Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Cooking with Aftelier essences, part 2 - Ice Cream

One type of food that that lends itself especially well to experimentation is ice cream. People are more open about how it can be flavoured, compared to most other foodstuffs and it's nearly impossible to make a bad batch of it, as long as you taste as you go!

In this post, there are two ice cream recipes, the first one is basically a lemon sorbet that has had some sunshie added to it in the guise of a drop of Aftelier Yellow Mandarin Essence. The second one is also very good but a bit on the nerdy side, to say the least. It was initially meant to be a tribute to the cult fragrance Shiseido Feminité de Bois. By mistake I overdosed the raspberries and it blossomed into a "Serge Lutens Bois et Fruit" Ice Cream. You can fail in worse ways than that :)

Mandarin Sorbet

Mandarin Sorbet

3-4 lemons
4 dl (1.6 cup) water
2 dl (0.8 cup) sugar
1 drop Aftelier Yellow Mandarin Essence

First, make the syrup:
Put sugar and water in a pot.
Bring to boil.
Let the syrup cool down in a refrigerator until completely cool.

Squeeze the juice out of 3 of the lemons into a big bowl.
Add 3/4 of the syrup and the drop of mandarin essence.
Taste carefully.

If it's too sweet, add more lemon juice.
If it's to tart, add more syrup.
Keep on doing this until you can't imagine the sorbet getting any better.

Freeze everything in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturers instructions.


And now, the Bois et Fruits recipe. I had so much fun doing this. I dabbed some Shiseido Feminité de Bois on, trying to match the scent tastewise as I went, borrowing inspiration from the list of notes posted at the Fragrantica website. Doing it this way was a bit like playing perfumer but actually having a clue about what I was doing :)

Bois et Fruits Ice Cream

Bois et Fruit Ice Cream

270 g (8.5 oz) plums, cut into pieces, pits removed
2.5*2.5 cm (1*1 inch) piece of ginger, cut into coin sized pieces
1 clove
1 stick of cinnamon
1 splash vanilla essence (I've a difficult time measuring this properly as I make my own by putting leftover vanilla pods into vodka, use a little but not to much)
5 tablespoons honey
1/2 dl (0.2 cups) water
1 drop of Aftelier Blood Cedarwood Essence
100g (3 oz) raspberries 
1 drop Aftelier Yellow Mandarin Essence
1.5 dl (0.6 cups) whipping cream

For really getting the most out of making this ice cream, if possible, dab some Shiseido Feminité de Bois on one wrist and some Serge Lutens Bois et Fruits on the other. These are your references to smell while cooking the fruit base.

Put plums, ginger coins, clove, cinnamon, vanilla, honey, water and cedar essence into a pot. Bring to boil. Don't use a lid.

Now, FdB is mainly about wood and fruit. The spices are supposed to be team players, binding everything together but not stand out individually. Therefore you need to taste your plum jam to all the time (at least every 30 secs). As soon as one of the whole spice seems to getting too dominant compared to your perfume reference it has to be removed.

I did it like this:
after 1 minute of boiling the clove was removed
after 5 minutes of boiling the cinnamon stick was removed
after 7 minute of boiling the ginger slices were removed

Keep on boiling until the plums start to disintegrate.

By now the fruit base should taste something similar to Feminité de Bois. Feel free to tinker with it.

Add raspberries and mandarin essence.

Keep the pot on the hot stove until the raspberries start to disintegrate.

Now the fruit base should taste like Bois et Fruits.

Chill until completely cold

Whip the cream.

Stir the fruit base into the cream.

Freeze in an ice cream maker following the manufacturers instructions.

And not, finally, you get to eat the ice cream!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Vessel Parfums - Occult and my first ever DRAW!!!

Before I had kids my favourite past time was reading books. All kinds of books. I still love them but nowadays I've hardly ever get the time to read one from start to finish. I often get books at the library, feeling all excited, but at the time I get those mails telling me that I better return the books right away or get fined, I've usually haven't managed to even open them...

