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Food to Fragrance: Guerlain’s Aqua Allegoria Pamplelune meets Grapefruit Panna Cotta

aqua allegoria pamplelune vs grapefruit panna cotta with berries

As I sit here sniffing a blotter drenched in Aqua Allegoria Pamplelune I find my salivary glands going into overdrive. It’s amazing the power scent has over the body and mind to react in the way it does. A few weeks ago a friend was asking me if I had heard about Synesthesia, indeed I have – it was a technique that we would try and employ { although REAL Synesthesia is a disorder that is not intentionally inflicted } in order to smell fragrances on another level. I love to do this – it forces you to SEE a scent as a colour, feel it as a texture or taste it in your mouth.

Some fragrances lend themselves quite easily to this alternate sensory experience – while with others you really have to focus on to achieve the effect. Why all this talk about experiencing scent through an alternative cognitive pathway? Because when I sniffed the blotter drenched in Aqua Allegoria Pamplelune my mind and mouth was involuntarily flooded with a past memory and taste from an evening out with a dear friend.

The Fragrance: Aqua Allegoria Pamplelune by Guerlain. First of all it’s worth knowing that this is a fragrance that is sold exclusively at Sephora. So if you want to experience it you will have to pop into one of their stores or buy it online. With notes of California Grapefruit, Italian Bergamot, Neroli, Petitgrain, Black Currant, Patchouli and Vanilla, there is a distinct citrus juiciness when you first smell the fragrance that is quickly followed by a succulent yet slightly more grounded sweetness that I feel can be attributed to the vanilla. This succulence reminds me of the gentle pop that you hear when you dig a spoon into a creamy gelatinous dessert and pull the spoon out.

The citrus adds a freshness to this scent that makes me feel that it would be preferable for day to day wear, ideally in Spring. The Black Currant adds a berry sweetness that is tempered by the citrus and prevented from being sickly sweet or berry fruity like a more mass market product.

The Food: Grapefruit Panna Cotta with berries. Oh Panna Cotta how I do love thee. I first experienced Panna Cotta in a little Italian restaurant with a friend who hailed from the country of it’s origin. I was afraid to try it as ‘cooked cream’ didn’t sound appetizing to me at all. But I will never forget the gentle succulent pop as my spoon punctured the mold and extracted a hefty teaspoon full of creamy white goodness. Nor will I forget the sensation of the cool vanillaness and citrus’ zest that flew from my taste buds to my brain in the blink of an eye. Pure bliss. Being a cold dessert, there is a freshness to panna cotta that is refreshing and yet sophisticated. This ain’t jello kids! { the recipe in the link above doesn’t include berries, but to experience this food to fragrance match up I suggest swapping out the candied kumquats for black currants or black berries! }

Why it works: The vanilla and citrus evident in the fragrance are the two things that clearly stand out in the panna cotta dish. But it is more than a direct ingredient to ingredient connection; the feel of the scent mirrors the feel of the way grapefruit panna cotta tastes. From the cool refreshingness of the cold milky mold to the cool refreshingness of the citrus scent gently reined in by the vanilla.

Then comes the berries. Like those smattered on top of and around the panna cotta providing punches of interesting berriness to the experience.

Fragrance Tip: While it’s nice to find a fragrance that is unequivocally ‘you’ it’s also good to find a fragrance for different occasions, moods and seasons. Something a bit more ‘close’ { read sweet or skin musky } for special evening’s, something airy and bright for days out and about, something with a statement and bold character for a night on the town with the girls – wearing something that suits your mood and the occasion will help make you feel more confident and happy. Trust me on this one.

Food Tip: Never be afraid to try a new dessert. That should be craven maven cardinal rule #1.

fragrance image via sephora, panna cotta via learning how to cook, recipe by a bird in the kitchen

Gruyere Thyme Gougeres by Tartine

gruyere gougeres

Speaking of Tartine..the lovely bakery have released a cookbook of their treats. I stumbled across the above gruyere gougeres by Tartine on the lovey blog Oishii Eats – follow her step by step instructions if you want to make the choux pastry treats for yourself this weekend!

image via oishii eats

Food to Fragrance: Berry Pavlova Roulade meets Hanae Mori no.1

berry pavlova roulade meets hanae mori no.1

I have a not so subtle obsession with berries. I love them. It’s their burst of colour that reminds me of a bouquet of deep rich flowers and the way their juice bleeds all over creams, yogurts and custards.

But aside from their aesthetic attraction, berries are actually good for you – antioxidants, fibre, vitamin C, enhancing your eyesight, protecting your heart and preventing cravings, these small gems have superpowers!

Berries in fragrance are nothing new, but their intensity and sweetness varies immensely across the brands. From Bath and Body works more sweet, literal interpretation of a berry to fine fragrance sophistication.

The Fragrance:
The Hanae Mori brand started releasing fragrances in 1995, almost forty years after the clothing brand made it’s debut. ‘Hanae Mori No. 1’, a decidedly fruity addition the Hanae resume, was released last spring. With notes of Bergamot, Black Currant, Mulberry leaf, Blackberry, Raspberry, Sandalwood and Vanilla I found it had a surprisingly zesty pop, paired with subtle warmth and definite fruitiness.

