Let’s Play Questions… Vol 6: Christmas, Presents & Perfume

Source: Pinterest. Original source unknown.

Source: Pinterest. Original source unknown.

I wanted to wish you all a very Merry Christmas, if you celebrate the day, and a very happy end of the year if you don’t. For those who partook in the festivities of the day, I thought it would be nice to have a chatty post where we could all share some of the highlights. So, it’s time for another round of the Questions game. Take a gander at any or all of the following.

  1. What was your scent of the day or night, either on Christmas Eve or today?
  2. What was one of the more cozy or fun parts of either day?
  3. What were some of your favorite gifts that you received? If you received any perfume, you really must share! 🙂

I’ll start first, but please feel free to talk about whatever you’d like.

Question 1. I rarely get the chance to wear perfume just for myself, so I’m afraid last night was no exception as I was doing my usual testing. Same story for today, but at least I chose a scent that seemed to be more up my alley and bound to be enjoyable. Thus far, it has been. You will have to wait to see what it turns out to be, but an early hint: it features patchouli. (Yes, I know, I’m quite obsessed these days in my hunt for the perfect patchouli. And no, my patchouli series is not actually over. You’ve only had a temporary reprieve from my madness….)

Question 2. I haven’t really had a conventional Christmas Eve or Christmas Day thus far. For one thing, there has always a bit of a tug-and-pull in my family when it comes to which day to celebrate. My family has traditionally followed the European habit of doing things on Christmas Eve, including the feast and the opening of presents. I’ve always objected to that, and I’ve stuck pretty adamantly to my rule of leaving everything for Christmas Day itself. This year, everything got even more screwed up because of a sibling’s schedule, so we had our “Christmas Eve” celebrations last Saturday. Since I can be quite stubborn, I refused to open my presents, which resulted in much eye-rolling and resigned sighs from my family.

So, today, the Hairy German and I had an early, mini-Christmas of sorts with my parents. In a short while, we will have a small, casual lunch, picnic style. There will be tons of French cheeses for me, several types of bread, soups, smoked salmon, mini-quiches, dim sum, sushi (yes, I have a thing about Asian food), Japanese seaweed salad, gourmet pizza, lamb shanks, and other tidbits.

The Hairy German on "his" bed with his badly chewn Santa.

The Hairy German on “his” bed with his Santa.

Question 3. Some of my favorite gifts were German shepherd related! (Deutsche Schäferhund für das Leben. I would say “uber alles,” but that has negative connotations.) You should see the GSD puppy calendar in particular! The photos are so adorable, you have no idea.

I also received a few culinary and gastronomy items, from books, to special bags of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee from one of my best friends who reserves them months in advance. The beans are only grown on a particular stretch of mountains in Jamaica, and their classification as “Blue Mountain” is sharply regulated. Blue Mountain has developed the reputation of being one of the best and most expensive coffees in the world. Rumour has it that the price is sky-high mostly because all the Russian oligarchs buy it up en masse, but that sounds dubious to me. Wikipedia claims instead that 80% of the beans are exported to Japan, so clearly, limited availability of some kind is the responsible for the hype. (Wikipedia also adds that  [i]n addition to its use for brewed coffee, the beans are the flavor base of Tia Maria coffee liqueur.”) In this case, I think much of the hype is well-deserved as it really is fantastic, deep, dark coffee, and I’m lucky that my coffee-addict friend always sends me some as part of my Christmas box.

Some of the GTPC's offerings via roadfood.com

Some of the GTPC’s offerings via roadfood.com

This same friend also sends me every year two pies from the famous Grand Traverse Pie Company, which are freshly made in Michigan and arrive the very next day. My enormous box came on Christmas Eve via over-night Fed Ex delivery, and consisted of two huge pies that are 9-inches deep. This year, I received: Holiday Hill pure Rhubarb, and Opera House blueberry-peach. I’ve eaten a lot of pies in my life, and outside of the French tarte tartin, I’ve never tasted anything quite like the creations of Grand Traverse Pie Company. If you ever want to send someone food as a gift, I really recommend them. They have the most enormous range of items, from pecan to chocolate pies, cheesecakes, brownies and more. Plus, the items are so carefully packaged and so deeply insulated, they arrive in pristine condition and the result is a pie as fresh as if you had just ordered it in Michigan yourself.

