In the Search for the Perfect Berry: Black Currant

As a child I spent summers at my grandparents’ house. When I wasn’t playing with my summer friends* or hiding from the heat in the house, I would be reading in the garden’s summerhouse.

As many children do, every year I would re-read some of my favorite books. One of such books was a collection of Polish fairy tales. Fern Flower (Kwiat paproci) by Józef Ignacy Kraszewski was the first story in the book so I probably read it every time before I would get bored and start skipping stories.

Book Tam Gde Visla Reka

It’s a grim story about a young guy who got obsessed with finding a fern flower that, according to Slavic mythology, blooms once a year deep in the forest on the Kupala Night (around Summer solstice) and promises great wealth and granting any wishes to whoever finds it. He attempts it three times. Every year he goes into the forest next to the village where he lives. And every year he doesn’t recognize the forest that he knows well – it is darker and scarier than usually and plays tricks on him: trees are taller, bushes are thicker; he hears strange noises and sees things. Twice he almost gets the illusive flower but it disappeared at the first light of dawn. The third time he succeeds but here comes the fine print: he cannot share his luck with anybody. He abandons his family and leads a life of luxury but it doesn’t bring him joy. He’s torn between keeping his wealth and helping his family but by the time he decides to come back it’s too late: his parents and siblings are dead from the poverty, he wishes to die as well and disappears from the face of the Earth with the flower that all these years was rooted in his heart. Curtains down.

Mysterious forest with pine trees around which you go forever just to see that they are not that huge once you pass them and unexpected deep marshes that disappear once you get through – is what I always imagine when I think of enchanted forest. Nowhere in that mental picture can I find black currant: probably because that berry doesn’t grow in the forest – enchanted or otherwise. Wild strawberry, raspberry – yes, I can easily imagine those but not black currant.

And still Enchanted Forest by Vagabond Prince makes total sense to me: there were three black currant shrubs next to that summerhouse in which I read and re-read Fern Flower year after year. So the smell of black currant leaves (I always liked it) and berries (I wasn’t a big fan of those as a child) somehow weaves in my mind with that fairytale image of an enchanted forest, Kupala Night and magic.

Redwood

Enchanted Forest created by Bertrand Duchaufour for Vagabond Prince in 2012 includes notes of pink pepper, aldehydes, sweet orange (traces), flower cassis, blackcurrant leaf, hawthorn, effects of rum and wine, rosemary, davana, blackcurrant buds absolute (by LMR from Grasse), CO2 blackcurrant (by Floral Concept from Grasse), Russian coriander seed, honeysuckle, rose, carnation, vetiver, opoponax resinoid, Siam benzoin, amber, oakmoss, fir balsam absolute, Patchouli Purecoeur®, castoreum absolute, cedar notes, vanilla and musk. If you haven’t smelled it yet and want a real review, here Kafka does a great job describing the scent – even though she doesn’t really enjoy it on her skin. Me? I love this perfume! The tartness and juiciness of the black currant and fir opening, the warmth and smokiness of the amber and incense resinous development – I enjoy them immensely. The drydown reminds me of one of my winter rituals – drinking Peet‘s Black Currant black tea with honey. Add to this picture a Christmas tree or pour the tea into a thermos and go to a close-by redwood forest – and you’ll get a perfect gustatory illustration of Enchanted Forest.

Black Currant tea and Honey

I urge you to try both – the perfume and the tea+honey combination: I think they both are very interesting, unusual and, if it’s your cup of tea (take it figuratively or literally, as you wish), very enjoyable. But even though I like both, I can’t drink that tea all the time and I can’t imagine wearing Enchanted Forest daily.

I used up a couple of free samples I got. I swapped for another sample that I’m using now and I paid for a small decant. I would buy a 30 ml or maybe even a 50 ml bottle of Enchanted Forest in a heartbeat – I like it that much and the bottle itself is quite appealing. But there is no way I’ll buy 100 ml of this perfume. And I still can’t believe that founders of Fragrantica (out of all people!) thought it was a good idea to launch this perfume in a single size – 100 ml.

 

* I’ve never seen them during the school year since my grandparents lived 8-hours bus ride away from us.

