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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Foodie Thursday: Meat

By Tom

Sorry, things got away from me this week so perfume review.

I did have a friend ask me out to dinner, naming several places in the area. I chose a place in the Beverly Center I could walk to and met my friend. The restaurant is one of the many in the area that specializes in beef (It's interesting that considering the California reputation for eating tofu and air and Hollywood's reputation for saying "hold the tofu" that there would be so many of these places clustered within or just outside of Beverly Hills, but there you go, another myth shattered.)

It was restaurant week in Los Angeles, and this place had an inexpensive Prix Fixe deal on a small filet mignon. Now, I don't eat meat very often- it's usually served at some event honoring someone or another that I get an invitation to as everybody's back-up husband (I'm not complaining.) I know it's not the best thing in the world for you so I don't order it often.

But oh was this good: done the way I love it seared on the outside and almost raw on the inside. Since it was only about 3 or 4 inches in diameter, I didn't even feel the meat coma I sometimes do after a big helping of it.

Do you eat meat? What's your favorite? Or do you not indulge? Feel that it's morally wrong? Don't like it? So let me know in the comments.

Image: Wikipedia

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Rerun: Vero Profumo Kiki and Ribj

By Tom

Since Donna got to try the new formulation of master perfumer Vero Kern's scents, I thought I'd repost my take on the original perfume strength formulas.

As you know from last weeks post, lovely and generous Gaia, the Non-Blonde sent me a sampler of Vero Perfumes wares. I've already covered onda, this week the two others in the line.

Lavender is an accord in perfumes that is second only to Rose in it's beauty when done well, and utter horrific trashiness when done ill: for every scent like Tauer's Reverie Au Jardin or Lutens Encens et Lavande there's some godawful Love's Lavendery LustBat or worse yet, Renuzit Lavender Glade.

Thank goodness not only is the lavender in kiki not only first rate, but it's paired with a creamy sweetness that for all the world reminds me of Macarons, those fantastic French wonders made from egg whites and filled with buttercream. There's a fresh fruitiness to it as well, that makes me think of ripe mango, but never gets even slightly overpowering. At the base of it is that tanned-flesh sort of musk that I am hopelessly in thrall to, not only because the only tan I can ever achieve still falls under the heading "ghostly pale" (those of you who've seen me: that's 20 years in LA, mostly without sunblock). All of this reads as horrific, and if it were put out by
98% of the companies out there that are stocking your local Sephora, it easily could be. As it is kiki is an absolute delight from beginning to end.

rubj is clearly after bigger game: white flower lovers take note. Orange blossoms open the scent, seemingly spiked with a bit of the peel. Soft jasmine and sweet tuberose join in and an earthy musk grounds it, but the whole thing never gets to that in-your-face stage that other tuberose scents can go to. There's something blameless to it thats both innocent and shockingly sensual at the same time. Fracas for instance walks right up and grabs you by the.... lapels. rubj (I am using lower-case since the packaging does) seems more content to let you come to it, and come you shall.

These are available at the Vero Perfume website

Vero herself was kind enough to write me to let me know that indeed there isn't mint in onda, even if that was the way it came out on my skin, and also to tell that her perfumes will soon be released in the US, perhaps in September. Wonderful news indeed! (Of course you know that these are available in the US at Luckyscent)

Image: Luckyscent

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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Precious gem with a heart of fire: Vero Profumo Rubj

By Donna

Swiss master perfumer Vero Kern releases fragrances at about the pace of a sea turtle on dry land, so when she does introduce something new, everyone pays attention. In the case of Rubj, which has been around since 2007, the recent interest was centered around the launch of a new formulation for the entire Vero Profumo line (all four of them!) called Voile d' Extrait, more intense than the Eau de Parfum but not as concentrated as the pure Parfum. I had smelled the Eau de Parfum of Rubj from a sample only a short time before I tried the Voile d' Extrait, and I was enchanted by them both. This was something really different, a white floral like no other, striking and almost angular. That is not a description that would fit most white floral fragrances, which although they may be powerful are most often pillowy, diffuse and sweet. This one is highly focused and intense in a different way.

