Let’s Play Questions… Vol. 5 – Food, Wine & Perfume


Happy Friday everyone! As I work through a super long test for the next perfume, I thought it would be fun to play another round of Questions. This time, the focus will be on food and wine pairings.

As a few of you know, my first love in life is gastronomy, not perfume (which actually ranks about fourth or fifth on my list of interests). This summer, I’ve become completely obsessed with the UK’s Masterchef Professionals series which focuses on Michelin-level fine dining and some of the top restaurants in the world. (It’s on BBC America, and is absolutely nothing like the heinous Fox Television reality show.) Under the auspices of Michel Roux, Jr. from the famed Roux culinary dynasty, the final three chef contestants are taken into the kitchens of some of the world’s best restaurants to create food that is actually more art than anything else. It’s an utterly addictive show, but it also made me think about what perfumes would be if they were specific food dishes or drinks.

So, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is this: pick any 3-5 perfumes and tell me what they would be if they were a specific dish and alcoholic beverage. The issue is not what the perfumes would directly translate to via their notes, but, rather, what dish and drink best embodies, represents or symbolizes that perfume in your mind. What is the feel of the perfume, for you, in culinary terms? You can pick any 3-5 fragrances that you love or, if you want to be naughty, that you hate. Or, if you like, you can pick 3-5 in the love category and have a separate listing for the fragrances that trigger horrible culinary/drink associations in your mind. Whatever you prefer. If you can, please share why you have made that particular pairing.

I know it’s not easy, because I was initially rather stumped on everything but the first of my choices, but I think this is what I would choose:

1. Vintage Opium: Szechuan Hot Pot & Red Zinfandel wine. Why? Because Opium feels like a fiery, spicy, smoldering flame of heat, and there can’t be anything hotter than a Szechuan Hot Pot (which is far too hot for me to even try it). The Red Zin wine because it often has some of the highest alcohol content amongst the red wines, and has a rich, dark, peppery, but smooth, intensity that seems to fit Opium.

2. Dior’s Mitzah: Boeuf Bourguignon and Tawny Port. Why? Because Boeuf Bourguignon isn’t a very complex dish, but it’s infinitely rich, luxurious, deep and smooth, just like the perfume. It’s also comfort food that can be done in a very elegant way. As for the Tawny port, it has the same golden rich sweetness that Mitzah can have, and the colour can represent the slightly leathered, honey nuances to Mitzah’s labdanum. That said, I’m a bit conflicted here as Ruby Port would work equally well.

3. Serge Lutens’ Fille en Aiguilles. No question in my mind: gingery sugar plums with Amarone wine. The sugar plums would be the spicy, fruited plummy molasses in Fille en Aiguilles, which would be matched by Amarone’s deep, rich, fruited intensity.

Noma salad. Source: www.tiboo.cn

Noma salad. Source: tiboo.cn. Even better close-up here: http://tinyurl.com/lh4ly62

4. Serge Lutens’ De Profundis. I struggled a lot with this one, but I think it would be a dish from the famed Noma restaurant in Copenhagen. A forager salad with dainty, purple, edible flower blossoms, a few sprigs of micro-greens, and edible leaves. The dish seemed to mirror De Profundis’ delicate colours and floral nature. As for the drink, perhaps a delicate Elderberry Cordial.

El Celler de Can Roca's candied, reconstructed apricot. Source: tripadvisor.com

El Celler de Can Roca’s candied, reconstructed apricot. Source: tripadvisor.com

5. YSL’s discontinued Champagne/Yvresse. This one is actually quite easy, thanks to my new summer addiction of the UK Masterchef Professionals series. The 3 finalists went to Spain’s legendary, El Celler de Can Roca, the #2 restaurant in the world behind Noma and run by the three Roca brothers. (Some rank El Celler de Can Roca as the best restaurant in the world.) The youngest Roca brother just does the desserts, and he recreated through molecular gastronomy an “apricot” the likes of which I have never, ever seen. The amount of work, science, and creativity that went into that dish was jaw-dropping. I can’t even begin to try to describe the process, or how that photo does not show an actual apricot. Yvresse is a very sparkling, peach-dominated, fruity fragrance, but that Roca dessert is what comes to mind when I think of it. And, naturally, it would be paired with champagne. It’s a gorgeous, gorgeous fragrance that has long been one of my favorites (and which I will get around to reviewing eventually), and it deserves the beautiful dessert from one of the world’s most famous, lauded pastry chefs.

