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Best in Scent For the Holidays

Scent of a Baker Special Holiday Issue

(Warning: This is a long note intended as a reference feature. It does not include recipes!)

For the last couple of months, I have spent many wonderful hours browsing department stores, as well as sniffing out exclusive treasures online, reading books, magazines, and in general, broadly researching the world of fragrance in order the bring you a very special round-up in this holiday issue of Scent of a Baker. It includes several incredible new scents as well as classic favorites (of mine) in perfumes, as well as home fragrance products. Usually these ‘finds’ appear in my Scent of a Baker column at the website, but as the holidays are upon us, and scent is the gift (to give, receive, or give yourself), I am proud to present a comprehensive listing of the ‘crème de la crème’.

Be forewarned, this is a long list, so you can print it out to go shopping with or where there are links to companies and products that interest you, simply follow the link. In most cases, there is still plenty of time to order items. It is a great introduction to marvelous companies and scents and does double duty as your wish list for Valentine’s Day 2004.

Wishing you a holiday that is scented with delight,

Marcy Goldman
Baker, Host, and Writer
www.BetterBaking.Com

Scent of a Baker, Special Edition December 2003

Exceptional Candles

Candles which are across-the-board popular these days, vary from incredibly special (as some I have chosen for you) to scentless, scented candles that ‘look’ pretty but smell like….well, nada. Despite being an amazingly competitive market (the pharmacy, the gas station and dollar stores all sell candles; Ebay does a brisk business with them) and despite the ton of choices out there, my list is remarkably select. I have tried far more than I am showcasing but these are what I would term exceptional. They all feature scents that are heavenly, that last, packaging that is either upscale, unique or both, and concepts that are classic, unique or both. Here are my favs for 2003:

Archipelago Botanicals:

Waxing lyrical……

1-800-399-4994

Archipelago Botanicals does not have a website (yet) so call them the 800 number. They do sell their product on other sites. If you call them, they will be pleased to guide you to places online, and nationally that sell their product (or try Google.com for a search)

BUT (and this is a huge but) they are about the best in candles in a few ways.

Firstly, their scent combinations are magic. Pure magic. Frankly, there is nothing to my mind that comes close to the sheer artistry in fragrance as there is in the broad Archipelago line. The clean burning, soy based candles come in cylinders, tins, the classy glass gift jars (the hot trend in candles these days), traveling candles, votives and frosted glass vanity candles. The packaging itself, of any of the products, is award winning – Nothing on the market compares at all.  The very packaging elicits a gasp of delight the minute you see them. It is almost a bonus that the packages actually contain something. The colors of the products themselves are totally unique: pastels and pewters, olive greens, stunning creams and wheaty hues, and vibrant reds. The names of the candles are equally beguiling – there is Madagascar, Paramour, Stonehenge, Havana, Bosc, Luna, and Belize – which is one of my all time favorite. Scents of pomegranate, tangerine, rhubarb and vanilla and fresh roses, as well as Linden and Fruit Wood (some of their more masculine scents) are just a bare sampling of the whole line. Can you imagine a candle with fig, red currant, and pomegranate? Or, one of walnut wood and a hint of espresso? Their holiday line is an extravagance of  three main themes: (available in various packaging and sizes) Peace: vanilla, chestnut and pecan or Spirit : bayberry, pine and clove or Joy: a heady mix of orange, cinnamon and spice). If you were to buy only one candle this entire year, I would sprint to order a Belize candle from Archipelago. Oh- a bonus: Archipelago candles, even unlit, waft a scent that is remarkable and fills an entire room without ever having bringing a match anywhere near them. But you must light them and enjoy the full fragrance. These are heaven scent.


 

www.jeffreyfisherhome.com

1-800-820-9881

 

This chic Canadian company is making big waves, primarily for their museum-worthy pillows and designer linens, and select, luxury housewares. Their candles is a new line, a companion product to go with the pillows and linens, the company is renown for. Known for exceptional pillows, and linens. The Atelier Collection got raves when it was used in a recent Sex in the City episode and the new line of Monogram pillows is soon to be a Nieman Marcus exclusive.