Last week though, I picked up a book named "Cirkeln" ("The Circle" in English) by Mats Strandgren and Sara Bergmark Elfgren. This book is really aimed at teenagers and tells a story about 6 high school girls who find out that they are witches with superpowers and only by working together they can prevent the upcoming destruction of the world. I probably would not have looked twice at a book like this if it wasn't for the fact that several reviewers have hailed it as the best thing since Harry Potter. And, was it that good? Yes!!! I haven't been able to put it down during the last few days, all I've been thinking about is "What will happen next?". The good thing about it is not the story about the paranormal stuff in itself but the portraits of the characters, the dynamics between them and their lives, going to school, in a God forgotten Swedish small town. I don't think it has been translated to any other languages yet, but keep an eye out for it any ways because I'm sure it will be.

I've also been lucky to been wearing the perfect scent while reading this book, namely "Occult" from Vessel Perfums. First note to stand out is sweet burnt honey. After a while there is incense. This reminds me of the type of incense my grand mother used to burn when she was trying to hide the fact that she had been smoking indoors. She claims that she quit smoking in the 80ies, but we still catch her with a cigar behind the house every now and then... But back to Occult, there is vanilla, wood, hints of soft leather and musk. In all, the notes are very gentle and well blended. If I'm to picture someone wearing this it would be a girl sleepwalking over a graveyard, hair blowing in the wind, she's wearing a long white cotton night gown and a silver cross around her neck. It would be perfectly innocent if it wasn't for that strange silvery smoke and strings of ectoplasm coming out of her mouth...

My only complaint is that Occult is rather faint and doesn't last that long on my skin, but, I suppose, one can always dab on some more.

Vessel Parfums is a relatively new company, founded in 2010, by Hollis Schwanz.  According to their website: "She was bored by the high volume of generic fragrance launches in the marketplace, and decided to develop a line of perfumes inspired by eras in time and the moods they evoke". Occult is their first fragrance release and it was: "Made to enhance the wearer’s personal mystery, not to coat him or her in a pre-fabricated narrative". One can only say YAY to that!

Now to the part everybody has been waiting for! I've been sent a small bottle of Occult that you can see in the picture above. It's fitted with a small silver pendant and a necklace string so it can be worn around the neck. As much as I'd love to keep it to myself I also love to help out new ventures, so I've decided that one lucky reader will be eligible to win my bottle. There are a few drops of perfume missing due to me making this review. If you want it, all you have to do is make a comment on this blog post and tell me why you want to try Occult. This is no essay competition, something like "It sounds nice" is perfectly acceptable.

More rules for the draw is that you can live anywhere in the world. Last day to make a comment is 2nd of September 2011. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced some time next weekend. I will not be responsible for damage or loss caused by postal services. Now, go ahead and make those comments and Good Luck!

Official Notes
Top: Laotian Beeswax, Black Plum, Somalian Olibanum
Heart: Texan Cedarwood, Haitian Vetiver, Leather, Amber, Indonesian Patchouli, Sandalwood
Base: Benzoin (Laos), Vanilla Bean (Madagascar), Civet, Opulent Musks

For more reviews of Occult, see also:
The Non Blonde

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Cooking with Aftelier essences, part 1 - Grand Fir

Mandy Aftel does not only make top notch natural perfumes, she also has a range of cooking essences and I've been lucky enough to get to try a few of them. The ones I've been experimenting so far are Yellow Mandarin, Blood Cedar Wood, and Grand Fir. The wooden ones I choose because those flavours are unusual in cooking and I love a challenge. Sweet mandarin I chose because I LOVE the taste of mandarins. Clementins and tangerines we can get all year round here, but real mandarins with their very special happy taste are very hard to come by. They only show up for a few weeks every year in speciality food stores, so having a small bottle of essence is a real treat!