I have to admit, there are a few perfumes that I hate that, mentally, I would link with the spoiled, rotten, green slime that you may find at the bottom of your fridge’s vegetable drawer. There are also perfumes which I adore and which would be totally represented by such comfort foods as fried chicken, pizza, or gooey caramel. (Actually, if I could have given an extra choice, it would be all about comforting caramel with perhaps hot Chai latte as a drink.) But these 5 are what stuck in my mind.

What would be your choices?

36 thoughts on “Let’s Play Questions… Vol. 5 – Food, Wine & Perfume

  1. I only have one, but it’s a start. I used to work in a sandwich bar when I was a teenager and we made a really wonderful salad with cucumber, alfalfa sprouts, petit pois and fresh mint. The first time I smelled L’eau d’Issy it reminded me vividly of making that salad and drinking Sprite from a can.

    • Ooooooh, Sprite and cucumber salad with greens and mint! An inspired choice for L’Eau d’Issey — truly! The Sprite, in particular, fits that fizzy melonic, watery feel to the perfume, as does the cucumber. Now you make me really hunger for a salad like that. 😀

      BTW, it’s SO good to see you here, Susie! 🙂

  2. Interesting post Kafka, I’ll take a shot. Tom Ford Tobacco Vanilla makes me think of one of my Mom’s dinner parties, My Mom’s trifle, a glass of port and the odd person sitting around smoking a pipe, probably Mr. Reimard, my Dad’s dear friend and one of his partners in crime 😉 and treasure hunting pals. TV feels like a dinner party with its cloves, vanilla and the faint fruity tobacco note.

    Diptyque Philosykos makes me think of sitting in an Italian café eating antipasto and olives, and drinking a light white wine, maybe pinot, maybe prosecco. There’s a fruitiness to the wine and I swear I detect a note of olives in Philosykos even though maybe the rest of the world would think me crazy and as far as I know it’s not one of the notes.

    And I can’t do this without mentioning Eau de Merveilles, the fragrance I discovered after moving to Florida, and the one that makes me feel at one with the beach town I live in. I’m sitting at the Sandbar, a popular local bar, eating steamed shrimp and having a frozen margherita with lots of salt on the rim of the glass. There are oceany, salty notes in both the fragrance and the foods.

    • Oh, the Eau de Merveilles association has me drooling! My God, maybe this was a mistake to do, as I’m going to be in a state of culinary hunger and frustration all night now. 😉 😛 I also love the Tobacco Vanille imagery! Port, pipes, dinner party food with cloves and vanilla…. mmmm, lovely, Vicki! The only problem is that now I feel like having olives, with steamed shrimp, a frozen margarita, AND port, with some vanilla-clove trifle. *grin*

  3. There’s an appetizer I like to make which is dried fig and goat cheese wrapped in prosciutto. That with a glass of prosecco and I think of Womanity with it’s salty sweetness.
    A perfectly smoked brisket and a glass of sweet tea for L’Artisan Tea for Two. It makes me think of simple, slow cooked comfort food. The brisket is perfectly spiced and just melts in your mouth. The tea is strong and not too sweet because you don’t want it to overpower the taste of the brisket.
    Lastly, a bowl of turnips someone made for supper but no one ate. They accidentally got left on the counter and now they are just a cold pile of rooty mush in a bowl. I suppose they could go into the fridge with the rest of the leftovers, but really, who the heck is going to eat them? Why on earth did you think it was a good idea to even make them? Just toss them on the compost heap. Thats Iris Silver Mist for me.

    • Damn, now I need to try Womanity! What a tempting description, Poodle. Seriously good, my dear. (And I’m definitely going to hunt down a sample now.) But your Iris Silver Mist parallel had me grinning to no end. “Why on earth did you think it was a good idea to even make them?” — Hahaha! 😀 Very funny. Perhaps the fridge is located in a death crypt as well? 😉

  4. Lolol. That combo of foods sounds dodgy though. But this blog post made me see exactly why I love TV so much; it comes closer than anything else I’ve sniffed to the dinner party.