It might seem odd to describe a white floral as “fierce” (with the possible exception of the notorious Tubéreuse Criminelle of course) but that's exactly the vibe I get from Rubj. It's haughty, poised, dramatic, a flamenco dancer swirling her skirts and stomping her feet who does not care what you think, she is going to do what she wants. The descriptions I have read speak of sweet florals, but it may be the least sweet fragrance of this style I have ever smelled, and not because it's soapy either, since it's not that way at all. One thinks of chypres as the go-to scents of intimidation and perfume “armor” but Rubj would be a perfect choice for those occasions when a brave front is required. It emanates more warmth than seems possible for a white floral, and it's not the cuddly kind. It radiates steadily, powerfully and for a very long time. I always wondered why it was given the name of a red precious stone, but now I see that it fits, because it is like a deep glowing ember throwing off a low but persistent heat, fascinating all who are within its range. It's hard to turn away from even a banked fire.

How this effect is accomplished I have no idea, but instead of the normal sweet, soapy orange blossom, it seems to be pared down to its pure essence somehow, with all the hazy romance stripped away, leaving only the sunlit brilliance, and the gorgeous Egyptian jasmine it is paired with is devoid of puffy clouds and innocence and hits mostly the lower notes, though it's not really what I would call a “dirty” jasmine, it's most certainly all grown up, and a deep hearty musk in the base bolsters that effect. The true nature of Rubj is a stealth weapon that gradually takes over until you realize that you are wearing a really big perfume, room-filling and assertive, but never, ever vulgar, quite the opposite. It is simply formidable, and it makes me want to be the kind of person who can wear it with ease and confidence. If one must be worn by one's fragrance, I can't think of a better candidate than Rubj, and I will continue to strive to be worthy of it.

Image credit: Fashion illustration by American artist Maxwell Coburn Whitmore Jr. (1913-1988) via
Disclosure: Rubj Voile d'Extrait is in my personal perfume collection.

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Cédrat Envirant by Atelier Cologne

By Tom

Atelier Cologne popped up a few years ago with several fragrances that I really liked, but never got around to purchasing. For a "cologne" they are rather strong and relatively long-lasting (which is in no way a negative). This one is supposed to be built around lemon and gin notes.

Now gin and lemon are something I love- in a glass filled with shaved on a hot summer day, preferably served poolside. I'm not sure that I really need to smell like gin and lemon though, if only to avoid breathalyzer tests..

However, Cédrat Envirant manages to spare me that because at least on me it smells more like grapefuit that lemon and I don't get the gin. I get a really pretty grapefruit complete with peel and pith, then the mint and bergamot come in, then the tonka and vetiver. As with other Atelier Colognes, the lasting power is very good, especially for a "cologne" and the prices are even reasonable. Will I buy? Maybe when summer comes around- I like to be wearing heavier stuff in winter, even if it's about 80º in LA today. Hey, I'm in an air conditioned office..

Notes (from LuckyScent): Moroccan cedrat, Mexican lime, Calabrian bergamot, Chinese mint, Egyptian basilica, Macedonian juniper, Brazilian tonka bean, Haitian vetiver, and Phillipine elemi.

Cédrat Envirant comes in three sizes: 30ML for $65, 100ML for $105 and the massive 200ML for $170. I assume at Neiman Marcus and Barney's as well as Aedes and LuckyScent. My sample was asked for and given at ScentBar.

Image Credit: LuckyScent


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Foodie Sunday : Lunch at Bergdorfs and a Rendezvous with A Vagabond Prince!

By Beth Schreibman Gehring

Hello everyone! It's been such a long time since I've been here and I've missed you all so much!  Happy New Year!  2013 is gone and I fervently hope that 2014 brings you everything that your heart desires and more. I spent the day before New Years eve  in New York City, doing as I always do, wandering from store to store ,  sniffing away blissfully and deciding just how much to put myself into debt before I leave.  I began my journey at Bergdorfs which is always a problem for my wallet! So be it….Christmas comes but once a year! 

Alas, something was off  that day and I couldn't for the life of me figure out what it was. I walked from counter to counter and was seduced by multiple ambers , ouds, figs and woods but I just couldn't commit to one of them. I even got a chance to try the almost mythological proportioned Muguet by Guerlain that comes out only once year. I loved it but still there was no spark, no instant chemistry that said, "go ahead, you know you want to!" I figured that I must be coming down with something as that could be the only excuse for my indecisiveness! 