So, what have I been using these essences for? Since I haven't had any finished recipes I've started easy. Doing simple, near fool proof, dishes just to get to get the feel for each essence. Initially I thought that the Grand Fir one would be the hardest one to use, it smells very assertively and resiny. A scent that I associate with masculinity, winter, deep forests and green Wunderbaums, hanging in cars belonging to guys with shady intentions. Fortunately, I've been delighted to find several great uses for it. I've tried adding a drop to a basic balsamic vinaigrette dressing, that works great with veggie salads or Greek salads, especially with sweet ripe tomatoes and feta cheese.

Veggies with Balsamic Fir Vinaigrette

Balsamic Fir Vinaigrette

1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegraitte
1 small drop Grand Fir Essence
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix everything in a small bowl. Taste!

Salad to go with the dressing

Use the any ones you like of the following:
Tomatoes, the sweeter and riper the better
Red onions
Grated carrots
Feta cheese

Cut up the veggies and feta. Put everything in a salad bowl. Either pour the dressing all over the salad or serve on the side.

A well known chefs proverb is "Grows together, goes together". Here in Sweden I think the fir is the most common tree, especially up north there are vast forests of them. All over the forest floor wild lingonberries grow. Their taste reminds me a bit about cranberries, but they are smaller, harder and tarter. The most common use for them is making jam. I was very curious about how lingonberries would take to the Grand Fir Essence so I made a quick, not so sweet, version of lingonberry jam to try. It turned out great, an interesting, and somehow deeper tasting, version of a Swedish classic.

Lingonberry Forest Relish

This is somewhere between a jam and a relish. For making jam, just boil the berries a bit longer and add more sugar.

1 cup of lingonberries
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 drop Grand Fir Essence

Put lingonberries, sugar and water in a pot.
Boil for a few minutes until the berries start breaking up.
Add the drop of Grand Fir Essence.
Stir and serve.

Great served with Swedish meatballs.

So, this is enough cooking for today. I have several more posts coming up using the other two essences, so stay tuned :)

The essences were sent to me for trial.

Monday, August 22, 2011

DSH - Perfum de Luxe

I've been meaning to try DSH perfumes for a while now and finally, this week, I managed to score a couple of samples from a fellow MUA swapper.

One of these was Perfume de Luxe. I had chosen it at random from a list of available samples and had no idea what to expect. The list of official notes, posted in the bottom of this post, is long, so I couldn't predict what it would smell like in real life. The only thing I knew, by reading up on the net, was that it was inspired by the Art Deco movement of the 1920´s and ´30´s.

First sniff conjures up the intoxicating scent of raisins soaked in rum. And maybe some aged sweet sherry. Yummy and boozy. This lasted for about half an hour.

Then I start getting sweet honey and candles. And I'm not talking about scented candles here, I'm talking about smelling good quality old fashioned wax candles close to the burning wick, getting the scent of warm running wax and smouldering twine. I don't get any of the flower notes individually but they are there, intermingled, in the background, crating a sweet surrounding for the candles to cast their glow upon.

In the very end the sweetness evades and I'm getting a faint, amiable, blend of amber and tobacco. A perfect end to a perfect day.

Mandy Aftel recently said, in an interview on the Eyliner on a Cat blog: "Luxury is an internal experience; status is an external one", and that is very true about my experience with "Perfume de Luxe". It wears close to the skin, there is nothing show-off-ish about it. It doesn't scream "Look at me, I can afford smelling like this". It's a perfume for someone confident and secure in herself that stands above such behaviour because she knows that she herself is the main attraction anywhere she goes. This perfume accentuates her in all her glory, it's not the other way around.

Official notes
Top notes: Bergamot, Clary Sage, Neroli, Petitgrain, Violet
Middle notes: Bulgarian Rose Absolute, Centifolia Rose Absolute, Chinese Geranium, Honey, Orris, Tuberosa, Ylang-Ylang,
Base notes: Amber, Benzoin, Brown Oakmoss, Labdanum, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Tobacco Absolut, Vanilla

Pic: Alfons Mucha

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Oolang Infini - Atelier Cologne

In order to write this blog post I've been thinking about how to describe the scent of tea. It's not that easy. The first note that comes to my mind is the citrus of Earl Grey teas. But that is, of course, not the tea itself but the bergamot used to add flavour and contrast. Then there is the smokiness of Lapsang Souchong, created by smoking the tea leaves in a bamboo basket over fire. Again, that's the smoke and not so much the tea in itself. Green tea does have a describable scent; slightly bitter dried grass and hay. But Oolang, also called blue tea as it is somewhere between green and black, not fully fermented, is hard to describe. The best I can come up with is as a "Me, but better version of hot water featuring elements of earth, astringency and bitterness". But we all know there is a lot more to a nice cup of tea than that. And fortunately it's all captured in the beautiful Oolang Infini by Atelier Cologne.

