Tag Archives: spices

The Ever Present Refreshment… Omnia by Bulgari The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

“We never go anywhere without tea!”

Saying so she smiles widely from beneath a mop of sandy-coloured cork screw curls and a knitted Peruvian hat complete with incongruous Fairisle design.

“It’s chai really” he chimes, equally tanned and attractive in an un-scrubbed sort of a way, all blonde surfer hair under similar Andean headgear.

She begins to unscrew the lid of a fantastically patterned aluminium flask.

First steam emerges, then a smell which quickly fills the frosty railway carriage.

Sweet tea and South Asian spices in equal and syrupy measure.

Treacle ginger, desert-ready cardamom, apple-friendly cinnamon and a nutmeg that is just a little like fresh sweat.

A wooden tray, fragrant too, earthy and peppery, soon holds a small profusion of brightly painted metal cups, shimmering with images of purple saffron flowers and ripe mandarin oranges.

She grasps it with a steady hand, while he, in a confident well-practised gesture fills each receptacle with a long pour from a great height, cooling the milky liquid as it passes through the icy air, all the time creating more voluminous sugary vapour clouds.

They offer round the just-so portions to disinterested commuters on their way from home counties homes to city jobs in investment banking and contract law.

A few accept with nervous smiles.

Just as many refuse, suspicious and disdainful, unhappy that their train has been transformed into a humid sub-Continental tea room.

Our couple are unfazed by this froideur and left with half a dozen or so unclaimed gifts sigh collectively “Ah well, more for those who do!”

Sipping on your own measure of the heady brew, you wonder as to their relationship: so close and efficiently affectionate it seems too squeaky clean to be sexual.

Perhaps they are siblings, or six form soul-mates recently returned from a pre-university around the world adventure.

Yes, you decide, that must be it.

“It reminds us of India” she says breathing in the scent theatrically.

“Well, not strictly true…” he corrects her.

“… it inspires us on to India” he declares a tad grandly, supported by enthusiastic nods from his companion.

“It’s our dream to travel across the country by train….”

“… living only on tea and from tiffin boxes.” She says finishing his sentence.

They exchange more smiles, more flirtatious this time, and you realise this is a relationship on the cusp of more than merely geographical exploration.

With this realisation a certain cynicism within you, like uncomfortable trapped wind, shifts, and you find their hope brings temporary relief to your own sorry position.

The journey is nearing its short end. As the locomotive slows they speedily gather together their equipment.

With regret you return your emptied cup, the 8.52 comes to a shuddering halt.

In a moment the automated doors will open and the odour of happy anticipation that has enveloped you this last half hour will evaporate.

On the platform they wave goodbye cheerily, two tie-dyed points of brilliance, buoys on a sea of grey serge and suiting.

They slip away on a tide of busy in-a-hurry people and eventually disappear from sight.

Lifting a bag over your shoulder the cuff of your shirt brushes against your face.

It’s damp. You’ve spilt a little of the tea there where it is leaving a light coloured stain against the white cotton.

 Sniffing the cloth, the now almond-like ambrosial scent returns, and with it something of their sunny disposition.

Perhaps optimism is an option after all.

Head down you set off for the tube.

Perhaps.


No house is more committed to keeping tea in perfumery than Bulgari and Omnia is an Indian chai take on the universal refreshment.

Sweeter and a deal spicier than their other offerings this is a rather innocent and irrepressibly optimistic scent.

There are no velvet folds of complexity or furrowed brows so far as this perfume is concerned: it is a brilliant-eyed and bossily upbeat affair.

Whilst the instantly recognisable black leaf and milky sugar water note dominates, ginger plays a prominent role adding energy and vigour.

Other spices bring a degree of depth without ever allowing anything to get too serious: cardamom is sweet and desert-like, cinnamon pure apple pie.

Only the nutmeg, with a more human, physical edge that emerges in the heart, is able to convey a degree of maturity.

Whilst there is an undeniable white chocolate note, it alludes more to that confectionery’s almond and vanilla qualities than actual cocoa, especially when matched with guaiac, sandalwood and tonka bean in the base.

Omia is a pleasantly uncomplicated and insistently cheerful scent.

By no means great art, it has a charm akin to a well-crafted and humorous short story.

It will bring a smile, but probably does not bear detailed intellectual interrogation.

Have fun.

Oh, and of course, boys and girls will find delight in this undemanding aroma.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

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A culinary fit… Theorema by Fendi The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

Once the clocks went back, late October, she started to worry.

Well, in truth, she started to pretend to worry and purely for public consumption.

Inside her heart excitement welled.

It was good to let them think the whole thing an enormous, daunting chore as that gave her all the alibi required for the grand ritual she secretly adored.

For soon the occasion would arise to bring down the rosewood mixing bowl from atop the Welsh dresser where it sat all year round.

To endlessly soak dried fruit in sexy spirits and splurge pounds on expensive spices and strange otherwise unused oddities: suet, mincemeat, Muscovado sugar, candied peel and plums pickled in kirsch.

It is Christmas pudding making time.

