Nicole Bridger's Blog

Visit Nicole Bridger's blog to read Eau My Goodness - their rundown of the trio curated for her boutique on 4th Avenue. Nicole Bridger is an uber talented eco-minded Vancouver designer, and I'm very excited to be working with her and her team. Better yet - stroll over to Kitsilano for a visit at her boutique to experience this charming little gem of luxury eco-minded fashion: rich textures, beautiful colours, shapes and flowing designs.

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

Composing with Eliza (Gentille Alouette Round 2)

Today I brought in the essences we hand-picked last time to re-sniff, review, sift through and select the ones that will actually be used to formulate the Gentille Alouette perfume.
Part of the process is selecting which essences to use is also to imagine how they will smell together. Another part is prioritizing – because if you got too many essences the perfume will easily loose character and become just a cacophony of pleasant odours that don’t have anything special to say to one another and just scream “me, me, me!” in an attempt to get attention.

And me being the perfumer and facilitator of such a process is like walking a tightrope: on one hand, I want to listen to the client’s innermost fragrant desires; on the other hand I must guide them so that it won’t be a waste of time, not to mentio precious material. The process must be meaningful and enjoyable, allowing the client to have a say in the decision making throughout the various stages of development. As to not interfere too much with the process, I begin without negating options just because I think that they “won’t work” or because it’s “straying from the original concept”. I will get there at some point, and offer my expertise in what would work and what wouldn’t, give suggestions, alternatives and invent narratives that will make every compromise (if such a thing is really necessary) feel like a choice and not like lessening of the dream.

The elimination process with Eliza was smooth sailing. Although she loves many different types of scents (we picked 30 raw materials to start with!) she also had a very clear vision for what she wanted. And when it came to the 2nd round, she was just as harsh as I was with letting go and cutting things out, understanding that it’s not about the attachment to a particular note – but about how it will work together as a whole with the vision she had for Gentille Alouette perfume.
To assist us in the process, we used touches (scent strips) that we dipped in the various essences and clipped together. Waving them in front of the nose in a spiraling motion gets the molecules mingled together in the air and gives off a scent that alludes to what would be if… this will be mixed with that. And unlike actual blending – it’s possible to not only add things in – but also take them out if you don’t like the result. While it does not give a good grasp on the proportion, a skilled nose can know if he’s heading in the right direction. Because the scents strips are just one part – the other part is the imagination, the vision, and once in the lab – knowing how to put them all together so the essences can dance, sing and bloom on the skin.

Our process was nearing its end, when we had a surprise visitor at the shop: a long time customer of mine and a fellow Portobello West vendor: Gerry-Gail (GG) Endean of Creampuffs by GG. Her signature scent is GiGi, with which she fell in love instantly upon her first visit to the market (by the second or third visit she has already become a vendor…). GG sells her “creampuffs” or girlie boxer shorts at Gentille Alouette and dropped by to restock the shop with more creampuffs AND show off the new fabaric swatches for the upcoming collection. We let her sniff the perfume and as you can tell by the sheer bliss expression on her face – she liked it just as much as we did… And than a bunch of other customers showed up too and we had a blast just looking at their faces as they smell this very particular, freshly made-up combination of notes.

Next post: what I’ve done with all those essences (and what essences?!) when I came back to my studio…
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