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Top of the Land

Wild Rose (Rosa canina) on the peak of Mt. Hermon
After picking a bunch of cherries to complete our breakfast we drove to the peak of Mount Hermon (Jabal A-Sheikh) - elevation 2,224m, which is accessible with chair lifts. It was a relatively hot day but still much more pleasant than the rest of the country - somewhere around 26c or so, with a very harsh sun yet a nice dry cool breeze ever so often.

Cherry Picking
The vegetation is somewhat sparse but very special and with many varieties growing on this mountain. Some plants can be found in other northern places (for example: the now protected Wild artichoke (Gundelia tournefortii) - עכובית הגלגל, which grew in most parts of the country before), but others are endemic to this mountain alone, because of its exceptional conditions and placement. It is covered in snow all winter, and once it melts resembles a cool desert land, covered with white rocks and with no trees in sight. Dog roses (Rosa canina) are native to Israel, but are quite a rare sight otherwise. To find a bush in full bloom at the peak of Mt. Hermon was elating. Of course, it has a heavenly fragrance.

Peak of Mt. Hermon

Up on the peak, there is a sense that many of the plants here has some mysterious medicinal value, for some very specific and possibly rare conditions. I am imagining a time when climbing the mountain on foot would be a great ordeal (well, it still is - but most people use the road and then the gondola!). People would only go up the mountain for an important mission set forth by a divine guidance, a royal order, or a great and pressing need to save someone's life from a rare illness...
פריגה חלקת פרי
This poppy (Glaucium oxylobum פרגה קרחת/פריגה חלקת פרי), for example, is unique to Mt. Hermon and can't be found anywhere else in the country (but it can be found in high elevations - upwards of 1,100m - in the mountains of Turkey and Iran). I love its bright dual colours and contrasting "eyes". It blooms for a very long season - six months to be exact, from April when the snow melts, till the total dryness of September. There is a great variety between flowers, but they all share this startling, sudden contrasting colour change, and unusual display of three colours.
Salvia microstegia מרווה בוצינית + Alyssum baumgartnerianum אליסון חרמוני
Salvia microstegia (the hairy big leaves with white flowers), the thistle-looking plant is Cousinia hermonis (קוסיניה חרמונית), the yellow flowers are of Alyssum baumgartnerianum Bornm. (אליסון חרמוני), AKA madwort. It is not the only yellow flower found on Mt Hermon  - so don't confuse it with Lebanese St. John's Wort (Hypericum libanoticum) in Hebrew - פרע לבנוני, or with the two types of Achilea that grow there - Achillea biebersteinii (אכילאה קטנת-פרחים) and the endemic Achillea falcata (אכילאה גפורה).

There might also be a type of catnip (נפית קילקית?) Nepata - of some kind that I'm yet to completely ID), or a horehound in the pic. Which also reminds me of the unusual Lebanese horehound (Marrubium libanoticum Boiss) - in Hebrew מרוביון הלבנון/מרמר הלבנון, which is also a highly medicinal plant.
Israel|Syria border - view from peak of Mt. Hermon
Israel & Syria - view from above. Where the green ends Syria begins... It's sad but true, due to over-forestation and roaming in Syria, and on the other hand much planting of trees all across Israel.

Lastly, here is me and Miss T standing against this dramatic backdrop.

Israel|Syria Border - Peak of Mt. Hermon




Return to Sea

Return to Sea

Shana Tova uMetuka to everyone who's celebrating. I've been up to my ears in adjustment mode and taking care of little details to start our new life here that my celebrations have been restricted to the Rosh HaShanna dinner. Otherwise most days just seem to continue merging into one another in one endless loop of tasks that remain undone and problems that are still unresolved. I know I should give myself a break (moving homes alone is one of the most stressful life events, and immigration amplifies this a hundred fold)  - but I have major responsibilities and there are some things I'm absolutely unwilling to compromise about (such as my child's health and well-being, at any age really).

This is a time for new beginnings, and that means a lot of letting go. Before I left Vancouver I returned all the shells I collected over the years to the ocean. To me this was a symbolic way of giving thanks to nature, and the Salish Sea in particular, which gave me much needed comfort throughout the years. The conception of so many ideas - and perfumes - happened to me as I walked along the seawall, in varying weather conditions and lighting degrees. The water helps me reflect on my life and recollect my thoughts. The fresh salty air around the water cleared not only my lungs but also the mind.

