Orcas is Ready!

Orcas, my newest creation, is ready to debut today!!!

The larger batch I created for the occasion has beautifully aged and rounded off by ambergris, echoing the whale theme of the perfume. It's fresh, salty and mysterious, inspired by the ocean and the coast of the Pacific Northwest. I've been wearing it tirelessly all last summer, and intend to do the same this year too :-)

Orcas is bottled and packaged and those of you who're still unsure of what to get your dad for Father's Day next Sunday - this is a unique, yet easily lovable scent, and will make any dad who appreciate scent happy.

Happy Mardi Gras!

Happy Mardi Gras!, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Happy Mardi Gras, everyone!
I'm so excited to launch my New Orleans perfume tonight, with a gala cocktail party to benefit two New Orleans charities -

1) America's Wetland non-profit organization that works towards saving coastal Louisiana, who is losing land at a rate of 25 square miles per year (!).

2) The Tipitina's Foundation which is dedicated to helping artists recover from Hurricane Katrina and preserving the cultural traditions of New Orleans. Can you imagine a Mardi Gras parade without a marching band?!

New Orleans perfume took a few years in the making - since I watched the film When The Levees Broke (about the aftermath of hurricane Katrina), which really moved me and made me realize that even though the hurricane was over 2 years ago, there was lots more to be done to help the people of New Orleans. That's when the concept was conceived to make a perfume that will help New Orleans. I took longer than expected to complete the perfume (which is why I used l'Ecume des Jours as a temporary fundraising perfume for NOLA), because I've never been to New Orleans in person, and I had to rely on my perfume friends from there to fill my olfactory gap. The rest was left to imagination...

Now that the bottling is done, and there is even a new batch maturing (which I have just blended this morning), AND it's Mardi Gras, after all, which is when I planned to launch the perfume, I think it's the right time to reveal to you what this perfume turned out to be, at long last.

The perfume was carefully orchestrated based on Paula Stratton's description of the scent. It took a long time, and several trials until I achieved the desired results. The challenge was combining the herbaceous notes (basil, rosemary) with the sweet florals (sweet olive, tea rose, orange blossom), bright citrus (Meyer lemon) and last but not least - the scent of decay, decomposition, moss, seaweed and oak trees and cypress that is what makes the scent of New Orleans. The various trials were similar in concept, but quite different in scent. Even though they all had an accord of sweet olive (aka osmanthus), orange blossom, magnolia and rose at the heart, they all had a different mood and personality.

I'd like to share with you a bit of the evolution, as well as Paula and her husband Mark's feedback:

Mod 1 (dated August 21-22, 2007) included brown oakmoss (for a more deeply woody aroma than the green variety), blue cypress, spikenard, seaweed and vanilla. The top included basil, rosemary and lemon.

Paula's reaction: "Number 1 is the most genteel. It's the most feminine, and I catch the jasmine and osmanthus. It's my favourite".

I felt it was a little too muddy and that the basil clashed with sweetness of the floral bouquet and the vanilla. Therefore - mod 2 (created just a week after the 1st mod) was to follow, where there was neither moss, nor herbal notes. I added more violety notes, such as cassie and orris root. Paula observed - "Number 2 would probably be the most popular with the most people. It's lively and reminds me of the drink called a Sazerac".

I felt there was still too much heaviness and not enough harmony there, and waited a few more years before I was really able to create something worth sharing with Paula, in 2010. Perfume creation is a time-consuming process. Not only do the scents really need to mature and marry, but also the ideas need to hibernate, interact with one another, and waiting and patience is the essence of the process... Sometimes waiting for the scent to mature; other times - waiting for the right idea, or the right aroma to materialize. In this case, I had to wait for both. It finally dawned on me in 2010, that what I need to create was not something gloomy and heavy, somewhat aldehydic/old-fashioned chypre with seaweed and other unusual notes; but rather - something bright and hopeful. Which I didn't realize till February 8th, 2010.

I moved on and created a 3rd version, a cheerful, brighter and more citrusy. It still had the original concept mossy and salty, woody vetiver base, sweet Southern Belle floral bouquet at the heart, and citrus and herbal top notes. But it was so much more sheer and harmonious, yet not any less intriguing than the first two versions. The key to this lightness was using cedarmoss instead of the potent oakmoss. I also used an abundant proportion of ambergris, which did not appear in any of the previous formulas. The roses of Turkey, Bulgaria and France were replaced by the luscious and voluptuously sweet tea rose from China, and I also added hints of amber for a hint of sweetness (but no vanilla!), and amyris, for accentuated woodsiness that is a little tropical (Amyris grows in the West Indies, which is the heritage of the Cajun in New Oreleans, so I thought it particularly appropriate). Both Paula and her husband loved this version - especially her husband: "...He liked # 3 the most, repeatedly. And after multiple sniffs, I understand why. It's lively and a man can wear it. I'm picturing Errol Flynn in period dress. ;)"

I was already partial to the 3rd mod. And hearing that it was so warmly received by a man only made more sense of this direction - I felt this scent had to be equally loved by both men and women.

