Friday, 31 May 2013

Blogging blues

Some regular visitors to my blog over the years may have noticed my output dropping significantly over the last few months.

Not that I need to reassure you, but I am still around, albeit intermittently at present. I wish I could blame this solely on work commitments, as I have done in the past, but if I'm being honest, the 'muse' has deserted me somewhat, such as I can pretend to have a muse of sorts. The long and short of it is that I am not feeling particularly motivated to blog and I'd rather not force it just for the sake of being 'seen' on the internet. 

I'm still very interested in perfume, and nothing has changed on that front, but I suppose a combination of work, family life, distractions like going through the process of becoming a British citizen, plus general tiredness and malaise has contributed to my unreliable posting.

Fear not, I shall return!

Thursday, 23 May 2013

On becoming British, Sartorially

Today my wife and I attended our UK Citizenship ceremony in Maidstone, Kent's county town.

I won't bore you with the details of our journey to becoming British citizens (but it has been quite a long process), but it is a proud moment in our lives.

In keeping with being British, today I wore a perfume from a quintessentially British perfume House, Sartorial by Penhaligons. It's a very masculine perfume, with plenty of lavender, musk, woods and a hint of leather. Some people would perhaps call it a bit old-fashioned, suited to an older gentleman, and while this is a thoroughly modern creation, I can see why some may think that. It is essentially a modern take on that staple of men's perfumery, the fougere. Call me fanciful, but I could see this being the choice of a modern James Bond (Daniel Craig).

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

A foodie diversion

I usually write about perfume, but actually, a long time before I became obsessed with perfume, I was a bit of a foodie, as pretentious as that may seem.

To give you an idea of how much I loved food (and actually, I still do love food, I just don't       talk about it as much as I used to) I even went so far, in 2002, to enroll in a chef's course, which in the UK is called NVQ level 1, the first step towards becoming a chef. However, I quickly realised that a chef starting on the bottom rung, at the age of 28, is no place to be, and accountancy pays a lot better, generally, so although I completed the course, and loved it, I never took it further.

The course was a proper introduction to cooking, classic French style, and I learned to make pastry, fillet and cook fish, make various stocks, bone chickens, make creme anglaise, souffles, choux pastry, etc, etc. The list goes on.

It's probably no surprise then that I used to cook a lot at home, and used to entertain a fair amount as well, but a side effect of my food passion was that I tended to be too fussy in what I cooked, verging on pretension, at least I think so. The dinner parties were nice, but it was a bit of showing off too, which I grew tired of. I also found that to indulge a passion for food can be quite expensive, particularly when trying to impress. I also used to own a lot of cookery books, and in fact, I still enjoy reading cookery books, but very often take them out from the library instead.

However, what really slowed down my food passion was having kids. All of a sudden our time (my wife and I) was at a premium and we were overtaken by sleepless nights, fatigue, nappy changes, and possibly most telling, budgetary constraints!

What has happened over the years is that I have become more frugal in my cooking approach. I still like to cook, but I now tend to buy old fashioned cuts of meat, and like to cook them long and slow. I use a lot of beans. I make my own stocks. I buy whole chickens and joint them, rather than buying individual pieces, which are far more expensive. I also like to buy better quality meat, but use less of it, maximising flavour.

As our children grow older, we tend to have, as a family, a bit more time, and thus I find I am able to cook a bit more again. I am trying to introduce my children to more adventurous tastes and I think generally they eat very well.

This weekend I ended up cooking a lot more than usual. On Sunday morning I cooked omelettes for breakfast, but mixed it up a bit by including ricotta cheese, spring onions and a bit of fresh coriander. They were light, fluffy, and very yummy. I also made a pasta, very simple actually, mixed with fried bread crumbs, pine nuts, feta cheese and basil. Our main dinner on Sunday was a pot roast of shoulder of lamb with aubergine and Greek cheese (a bit like haloumi).

