December 2006: 4 posts

Best of 2006 : Reflecting on This Year’s Discoveries


2006 has been an exciting year for me, even though it was not all smooth sailing. There were weeks when I would hardly get any sleep, when things seemed to have conspired to work against me, yet there were also times filled with many fascinating discoveries. Above all, I am thankful for the excitement, support and passion for fragrance that you, my readers, have shared with me. This is truly the most special aspect of 2006 for me, and as I drink my glass of champagne on December 31st, I will toast to all of you.

In order to recap 2006, I have decided to offer a list of my most interesting discoveries. Most of the fragrances mentioned were released in 2006, but I also included a few older perfumes that I grew to admire even more this year.

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Flavor and Fragrance Events : The Dark History of Absinthe


Just as I have been pondering on what events might combine the flavor and fragrance (even if not directly), I receive a newsletter from Culinary Historians of New York announcing The Dark History of Absinthe event. It is taking place on Tuesday, January 9, 2007. As the CHNY explains, “Absinthe, the potent, emerald-green liqueur, was said to drive people mad and is the only individual alcoholic beverage to be banned in countries around the world. It is still illegal in the United States today. Professor David Weir of Cooper Union will join us to discuss the dark, stormy, and fascinating history of absinthe.”

Time: 6:30 Reception 7:00 Program
Location: International Wine Center
350 Seventh Avenue, #1201
between 29th and 30th Streets
$25 CHNY Members $22 Student/Senior Members $40 Guests

Please send checks payable to Culinary Historians of New York to
Carolyn Vaughan, 150 E. 93rd St. #10B, New York, NY 10128
for more information go to or email

Painting: Edgar Degas, Absinthe Drinkers, 1876.

Scents of Cities : Paris

“To err is human. To loaf is Parisian,” said one of most illustrious writers of the 19th century Victor Hugo. I cannot say that loafing was a part of my Paris visit, although I tried to make time for it nevertheless. Loafing in Paris is synonymous for me with the walks down rue de Grenelle, one of my favorite streets in Paris for its quiet and gentle charm (and also for its numerous perfume and shoe boutiques.) The typically Parisian scent of black coffee and cigarettes felt intoxicating. The pale grey outlines of the buildings bathed in the sheer golden glow of the unusually warm winter sun attained a dreamlike character. Whatever fragrance I carried on the sleeve of my coat— Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist, Frédéric Malle L’Eau d’Hiver, Etat Libre d’Orange Jasmin et Cigarette—it was perfectly in sync with both my mood and the atmosphere in the city. It was just magical, and even now, this feeling combining serenity and excitement is almost palpable.

I will certainly share more details on what transpired during my trip, especially since a short article will hardly do justice to all of the amazing encounters with the perfumers whose work I have always admired as well as the fragrant discoveries that took place over the past week. It is difficult to pick the main highlight of the trip; however, the visit to the Osmothèque was unforgettable. I went there with Michael Edwards, whose erudition and passion for fragrance enhanced the experience even more.

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Persian Orange Blossom Cookies : Scented Baking


The writer Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin once said, “Smell and taste are in fact but a single composite sense, whose laboratory is the mouth and chimney is the nose.” I first heard this quote from Michelle Krell Kydd, who puts this philosophy into her deeds. Michelle organized the James Beard Foundation event with chef Bill Yosses and perfumer Christophe Laudamiel, during which the relationship between flavor and fragrance were explored in depth. As Michelle reflects, “Smell and taste hit us where we live—in memory and emotion, in the past and in the present, all simultaneously. This is what makes these particular senses so powerful.” Given the close link between the two senses, the discoveries one makes into the realm of cuisine translate into olfactory appreciation and vice versa. As an example from my own experiences, the beautiful note of bitter chocolate woven into Serge Lutens’s Borneo 1834 prompted me to create a cake that allowed the bitterness of chocolate to stand out. Similarly, a Thai basil stir-fry with bean sprouts had me craving a scent that pairs the lemony clove verdancy of this fascinating herb with vegetal musk. One passion never fails to feed another. …

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