Paula's notes about all three versions I've sent her: "Numbers 1 , 2 and 3 are serious winners. I smell them on paper strips and skin and wonder what did you do which captured thefeeling of walking in NOLA, Charleston or Savannah in September. Bumby cobblestone walks, oaks dripping moss, the maturity of the homes. And a touch of silk...as women and men in waistcoats pass one in the morning".

I kept on going though, to create the fourth and last version on October 12th, 2010. That was when I finally had the missing ingredient which I felt was important not only for the perfume's composition, but also for the authenticity of its ingredients: Meyer Lemon. I just felt that lemon wasn't enough. Besides, Meyer lemon has such a cheerful, bright citrus aroma that it just belonged in this perfume. New Orleans lives on, and it is happy even though there may be some blue notes in its history. It's all part of life and embracing tragedy (not an easy feat, but possible if your love for life is greater than fear of suffering), rising above them like a phoenix - this is what this perfume is all about. The structure of the perfume and its notes portray this, and although you will be smelling the top notes first, I'm going to present them structurally as I was building it upwards:

Base notes - natural forces of the sea and the land:
Seaweed and ambergris representing the force of the ocean
Cedarwmoss representing decay
Vetiver from Haiti and Sri Lanka for healing and preservation (vetiver roots help to prevent erosion and flooding, and is grown in the area for that purpose)
Cypress and Amyris for strength and dignity.

Heart notes - Southern Belle accord with a little bit of "blue notes":
Magnolia - beautiful and sweet in every way
Sweet Olive (Osmanthus) - sweet and pretty, but with a little bit of melancholy blue notes
Tea Rose,which is very sweet but also has ionone, which is violety and a little moody)
Orange Blossom for pure happiness

Top notes - Cheerful and Ascending:
Hand tinctured Meyer Lemon
Rosemary verbenon - which is sheer, non medicinal and full of life
Mandarin Murcott - an unusually sweet and full bodied citrus notes
White Grapefruit from Israel, which is the best I've ever smelled in my life and is floral and vivacious

And this final version is what you will get to smell tonight at my party, or might need to wait a few days till it ships from Vancouver.

Proceeds (10%) from this scent and all sales at the event tonight will be donated to these two charities, to continue to help New Orleans be the wonderful city that it is. And if all goes well, I am going to visit there this year for Jazz Festival!

And last but not least - you can listen to Mardi Gras music all day today (and to authentic New Orleans jazz year around, from anywhere in the world) via WWOZ 90.7FM!

Related posts:

The Aroma of New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans Today
New Orleans Cuisine
Louisiana in September
l'Ecume des Jours & Rebuilding New Orleans
Re-Building New Orleans
When The Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts
Scent for a Drowned City Re-Emerging

Gourmand Perfumes @ CocoaNymph

What an exciting fall!
I can't even decide anymore what I'm most proud about - each new store opening in Vancouver, my 1st appearance in Toronto (Shopgirls), or launching my three new chocolate bars!
Each retailer that have invited my perfumes into their boutique have been so fantastic and I'm so fortunate to be working with these amazing business women who work so hard and so genuinely to promote local Canadian designers and artists.

And it's double the excitement with CocoaNymph, because of my collaboration with Rachel to create the three amazing chocolate bars I've been bragging and talking about in the past few weeks. So not only does Rachel make these amazing bars for me, and we had a wonderful event the other night presenting them to the world for the first time; she also took in a beautifully delicious collection of 6 of my gourmand perfumes to complement the shop and give customers in Kitsilano and Point Gray neighbourhoods access to my creations.

CocoaNymph is not like any other chocolaterie. Because of Rachel's warm and compassionate personality, stepping into the shop feels at times more like a creative gathering place. The customer service is top notch (most customers are greeted by name as they stop by for their chocolate boost). And almost every week on Friday or Saturday, there is a live band playing at the shop. And did I mention there is a grand piano there too? We had classical pianist playing during our event and it was sooo beautiful...

The following perfumes and products have joined the chocolate bars on the shelves of CocoaNymph boutique (3739 West 10th @ Alma). Most of these perfumes (except for Film Noir) are exclusive to Ayala Moriel Parfums and CocoaNymph:

Roses et Chocolat
Immortelle l'Amour
Film Noir

And besides the three amazing chocolate bars, you can also enjoy these luxurious matching products - teas and sugar scrubs:
Immortelle l'Amour tea
Roses et Chocolat tea
Guilt Sugar Scrubs
Finjan Sugar Scrubs

Stop by at the boutique to have a whiff of real, natural and uncompromising natural perfumes.
By early spring, we are also planning to launch CocoaNymph's own custom perfume. The date is not set yet, and the perfume is still in the making - but we promise it will have chocolate in it!

Special for 1st week in the shop: Purchase your favourite gourmand perfume at CocoaNymph and receive a matching chocolate bar on us!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Chocolate Fairytales

Three Chocolate Fairytales, bundled up with a ribbon. Now that's what I'd like to find in my stocking for Christmas!

