Combining two loves: food and fragrance


Gin Fizz from Lubin - great fragrance to gift to a food lover or gin fan


I think if you’ve ready any of my posts you’ll have the distinct impression that I love, nay adore, my food. You may not have got my great love of fragrance, but for me the two things go hand in hand, as great recipes in both are based on great ingredients. So in my mind great food lovers should adore great fragrances. A slight variation on my usual ideas on gifts for food lovers, but here’s some suggestions on fragrant gifts for foodies this winter.

1. For a bit of zing, and for lovers of Asian food, then I would recommend Origins Ginger. Rich, warm but not overpowering, this is the real stuff, freshly cut, rather than the dried, powdered stuff going into baking. I’d go full out and order the Ginger Treats Gift Set which would give you top to toe ginger gorgeousness.

2. For those who like a bit of the sweet stuff, then I would try Laura Mercier’s Marron Glaces. Not too sticky, you’ll find notes of mirabelle and hazelnut leaves (unusual but gorgeous in my book) plus vanilla and amber. It’s going to be  a warm, rich and comforting smell without being sickly sweet. If you need more sweetness, then Laura also does some great products in Creme Brulee and the new Creme de Pistache is smelling good too.

3. A tough one, what to recommend in vanilla? I love vanilla, but we’re talking about great vanilla and not vanilla essence. As in cooking, in fragrance there are some really cheap and nasty things masquerading as vanilla. That said, when I’m in France I always pick up Lait de Vanille shower gel from Le Petit Marseillais, which is a lovely creamy vanilla scent. I think if there was only one, then you could do a lot worse than Vanilia from L’Artisan Parfumeur. This is a loud fragrance, not given over to subtlety but quite something for a vanilla lover!

4. For spice lovers, then I would recommend Noir Epices from Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle. I love this whole collection of fragrances by some of the greatest perfumers alive, and this one is a masterpiece by Michel Roudnitska. It’s like a trip through a spice market in the Orient, with notes of nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and pepper. More raw spice than baked goods, it works for a man or a woman, and is distinctive and memorable. It’s also not available everywhere, so could become a real signature fragrance.

5. For something a bit fresher but not sweet, then I’m going for a classic that’s been reissued, and that’s Gin Fizz from Lubin. With notes of bergamot and lemon tempered with juniper, you’ll smell fresh and summery. As opposed to like someone has thrown a G and T over you! Great for summoning up summer days, even in the midst of winter!

6. For something just rich, lush, slightly dirty but with sweetness (and mainly because this is on my wishlist) it has to be Tobacco Vanille by Tom Ford. Preferably hand delivered by Tom please. The name is slightly misleading, in that it has notes of dried fruits, honey and spices with the sweetness and earthiness of fresh tobacco leaf, all with a bit of pure vanilla thrown in. Whenever I pass by a Tom Ford counter, I always have a spritz of this. It’s not subtle, but it is gorgeous.

So, half a dozen choices that combine beautiful food notes, without straying over into sticky sweetness. If you want that, then I would go through the Philosophy range. Enough sugar in there to give a dentist heart failure.


A fabulous foodie treat of an afternoon tea


Laura Mercier Perfume Tea


Buying gifts for foodies doesn’t just have to be things. In many ways, experiences will last longer than many physical things you can buy. And if your foodie fancies a bit of a treat, then I love this new afternoon tea at Harvey Nichols.

The Laura Mercier Perfume Tea is a fabulous combination of tea, cakes and fragrance, so ticks lots of boxes. Inspired by Laura Mercier’s Vanilla Gourmande fragrance, Fifth Floor executive chef Jonas Karlsson has designed the most wonderful tea, that is just a bit different to your average afternoon tea. The store’s in-house tea blenders were commissioned to create a new infusion, creating a bespoke blend of jasmine, vanilla, rose and green tea to complement the vanilla orchid, liqueur, bourbon, musk, heliotrope, daylily, sandalwood and amber notes of Vanille Gourmande.

Once you’ve got a cup of tea poured, then you can choose from a whole range of themed delicacies including smoked salmon and horseradish, cheese and pickle and egg mayonnaise finger sandwiches; scones with kumquat and vanilla marmalade and clotted cream; a vanilla and lemon-infused cupcake; a chocolate praline mousse cake; a raspberry éclair with rose and raspberry cream and chocolate, pistachio and peach macaroons. I know, I could eat all of that right now.

Whilst not cheap compared to a cup of tea and a slice of cake at Starbucks, it’s hardly comparable and so the £19.95 per person could be money very well spent. You can upgrade in various ways with champagne and gift wrapped bottles of the perfume, it depends on your budget!

I have to admit to loving this idea, and it’s one I’ve used myself. I was thrilled to be involved in the relaunch of Girard fragrances last year, with a launch at The Dorchester. The team there created canapes and cocktails that matched with the key ingredients of the 5 fragrances. I can’t take credit for it being an original idea, I was inspired by the amazing sounding dinners that Chandler Burr, the fragrance critic for the New York Times, created. I wish I’d been at a few of those too!

If you fancy the food but not the bill, then I found a recipe for Kumquat Vanilla marmalade on Lick My Spoon, which would make a great treat and change to the usual raspberry or strawberry. And if you want the fragrance then you can order it from Harvey Nichols but their delivery charges are quite steep. Stop by your nearest Space NK, they’ll have it but they don’t stock it online.

I’m off to see if I can recreate those macaroons!