In terms of perfume, I received some books on the subject, but no actual scents. I can’t decide if my family thinks I have too many fragrances, or if they simply don’t dare buy me any. Since I’ve left numerous broad hints about my wish list, I suspect it’s the former. But I did receive money, so perhaps it’s the latter. I doubt I’m the easiest person to shop for when it comes to perfume.

So, that has been my Christmas thus far. Tell me about yours!

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

I SMELL FRIDAY!

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?

Random Blog Stuff, Serge Lutens & Surrender to Chance Sale

Hello everyone, I hope you’re having a good week! Just a quick post about random stuff:

The Hairy German before the big medical center. You can tell he knows nothing good is in store for him....

The Hairy German before the Small Animals medical center at Texas A & M. You can tell he knows nothing good is in store for him….

First, my normal reviewing schedule will be very off this week, as I have an old childhood friend from Monaco who is in town for a few days and I haven’t seen him in ages. Plus, I’m on a bit of a roller coaster as it pertains to The Hairy German’s health. My seventh surgical attempt to get him the badly needed hip implant failed 10 days ago, so I’m now juggling various medical suggestions, and will probably go to see a whole new set of specialists and surgeons. From four doctors, he’s now going to have a whole lot more. I think I’m more exhausted by the whole thing than he is!

Second, and in perfume news, Surrender to Chance is having a sale on some brands. Most of you get their email notifications, but this one was only posted on their Facebook page from what I can tell. The sale is 15% off ALL Serge Lutens, Etat Libre d’Orange, and Byredo products. The code is: SergeEtatByredo and the sale ends on July 11th at midnight, Central U.S. time, so that is 10 p.m. for those of you on the West Coast and 1 a.m. on July 12th for those of you out East.

Now, the code cannot be combined with their normal and usual promotional codes. They do offer a way around it though:

If you want to order some fragrances that are on sale this week and other fragrances not on sale using the July discount codes, you will need to place two separate orders, but just note on one that you would like the orders combined, and we will refund your shipping charge on one of them!

In addition, they have the Daily Chance special on the new Le Labo Ylang 49 fragrance that I reviewed recently. It is 8 mls for $19.99 (normally $26.99). The general July discount codes are as follows:

5% off with code Sparkler

8% off orders totaling more than $75 with code Hotdog

Now, given my slight … er…  fondness… for Serge Lutens, I’ve decided to do (at least) seven days worth of Serge Lutens in a row, starting next week. Maybe even more than seven, though I don’t think I’ll manage every single day in a row, given the length of my normal reviews and the fact that Serge Lutens fragrances are often more complicated than most. (Even I have to sleep once in a while!)

I’m going to review quite a bit of the non-export, Paris Exclusives line, which is clearly an exercise in frustration, futility, and financial masochism. Honestly, I don’t expect those reviews to engender more than a mere shrug or intellectual curiosity, given that the perfumes are only available in the U.S. for a massive mark-up at $290 instead of the usual Euro price of €120. But I’ve wanted to try some like Mandarine Mandarin, Bois de Violette, La Myrrhe, SarrasinsIris Silver Mist, and others for ages. There is also Fumerie Turque that I’ve meant to review for a while, but which has somehow gotten shunted to the side all too often.

I also have regular import Lutens fragrances as well, like Musc Kublai Khan, Ambre Sultan, Fille en Aguilles, Rousse, Un Bois Vanillé, and Cedre, so that will alleviate the frustration of being tempted by a bell jar exclusive. I’ll pick and choose amongst them, but if you want to give a shout out for a favorite to make sure that it is covered, let me know. (Sarrasins, Mandarine Mandarin, Ambre Sultan and Fumerie Turque are certainties for immediate review.) Bottom line, I’m afraid you’re going to be stuck with my obsession for all of next week, though I really will try not to give you 10 days of Serge Lutens. (How I am tempted!) I’m fully aware that some of you are not quite as enamoured with Uncle Serge as I am, so I will try to restrain myself…

ZolaSummer

His Highness

Lastly, I have been (and will continue to be) a little behind in replying to comments this week, so I hope you will forgive me and accept my apologies. It’s been very hectic between The Hairy German’s medical issues, entertaining my friend, making plans for my holiday trip back home to Europe in the fall, and trying to catch up on some sleep so I don’t collapse. I promise I will reply to things as soon as I manage to come up for air.

