Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Perfect Scent

I have on occasion seen macaron flavors listed as parfum at the patisserie. Other times they're called savours.
Don't these macarons look jewel-like? bottles of parfums?
French pastry and French perfume are not unrelated. There is an exotic quality, and an essentially French aesthetic to the visual and sensory experience of both that can not be denied
Perfume seems to be the ideal Valentines day gift and yet how to choose?
The mysteries of perfume and it's creation are explored in such depth in Chandler Burr's The Perfect Scent, that I can't leave the house without this book. The French invented perfume or perhaps one should say took it to a higher level starting with the reign of Louis XIV and the adventure continues
Burr takes you to the flower fields of Grasse and the secretive exclusive factories that produce the rare ingredients of today's perfumes. Jean-Claude Ellena, now chief perfumer at Hermès and creator of the breathtaking Un Jardin Sur le Nil, grew up in Grasse in a family of perfumers. His story is tightly interwoven into The Perfect Scent

I stopped wearing perfume when I started shooting at the James Beard Foundation. I was told scent interfered with the aromas of food

Yet Burr tells of a group of "Gourmand" perfumes that are food related. Perfumes redolent of caramel, French mint, Brazilian cacao, Peruvian pink peppercorn, Indian saffron, fresh ginger, grapefruit, pink peppercorn, even just-baked bread. Burr even hosts 6-course "Scent dinners" where reknown chefs mingle flavors and scents in a new way

Burr says,"Guerlain's legendary 1925 Shalimar is built on vanilla, arguably its greatest example of a gourmand perfume...the velvety, succulent Ambre Narguilé, by Hermès, smells like caramel and subtle, nutty banana; Délices de Cartier, is a delicately fruity confection; and Aqua Allègoria Pamplelune, also by Guerlain, a delicious grapefruit scent." The words alone feed your senses

I promise you will be as enthralled by The Perfect Scent. It helps you go out and experience perfumes in a more knowledgeable, sophisticated way. A how-to for choosing for yourself the best scents

Old style perf bottle.

Choices, choices...but such pleasureable ones. Burr has a wonderful way with words and it's well worth following his Scent Notes at the New York Times.
0*=do not enhale
**=nice effort
***=good juice


  1. Cynthia9:40 AM

    Wonderful the bottles lined up in a row like that...a study in perspective maybe,,,and the little "pupster"...toooo cute in that chic sweater!!!
    Your blog is sooo much fun!

  2. I love perfumes, and am still searching out the perfect one for me to wear forever. Right now, I vascillate between a few--but always French, bien sur. Rose is a cutie.

  3. Miam miam... I am drooling here.. must check out that book now too...sigh...rampant sensualists the French...d'accord...and it makes total sense to me...:)

  4. Vickie, Rose's Mother11:42 AM

    Once again, Rose is honored!
    She loves reading all the nice

  5. Gah this makes me miss Paris!

  6. Foodwalker11:55 AM

    I love to ride in elevators in expensive hotels and just smell. Oh, all the lovely perfumes.
    I rarely wear them because they interfer with wine and food. But I do love them.
    One that I wear occassionally: Te Verte by Bulgari. Also: Jo Malone's basil,mango, lime. Um. bothe related to my food world.

  7. that's called "sillage" in the biz- the waft or aroma that comes after...

  8. Is it a scratch and sniff book ?:)

  9. Carol , you made me remember, l love Shalimar and when l went on a tour in Paris to a perfume museum - we had long slips of paper that they put perfume on, it was fantastic.
    l asked for Shalimar but they had none so ended up with Fendi. If it still operates have a look your you will love it.
    They make perfume for all the major brands and get everything from Grasse, don't miss it,

  10. I wrote about that perfume museum
    those papers are called touche-it's all in the book

  11. I loved your Perfect Scent this morning. If you like books about perfume you would probably love this novel: Perfume, The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind if you have not already read it. It is a bit weird and dark but I loved it. It is the strange story of a man born in the slums of Paris in the 18th century who grows up to have an amazing sense of smell. It is an older book so I'm not sure if it is out of print but if you'd like I can loan it to you.
    We will be on our way to Paris for a week in March. Yes, I know a week is not very long but it is certainly better than a week here in cold Boston. To be sure, we will be sampling macarons!
    Let me know about the book,

  12. That Rose looks like one sweet doggie!

  13. This delicious post makes me wonder how would taste a Chanel N°5 macaron?!!!
    Using "parfum" is very common in french to speak about something edible, ice ceam for example, I hadn't realized it before!!!
    Emma (craving for macaroons now!)

  14. Beautiful photos, Carol - great shots of the bottles and the macarons.

  15. Must get that book! Thanks for the info and lovely photos - sometimes the parfum bottle/packaging is as exciting as the juice inside! Un Jardin sur le Nile: it's my secret weapon!! I love it so much, and it always reminds me of a wonderful trip to NY, where my husband and I first discovered it, thanks to a kind and enthusiastic sales associate at Barneys.

  16. I have worn only 3 parfums in my time...started with Shalimar, moved on to Opium and now wear Coco (NOT Coco Mademoiselle!)...all French! You must be right!

  17. I would like to smell like the Caramel Macaron! Love all the pics of the pastries and the parfums. Great post. I always thought that scents interfered with taste, so its interesting to read about these parties that combine the two.
    Very enlightening post as always...merci!

  18. Merci 1000 fois for this wonderful escapade...As I was going to bed with my lecture du jour ' the perfect scent' , I decided to check you blog before bedtime..And I am so glad I did..I felt back home!!!!

  19. I loved the Perfumes entry of Paris Breakfasts!

    What is your favorite(s) scent?

    Mine is Bluebell by Penhaligon!

  20. I don't know any more Linda...that's why I'm reading this book
    I have to go explore :)

  21. Very classy way to present sweets, must be Paris!

    Oh, Rose is my kind of dog:
    Shopping at Annick Goutal! Simpathica!

    Wonder whether she got my favorite, "Les Nuits d'Hadrien" although I could imagine her preferring the more citrussy Eau d'Hadrien.

  22. I agree with Renee,
    Patrick Süskind's novel "Parfume" is definitely a must-read! I have not seen the movie (yet), but my Süskind-loving daughters have. They enjoyed the visuals, but would urge you to read the book first, if only to envision your own pictures first.

    Bonne fin de semaine! :-)

  23. I know from past experience about wearing perfume around the culinary industry as being forbidden. That's why its interesting to see "fragrances" and "menus" being intertwined.
    I have a friend in the fragrance industry and they call her "the nose" which makes me giggle.
    But it's amazing how she can interpret every scent. Wish I had that capability.

  24. Vickie (Rose's Mom)1:11 PM

    Merisi, Rose prefers Eau d'Hadrien!

  25. Goodness, there is a lot of worthwhile perf info HERE!

  26. Anonymous4:27 AM

    Please keep up the great work Yanksi River


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