orange: 7 posts

Orange in a Perfumer’s Palette

The orange is a versatile ingredient not only in cuisine but also in perfumery. It’s used all over the fragrance wheel, from delicate colognes to robust leathers. My latest FT column is devoted to everything orange. The article is about the sweet orange, a different character from bitter (Seville) orange and its family.

oranges and blotters

“While we easily fall for oud, gardenia, frangipani or other more flamboyant notes, for the most part orange doesn’t inspire romantic fantasies. On the other hand, the most interesting ingredients in the perfumer’s palette are the most common ones, because not only do they allow a wide range of effects, they also challenge the creators to be innovative. To continue, please click here.”

Please let me know about your favorite orange perfumes.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

Bergamot (or Orange) Marmalade

When you watch snowflakes swirling outside your window on a grey November afternoon, it’s hard to imagine that somewhere else there are flowers blooming and citrus trees laden with golden orbs. On the southern coast of Italy, Calabrian bergamot farmers are preparing to collect fruit, and for most of the month, the air in Reggio Calabria will be thickly perfumed with a peppery citrus essence as bergamot rinds are processed into essential oil.

bergamotsbergamot-jam1

Although we usually encounter bergamot as essence perfuming our cologne or Earl Grey tea, the fruit itself is a marvel. It has a heady aroma, and it tastes exactly the same way it smells–spicy, acidic, with a hint of green jasmine. It’s much sharper than lemon but also more complex and fragrant.

Bergamot juice can be substituted for lemon in marinades, sauces or dressings. Imagine poached salmon with bergamot mayonnaise or bergamot-basil pesto rubbed over pork chops. The juicy flesh can be tossed with salad greens, onions, and parsley to accompany grilled meat or seafood.  But in Calabria and much of southern Italy, bergamot usually ends up candied or in a jam. Bergamot jam is one of my most vivid memories of southern Italy, and whenever I get a chance, I recreate it at home.

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Atelier Cologne Orange Sanguine : Perfume Review

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A Russian friend told me that when she first moved to Sicily twenty years ago she couldn’t get used to the overabundance of oranges. Back in Moscow you had to queue for hours to get a box of precious Jaffa oranges but the sidewalks in the villages around Palermo were covered with fallen fruit. Or in what seemed to be a case of utter decadence, people would use oranges to polish copper. “Imagine cleaning your dirty pots with oranges!”

orange-sanguine

I think of this story whenever I cook with oranges or try an orange based fragrance. I imagine myself eyeing in dismay the piles of orange opulence–wasted, unwanted!–and stopping to stuff yet another orange into my purse. Even though oranges for me are not a rare luxury, I find their vibrant color and exuberant taste irresistible. My kitchen is never without at least one orange, and there is often a small bottle of Atelier Cologne Orange Sanguine (Blood Orange) in my purse.

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Orange Trout with Garlic, Ginger, and Sesame

When I think of orange, I usually think of desserts–a long curl of zest steeped in milk for rice pudding, a dash on top of bitter chocolate mousse or whipped into poundcake batter. By sweetening the orange, you highlight its floral, honeyed nuance, but what happens if you add a dash of salt instead? The effect is explosive. Salt volatilizes aromatic components, and the orange aroma becomes even more saturated. Moreover, its zesty flavor marries so well with savory notes that it’s fun to explore different combinations.

trout

One of my favorite piquant combinations with orange is a Korean inspired dry rub for fish. Garlic, scallions, ginger, sesame and chili pepper are used with dazzling effect in Korean cooking, giving it a distinctive flavor–earthy and aromatic, nutty and spicy. I haven’t encountered orange in Korean dishes, but its sweet perfume is a harmonious touch. It brings out the citrusy nuances of ginger and softens the toasty richness of sesame. Because of their acidity, oranges are also excellent with fish, and voilà, here is my creation.

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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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