  5. Love the question, dear Kafka!

    Let’s just say I’m predictable…

    Guerlain Gourmand Coquin = pain au chocolat et café crème

    • Comfort food (and fragrances) are often the most enjoyable ones! 🙂 I’m surprised you had no parallels for your Boxeuses. No licorice sticks with molasses? 😉

  6. This game will be tricky for me, as I had to stop drinking alcohol some years ago, but I’ll do my best.

    Tom Ford Black Orchid is a kind of casserole with potatoes, shallots, truffles, and plenty of butter and cream. I can appreciate its richness and how well it’s made, but find it inedible because of the truffle. The drink would have to be a sweet, maybe fruity cocktail–a cranberry martini?

    For me, Tobacco Vanille would be a cupcake with too much vanilla frosting, and the drink would temper the sweetness but still be rich and smooth, say Guinness stout.

    Houbigant Orangers en Fleurs would be a very delicate pastry, like a cream puff, with a very sweet liquor (here knowledge fails me–Triple Sec isn’t right, something lighter).

    Poodle’s Womanity sounds delicious, and makes me want to try both the dish and the perfume.

    And the photo is hilarious. It actually gave me the sensation of being woken up from a nap by a cold nose, a feeling I know well.

    • Poodle’s Womanity parallel had the same effect on me! As for the two Tom Fords, I can *totally* see the associations. The Guinness Stout with the heavily frosted vanilla cupcake is great! It does have that dark undercurrent. Nice job, Laurels! You know, I thought of you yesterday when I almost ordered the Houbigant Orangers scent but something held me back. Mostly your prior comment about it, in fact, which gave me the sense of *exactly* what you’re describing now in your current culinary parallel! I’ll definitely test it at some point, but I just wasn’t in the mood right now for cream puff sweetness.

      As for the cold dog nose, :). Forgive me if you’ve told me this before and I’ve forgotten, but what kind do you have exactly? Germans of some large variety, right? Rotties?

      • At the moment, an elderly Rottweiler mix. But now I’m worried I’ve misled you about the Houbigant. It isn’t sugary-sweet at all, it has a purely floral sweetness, a sort of unrelieved prettiness. I think it’s beautiful, it just isn’t very me.

  7. I don’t know any fancy dishes or wines so I’ll go the easiest way possible

    Eau d’Italie Acqua Decima – A lemonade made with fresh lemon, mint leaves and a fizzy water
    Histoires de Parfums 1725 – a grapefruit-vanilla meringue with lavender sprinkles
    Prada Amber Pour Homme – I have no idea what dish or drink can smell like it, my catalogue of food and beverages is too poor for that

    • You did a lovely job, Lucas. No worries, my dear. A vanilla meringue with lavender sprinkles sounds like a great fit for Casanova/1725! And given your lovely description on your blog for Acqua Decima and your appreciation for cool, crisp, refreshing drinks, your parallel here sounds perfect. 🙂 🙂

  8. Honestly, I am stumped. I cannot think of a time that food came to mind when wearing a perfume, other than the obvious caramel candy in Mamluk, the coffee in New Haarlem, the vanilla in Eau Duelle, or the booze in Ambre Russe. Some part of my Limbic system must have a inability to connect the two. A lazy Hippocampus? Even when I make a concerted effort to design a meal based on my favorites…let’s pick Psychedique by Jovoy, I come up with Nothing!! And I Love to cook, and eat and cook some more. I think I just flunked this associative memory question!!!

    • Honestly, I expected you to breeze through this with about TEN different culinary parallels! If anyone could manage this hands-down, it would be you, my dear friend. I think your mind may be overwhelmed by all the good food and dishes that may apply, so the final result is a blank? Perhaps you can think about the *feel* of a perfume more than the notes, or even a specific meal? Maybe that would help?

  9. I wore vintage Chamade to dinner at Per Se last night, and when the foie gras arrived just as the sun was setting over Central Park and the accompanying Sauternes glowed golden and captured the light, I thought how perfectly the perfume expressed the movie and what I wore was so like both. Catherine Deneuve decides she prefers being a kept woman to a wealthy man instead of being independent. She is like a lovely goose that gorges until her liver is soft and delicious. The rich floral notes of jasmine, rose, lily of the valley capture this decadence, while the hyacinth and blackcurrant provide the balsamic glaze, and galbanum, narcissus and amber are the paired wine in the glass. The iris and Guerlainade base are the brioche.

