Geranium Notes: The Other Rose of Perfume

What do Elizabeth Bennett and geranium share in common? Elisa explains.

I’ve never heard anyone call geranium their favorite flower. Compared to the more photogenic blooms found in bouquets and floral arrangements, geranium might seem like a workaday houseplant.

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Cheery sidewalk geraniums

If rose and geranium were sisters in a Jane Austen novel, rose would be known as the pretty one and geranium as the sensible one. But geranium, like Elizabeth Bennett, has her own beauty, and is indispensable in rose fragrances!

When we refer to geranium notes, we’re usually talking about the oil of the pelargonium graveolens, also known as the rose geranium, or pure geraniol. Rose geranium oil contains over 50 organic compounds, but primarily consists of geraniol, nerol, and citronellol. Nerol, so named because it was originally isolated from neroli oil, has a fresh rosy scent and can be found in lemongrass and hops. Citronellol is the familiar pungent citrus smell often found in insect repellants – but it’s also important for creating realistic rose accords. Geraniol, one of the primary components in rose oil, smells – you guessed it – rosy and is also commonly used in fruit flavorings. (I’ve noticed that adding clove to a fruity rose can conjure up a raspberry note.)

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Cauliflower with Saffron and Coriander

Saffron has the reputation of a luxurious spice. Use it in tiny quantities for the most delicate of preparations like custards and seafood bisques, advises many a cookbook. Certainly, unless you live in saffron producing areas like Iran, Turkey or Kashmir, you’ll pay more for saffron than other spices in your collection, but its flavor is so dramatic that it’s worth a splurge. What I don’t agree with is using saffron only in special occasion dishes. Life is too short for that.

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Saffron has a medicinal-leathery scent, with a hint of apricot and floral notes. Its fragrance will entice on its own, but it’s bold enough to stand up next to strong flavors. Today’s recipe is a good example. It’s a cold cauliflower dish, and it’s a good vehicle for saffron. The combination of coriander, saffron and white wine is the right blend of spice and acidity, and it gives cauliflower elegance that one doesn’t usually expect from cruciferous vegetables.

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The Scent of Rhubarb

It’s hard to imagine a note trendier than rhubarb. Pick up any pink tinted bottle and a sales associate will recite a litany of notes which is bound to include rhubarb (along with red berries and pink pepper). But rhubarb’s popularity is justified because it can be made tart or sweet, coquettish or edgy. For me, familiarity with this material doesn’t breed contempt. On the contrary, the more I explore it, the more I become infatuated. To reveal different facets of rhubarb, I take it as a topic of my FT column, Perfumes with a Rhubarb Shimmer. I explain that materials with rhubarb inflections also have a classical pedigree and I recommend savory fruity perfumes for both men and women.

rhubarb slices

Every spring I make a Persian rhubarb sherbet by cooking sliced stems and sugar in water. Once the flavour and pink colour infuse into the syrup, I filter the liquid and add rose essence. Enjoyed in tall crystal glasses, the sherbet has a voluptuous taste that calls to mind the warm light streaming through the stained-glass windows of the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque, a pink-tinted jewel of Shiraz. Since perfumery has much in common with cuisine, rendering my sherbet into a fragrance accord with a similar ornate impression is not difficult. Please continue here.

Any other rhubarb recommendations are more than welcome.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

Portable Perfumes for Summer Adventures

Whatever your destination this summer, Patricia shares her selection of travel sprays and rollerballs.

Summer is a time I like to take things down a notch, kick my shoes off, and wiggle my toes in the sand. Food becomes simple salads, boiled shucked corn, and barbecued meat and veggies; clothes are less restrictive and in lighter fabrics and colors; and summer hours are the norm at many workplaces.

sea

Serious perfume also takes a backseat in the warmer months, as my nose and my brain crave a respite from anything too complicated or fussy. What suits in February becomes too much in July. Because of recent problems of evaporation and separation in many of my homemade decants, I’ve increasingly turned to travel sizes and rollerballs offered by the manufacturers. Small and generally well priced, the following are what I’ll be popping into my beach bag this summer.

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Atelier Cologne Mandarine Glaciale Giveaway

Today we have a great giveaway thanks to one of our readers. Tim would like to find a new home for his bottle of  Atelier Cologne Mandarine Glaciale (3.3 oz, 100ml, 3/4 full, no original packaging). Tim is in Australia, but he can ship it worldwide.

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It goes without saying that we are not responsible for leaks or damage during transit or for lost packages.

To participate, please answer these questions. I will draw one winner.

1. What are some of your favorite foods?
2. What perfume evoke the carefree feeling of a summer vacation?
3. May I contact you via email to notify you of your win?

The contest is now closed. The winner is Annette. Congratulations.

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