I'm thankful for being able to see the Mediterranean from where I live, and  that it is only a 20 minutes drive away. I've never seen a sea I did not like, and returning to my childhood's beaches is one of the most blissful part of this move (on par with my nephews and nieces' enthusiastic welcome and the fact that they remember us even though we didn't visit for a year and a half).

There is a strip of wild sand dunes and lagoons of the northernmost beach spanning all the way from Banana Beach to Rosh HaNikra/Ras El Nakura  - the grottos which are right on the border with Lebanon. I'm curious to see how it behaves throughout the seasons and the sea's mood cycles. There is plenty of wild life there, both in the water and along the shore - fragrant beach lilies included. I'm looking forward to being able to swim and enjoy the sea and its salty water almost year-around (it gets only as cold as the summer temperatures of the Pacific in wintertime; but it's also most stormy then). I can't wait to see what inspirations these waves will bring me.

Lost in the Lagoon

Lagoons in Achziv beach

We landed in Israel a few days ago, greeted by unbearable heat. As soon as I set foot in Ben Gurion airport, a dreadful realization sank in: we're now homeless and have left everything that is familiar with free-fall into the complete opposite culture, climate and lifestyle.

Nothing remains the same in our life, except for miss T's breakfasts and tea rituals, and my insistence of making it to the beach once a day, if at all possible. Hiking (or even walking) has become unbearable a by the 3rd day after our arrival. The vicious desert winds from the east set in an apocalyptic mood and bring a heat wave that makes even walking the 50 meters to my mom's house next door rather intimidating.

Plus, I won't bore you with the details of Canadian customs regulations about liquids and anything fragrance related; nor Canadian insurance companies' reluctance to cover anything going into a country considered. I'll just say that as I anticipatead, this is going to be a wild ride and we may be without a home or our belongings for quite some times. I packed accordingly, which is to say not particularly light - with 2 small carry-on suitcases and 3 large ones (one of them entirely dedicated to perfume stock, so that my customers can continue shopping online as usual and receive their orders without delay). So suffice to say - my apocalyptic approach to packing those 5 pieces of luggage, although seemed to have lack some coherence at the time will come handy. We have clothes and footwear to take us into winter, and have plenty of paperwork and books to keep us busy for a few months. Mark my word: If you have a perfume business, don't move it. Ever.


Achziv beach
We traded in our comfortable city lifestyle, and what I consider perfect weather (all in all, I always liked rain), our backyard rainforest and next door beach for dusty olive groves, unbearable heat, and village life off-the-grid (although thankfully my family has set up wi-fi in all three household on the "ranch", which makes that transition much easier at least from business and communication point of view). But all those opposites aside, the one winning reason for being here is not lost on me. I'm most grateful for having our free-fall cushioned by a loving and warm family and being surrounded by so much love and support. Their encouragement through this very rough transition is a proof that when tough things are going to happen in life (as they tend to be) I won't be there all on my own like I had to be before. Not to mention, if I were to do this 20 years from now, it would have been a thousand times harder.
Beach Lilies

The beauty of this country (not that this is why I came here) lies in small, hidden things. Stunning wild flowers in unexpected places, like these pure-white beach lilies (which smell much like hyacinths, by the way). People seem utterly impatient, vulgar and uncourteous at first glance but if you look past the few loud shroud voices that squeak too much you discover true kindness and generosity, openness and compassion.

And speaking of flowers: I've already started collecting bulbs of fragrant flowers (with the help of my gardener brother) so that I can start the mini perfumer's botanical garden that I've been dreaming about as part of the new location of my perfumery and perfume school. I've gotten a number of narcissi, hyacinths and Easter lilies to start the garden, and will also get some rhizomes of Iris germanica from my other brother's garden. I've got my seeds of Parma violets and shiso, and there's already jasmine and rose in my garden and some citrus trees in the orchard. But that's just the beginning. Come spring it will become a very happy place.


Perfumes from the Orchard (Besamim me'ha'Bustan) + April Giveaway



Smadar picked this beautiful bouquet from her garden and orchard - an arrangement of seasonal fragrant flowers from trees, bushes and shrubs which were the inspiration for the evening titled Besamim me'ha'Bustan (Perfumes from the Orchard) and which took place on March 19th at the restaurant Smadar be'Clil in my home village in Israel's scenic Western Galilee.

It was both a pleasure and honour to co-host a night of perfume, desert and wine pairing with Smadar Yardeni of Smadar be'Clil and Yaniv from Lotem Winery. And the response form the guests and audience at the event has so much exceeded my hopes and expectations I am still feeling warm and fuzzy inside reminiscing about that beautiful night. The reason it took me so long to post about how it went can be attributed to traveller's wi-fi woes, as well as prolonged case of jet lag. But neither has diminished my memory from a most fine night spent with very lovely people, both on the hosting and the guest side.