So, that’s that with housekeeping and blog stuff. Are you tempted to get anything from Surrender to Chance in their special Lutens, Byredo, or Etat Libre sale? Or samples from any other line? Have you encountered any perfume that had made you weak in the knees? If so, what is it?

#200 – Lists, Favorites, Stats & Oddities

For my 200th post, I thought it would be fun to cover some facts, figures and favorites since my 100th post back in March. For the most part, I’ll focus just on the fragrances that I’ve covered since then but, for a few things (i.e., which houses I’ve covered the most), I’ll include all posts. So, in no particular order, here are some general thoughts or conclusions about the last 100 perfumes I’ve reviewed:

FAVORITES:

In the first 100 posts, my favorite modern fragrances were: Téo Cabanel‘s Alahine, Puredistance M, Dior Mitzah, and Neela Vermeire Création’s Trayee. (You can read the full list of loves, likes, dislikes and more in my #100 rundown.) The next 100 posts have brought some new additions to my favorites list:

Neela Vermeire‘s Mohur Esprit de Parfum: the new extrait version of Mohur, the upcoming Esprit is simply spectacular. Fully diva-esque in the most beautiful way possible, it takes the haunting beauty of Mohur and makes it sing like Maria Callas. Rose, violets, spices, gorgeous sandalwood, and amber swirl together with a richness that evokes a queen in the most opulent, haute couture ballgown imaginable.

Vero Profumo‘s Onda — not “swamp sex” but, rather, for me, beautiful honey with salty vetiver and sensuous muskiness. Gorgeous, different, original, opulently rich, utterly seductive, and very evocative of a passionate embrace.

Serge LutensDe Profundis — haunting, evocative, exquisite, delicate florals of a purple hue. It stays in your mind, and you can’t forget its beauty.

Viktoria Minya‘s Hedonist — sunny, soothing, sensuous, honeyed florals. Lush but perfectly balanced and airy. It’s definitely a beauty, and one of the stars of this year’s new releases, in my opinion.

Profumum Roma‘s Ambra Aurea — the richness and complexity of real ambergris takes center stage in this very baroque, opaque, heady amber soliflore that is as smooth as satin and an addictive as salty caramel. Perhaps the best amber I’ve tried thus far, it creates a whole new standard for richness, depth and longevity.

CLOSE, SO CLOSE, BUT NOT QUITE THERE:

Amouage Fate for Women: gorgeous, lush, and very seductive, but soapiness — and the aldehydes that I suspect are the cause of it — are always a huge issue for me, even when they aren’t a predominant part of the fragrance. Plus, I wasn’t completely gaga over some of the lemonade-like aspects of the chypre beginning. Yet, I keep thinking about it, and I suspect this one ultimately end up on the favorites list — soap be damned!

Profumum Fiore d’Ambra: sillage and longevity were a bit of a disappointment, and, ultimately, something keep me teetering just on the edge of absolute love. However, I suspect that this is another fragrance that would be utterly addictive with extensive, repeated use.

Chanel Bois des Iles (EDT): I love Bois des Iles, and it should probably belong in the Favorites section. However, there is just something that holds me back a little. A wee bit of sheerness, given my personal tastes, and the need for greater heaviness or opulence. I think the Eau de Parfum version would probably send me completely over the edge with adoration, but I do love the EDT. A LOT!

YSL‘s vintage M7: My favorite oud fragrance, but simply nonexistent sillage and extremely poor longevity on me. Such a shame, as I really love what little of it shows up on my skin. Others have significantly better luck, so if you’re looking for a scent to drive your partner wild, this should be at the top of your list!

Serge Lutens Boxeuses: sillage, longevity, and, alas, just something that didn’t quite bowl me over. Mea culpa, Uncle Serge.

Tom Ford Arabian Wood: A lovely chypre, but there were some serious sillage and longevity issues on my skin.

Le Labo Lys 41: A white floral beauty dominated by lilies and tuberose, but, again, serious sillage and longevity issues for me with this one as well.

Amouage Lyric Woman and Ubar: I liked both fragrances but, ultimately, both came up just a little bit short for me. Ubar was perhaps just a wee bit too white for me at the end of the day, but Lyric still sticks in my head, even if it wasn’t a spicy rose fragrance on my skin as it is for everyone else.