    • My God, how lovely! I don’t know which one sounds more decadently delicious, the meal or the perfume! I suspect it’s the meal…. 😉 😛 Per Se’s Foie Gras with Sauternes, you lucky devil! What a glorious, glorious description of both the scent and the meal, Pearl Fingering — truly beautiful. Thank you so much for stopping by to share that with me. It’s made my day! And I hope you’ll feel free to come by again. Anyone who can describe food and perfume so beautifully has a true passion for both. 🙂

  10. The new Frapin, Paradis Perdu, reminded me of a fresh chopped salad with plenty of fresh herbs served on a warm summer day outside amongst tall grass. Very crisp and refreshing. It doesn’t hurt that the Frapin has an actual Spinach note listed in the notes list!

    • First, welcome to the blog, Hunter! It’s lovely of you to stop by, and to share your thoughts. I really like your visual and culinary parallel. I haven’t tried Paradis Perdu yet, and I didn’t know it has an actual Spinach note in the list (how cool!), but it makes your culinary description even more inspired! Very clever. Thank you again for stopping by, and I hope you will feel free to do so again. 🙂

      • Thank you for the kind welcome, Kafka. I’ll make sure to comment more, as I find your posts very thought provoking. I love the depth of your reviews. Thanks to you I’ve now fallen very hard for Ambra Aurea. Now if I could just find the money for that one…

        • Well, I would apologise for the damage to your wallet, Hunter, but I’m just too thrilled you love Ambra Aurea! 😀 Seriously thrilled. I have a complete obsession with the house, the richness of their scents, their depth, and their longevity. Even the ones that aren’t quite my personal style, like the salty/sea Acqua di Sale that I reviewed last week, intrigue me or are incredibly wearable. I have about 5 or 6 more Profumum samples to work through, so let’s hope they’re not all so luxurious. LOL. Profumum’s prices certainly aren’t low.

          That said, there is apparently a chap on Basenotes who does split bottles of Profumum. Right now, he’s not doing Ambra Aurea, I don’t think, but another Profumum one. I can find further details on his name, if you’re interested, and perhaps you can contact him on Basenotes? I’ve heard he’s amenable to opening splits of a reader’s choice of fragrance. I was lucky and had 2 blog friends/readers who fell for Ambra Aurea too, so we split a bottle three ways. Otherwise, it wouldn’t have been so affordable for me to get some either.

          Anyway, I’m glad you’ll be stopping by more often, and I look forward to getting to know your perfume tastes a little. 🙂

  11. This is a good game. It’s one thing to just say that a certain perfume “is” whatever the foodiest note in the note lineup happens to be. It’s a whole another thing to take into consideration the spirit and style of a perfume and map the wholeness of it into a dish and beverage 🙂

    Hermessence Ambre Narguile – Apfelstrudel served with whipped cream and dusted with plenty of fine sugar and a glass of Calvados on the side.

    Hermesessence Osmanthus Yunnan – Freshly made green apple slices and a big cocktail of vodka and lemon infused carbonated water. I used to know a person who lived on this diet, she was about as neurotic as I perceive OY.

    Btw, have you heard about a restaurant in Spain called Cellar de Can Roca? They have sometimes created desserts after well known perfumes, CK Eternity they did “combining a mandarin orange granita with orange flower gelée, basil, and a vanilla cream” and I know they’ve done several other perfumes as desserts as well. Wouldn’t mind having some of that!!!

    • HA, Cellar de Can Roca’s dessert was actually one of the ones on my list! 😀 WHAT A RESTAURANT!!! I think I want to go there more than even Noma. Such brilliance, such incredible art! It truly boggles my mind. And those desserts! I’ve heard about their perfume-dessert parallels, including CK Eternity, but their reconstructed, molecular apricot (which looks a lot like a small peach in the photo I found) was my dish for YSL’s Champagne.

