Bitter/Sweet: The ‘Bought-Unsniffed’ Report

Christian Dior Jules fragrance

Years ago, while perusing Larousse Gastronomique, I saw a beautiful photo of a cherry clafoutis. The clafoutis had been baked in an emerald-green provençale dish and had been placed on a black-and-cream-colored toile de Jouy cloth that covered a shady spot beneath an ancient olive tree; an antique tin bucket, full of sparkling ice and a bottle of wine, had been set on the ground next to the clafoutis. It all looked so delightful! I had to eat clafoutis! So I made clafoutis (several times) and each time I wondered: how can fresh eggs, butter, milk, sugar and sweet cherries turn into THIS mess, this eggy, soggy pile that becomes inedible just minutes out of the oven? Being tempted to buy a perfume you have not smelled is a lot like finding a new recipe: you read the ingredients, look at a gorgeous illustration, and think “I love everything in this! It sounds and looks delicious!” Acting on a hunch that everything will work out fine, you prepare the recipe (or, as the case may be, buy the perfume). Sometimes you relish the result. Sometimes you become nauseous.

I’ve had decades to learn my perfume lessons. I know I shouldn’t buy a fragrance without sampling it beforehand…

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Borsari Violetta di Parma fragrance review

Borsari Violetta di Parma fragrance

Violetta di Parma was said to have been created by the monks at the Monastery of the Annunciata for Marie Louise, the second wife of Napoleon Bonaparte. In 1870, Lodovico Borsari obtained the formula and launched his own perfume line with the fragrance.

Violetta di Parma is a simple fragrance, only lightly sweet, with green notes and a hint of earthiness. It is not a startlingly beautiful perfume, nor would I go so far as to call it interesting. The first time I tried it, I thought it was nice but perhaps no big deal, and it was only later, after trying a myriad of other violet fragrances, that I decided it was perfection, largely because of what it is not: it is not powdery, or dark & musty, or candy-sweet…

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Orange blossom fragrances: a few Italians

Bitter OrangeBitter Orange

After trying Santa Maria Novella Acqua di Colonia yesterday, I thought I would start today by spraying on as many orange blossom perfumes as I could dig out of my jumble of samples & bottles. There were more than I thought, so I am limiting myself to the Italians. I can’t wait for summer — it is so much easier to try a whole mess of fragrances at once when you can go sleeveless and apply right up the arms to the shoulder. Paper test strips just aren’t as much fun.

One of my favorite Italian orange blossom scents is i Profumi di Firenze Zagara. It starts rather sharp and very heavy on the bergamot, but calms to a lovely orange blossom with citrus notes and just the right amount of sweetness. It is very sparkling, cheerful and summery, and has good lasting power…

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