Lubin Idole (EDT): Alas, not full-bodied enough for me, too sheer, and without fantastic sillage. I shall have to try the Eau de Parfum.

TRAUMATIC FRAGRANCE EXPERIENCES:

First place goes to the new release by the small perfume house which I shall not name. All I’ll say is that it was a stomach-churning, revolting, hot mess, one of the worst things I’ve smelled in years, and almost put me off perfume for a few days. The mere thought of it sends a shiver down my spine, so let’s move on.

Histoires de Parfums Vidi: the 2nd in the Veni, Vidi, Vici series, it was a witches brew worthy of Macbeth’s crones. An unholy combination of: metallic, aquatic notes; chocolate-like cardamom; watery cucumber; antiseptic acne tonic; ISO E Super; and eggy vanilla. No-one should ever mix watery, metallic cucumber with chocolate. No-one!

Ormonde Jayne Montabaco: Oceanic levels of ISO E Super. Oceanic, I’m telling you! It forever impacted my nose, not to mention my ability to handle the synthetic note. Now, I’ve become a walking weathervane for ISO E Super, even in the smallest doses. A friend who loves Molecule 01 has said that Montabaco is very similar. For the sake of politeness, let’s just say that I will never try Molecule 01.

L’Artisan Dzing! & Dzonghka: Dzing! holds the distinction of making me almost lose my mind — and my usual approach to reviewing. I had a meltdown, culminating in a rant about Ionesco and Absurdism. I stand by my opinion: Ionesco would have loved Dzing! and would have undoubtedly written a whole play around it, perhaps as a sequel to Rhinoceros only this one would take place in a cheap, plastic-reeking, dusty, cloying, synthetic circus. Dzonghka was somewhat better — but it’s all highly relative in this case.

DEEPLY DISAPPOINTING:

Amouage Opus VI: I’m in the minority on the issue of Opus VI which many consider to be the best amber fragrance around. Perhaps I’m just difficult when it comes to my Orientals, or perhaps it’s because I’ve spent time in the Middle East and am familiar with Arab fragrances. Whatever the reason, Opus VI left me shrugging my shoulders. I was singularly unmoved, and I really think it is over-hyped.

Amouage Opus VII: Urinous notes evocative of a zoo’s big cat enclosure, animalic muskiness taken to extremes, huge amounts of ISO E Super, and pungent oud…. I’m clearly not the target audience for the newest addition to Amouage’s Library Collection. Opus VII will forever more be summarized in my mind as “panther pee.”

Vero Profumo Rubj (EDP): I had high expectations for Rubj, since I love orange blossom and am not a cumin-phobe. On my skin, however, it smelled of: sweaty feet; stale, rank, fetid body odor; and animalic muskiness redolent of unwashed genitalia and crusted, dirty, caked underpants. It was…. overwhelming. Perhaps the Extrait or Pure Parfum version would be better but, frankly, I’m not motivated to go out of my way to buy a sample.

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Oud Moods Collection: Disappointing as a whole, but Cashmere Oud was particularly horrendous: rancid, sharp, medicinal, metallic notes combined with a Gorgonzola-chevre oud, pink rubber bandages, and cloying, synthetic, candy-floss vanilla. Velvet Oud was only marginally better. Again, it’s all relative.

Xerjoff Zafar: Rancid Gorgonzola cheese atop a foundation of extremely rubbery, pink bandages and a strong tinge of rubbing alcohol. I was fortunate to be spared the heavy fecal notes that many detect in Zafar, but it still wasn’t my cup of tea. Clearly, I’m not cut out for the most masculine, hardcore, aged, pure versions of agarwood.

WONDERFUL BUT I’M BEGGING FOR A PURE PARFUM VERSION:

Parfum d’Empire‘s Ambre Russe & Aziyadé: I’m one of those freakish people who actually thinks both perfumes to be far too sheer. Yes, yes, I know, everyone considers Ambre Russe, in particular, to be a meaty, full-bodied amber, but I thought it was anorexic. Gorgeous, intoxicating, evocative — but anorexic. (And this was far before I’d tried Profumum Roma’s stunning ambers with their concentrated 43% perfume oil!) My dream is that Ambre Russe will one day be released in Pure Parfum concentration. I’d be the first person in line to buy it. Hell, I’d probably sell an organ to buy a vat of it.

