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.

Orange Blossom and Mint Lemonade

“It’s like drinking sunshine,” said my 11 year old cousin when she tried my orange blossom scented lemonade. Although her unexpected and poetic compliment made my day, I can’t take any credit. First of all, the idea comes from my friend Muna (whom you’ve met before). Second, it’s all in the lemon and orange blossom pairing.

lemonade-orangeblossom

Some combinations in perfumery are considered absolutely perfect. There are classical ones like coumarin and lavender, personal innovations like Jacques Guerlain’s bergamot and vanilla in Shalimar, or modern discoveries like cotton candy and patchouli in Thierry Mugler Angel. And then, you have natural marriages like orange blossom and citrus that are so harmonious than after you try it once, you know that these two are meant to be together.

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Scented Mementos: The Story of the Porter and the Ladies of Baghdad

The Iraqi capital Baghdad is associated today with devastation and sectarian violence, and every time another story of this troubled city unfolds on the TV screen, perfume is the last thing I usually think about. And isn’t it frivolous and unnecessary anyway? But then I remember a scented memento given to me by an Iraqi friend. “In our culture, we give a fragrant flower to sweeten the pain of saying goodbye,” she said. We were in New York then, and there were neither scented roses nor jasmine, so instead she gave me a small bottle of orange blossom water. Every time I use it in my cakes or tea, I think of Muna.

 bread-seller

The tradition of sharing scents–sprinkling guests with perfume or giving them small scented gifts as they depart–has ancient roots, and with few modifications, these practices continue today. Even as Iraq has been undergoing dramatic upheavals, some things remain the same and provide a thread of continuity which becomes even more essential when nothing else is certain. When Muna describes the fragrances made by her relatives, she doesn’t just describe the sweetness of jasmine or the medicinal sharpness of saffron, she tells me about her mother and grandmother and other women who left an indelible mark on her.

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Perfumed Nightgown : What Do You Wear

Do you wear perfume to bed? What is your favorite scented nightgown?

When asked what she wore to bed, Marilyn Monroe answered, ” five drops of Chanel No 5.” The idea was so sultry and thrilling that the sales of Chanel No 5 skyrocketed in response. No 5 sounds interesting as a scented nightgown, but nothing beats a splash of rosewater or orange blossom water for me. Their delicate scent is soothing, and both waters are excellent for the skin.

I also love simple scents like Annick Goutal Rose Splendide or Le Muguet. Jo Malone Vintage Gardenia starts as spicy and sparkling, but the drydown of musk and vanilla is comforting.  While Penhaligon’s Violetta lacks the sensual twist of Marilyn’s favorite perfume, it helps me wind down after a long, stressful day.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

Brussels Flower Carpet and Cafe Blanc : Lebanese Orange Blossom Drink

750,000! That’s how many flowers it takes to cover Brussels’s central square, the Grand Place. Every other year a carpet of colorful begonias is laid out in the historic city centre, the vibrant and extraordinary spectacle that turns the plaza into a fairy tale vision. It’s not hard to embellish the Grand Place, which is often voted as the most beautiful square in Europe. Ornate Baroque guild houses and Gothic town hall buildings line its periphery, and side streets bearing names like ‘butter’, ‘cheese’, ‘herring’, etc. reflect its origins as the main marketplace of old Brussels. Today the shops are still around, although most of them hawk chocolates and tacky souvenirs. But the Grand Place retains its majestic aura, and it’s easy to understand why this place is still one of the busiest tourist sites in the city.

I first visited the Grand Place on a cold winter day when the square was all but empty. Like much of Brussels, its beauty left a strange impression on me of something grandiose, but aloof. It took the flower carpet for me to see Brussels in a different light–more colorful and more joyful. What a delightful thing it is to block the main square for several days just to decorate it with thousands of petals! All this for a few evanescent moments of beauty.

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Rice Pudding with Strawberry Compote : Vanilla and Orange Blossom

Rice puddings have a bad rep. Bland, boring, cafeteria fare are some of the less than complimentary descriptors heaped on this humble dessert. But like most old-fashioned dishes, a homemade rice pudding is comfort food at its best–creamy, suave and  lusty. And when the canvas of rice and milk is painted with spices and fruit, it’s easy to make rice pudding into something elegant and even exotic.

As summer gathers her skirts to settle down into the balmy days of June, my desserts revolve more and more around fruit. These days they are heavily strawberry flavored–it’s the height of the berry season, after all. At first, we simply ate them out of hand. Then, we started embellishing strawberries with whipped cream, or better yet, with sour cream or crème fraîche. Recently I’ve been tempted time and again by rice pudding tarts, which are common at Belgian bakeries, and I decided to combine two of my favorite desserts into one.

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  • Aurora in Recommend Me a Perfume : November 2021: Hello Ellen, yes I agree Edwardian Bouquet is foremost a floral, Floris is known for its florals. Guerlain has the most famous chypre Mitsouko and there is the green chypre… November 30, 2021 at 11:18am

  • Aurora in Recommend Me a Perfume : November 2021: Hello Valentina: Your tastes are diverse. Maybe an amber would suit you? it’s a popular choice for winter. Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan is a sort of benchmark, or the lesser… November 30, 2021 at 10:57am

  • Potimarron in How to Find the Right Perfume and Seduce Yourself: 4160 Tuesdays have made some non-pudding ones I think. If someone could make a fragrance that smelled like basmati rice cooking I’d love it! November 30, 2021 at 10:34am

  • Aurora in Recommend Me a Perfume : November 2021: Merci Katherina de partager ta découverte, l’idée dune ‘version plus crémeuse de Cuir de Russie’ est très séduisante. November 30, 2021 at 10:33am

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