Weekend Reading and Perfume

Did you make any interesting discoveries over the past week–perfume, food, movies, books, etc?

In my futile attempts to keep up with the fast pace of the fragrance market, I often don’t have a chance to revisit older launches. So, over the past year I’ve decided to make more time for things that aren’t exactly brand new. In this spirit, I’ve rediscovered L’Artisan L’Eau de L’Artisan (1993), which is a zingy blend of verbena, lemon and grassy notes. It smells exactly the way your fingers do after you crush a basil leaf. It’s a cologne, so it lasts for only a couple of hours, but while it lingers, it has such an appealing verdant brightness that I don’t mind reapplying. It was  created by perfumer Olivia Giacobetti, and it bears her delicate fingerprint.

And a few of the articles that caught my eye this morning.

Saveur’s article on incense used in Thai desserts,  Smoky and Sweet, is inspiring me to try the recipe for Smoked Coconut Cheesecake. I’ve used a similar technique before to make an Indian-style biryani, a layered rice dish which is scented with some wood smoke. In Oman I also tasted water scented with frankincense smoke, which was refreshing and surprisingly soothing. But the idea of trying incense in a dessert intrigues me, so more on this later.

Just saw a New York Times T-Magazine article, The Samurai Shopper: Pepper Sprays, that I missed earlier. It features a variety of fragrances including Caron Poivre, Terre d’Hermes and Andy Tauer’s Vetiver Dance.

Basenotes reports that  Dawn Spencer Hurwitz collaborates with Denver Art Museum for YSL Retrospective Collection. Sounds very interesting!

Image: Auguste Bernard d’Agesci, French, 1756–1829. Lady Reading the Letters of Heloise and Abelard, c. 1780 (a fragment of this painting from the Art Institute of Chicago collection). Photograph by Bois de Jasmin.



  • MB: I recently finished The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch (an old classic) and The Glass Room (a new one) by Simon Mawer. Both are sensational! Perfume wise, discovered Beyond Love by Kilian. My friend was wearing it. Wow. May 5, 2012 at 11:49am Reply

    • Victoria: Ooooh, The Glass Room has been on my wishlist for ages, and your mention was enough to make me get it on Kindle at last. I’m very much looking forward to reading it. May 5, 2012 at 12:35pm Reply

  • rosarita: I’m halfway through The Forsyte Saga and enjoying every minute. This week, I visited my best friend, who lives in a good sized city several hours away from my tiny rural town. They have a Trader Joe’s nearby, and I just love shopping there. I *discovered* a certain brand (don’t remember) of Greek yogurt w/fruit that is wonderful. I also went to Ulta, which I of course never get to do, and bought nail polish. While there I was able to do just a little sniffing; finally tried Jennifer Aniston (didn’t like) and retried Versace Dark Crystal, which I do like. Don’t think I’d go through a bottle, but it’s very nice; kind of a mass market Tom Ford Black Orchid (fruitier). Enjoy the weekend, all 🙂 May 5, 2012 at 2:19pm Reply

    • Victoria: My mom is a huge fan of Trader Joe’s, but our local store doesn’t have that much. Maybe, it’s still new.

      What nail polish did you buy? I’m in love with the pale pink from Essie called Blushing Bride. But since I bake, I’ve given up polishing my nails. It comes off too fast… May 5, 2012 at 8:49pm Reply

      • rosarita: I bought two polishes from Zoya’s new summer collection. Zoya is my favorite brand at the moment; they have a wide range of beautiful colors & finishes and they wear very well. May 6, 2012 at 9:39am Reply

        • Victoria: I should try this line. I’ve heard of it, and my local nail salon carries some of their colors. The other day I discovered an old bottle of Lancome Red, which turned to be ok. It’s the same red as your avatar! May 6, 2012 at 9:44am Reply

          • Lavanya: I really like Zoya polishes too (and their remover!) May 6, 2012 at 3:11pm Reply

            • Victoria: Any colors in particular? Not that I should be buying more nail polish, but…. 🙂 May 6, 2012 at 3:17pm Reply

              • Lavanya: I usually like un glittery but Zara is a very pretty color..I need to look up the other names (There is a reddish brown lava color that i’ve been loving for my feet) May 7, 2012 at 12:56pm Reply

                • Victoria: Just looked up Zara, and it’s very pretty! May 7, 2012 at 5:15pm Reply

  • Austenfan: No rediscoveries. Another rainy day in Holland. It’s so cold as well. Still wearing my winter clothes, and today Shalimar to go with it.
    Hadn’t worn it in a while, and nearly forgot how good it actually is.

    I am reading the biography of Romain Gary. It’s such an interesting book and such a fascinating life. May 5, 2012 at 2:53pm Reply

    • Victoria: Hope that you’re staying warm then. It was chilly here too. I was cleaning up a bit today and discovered an old bottle of Guerlain Chant d’Aromes. That stuff is incredible–so effervescent and so rich at the same time. Really amazing.

      By the way, I will be in Amsterdam for a week or so this summer, very much looking forward to it. May 5, 2012 at 8:51pm Reply

      • Austenfan: Amsterdam is a very beautiful city, I hope you enjoy your trip. I don’t know if you have been there before, but there is a number of very good museums. Since you seem to like paintings, a visit to the Van Gogh museum and to the Rijksmuseum is an absolute must.
        Another thing worth doing although it is a very touristy and cliche thing to do is a boat trip on the canals.

