News from the Nose: Autumn Aromas & Fall Fragrances

You're invited to read my last edition for News from the Nose: Autumn Aromas & Fall Fragrances.

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My newsletters bring inspirational ideas for enjoying each season's through the olfactory and sensory world - including interesting olfactory stories and traditions, original recipes etc. And also will inform you of special promotions, sales and new perfumes and products!


Flowering Sage, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Climbing up the mountain called "Abaya" fills your lungs with clean, dry air that is redolent of oak leaves, arbutus berries, and the stronger and more prominent presence of sage, labdanum and hyssop bushes that rub against your legs with every step. In different seasons, the intensity of those odours varies. In the winter, the musty and refreshing scent of wet soil and newly wild weeds make the air feel clean and pure. Rockroses usually bloom in the winter, but their scent is nothing to write home about (there was none last time I checked).

In the spring, the sage blooms, as well as thorny bushes from the broom family, that fill the air with an intoxicating yellow aroma of wild flowers and honey. This makes for quite an intoxicating hike up the mountain trails and possibly induce a headache or a trail of sneezing: the air is over-saturated with yellow pollen (you can see these in the blurry background of the blooming sage photo above).

Rockrose Pink, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

By the time spring is over, the weeds and grasses are promptly dried up into a muted-coloured straw, and the sun becomes so strong it overheats the ground and the grass, releasing a scent that you would't think could be there. Even the rocks have a scent and it rises up to the air and radiates heat and a spicy warmth. This aroma lingers till fall time, because even though it's still positively sunny - the sun is just a tad more gentle and graceful. The aroma of sun-baked flint and sediment rocks, some covered in dead moss, and of wild herbs (hyssop, sage, thyme and white mint) that set roots in the rocks cavities or grow with less restraint in the small meadows of the mountaintops - they steep into the air like tea...

Sage Leaf, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

This is just an experience you associate with the mountains and hills of the Mediterranean, but does not have a name in our language whatsoever. But as it turns out, there is a name for it in French (this language is particularly descriptive and precise when it comes to the senses). And so, the 6th part of our Aromas of Autumn Series is dedicated to Garrigue, a term that is new to me. I became aware of it thanks to one of my customers and SmellyBlog readers known as odysseusm.

Zaatar, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

In our region, we eat, drink and breathe garrigue... For example: the za'atar bread is a flat bread similar to pita or cheese-less pizza, that is covered with a mixture of wild hyssop, thyme, sesame and sumac mixed in olive oil.

Garrigue is resinous, warm, earthy spicy aroma, herbaceous in part, and I suspect greatly impacted by the presence of cistus or rockrose on the mountains. Garrigue perfumes are those who got a prominent cistus and herbal presence - such as Song of Songs, Ayalitta and Autumn. The latter two are Chypres and both with sage. The first one is an oriental, but with so much labdanum that once applied to the skin, and especially the anointing body oil - makes my entire being smell of sunbaked mountainous rocks and roses.

Garrigue wines are redolent of baked earth and warm herbs and are full-bodied and aromatic. So it is only fitting that the winery in my village is called Abaya Winery. Winemaker and founder Yossi Yodfat explained garrigue to me as "a combination of thyme, sage, "kida" (these are the broom-related bushes mentioned earlier), "ela" (mastic), and some difrent kinds of grass. The scent changes with the season, and its more green and fresh in the winter, more herbal in the spring, and more dry, and sharp (like dry grass) in the summer".

Copyright Yossi Yodfat/Abaya Winery

Abaya Winery uses only grapes grown in the region and are suitable for the drought conditions, warmer and shorter winters, lower elevation and close priximity to the sea. They use grapes such as Sirra and Carignan. Yossi himself is a lighting designer and involved in the art community. So the space, built just next to a Medieval fortress (Mivtzar Yechiam) is used beyond winery functions - it is also an art and culture centre, and they promote emerging artists. For example: a young visual artist, Noam Dehan was commissioned to design the wine labels. Each vintage has a new set of labels.

Copyright Yossi Yodfat/Abaya Winery

Abaya's wines are red, strong and full of character. Moon-A 2008 is squeezed from Sirra, Cabarnet Sovignon and Petit Verdot grapes, aged 12 months in French oak barrels to produce a soft body, balanced acidity, and pronounced yet not overpowering woody presence and an even diffusion on the palate.

Le Rouge 2008 is made from Cabarnet Sovignon, Carignan and Petit Verdot grapes, and is also aged for 12 months in French oak barrels. This wine has a burgundy colour, a stable body, high but not exaggerated acidity, and a non-overpowering woodsiness. It is an elegant wine that is very suitable for accompanying meals.

