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SmellyBlog

Location, location, location...


Medieval Citadel
view from one of the trails within the village, overlooking the medieval fort in the nearby kibbutz Yehiam (it's about an hour hike from the studio)

As of Spring 2017, our courses will take place at Ayala Moriel's new studio in Clil, Israel. This charming little organic village is situated in one of the country's most fascinating regions, the Western Galilee, and is overlooking the Mediterranean sea (gorgeous beaches are only 20min drive), Haifa Bay and Mount Carmel. Clil provides a unique experience for students who choose to stay here* - I'd describe it as a 180 from Vancouver, for better or for worse. Here are a few details so you can get the picture (and photos from different seasons too!).

This off-the-grid village is solar-powered and has small population of under 1000 people, who live in custom-built homes and semi-temporary dwellings (yurts, teepees, modified train cars and shipping containers, etc.) that are scattered among ancient olive groves and wild bush and Mediterranean garrigue (comprising of carobs, oaks, pistachia and thorny bushes). Despite its size, the village is a community bustling with life and culture: our neighbours are the village's cafe (inside a tent) that is opened Thursday-Saturday and hosts live concerts, and there. A large percentage of the population are alternative healers (we're just across the "street" from an integrated holistic clinic offering massage, acupuncture, ayurvedic treatments, and more) as well as creative artists, who have their ateliers in the village - and some would also be happy to show you around - painters, sculptors, potters, glass artists, silversmiths and goldsmiths, basket weavers, etc. 

Dusty pastoralia #clil
Clil in summer: View of the village from the mountain behind my house.

Amenities: 
There is a bakery that is opened twice a week (Sunday and Thursday) and offers Pizza Nights on Tuesdays. On all other days, fresh sourdough breads by other artisanal bakeries can be pre-ordered by phone, or purchased at the local Organic Garden (which tops off their own produce with other fruit and vegetables and organic goodies produced in the village and by nearby artisans). Thursday evenings there is a little market in the village's playground, weather permitting. Also less relevant but sometimes handy are the village's book exchange and clothing exchange, which is open 24/7 and is completely free (take what you want and leave what you no longer use - it can come handy if you forgot to bring a hoodie or a book to read). There are three restaurants in the village - Smadar b'Clil, Cafe Clil and Chef Hagit Lidror's Vegan & Vegetarian kitchen (she will be providing most to the catering to our courses, by the way) - which also makes healthy smoothies and mouthwatering raw chocolate treats (she also teaches raw chocolate making workshops!).

Made in Clil

The "shop local" sign, where you can find various things made in the village. It's located right next to Cafe Clil (which is our next-door neighbours to the east)

Accommodations within the village include one boutique hotel, one guest house (India-style "hostel" on the second level of one of our neighbours) and countless cute cabins for short-term rent - some also offering breakfast as part of the service. Sublets among the village's inhabitants are often listed and could be arranged if booked enough in advance, and also near Cafe Clil there is a small campsite for those who enjoy a fully rustic experience, as well as Meshiv Nefesh - the centre for meditation, which also has plenty of camping space around it for individuals and groups. If you choose to stay outside of the village - we are only 20-30min drive (depending on traffic) from lovely towns that offer also many wonderful attractions to visitors - i.e. Acre and Nahariya. 

In short - there are plenty of places to explore and people to meet in Clil, so I'm sure you will enjoy your visit and find things to do and discover outside of the classroom. 

Olives and Donkeys

Ancient olive grove in winter, at the centre of the village. Near it there is now an organic garden and grocery store

Clil is not only a place where people live differently, but also offers an alternative culture for visitors who seek to take a break from the fast-paced modern lifestyle. It's no ordinary rural place - it is bustling with music, culinary innovations, art, healing and meditations workshops and alternative medicine gatherings, and a place where one can engage and interact with artists and artisans that live here. In short - it seemed like the perfect place to return to and continue my artisan perfumery work - and create a sanctuary for this art.