Jeffrey Fisher is also soon to star on his own show for W Network, called Arresting Design. But the candle line, is available exclusively through Holt Renfrew in Canada (for now and Holt Renfrew  does do phone orders) is a vibrant collection of scents including Fig Cassis, Red Apple Rose (a must!), Mango Plumeria, Nova Scotia Mayflower, exotic Bamboo Jasmine, Roasted Vanilla and Fresh Linen. The candles, like the soon-to-be-collector item pillows, set a mood and burn clean and long in oversized (a hefty 7 ounce) votive jars. We set them out in the BetterBaking.Com Test Kitchen last week and guests as well as baking students went ga-ga over them. They are just sumptuous! The company is also known for their stellar fabric Christmas stockings, which, like everything else they do, are pure art.  The pillows at their website are soon to be available online and the company welcomes email of inquiry.

 

Blue Mountain Candle Company

www.bluemountaincandle.net

 

I stumbled on this candle line and discovered almost the largest variety ever (over 180 scents) of double-wicked, doubled-scented, lead free candles. The candles are reasonably priced ($9.99) for really substantial candles (about a pound each) and whereas it is not that easy to order them (Blue Mountain seems more geared towards fund raising than orders of one and two candles) this Pennsylvania candle company has candle flavors and aromas that makes your mouth water. The line includes: Spice Cake and Doughnut, Strawberry Rhubarb, Bubble Gum, Ice Tea, Vanilla Orange, at least four (4! Count ‘em!) types of Apple candles, Snickerdoodle, Oatmeal Cookie, and Cranapple to name just a few. They come delightfully packed in squat country glass jars and what makes these stand out is the deep, intense, lasting scent in each candle. Unlike some lines, the scent of these does not dissipate. The moment you walk into a room where you have even one solo Blue Mountain Candle burning, you walk into a haven of scent that permeates every crevice. These are about the best value for the quality – and certainly the largest choice in mainstream scents – with a nice balance between sweet as well as fresh, and floral ones. I have a strawberry rhubarb candle from them that makes my whole home smell like I baked a springtime pie.

 

Aunt Sadie’s Available via www.everafterstore.com

Or Call 1-877-723-4371 for online retailers.

Aunt Sadie’s is a bit of an quirky, upstart company out of Boston that has a pretty neat and wonderful concept in a quality candle product. Each candle comes in a 8-10 ounce can that has as 70-hour burn time. The labels on the cans are quite retro/vintage with ‘attitude’ names : Aunt Sadie’s “Get Lucky’ Candle, or Woof, or Seasoned Shoppers, Gingerbread, Coffee, Cherry Pie or Beach in a Can.

Most of the fragrances are spicy, or oriented towards pie and spruce (you will think you are in a pine forest) or popular green tea. These are cut and nifty and happen to smell great and be a perfect gift for the hard to please, new friend, new romance, or candle-crazed collector.

 

 

Yankee Candle Company

www.yankeecandle.com

This long time favorite company is known for their quality scents – in a variety of products (jarred candles, bookmarks, votives) and as with the top scented candle companies, those from Yankee smell great, burn clean, and last very well. Their strongest scented product is their jars, which they called Housewarmers which are a best value in the 22-ounce size.  Yankee has some standard scents but also has many new ones that come (wonderful!) and go (drat). If you have one you love that Yankee has discontinued you might find it on Ebay where bids for ‘retired’ Yankee favorites (i.e. Strawberry, Carrot Cake, and Oatmeal Cookie) do a very brisk business. My favorites (and bearing in mind I prefer sweet scents over fresh and floral – which they have many to choose from) include the outstanding (and strongest scented) McIntosh Apple, Apple Rose (one-of-a-kind – order a dozen! Before they retire them too!), Festival of Lights for Chanukah, Cranberry Chutney, Pumpkin Pie, Vanilla Cookie, Merlot (yes, a wine scented candle), and the warming Blueberry Muffin.  I also purchase their scented tealights to go with my many oil burners, by the way. Yankee also has many combinations of spice if you like a cinnamon fragrance and cinnamon and spice fragrance. One of their nicest, sweetest gifts is a twisted-stem, wire made, heart-handled, match holder or taper lighter. It seizes on a match and allows you to light candles with wicks deep inside a jar or hard to get to place. Candles, plus this taper lighter thingie (check their website) and a wick trimmer would be a great gift trio.


