Chypre Perfumery Course - Sign Up Now!


The island of Cyprus (Chypre in French) is where the most ancient perfume factory was discovered. Just like these first Cypriot perfumers, we'll roam the Mediterranean garrigue and discover how to infuse local wild plants in olive oil, for both healing, beautifying and fragrant properties.
Chypre is most iconic fragrance family for fall, as it is inspired by the scent of sun-baked earth and Mediterranean plants, and the damp forest floor. There is no better time in the year to craft Chypres than the fall and in their original natural habitat where so many of the raw materials grow wild!
This week-long course covers studying the raw materials, perfume structure, how to blend a formula, how to write a formula, building accords and creating simple oil-based perfumes using oil infusions that we'll be handcrafting ourselves, and basic Chypre formulation in an alcohol base.
For those who can't attend in person, you are welcome to browse Ayala's classic collection of Chypre  perfumes.

Featured Workshop: 
Oil infusions from wild plants and/or making Oiselets de Chypre (Medieval potpourris shaped into birds)

Fragrant Field Trip:
Exploring the Mediterranean Garrigue

Featured Guest Speaker:
Local vintner, owner of a local boutique winery plus wine-tasting the "Garrigue" wines they offer

The course takes place at Ayala Moriel's new studio in Clil, Israel. This little off-the-grid organic village has scenic is in one of the country's most fascinating regions, the Western Galilee - and has a view of 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 (although you don't have to - there are also plenty of places around, but keep in mind that in that case car is a must). The 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.

There is a bakery that is opened twice a week (Sunday and Thursday) and offers Pizza Nights on Tuesdays. On all other days bread can be pre-ordered 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).

Accommodations within the village include one boutique hotel, one guest house (India-style "hostel" on the second level of one of our neighbours) and several cabins for rent - some also offering breakfast. 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. 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.

There are only 2 spaces remaining in this session. Sign up now to secure your spot!


כתלה חריפה Chiliadenus iphionoides

Sharp Varthemia (Chiliadenus iphionoides), or in Hebrew Ktela Harifa (כתלה חריפה) likes to grow inside rocks and has the most incredibly resinous, rustic, complex aroma. It truly is like a complete perfume all of its own, exemplifying what Garriague and Chypre are all about.

Sharp Vartehmia

I've stumbled upon this plant by chance, first near Keshet Cave in Park Adamit near the Lebanese border. A beautiful place with gorgeous view. It was one of two aromatic plants i was unable to identify, but intuitively knew they are both of medicinal and aesthetic value. I later found Varthemia on the mountain above my house. But it wasn't until I saw Yonat HaMidbar post about it and rave about its lovely perfume that I was able to identify the plant (it was never in bloom when I saw it, and it's near impossible to ID plants when they are not in bloom).

Vartehmia Incense Cones

Shortly after I was not only inspired to finally make incense cones out of it, but also studied some of the medicinal properties of it. Among others, it is good for heart problems and diabetes - and seems like a very gentle herb to enjoy in tea (as long as it's not overly done). I picked some for a friend who just had a heart attack, and figured my own heart could benefit from it too. So I've been sipping a lot of vartehmia. marrubium and white mint tea. A lovely combination, and feels to be soothing both the heart and the soul.

Heart Soothing Tea


My next adventure with vartehmia is infusing it in both alcohol and olive oil. From the olive oil I will make a single-note vartehmia soap (I will also have it brewed into tea for the water component of the soap making process, so that it is as naturally fragrant as possible). From the alcohol infusion, which turned out beautifully resinous and rich, I've created a rustic, garrigue-inspired amber perfume, which I am debating if you launch this fall or not. It's a further development of an old, old, old formula that was almost sickeningly sweet because the amber base in it wasn't my own and I am quite certain contained some artificial molecules. Frankly, that base smelled more like an ambreine accord. The perfume I made with it included a touch oregano that balanced this sweetness to some degree, but not enough. I want the new perfume to be more authentic and local, and use my own herbal infusions in it - but without taking away from the luxurious character of the perfume. It is very different from the original, and surprisingly has a bit of the Espionage DNA to it - even there is nothing smoky about it. Must be the ambreine accord (which, FYI, is the core of Shalimar, Emeraude and the like). 


