Raspberry Streusel Coffee Cake


Summer is here and the fruit is ripe - and gets overripe before there's time to completely enjoy it... So some has to become this cake, which is one of my favourite cakes ever... It's the second week in a row that I'm making it and we have no trouble finishing it up - and thankful whenever there is a guest over to help us out!

It's super simple to make, and the best part - it smells so beautiful when it bakes - nothing quite like pastries baking when they have loads of almonds, butter and vanilla in them!

100g Melted butter 
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup flour 

Prepare the streusel by mixing together the dry ingredients, then pouring the melted butter on top. If the mixture is too moist, add more flour until crumbs have formed. Refrigerate and proceed with making the cake

For the cake: 
10 Tbs. salted butter, room temperature
2/3 Cup sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract or 1 tsp. vanilla paste
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Zest from 1 lemon
3 eggs
2 cup unbleached white flour
250-300g raspberries, fresh or frozen, tossed with 2 Tbs flour 
2 tsp. double acting baking powder, or 1 package baking powder 
1/4 cup buttermilk or sour milk 

• Use an 11 inch springform pan, lined with parchment paper.
• Cream the butter with the sugar, vanilla and almond extracts.
• Beat in eggs, one at a time.
• Sift the flour with the baking powder Beat into the egg mixture. Add the buttermilk and mix well.
• Toss in the dusted raspberries (flouring them first ensures that they won't sink to the bottom; if using frozen ones, let them thaw a little bit before adding the flour, so that it actually sticks to their outsides and covers them).
• Spread the batter into the baking pan.
• Bake at 350°F for 30-40 minutes, or until a knife or toothpick inserted in the middle comes out pretty clean (as long as you don’t insert it through the fruit!)
• While the cake is baking, prepare the Raspberry Sauce. 

For the raspberry sauce:
250g raspberries
160g powdered sugar
2 Tbs Créme de Cassis liquor 
Juice from 1 lemon (about 2Tbs)
Blitz in a food processor until smooth. Keep refrigerated.

To serve:
This raspberry torte is best served on the day of or the next day at the most (if it will last at all!). Serve it warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and drizzle the raspberry sauce all over it.
Or, serve at room temperature with a  dollop of whipped cream and drizzle with the raspberry sauce as well.

Raspberry Coffee Cake

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! 

Super Summer Scents 2013

Banana Beach Treat by Ayala Moriel
Banana Beach Treat, a photo by Ayala Moriel on Flickr.
Wherever I go, this summer is HOT. No matter how you slice it, cooling off is a constant desire that's not easy to fulfill. Some scents help, though, and especially these ones, which I have also taken on my sudden travels to the Mediterranean region.

Vanille Banane
Nostalgia at its best, by Comptoir Sud Pacifique: This fragrance reminds me of purchasing a chocolate-banana ice cream bar at the beach, right by the water from one of those vendors with ice boxes that walk the shores trying to entice parents to shell out prime cash for the privilege of eating it right there and then. The salty wind and the direct sunlight would make it melt rapidly, of course, and trickle down the toddlers hands and arms and eventually drop into the sand where they will languidly rest and become a thing of the past.

So Fresh, So Clean
The perfume oil version of Open Source Soap bar of the same name. This beautifully refreshing yet quirky scent combines fresh green notes such as galbanum, lemon and juniper with unexpected notes of mimosa, jasmine and vetiver, creating a fresh yet intriguing fragrance that is a modern twist on an Eau de Cologne.

Florida Water
Minty geranium, citrus and spice make this cologne unique, and oh so American. Buy it when you get your tortillas in your town's Latin grocery store, or make your own from the recipes I've quoted from Poucher earlier this month.

Patchouli Magique by Novaya Zarya
Surprisingly, patcouli based perfumes fair very well in unbearably hot climates. There is something strangely rejuvenating about this earthy note, not quite as cooling as vetiver, but still. This summer, Patchouli Magique is the star of my travel wardrobe.

Five by Bruno Fazzolari
Five brings forth the briskness of mint mingled with orange, cedar and oakmoss. Copious amounts of jasmine-y hedione brings to mind the iconic Eau Sauvage. More on the masculine side, which makes one wish men would wear cologne more often when it's so sticky outside.