BEST BACKSTORIES:

Speaking of Parfum d’Empire, I just have to say it one more time: they have the best backstories of any perfume house. The tales associated with both Aziyadé and Ambre Russe were mesmerizing. I could read them for days; if they were in a book, I’d buy it. They are utterly transportative. En plus, they actually and genuinely fit the essence of the perfume — which is pretty damn rare, in my opinion.

PREDICTIONS FOR “BEST OF” LISTS FOR NEW 2013 FRAGRANCES:

New perfumes always come with a flurry of hype, but I think there are some that will prove to be popular and remain loved regardless of early excitement. My predictions include two fragrances that have not yet been released, but which I had the lucky opportunity to test out a while ago:

Neela Vermeire Créations’ Ashoka: Ashoka will be a stupendous, stupendous hit once it is released in the Fall! No doubt about it in my mind at all. It is a highly refined, beautiful, soothing, comfort fragrance that will be adored by those who are current fans of NVC perfumes, but also by those who may prefer something less oriental or spiced.

Neela Vermeire CréationsMohur Esprit de Parfum: if this one doesn’t end up on many year-end “Best Of” lists, I’ll eat my hat! Stunning. Simply stunning!

Viktoria Minya Hedonist: Another fragrance that I think will grace many “Best Of” lists at the end of the year. An absolutely lovely fragrance that evokes the best of classique, haute French perfumery, and that I think will continue to captivate people. Viktoria Minya is a perfumer to watch and, considering that Hedonist is her very first fragrance, I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

Amouage Fate Man & Woman: I think both these fragrances will prove to be very popular, for different reasons. I’m not so completely convinced that Fate Man will stand the test of time across the board once the hype dies down, but I think Fate Woman will, for the most part.

STATS BY PERFUME HOUSE:

At this point, I’m going to encompass all the reviews I’ve done for the blog since I started. The perfume brands I’ve covered the most, whether with full reviews or the more abbreviated Reviews En Bref, are:

  • Tom Ford: 12
  • Serge Lutens: 11
  • By Kilian: 8.5 (the half comes from a fragrance that I discussed briefly in one long paragraph in a Review En Bref devoted primarily to two other Kilian fragrances. I disliked the fragrance so much, I didn’t even include its name in the review and gave it rather short shrift, at least by my standards.)(Out of these 8.5, only 1 review, for the new Musk Oud, was even remotely complimentary and positive.)
  • Amouage: 8
  • L’Artisan Parfumeur: 8 (All negative. The exception might be Safran Troublant, which I loved, but its ridiculously fleeting nature ultimately turned that review negative as well.)
  • Chanel: 7
  • Guerlain: 6 (All negative to a large degree. Modern Guerlains simply aren’t my cup of tea. Interestingly, the one that I had the most neutral feelings for, relatively speaking, was the very last perfume ever created by Jean-Paul Guerlain.)
  • Ormonde Jayne: 6
  • Neela Vermeire Créations: 5
  • Maison Francis Kurkdjian: 5
  • Parfum d’Empire: 4
  • Montale: 4
  • Histoires de Parfums: 4

MOST FREQUENTLY READ REVIEWS:

The blog has been up for 6 months and 22 days, and gotten over 122,500 hits thus far, but some of my reviews get more love than others. The Top 10 most popular posts (in order and with the number of hits listed at the end) are:

  1. Perfume Review- Serge Lutens Chergui: The Desert Wind 3,460
  2. New Perfume Releases: Volume 3 – January 26th, 2013 2,441
  3. Perfume Reviews – Jo Malone “Sugar & Spice” Collection: Ginger Biscuit and Bitter Orange & Chocolate  2,063
  4. A Beginner’s Guide To Perfume: How to Train Your Nose, Learn Your Perfume Profile, & More  1,995
  5. New Perfume Releases: Volume 4 – February 15, 2013 1,823
  6. Perfume Review – Amouage Jubilation 25: Scheherazade & Seduction  1,726
  7. Perfume Review – Tom Ford Private Blend Oud Wood: An Approachable Oud  1,637
  8. Perfume Review – YSL M7 For Men (Reformulated): The Lion is a Pussycat  1,221
  9. Perfume Reviews – Jo Malone “Sugar & Spice” Collection: Redcurrants & Cream, Elderflower & Gooseberry; and Lemon Tart  1,205
  10. Perfume Review – Puredistance M: “M” for Molten Marvel 1,072

To my surprise, I also get continuous (and often daily) hits for Valentino‘s Valentina Assoluto. I chalk it up to the fact that no other blogger wanted to really tackle all the Smucker’s strawberry jam.