Climbing the Mountain

Climbing Mt. Daniel

Last Thursday, we were vacationing in the Sunshine Coast, and I decided to climb up Mount Daniel with my daughter. It seemed especially appropriate because this mountain was traditionally used by the Coast Salish people (the region's First Nations) to initiate their young girls into womanhood. Our vacation was all about celebrating my daughter's high school graduation - so this seemed meant to be...

We packed some snacks and water, my handmade mosquito spray, lavender oil for bites and cuts, and started going up the trail. It was supposed to be about 45-60min hike, climbing up to 440m elevation. My daughter is significantly fitter than I am - she never gets tired when we walk the beautiful trails in the parks around us, and there is no shortage of uphill and downhill where we usually walk. She always walks way ahead of her old mamma. I thought she'll enjoy the challenge. I was so wrong. She was still walking ahead of me, but made clearly audible signs of discomfort and discontent with the whole ordeal. Five minutes into the walk I was already worried so I asker her if she wants to go back to the car or walk on and she wanted to go back. She complained about headache and looked kinda pale too... Or maybe I was just imagining this.  I have no idea why, I decided to continue... But insisted that we stop for breaks and drink water and snacks on the way up. And also that she walks behind me (in old mamma pace, that is) rather than lead in her super-girl stride. Things got a little better then, and she was not in as much distress as before.

We kept walking up what turned out to be beautiful but not at all easy trail. Which meant that we couldn't really enjoy the flora and fauna all that much because our gaze was too focused on the trail and what our next step should land on. And the summit is always invisible, which adds to the uncertainty, anxiety, and anticipation. It's really easy to lose the big picture when climbing a mountain, forget why we are even here... Each step, and sometimes breathing itself is so painful and we get too focused on the rhythmic stride and breath-mechanism and feeling the suffering - unable to converse or sing or really pay attention to anything else that makes striding along a path in nature enjoyable on most other occasions... And from a caregiver's point of view, it is much harder to pay attention to my daughter's needs and state of mind if I'm struggling myself. It's so much easier to help others and be mindful of their needs when you are well yourself.

Mushroom Heart

In the end, it took us more than an hour to get up there (we stopped about 4 times to catch our breath). And when we got to the first summit I thought we got lost - because there was non of the view that everyone who told us about this trail raved about... But we enjoyed the grass and moss covered rocks, and the warmth of the sun, and the smell of West Coast Garrigue - the mingling of arbutus, berries, sun-warmed grass, conifer needles and moss-covered rocks. I even found a heart-shaped fungus! We peeled an orange and Tamya drew a little bit and began to feel happy and proud again.


Thankfully, we quickly found our way back to the obscured trail, and less than five minutes later the second summit with the promised view unrolled in front of our eyes. We stopped there for a while, snacking on wild blueberries, drawing and writing in our journals, meditating on the meaning of climbing a mountain and dragging your children into an adventure that perhaps has very little meaning to them... But is important for you. And now after watching this trailer, I'm also seeing the other broader analogies to this very stressful transitional time into adulthood. As a society, we expect our children to fly the coup at 18 (or 20 at the most). We equate "independence" as "success". But what when this is not possible? Where do you draw the lines between what your grown-up child's needs and what you need as a human who's been a caregiver for over 19 years, and mentally should prepare to remain in that role for as long as you live? How do you keep that balance of respecting another person's choices (or even giving them choices), when it is very unclear which understanding they have of major life decisions? Which brings me to - what do we know at all about major life decisions? And what happens when all your mistakes don't just affect yourself, but also your dependant yet grown-up child?

Mt. Daniel, Pender Harbour

All my life I've been told that "What's good for the caregiver is better for the dependant too". This seemed like golden advice when my daughter was still a minor. Somehow, it feels really selfish and icky to take on that responsibility of potentially ruining your most beloved person in the world just because you need to do something for yourself for a change. And then you realize, that like anything in life, decisions are never cut and dry "good" or "bad". That even a "better" decision will always leave you with a huge chunk of gut-wrenching guilt and sadness. And that sometimes you don't really know that you made a mistake until 20 years into it...

