orange blossom water: 17 posts

Orange blossom or orange flower water is a by-product of orange blossom oil distillation. It’s widely used in drinks and desserts in the Middle Eastern, Moroccan and Mediterranean cuisines. It has a wonderful sweet and green flavor. My favorite brands are Mymoune and Cortas. Orange blossom water is available from the Middle Eastern and Greek stores, online from Kalustyan’s, ParthenonFoods.com, and Amazon.com (in Europe, Amazon.de carries a wide selection of orange blossom waters, as do most pharmacies and supermarkets). Most gourmet markets offer a selection of floral waters.

What Does Orange Blossom Smell Like?

Orange blossom is one of the most popular floral notes in perfumery. It can star in any family and add its special twist to almost any accord. If you like delicate and fresh, you might enjoy orange blossom in Annick Goutal Néroli and Jo Malone Orange Blossom. If dark and somber is more of your mood, then Caron Narcisse Noir and Serge Lutens Fleurs d’Oranger will fit the theme.

Orange blossom in perfumery comes from the bitter orange tree, and it’s called neroli if it’s steam-distilled and absolute if it’s extracted with solvents. (You can read my article for more detailed comparisons and examples of fragrances with these two materials). Both of these materials are expensive, although not as much as rose or jasmine essences. Neroli has a green accent that makes it perfect for colognes, mossy blends and fresh marine compositions, while the smoky twists of orange blossom absolute lend it complexity and drama that unfolds well in the similarly spiced, incense-embellished perfumes.

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Persian Flower Delights

In time for Nowruz, which falls on March 20 or 21 in 2019, depending on where in the world you are, I wanted to share with you my favorite Persian floral delights. Flowers don’t only bloom in Persian gardens and adorn Qajar art and textiles, they’re also used in cuisine. Rosewater adds a bright note to savory and sweet dishes. Willow flowers flavor sugar and candy. Orange blossom accents tea blends. As good as flowers smell, their flavors are equally beautiful.

So I took a walk through my local Iranian store and came home with a whole treasure trove of floral delicacies.

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Culinary and Aromatic Journey Across the Islamic World

“My most vivid scent from Beirut was that of gardenias. Our neighbor’s garden was full of gardenia trees and when they flowered, the smell was so heady and divine that I would stay outside just to enjoy it,” recalls Lebanese-born Anissa Helou. As a journalist, chef and prolific cookbook author, she has traveled the world collecting recipes and learning how different nationalities prepare their food. Yet when I ask her for a favorite scent memory, it’s the perfume of Lebanese gardenias that she describes.

I was inspired to reach out to Helou after I spent a few weeks in a haze of coriander, rosewater and saffron, thanks to her magnum opus, Feast: Food of the Islamic World. Published this spring after many years of extensive research, it’s a fascinating compendium of recipes from countries united by their Islamic heritage. As I describe in my article for FT Magazine, A Cultural And Aromatic Journey Across the Islamic World, another common link among the diverse cuisines Helou describes is their attention to aromatics.

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Pomegranate and Orange Blossom

Along with blood oranges, quince and yuzu, pomegranates make me anticipate winter. Their season starts in the autumn and continues even when our northern European lands enter the somber grey days of February. Most of the pomegranates in Belgium come from Turkey, but I’ve discovered that Spanish and Californian fruit has the best taste, a rich melange of sour, sweet and mildly tannic notes that calls to mind red wine and Cornelian cherries.

To select a good pomegranate, look for a glossy, heavy fruit that doesn’t have soft spots. Different varieties of pomegranates range from dark red to pale pink, so pick the richest colored fruit from the batch. Opening a pomegranate holds a sense of suspense–what will it hold inside its leathery skin? The moment when the orb breaks open to reveal the segments full of garnet beads is a small wonder. I’ve opened hundreds of pomegranates in my life, but this giddy delight never lessens.

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Many Wonders of Facial Mists

I didn’t realize, until my husband pointed it out, that I have quite a collection of facial mists. Besides several bottles on our bathroom shelf, I carry a small spray in my purse and always keep an extra one in my travel case. As far as I’m concerned, facial mists are among the best skin care tricks for sealing in makeup, getting a quick dose of hydration and feeling refreshed. Another bonus is that many facial mists are naturally scented, and their light, mild fragrance of rosewater, linden, lavender or orange blossom offers a dose of aromatherapy throughout the day.

mists

My staple facial mist is a simple blend of rose and distilled water, which I either concoct myself (1 cup of distilled water, 4 Tablespoons all-natural rosewater) or buy it ready-made at the pharmacy. In the US, Whole Foods and other health food stores carry several good brands of rosewater* in small, handy atomizers.  Rosewater is a boon for my combination skin; it’s soothing, calming and has a delicate scent of sun warmed petals. The scent is all-natural, fleeting, but stimulating while it lasts. Besides falling into a rose perfumed reverie, you can use a mix of rosewater and argan oil to remove makeup, including water-proof mascara and eyeliner. Instant radiance is guaranteed.

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