 I went to find Jim who was seated in the café  just waiting for me and enjoying a melon cooler. Actually he was on his third, that's how long he waited for me.  He's so patient, such a good man.  We had a wonderful lunch  of sweet pea soup , wild mushrooms and truffles on puff pastry and a delightful crab and lobster salad.  I kept smelling my arm, but I have to say that it was the first time ever that I've left Bergdorfs without a purchase. Anyone who knows me will tell you that this is almost unheard of. I was scattering my ashes on the 7th floor of Bergdorfs  long before the movie of the same name was even a twinkle in the producers eye.   Yes,  everyone in my family knows that I'm serious and if they don't honor my wishes there will be hell to pay. I leave it to them to figure out all of the details! 

We left and  went to the Apple store and then we decided that Jim would wander over to  Club Macanudo for a cigar and a drink , while I continued to hunt down a new perfume . We kissed and parted with a promise to meet later for a drink and off I went. I went back to Bergdorfs , still nothing. I wandered through Tiffany's and then headed to Henri Bendel. I pushed through the crowds , no easy feat that day and managed to wend my way up to the mezzanine level where I discovered that the perfume section had been completely moved since the last time I'd been there.  I sniffed through all of the usual suspects and then my eyes alighted onto a bottle I'd never seen before. It was beautiful, dark black glass and Russian gilding , a very fanciful design that was seductive and whimsical at the same time. I was of course completely intrigued by the name of the fragrance which was "The Enchanted Forest",  but even more so by the perfumer,  a mysterious and wonderful man who called himself The Vagabond Prince.

 I picked up the bottle, sprayed bit onto my arm and took a deep sniff.  My head started reeling and so  did my heart which I believe literally  jumped and skipped a beat or two.  I was breathless and instantly smitten. The Enchanted Forest is at once one of the most unexpected and extraordinary  perfumes that I've ever smelled and actually I would say that it is one of the perfumes that I've always wanted to smell, that I've been waiting lifetimes to be created.  I know that is quite a dramatic statement , but it's true.  

From the initial blast of blast of blackcurrant to the softness of balsam and the brightness of pink pepper the whole effect is of a forest primeval; an untouched place that centuries ago would have been a home to the most lustful and pagan of gatherings or a flowery mead where unicorns and nymphs would abound. The Enchanted Forest is  sexy , romantic and thoroughly elegant; although there's all of that playful juicy cassis at the opening it dries down to a sweet amber and totally sexy musk.  I sprayed a little more on, grabbed a brochure and ran out the door all the way  down 57th street to Park Avenue and then sprinted across to 64th street not even stopping at the Georg Jensen store…another first for me !

I ran into Club Macanudo and found Jim ensconced in a leather wing chair happily smoking a cigar and enjoying a Bloody Mary. He looked up, surprised to see me so soon and I stuck my arm under his nose. He grinned and said.."I guess you've found it…what a delicious perfume, did you buy it?" to which I replied "absolutely not…at least not until you've smelled it " ,  which is my secret code for "I love it and think that it would be utterly romantic if YOU bought it for me!"  Some perfumes are just like that and this one is no exception.  

Waiting for him to finish his cigar, I had a delightful Mojito of my own and opened the brochure. Two things popped out at me.The first was that this perfume had been created by the remarkable Bertrand Duchaufour which came as absolutely no surprise to me because I had the same emotional response to The Enchanted Forest as I had to my other favorite of his , Eau d' Italie's  Jardin du Poete, both of them being fragrances that immediately grabbed me and dragged me nose first into a mythical garden from another place and time. 

The second surprise was that The Vagabond Prince  was the result of a long held dream by Elena and Zoran Knezevic of Fragrantica to produce a wonderful and world class perfume of their own. The artwork on the bottle and the beautiful blue, gilded box was created by Elena and the effect with the black glass flacon is absolutely magical! Brava Bellisima!

We finished our drinks and we walked arm in arm back to Bendels where he bought me the present of a bottle of this wonderful perfume. I haven't stopped wearing it since my return. You can order a sample of it at but I promise that a sample will not be enough. You will fall head over heels into the glamoury that is The Enchanted Forest and you'll never want to wander out. You'll get lost in the dream, but you won't care. It's that bewitching...