That being said, don’t be mistaken in thinking that this is a heavy fragrance. The balance makes it light enough to be a day to day scent. There is a certain freshness to the fragrance that belies the berry ingredients despite the berriness being quite apparent.

The Dish:
Mixed Berry Pavolva Roulade. I love a good pavolva. Growing up, my friends mum was known for her pavolva’s – she made them effortlessly { or so it seemed } and crowded them with berries and cream.

Why it works:
The cream and meringue base of a pavlova lend it a subtle warmth – while the fruit topping, in this case berries are allowed to pop as they are a stark contrast to the more docile flavours of the meringue and cream.

I intentionally chose a pavolva roulade as opposed to your usual pavolva. Roulade is french for ‘roll’. In the Western world when you think of Japan, one of the primary things that comes to mind is Sushi. As a nod to the roots of the Mori brand I thought a Roulade would be the perfect ‘crossover’. Couple that with the use of the French word for ‘roll’, an intentional choice as Ms. Mori was the only Japanese woman to have presented her collections on the runways of Paris and New York, and the first Asian woman to be admitted as an official haute couture design house by the fédération française de la couture in France.

To give this dessert more of a HM No. 1 touch consider adding a few scrapes of a vanilla pod to the whipping cream and a teaspoon of grated meyer lemon zest to the egg whites.

Fragrance tip:
How many fragranced products do you put on each day? More than you’d think! Check your morning routine – Shower gel? Lotion? Deodorant? Hair spray? Lip gloss? They ALL are fragranced and if you are not careful you could be a walking cacophony of scent! And that’s before you’ve even put your fragrance on! Be mindful of how your day to day products smell – some have vanilla-y tones { I find this especially true of MAC lip glosses }, others more fruity or floral. Either way by being mindful of your scents, try your best to choose ones that don’t overwhem but best compliment the perfume you intend to wear that day. I for one have a shelf of shower gels in my bathroom from vanilla to tuberose to citrus and choose which one to use depending on what fragrance I plan to wear!

Food tip:
This recipe calls for flaked almonds – an ingredient I ALWAYS have on hand! Almonds provide a nice burst of protein sprinkled on yogurt, oatmeal, salads and more. Used in moderation they take the edge off hunger and prevent you from overeating!

pavolva roulade image via cathys kitchen, hanae mori image source unknown.

Potato, Kale and Tempeh soup to keep the cold at bay

potato kale tempeh soup

Dear readers, it’s cold. Plain and simple.

Today my hands froze in the car before I had the chance to turn on the heat..is it just me, or is this really the winter of our discontent? Sheesh. Thank goodness for soup..my sister { a carnivore } was regaling me with tales of the chicken, potato and spinach soup that she was going to make and boy did it make my mouth water. Surely I must have equally good ingredients in house to make something similar I thought…enter Potato, kale and tempeh soup!

I never measure stuff when I cook..so all quantities are approximations. But with soup you can’t go that much wrong!


+ 1 cup tempeh, diced
+ 2 tablespoons of Olive oil
+ 1 shallot onion chopped
+ 2 garlic cloves crushed then chopped
+ 2-3 slices of fresh ginger
+ 1 bunch Kale (about 1/2 pound)
+ 5-6 Fingerling potatoes, peeled, chopped about 1/2 inch thick
+ 1 cup of sweetcorn
+ 2 cups of Vegetable broth { I cheat and use Oxo Veggie cubes to make this }
+ salt, pepper and oregano to taste


Peel, wash and chop the potatos – place into a pot filled with 6 cups of boiling water. Boil potatoes until they are soft in the middle but not mushy.
In a heavy bottomed pot heat the olive oil and add the diced tempeh.
Brown the tempeh and reduce heat.
Add the chopped garlic, onions and ginger. Cook until the onions become slightly translucent.
Strain the water from the potatoes over the tempeh, garlic, ginger and onions.
Let the water come to a simmer then add the vegetable broth, salt, pepper, oregano and kale { you can either chop the kale or tear it with your hands }.
Allow to simmer for 5 mins then add the sweetcorn.
Cover pot and allow the medley of ingredients to come into their own, stirring occasionally. If more water is needed, top up with hot water.

If you try it this weekend let me know what you think!

image via chefinyou.com

Will you use Food to Fragrance in 2011?

It’s a rhetorical question actually! Needless to say the Food to Fragrance category of craven maven will keep on growing in 2011. It’s a post I love to write as it touches on several things dear to my heart and fixed in my palette, nose and mind! To remind you of what it’s all about, here is one of the posts from this new category that debuted this month.


originally posted on dec 9th 2010

Food to Fragrance: Rhubarb & Custard pie meets Ricci Ricci

ricci ricci ingredients rhubarb / rose / sandalwood

Over the years, you will come to find that there are few fragrances that will literally turn heads and stop conversations mid-sentence when you wear them. For me, one of those scents is Ricci Ricci by Nina Ricci which contains notes of rhubarb, rose and sandalwood. The result is, by definition, a fruity-floral scent, but due to the vegetable on top { rhubarb } and the warm back of Sandalwood there is a certain playful sensuality to this fragrance.