When smelling OI and thinking about the notes with the analytical part of my brain I'm getting some bergamot, tea and maybe a hint of lavender. But what I'm really experiencing are tears - in a good way. I'm not sure what brings this on, maybe the slightly astringent tannins present in the tea note remind me of that feeling after having had a good cry. Wet cheeks, swollen nose but now I've let it all out, it's time to pick up the pieces and move on.

I'm also reminded of rain filled skies on a damp and chilly day. The air is so thick it feels like breathing in cold fog through your mouth. But as the scent wears the weather clears up, sunshine breaks through. The memory of sadness is still lingering, but it's not sad any more. It grounds you, add to your experiences and helps you to stand your ground in this crazy world.

I like OI a lot, it's my favourite Atelier Cologne so far (I've not tried them all but I'm very impressed with the ones I've tried). The scent is subtle but pleasant, works great on both men and women and easily lasts a whole day.


Monday, August 15, 2011

I ♥ les carottes - Honoré des Prés

Carrot notes in perfuems are not that uncommon. As far as I understand they are often used to support the mighty iris. Therefore I was intrigued when I heard about "I ♥ les carottes" by Honoré des Prés where carrots get to play the lead, with the support of, among others, orris butter. And "I ♥ les carottes" is very much about carrots, carrots that come in 4 liquid servings.

First, there is an aperitif. I♥LC starts with a huge blast of alcohol, and there is nothing smooth about it. This is a 80+ proof bad ass Carrot Vodkatini. Putting on I♥LC on feels like waking up under the bridge, reaching for my bottle in a brown bag. Fortunately I do find it, it's still not empty but someone has stuck a carrot in it! Weird, I think as I take a swig, but, whatever.

After 5 minutes or so the alcohol has evaporated and the next serving comes along. It's a super healthy, freshly made, carrot juice with a hint of minced orange peel and ginger for that extra bite. I find the carrot note at this stage amazing, it is so dead on carrot juice. It has that feeling of being a little thinner and having a tiny hint of funk that carrot juice has that I do not get when crunching away on fresh carrots.

After an hour or so the sharpness of orange peel and ginger has faded and I start getting vanilla. Now we're having a milk shake made of carrot juice and vanilla ice cream. It's still on the thin side, but hang on, this is a bit of transitional phase, lasting maybe an hour...

...until Orris Butter enters the stage. If I♥LC started out interesting, an experiment in unorthodox ways to smell, it's now getting truly beautiful. The orris butter, vanilla and carrot notes come together into something soft, velvety and very "cosy boozy". Maybe this could be a carrot mudslide made with French unpasteurized cream and the very best brandy? I've no idea. It's probably a good thing I don't know how to make something like this, I might end up under that bridge, madly ranting about how carrots are to blame for everything.

In all, I♥LC was great fun to try. I like how much it changes on my skin, going from very sharp to super soft, showcasing an array of carrot cocktails. The first hour or so is not exactly mainstream perfumery, but because of the soft dry down I think I♥LC is worth trying by anyone who thinks vanilla and iris make a good combo.

Image: Organikal

This sample was sent to me for review.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Annick Goutal - A Rose Splendide

I tried my first Annick Goutal scent about 3 months ago. That might sound a bit late bloomish, but AG isn't a label you see much around here. As far as I know there is only one store in Stockholm, a huge department store named NK, that carries them and when I've been there usually something else has caught my eyes and nose. The brands I used to go for were the ones trying to signal they were cool, innovative or reeked of contemporary conceptuality in some way. The first Annick Goutal I tried didn't work on me, so based on that experience and the old fashioned bottle design I just assumed that Annick Goutal "wasn't me".

