spring tastes: 10 posts

Chocolate, Violets, Bread : A Call for New Gourmands

My grandmother’s Easter bread is a lacy confection of butter and sugar. Glazed with chocolate and decorated with flowers, it looks like a Byzantine mosaic. Redolent of bitter cacao and violets, it doesn’t just smell good. I realize with a thrill that it smells like a complete perfume–the top note of violet, the heart of hazelnuts and wheat, and the lingering backdrop of musky chocolate. Take this idea, refine it into an accord–a combination of several perfume notes that becomes more than the sum of its parts–and voila, you can use it to create a new gourmand genre. Sounds fanciful, but this is how perfume is made.

easter breads1easter breads1a

On the face of it, it seems as if the gourmand genre has captured every dessert, from crème brûlée (Aquolina Pink Sugar) to cupcakes (Vera Wang Princess), from rice pudding (Tommy Hilfiger True Star) to raspberry macarons (Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire). You can have your chocolate with cinnamon (Pacifica Mexican Cocoa), with caramel (Thierry Mugler Angel), or with honey (Tom Ford Noir de Noir).

Continue reading →

Easter and Violets

“Victoria puts bread to sleep on pillows!” said a college classmate after visiting me during my Easter preparations. You see, in order for paska, the Ukrainian brioche-like bread made for the holiday, to retain its lacy, lighter-than-air texture and not collapse under its own weight, it has to cool down on something soft. So my paska had its own pillow, and once a year it was brought out to serve as a ceremonial cushion. All of this might strike others as quaint, but Easter is the most beloved holiday in my family, and everyone takes preparations seriously.

easter

This year we follow the familiar pattern, but it’s an even more special holiday because I’m spending it with my family in Ukraine. I’ve already stuffed myself with matzoh balls at my cousin’s Pesach table in Kyiv, and now I’m anticipating an Easter feast with my grandmother. This morning we already boiled the onion peels to create a natural maroon-red dye for eggs. The fresh cheese has been drained and whipped with almonds for an Easter cheesecake.  Our home is once again filled with the wine-like aroma of rising dough, vanilla sugar, rum soaked raisins, and violets.

I wish everyone Happy Easter, Happy Pesach and a wonderful spring. May it usher in more joy, love and happiness.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

Rhubarb Rose Sherbet

Let it be spring! Nowruz, or “new day” in Persian, falls on the spring equinox and is celebrated for the thirteen following days. This year it fell on March 20th, and now we’re in the Persian year of 1393. While Nowruz is a major festival in Iran, the holiday is also celebrated in other countries, where ancient Persian culture left its mark, such as Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Albania, India, and Turkey. The festivities came into our family with my Azeri stepmother, and along with Easter, Nowruz is one of my favorite holidays for its rich symbolism of renewal and hope. It’s also a reminder that winter’s grasp is weakening and that warm days are around the corner.

hyacinthrhubarb 4

In every home, the centerpiece of Nowruz celebrations would be a table decorated with seven items, haftseen or the seven S’s. Seven is considered a lucky number, and each item on the table beginning with the letter seen (s) in Persian has its unique meaning. For instance, seeb (apple) represents beauty, seer (garlic)–good health, serkeh (vinegar)–patience, and sekeh (coins)–prosperity. The arrangement is ornate and colorful, and people make rounds admiring each other’s haftseen tables, sharing good wishes and delicious food.

Continue reading →

Green Plum, Erik : Tart Taste of Spring and Tkemali Sauce Recipe

As a kid I loved munching on unripe plums and apricots that I had picked from the low hanging branches in our garden. This activity was not at all allowed, but as anyone knows, forbidden fruit tastes the sweetest, and I continued to pillage our trees. Imagine my surprise and delight upon discovering many years later that in the Middle East, unripe plums are a special seasonal treat. Since they’re starting to become more available at the grocery stores and farmers’ markets, I can get my fill without threatening my grandmother’s plum harvest.

green plum erik

Called erik in Turkish (and sometimes marked as such at the stores), unripe green plums are in season April through June. They taste intensely tart. Crunchy and hard, they are for lovers of all things sour and mouth-puckering.  They are usually eaten with a pinch of salt, which brings out the delicate sweetness, and they have a faint floral taste. The plums are small, ranging from the size of hazelnuts to large cherries, and if left to ripen on the tree, they turn golden and syrupy sweet.

Continue reading →

Candied Blossoms and Flower Perfumed Syrup

Andy describes how seasonal blossoms can be captured in sugar.

If you love spring as much as I do, you may agree that it always seems to come and go quicker than it should. One week, I was strolling under pink clouds of cherry blossoms, and the next, the petals had all floated away from the branches. I didn’t have time to be dismayed though, when richly perfumed purple lilacs had begun to steal the show. The season always seems to play out like a vaudeville show of flowers, with one beautiful act following the next.

violets1

A few weeks ago Victoria wrote about salting cherry blossoms, but you can also use sugar to capture the delicate flavors of spring. If you have never tried candying flowers before, it is extremely easy, and after you’ve done it once, you will find the task an irresistible way to extend the season of flowers like jasmine, lilac, rose and honeysuckle, to name a few. This spring, for instance, I found myself longing to preserve the beauty of sweetly scented violets, which are common in my area in the springtime. And since I had so many, I decided to candy them and make some perfumed syrup. My instructions below call for violets, but use whatever favorite edible flowers you can find, from pansies to roses.

Continue reading →

From the Archives

Latest Comments

  • Surbhi in Recommend Me a Perfume : August 2017: I just saw a new packaging of la fille de Berlin. Does anyone know if it’s a repackaging or re formulation. August 21, 2017 at 9:50pm

  • ClareObscure in Postcard from Paris: Caption: the gentleman says, “I certainly did not expect ‘the swoon effect’ to happen that quickly. Messieur Guerlain did say his new perfume could be hypnotique.” August 21, 2017 at 9:14pm

  • ClareObscure in Postcard from Paris: I loved the Sophie Dahl redhead nude for YSL’s Opium. Thanks for mentioning this book. I will try to order it. August 21, 2017 at 9:01pm

  • bregje in L’Artisan Parfumeur Histoire d’Orangers : Perfume Review: my favourite orange blossom so far is the sparkling opening of Knot. It lasts really long on my skin and in my clothes and i always get compliments when i… August 21, 2017 at 7:35pm

Latest Tweets

Design by cre8d
© Copyright 2005-2017 Bois de Jasmin. All rights reserved.