And, speaking of food, a surprising number of people find my blog not because of perfume, but because of all the gastronomy, royal food, food history, and royal recipe articles, with many being searched for by name. The sum total of the historical food posts, in conjunction with the general history articles, results in several thousand more hits. It makes me happy to think that some culinary student at the CIA (Culinary Institute of America) is discovering the recipe for Catherine the Great’s favorite dish, learning about Tsarist coronation banquets, amused by the British royal family’s eating habits or culinary preferences, or paying heed to the woefully under-appreciated Careme (who is completely overshadowed by Escoffier, even though poor Careme is the real father of modern gastronomy, in my opinion).

WEB-ENGINE SEARCHES:

Two things always amuse me when it comes to my blog. First, spammers who write that I need to add greater detail and length to my posts. Because, really, have they seen my reviews??! Second, the manner by which people find my blog. I thought it may give you a few laughs too, so below are some of the funnier searches which have led to hits on my blog. The queries have been copied verbatim, with the only change being the minor editing of one four-letter word, and the addition of how many times that search may have come up in parentheses at the end:

  • sex smelling dirty sweaty socks
  • a customer has reject his order of roast beef, he want a replacement of chicken fricassee. how would you deal with this difficulty and solve the problem (11 times)
  • big fatewoman get f*** by mini hourse (5 times)
  • male full frontal (22 times)
  • assist the nursery on how to read and write a nstp narrative documentation (7 times)
  • big muscular caveman wanking (2 times)
  • naked Omar Sharif (2 times)
  • perfumed panties seduction stories
  • Excrement perfume
  • sexy images for blanket in the forest.
  • “flaming flamingo lily smells bad.”
  • tangle pile of naked male flesh male on male four some orgy
  • sadomasochistic using vapor rub
  • smell of a woman’s decomposition during sex

Needless to say, the last one is rather alarming. Either it was a necrophiliac, a budding serial killer, or both. As for the caveman one, it would be a lot more interesting as an insight into the sexual psyche if I didn’t continuously envision the Geico cavemen….

LASTLY…

As a final note, I want to thank all the regular readers — regardless of whether you comment or just lurk in the shadows — for staying with the blog. I know your time is precious, and I realise that many of my reviews are not brief. (That may be the understatement of the day!) So, please know, I’m enormously grateful to all of you, and cannot thank you enough for being here. Your loyalty and friendship have really made Kafkaesque, and I couldn’t have done it without you.

So, onwards and upwards to another 100!

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? ]

The Versatile Blogger Award and 15 Blogs I Love

Today, I had the honour of being nominated for The Versatile Blogger Award by the exquisite, stylish, always fashionable and eternally lovely Jackie of Style My Dreams. I stumbled upon her blog when I was just starting out, and I was captivated from the very moment I saw the stylish black layout and runway photos. It’s a site where I’ve spent far, far too much time perusing New York Fashion Week runway photos, the latest in handbags, or even red carpet looks like the crazy ones at the recent Met event.

I was very touched when Jackie nominated me. (But, even more so, that I’ve tempted her into numerous perfume sample purchases.). The rules of the Versatile Blogger Award are about paying it forward: it is passed on from one blogger to another to help spread the word about the wonderful community of blogs. Specifically, you have to:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you;
  2. Select 15 blogs that you’ve discovered and follow; and
  3. Share 7 things about yourself.

Well, first, a huge thank you to Style My Dreams for choosing me, especially when her focus is not on perfume, but on fashion and style. I’m truly touched. 

