colors emerges in the mind in synesthetic response to the colors of the spice mixture. "Harvest Time", a painting of the Tuscan countryside by Kendra Schwabel, echoes a culinary vernacular that is immediately evident in the artist's choice of colors and the way her brushstrokes portray shadow and light. The painting expresses the flavors in Penzeys Tuscan Sunset better than any subjective explanation of ingredients possibly can and inspires admiration for Schwabel's talent.
Tuscan Sunset is recommended as a seasoning for vegetables, chicken, pork or fish. Glass Petal Smoke has discovered another application that is simple and delicious; warm bread drizzled with olive oil, Tuscan Sunset and a layer of fresh ricotta. Buon appetito!
Penzeys Tuscan Sunset is available in a variety of sizes and can be purchased on their website. To view their catalog, click here. If you are in New York City you can visit Penzeys at the Grand Central Market on 42nd Street.
Looking to increase your knowledge when it comes to herbs and spices? Aliza Green's Field Guide to Herbs & Spices packs an incredible amount of information in a pocket-sized book. If you can't find what you're looking for in the book, the author encourages you to visit her website and let her know.
Kendra Schwabel’s paintings may be purchased via her website. The image of “Harvest Time” is protected by copyright. Rights remain with Kendra Schwabel Designs.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Show times are Sunday, May 31st and Monday, June 1st at 7:30 PM. Tickets are priced at $30 ($25 for members and $10 for students). The museum is located at 1071 Fifth Avenue (at 89th Street). For more information, download the Spring 2009 "Works and Process" brochure on the museum's website.
Monday, January 5, 2009
I just finished writing a letter to fellow blogger Caitlin Shortell, editor of Legerdenez, when Karin's memory bubbled up. After I finished the note I remembered it was Karin's birthday. The first online article I wrote appeared in the January 5, 2007 edition of Bois de Jasmin. The timing wasn't planned, but it was one of many synchronous things that happened on that day. I don't question this kind of "coincidence". There are some things in life that don't need explanation or proof, times when it's best to savor the flavor of mystery.
Though you may not have known Karin, you probably listened to many of the bands she signed to major record labels like Warner Brothers. I remember REM's first gig at Madison Square Garden because Karin invited me to join her (she signed them after they spent their indie years on IRS Records). There was a party after the show and I wound up cavorting with musicians and drinking beer with the B-52s in a Mexican bar in Tribeca. The list of talent Karin Berg recruited is miles long. Reading about her memorial service in The Villager gives you an idea of how many lives (and music collections) she touched.
Food was a big part of our friendship. I baked cookies for Karin regularly and she was hooked on Chocolate Voodoo Love, a spice cookie I invented that uses ingredients common to perfumery. This prompted a serious discussion that included the possibility of sending me to The French Culinary Institute for a degree in pastry arts (although I declined). Towards the end of her life Karin suffered from myositis, a degenerative disease with no known cure. As the disease progressed she found it hard for to breathe and needed the assistance of a portable oxygen tank. Hot and humid days were extremely difficult for her, but she refused to stop enjoying life. We had lunch at Fleur de Sel one summer, oxygen tank in tow. One of the fondest food memories I have was enjoying lobster roll with Karin at Mary's Fish Camp. I've managed to lure many colleagues in the fragrance industry to 64 Charles Street for a mouthwatering taste of lobster salad on a roll served a side of shoestring fries dusted in Old Bay Seasoning. The summer before she died, Karin and I ate our last meal together at her kitchen table; hamburgers and French fries delivered from Florent.
Karin was known for having stellar taste and when it came to perfume Chanel's Cuir de Russie was her holy grail. Though she no longer used fine fragrance (strong scents affected her breathing) she spoke about Cuir de Russie with intense relish. I was motivated to seek out the perfume and was immediately smitten with the scent. Karin was a catalyst in my life, in more ways than I can begin to describe. Though she could be rigorous and challenging at times, she had a way of bringing out the best in you. Perhaps it was this very quality that endeared her to the musicians whose talents she nurtured. In honor of her birthday I'd like to share a poem I wrote back in 2004. It would have stayed hidden in my computer, but there is something about today that is compelling me to release it. Happy birthday, Karin.
did you feel the wind
sliding at your heels,
tracing the sunlight
that fell on your ankles,
where the asphalt
meets the curb
and the river
were you lifted
by mingling tiger lilies
bush and bramble,
separating your lips
and sharing your breath?
is it the hudson or araby
that sends us levitating
above pools of
what is it
about the water and light
that completes us,
cipher like a tattoo,
deep into bones,
until there is no distance
a single kiss
parts the veil between worlds,
in a sea of dandelion seeds
that whirl softly above the river,
they meet the yielding earth
on the shores of the palisades,
Salamander painting by Ian Daniels. The artist's prints are available at Duirwaigh.
Sunday, January 4, 2009
In trades driven by craft and artistry there is no quality more desirable than timelessness. Timelessness transcends boundaries and restores eternity in a world obsessed with “keeping time”, (just stand on the corner of 57th and Park Avenue in New York City and you can witness the cultural mania for time on the façade of Tourneau). There is a distinct hurdle inherent in embracing timelessness. It requires a willingness to embrace the past and the future while living in the present. Where are you when you encounter something timeless? The answer to this question depends on the source. If scent is the source the realities multiply.
Memories and the smells linked to them are activated at first sniff. The past is filtered through the experience of the present as emotions and associations intermingle. An anticipatory state arises that is linked to the expectation that something will be received thorough the act of smelling; be it pleasure or aversion. It is at this point that the mind begins to shape the future. If a scent makes you feel attractive, nostalgic, holy or powerful, you will begin to manifest the associated trait and the signal will be received by others. Past, present and future exist simultaneously in this state, as a variety of archetypes are activated.
Emotions elicited by scent further shape the feeling of time, occasionally intensifying experience to the point where time seems to stand still. This is especially true of scents associated with a loved one who is no longer alive. The deepest emotions we experience as human beings are tied to the sense of smell because of its link to memory. Under the spell of scent we experience something invisible that is tangible to our limbic system and shapes our perceptions. There is no buffer between scent and emotion. You smell something and react immediately, whether you like it or not. In this respect encountering scent crashes the traditional notion of time because a person’s response is drawn from the past, experienced in the present and projected into the future. (Can you hear all of those oversized hairsprings and ratchet wheels at Tourneau clattering onto the sidewalk as the clocks explode in confusion?)
Is there such a thing as a timeless fragrance? In truth, every scent is timeless because of the way fragrance shapes multiple realities. This doesn’t mean that every fragrance is a potential “classic” when it comes to perfumery. If you are a fragrance marketer, you may want to organize a séance instead of a focus group in order to answer this question. Timothy Leary could lead a discussion with Stephen Hawking, David Bohm, Brian Greene, and a few other experts on string theory. Imagine the possibilities. Perfumistas everywhere could throw out their watches and keep time by their noses.
Anyone know a good medium?
For an insightful and entertaining look at the meaning of time, Glass Petal Smoke highly recommends watching the movie What the Bleep do We Know—at least twice.
The website Everything Forever is based on a fascinating book written by Gevin Giorbran. It's a great place to explore the notion of timelessness.
String theorist Brian Greene is the author of The Elegant Universe. The book was turned into a three-hour miniseries on Nova. If you are inclined towards physics (and the unification of quantum mechanics and relativity) the site will keep your brain quite busy.
"Exploding Clock" by Roger Wood. An assortment of imaginative clocks for sale can be found on Klockwerks, the artist's website.
Image of Tourneau from Jewelry and Watch Jobs.