Osmanthe Yunnan 
Hardly ever do I reach for this pale, transparent scent. "Invisible" is the word that comes to mind first when I try to describe it, which is rather disappointing from an osmanthus-lover point of view! However, in the heat of the humid Tel Aviv summer, it's iced-tea coolness provides a veil of sanity amidst the smog, sweat and other impolite scents one inevitably encounters on the streets.

Un Jardin Apres la Mousson
Cantaloupes are particularly fragrant this year in Israel, and we've even discovered the equivalent cheese pairing to watermelon and feta: Pecorino and cantaloupe. Try it and enjoy a mini trip to heaven. Un Jardin Apres la Mousson has become a summer staple for me over the years, since it was launched in 2008. I've had a long break from it though, and am  now back with renewed enthusiasm for its sticky melon paired with cool spicy notes of ginger and coriander and a tinge of wet vetiver. It's quite delightful and has a cooling effect in the heat and humidity, which is most welcome.

Summer Travel Wardrobe

Le Parfum de Thérèse
There is a prime example of how an obvious fruity notes (melon and under-ripe plum) can be played elegantly and without impinging on the perfume's elegance and abstract beauty. It's permanently sitting in my emergency kit in case I need to go away to a desert island unexpectedly...

Eau d'Orange Vert
This one is a scent that always makes me feel clean, instilling a sense of relaxed well-being and calm amidst the dust, grime and sweat that strikes cities of hot climate. Having this on hand ensures an instant crisply ironed white shirt feel anywhere, anytime. 

Tropical, exotic floriental that's together is a few of my favourite things: jasmine green tea, osmanthus flowers, spearmint and a smooth woody-ambery base.

No. 19 
Surprisingly, the Eau de Toilette formulation lends itself very well to hot weather without losing its poise. If you need to attend a formal event in the dog days of summer, consider this timeless composition of austere quality: iris, vetiver, leather, jasmine, rose, lemon and galbanum.

Aveda #4: Key Element Air
With notes of rose, jasmine and ylang ylang this is bound to be the most luxurious of all the Aveda catalog of non-descript numeral titles. It's floral yet light (at least in the alcohol based formulation) and is a simple celebration of jasmine and rose.

Savage Water Soap Bar 
Another bathing gem by Open Source Soap, this is a refreshing melange of verbena, basil, patchouli and jasmine. It's marvelously substantial yet refreshing and like everything that comes from the hands of Shuyler Corry - the talented soapmaker of Open Source Soap - it's very well made from quality materials and does more than it's being asked to do: it doubles as a soap, shaving cream and shampoo!

Balancing sweet, tart and aromatic - Etrog is my own little contribution to the world of "eaux".

How is your summer coming along? And how are you coping with the heat scent-wise?

What Summer?

Summer 2012 by Ayala Moriel
Summer 2012, a photo by Ayala Moriel on Flickr.

It's not summer unless you get slightly sunburned at least once without trying (not happeneing...); scraped by an underwater rock (check); and nearly get ran over by a boat (check and check!). While the last two happened, this summer was so ridiculous that the corn and cherries didn't ripen till about 3 weekends ago, there is a painful absence of red peppers, and the lineups for the tomatoes are nearly as long as that to the Madame Tussauds museum in London.

And since there was hardly any summer to speak of this year, reiterating the "best of summer 2012" seems to be a completely meaningless act. Yup, it's just about as bad as last year...!
And even going through my "summer themed" perfumes did not seem to work too well in coaxing the summer out of its shell; or making it stick around any longer. I think we got about 20 days of real summer at best; and this seems to be over already - before the school year has even began, there is that nippy morning chill in the air, and I've already had to wear socks and shoes one evening to keep my toes cozy.

I'll do my best though to do a little round up of whatever summer goodness I was able to snatch while it passed through here, barely touching the inhabitants of this town. Keep in mind that as always, this list is completely personal and has very little to do with new offerings on the market or any other hidden agenda.