Next, I have to select 15 blogs I’ve recently discovered and follow. Since I’ve only been blogging for 5 months, almost everything is a relatively “recent” discovery but you may be surprised to know that not all of them are about perfume. And, for that reason, I’ll go beyond and add to the rules by telling you what I love about some of them. So, in no particular order:

15 BLOGS I LOVE TO READ:

1- My go-to source for anything (and everything) that is beauty or make-up related is probably not a secret to many women given that it is the largest and best blog around, but I have to choose Temptalia, a source of endless addiction. The range of reviews, the comparisons, the incredible swatches and accuracy…. Honestly, there is nothing else like it on the internet. She’s far too much of an established force to really engage in this game, but I wanted to give some of you a heads-up about Temptalia if you haven’t already heard of it.

2- A perfumed salon and a home away from home: The Fragrant Man, run by Jordan River, and with Brie and Amer as guest-bloggers. It’s a place where the perfume discussions are often emotional, intellectual or literary, and it is always makes me smile.

3- Lucas’ The Chemist in The Bottle is another blog that feels like home. Though our perfume tastes are often at polar opposite ends, it is actually one of the things I appreciate the most about his reviews. He opens me up to a wider range of things than what I may otherwise know.

4- Baconbiscuit of CoolCookStyle has perhaps the best sense of humour that I’ve come across in a while, and she’s also a fantastic, superb cook. I love food even more than perfume, so a blog that covers both? You truly have to check out her blog. And you may want to start with her hilarious post on Pasta e Fagioli, with a recipe from the renowned NYC chef, Jonathan Benno. The real gem in that post is the discussion of Nigella Lawson’s use of nylon stockings (pantyhose) to make the broth. But my favorite may be about her mother, Sichuanese Pork Wontons in Chili-Soy Sauce, and someone called Fuschia Dunlop.

5- I love checking in on Sigrun in Riktig Parfyms, a perfume blog but also a Swedish mini-boutique. Whether discussing Serge Lutens or Guerlain, her reviews are both detailed and very sensory. Plus, she’s funny as hell! And who else is masochistic enough to try to go through the Pantone colour palette range to try to find perfumes to match?! I certainly couldn’t do it, and thought so far before she got to the “Tender Shoots 14-0446” colour or the even more difficult “Monaco Blue 19-3964” one. (And no, L’Heure Bleue doesn’t fit!) Please, check out some of those posts. You’ll be amazed.

6- Mr. Hound…. a man who has that skill which I so envy: succinctness. At The Scented Hound, he captures the essence of a perfume in a few small paragraphs, often with a very dry, witty sense of humour and always with great warmth when he talks to you. A man who coins the word “bathtastic” to describe the super-hot, new Chanel should be read!

7- A completely hidden gem is té de violetas, a Spanish-English blog run by the warm, gracious, lovely Caro and by Victoria (whom, alas, I do not know as well). Caro has exquisite taste but she also covers a huge range of stuff from Amouage Guerlain, Puredistance and Vero Profumo, to Bvlgari, Thierry Mugler, Ramon Monegal and many brands that I’d never heard of prior to reading her joint blog. Each post starts in Spanish, before the full English translation is given. And Caro writes with great beauty. Take for example, “Venus Victorious” — her review of Puredistance Opardu. At the same time, however, she writes with a profound knowledge of perfumes as a whole, as shown by her review for Hermes’ Iris and the comparison to other iris scents. I truly hope you will check her out.

8- Neil of The Black Narcissus also covers a huge range of perfumes, including many vintage fragrances, but he does so in a completely sensory, visual, emotional, and intellectual manner. He’s a beautiful writer. And, he’s another one who is funny as hell. If you don’t believe me, check out his review of two Byredo fragrances, including the brand new Inflorescence. After the many gorgeous photos, his assessment, including this paragraph that had me almost choking on my coffee in laughter: “

An almost hysterically hygienic floral, it is the apex of the trend that began with Lancôme’s repugnant Miracle (the only perfume I know that made two female friends physically retch when they smelled it); its imprisoning of woman in extraordinarily artificial, spotless, ‘sanctified’ flowers: stripped of sex, grown in test tubes by fascists in white coats, grinning as they crush the heart’s desires and replace them with gender edicts.”

9- Undina of Undina’s Looking Glass has a hugely creative, original approach to discussing perfumes, as well as issues in the perfume world. Whether it’s art, flowers, or shoes, perfume is connected in the most original of ways. Undina is also perhaps the ultimate “pay it forward” blogger as she always supports others, posting about things she loved in other blogs and that you should check out. I’m glad to be able, for once, to reciprocate.

