Lonestar Memories: Colombina on Perfumesmellingthings. (...)Lonestar Memories makes me want to escape the mundane confines of my everyday world(...)

Lonestar Memories: Katie on Scentzilla. (...) Lonestar Memories smells of the examined life. Inside there is joy, and there is tiny heartbreak, e xisting only in reverie. The scent unravels into the consideration of past experiences, and pinings for future joys and heartbreaks(...)

Lonestar Memories: Marlen Harrison's review on PerfumeCritic.com (...) If you're a lover of leather or richer wood fragrances, this is gonna be a holy grail scent and in that case, better get two bottles.(...)

Lonestar Memories: Cait Shortell's review on Legerdenez. (...) Do you appreciate scent because you identify with the scent and its image? Does a scent have the ability to create a memory outside one’s own experience?(...)

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Rose again

Last spring I came upon a recipe on the internet for a cuisine delight: Rose vinegar. I did not find the original link anymore but would like to thank here to this anonymous rose cook. I have a couple of roses bushes, some of them thriving, some suffering, some of them heavily scented. Especially the “Charles de Gaulle”, flowering in a faint, greyish pink, smells wonderful but happens to run under the wrong name.

Edit Piaf or Brigit Bardot might be more appropriate than naming it after a general who was a great leader, a statesmen, as French as can be, leading a troubled country in war, a voice of free will and humanity from a far away lost island in the north Atlantic that was one of the few last resorts of freedom, marching with his troops back to Paris, where he, his boys and women, and the Americans who made all this possible, were heroes. This story happened 60 years ago and seems further away than it actually is. There are too many graves of unknown soldiers in France, Germany, Russia and all over the world that haven’t been visited for a long time. Our grandmothers rebuilt our houses and we forgot that at the base of them they buried their unlived dreams. We forgot our grandfathers as we never met them. Forgive me my sentimentality here. I was shaken the other day, when listening to Steve Reichs “different trains” again after a post of Cait on Legerdenez.

Back to the roses. I guess, generals love roses, too! Thus, the recipe is simple: Take the best, possibly non-flavoured vinegar you can get (aceto di modena won’t work well), pick your rose petals early in the morning, lots of them, a hand full for one cup of vinegar, best from flowers that opened their heart for the first time, mix it with the vinegar, let stand in the dark for a couple of weeks, filter and you will be amazed what gorgeous vinegar you will get! Of course, there are associations arising, to Patrick Süsskind’s perfume book, when collecting virgin rose flowers…. please apologize first before picking the petals.
What I love in this rose vinegar is how the velvety, elegant, green luscious scent of rose in captured and how one aspect of the rose perfume is lifted: Its hidden spiciness. This spiciness is completely hidden when looking at one of the abstractions of the rose’s natural perfume: The absolute. Here, the solvent mediated concentration process brings out the honey-green-sweetness, the lifted flower and its erotic power. Contrary, the steam distilled essential oil shows different qualities. The hidden spiciness of rose flowers is peeled out, and the peppery quality, with a touch of woody vibrations, beneath a lighter flower is found in a clear or light brown liquid which is far less viscous than the absolute. This is the stuff to dream your pepper-cardamon-cinnamon rose combination dreams. I have samples from Essencia, one being the Bulgarian quality (that I prefer, for its roundness) and the Turkish quality (that I find less balanced, more on the stingy side), but there is no way out: I will get a bottle of these spicy rose buds.


Blogger Cait Shortell said...

Dear Andy,
This post is evocative and I would like to use the wild Sitka or Nootka roses from Alaska this summer to make rose vinegar. I wonder what the effect would be, as they are already wonderfully spicy and sweet. I remember picking one of these fuchsia colored blooms and putting it on a pastel painted tea saucer next to my mother's sickbed in her last days in the height of summer. The scent of these flowers is always wrapped up with a sense of how incendiary and fleeting life can be.
I am waiting for summer with your recipe in mind.
Thank you.

1:33 PM  
Blogger Anya said...

Hi Andy:
I've been making rose vinegars for about 30 years. I first saw a "recipe" in Jeanne Rose's seminal book Herbs and Things. Rose vinegar is traditionally used as a facial skin toner!

One other thing I learned way back then-- by tincturing and infusing roses, you get an immediately-available true rose scent, not like how you have to dilute out ottos and absolutes.

With all the different scent categories of roses, a really ambitious perfumer could extract musky, floral, lemony, tea, fruit (from apricot to raspberry), well, the list just goes on and on. These work quite well as splashes, cologne toppers and such.

1:50 PM  
Blogger andy said...

Dear Cait
Thank you and good luck for your summer experiments. Please check out also Anya's comment... eventually you might also find interesting experimental fact on her natural perfumery group?
Dear Anya
I didn't know ab out the Skin Toner use. How interesting. Isn't there a problem with the acidity? is the vinegar used diluted? question and questions....

4:38 AM  
Blogger Anya said...

The skin *needs* an acidic mantle, as it's called. You do dilute it with a little rosewater, orange water, or plain distilled water. Rose is for normal skin, other herbs treat either dry or oily skin. One ounce of botanical for two cups of vinegar. Back to the scent thing, since this is a perfume blog ;-)

Andy, you should really experiment with making tinctures of botanicals, rose especially. Dried buds work beautifully. Also, check out the gorgeous 2005 rose otto harvest from Turkey. My supplier isn't selling it wholesale anymore, since the demand is so high, but it is worth getting some at any cost. I've been using Turkish rose otto since 89, and this 05 harvest blows them all away. With the current exchange rate, your currency should go far. Email me privately for my supplier's contact.

6:42 AM  

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