 

 

Incense

 

I know some of you of thinking – yuck, incense! But there are so many amazing ones out there. It is not your mother’s (nor grandmother’s) incense anymore. Sure, patchouli and amber scents still exist, but there is a host of stuff that is subtle, mellow, and well, even if you hate incense, you will forget that you do. Remember, in scent, to get a house that is gently fragrant from top to bottom, you have to layer scent (like perfume, eau de toilette and body lotion in the same perfume scent) to get a pervasive effect. Incense is one of those tools for layering.

 

L’Occitane Incense

http://www.loccitane.com

This French company has many products that I will share with you but their incense is outstanding. There are a host of scents to choose from,  but the Vanilla, Melissa Pear, Honey as well as fresh Lavender are simply riveting.

The incense comes packed in aesthetic aluminum tubes with artistic labels, 40 to a tin. The incense is light but definitely ‘there’ and a stick of their honey with a stick of vanilla incense will fill your house with a homey, sweet scent that is especially welcoming in winter. They also sell fragrance cones. Visit them at their U.S. or Canadian sites. L’Occitane also gets huge kudos for their Braille inscribed packaging. This is a perfect gift – packaging is winning; product beyond the pack.

 

 

Pier I

Ginger Peach Incense at Pier 1

www.pier1.com

 

Pier 1 is the place to go for their famed Ginger Peach incense which comes in a metal tube and still always smells good enough to want to eat.

 


 

John Wright Company Enamel Steamers

www.jwright.com or 800-444-9364

 

You can use a cast iron teakettle from The Lodge or another treasure, a terrific enamel on cast iron affair called a Steamer, from the John Wright Company.

This company makes a whole line of kettles and steamers (as well as spectacled culinary ware). The lattice top allows steam to escape (you can also see water evaporating and know when to refill) and gently suffuses your kitchen and surrounding area with spicy aromas if you use vanilla oil or extract, and orange oil and slices in the water. Alternatively, I fill the steamer with lavender or lilac oil and a handful of potpourri or, you can add Body Shop Oils or oils from www.loccitane.com (I used Fruits Confits or Candied Fruit) or heavenly Claire Burke’s famous Applejack and Peel Stovetop Simmering Oil (widely in stores or via www.belae.com) . A steaming kettle is a wonderful seasonal gift that is a heirloom  gift that does years and years of wonderful, scented service and is really an irreplaceable scent maker. It is a simply gorgeous gift and scent accouterment to have or give.

 

Specialty Soaps

 

Archipelago Botanicals can be reached (to inquire about retailers and online retailers) at alexim@archipelago-usa.com (and let them know you heard about them from BetterBaking.Com). Their website is in progress. Their products are also searchable via google.com.

 

Archipelago, as with their scented candles, everything this company does is top of the line and unique. Their soaps are another gift-to-yourself must. Their triple milled soaps are beautifully packaged and weigh in at a hefty 8 1/2 ounces (that is over a half pound bar) and the Rhubarb Vanilla and Apricot Basil are memorable. The soaps are lathery, but do not melt away and the fragrance stays.

 

 

www.Roger-Gallet.com

Roger et Gallet is a renown French company that specializes in pleasant, affordable perfumes, widely available in department stores through the States and Canada and online. Their lotions are also very fine but their soaps, are hefty, wondrous, luxurious bars that, as with Archipelago, lather up but never melt away. They are never gummy or soft mush but the scent? Oh my. A few musts include their Honey bar, their Grapefruit Orange, and my personal favorite, the Lettuce scented bar. All their soaps just have a very fresh scent to them and scent up the bathroom, as well as the bath and shower, even when not being use. The bars are about 8 ounces – quite generous, and priced about $6.00 make a superlative stocking stuffer, Chanukah gift, or hostess present for the holidays. One other product I recommend from Roger-Gallet is their Green Tea Body Lotion. Their newest scent in soap and lotion, as well as cologne is a Ginger fragrance.