Here's Smadar on the morning of the event, with the lavender & Earl Grey creme brûlée she's prepared in taste-size portions inside Turkish coffee cups. These were creamy and delicious, the caramelization process she did in the process of cooking the custard gives these brûlée a hint of honey.



Once I set the table with my mini-display (nothing too fancy, as it was all carried in my suitcase along everything else I needed for three weeks abroad) - it was time to taste the beautiful wines Yaniv brought with him from Lotem Winery. We selected three wines from Lotem for the pairing, plus one white wine from Kishor Winery: a lovely, citrusy-floral Savant Viognier, to go with the vegan malabi (based on coconut cream and flavoured with orange flower water). Note to self: an evening that starts with a glass of organic wine  can only be a happy one.


The event was structured as an olfactory and culinary symphony with 6 acts around 5 desserts that was inspired by seasonal ingredients, and was complemented by 6 perfumes, 4 wines and 2 teas. In each "section"  the guests experienced raw materials in their essential oil (or absolute) form, then smell them within a perfume, taste them in a dessert, and enjoy a complementary beverage (either tea or wine, or both).

We opened the evening with rose-tinged marzipans, handmade by Smadar, paired with fresh Charisma tea (loose leaf jasmine plus fresh herbs from Smadar's garden) and Vivace - Lotem's fine rose wine, which is extremely light and unusually on the dry side. I then spoke about two familiar yet fascinating ingredients: mint and almond, and let the guests smell essential oils of both, and also perfumes that are related to the subject: Charisma (which includes spearmint) and Hanami (inspired by cherry blossoms - which are not unlike the almond blossoms that were in bloom still last month).


Next came the fantastic creme brûlée I told you about earlier. Everything was beautifully served among sprigs of blooming lavender, and the individual Turkish coffee cups were a perfect size to serve such a decadent treat. I then let the guests smell essential oils of both lavender and bergamot and spoke about the connections these have via chemistry and their presence in the ever so popular Earl Grey tea. We smelled Lovender perfume at the end of this section.

The third part was spicy and warm, with vegan ginger mini muffins, studded with crystallized ginger inside, and served alongside dainty little teacups of piping hot soy milk chai. We smelled spice oils, with primary focus on ginger and cardamom (which are botanical relatives) and spoke about spices that are "warm" versus spices that are "cool". We also smelled Zangvil perfume, of course.



Now we took a little intermission from the desserts, and experienced Sonore - Lotem's bold Shiraz wine, accompanied our "tasting" of anything rosy: we experienced rose otto and absolute, as well as Cabaret perfume - a demonstration of rose and musk.  Yaniv explained about the origin of this grape, from Shiraz in Persia, which tied in beautifully to the origins of rose (Rosa centifolia or May Rose is native to Persia as well). I also tied it with the fondness of Muslims to musk and roses, and the symbolism of roses in Sufi poetry.



The highlight of the evening was one of the most beloved ingredients of all: orange blossom. We first experienced it in the vegan malabi (based in coconut cream) alongside the beautiful Savant Voigner from Kishor - which highlighted the citrusy notes, and even the petitgrain-like character of the orange flower water (something that my brother Yotam, who was among the guests in the event, pointed out).  We smelled different types of orange blossoms - orange flower water, orange flower absolute and neroli.



The grand finale was the chocolate mousse that was flavoured with orange blossom absolute and wild orange oil, topped with candied kumquat slices (from Smadar's orchard, of course). We paired this with the stunning Nebiolo, an aromatic yet light Italian varietal with floral characteristics and definite cassis flavours. And we concluded with smelling Zohar perfume - which went beautifully with all this luscious gorgeousness and the good mood that was already in the room went up even a few more notches.

I truly hope to create more events in the future with Smadar - it feels like this is just the beginning of a great friendship!

Last but not least, because this is the first day of April, it's time to announce this monthly giveaway: Leave a comment on this post, with your guess as to which flowers were in Smadar's beautiful bouquet - and enter to win a mini of Cabaret!

Perfumes from the Orchard (Besamim me'ha'Bustan) + April Giveaway



Smadar picked this beautiful bouquet from her garden and orchard - an arrangement of seasonal fragrant flowers from trees, bushes and shrubs which were the inspiration for the evening titled Besamim me'ha'Bustan (Perfumes from the Orchard) and which took place on March 19th at the restaurant Smadar be'Clil in my home village in Israel's scenic Western Galilee.

