L’Heure Bleue by Guerlain

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Not burying the lede: the reason L’Heure Bleue is so fascinating is that it smells like dessert while also managing to be melancholy. The name means “the bluish hour,” which leads me to believe it was designed to be more moody than delicious. I’ve heard it described as a cousin of Apres l’Ondee.

Here’s the note list, from Fragrantica as usual.

Top Notes: anise, bergamot
Heart Notes: rose, carnation, tuberose, violet, and neroli
Base Notes: vanilla, tonka bean, iris and benzoin.

NOTE: I have the modern eau de parfum. People say it’s been reformulated. I wouldn’t know, because I haven’t smelled the parfum or the vintage. This version doesn’t smell natural, but it does smell good.

I notice a little of the anise in the beginning and the neroli, vanilla, tonka bean and benzoin towards the end. L’Heure Bleue is more deep and resinous than floral. The only flower that really stands out is the iris. It’s a delicate effect against the nougat-like base that only someone who’s paying attention would pick up on.

I like to think of L’Heure Bleue as a performer who’s nowhere near past her prime but is carrying a little more hard-earned wisdom than she lets on.

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Perfumer: Jacques Guerlain
Price Range: Moderate
Recommended Occasion: a bit fancy
Release Year: 1912
My Rating: 9

Posted in Anise, Benzoin, Bergamot, Carnation, Iris, Neroli, Rose, Tonka Bean, Tuberose, Vanilla, Violet | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Le Bon Café in Penn Station

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This is one of my favorite places to get salad. I used to go into the city with my dad from Jersey and we’d eat there every morning. Now I can go there whenever I want.

The salads are always fresh. They lay out the ingredients so you can see them and then they make you the salad. You have a lot of options: romaine lettuce, mixed greens, spinach, or iceberg lettuce. You can get a small or large salad with 4 to 6 toppings.

Prices are as follows:
Small with 4 toppings: $6.99
Small w. 6 toppings or large w. 4 toppings: $7.99
Large w. 6 toppings: $8.99

You’ll have a ton of toppings to choose from. They have black beans, lima beans, mango slices, feta cheese, blue cheese, broccoli, roasted red peppers, olives, berries, etc. And there’s a lot of dressings.

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I’m a creature of habit, so I usually get the same thing. Small romaine salad with blue cheese, mango, black beans, and corn with raspberry vinaigrette.

They also serve breakfast food. You can sit in the back, which has a wide screen TV that’s usually playing news or ESPN. If you want you can order a cheap bottle of wine or a draft beer.

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Best salads in Penn Station.

My Rating: 8.5
Atmosphere: duh
Price Range: $5-$12

1 Penn Plaza, Concourse Level
New York, NY 10119
Midtown West

(212)-244-1180

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TranquilaTEA (Waynesboro, PA)

So I just turned 28! Didn’t get a chance to post on my birthday, but my mom took me to an awesome tea room in Pennsylvania for a “Queen’s Tea” lunch. Here’s the place:

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TranquiliTEA is near the Western MD, West Virginia, and northern VA tri-state area. I’ve lived there for a lot of my life, but for other people who are less familiar with it, this and all the Civil War history is a great place to start. Waynesboro isn’t far from Gettysburg, so have lunch and then go learn stuff.

The decorations are homey, quaint, and gorgeous. It’s owned by a mother/daughter team who’ve made it a comfortable and popular mainstay in downtown Waynesboro. Check this out:

IMG_0582 (there I am in the mirror lol)

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IMG_0577 (Creepy doll!)

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The first thing we ordered was the tea. They have all kinds of creative teas, some more natural than others. Some of your options are as follows:

Cherry Chocolate
Earl Grey Strawberry
French Caramel Crème Brulee
Maple Cream
Orange Vanilla Dream
Snecha Kyoto Cherry Rose
Blue Mango (has pineapple undertones)
Rooibos Gingersnap (dried ginger, spices, walnuts)

I got the Blue Bells blueberry tea, which really tasted like blueberries. Then I got the Almond Happiness tea, a delectable mix of almond, chocolate, and coconut.

Our first course was a salad and an apple potato soup. The soup looked delicious but I didn’t try any because it had chicken broth. The appetizers were good and got us prepared, health-wise, for all this sweet goodness:

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Check out those finger sandwiches. White bread and dill, raisin bread, pumpernickel, cream cheese, jam. I couldn’t quite pick out the flavors in all of them but I didn’t worry about it because they were delicious.

And then the scones. Check out these scones.

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With cream.

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The service is great too. We also went to the gift shop and my mom bought a cookbook. Also, the Queen’s Tea is $20.95 per person. That’s cheap for any really good meal, let alone a grande dame tea special.

