Tuesday, April 28, 2009

La Crasia Bracelets: Arabesque Adornments for the Wrist










La Crasia Gloves & Creative Accessories is a small boutique located in the Lexington Passage at Grand Central Terminal. Its demure size belies an extensive and tasteful collection of feminine treasures.

Requisite gloves, scarves and handbags of all sizes are showcased throughout the store, but the real find is a collection of floral patterned bracelets which are displayed next to a chic selection of hair ornaments at the counter.

The cuff bracelets feature arabesque motifs that guild the wrist with rich dimension and color, making it hard to separate the image of the bracelet from the person wearing it. The $25-$45 price range makes each purchase an affordable luxury. Warning: the temptation to buy another bracelet gets stronger each time you visit the store.

Notes:

La Crasia Gloves & Creative Accessories is located at 85 Grand Central Terminal, Lexington Passage, New York, New York 10017. 212-370-0310.

Photo of La Cracia bracelets by Michelle Krell Kydd.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Celebrating Spring: Cherry Cream Scones

As April draws to a close spring comes into its own. Trees flower overnight and the landscape is dotted with pointillist bursts of color. Life isn’t content to simply stir; it emerges everywhere and proclaims its fertility. This is a time to observe change and allow the muse to roam freely.

There is a row of cherry trees in Hastings-on-Hudson that locals know well. It is situated on the corner of Broadway and Villard, and is within walking distance of the Old Croton Aqueduct. The blossoming trees speak to the curiosity of children, who can reach bloom-laden branches and sit in clefts formed between sturdy branches and trunks. When you hear their peals of laughter you know that the cherry blossoms are at their peak and it won't be long before a carpet of pink confetti adorns the grass lawn.

In honor of spring (and the peak flowering of cherry blossoms in the Northeast) Glass Petal Smoke offers an indulgent recipe for Cherry Cream Scones. They can be eaten plain or served warm with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.

Cherry Cream Scones
Recipe by Michelle Krell Kydd
Yield: 10

Ingredients:
· 2 cups all-purpose flour
· ⅓ cup granulated sugar
· 2 teaspoons baking powder
· ⅛ teaspoon salt
· ⅓ cup chilled, unsalted butter
· 1 large egg (beaten)
· 2 teaspoons Penzys double vanilla (or 4 teaspoons regular vanilla)
· ½ cup heavy whipping cream
· 3 ounces dried Montmorency cherries (sold at Trader Joe's)

For the Topping:
¼ teaspoon China cassia cinnamon, well mixed with ½ cup turbinado sugar

Equipment:
· parchment paper
· two cookie trays
· measuring cups
· measuring spoons
· large mixing bowl
· small mixing bowl
· flour sifter
· silicone spatula for mixing
· cutting board
· chef’s knife

Instructions:
· Preheat oven to 375 degrees, dividing racks into thirds.
· In a large bowl, combine sifted flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
· Put butter on a cutting board and cut lengthwise, forming halves. Half the halves and cut into quarters. The bits of butter should look like square buds.
· Add butter to dry ingredients, coating well. Pinch each bud into flat petals and incorporate butter into dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
· In a small bowl, beat egg and vanilla. Incorporate cream (do not beat cream, gently mix). Add dried cherries.
· Gently mix dry ingredients with wet ones by hand.
· Form 10 mini scones by hand and place on parchment lined cookie sheets. Sprinkle each scone with cinnamon sugar.

Bake at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes, moving trays form top to bottom and reversing when half done, to ensure even baking. Serve scones warm or set on cooling racks and refrigerate/freeze for future use.

Notes:

Hastings-on-Hudson is located in New York's Westchester County. To learn more about its colorful history visit The Hastings Historical Society website.

The Old Croton Aqueduct is enjoyed by runners, hikers and bikers alike. It is a paradise for fragrance lovers in springtime. Friends of the Old Croton Aqueduct is a not-for-profit organization run by volunteers. You may purchase a map of the trail for $5.75 or receive one with a paid membership of $20 (tax-deductible). The Old Croton Aqueduct is accessible by car or by train (Metro North Hudson line). Complete details are available on the Friends of the Old Croton Aqueduct website.

Photo of cherry trees on Broadway and Villard by Michelle Krell Kydd.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Glass Petal Smoke Makes the Finalist List for The 2009 FiFi Awards

Glass Petal Smoke garnered two finalist mentions at today's 2009 FiFi Awards Nominees Breakfast. The articles cited in the "Editorial Excellence in Fragrance Coverage" category include "Perfume Memories: Seeing With Scent" and "Perfumer Yann Vasnier Captures the Scent of Baudelaire".

