Friday, October 05, 2007

Birthday Pause: Puffs & Perfumery

Yesterday I turned thirty - and, actually, feel very happy about it. I think it has something to do with being a perpetual student, since as one I feel as though I'm in a constant state of not-there-yet. I'm always under someone's supervision, always the student in a student-teacher interaction. So, turning thirty for me has signaled that I am actually an adult and could and should demand some respect.

But on to other heraldry of my adulthood! I am happy to announce that....I have finally attempted and succeeded in making pate a choux! (What did you expect, a pregnancy announcement?) After years of thinking I could not do this, I finally got out the piping bag, the non-stick baking mats, and mixed the panade. Here are my pretties. Aren't they oh-so-pretty?

These I filled with fresh strawberry cream, but I am actually preparing to make a croche em bouche for my & Molt's 30th birthday bash. Then they will filled with pecan pastry cream, dipped in caramelized sugar, and arranged into a wreath - with a spun sugar nest on top. See, I'm an adult. I can make croche em bouche, damnit!

I've also been obsessing about perfumes lately, probably borne from the old-fashioned but romantic notion that a woman should have a signature scent. Now Smell This is my absolute favorite fragrance blog - I could spend hours reading it, and do! So, for my birthday, Molt bought me the sample set from London perfumery Ormonde Jayne.

The set includes samples of the whole line. So far we've tried Osmanthus and Ormonde Man. I was dying of curiosity over Osmanthus, since I've been searching for the Chinese gui hua flower ever since our trip to Taiwan last winter. It's a flower that's dried and used in fragrant sweet tea and dessert soups, such as this one below (enjoyed in Shanghai), with sweet rice balls with rice mead and gui hua (the yellow specks are the dried flowers):

Here is my interpretation of Ormonde Jayne's Osmanthus:
Opening - grapefruit burst (not so much pomello), green herbs
Dry down - sweet honey and cotton
Base - a sweet, cherrylike pink floral, water, and honey
It doesn't remind me of gui hua at all, unfortunately. Or maybe fortunately. I told my mom that if I smelled like gui hua I'd be a bowl of rice balls. She laughed and said, "Probably." So, OJ's Osmanthus to me is an elegant, well-dressed floral, very pretty, polished, and restrained. Not me. But! I will be trying Champaca soon - this is based on the magnolia flower, called bai lan hua in Chinese. They sell it hooked on wires in the streets of Taiwan (and throughout Asia) so drivers can hang it in their cars. It is a luscious fragrance. Ormonde Jayne mixes Champaca with the scent of basmati rice!! I can't wait to try it.

Some incredibly fragrant flowers I've sniffed (or eaten!) in China, Taiwan, and Thailand:

Gui Hua (Osmanthus). My aunt has a tree in her backyard.
When the flowers drop off the Chinese call it "golden rain."

Bai Lan Hua (Champaca). I was given a blossom at a restaraunt in Thailand - which I promptly put in my jeans pocket and forgot. Later my entire suitcase was redolent with the creamy white fragrance - it is that powerful, and beautiful.

Qi Li Xiang (Orange Jasmine) - translated, the Chinese means "Seven Miles Fragrant." We took a bike ride in the Taiwanese countryside and rode past a hedge of these flowers - it was amazing. I plucked a sprig, and it's still in the book I was reading at the time (Olive Schreiner, From Man to Man). Alas, it is fragrant no more.


Victoria Winters said...

Happy Belated 30th! It's about time! ;)

Victoria Winters said...

p.s. You can ship a dozen of those puffs to Nashvegas - pronto!

marianevans said...

Thanks! I really would ship you some - but they get soggy after more than a few hours :)

Chinglu said...

Hey, I didn't any.