Midsummer's Eve 2007 combines Carignan and Sirra grapes with a little bit of Cabarnet Sovignon. "It reminds me that summer scent of dry grass and summer fruits", Yossi explains how he picked the name for this limited edition wine (there are just a few bottles left). It's a massive, thick wine with deep, nearly opaque burgundy hue. It has the sweet aroma of ripe fruit, roasted coffee and earth. Rich and with a hint of spicy clove. It is warming like a midsummer's eve.

Copyright Yossi Yodfat/Abaya Winery

Fall Harvest Tea Party Photos by Shawn Nygren Photography

Gifted portrait photographer Shawn Nygren has kindly documented the Fall Harvest Tea Party. Here are her photographs, to give you all a sense of the atmosphere and what was happening during the preparation, the party and the tea tasting.

Setting out the tea tray, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Tea tray, before the guests arrived!, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Brie + Pear Tea Sandwiches, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Seedcake Madeleienes, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Oolong Truffles, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Tea tasting set up, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Pouring strained tea, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Mary & her daughter, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Jami & Ann, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Rachel & Lauren, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Kath & Naomi, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Ramneet & Heather , originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Melinda & Ayala, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Fall Harvest Tea Party

Just to give you an idea what's been going on here in the past few days... I've been baking like a madwoman for my Fall Harvest Tea Party, because thanks to some unexpected flood in the space here, I had to spend two precious days out of my prep-work getting this problem solved. So, in the end, I had 25 hours to bake and prepare 15 items on the menu. Not a simple task, especially if one intends to get some much needed sleep. It was made possible thanks to the awesome and generous help of my friends - Monique, Yaniv, Brenna and Shawn whose professional photos of the event will be posted later on. For now - here are some snapshots I took with my iPhone in some rare quiet moments during and after the event...
Fall studio display, reflecting the changing leaves outside...

Flower arrangement by Brenna.
The lovely leaf doilies were generously donated by my student and intern Monique.

Fruit & Flower Fall Display by Brenna, also known as the altar of offering to Martha Stewart and all other home goddesses thereof!

Japanese rakku glazed porcelain leaves

Raffle tickets... The prize was a gift bag with Lavender Bath Salts, Dao Tea Sejak (green tea), and Charisma perfume mini, which went to leaf no. 11 - held by the lucky Melinda!

Goody bag! These had gift cards and some amazing osmanthus tea in them - a personal favourite :-)

Fall display of perfumes and fake leaves raffle tickets...

Now, you probably want to hear about the food... There's a few shots of the infamous 5-tiered tea-tray, and this time instead of printing out menus, I asked Monique to prepare little signs for each food item. She kindly agreed, and I wish you could see her awesome calligraphy... Oh, wait! I'll snap a shot of them now, after they'd served their purpose. They were really quite something:

The full menu included some classic favourites from my tea parties (I think after doing these tea parties for a year and a half I have formed my own "classics"...), and a few experimental ones - such as a the new truffle flavours infused with oolong tea or with saffron and osmanthus tea (shaped as squares, by the way).

Everything was planned with harvest in mind - pumpkins, squashes, carrots, corn, seedcakes... The seedcake madeleiens (which just looked like any other madeleine) were spiked with cinnamon, cloves and caraway seeds. This is an interesting marriage between the English seedcake, which was traditionally used in harvest celebrations, and the dainty little French cakes (awesome for dunking in spicy chai tea the next day when they turn stale!).

Tier 1: Savoury Appetizers & Canapés
Roasted Beets ****
Polenta with Roasted Butternut Squash, Portobello Mushroom & Sage
Red & Green Tortilla rolls w/ Guacamole or Black Beans (Vegan)

Tier 2: Tea Sandwiches:
Brie & Pear Tea Sandwiches
Carrot & Ginger Tea Sandwiches
Fennel & Tarragon Tea Sandwiches
Egg Salad Tea Sandwiches

Tier 3: Scones
Concord Grape + Blue Cheese Scones
served w/ Devonshire Cream & Merlot Wine Jelly

Tier 4: Desserts
Carrot-cake Sandwich Cookies
Gianduja (Hazelnut) Brownies **
Seed Cake Madeleines

Tier 5: Truffles & Petitfours
Oolong Truffles**
White Saffron Truffles**
Espioange Truffles**
Marzipan & Apricot Pettitfours ****

* Dairy Free (contains eggs)
** Gluten Free
*** Dairy & Gluten Free
**** Vegan & Gluten Free

Here are closeups of two of my brand-new desserts:

White Saffron & Osmanthus truffles

Gianduja Brownies - these are packed with fresh, organic and local hazelnuts, and are dairy and gluten free!