I have always found that the warmth of sandalwood gives skin a nice warm sensual feeling, not dissimilar to what enveloping something in warm custard does for what it covers. Sandalwood’s odour is not overpowering or pronounced, but it’s effect is definite – its what gives the certain something that makes people want to draw close and investigate.

Rhubarb is an interesting choice of fragrance note. In the food world it’s a fruit { in America } and a vegetable elsewhere – visually resembling a sort of red celery; when cooked it’s tender with a tarty zing.

ricci ricci meets rhubarb custard pie

The Fragrance: Ricci Ricci by Nina Ricci. The mix of rhubarb, bergamot, rose, tuberose, sandalwood and patchouli create a glamorous scent that is perfect for going out..or just when you want to smell head turningly good.

The Dish: Rhubarb and Custard Pie pudding by The British Larder

Why it works: Rhubarb is the only literal food to fragrance translation I chose to go with in this case. The zing of rhubarb is subdued in this dish due to the inclusion of sugar and vanilla pods in the recipe. The reduction of sharpness makes it ‘friendlier’ – producing the reaction of wanting to ‘get close’ that the fragrance invokes.

The custard and pastry in the recipe comes with a hint of rum – a grown up ‘sophisticated’ element to what could otherwise have been a usual dish. Which brings me to the dish itself. Rhubarb and Custard was, and may still be, a dish that was served weekly for school pudding. I remember few children being able to appreciate the unique taste of such a dish, nevertheless it was a bastion of the school dinner menu rotation.

In a similar way, Nina Ricci is a brand that has proven longevity – 78 years this year in both the worlds of fashion and beauty – staples in life in the Western World at least!

Fragrance tip:
Every fragrance does NOT smell the same on every person, ‘your scent’ can and will be influenced by what you eat as certain foods leech out of the pores after consumption. My foolproof trick is to not eat garlic or spices 24 hours before I am going somewhere special where I need my fragrance to waft at its maximum potential!

Food tip: Personally, I like to consume custard on the day it’s made – it is one food that doesn’t macerate as well as others. Make the dish with a view of eating it day of or the day after at lastest!

Try the fragrance, try the recipe and let me know what you think of both!

images via the british larder and nina ricci
ingredients: 1. 2. 3

If you’re snowed in, this might be the perfect distraction..

So, I am sure most by now know that the North East coast in the USA has been hit by a terrible snow storm. This is about the fourth such storm we have seen this year, the major difference being, this one appears to be especially crippling. I for one haven’t even looked out the window today. Fortunate to be one of the annoyingly few who ‘work from home’ I don’t get a ‘snow-day’ but at the same token, I don’t have to deal with trudging through the snow mountains and unpleasant { currently non-existent } bus rides that inevitably ensues.

Instantly what came to mind was a post I wrote back on January 29th, when we were in the middle of the 2009 – 2010 Winter season, a recipe for Vegan Hot Chocolate by shak shuka. This recipe goes over gangbusters in the winter time…in fact I served it at my Tron party a few weeks ago and busted many a guest licking their cups like a kitten at mealtime. It’s the perfect distraction from shoveling snow / looking at the snow / lamenting the snow…so check out the original post below and give the recipe a try and if you don’t have to go out, don’t be ashamed to add a little liqueur to make it warm the cockles..

Originally posted on Jan 29th 2010

It’s freezing here right now. The weather in NY is 19F and with the windchill factor, feels in the single digits. Even though I am indoors and my radiator is bubbling away, I am still wrapped in a blanket and shivering…darn this winter! Worse still, its going to be like this all weekend. How better to ease the winter chill than with a nice mug of hot choccie..

Hot Choccie

Oh, how I wish I had picked up a tin of Maribelle’s Milk and Hazelnut hot chocolate when I was in Soho the other day! I only ordered a small cup and it was so creamy, nutty and delicious. Now that I am confined to the indoor cold I wish I could whip some up. Oh well. In the meantime I saw a recipe for Vegan Chocolat Chaud which incorporates the use of coconut milk!!! I am going to rush out and buy a tin and try this treat later on for myself.

Have a great weekend dear readers – and if you are in NY or some other frozen land, be warm and be well.


Secret Cake Club recipe zine

ccc recipe book

I first heard of the Chinatown Cake Club via the wonderful food fest that is Pork and Chocolate. A secret cake club run from a Victoria Howe’s Chinatown apartment kitchen, foodies were alerted about upcoming cake parties via email with a link to sign up at a specific time frame.

Sadly, these cake clubs are no more, but Victoria has released a recipe book of her creations. Full of hand drawn illustrations and detailed instructions, recipes range from Vietnamese Tres Leches Cake, Durian Cake to Soy Sauce Ice Cream.

ccc recipe book

It’s a must for any discerning foodies wish list! Pick up a copy via Heraklia Press for $12.

images via heraklia press