10- Lanier of Scents Memory always writes the most beautiful stories for perfumes. And his tales of magic are also often interwoven with things about Old Hollywood. His originality and storytelling abilities are only surpassed by his enormously sensitive, poetic soul.

11. I’m pretty much a fish out of water in my current location and I deeply miss my old home, Europe, so I always enjoy being transported to the Netherlands via A Flamingo in Utrecht. From rambling walks focusing on the ancient architecture of Utrecht, to a post about its history, to simply a “Wordless Post” with a gorgeous photo, Alison brings the city to life. And she’s a fabulous photographer too!

12. As a foodie, I love The Writing Cook, a great blog by a baker and cook who is also a very talented writer. The recipes are easy and beautifully photographed! I just wish it didn’t always make me so damn hungry!

13. I also enjoy A Perfume Blog by Blacknell Allen. She doesn’t review perfumes, per se, but does something more interesting: she focuses on themes that encompass a wide range of perfumes. Whether address the issue of skin chemistry, the Maserati-like power of an Amouage, or writing a hilarious spoof of Downton Abbey that is focused on the classic vintage legends, her blog is always a fascinating read.

14. A really well-written, extremely personal and emotional approach to perfume reviewing comes from Nancy at Make Perfume, Not War. This is a brand-new blog by another person with an extensive writing background, and it shows in some of the eloquent, often hilariously funny reviews.

15. Lastly, as someone deeply obsessed with dogs, I constantly read Pawcurious, a blog run by a Vet. It never gives medical advice but shares personal moments in the life of the vet, her family, and, naturally, her pets. The blog is part of a huge, award-winning site (by the same name), and I certainly don’t expect her to follow the Versatile Blogger Award, but I did want to bring the site to your attention. I know a number of you are dog lovers. Plus, I got a huge chuckle out of her recent post where she writes about the “arachnobellum,” the deepest recesses of our brain where we blame all maladies on spider bites. (If you’re a dog lover, you’d have arachnophobia too.)

PHEW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That took forever!

SEVEN THINGS ABOUT ME:

Okay, the last part, seven things about me:

  1.  I’m terrified of cockroaches. Specifically, the giant Palmetto bugs that are about 3-4 inches long before you count the addition 3 inches from their antennae. Here, in Texas, they aren’t the small, tiny things you’d see in places like Paris or New York. No, these are prehistoric beasts who fly, who hiss at you, and, even worse, BITE. I have been known to curl up in a foetal position, shrieking at the sight of one. I even once called my father, begging “Daddy,” for him to come over to kill it. And, if you saw them, you’d call for your father too!
  2. My guilty music loves: Rammstein, Hans Zimmer, French/Italian Euro-Pop, Donna Summer, & ABBA.  I actually find Rammstein soothes me….
  3. I’ve had insomnia and a sleep disorder since I was 6 years old, which probably explains the weird timing of some of my posts.
  4. I often eat Peanut M&Ms in bed before I go to sleep. Or, rather, try to go to sleep.
  5. I may need to take a break from blogging quite so constantly over the summer. My baby boy, The Hairy German, is going to need a 6-hour surgery for a hip implant and total hip replacement. The operation will hopefully go ahead sometime this summer, but we’ve had 6 failed attempts with the surgeons cancelling at the last-minute while he was under anaesthesia and on the operating table, due to a pesky skin condition. Assuming that one year’s worth of vet visits (my child has 2 different vets and 2 surgeons) has finally fixed the issue, then I hope to get a surgical date for June. If so, the blog will take a back seat. He will need around-the-clock care once he gets home from the hospital, and then 3 months of crate-enforced recovery which will probably drive him completely crazy. And, by extension, me. I’ll keep you updated.
  6. I love to scuba dive, and have gone diving in numerous places where sharks were nearby. My favorite places to dive: the Maldives, then Turquoise.
  7. Something I hate to do: unpacking/emptying things. Suitcases, in particular, but also moving boxes, dishwashers, dryers, the trunk of the car. I have a suitcase from 2 years ago that is still not fully emptied….

If you’ve read this far, thank you. And, again, a thank you to Jackie for choosing me. I hope you find some interesting new blogs to read.

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. 🙂