To The Ends of the Earth: Ten Fragrances That Will Transport

It is no secret that we are huge advocates for travel. There is nothing more enriching, exciting, or educating than bursting outside of your own familiar, cultural bubble and traveling somewhere far outside your country and possibly comfort zone. Summer is one of the best times to travel because most people get a little more time off and it usually means that the weather is going to be nice wherever you go. Even if you’re operating on a busy schedule and/or tight budgets don’t allow for summer travel this year - there is no excuse for not experiencing the cultures of countries far, far away this summer: Books, restaurants, recipes, movies, and of course, perfume will transport you to the desired destination fast and effortlessly!

Espionage – Destination: London, England

A subtly sexy scent that blends seamlessly with the scent of one’s natural skin, Espionage is a captivating and elusive blend of precious woods, classic florals and edgy leathery notes. With tonka bean, vanilla absolute, cedar wood, and nuances of cigar smoke and leather, you will find yourself transported o a mysterious London bar in the dead of night. 

Recipe idea: Lavender Ice Cream

  Film Noir – Destination: Hollywood, California

The golden age of Hollywood, the captivating thirties and forties, was a time of drama, intrigue, unadulterated luxury and true mystery – something that seems to be all but lost in today’s over-exposed culture. Film Noir’s decadent cacao, myrrh, and patchouli fragrance will help you channel Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich and the effortless power and unapologetic femininity that these femme-fatales conveyed.

Etrog - Destination: Israel 

Etrog is the Hebrew name for citrus medica, a truly rare citrus fruit that is prized for it’s delicate floral aroma and flavor. Etrog is one of the four species in Sukkot and symbolizes the heart while representing a whole and complete person, one who has wisdom and knowledge but also compassion and who commits good deeds. This fragrance is composed of ingredients that are reminiscent of Israel such as olive tree resin, opoponax (sweet myrrh), frankincense, petitgrain cedrat (leaves and twigs from the citron tree), and crisp green myrtle. A truly captivating fragrance with rare Mediterranean  ingredients.

Pales Atena – Destination: Greece 

Named after the Greek goddess of Wisdom,  Pales Atena combines spices like cinnamon with a base of patchouli, amber and sandalwood, which sets the warm tone for the fragrance. These warm base notes form a powerful foundation for lavender, sweet orange, vibrant jasmine grandiflorum, and the exotic and rounded flowers of champaca (a tropical golden-coloured magnolia).

 Sabotage – Destination: Acores, Portugal 

The beauty of the Portuguese islands is incomparable in its tranquility. There is something about the vast azure sea, rolling green hills, and sharp cliffs that have captured my heart since visiting my family there in 2009. The streets lined with hydrangeas and the fragrant aroma of “maracuja” (passionfruit) and sun-baked grass and earth are what I remember most about my summer spent in Sao Miguel and Terceira.  Sabotage’s citrusy notes of orange flower, lemon zest and lemon leaf combine with earthy Haitian vetiver, pimento berry (a spice often used in Portuguese cooking) and pungent green give a little spicy twist to this scent, reminiscent of Portugal’s invigorating coast and islands.

Recipe idea: Queijadas (Portuguese Custard Tarts)

Rainforest – Destination: British Columbia

British Columbia is renowned for its breath-taking natural scenery. It’s majestic mountains, calm seas, and abundant forests define B.C as a province and make it a beloved home to its locals and a thrilling and truly stunning destination for travellers. Rainforest is a coniferous, woody, chypre fragrance that encapsulates the fragrance and feeling of walking through the rain-kissed forest, inhaling the damp moss, pine needles and soft wild flowers. Cedar-wood, oakmoss, juniper berry, violet leaf and spruce are some of the notes that compose this refreshing, very west-coast fragrance.

Cabaret – Destination : Caribbean
With creamy vanilla absolute, tropical magnolia, dark coconut, orris root and Turkish rose, Cabaret evokes images of nights spent on Caribbean beaches with the azure waves frothing against the sandy shore. It’s a sexy, sweet, and subtle gourmand, perfect for your sensory tropical vacation.