Finally, this week I have decided to make confit of duck, which I've never tried before. I'll let you know how it turned out. So far all I have done is prepare the duck legs, which need to sit in the fridge overnight and cure slightly. I've put the duck legs in a dish, sprinkled with lots of salt, pepper, and thyme. Tomorrow I will remove the legs, wipe them down and remove all the 'marinade' ingredients, place them in a pot, cover with goose fat and then cook on as low a heat as possible, for at least three hours. The idea is that the duck legs cool in the fat and are preserved, as long as they are covered in fat. When it comes to the dish itself, you remove a couple of legs, wipe off excess fat, and fry until the skin is crispy. The duck is then served with beans, which have been cooked in a little stock and lardons of bacon. Seems pretty yum to me!

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Parfums De Nicolai - Weekend a Deauville

Regular readers of my blog will probably know of my slightly uncomfortable relationship with the De Nicolai perfumes. Of those I've tried, I've experienced a viscerally bad reaction, verging on nausea. I must add that this is not necessarily a reflection of the perfumes themselves; indeed, many people are great fans of the perfumes and perhaps it is just an unfortunate skin chemistry thing with me.

On a more positive note, Weekend a Deauville does not react badly with me at all. On the contrary, it behaves well on my skin and I like it. Luckyscent lists the notes as bergamot, petitgrain, galbanum, lily of the valley, rose, mimosa, pink pepper, pepper, clove, oakmoss and styrax. The perfume is green, no doubt about it, but not austere at all. It is fairly light, laid back and reminiscent of the smell of grass, as in being in a meadow, at least as I perceive it.

There is a touch of spice to Weekend a Deauville, and a nice floral touch from the lily of the valley and rose, but it is not that feminine on my skin. It smells like a day in the countryside, on a late spring day, verging on hot, but not quite there yet.

In short, this is a lovely fragrance and a clear winner to me.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

SOTD - Micallef Royal Vintage

Just a quick one today. I randomly wore Micallef's Royal Vintage today. I've written about it fairly recently. It is quite masculine, smells good, but perhaps a touch on the conservative side. Musk, leather, patchouli, cypress and bergamot. Oh yes, and pink berry. You can't really go wrong with it though.

Monday, 6 May 2013

A tale of three citruses

The past few days have seen glorious weather in England and I've therefore felt compelled to break out the more summery/spring like fragrances in my collection.

I wore Miller Harris Citron Citron on Saturday, Diptyque's L'eau de Neroli on Sunday and Serge Lutens Fleurs de Citronnier today. 

Citron Citron was quite unusual. It starts with a fairly fresh and citrus top, then gradually dries down to an almost chypre base, without ever quite achieving it. It certainly is interesting.

L'eau de Neroli is the most predictable of the three and a typical cologne that requires generous application. It smells nice and refreshing, perfect for a warm day, but is very simple and well executed. Does what it says on the tin.

Fleurs de Citronnier is the most complex of the three and has the best lasting power, as one would expect from a Lutens. It is also far more than just a citrus scent. There is a lovely floral heart and a gorgeous musky dry down that appeals to me every time. A fantastic fragrance that comes highly recommended, and the winner for me.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Quality or quantity?

I'm not going to name any names here, because there are a lot of perfume houses guilty of this, but what is it with all these new houses (are they new, I don't always know) that launch and feel they need to start with a dozen, or sometimes even two dozen perfumes?

It's almost as if they feel they need to reach a critical mass in the market, or have a body of proof, the proof of the pudding being scores of perfumes, often with obscure French names that nobody remembers?

I for one can't keep up with all of this and increasingly I'm inclined to gloss over these launches.

Rather give me one great, memorable new classic, well thought out and inspired.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

SOTD - the smell of (fresh) air

No, its not some fabulous new perfume from a new niche line, designed to smell like nothing, or nothing worth writing about, anyway.

Rather, I didn't wear any perfume today, and as I was stuck in the office for most of it, the air was not particularly fresh.

If you are wondering about my slightly pithy post, I had one of those days at work where nothing seemed to go right, then it ended with a rather sour client meeting, the sort where upon leaving, I felt less confident about our relationship than before I went in, which is never a good thing.

Actually, I'm rather glad I didn't wear perfume today because I seem to be that sort of person who develops negative (and positive) associations with perfume very easily.


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