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?

Let’s Play Questions…. Vol. 4 – Traumatic Perfume Experiences

Happy Saturday! I hope you’re all having a good weekend thus far. I thought it would be fun to play another round of “Questions” focusing on the issue of bad perfume experiences. I recently tried a perfume that was so terrible, I can’t write about it for the simple reason that I don’t think I can talk about it in any coherent, objective, rational, sane manner. More importantly, it triggered such a visceral response that I simply can’t bear to re-live it, and it would probably end up being my last review if I did.

I’m not going to name names (so don’t ask), but the issue led me to wonder if you’ve experienced something similar. Have you ever tried a fragrance that almost broke you as a perfumista and almost put you off perfume forever? The name doesn’t matter and you don’t have to name names either if you don’t want to, because what I’m most interested in is the impact of the experience. Did it put you off that type of perfume, everything from the brand, or did it have some other reaction? Have you ever tried something that was such an ordeal that you actually couldn’t bear to think of putting on any perfume for a while? Or did you just get over the experience by resorting to a favorite, beloved comfort scent? At the risk of sounding a little like Carrie Bradshaw from “Sex And The City,” how do you deal with perfume trauma?

[Edited to add:  The Scented Hound brought up another really interesting situation: have you ever had a beloved fragrance suddenly turn on you out of the blue, such that you need a little time and distance before you could wear it again? If so, how long did it take you before you could go back to it? ]

Let’s Play Questions…. Vol. 3 – What Have You Tried Lately?

The Hairy German.

The Hairy German.

Happy Friday! I hope Spring has started to make its way to your neck of the woods. I’ll spare you what the weather has been like here, or how I’m currently wearing shorts…. (Sorry, I couldn’t help it. It’s the only benefit of living where I do!)

Since it’s almost the weekend, I thought you may have time to chat in another round of Questions! Many of you recently took advantage of Surrender to Chance’s Anniversary Sale and, by now, even your second packages should have arrived. I thought it would be a lot of fun to hear about the samples you ordered and may have started to test out. However, not all of you are in the U.S. or ordered from the site. A number of you get your samples elsewhere, whether in swaps, from friends, or just from stores in your neck of the woods. As a result, I wanted to make this broader in scope to apply to any perfume samples that you may tried out lately, regardless of source.

Here are your questions. Feel free to answer any or all of them:

  1. What perfume(s) were you looking forward to trying the most?
  2. Once you got it, did you like it, or was there an another scent that unexpectedly blew you away more?
  3. Whatever the source of your sample(s), have you tried anything recently that you are really tempted to buy as a full bottle? If you’ve already succumbed, what specifically made that scent so irresistible to you?
  4. For those of you who are new to sampling (or Surrender to Chance), what did you think of the whole experience thus far? Is it going to send you down the rabbit hole?

On my end, my second StC package arrived yesterday, but I haven’t had a chance to test out any of the perfumes from the order yet. I fear it will be quite a while before I get around to all of them, given that I’m still working my way through some of my samples from 3 orders ago!

The Hairy German at the dog park.

The Hairy German at the dog park.

Just to let you all know, I never, ever smell a perfume until I’m ready to test it. I don’t want a quick, hurried sniff to prejudice my perceptions. So, I wait until I have at least a solid 8 hours to put it on my skin, and to focus on nothing but the smell. No quick dabs as I go out with The Hairy German, or while I’m on my way to the supermarket. No quick splashes of one scent on one arm, and another fragrance on the other while I’m just relaxing. I don’t even open and sniff the vial until I’m ready to concentrate on every part of the scent, with a notepad on hand and an eye on the clock.

As a result, I won’t really be able to participate in this conversation and to share my own experiences, but I want to live vicariously through all of you. The best part about perfume is how much better and sweeter it is when shared. My favorite thing is when it feels like a lively cocktail party where everyone mingles, shares stories, and passes around the wine or, in this case, the perfume. I hope you will all feel free to converse with each other in the comments. And don’t hesitate to be honest if you don’t like something. We all have different skin chemistry, we all filter scents through our own background history or perceptions, and we all have certain notes that we like more (or less) than others. I won’t be offended if you hated my favorite perfume, I swear!

His Highness, lounging in full furriness.

His Highness, lounging in full furriness.

So, pull up a chair, have a drink or some tea, let the Hairy German take over your lap (I warn you, he’s more like a cat, albeit a giant one that sheds more than three furry children combined), pass the cookies, and let’s talk perfume! If you just want to talk about hairy children, your weekend plans, or something else, that would be wonderful, too! I am a little swamped in trying to push out the next review, so I may not be able to reply right away, but I wanted you to have a place where you could share your recent experiences. 🙂