Recipe idea: Raw Coconut Macaroons

New Orleans – Destination: New Orleans, Louisiana

For those who have always dreamt of going to a Mardi Gras but have never gotten the chance to go, New Orleans is afragrance that celebrates the Louisiana coast with oceanic seaweed and ambergris supported by uplifting notes of Meyer lemon, Murcott mandarin, osmanthus, rosemary, vetiver Haiti, tea rose and white magnolia. It’s a fresh soft scent that captures the lively and irrepressible spirit of New Orleans.

 Finjan – Destination: Turkey

 Finjanis a darkly sweet, oriental gourmand fragrance that celebrates the fragrant flavor and aroma of Turkish coffee with coffee absolute, clove, cardamom, blood orange, rose maroc, and balsam tolu. It’s a spicy unisex fragrance that will take your heart and senses to the fragrant Middle East.

Bon Zai – Destination: Japan

Japan is an island of delicate yet striking natural and historical beauty. Bon Zai, inspired by the art of miniature bonsai trees, captures the tranquility of a Japanese garden with it’s its simple and minimalistic composition of agarwood, juniper berry, lemon verbena, Virginia cedarwood and sandalwood. The fragrance is characterized by shiso (perilla), a an herb often used as a garnish in Japanese cooking and has a striking aroma that transcends seasons.

Whether you are able to physically leave your home city, province, state or country this summer or not, we hope that you enjoy your sensory travels this summer! 

Coffee Break

Coffee Time, originally uploaded by NuraNAlbayraK.

"Coffee should be black as Hell, strong as death, and sweet as love".

- Turkish Proverb

Yesterday I served Turkish coffee for my students, and one of them urged me to blog about it. Coffee is not much of a topic for me, but seeing how long ago was my last post (teaching really does require my full attention this week), I thought I'd give it a shot. As it turns out, you don't need to drink coffee to stay up all night... Writing about it can serve the same purpose.

Turkish coffee is very popular all throughout Arabia, and is nothing like any other type of coffee Westerners are familiar with. This is a very dark roasted coffee, finely ground, that is prepared by cooking and is not filtered whatsoever. It is often flavoured with cardamom, and usually sweetened with a very generous dose of sugar, during the cooking process. Milk is never added to Turkish coffee.

I'm probably the wrong person to discuss coffee, being a devoted tea lover and being very easily affected by caffeine... But this stuff is very potent in that regard. Coffee is the minimum expected of hospitality in the Middle East (after offering a glass of water, of course). This is what we always received when we were guests at Arabic and Druze homes in the Western Galilee where I grew up; and we always made sure we had some at home for coffee-loving guests (my parents were firm believers in herbal teas otherwise...), and mostly for construction workers whenever something had to be built around the property.

Even though I was never into drinking it, I knew how to make it from the tender age of ten or so. I never felt comfortable making it though, I have to say. Because I mostly had to serve it to strangers - the men who were working on my parents' property, during their coffee breaks. And I was extremely shy. With every move I took walking with the tray with tiny porcelain coffee shooters on it, putting it down and pouring the coffee - I felt as if a hundred eyes are following me from every direction. It was the worst feeling and I hated doing it but I could not refuse when my mom asked for help. As an aside note though: I'm pretty sure it is a role reserved for men to serve the coffee in the Arabic communities. And the Bedouin men make a point of freshly grinding the coffee beans for the guests before brewing it. It's part of the ritual, building the anticipation for the dark beverage, besides the brewing, triple-boiling and pouring...

But now I'm thankful that she taught me how to make it, because I can serve it whenever I want to and it never fails to amuse, impress and bring pleasure to my coffee-deprived guests (I serve them more than herbal tea, but some people really need their coffee and don't feel that tea has enough caffeine - poor things!).