But I kept noticing how AG got a lot of love, or just general chatter about themselves, in the perfume community so I figuered, I have to give them another try. So, some time later at NK, I grabbed a handful of paper strips, some random perfume bottles (I think those might have been Ninfeo Mio, Songes, Neroli, Un Matin d'Orage and some more, but I'm not sure) and started squirting. And, some of the scents I tried that day made me speechless. It was as if time had stopped and I just stood there, frozen, having a perfect perfume moment. Everyone around me was stressing and hurrying about, I was blissfully smiling, no doubt looking very silly, lost in my own world.

Now, I've only tried a few random scents so this might not be true for the whole line, I'm very much generalizing here, but there is something delightfully naive and charming about the AG scents. They are super girlie in a way that pre dates the Barbie and Hannah Montana kind of girlie. They take me to a place where pink ribbons and a clean white apron is da shit. A world where time is all I got and I get to use that time experiencing the scent of one perfect rose, lingering in a florid Italian garden or enjoying the feeling of a few precious drops of Neroli oil applied on my skin.

Another thing that I'm even newer to than AG is enjoying rose scents. After discovering Etat Libre d'Oranges Rossy de Plama a few weeks ago I've been lucky to have a few wonderful rose samples coming my way (thanks again, Ines!). One of them was Rose Splendide. That is that perfect rose I mentioned earlier. I haven't worked up a vocabulary to describe rose scents yet (I'm working on it) but this one is a stunner is its purity and simplicity. This scent seems to catch the life cycle of a rose. It starts all fresh and dewy and as it wears it grows sweeter and more mature. At the very end it reminds me of the dry incense like rose of Rossy de Palma.

According to Fragrantica the official notes for Rose Splendide are rose, pear, magnolia and musk. The pear is evident in the into. It works as an opening act, doing it's thing until the rose bud is opens up, and it's than the real action starts. It's also interesting how we imagine colors going with scents. For me, this rose is champagne coloured with pink rims, like the one in the picture.

I've read that AG has recently been bought by a Korean company and I've no idea how that will affect the brand. I imagine that the girlity I get from AG will work in Asia, anyway I sincerely hope that the new owners will preserve the perceived innocence and purity of the brand. Cause, at least me, once in a while, I really need something like this.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Finding my way through the woods - comparing the Serge Lutens boises

So quickly, my apartment has turned quiet again. Husband is back to work after his holiday. My son is back at pre-school. My baby girl is having a nap (I don't know if she technically is a baby any more, she turned one a month ago, but anyway). At the same time the weather has been getting chillier. All of a sudden there is autumn in the air.

So, now I'm going to write about some perfumes that I feel have a somewhat autumnal feel to them, namely the Serge Lutens boises. I've been comparing 5 of them, namely:
  • Bois Oriental
  • Bois et Musc
  • Bois et Fruits
  • Bois de Violette
  • Shiseido Feminité du Bois
The first four all came in 1992 and rely on the same cedary base. I find it hard to describe, but there is sunny wood, sweet fruits (I'm getting raspberry or blackberry jam and quinces) and resin, blended to perfection. Anyone who is serious about perfumes should try at least one of these once.

Bois Oriental

This scent The Perfumed Court touts as a "Gateway Serge Lutens". The reason for that is that the woody cedar base is a lot less intense, I'd say there is about half of it, compared to the other scents. Instead there is a big component of sweet vanilla added. I have to say, this is my least favourite. I really like that woody part, smelling it makes me think of talking a walk in a magical forest I know and love. But all that vanilla, it feels like there is a sticky sweet fog obscuring everything worth seeing. This one is not for me.