While in past years I've been known for being as far as possible from being a scent monogamist of any sort - constantly rotating between scents, trying new things as they come along and as the mood strikes me, and being very eager to try new perfumes; In the past 3 years I've been in a long cycle of wearing mostly just my own creations. It's interesting how personal life changing events affect our emotional state and how that is reflected in anything from choice of colours to scents. In summer 2009, my mother has become very ill - it was a life threatening event at the point and I don't even want to go back to tell you what an awful experience it has been to all of us. But I will happily share the news that her recovery - though not fast - is complete; and she is happier than I've ever seen her before and was able to overcome what seemed impossible and regain and reclaim back her life and freedom. Amen to that! What an inspiring woman and full of surprises my mother is.

But this event have put me in an emotional roller-coaster which took a long gradual recovery from: Most of the commercial and synthetic-laden scents have been very unattractive to me, and I was definitely not going to wear anything that I was wearing at the time of the bad news... And it's only time and inspirational people and moments along the way that got me out of that rut. I still do prefer to wear my own perfumes, but at long last I'm curious again about other perfumes and don't feel as if they are taking up my lungs when I wear them.

The emotional stuff aside, I was also experiencing a sort of a burn-out from all the bombardment of new releases, which I more often than not - found to be quite disappointing. These are probably the two main reasons and explanation for why you could find very few new scent reviews on SmellyBlog in the last 3 years.

And as to why things are picking up again on SmellyBlog (at least on the perfume review front) is in many ways thanks to the inspiring encounter with all the fabulous perfumers and perfumistas at the Artisan Fragrance Salon. And most significantly - to reading Alyssa Harad's book launch and reading "Coming To My Senses" this summer, which revived and renewed my interest in vintage perfumes and perfume collecting in general; reminding me why I love perfume so much (not from the creator's point of view - thankfully non of that was lost in that traumatic summer!). I think her book is an amazing exploration of how scent relates to our lives and how it can connect people from different time zones, eras and cultural background; connect them on a very primal emotional level and at the same time there is no shortage of intellectual intrigue and cultural celebration while doing so.

So here comes my list of summery sensations and scent related beauties to enjoy and celebrate and remember this summer by (though more often than not, you will find me enveloped in one of my own scents - Orcas, New Orleans and Etrog being the most prominent this past spring and summer, and the new Treazon which is not due to come out till December but is already well stocked and bottled; but waiting for the new labels and packaging to be complete; for now you can order samples of it though):

Wildflower discovery:
Pearly everlasting.
Beautiful in and out - this flower has a soft, warm, spicy herbaceous scent, more deliacate than other helicrysums that I've smelled.
Pearly Everlasting

Favourite Summer Flowers:

Sweet peas and Angel's Trumpets. Both of which smell a lot like heliotropin and anisaldehyde.
And lots and lots of linden... It's not summer in Vancouver without a lot of it in the air!
Angel's Trumpet (Datura)

Note to obsess about:
I agree, not the first note that comes to mind when the word "summer" pops out; but it hasn't really been summer yet...

Best Beach Scent:
Narcotic Flower by 1000FLOWERS. Make it my favourite white floral of the summer as well!

Best Citrus Splash:
Eau d'Orange Verte is becoming a summer staple (when the weather cooperates) and I've been immensely enjoying Artemisia's Yuzu Citrus. And, of course - there was a lot of my new Etrog Oy de Cologne!

Summer Evening Scent:
Omniscent by Yosh

Soliflore Discovery:
Sweet William by Ineke. I didn't even know till now that sweet william is a type of carnation. Always something to be learned!

Spicy Surrpise:
Santal de Mysore - though I would have liked to smell a tad more sandalwood in it...

Favourite Scented Body Product:
Persephenie's Linden Blossom Dry Body & Hair Oil.
With it's subtle yet delicious notes of coconut and lime, Linden Blossom Dry Oil is a mouthwatering tropical treat. Spray all over the body for a non-greasy and non-clogging oil based moisturizer, or spray some on your finger tips to style and condition frizzy hair. It will keep it shiny yet not greasy and is perfect for dry or curly hair.

Surprise of the Summer (aka the 180 twist of faith):

. I think I actually like you better in the heat!
(Note to self: Seriously, Angel?!!)

Favourite Masculine Fragrance:
A*Men. Man, I love the coffee note in this scent!