 

    Perfumes

 

This is a bountiful year as far as perfumes go. There is much out there that is new and special. Before you gravitate towards the tried and true, or the scent everyone is wearing, consider some of the special lines below or call on a store that is a specialist and stocks different things. There is no reason to smell like everyone else (and yes, if 100 women wear Chanel 5, no matter what about body chemistry, you will smell 100 versions of Chanel 5).

 

Of the perfume establishment, here are my recommendations: Guerlain’s perfumes (one of the last companies still using all natural ingredients), Tea Rose (The Perfumer’s Workshop – if you cannot find it anywhere, then try Ebay), anything in Annick Goutal (you can’t go wrong with this line – exquisite), Intrusion by Oscar de la Renta, and Romance by Ralph Laurent and Kielh’s Cucumber Oil Spray. This year they are also touting Stella (as in Paul McCartney’s designer daughter Stella) –which is nice but lack dimensions  - i.e. pleasant enough if you like a light scent of fresh cut flowers. Jo Malone’s bright, sparkly perfumes are for modern, sporty types but her Fruits de Forest is a touch more romantic. Speaking of romance, Marc Jacob by Marc Jacob is a luscious gardenia scent few can resist (it is selling off the shelves online and in stores), and Dolce and Gabbana get my nod in two of their scents: Light Blue, which is appealingly apple-ish, and Sicily which is a sensuous, sunny scent of honey, roses and Bergamot. Michael Kors is doing well, providing you have the presence to wear an intensely Tuberose bouquet. It is sensual as all get out but you have to be able to carry it off. All these scents are nationally available in major department stores, or online, at the websites of their creators. For the more standard scents, you can try www.Sephora.com for online shopping. For more unusual or cutting edge scents as well as personal service, bar none and the place to find the more exotic, upscale, imports, and spectacular fragrance, I rely on www.Aedes.com and manager Karl Bradl (more on Aedes below) to find them. Last, if a limited edition Lalique flacon of perfume, along with an exquisite perfume intrigues, then go to www.lalique where you will find stunning perfume bottles and scents to match. Their Le Baiser (the kiss) is one of my favorites but this company has created signature fragrances that if not for their limited editions, would become classics.

 

Green Tea perfume is a chosen daily scent (for work, the gym, out doing errands) and Elizabeth Arden is a great version of green tea, as is L’Occitane’s Green Tea and for those who want feminine in a green tea scent Byvgari’s offers two choices: Cologne au The Vert as well as a more intense version of same: Extreme. Bvlgari, who is also a fashion and watch company par excellence,  does green tea with more subtly but it is a simply lovely bouquet of a most uplifting trendy fragrance of the year. If you opt for something warmer, the Body Shop’s Vanilla Cologne Spray or their Vanilla Oil is a good option – especially if you combine it with something else (i.e. I use vanilla, as a perfume, sparingly – it works nicely with a bit of rose oil or green tea, or grapefruit essential oil).

 

Aedes  - Perfume Store Par Excellence
 www.aedes.com

 

This is an exceptional store in New York that is perfume exclusives Heaven.

If it is rare, unique, special, exotic, exclusive, or upscale or simply not-what-they-are-all-showing-this-year (and yet, still offers some of those too), Aedes is where you can find it. It is also totally dedicated to personal service and attention, even by email – which is a must in perfume shopping, online and otherwise. What is also great about this perfume store is that they will graciously send you 7 perfume samples for $12.50 (handling and shipping charge) for you to try before you buy. If you contact then, please send BetterBaking.com sent you. Soon, Aedes will also be carrying Serge Lutens, from France. I tested the line and found them extraordinarily unique, light, feminine and acutely well-crafted perfumes. There are so many scents available from Aedes, as well as perfumer’s specialty candles. I suggest you email for their holiday catalogue (which is a precious and sought after as the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue) but also let them know what scents appeal (fruity, fresh, floral, warm, spicy) so they can guide you towards choosing a scent or the 7 perfume samples. Some of Aedes customers include Donatella Versace, Dolce and Gabbana, Georgia Armani, and hopefully, you (!).

 

 

Cathusia’s Il Profumi di Capri.

