As I was driving northbound on Blenheim street yesterday afternoon, I noticed the many colours that draped over the trees: there was a deep plum from the Japanese sour plum trees, ochre, mustard yellow, burnt orange, citrine, olive, and sprinkle of scorched crimson red and burgundy from the Japanese maples. And all that beauty set against the backdrop of the North Shore’s Coast Mountains. Breathtaking!
Fall’s glorious colours resonate with how I experience its subtle outdoors aromas: the cedar and fir mulch that lines gardens and the forest floor in the Pacific Northwest; ripe rosehips falling on the ground and becoming one with it; the robust fruit aromas and flavours; burning leaves from an unseen law-breaker; that crisp, brie-like fungi smell that permeates the air from the sprouting mushrooms after the rains; and all the traditional comforts of scents and flavours that are designed to warm one from within as the temperatures drop: spiced teas, wood smoke, warm cider, and aromatic fruit being poached and baked to much delight.
So, to make this fun and a little different from previous years’ autumn lists, here comes a colour coded one to wrap up fall (the moment after Halloween’s midnight, I already came across Christmas oldies on the radio – yikes! We still got Rememberance Day before we should get started on that!). So let’s celebrate whatever is left from summer’s bounty.
Citron, of course!
This is where fragrance and flavour are one this season, surrounding the theme of Etrog.
This fall I’ve been obsessed with the fruit in all manners possible: candying etrog fruit, making marmalades out fo them, tincturing for liquor and for the next batches of Etrog Oy de Cologne.
I’ve also just recently receive a sample of l’Etrog by Artquiste, which is utterly delightful though very much in the realm of fresh citrus. Reading the ad copy I was fascinated to find that Arquiste’s interpretation also alludes to dates (which is what I have incorporated with the balsam poplar buds absolute). And the myrtle note is rather inevitable, but still nice to see the recurrence in two creations that knew very little of one another. Although you could argue that
Fragrance: Sous la Vent, with it’s breezy, fresh and sunny personality with a dark edge, and is equally fougere and chypre. A man should be able to wear this without threat to his masculinity.
Flavour: The aromas of just-picked green olives, before they were pickled or pressed into an oil. Perhaps it’s too literal, but it’s exactly the
Fragrance: Golden osmanthus is in bloom in late October in Japan – so to me it’s always a seasonal symbol, echoing the sakura theme of the spring. I’ve been rotating between a few osmanthus fragrance for an upcoming theme on SmellyBlog. But admittedly, I’m rediscovering my own Kinmokusei in oil parfum form. It has a surprisingly honeyed base more so than the alcohol based eau de parfum. Which I have no explanation for except for concentration. And I’ve been enjoying the quite animalic interpretation by Artemisia which I will elaborate on in my upcoming osmanthus series (yes! Coming this week!). Last but not least in the osmanthus world is the beautiful, haunting incense that my friend Noriko brought me from Japan. Nothing natural about it, but it does smell just like the real fresh flowers I’ve met at Ineke’s garden this summer. Soapy, sweet and effervescent.
Flavour: Osmanthus green tea. Visually beautiful tea blend of grassy green tea from China, specked with fragrant golden osmanthus. And the liquor has a bright citrine colour and a flavour that is refreshing and mysterious – like a mixture of violet, apricots and green tea, of course.
Fragrance: Un Crime Exotique, with its soothing comfort – it is reminiscent of poached pears in star anise. The warmth and comfort I derive from this scent is only matched by how soothing I find the right shade of mustard yellow to be…
Flavour: Quince. Incidentally, there is also an Italian tradition of making quince mustard! The rosy nuances in fresh ripe quince’s aroma are sublime; and strangely enough, quince turns a beautiful pink once cooked. It’s quite magical!
Fragrance: Cognoscenti No. 19 (Warm Carrot). It’s so unusual, refreshing in concept and execution, both with carrot seed being the main theme, and also the structure or how the notes are orchestrated. It’s up there with Bois des Iles in my opinion.
Flavour: Golden Curls tea from Yunnan region (imported directly from the farmer by O5 Rare Tea Bar). It has notes of roasted butternut squash, and smooth, delicately toasty and sweet.
Fragrance: l’Artisan's Tea for Two. Everytime I wear this I ask myself why I don’t wear it more often.
Flavour: 21 year old aged oolong (O5 Rare Tea Bar)
Fragrance: Forest Walk, by Sonoma Scent Studio, evokes that magical time of the year in the deep Pacific Northwest forests, where coniferous leaves begin to rot and the first rains bring out a spurt of wild mushrooms. The warmth of oak leaves, and the coolness of damp soil. And there is also an incredible labdanum incense by Airs, which my aunt gave me years ago and I can’t find anywyere. I’m down to my last 2 sticks.
Flavour: Freshly picked wild chanterelles and black trumpets. And cooking them too.
Fragrance: Omniscent 0.96 with its luscious, multi-layered festival of flowers, incense and fruits. It makes a bold statement like carrying an orange bag.
And there is also a candle to go with this colour: Harvest by Gabriel’s Aunt. Literally, the scent of a burning Jack O Lantern with hints of pumpkin pie. We are talking real pumpkin and spices, not that fake fragrance that takes over the dollar stores at this time of the year.
Flavour: Guavas, which occasionally make their way to the grocery stores are a tropical fruit that I will forever associate with fall and the time when my daughter was born. Their aroma has green aspects, as well as spicy, herbal and even woodsy notes, and an ever so slight reminiscence to strawberry and stinky socks.
Fragrance: Chinatown, with it’s strange juxtaposition of peonies, gardenias, 5 spice, juicy peach and modern woody-chypre base. It’s the warmth and quirkiness in it that makes it very suitable for fall. It can be a little too loud for most other seasons.
Flavour: Poached red Bartlett pears in star anise, vanilla and Zinfandel.
Fragrance: Mitsouko. There is no fall without it.
Flavour: Cask Aged Ghorka Estate black tea (O5 Rare Tea Bar). Full-bodied, with hints of baked apples. Do I need to say anything more?
Fragrance: Nuit de Noel, which I’ve been craving earlier than usual this year. It’s rosy without being rosy, and is reminiscent of roasted chestnuts.
Flavour: Plum & hazelnut coffee cake muffins. The nutty, caramelized aroma of roasting chestnuts on charcoals – a unique scene on Vancouver’s streets which begins in the fall and goes on through the colder months until the chestnuts run out.
What are your fall colours? And which scents and sensations make this season for you? Share your favourite fall flavours and fragrances, and enter to win a little sample set of some of my own favourites, teas included!
Lucky draw entries close on Friday, November 9th, at noon.