 

Previous posts in the series In the Search for the Perfect Berry: Strawberries and Blackberry. Also see other posts in the Single Note Exploration category.

 

Images: book – found somewhere; the rest – my own.

Three Pieces of Neela Vermeire’s India Puzzle

I love puzzles, quizzes, riddles and tests. I’m not seeking them out actively but when I come across one I might put off everything else and spend unreasonable time solving it.

I learned about Neela Vermeire Creations from several inspiring reviews. Usually when I read reviews for perfumes that I haven’t tested yet I glance over more technical details – notes, creator, etc. – and concentrate on the impressions, associations and a general mood from the perfumes. So all I remembered about that new line was a general favorable feeling.

Being not too active on the Facebook I miss a lot of friends’ updates. Unlike my blogroll, I’m not even trying to catch up. But I just happened to read my News feed When Neela posted a quiz.

 

The photo below – where is this from? North, south, east, west or central India? It is tough but some of you may know.Puzzle Part I

 

I had no idea, the picture was too generic and I wasn’t intrigued enough. Then there was a second picture and the next question:

 

Another hint for the quiz below. Name the place.Puzzle Part II

 

This time I got hooked, I wanted to solve that quiz. It took some time but I figured it out. I found an answer: it is a ceiling of the ‘Poomukkam’ room in Padmanabhapuram Palace. An interesting fact about this ceiling: there are ninety flowers carved on it and each of them is unique.

My correct answer earned me a prize. I expected to get a set of samples for the line. Instead Neela Vermeire sent me a discovery set – three 10 ml bottles: Mohur, Trayee and Bombay Bling!

First I felt a little worried: what if I wouldn’t like those? In that case I would have felt much more comfortable if I had been sent just small sample vials… Now after I tried all three perfumes I’m so glad I got those bottles!

For a proper review I want to refer you to A Festival of Colour – Neela Vermeire Trayee, Mohur and Bombay Bling! Perfume Reviews by The Candy Perfume Boy: I can’t do better so I won’t even try. I want to share just a couple of personal impressions for each perfume.

 

Neela Vermiere Creations Trio

Trayee – is the most complex and sophisticated perfume out of three in the line. And the most tenacious. I enjoy wearing it and will definitely go through the bottle I have. And after that I might go for at least a decant. For even more impressions read enticing review for Trayee by Persolaise.

Mohur – is the most low-key perfume in the line. Though two out of four times I wore Mohur, it surprised me with an unexpected surge of agarwood in the opening. When it calms down it becomes a well-blended flower bouquet on my skin. It is never unpleasant and I suspect it might behave better on somebody else but in my collection it’ll stay, most likely, just for the reference.

Bombay Bling! – is my absolute favorite in the line. It’s so juicy, bright and happy! But despite its playfulness Bombay Bling! feels like a real perfume with an extremely interesting composition and graceful development. It is a full-bottle worth perfume for me.

I also want to mention that even before trying Neela Vermiere Creations perfumes I was very pleased that a new line has been launched with just three perfumes and there are both sample and discovery sets available. I wish more new and established companies Mrs. Vermiere’s lead.

I hope in years to come Neela Vermiere will present us with more pieces to her scented puzzle of India.

As always, feel free to link to your blog’s post if you’ve reviewed these perfumes.

Images: two of Padmanabhapuram Palace – Neela Vermiere, the last one – my own.

In the Search for the Perfect Pear

August PearIn my childhood August a month before the school started and a month when an old pear tree in my grandparents’ garden was ready to share with us the best pears I’ve ever eaten in my life.

I was too little to think of such things as variety so all I can remember now: it resembled Comice pear – green-yellow with an occasional red blush. The tree was tall, with a lot of branches. Low hanging fruits … were allowed to ripe on the tree. Whenever I felt like it I could go there and choose which one I wanted to eat. Pears that grew higher on the tree would be usually picked slightly immature and left to ripen in the summerhouse. My Grandfather had built it himself and I loved spending time in it – playing when I was younger or reading when I got older. A wonderful smell of dozens ripening pears accompanied me in those hot summer days when tired of running around in the sun I would resort to the shade of the summerhouse.