        On a completely different note; did you ever watch the Russian film The Return
        (Vozvraschcheniye) by Zvyagintsev? A very enigmatic and moving film. May 6, 2012 at 10:40am Reply

        • Victoria: Thank you. I’ve been there once, very briefly, so on this visit I will take more time to explore and do all of the touristy, cliche things. 🙂 My mom usually travels to Kiev through Amsterdam, and she fell in love with the city.

          I haven’t seen The Return. I just realized that it’s been in my Netflix queue for some time, but for some reason I’ve never received it. I’ve had mixed reactions to the modern Russian cinematography. The quality ranges dramatically, but your vote of confidence for The Return makes me want to watch it. Lately, I’ve succumbed to the temptations of Downton Abbey, and now it’s a part of our evening movie watching. 🙂 May 6, 2012 at 11:05am Reply

          • Austenfan: Zvyagintsev is compared by some to the new Tarkovsky. I have no way of judging, as I don’t know Tarkovsky’s work. The first time I watched it I was with a group of people, including two people originally from Russia,and they seemed to really enjoy it. It was very highly praised in Europe and I think won an award in Venice.
            I absolutely adore it, without really understanding it, but it is just so beautiful and heartbreaking.
            What I find especially heartwarming is that it was made for less than half a million dollars. May 6, 2012 at 11:14am Reply

            • Victoria: Less than half a million dollar budget seems to be a feat in itself! I’ll definitely have to watch it. Lately, I’ve been into my escapist favorites–Bollywood, Poirot series and now Downton Abbey. May 6, 2012 at 3:23pm Reply

            • Dianna: I have seen The Return and it is worth every praise it received and more, imo. A very rare sort of movie. May 6, 2012 at 3:29pm Reply

              • Victoria: Thank you, Dianna, for another vote of confidence! I just realized that I can watch The Return online, so it’s going to be our movie today.
                Another other Russian films that you recommend exploring? I haven’t been keeping up with the new releases as well as I should. May 6, 2012 at 3:34pm Reply

                • Austenfan: The Return is definitely not escapist!
                  I don’t watch that many Russian films but one I did get to watch a year ago or so is a Mikhalkov film called Burnt by the Sun. I don’t think as highly of it as I do of The Return but it is very beautiful.
                  I did 2 years of Russian, still can’t speak or really understand it, but love listening to it. May 6, 2012 at 4:56pm Reply

                  • Victoria: I liked Burnt by the Sun too, even though usually Mikhalkov’s style isn’t to my taste. Maybe, I’m biased since his personal character is far too pompous. May 6, 2012 at 8:51pm Reply

  • Allison: I saw a movie called “Damsels in Distress” by Whit Stillman who also made”Metropolitan” and “Barcelona.” It’s a very quirky film with some great references to the positive power of fragrance! It’s worth seeing just for that. May 5, 2012 at 4:30pm Reply

    • Victoria: Allison, thanks for another great recommendation.
      Also, I was enjoying Mariage Freres Rose d’Himalaya this morning and thanking you. 🙂 It’s such a nuanced blend. May 5, 2012 at 8:53pm Reply

  • Elisa: I got to try Dawn’s YSL collection a few weeks ago! (I live near the Denver art museum.) The one that stuck in my mind was La Vie en Rose, the Paris inspired rose scent. It was so lovely! May 6, 2012 at 12:46am Reply

    • Victoria: Sounds great, Elisa! I’ve heard that the Denver art museum has a nice collections and hosts interesting events. Wish I were closer! May 6, 2012 at 9:49am Reply

      • Elisa: Yes, it’s pretty great! And a whole museum devoted to Clyfford Still just opened, but I have yet to make it down.

        Dawn’s shop in Boulder is so fun to play around in too. May 6, 2012 at 12:29pm Reply

        • Victoria: You definitely should check it out. A friend who’s a big Clyfford Still fan has been talking about the museum nonstop. Once again, I wish I were closer! 🙂

          I’ve smelled Dawn’s Cimabue at last, and it was so lovely, a warm saffron pudding. May 6, 2012 at 3:19pm Reply

          • Elisa: I will go soon!

            Did you ever get to try Mahjoun? It’s a wonderful gourmand. May 6, 2012 at 4:01pm Reply

            • Victoria: No, I didn’t, or at least, it wasn’t among the samples I remember trying recently. But I remember you mentioning it before as a must-try, so I did order a sample. May 6, 2012 at 8:14pm Reply

  • silverdust: No new perfumes worth mentioning but did finish a book that’s been out for a few years: The Gargoyle, the first effort of Andrew Davidson. Epic! (One of the main characters carves gargoyles — more accurately, “grotesques,” for stately homes and grand edifices.)

    However, the story begins with the fiery crash of a male porn star. Heaven, Hell and medieval Europe are also prominently featured! May 6, 2012 at 10:12am Reply

    • Victoria: Wow, that’s some plot! And I’m fascinated by gargoyles too. May 6, 2012 at 10:57am Reply

  • Claudia: I’m finishing M.F.K. Fisher’s “The Art of Eating”. Such an interesting book-there are recipes and also her reminiscences about traveling and living in Europe in the 1930’s. And today (to treat myself for Mother’s Day) I ordered Songes and used my Nordstrom Note–saved 20 dollars!! May 6, 2012 at 6:01pm Reply

    • Victoria: I love M.F.K. Fisher’s “The Art of Eating”! It must be one of my all-time favorite books. She’s such a wonderful writer, and when she is writing about gathering peas, it feels like she is talking about so much more than just enjoying a taste of something delicious.
      And Songes… ah, jasmine and vanilla perfection! May 6, 2012 at 11:28pm Reply

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