* You don't have to stay within the village - there are also plenty of interesting places around to stay in, such as Akre and Nahariya - but keep in mind that in that case vehicle is a must as public transit in and out of the village only comes twice a day, very early and very late. 

Coco Noir

Coco Noir

Sometimes we get attached to perfumes because they speak to us. Other times, it is pure coincidence that creates an imprint on our minds and adds meaning to the scent that we would have otherwise not found in it.

These past few months I've been wearing copious amounts of Coco Noir. I've received the parfum extrait from a friend as a goodbye gift, and somehow it did not seem right to stuff it on the shipping container. Probably because I was too curious about it. At the same time I was too scared to open it, because starting a new perfume at a time of great change can create too strong of an impression - and I knew that there are many challenges ahead of me. I definitely did not want to open it at the time of our departure - I was an emotional mess, after three months of intensive packing and very little sleep... So I waited for a while for the dust of traveling to settle, and opened it about a week or two after arriving in Israel. It was a time of terrible weather (weeks and weeks on end of dry desert wind and over-the-top temperatures) not to mention - great emotional turmoil and immigrant adventures - and we are still in the midst of it, but I have enough levelheadedness now to reflect a bit, as things are finally starting to fall into place: my daughter will start school on Sunday, our home renovations are about halfway through, and my mental state allows me to pass entire days without crying (but still happens about once a week, because I end up hitting a brick wall of some sort at least in that frequency).

Coco Noir is a modern "dark" concoction, which means that instead of oily aldehydes and animalic base, it has clean florally laced with white musks and underlying notes of vetiver and patchouli. It isn't exactly a fruitchouli, but it borders on that territory, with a clean ambreine accord (not unlike Prada Ambre Intense Pour Homme) - which means it has vanillin, patchouli and bergamot galore in it. However, there is also a spicy cacao accord (or perhaps it's just an illusion of that - created by the spicy cloves notes alongside the benzoin, vanillin and coumarin) which is quite prominent, which reminds me of Notorious - only that it continues much better in my opinion (it does not have as much musk, which in Notorious gives me a piercing feeling through my nostrils). It gradually softens and develops around the heart of jasmine and rose, and leads smoothly to the end: Dryout is a mellow, powdery confection, with hints of heliotrope (not unlike La Petite Robe Noire - but with non of the saccharine qualities of the latter).

Coco Noir is more accessible, in my opinion, than Coco is. I love the original, even though I do not own it. It has a big persona and feels over-the-top for daily wear. I would only imagine wearing it when I'm all dressed up for a very sepcial event in the middle of winter. Instead, it provides with a very modern comfort in my overtly rustic living arrangement (which is only temporary, sort of...). It's a scent that inevitably will conjure up scent memories from this time of re-settling in my home village: having this sleek, elegant, opaque black glass square bottle around reminds me of my urban side and that I'm not going to be forever wading in mud to and from the yurt, and struggling with every little aspect of life. There is still place for elegance and luxury in my life even in this off the grid spot in between two major life periods.

Another great reminder of this truth: whenever I stick my nose inside my shipping container, which smells still like my very fragrant home studio in Vancouver. My friend chose this fragrance because it reminded him of how my perfume smelled. I think I now get what he's talking about: it's very much like this "smell of everything, all at once" that you get from my workspace: dried coumarinic herbs (liatrix, tonka), vetiver roots, patchouli, countless flowers, herb oils and spices... All mingled with woodsy oils and the scent of antique furniture.

I'm grateful for having this point of view portrayed to me via a bottle of fragrance chosen for me.