This is an historic year for fragrance bloggers as it is the first time the Fragrance Foundation has honored blogs as legitimate editorial vehicles. The move speaks volumes regarding the importance of the interactive space in generating excitement among fine fragrance fans and neophytes alike.

The top five finalists, in order, are:
  • Bois de Jasmin: "Scents of Cities: Kiev" by Victoria Frolova (05/08) -- Winner
  • Glass Petal Smoke: "Perfume Memories: Seeing with Scent" by Michelle Krell Kydd (06/08)
  • Glass Petal Smoke: "Perfumer Yann Vasnier Captures the Scent of Baudelaire" by Michelle Krell Kydd (10/08)
  • Sniffapalooza Magazine: "How Men Can Learn to Stop Worrying and Love the Unisex Fragrances" by Nathan Branch (11/08)
  • Sniffapalooza Magazine: "Jean Claude Elena is all about the Dirt" by Elena Vosnaki (12/08)
A hearty congratulations to all!!!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Ode to Oakmoss: Crabtree & Evelyn Ultra Moisturizing Body Butter

A young Jean-Claude Ellena may have slept on a bed of oakmoss in his youth, but perfumistas everywhere can ditch the Proustian reverie and indulge in a delicate gossamer of refreshing Citrus and Oakmoss at will. The chypre undertone in Crabtree and Evelyn's Ultra Moisturizing Body Butter with Revitalizing Lemon and Coriander is an exquisite find in a product with a $32.50 price point. One would expect a quality creation like this to have come from the house of Annick Goutal, albeit in an objet d’art designed for Eau de Hadrien (before Oakmoss paranoia and bad science instigate the reformulation of this classic fragrance in 2010*).

The much maligned Oakmoss, which is the subject of a bitter regulatory debate in the European Union and The United States, defines the chypre category in fine fragrance. Its application in perfumery is akin to the use of yeast when making bread; without it you are left with is a mass of unrealized potential. Evernia prunastri lends an aquatic, woody and leatheric air to a fragrance, and is renowned for its fixative properties. Those who are not acquainted with the perfume arts do not realize how prevalent the material is in classic formulations they've grown up with. If the European Union and IFRA have their way, Oakmoss will be eliminated from all fragrances and a chapter in the history of perfumery will be irrevocably closed. Octavian Coifan, editor of 1000 Fragrances, has made a list of endangered fragrances. Read it and weep.

Oakmoss is the 33rd ingredient in a list of 43 ingredients that comprise Crabtree and Evelyn's Ultra Moisturizing Body Butter with Revitalizing Lemon and Coriander. The level of dilution is probably less than .1% (100 parts per million), an amount that is not known to cause skin irritation (this used to be the threshold for regulators, but things have gotten way out of hand as Luca Turin points out in the April edition of Duftnote). The balm softens when placed between the palms and is somewhat cool to the touch. Within minutes of application, a gentle veil of oakmoss rises up in the predominantly citrus mix. The aromatherapeutic effects are energizing and magical, something Glass Petal Smoke likens to the Fever Ray video of “When I Grow Up”.

Crabtree & Evelyn is currently running a 20% off special on their Ultra Moisturizing Body Butter with Revitalizing Lemon and Coriander. If there was ever a time to stock up, this would be it.

Notes:
*IFRA Amendment 43 restricts the use of various materials in fine fragrance. Regulations will be more stringent in 2010, and includes restrictions on the use of jasmine absolute, among others.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Flavor Finds: Levain Bakery's Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

The economy may be taking a bite out of New York City's restaurant business, but that doesn’t mean you have to answer your molten chocolate cake jones with a trip to the supermarket freezer aisle. Your craving is a cookie away. Yes, a cookie.

Manhattan’s Upper West Side is home to Levain Bakery. The bake shop occupies a small space on 74th Street, but its intimate setting and open kitchen are as inviting as the scent of freshly baked pastries that greet your senses as you enter the store.

Levain’s Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies are served straight off the baking tray. Their addictive texture intensifies the tasting experience (extra dark French cocoa is one of the culprits). As you bite into the cookie, half melted semisweet chocolate chips give way to a moist interior that tastes like a cross between a brownie and a flourless chocolate cake. Residual warmth emanating from the cookie’s center intensifies the delivery of flavor, amplifying deep, dark chocolate notes bathed in butter.

A single Dark Chocolate Chip Cookie costs $3.75 and is large enough to serve two. Warning: side effects include delirium, moans of pleasure, foot stomping joy, gluttony and use of the Lord’s name in vain.

Notes:

Levain Bakery is located at 167 West 74th Street in New York City. Store hours are Monday-Saturday 8am-7pm and Sunday 5am-7pm. If you don't live in the city, you can order their cookies online. 1-877-453-8246