Summer Read:
"Coming to my Senses" by Alyssa Harad.

Summer Cocktail:
Kir Royale and Midnight Violet

Midnight Violet Cocktail

Food Discovery:
Fresh tamarind pods, which taste delicious on their own; and using watermelon in a salad! Thanks to Alyssa Harad's tip (via Facebook), I've been making my own version with heirloom tomatoes, sweet onion, Macedonian feta cheese and lots of crisp fresh basil. All you need is a little drizzle of olive oil on top, and a few drops of balsamic vinegar.

Champagne Peach & Thyme

But, I think the most profound food discovery this summer is using surprising fruit and herb combinations. I've really enjoyed the fruit & herb scented kombucha that Lisa Camasi brought to the party at Laurie Stern's home (more about that later); and have really enjoyed white peaches with fresh thyme, for example.

Vintage Discovery:
l'Aimant by Coty. I'm shocked at how modern it smells (very much a skin-musk, from sometime in the 60's). Reviews of all of these 4 to come soon!

Vintage Coty Parfum de Toilette set

Reason why I'm ok it will be fall in a few minutes:
Forest Walk by Sonoma Scent Studio. Certainly something to look forward to!
And don't get me wrong: I LOVE fall. I just like it better when there is a little bit of summer beforehand. It certainly makes the crisp air and fallen leaves seem more magical if there is a teeny tiny heat wave at some point in July or August.
Anyway, I will be looking forward to forest walks in Stanley Park and collecting fallen leaves while enrobed in this veil of foresty, musty and ambery perfume. It's very realistic and beautifully done.
Forest Walk (Sonoma Scent Studio)

Event of the summer:
Artisan Fragrance Salon (in case it's not obvious already...).

Challenge for this summer:
New packaging design for Ayala Moriel Parfums. I'm happy to report that there is huge progress and if all goes well, come fall I will have a lot to show you!

Trio for Nicole Bridger

Achievement of the summer:
Trio of perfumes curated for Nicole Bridger is now at their flagship boutique on 4th!
Including Bon Zai, Moon Breath and Palas Atena. Hope you like the new labels as much as I do :-)

Focus this summer:
Teaching, teaching and more teaching!
And I hope there will be even more of that come fall. This coming year is dedicated to turn my teaching into a more widely distributed book. And since it can never hurt to ask for help: if you know anyone who is really in the know in the publishing world (e-Publishing included) I would love to hear from you!
California stats

In lieu of Monkey Monday's giveaway, leave a comment with your best of summer scents and sensations; and you will get entered to win a copy of my Foundation of Natural Perfumery Course Handbook*

*Please note, this will not include any correspondence consultations sessions, only the book itself. But I hope that it will be a great motivation for the lucky winner to study perfumery in more depth in the future!

Summer is here! Yay!

Summer is finally here at long last (well, the Vancouver version of it, featuring a rare sunrise and temperatures kissing the recommended room-level).
To celebrate, miss T and I are making raw coconut macaroons, and our busy schedule hasn't allowed us to go for an official summer picnic yet, but this will have to come in good time too. Not just because I'm crushed that I can't find any Hail Merry macaroons anywhere (and they don't ship to Canada); but also because there are too many vegans/gluten-free guests at my tea party (this fad has become a staple fashion item among Vancouverites - it's so stylish to be picky about food, not that this would scare me...).

So here it is for you - a very rough recipe, because honestly, you need to trust your fingertips to figure the right consistency of these heavenly unbaked treats.

1/4 cup virgin coconut oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 cups dried, unsweetened coconut
1 cup almond meal (blanched, ground almonds)
1 tsp Haitian vanilla extract
1/4 tsp fleur de sel or sea salt of your choice

If you live in Vancouver, begin by melting your coconut oil (if you live somewhere where there's real summer, coconut should not be solid at the end of June...). Add maple and vanilla and stir, gradually mixing in the almond meal, salt and coconut. When you can no longer stir with a spoon, start kneading with your bare hands. Form into neat little balls - either the size of chocolate truffles, or small macaroons.
You may eat them as they are, or refrigerate for a more firm texture (refrigerating is especially a good idea if you live in a warm climate, with real summer, you get the idea...).
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