Top notes: Cedarwood, Bergamot, Orange, Grapefruit
Heart notes: Rose, Jasmine, Narcissus, Geranium, Peach, Carnation, Cloves
Base notes: Patchouli, Vetiver, Sandalwood, Benzoin, Frankincense, Musk, Vanilla, Heliotropin, Tonka

Smoky Narcissus

Narkiss

Wild narcissus (N. tazetta) and paperweights (N. 'Chinese Sacred Lily') are growing in my soon-to-be garden and in the mountainous wilderness that is its backyard. The wild one smells a thousand times better, in my humble opinion.... Especially, I've been haunted by its fragrance at night time, mingled with smoke from all the wood stoves used for heating in the village... Smells like a very fancy, smoky-floral beeswax candle burning. Not that this description does it any justice. I wish I could capture it in a perfume. Narkiss has some of the qualities (herbaceous, waxy-animalic) but as always, nature beats us all perfumers to a pulp. Other perfumes along these lines that I recall are Tom Ford's Velvet Gardenia and Shanghai Lily (I must remember to scout a sample size of that soon). Caron's famous Narcisse Noir also belongs to this territory, albeit it's much more aldehyde-heavy and it also has gasoline-like top-notes. Another scent it reminds me is of some of the Feu de Bois candle by Dyptique.

Those surprising moments when you discover a new yet familiar scent in the natural surroundings, truly are the best.

Wrapping Up 2016 & Welcoming 2017

Window to the Mediterranean

Thank you for a powerful year 2016, and for being part of my perfume world!

This was a remarkable year for me - both personally and professionally:

  • Completed Perfume4aPlace - a collection of perfumes inspired by my favourite places in Vancouver, including Komorebi, Sunset BeachLost Lagoon and Coal Harbour.
     
  • Launched a new website - which I hope makes your online experience much more enjoyable. The new website is much more user friendly on any device you choose to browse on; and enables you to add product reviews, read and search all of my blog posts, and also helps me to manage orders and customers profiles in a much more efficient way.
     
  • Taught more students than ever who entered my Perfume School and partake in no less than five the in-studio Foundation of Natural Perfumery courses, as well as enrol in the new correspondence program.
     
  • Last but not least: I finally took the plunge and moved my entire life - and studio - overseas to a scenic Mediterranean off-the-grid village of Clil - a small community that is eco-conscious, solar-powered and bursting with creativity and social life. I am now surrounded by my family, childhood friends and teachers - in the same place where I grew up. It's a 180 switch, and been quite a roller coaster, but I hope that the coming year will prove it to be the right decision.   I'm still living in a yurt and am in full-blast renovation mode, but fulfilling orders as usual out of a suitcase, and developing a growing appreciation for non-nomadic lifestyle. 
In the coming year, once my home and studio are ready, I will plant a perfumer's botanical garden on the land surrounding it, incorporating the wildlife in this little fragrant paradise and I hope to get into micro-rpdocution of distillation and extraction of these locally grown plants. At least a hundred fragrant plants can grow here and provide a live demonstration for where our natural perfumes can come from.
I also am anticipating for courses and classes to commence in the spring of 2017. In the meantime, there is my book and correspondence courses (Citrus is out already, and Fougère is not that far from being released as well) to keep my students busy!  

Other than that, my online boutique is open as usual (from the above mentioned, resourceful suitcase, and now also the occasional plunge into the container that arrived more-or-less safely), and I'm offering FREE SHIPPING on most orders* until January 7th, to welcome the New Year 2017! 

Many blessings for 2017 - may it be a year of connectedness, healing, peace and abundance! 

Ayala

P.s. The above photo is view of Mediterranean lagoons from the seawall of the ancient city of Acre (we pronounce it Akko). Isn't it beautiful? 

* Free shipping does not include orders of individual samples (if you order 4 samples or less, shipping fees will apply). 

Medicines for the Soul

Christmas in Nazareth

On Christmas Eve my brother invited us to go with him on an urban evening stroll in Nazareth, to experience the holiday at the historic birthplace of Christianity. My brother is a tour-guide, so it's always an experience to go for walks with him. He always knows about more than what meets the eye, and has connections with people where we visit that makes every trip with him, even to familiar places, a different experience.