Bois et Musc

Do ware panthers pee in the wood?
This one consists of 2 main tracks. There is the good old cedar base and a hefty dose of musk. The musk is faint at first, but grows stronger and in the end overtakes the cedar, as the musk is very long lived.
I've reviewed this one before and I wrote something about "feminine musk" and "a great scent to wear to the office". I must have had a massive cold or possibly suffered from some temporal sort of brain damage that day. That musk is pure animal and lands somewhere between blackberries and cat pee. It's similar to that "after shave" note found in Muscat wines. Everyone who has smelled Muscs Koublai Khan will know what I mean. So, I just want to make this clear - please try before wearing to the office...

Bois et Fruits

Here the fruity parts of the cedar base have been amped up. That means A LOT of raspberries, blackberries and quinces. The fruits are all on the sweet and jammy side, creating a cheery and youngish feeling concoction. I wear this one when I want to smile. I have reviewed it before and I don't feel there is that much to add. The old review can be found here.

Bois de Violette

Another great one, I love to wear this one when I'm feeling a bit introspective and dreamy. Here the cedar is matched by violets, creating a darker but still very beautiful forest. This one I've also reviewed before, the review can be found here.

Shiseido Feminité du Bois

Now, here is a real woman. This one makes the others look like teenagers going through phases, not having found themselves yet. Feminité du Bois is the classiest, sexiest most elegant scent I've come across in a very long time. The cedary base in this one is different, I can't say exactly what is the difference. It's similar to the others, but when comparing them wrist to wrist there is a notable difference.

I'm not sure about the connection between this one and the others. As far as I understand (and correct me if I'm wrong) Shiseido Feminité du Bois is the forerunner, created by Christopher Sheldrake and Pierre Bourdon before the Serge Lutens perfume brand was born. There is a "Feminité du Bois" launched under the Serge Lutens brand as well but it seems like the formula is slightly different according to random Internet sources. I haven't tried the Serge Lutens version myself so I can't really say.

What I can say is that the SFdB is true magic! This is a fairy forest at it's sunniest and most intense. There is a lot of fruit there and I think the most prominent one is plum. If you've been watching True Blood, I'm also thinking of the glowing lumiere fruits. The downside of eating them is that you loose track of time but as long as you get to stay in Fairy and smell like this, I don't see this as a problem. I also get a hint of leather and spices that I don't get from the others. Overall SFdB is more of a skin scent, inviting people in. And it's up to you to use the fairy powers in SFdB to decide if you're ever going to let them go again.

Special thanks to Ines for sending me the sample of Shiseido Feminité du Bois


Monday, August 8, 2011

Acqua di parma Blue Mediterraneo - Fico di Amalfi

There are lots of fig scents around. Some are green, some are woody and some, like Fico di Amalfi are sweet and fruity.

For some reason, when I think of this scent I think of a small dog. Not that it smells of dog, absolutely not, the only notes I'm getting are sweet fig and some initial citrus. But this dog, he's sitting there, waiting the whole day, watching the world go by with his little puppy eyes. Cute, loyal and predictable.

So, is that a good or bad thing? Well, if you're looking for adventure, love surprises or is that kind of person who generally thrives on chaos, this might not be the fig scent for you. But if "cute, loyal and predictable" sounds great or you're having one of those days when you needs things to be easy and undemanding, Fico di Amalfi will sit by by our side, have it's little pink tongue out and pant approvingly, helping you get through the day.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Etat Libre d'Orange - Eau de protection Rossy de Palma

Rossy de Palma herself

I have said several amazingly stupid thinks on this blog. Like "I don't like vanilla" and "I don't like orange flowers". Luckily for me I've been proved wrong several times on both of those accounts now. Ok, my first experiences with those scent notes might have been a bit unfortunate but there was really no need to dismiss whole scent families because of that.

Another note that I've been prejudiced about in my past is rose. I used to believe that rose scents belonged either on old ladies that are a bit senile and think they are little girls or in fabric softeners. Fortunately, that is changing and one of the reasons for that is Etat Libre d'Oranges "Eau de protection Rossy de Palma".

There are resemblances between Rossy the Actress and Rossy the Scent. At first glance, Rossy herself is no conventional beauty, but the more you see of her the more you want. She just gets better and better - and the scent is just the same.

