italian flavors: 3 posts

Dreaming Florence : Hazelnut, Orange and Cardamom Biscotti

The airplane landed with a slight bump on the tarmac in Florence, and I stepped out into the Italian summer of swaying palm trees, blue skies, and soft, but naughty breeze that kept trying to lift my skirt. Belgium is only a few hours away from Italy, but culturally it might as well be on a different planet. The rainy Belgian autumn was behind me. I checked into my hotel, turned off my cell phone and went out to walk along the Arno. Perhaps, it’s a sign of my fragile emotional state over the past few months, but as I ate my pistachio gelato, I felt something close to absolute happiness.

The last time I visited Florence was almost 10 years ago, and while I have grown obviously older, she is still the same–voluptuous, ravishing, beautiful to the point of overwhelming. How could such simple things be so perfect, I kept wondering as I smelled the late summer roses blooming in profusion inside enclosed gardens or bit into the golden biscotti perfumed with anise and orange zest. A few days later I was back in Brussels, walking through the park and kicking tawny chestnuts with the tip of my boot. I missed the languid beauty of Italy. I may not have been able to infuse Brussels with the generous Italian sun, but I could conjure up Italian scents and tastes in my own home.

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Autumn Perfumes : Pasta with Roasted Hazelnuts and Pancetta

Even before I saw the leaves turning golden in the park, I smelled autumn in the air. The sun may have been generous and warm, and the summer visitors still packed the squares in Brussels, but the autumnal perfume was unmistakable–a nutty-musty melange of decaying leaves and wilting flowers. The anticipation of long dark evenings and bitter cold is enough to make anyone dread fall in the northern countries, but as the Russian poet Aleksandr Pushkin wrote, “Autumn attracts me like a neglected girl among her sisters.” Of course, then in the course of his poem he goes on to compare the beauty of fall to that of a girl dying from consumption, but that’s the complex Slavic soul for you. For my part, I love fall for its golden light and serenity as well as for its seasonal tastes.pasta-hazelnuts2

A big pile of feathery green leaves and tawny shells at the Friday market last week caught my attention. “Noisettes Fraîches,” said the chalk drawn sign, and it took me a moment to realize that I was looking at green hazelnuts. Pushkin taps into my nostalgia for my childhood days and green hazelnuts are another reminder. I pillaged many a hazelnut shrub in my grandmother’s garden in search of tasty, not quite ripe nuts and have fallen many a time trying to get to the higher branches.

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Pasta with Broccoli Rabe Recipe and The Scent of Spring

Rabe

Vibrant green scents are indelibly associated with spring—the sticky sap covering young buds, the first green blades of grass, the delicate fragrance of spring flowers. In perfumery, the family of green notes is extensive, ranging from the essences of galbanum, petitgrain, basil, and violet leaf to the recreations of fig leaves, ivy, fresh cut grass and cucumber skin. The classical green grand parfums like Balmain Vent Vert, Estee Lauder Alliage and Chanel No 19 rely on the vegetal verdancy of galbanum for an explosive green effect, while Bond no 9 Gramercy Park, Chanel Bel Respiro and Marc Jacobs Grass are accented with the new generation of aroma-materials that give them a more subtle green facet. Admittedly, I find the modern green compositions too tame for my taste, especially when my spring scent explorations lead to such intense discoveries on the market stands as bitterly green dandelion leaves, spicy kale and my absolute favorite—broccoli rabe (also known as broccoletti, broccoli di rape, cime di rapa, raab or rapini.)

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Latest Comments

  • Victoria in Vetiver Mist: All essences have components that are soluble in water and those that aren’t. Which is why commercial perfumes always include alcohol and water. In my experience, vetiver essence works quite… December 12, 2019 at 10:13am

  • Hannah in Vetiver Mist: I think water and essential oils don’t mix, and therefore it is not the best idea to use water/hydrosol + eo and spritz that in your face. On textiles, maybe,… December 12, 2019 at 9:49am

  • Carolyn Middleton in Michael Edwards’s Perfume Legends II: He certainly wouldn’t have risked buying me perfume he chose, would definitely have asked me for a few options! Saying that, when we met, I was wearing the original Oscar… December 11, 2019 at 8:08pm

  • Victoria in Michael Edwards’s Perfume Legends II: I hope that you enjoy it! December 11, 2019 at 9:26am

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