When the earmarked weekend comes, for this extraordinary event is two whole days long, she will channel Julia, Delia, Nigella. 

Though, happily, as her hapless adoring husband will whisper, “Mainly she is  Fanny Craddock”.

Dressed in an exquisite orange all in one, she picked up vintage so is careful not to get too close to naked flames, she is a vision in billowing blouson sleeves, flared trouser legs and oversized amber jewellery, a gift from her brother from an unremembered Baltic state where such things are cheap.

Thus, attired like a factory worker from soviet era sexual fantasy she is ready to undertake her industrial operation.

Almost.

Just two last things.

First, to instil an air of Buddhist calm over the proceedings, a prodigious quantity of joss sticks are lit with the necessary surfeit of ceremony.

Second, she moves the flower arrangement from the sitting room to the kitchen.

‘One can’t cook without flowers’ she hears in her head, and wonders if it might be Elizabeth David’s voice.

Surrounded by winter roses, a little jasmine and stem upon stem of peppery carnations she is ready….

Very nearly.

A third and final last thing… music.

And what could be better, ‘quite a lot actually’, her spouse will, once more under his breath remark, than Mike Oldfield.

So as sultanas, currants and raisins mellow back to being soft fruits in a rather pricey rum and blackest stout, she is elbow deep in sifted flour, breadcrumbs and all that suet: hand mixing them in a baby’s disused bathtub, kept back for this annual purpose.

Next come the spices, cinnamon and nutmeg in the greatest degree, but also blade mace, cardamom and the candied peel.

The atmosphere is thick enough, with scent and her soaring off key contralto, to stir with a wooden spoon.

“Four am in the morning
Carried away by a moonlight shadow…”

Flecked in flour and aromatic golden dust she turns her attentions to the liquid part and in a punchbowl mixes barley wine with yet more rum and adds large eggs to give body to this potent beast.

A thought occurs, “Is this an ‘eggnog’? That mysterious alcoholic brew so beloved of black and white Hollywood renderings of the Yule.”

She sprinkles the slop with spice and slurps back a mouthful or two, ‘not bad, a little bitter’ she adds an amount of the Muscovado sugar.

‘Definitely passable’. Another punch cup’s worth or two passes her lips and then the realisation: she has drained the batch.

She makes double the amount, half for the pudding mix, half reserved for her.

In the plastic infant bath, fruit, flour, eggs, spices and eggnog come together and, with a seaside plastic spade and incredible effort, she begins to stir.

The work is hard, soon she breaks a sweat and is forced to draw heavily on her hearty cocktail to keep production going.

The music lifts her, In dulci jubilo… “In Sweet Rejoicing”

Powered on by eggnog and festive excitement she fashions the mix into great greased paper and foil wrapped orbs.

Then collapses.

She is discovered later in a heap, the too merry, grating tune still playing on a loop.

The second day she views through two mists, one metaphorical the other literal: as puddings are steamed for a dozen hours, transforming kitchen to Chinese laundry.

She watches the second act of the culinary adventure, overseen today by her other half, as she fades in an out of consciousness on a day bed brought to the cuisine so she might still feel part of the Christmas scene.

Draped in a tan towelling dressing gown, she holds her amber gems to her temples like amulets, having read somewhere of their crystalline healing powers.

She speaks little and sings not at all.

Now and again through her husband’s Mozart though she can be heard to frailly wail…

“I knew it would be too much, it always is… next year though, no eggnog.”

Fendi’s Theorema is a fantastically festive , vintagely vulgar figgy pudding of a fragrance.

Big, bold, spicy, spiky, sloshed and yes, after a fashion, rather sexy.

For all its apparent sweetness and amber this is a meaty, bordering on the muscular smell.

Sinuous ripples of wood strengthened spices straining beneath a soft fleshy surface of florals and semi-precious whale spew.

It’s all about orange at the opening, blossom and the fruit itself (not listed, but if it is lemon it’s certainly the most orange-like citron I’ve smelt). Oh, and nutmeg, very freshly ground, a true kitchen smell, unlike so many of today’s ghastly artificial gourmands.

Then come the other spices, cinnamon, of course, but also a cardamom that is the first reminiscence here of spirits, a hint perhaps of sloe gin, that over time becomes rum. The alcoholic suggestion never really becomes more than that, a suggestion, but it is there nevertheless.

Equally as present, but also very much in a supporting role, are the florals, a jasmine that adds a little firmness then some rose for expanse and a little pepper from carnations to match the black pepper that is independently in the scent.

As the dry down proceeds it is amber, as rich and warm as light shone through the decorative gem-like variety that comes to dominate. Only golden toasted almonds are allowed, pleasantly, to intrude.

In this stage the fragrance truly glows, like the cheeks of beautiful hostess guilty of a minor intentionally saucy indiscretion.

All of which brings us to the fact that Theorema may be retro but it hasn’t been left behind when it comes to being alluring.

This is a seriously sensuous scent.

Being a Scorpio as you all now know, The Dandy’s all for a little sensuality and so this aroma seems most attractive to him.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

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