      I love your choices, Sigrun. Ambre Narguilé as strudel with Calvados…. brilliant! 🙂 For me, I would have gone more with a very fruity brandy or smoky rum, but I can definitely see Calvados too. Mmmm, sugar dusted strudel with a liqueur…. mmmm. And the Osmanthus Yunnan parallel sounds wonderful. Except, there was someone who actually lived on that diet???!?!? Jesus. Apples with a vodka cocktail sounds about as healthy as living solely on Big Macs, only you’d be considerably less satiated throughout. No wonder she was neurotic.

      • OMG, now I get so embarrassed!!! This is what happens when I’m talking to my kids at the same time as I’m trying to read/comment on blogs, everything just gets jumbled up in my head and I’ve no idea what I’ve read or missed *blushing and feeling extremely stupid*. I sincerely apologize for having such a confused attention span!!!!

        And yes, the girl with the apples, she had severe anorexia so that’s why she stuck to that crazy diet. I’ve heard, through common friends, that she’s better now so I wish her all of the best!

        • Not at all, dear Sigrun, don’t give it ANOTHER THOUGHT!! To be honest, I often assume that everyone skims my posts or reviews given their length, and I don’t blame them one bit. I’m extremely verbose! 😀 And, in your case, I know you’ve got kids who are on summer holiday, so I just assumed you were extra, extra busy as well. I promise, I was more thrilled than someone knew the Roca brothers’ restaurant (and their desserts) than anything else. Very people I know in real life follow gastronomy or restaurants the way I do, so I was just happy to have someone to share my awe and admiration with, you know? So, promise me, you won’t give it another thought. And feel free to talk to me about restaurants ANY TIME you want! 😀

          • Thank you for being so gracious about it!!! I LOVE food and gastronomy, in fact I’ve nearly given up reading books for now as I never manage to finish. Instead I read magazines like “Lucky Peach” and “Fool” a great and equally nerdy one, printed in Sweden 🙂 I even used to have a food blog, before I had my first perfume one but I put it on hold as my kids eating habits just didn’t go with interesting food writing on my part… It can still be found at http://flavourfanatic.blogspot.se/, although it hasn’t been updated for a very long time now 🙂

  12. What a great and wonderful post! I have to say that despite my love of food and perfume, I am so overwhelmed with choices that I am kind of flummoxed. Where to start! So many choices, so many dishes, so many fragrances!

    What comes to mind are gourmand fragrances that remind of of certain foods, but those connections seem so obvious . . .

    I will say that The Different Company’s Sel de Vetiver reminds me of 9-course Chinese banquets, probably because I always wear it to my family’s big dinners. The reason behind the choice? It plays so well with all the other smells at the table.

    Serge Lutens Gris Clair is not for me, but when I smell it, the lavender is evocative of the lavender in herbes de Provence, which makes me think of roast chicken. Very weird, I know 🙂

    • Oh, I love the mental association you have with Sel de Vetiver! How cool. As for Lutens’ Gris Clair, your connection makes sense to me. My Herbes de Provence mix has a lot of lavender in it too, and I love to use it for roast chickens as well. 😀

  13. I’m not good at pairing anything with anything. I could never scent movie or book characters, moods, you name it. But I enjoyed reading the post and comments from others.

  14. This post is giving me some great ideas for what to sample next :-). Eau d’Italie has me curious.

  15. Opium: agree although I would probably pick a noodle dish with spicy sauce rather than a hot pot.
    Mitzah: agree although I would pick a Highland Scotch like Dalwhinnie because of the honeyed note in Mitzah.
    Vero’s Onda: risotto with mushrooms and truffles and an Islay Scotch, probably a Laphroig for the depth and earthiness found in Onda and both the Laphroig and mushroom risotto.
    Chanel No 22: Pavlova (meringue desert with berries and whipping cream for the lightness and sweetness of No 22)) and a Glenmorangie scotch which has hints of orange for the orange flower and white flower hints in No 22.
    What a fun game 🙂

    • I love your choices but, most of all, I love that you seem to like Laphroaig and single malts as much as I do. 😀 Onda on me isn’t earthy as it may be for you, so I’d see something more salty and honeyed, but I do love the comparisons you’ve used. And the Pavlova for No. 22 sounds completely inspired! I’m so glad to have bumped into another foodie! 😀

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