Our experience started on a rather stressful note, being stuck in traffic in a very narrow, one-way downhill street that would make San Francisco's terrain look rather friendly. There was no traffic control despite very heavy flow of visitors to watch the festivities. We were stuck in what should have been a two minute drive for 45 minutes. When we finally found a 3/4 parking spot between a dumpster and another truck and got out, it was drizzling and cold, as it should be in midwinter in the Galilee.

The large square in front of the Church of the Annunciation was festive with an enormous tree-like construction with many lights and a big glowing red star on top and next to it the customary nativity scene. Many people around were wearing Santa Claus hats, blowing little annoying-sounding horns; but thankfully above it all was a recording of Fairuz singing Christmas songs. Christmas in the Middle East is certainly very different than anywhere else in the Northern Hemisphere.

I don't recall ever visiting in Nazareth, even though our family has special ties with the city. My mom's midwife, a Christian-Arab from the neighbouring village of Kfar Yasif is originally from Nazareth. Both our families have five children each (aside from me, my mom has four boys, and her midwife has five daughters). We are all in more or less the same ages. If it weren't for the strange political climate of this country, they'd all be married to each other by now...

Safdi's in Nazareth
Aside from the religious spots (Nazareth's spring, bath house and historic city centre, Mary's Well and its Church, AKA Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, and the Roman Catholic Basiclia of the Anunnciation (كنيسة البشار  in Arabic בזיליקת הבשורה / כנסיית הבשורה) - we also went into the old souk (market) of Nazareth, which is sadly mostly dormant due to modernization. Very few people have the desire or time to find parking in narrow alleyways that were built thousand years ago and wander between merchants to compare prices and negotiate bargains. It's much easier to go to the mall and pay with plastic cards all in one place, and cart your goods to the car underground. It was very sad to see so many stores closed, behind them are beautiful old shops with arched ceilings. Some of the old apartment buildings - although mostly neglected - were used to be effendi's homes, and their ceilings are made of Cedar of Lebanon, and hand-painted by a Lebanese artist from the time of the Ottoman empire. It's a lost world, and only recently some brave entrepreneurs have taken the initiative to renovate such places and open boutique hotels, hostels and cultural centres in the ancient cities of the country. There was also a little shop in the entrance to the empty souk, full of beautiful local craftsmanship. I hope to see more such things develop.

Meicines for the Soul
Once we reached the part of the souk that was still alive, I bought a cupful of coal-roasted chestnuts, reminiscing the cold foggy nights in Vancouver when we'd buy them from Yve's Chestnuts and warm our frozen mittens with their starchy, caramel-scented comfort. At the bottom of the hill there were some of the country's best Halawiyat (Arabic patisseries), where one should stop by for kunafeh - even if they don't have time or room in their stomach. But we were in a group with a different agenda than enjoying life on the stop - and instead continued on to Ziad Safdi's grocery store, which is really more of a magical old-fashioned herb and spice shop, that contains many folk remedies for all kinds of physical ailments, a collection of essential oils from local plants that is distilled in Nablus; speculates such as mastic gum, and mastic-flavoured chewing gum; and last but not least - assortment of medicines for the soul in the form of incense (pictured above) to be burned in special clay pots. You could find there anything from frankincense and myrrh to colourful and sparkling blends typically burned in churches.

Fine Nazarethi Baclava
As we continued on, we stumbled upon other interesting merchants, such as this man who brews coffee in a special pot decorated with olive branches and misbaha (prayer beads) that has hot charcoal in a pipe in the middle, and sends impressive steam to the air. We continued to El Babour Mill - Nazareth original steam-powered miller (the name is a mispronunciation of the English word "vapour") -  now more of a live museum for old mills, sieves and pieces of history from the family that keeps this tradition - and a spice and candy shop. I bought there a jar of black-coloured nigella spread, and green frikeh (charred green wheat berries). The tour ended there and once everyone spread to all four direction of the winds, my brother, daughter and I stopped at a more humble bakey and bought some spinach-filled sambusac, date-filled sesame balls, and karakish - savoury cookies that look like hard flatbreads studded with fragrant seeds of sesame and fennel.
Charcoal Coffee

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