Pender Harbour Self Portrait

P.s. You should watch the trailer (or the whole movie) "My Brother is Brave" 



Long time ago, in a country far away, I was a nanny in a busy household in which both parents had a career in filmmaking and production. I would show up at their place at 8:30 (which was a huge lifestyle improvement for me comparing to the first job, the year prior, which started at 8), and by 9am the parents and older brother were gone and I was left with the adorable one year old I took care of for the day.

It's a privilege to be entrusted with a child's life at such a tender age, not to mention being welcomed into a home like this and become almost like a family member; yet also a bit of an odd situation to be entering a family's daily life in a rather intimate moment - preparing for the day and saying goodbye to each other as they set off on their long day adventures. When I came in everyone were still at different stages of dressing, showering, eating breakfast and so on.

Because, not surprisingly, I was oddly interested in fragrance even back then - I will always remember certain things about their home, including the soap they used (it was Dove - which was a rather exotic thing in the early 90s in Tel Aviv - and for sure the dad brought it back from his many business trips to L.A.). There was also a bottle of Obsession in the bathroom, which he bought for his wife and she never wore (unfortunately, she's really not into perfumes whatsoever) and then there was the green bottle with a horse and a rider holding a strange long stick, clouds of which wafted every morning after the dad shaved.

Polo in the Dark

I've never worn Polo and I can't say I have an intimate connection with it, but I did remember it as smelling good. So with Fathers' Day approaching and me feeling the urge to cover some more masculine fragrances on SmellyBlog - I set on trying it out for two days in a row now. The first time it was only semi-planned: I went to the drugstore to scout for some more cheap drugstore colognes and aftershaves. But I did not find what I was hoped for (Canoe). So I remembered that odd number and decided to try it on one wrist, and Eau Sauvage on the other. The latter was unfortunately a spoiled tester (too much light, folks!) while Polo simply won my heart almost immediately.

It's strong, bold and in your face so I'm glad I was wearing it sparingly. What one smells at first is that wonderful melange of patchouli, oakmoss and honeyed-animatic civet blooming in their warmth. And there is a decidedly leathery undercurrent that makes it really intriguing (and not wanting to scrub it off even though it is rather on the strong side). There are also many other things going on but these are the ones that I immediately pick up. Then as it unfolds on the skin, more fougere-like qualities pop out. Artemisia and other herbs mingle. I read that there are also thyme, basil and marjoram in this - but I can't really pick them out. There is just an overall feeling that is both sunny and warm like the Mediterranean garrigue - but also dark and looming against the leather. There is on one side a very smooth interplay of those rather distinctive elements. It's true that they go really well together in a red pasta sauce, a stew or even on bread with olive oil; but as perfume raw materials all these herbs are rather at odds with each other when combined with so many other perfume-y materials. They just don't like to behave!

There is also pine, which gives it a very distinctively masculine aura, as if to reassure you that all that civet is not going to turn floral on you. As Polo dries down on the skin, more of the dryness that comes out, accentuating the patchouli, and less of the civet notes (which are just this close to becoming as impolite as Kouros). Virginian cedar wood comes to the fore and mellows the more animalic elements, giving them a reliable context for an alibi (just in case someone walks by and suspects them of misbehaving).

Polo (1978) is at once sweaty, carnal, earthy, dirty, fresh, sexy, bold, distinctive, unique yet unmistakably manly. But what I adore the most about Polo is the dry down. Oh, the patchouli and the oakmoss, when they mellow on the skin after hours, and there is a bit of musk to connect them and balance the tartness of oakmoss and the dirty of patchouli. Why did they stop making scents like this for guys?!

Top notes: Pine, Lavender, Bergamot, Juniper, Coriander, Cumin
Heart notes: Carnation, Geranium, Jasmine, Rose, Basil, Marjoram, Thyme
Base notes: Patchouli, Oakmoss, Civet, Leather,  Amber, Musk, Frankincense 


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

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