My Rating: 9
Recommended Dish: Assorted Tea Sandwiches
Atmosphere: Cozy, quiet, and homey
Price Range: $10-$20 a person

117 West Main Street
Waynesboro, PA 17268
717-765-TEAS

TranquiliTEA’s website

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Chai by Robert Piguet

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Last time I went to Bergdorf’s they gave me a sample of Chai. It’s part of a trio of three fragrances based on Asian plants and designed for an Asian market. Its sisters are Blossom and Jeunesse.

Chai opens with a sharp green bergamot and orange blossom accord that’s both distinctive and lovely. It does smell like chai, in particular a green chai tea served by a place called The Lost Dog in Shepherdstown, WV.

On skin, the white tea notes come in shortly after. At that point it also lets in a disappointing milky note, which is a literal interpretation of chai but less artful than if they’d just let the spices talk. then it gets soapy and fades out.

The effect is much better on fabric. The beautiful top note lasts longer and mixes more naturally with the tea leaves. The orange blossom half of the bergamot/blossom pairing stands out more. The spices mix into the soapy accord and the whole thing lasts a lot longer. It’s pretty, but I’d prefer something more striking.

Perfumer: Aurelien Guichard
Price Range: Expensive
Recommended Occasion: Casual
Release Year: 2012
My Rating: 6.2

Picture and background info from Fragrantica.

Posted in Bergamot, Honey, Orange Blossom, Tea, Yerbamate | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Holiday Windows at Bergdorf Goodman 2014

Season’s Greetings!

I took a walk up to Bergdorf’s and took some pictures. This year they took each art discipline (i.e. architecture) and made a display for it. I loved the idea.

This was mine and everyone else’s favorite it seemed:

IMG_0398 Architecture.

More shots from the architecture display:

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Literature:
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Music
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Sculpture
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Film
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Ivan Ramen (New York City)

Ivan Ramen opened this year, and it’s fabulous.

Sit at the counter, because the tables are always taken. You can look at this mural by cartoonist Nathan Fox as you eat. It encapsulates the attitude of this hip, fun place. It’s open until midnight. Mostly young people. Great service, by the way.

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The dishes are hearty, the portions are just the right size, and the whimsical menu is just focused enough to make sure everything’s cooked right. Disclaimer: I’m a vegetarian and a creature of habit. This is what I order every time. It’s all I need.

IMG_0001 Tofu Coney Island

The Tofu Coney Island is a witty take on a hot dog with mustard. Chef Ivan Orkin covered the tofu with mustard, miso mushroom chili (it tastes like regular vegetarian chili except a bit milder), and heaped on the scallions. The presentation is great, but once you dig in it’s got a great sloppy-joe feel to it. You don’t really notice the tofu, just the three contrasting flavors.

IMG_0003 Vegetarian Shoyu Ramen

Here’s how it looks when it comes out. Keep in mind my ramen knowledge was previously limited to the Maruchan variety when I was a kid. (Oriental, thank you very much.) I was delighted by how much stuff I got with my noodles. You get a big gummy roasted tomato in there, hidden under a nice big pile of lettuce and chewy enoki mushrooms. I ate all that first so I could get to the rich, hearty soy sauce & vegetable broth. The rye noodles are a little softer than al dente, but they’re usually not too soggy. You slurp them up to get that broth flavor. Then, if you’re like me, you use your spoon to get the remaining broth bit by bit so you can savor every drop.

Chef: Ivan Orkin
My Rating: 10
Recommended Dish: Tofu Coney Island
Atmosphere: Painfully hip
Price Range: $20-$35 per person

Read the reviews at The New York Times and Grub Street.

ivanramen.com

25 Clinton Street
New York, NY 10002
646-678-3859

OPEN: 12:00pm – 3:30pm for Lunch
5:30pm – Midnight for Dinner

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Joe’s Pineapple Cheese Pastry

I found this in Queens.

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The title is comically off-putting, (there needs to be a third descriptor here!) but it’s pretty good. It’s a moist, slightly crumbly cake that feels glazed. The pineapple is jammy and the cheese is abstracted. I saw no discernible expiration date on it, so stock up!

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Kampai Alley (Columbia, MO)

o kampai (from servicenoodle.com)

Kampai Alley is Columbia’s best sushi restaurant. That fact is implied by the prodigious amount of space it takes up in A Alley. The building has two huge stories, red and black décor, a ton of couches, and a big patio and balcony. I used to bring my computer and work on Scentsate there.

First, order the miso soup. It’s loaded with flavor and only sets you back 2 bucks. It contains soy, wakame, enoki, tofu, and green onions. (Wakame is another name for seaweed, and enoki are long, think white mushrooms that float at the top of your soup.)