It was both a pleasure and honour to co-host a night of perfume, desert and wine pairing with Smadar Yardeni of Smadar be'Clil and Yaniv from Lotem Winery. And the response form the guests and audience at the event has so much exceeded my hopes and expectations I am still feeling warm and fuzzy inside reminiscing about that beautiful night. The reason it took me so long to post about how it went can be attributed to traveller's wi-fi woes, as well as prolonged case of jet lag. But neither has diminished my memory from a most fine night spent with very lovely people, both on the hosting and the guest side.


Here's Smadar on the morning of the event, with the lavender & Earl Grey creme brûlée she's prepared in taste-size portions inside Turkish coffee cups. These were creamy and delicious, the caramelization process she did in the process of cooking the custard gives these brûlée a hint of honey.



Once I set the table with my mini-display (nothing too fancy, as it was all carried in my suitcase along everything else I needed for three weeks abroad) - it was time to taste the beautiful wines Yaniv brought with him from Lotem Winery. We selected three wines from Lotem for the pairing, plus one white wine from Kishor Winery: a lovely, citrusy-floral Savant Viognier, to go with the vegan malabi (based on coconut cream and flavoured with orange flower water). Note to self: an evening that starts with a glass of organic wine  can only be a happy one.


The event was structured as an olfactory and culinary symphony with 6 acts around 5 desserts that was inspired by seasonal ingredients, and was complemented by 6 perfumes, 4 wines and 2 teas. In each "section"  the guests experienced raw materials in their essential oil (or absolute) form, then smell them within a perfume, taste them in a dessert, and enjoy a complementary beverage (either tea or wine, or both).

We opened the evening with rose-tinged marzipans, handmade by Smadar, paired with fresh Charisma tea (loose leaf jasmine plus fresh herbs from Smadar's garden) and Vivace - Lotem's fine rose wine, which is extremely light and unusually on the dry side. I then spoke about two familiar yet fascinating ingredients: mint and almond, and let the guests smell essential oils of both, and also perfumes that are related to the subject: Charisma (which includes spearmint) and Hanami (inspired by cherry blossoms - which are not unlike the almond blossoms that were in bloom still last month).


Next came the fantastic creme brûlée I told you about earlier. Everything was beautifully served among sprigs of blooming lavender, and the individual Turkish coffee cups were a perfect size to serve such a decadent treat. I then let the guests smell essential oils of both lavender and bergamot and spoke about the connections these have via chemistry and their presence in the ever so popular Earl Grey tea. We smelled Lovender perfume at the end of this section.

The third part was spicy and warm, with vegan ginger mini muffins, studded with crystallized ginger inside, and served alongside dainty little teacups of piping hot soy milk chai. We smelled spice oils, with primary focus on ginger and cardamom (which are botanical relatives) and spoke about spices that are "warm" versus spices that are "cool". We also smelled Zangvil perfume, of course.



Now we took a little intermission from the desserts, and experienced Sonore - Lotem's bold Shiraz wine, accompanied our "tasting" of anything rosy: we experienced rose otto and absolute, as well as Cabaret perfume - a demonstration of rose and musk.  Yaniv explained about the origin of this grape, from Shiraz in Persia, which tied in beautifully to the origins of rose (Rosa centifolia or May Rose is native to Persia as well). I also tied it with the fondness of Muslims to musk and roses, and the symbolism of roses in Sufi poetry.



The highlight of the evening was one of the most beloved ingredients of all: orange blossom. We first experienced it in the vegan malabi (based in coconut cream) alongside the beautiful Savant Voigner from Kishor - which highlighted the citrusy notes, and even the petitgrain-like character of the orange flower water (something that my brother Yotam, who was among the guests in the event, pointed out).  We smelled different types of orange blossoms - orange flower water, orange flower absolute and neroli.



The grand finale was the chocolate mousse that was flavoured with orange blossom absolute and wild orange oil, topped with candied kumquat slices (from Smadar's orchard, of course). We paired this with the stunning Nebiolo, an aromatic yet light Italian varietal with floral characteristics and definite cassis flavours. And we concluded with smelling Zohar perfume - which went beautifully with all this luscious gorgeousness and the good mood that was already in the room went up even a few more notches.

I truly hope to create more events in the future with Smadar - it feels like this is just the beginning of a great friendship!

Last but not least, because this is the first day of April, it's time to announce this monthly giveaway: Leave a comment on this post, with your guess as to which flowers were in Smadar's beautiful bouquet - and enter to win a mini of Cabaret!
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