At first sniff of Rossy the Scent, there is a shrilly rose, reminding me of washing powder. Within a few minutes, dry incense sets in, adding perfect balance to that rose note. It makes me think of hand printed books stored in old Gothic convents. Or, on a sunny day, deciding not to go to the beach but instead sneak to the library, finding a cool and quiet corner and reading fantasy novels all day. During drydown, cocoa and patchouli are revealed, beautifully offsetting the rose, never getting too heavy.

Is this a scent I can imagine Rossy the Actress wearing? No, not at all. It's way to clean. I imagine her wearing something muskier and animalic, radiating all over the room. If I'm to make up a person representing this scent it would be Penelope Cruz playing a shy, sensitive and highly intelligent librarian. Big glasses and and mousy clothes just accentuating her beauty and grace.

So far "Eau de protection Rossy de Palma" is my favourite scent from Etat Libre d'Orange. With their radical image I tend to think that their scents would also small radical but Rossy de Palma just smells "nice" and lovely. Just as I think of Nombril Immense as a patchouli for beginners, Rossy is the perfect gateway into both rose and incense notes. Highly recommended for days when you need a little bit of serene cool and quiet for yourself.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Shiso by Aftelier Perfumes

"You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes."  -Morpheus

That was what come to my mind when I thing about Aftelier Perfumes Shiso - my little red pill. It's really that different, that unique and interesting. A whole new universe of how a scent can be opened up for me. And luckily, I ended up in a truly beautyful rabbit hole indeed.

But, it's not just the scent of Shiso that is unique, it also seems to wear differently on me than other scents. As far as I'm aware of perfumes wear in 2 ways; there is the classic top->heart->base note thing and there is the simpler linear wear, also called WYSIWYG, the way a perfume smells at first sniff is how it will continue to smell, it will only grow weaker over time.

In Shiso I found one single note standing out the whole time, from beginning to end while the supporting notes changed over time. If I was to compare it to Tango, Tango wears like an orchestra playing a symphony. The notes work like the different instruments, sometimes you can discern them one and one, sometimes they all support a bigger theme. Shiso wears like there is one soloist note, playing a concerto with a symphonic orchestra as  support. I'm very interested in hearing if this is just on me or if others are having the same experience.

And what is that note? Well, here I have a dilemma. I don't know. I suspect it might be shiso, the Japanese herb bearing the same name as the perfume, paired with clove and cassia. But I don't know what shiso smells like so I can't say for sure.

One think I know though, and that is that I have ań active mind that happily makes up for whatever gaps there seems to be in my knowledge, Shiso is no exception. Now, my scent markers tend to go into 2 categories, one for wine related scents and the other is for scents of stuff I felt passionate about as a child - which seems to be mostly candy. That note I feel so strongly in Shiso is very similar to a Swedish candy named "Sura Cola Nappar" (Sour Coca-Cola Pacifiers), I'll call them SCNs hereafter. SCNs are made of gelatine, flavoured by something slightly resembling the taste of Coca Cola and dredged in citric acid, making them extremely sour on the outside with a sweet core.

Sura colanappar

And the supporting notes, what are they? Well, that's the cool thing. It seems like everything goes with SCNs. A first I make out exquisite sandalwood. At times I get resin. There is leather and notes similar of the stable notes found in mature red wines. Toward the end Shiso goes a little sweeter and lighter, I get tart green citrus and I also get a little mellower yuzu. According to the official notes there are green peppers and geranium in there. I wouldn't ave thought of them if I hadn't read up, but they are there, adding structure and a hint of sharpness.

Now, SCNs aren't the most exclusive of foodstuffs (even calling them foodstuff is stretching things), but don't let that scare you off. If they are not available where you live, your mind will probably latch onto something else. Trying Shiso was a grand perfume experience for me. It made me realise that all the perfumes I've previously known just take up a small fraction of the infinite universe of smell. Thank God there are perfumers ready to explore what more is out there, and that there are fumeheads, like me, who just love to get to go on those trips!