It's really simple, and it always turns out perfect even without tasting if you do this:
Blend together equal amounts of sugar and coffee - 1 tablespoons each of Turkish coffee and sugar for every cup of water.
The Turkish coffee I buy is already flavoured with cardamom (ground along with the coffee, and surprisingly still smells fresh even though to the best of my knowledge I had that coffee, in a sealed jar, for some 6 years. Shhh...). But cardamom pods can be added while cooking (or omitted altogether if you prefer your coffee without it).
First put the coffee and sugar in the finjan ( a little saucepan with a spout, designed especially for that purpose - you can find similar ones but less picturesque, in most homeware stores), mix well, than add the water, and cook until boiling.
The key to making the coffee work though is bringing it to a boil 3 times. This is really what brings out the flavour. So remove from the heat after 1st boiling, set aside for a few seconds, return to the stove or flame, boil again, and so on for 3 times in total.
Every time it boils, it will almost spill over the finjan. Wait until that very moment... And only than remove from the heat. It's a little like playing with fire. And if you don't move the put fast enough - you'll have a living proof of your coffee making efforts all over the stove.
In other words: pay attention to your coffee when you brew it, or else you'll get a mess as reward for your multi-tasking tendencies (you may *think* you have waited too long and the coffee will wait for you while you check if the laundry machine has finished its cycle; but it won't: it will spill over just when you're about to return to it. Trust me).

My brother likes to add a couple of geranium leaves to the coffee, and it's another heavenly fragrant addition that goes well with both the coffee, cardamom and the sugary sweetness. And also with the rosewater-drenched baklawa, if you happen to have that luxury. Here are some photos of the coffee he prepared for us in the desert!

So that's that for the Turkish coffee. And you may want to serve it with sweets on the side (baklawa), but if you put that much sugar it's not mandatory at all. So perhaps love is just one tablespoon of sugar?

Coffee Please

Coffee Time, originally uploaded by Nuran's.
My morning started with coffee, which is unusual. I walked up to the barrista at Blenz on Robson and asked for 400gr ground coffee, with the highest caffeine content. She looked at me puzzled (I usually order tea, and when I do order a coffee, it's always decaf). As it turns out, coffee that is light or medium roast has more caffeine, something I never knew (or cared to know) before. I got an organic, fair trade medium roast from Machu-Pichu, which smelled and tasted deliciously of moccha, and took off.

I totally lucked out with my very first trial of Guilt sugar scrubs, I think I nearly nailed it down in the first try. Which is not the case with my other "victim" - the Finjan Sugar Scrub, where coffee is used for its cellulite-busting caffeine, along with grapefruit essential oil.

On my first trial (done about a year or so ago) I used real Turkish coffee which already had some cardamom in it. It smelled delicious, looked like the muddy bottom of a Turkish coffee demitasse ready to be read you the future, and it had this wonderful cocoa butter, shea butter and virgin coconut oil in it. Unfortunately, it did not work: the butter solidified and formed crystals on the top of the jar (kind of like the white stuff you see on old chocolate bars), which of course wouldn't matter once you scoop out your scrubbing dosage. But therein lay the bigger problem: Turkish coffee, while it smells fabulous, is ground quite finely. It becomes into a sticky fine paste that refuses to leave the skin even if scrubbed with loofah, completely defeating the purpose of its presence in a sugar scrub. And this is why I got the coarsely ground medium roasted full of caffeine beans from Machu-Pichu.

But my new sugar scrub encountered other problems beside the coffee grounds: this time around, I became a little too adventurous and rather than sticking to my modified formula from last time, I decided to add a little bit of this (honey) and a little bit of that (Turkey red oil) and ended up with something that was a little too liquidy and swallowed all the fragrance of the precious oils I've added in there - Rose Maroc, jasmine from India, cardamom CO2, orange and grapefruit oils. I finally was able to adjust the consistency by adding more sugar, and getting the fragrance right by using rose geranium. I now know that I should forego the Rose Maroc next time (it just gets lost in the coffee!). And also I should use a lot less Turkey red oil, and in any case, I suspect the one I have is a little too old, so it's time to buy new supply! But I'm on the right track, and pretty close to figuring out the desired consistency, as this sugar scrub really left my skin feeling softer, though I suspect the Turkey red oil is a little too drying (all the more reason to use less).
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