The heart of the event was Pedro's tea tasting and demonstration - he brewed a wild suk (artemisia) - an herbal tea from Korea, from shade-grown and very youngn leaves; Sejak green tea from China, and Balyhocha (yellow tea oolong) from two different farmers in Korea - Kim shin ho, and Kim jong yeol.

Pedro is an unusual tea curator and importer that traveled through the mountains of China and Korea to connect with small independent tea farmers. These farm-to-table connoisseur teas tell the stories of the soil they were grown in and the hands that harvested them. More about each tea on Dao Tea website.

More photos of guests during the tea tasting (they were so serious and quiet taking notes during the demo - that is the only reason I was able to take all these photos LOL!)

And last but not least - my own presentation, featuring three scents for times of transition, and giving some advice about how to pick a scent for fall. I passed around scent strips and roll-on bottles of Moon Breath (in honour of Artemis, the goddess of the moon, and to reflect the tea menu which included artemisia tisane). This is a perfume I originally created for the moon breath meditation - a type of breathing that involves breathing with the left nostril only, while covering the right one with your right index finger. It has soothing notes of amber, incense and eurphoric jasmine - all associated with the moon. I originally had it as a meditation and anointing oil for the candles I burnt during meditation. I find meditation to be very helpful in transitional times - which tend to be very stressful (especially now with market season approaching!).

Immortelle l'Amour is a classic comfort scent - it smells like sweet breakfast food (cinnamon waffles with maple syrup!), and just makes one feel warm and protected...

And last but not least - a not-yet-released perfume which I have been blogging about its creation for a while here - my ginger & amber perfume, in its 6th and final mod. This is very cozy, bracing hot and cold at the same time. The amber makes it feel like a warm fuzzy cashmere sweather. The ginger has both heat and coolness to it, and the orange is very juicy - it's with orange juice essence, rather than just using the peel. More about that scent at another time though!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


Moss & Trees, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

In continuation of the autumn aromas theme... Here comes moss, in all its glory and various forms it comes in. The moss used in perfumery not the true, green moss (as seen in the photo above) - but the gloomy looking lichen that hangs out of trees and usually looks silvery-grey and mushroom green at best (see photo below).

There are several types of the so-called "mosses" used in perfumery, and they vary slightly. The most famous one is oakmoss, which has the richest and most versatile fragrance. Oakmoss has a scent reminiscent of the forest floor in Autumn, which is why Chypres are always considered so suitable fo rthe season. It is somewhat musky at first but develops into a sweeter, almost ambery scent. Oakmoss can also be reminiscent of the seashore and seaweed with a hint of saltiness that is more apparent in the current EU regulated absolute that undergoes a mandatory process to remove the atranol from it.

It is taken from moss that likes the trunks of oak trees and grows primarily in former Yugoslavia. There is brown oakmoss and green oakmoss, and both are quite similar in scent, actually. The brown is perhaps more on the ambery side, and the green one is a bit more salty. Both are equally important because of their essential presence in Chypre, Fougere and literally every fragrance family imaginable benefits from having a little oakmoss thrown in for extra good measure... Not only for its fixative qualities but also for creating an interesting depth even in very low concentrations - in citrus, florals, woodsy types and also in Oriental perfumes.

Moss 30-06-2007, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

But Oakmoss is not the only fragrant moss!
There are less known mosses that are used in perfumery, and although they are harder to find, they provide an interesting backdrop to perfumes that need that extra mossy boost, yet with their own special nuance that sets them apart from what could become an inevitable oakmossal cliché...

Cedarmoss has the dryness of cedar, and is more wody and less sweet than oakmoss. It is more salty as well and I love how it works out in l’Ecume des Jours with the seaweed oil – it’s an element that certainly saved this perfume from being a mishmash of expensive florals drowned in a bucketful of lichen.

Another moss that I’m yet to use in perfume is Pine Moss. This is a bit more difficult and actually more dark and also opaque in character, not to mention painfully sticky (or more rock-like, actually). The scent itself is more of a challenge: resinous, sweaty, reminiscent of immortelle absolute. I’ve finally tinctured this monster down recently after having it in the vault, completely ignored, for years and years and years. I think it will make a beautiful autumn perfume with immortelle absolute. It is just waiting for the right moment of inspiration, I guess.
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