Unlike mimosa, linden or lilac – all scents which I always loved and wanted to wear as a perfume, I’ve never considered pear to be a wearable scent. I like eating them in the season, don’t miss them off-season and definitely don’t want to smell of them.

I like Petite Cherie by Annick Goutal – created in 1998, notes include pear, peach, musky rose, fresh-cut grass, vanilla. But I wore it for years before I learned it had a pear note. Even after that I thought I couldn’t smell a pear note. I tried to describe how Petite Cherie smelled and I couldn’t. I can’t come up with words to represent what I smell and the scent doesn’t remind me of anything else so I can’t even offer an association. I do not have any special memories connected to Petite Cherie, so probably I really just enjoy the scent. If you’ve tried it you know how it smells and if you haven’t – try because whatever description you’ll read will not give you the right picture of what to expect from this perfume. For years I thought of it as of a universal darling but recently I met a couple of people who, to my surprise, found this perfume to be unpleasant. I wore it again while working on this post and I still love it.

Deep Red by Hugo Boss – created in 2001 by Alain Astori and Beatrice Piquet, notes include black currant, pear, tangerine, blood orange, ginger leaves, freesia, hibiscus, sandalwood, Californian cedar, vanilla and musk (fragrantica.com). This is one of my favorite perfumes from my pre-perfumista period of life. I know Perfumeland’s attitude towards that brand. I realize that it probably isn’t that great and stands out both in this post and in my current collection. And I do not care: I liked it for many years; I went through two bottles of it and still have some juice left in the third one; and I still enjoy wearing it.

English Pear & Freesia by Jo Malone – created in 2010 by Christine Nagel, notes include pear, freesia, rose, amber, patchouli and woods (from jomalone.com; other sources mention quince, rhubarb and white musk). Sweet, almost gourmand but not quite because of the strong floral component. It’s a bright and warm scent but at the same time it maintains transparency usual to Malone’s colognes. It doesn’t develop much on the skin (as most of other perfumes in this line) but if you like what you smell it’ll stay with you for hours. I got a small decant of English Pear & Freesia from a co-worker and I will buy a bottle once it’s gone.

La Belle Hélène by Parfums MDCI – created in 2010 by Bertrand Duchaufour, notes include pear accord, aldehydes, tangerine, lime blossom, rose essence, osmanthus absolute, ylang-ylang Madagascar, orris butter, hawthorn, Mirabelle plum, myrrh, vetiver Haiti, patchouli, cedar Virginia, amber, oak moss absolute, white musks, sandalwood, licorice wood (luckyscent). It’s a true gourmand scent, sweet but with some dirty note in the drydown. For me La Belle Hélène smells not like a pear fruit but like a pear tart (love those). It’s much more complex than English Pear & Freesia. I got my sample from a draw at Persolaise – A Perfumer’s Blog. I like how it smells and develops on my skin but I’m not sure if I want to wear it as a perfume. The price is also a stopping point. So when I’m done with the sample I won’t probably be seeking even a decant (read the review that inspired me to test this perfume again recently).

Mon Numéro 1 by L’Artisan Parfumeur – created in 2009 by Bertrand Duchaufour and re-launched in 2011 (though I can’t find it now on L’Artisan’s website), notes include pear, basil, bergamot, violet leaves, black currant buds, mimosa, osmanthus, magnolia flower, hay, musk, vanilla. I have a strange relationship with this perfume. I thought I would like it. I wanted to like it. It opens very nice and fresh on my skin but then in one out of three times it becomes too soapy – and not in a nice, clean way. It always dries down to a more pleasant and well-balanced scent but it doesn’t excite me, I do not feel compelled to wear it more. I’m very grateful to my perfume friends for the opportunity to try it (Suzanne shared with me some Mon Numéro 1 from Birgit’s sample) and want to assure them that it wasn’t a total waste: even though I do not like it as much as they did (read their reviews through the links above), Mon Numéro 1 helped me to learn what is called “pear” in perfumery. I do not recognize it as a pear scent but I smell it in all tested perfumes with that note listed in the description. So now I know. And I do not mind smelling like that “pear.”

What is your perfect pear?

Honey Pear TeaMine – Honey Pear by Golden Moon Tea.

Images: my own