I ordered vegetable sushi= avocado, asparagus, kaiware (pickled radish) and little balls of fried cream cheese. You have to ask for the fried cream cheese. The result won’t taste much like its predecessor, but you’ll love it.

My friend ordered a hotpot called nabe yaki: soft white noodles, egg, crispy shrimp, and kamaboko. Her boyfriend ordered tonkatsu: pork friend in bread, with sides of chili and sriracha sauce. They both liked their dishes.

Kampai Alley also has excellent sake and a mixed drink called “Kampai Fizz,” which is made of gin, banana-flavored spirits, and a few other things. They put a mint leaf in it too.

Kampai does not seem like completely authentic Japanese/Thai food, but that’s part of its charm. You get creative license applied to trendy food with an atmosphere to entertain a college town.

My Rating: 7.5
Recommended Dish: Miso soup
Atmosphere: Big and stylish, but not oppressive
Price Range: $15-25 per person
Clientele: Everyone

907 Alley A, Columbia MO 65201
573-442-2239

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Kooky Professor Fashion Sketches

Here’s three sketches with a nerd-chic customer in mind, 20-40, maybe a Ph.D student or a copywriter. They were for a fabrics class. I’ll tell you the fabrics too.

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Girl on Left:
Cotton weave jacket
Stretch silk charmeuse blouse
Jeans

Girl on Right:
Silk jacquard blouse
Nylon lace and sheer skirt

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Cotton corduroy jacket, stretch cotton blouse, wool pants

I think it’d be really hip if she wore an elegant perfume like Prada’s Infusion d’Iris with these.

I hope you like them!

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Givenchy III Parfum

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This cool picture from Fragrantica is the vintage eau de toilette, but I’m reviewing the modern parfum.

Givenchy III is considered one of the greatest green fragrances of all time. It’s green in the old-fashioned way: musty and powdery in contrast to today’s bright, fresh green scents. (Sometimes the latter turn out well but often they’re screechy and feel like they’re marketed for someone who wants to wear their favorite Febreze to the club.)

Here’s the official note list, from Yesterday’s Perfume:

Top notes: Aldehydes, bergamot, mandarin, galbanum, peach, gardenia
Heart notes: lily of the valley, hyacinth, rose, jasmine, iris root
Base notes: Patchouli, oakmoss, amber, sandalwood

My take’s a bit different than the list. I think it opens up with rich layers of musty green, like moss or cut grass that’s been lying there damp for a day or two. It also smells kind of like cashmere. It’s very rich, heavy, and opulent in kind of a brainy way. The lady who wears Givenchy III isn’t necessarily going to a ball. She could be going to a fancy dinner with literary types.

I can smell some leathery notes in the heart. It also gets a bit astringent. It smells fruitier sprayed on fabric. The iris root contributes to the soft powderiness, and becomes strong in the heart notes. I can also smell some Chamade-style hyacinth. I don’t notice any rose and jasmine in the modern version. (I haven’t tried the vintage.)

Towards the end I mostly notice the oakmoss. It smells pretty close to a classic chypre despite the lack of labdanum. The citrus notes make the overall effect a little more buoyant. I’d definitely recommend it as a fall/winter fragrance.

Overall it’s a fantastic fragrance. You can smell the layers and the depth. To me, it feels like putting on a cozy thick sweater on a gray day.

I Googled “grey cable knit sweater” and these pics went along with how Givenchy III feels to me. (*Note: I am not being paid to advertise any of these things. I just wish I could afford to buy them.)
462b144852a2223f999de6febda7351c (pinterest)

thB1QHVR7R (followpics.me)

dolce-gabbana-grey-cable-knit-sweater-product-5-4400103-082752041_large_flex (lyst.com Dolce & Gabbana cardigan)

wool cardigan (poshposh.com Alexander McQueen wool/cashmere sweater)

All that being said, I prefer my fragrances brighter or louder or something. Givenchy III has a great personality but I’m not sure what to say to it.

Bottle Designer: I found several sources that said the bottle was designed by Pierre Dinand, but my usual source for perfume data, Fragrantica, didn’t state the perfumer on its Givenchy III page.
Price Range: Expensive
Recommended Occasion: I’d wear it for any, but some would say fancy.
Release Year: 1970
My Rating: 8.5

Read more Givenchy III reviews at Yesterday’s Perfume and The Scented Hound. They’re both reviewing the vintage version.

Posted in Aldehydic, Amber, Bergamot, Chypre, Galbanum, Gardenia, Hyacinth, Iris, Jasmine, Mandarin, Muguet, Oakmoss, Patchouli, Peach, Rose, Sandalwood, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 5 Comments