The wine glasses here on appear to be empty: they were filled with each one of the perfumes that inspired our three chocolate bars. The scent permeates the cup even after it has seemingly evaporated... Yet another way to experience perfume - in a cup!

Rachel and Ayala showing off...

Chocolate squares for tasting. You can't see this very well in this photo, but the bars are decorated with botanical etching. Perfect math for the outer packaging of the bars...

Rachel serving wine to pair with the chocolates. In the forefront is one of her chocolate sculptures, which was shown at Ayden Gallery.

Smelling chocolate...

Yesterday, Rachel of CocoaNymph and me have launched our 3 scented chocolate bars that we were concocting all summer. These bars are like no other chocolate bar in the world as far as we know... They are original, refined stories told in the language of of the senses - primarily the palate and the nose, but also texture and visuals are part of the experience, as you will be able to see for yourself when you meet these bars in person.

We began our tasting with the Guilt chocolate bar, which is scented with orange blossom, wild orange and blood orange. Guilt perfume was created to celebrate all the guilty pleasures in life and I am positively certain that experiencing this bar will transform any guilty feelings you may still hold towards chocolate into sheer pleasure with none of the negative residues of this peculiar emotion... We paired it with Pinot Gris, a white wine with fruity and citrusy accents that worked beautifully to bring out all the orangey pizzazz in the bar!

The Espionage chocolate bar is probably the bar that garnered the most intense and diverse reactions from people. Not only because using smoked salt in chocolate is unheard of; but also because it has very distinct layers. Here are some quotes from people who tried Espionage chocolate bar for the first time:
"This is the taste of memories"
- Jenn, Rachel's assistant chocolatiere

"There is a party in my mouth!"
- my friend Tina

"This is a journey..."
- our customer who is an English Literature professor

"This chocolate tells a story - I'm not sure of all the details, but it certainly takes place on a train..."
- our customer Kelli)

We paired Espionage chocolate bar with a glass of Merlot with oakey undertones that complemented the smoked salt, juniper and jasmine.

And last but not least - we tasted Roses et Chocolat with a beautiful sweet and full-bodied Port. This flavour was the first truffle I've created using essential oils. It was the toughest bar to develop, and took us the most trials to nail down the winning formula that you will be tasting now. Which is not surprising - developing my truffles was a painful experience, thanks to the high doses of chilli I initially used, which literally burned my hands as I rolled them... Which is why to this day I call them "Blood Truffles". Rose is so beautiful with the chocolate and has so much depth. We used 72% cocoa for this bar, giving it a bit of a crunchier texture and a duskier flavour. The saffron and spice complement it beautifully, resulting in a truly sexy bar that I can envision many lovers enjoying in Valentine's Day....

Thank-yous and credits:
Big thank you and kudos to Terry Sunderland who designed the spectacular wrappers for our bars. Their vibrant colours really reflect the vibrant taste!

The wines served at the chocolate bar launch were courtesy of Cassandra Anderton of Good Life Libations.

Many thanks to Rachel's friend and to my mom, who have helped us with the French translation and proofreading for the bar covers. We wouldn't have been able to do this without you!

And thank you to James for playing the piano so beautifully during the evening and making our event so much more special!

Photographs by Noam Dehan

Exciting Night!

Tonight is the night I was looking forward to for months... Rachel and I will be revealing the 3 chocolate bars we've been developing, concocting and tasting together all summer. I was so excited getting everything ready last night that like a little kid before the 1st day of school - I was unable to fall asleep...

We titled our event Chocolate Fairytales, because we both have fairies in our logos and together, the bars we created, go beyond the experience of any other chocolate bar, even a spectacular one. The flavours are layered and each bar has depth and intensity yet a very subtle and elegant personality. It's as if each one of them tells a sensory story - and of course it reflects the perfumes that inspired this multi-sensory project, and the two women behind the scenes. Working on them was a true team effort and we both put our passion into these bars, both in concept and in reality (Rachel is molding the bars for tonight as I type this).

A couple of years ago, I was invited to a party where everyone were expected to read a poem in front of everyone else. The only thing I dread more than reading poems in public is reading things I wrote in public (perfume ad copy included!). I brought a bowl of my scented, hand-rolled truffles instead and when it was my turn, I exclaimed - there is my poetry. You can read it.

I hope these bars will have that kind of effect on you. And I'm thrilled that unlike the truffles, they are so much easier to store and ship. And I'm also excited to be able to continue offering my whimsical truffles in various seasonal and limited edition flavours, alongside the chocolates - so that you have more of a variety to choose from.

I will tell you all about all the WH questions regarding the chocolate bars after the launch event. I just don't want to ruin the surprise...
For now I will answer these:
How many: 3
Who made them: Rachel of CocoaNymph Chocolates & Confections, and Ayala of Ayala Moriel Parfums

And the event details:
CocoaNymph Chocolaterie
3739 W. 10th @ Alma

Tuesday, November 16th (today!)
  • Page 1 of 2
  • Page 1 of 2
Back to the top