Aedes is one of the first in America to carry one scent in particular that I have fallen in love with. It is Cathusia’s Il Profumi di Capri. Italian made of all pure ingredients, based on formulae that dates back to methods first utilized by the monks of the Carthusian Monastery of St. Giamoco. The hallmark fragrance Fiori di Capri was inspired by the flowers that celebrated the arrival of Queen Giovanna d’Angio in 1380. In 1948, the old perfume recipes the monastery were revealed (by permission of the Pope, no less) to a chemist of Torino who created the Carthusia perfumery/laboratory. More information is at www.carthusia.com. There are a few perfumes available but Fiori di Capri is a perfume for angels and goddesses. It is light and floral and almost a whisper more than a perfume. The main notes are Lily of the Valley, Wild Carnation blended with sandalwood, oak moss and ylang ylang. It comes in a modern version of the old-style, glamorous perfume bottles of old, in a crystal clear square bottle with a fabric atomizer bulb attached.  The line also includes Pot-Pourri, Home Fragrance Sticks, Room and Linen Spray and other perfumes such as Capri (fig leaf and tea leaves), Aria di Capri (lemons, oranges, and notes of peach and mimosa), Caprissimo, Gelsomini and Cathusia Lady, each floral symphonies that are famous among perfume aficionados, and each more feminine and unique than the other. Aria di Capri is coming in the new year.

 

Demeter

Freedom Marketing Group

Information 516-487-5187

To Order: www.fashion-planet.com/shopping/demeter/demeterhome.html

 

What do you say about a line of colognes, candles, and room sprays that has everything from delicate florals like Wet Garden, Lilac and Freesia to spirited fragrances such as Gin and Tonic, Cosmopolitan, manly notions like This Is Not A Pipe, trendy scents like Sticky Pudding  or Tira Misu, fun scents like Dirt, Paperback, and Laundromat, and a host of food scents (for room or personal use) such as Sugar Cookie, Cinnamon Toast, Condensed Milk, Birthday Cake, and seasonal sensations such as Cranberry, Croquembuche, Fruit Cake, and Scottish Shortbread? You just buy a slew! I use Demeter for personal fragrance (and combine a few scents at once), or, use their foodier scents for room spray, stationary, linens, greeting cards, cookbooks, and to scent up gifts from the kitchen (the note cards!). This company has been newly resurrected in the last year or so and plan on seeing more novel, quality fragrances and concepts, like no where else.  This is an exciting line that you will see more of soon – as it is being relaunched. They also have candles, and oversized bars of soaps in companion scents. Demeter’s scents are all at once quality, fun, novel, intriguing, and different than just about anything else in the scent marketplace. As soon as word gets out and their new website is up, you will also see more new things (Try Brownie scent for all your Valentine’s Day greetings). Keep you posted.

 

www.aftelier.com

Mandy Aftel is a perfumer that is a rarity – she only works with all natural, essential oils to create her original, masterpiece perfumes. She teaches perfumer making, has written a phenomenal book on the subject but is renown for her custom perfumes – for those wanting a perfume brand that no one else has.

She offers a few exotic ready-to-wear perfumes: Parfum De Maroc, that is a sultry concoction of Bulgarian rose, myrrh, and bitter orange, a Citrus Perfume that is a freshly fruity/floral combination, and Blond Tabac for men or women, among other scents and products but her forte is custom perfume making, using only essential oils and other natural ingredients (no lab synthetics for her!)  and she works closely with clients to create something special. Madonna is a noted client.  Aftel, like Aedes in New York is the sort of perfume source you can pass on your preferences to in order to get a fix on what would work for you. Aftel is also noted for her beautiful perfume bottles which are almost as beautiful as her signature perfumes.

 

 

www.fruits-passion.com

 

Another Canadian company with a line that is geared towards young and no so young and affordable, great buys in beautiful scents. They offer lotions, candles, sprays, diffuser oils but their colognes including: Orange-Cantaloupe, Crab Apple, Mango Papaya, Green Apple and the Jasmine Tea and Tea Rose are incomparable. The emphasis is on light, airy, bath, body and perfume products largely based on the scents of fruits from the field and orchards. They have unusual diffuser oils (both fragrant and aromatherapy) and their Clementine-Lavender Perfume will leave people breathless behind you. They have stores in Canada and provide online ordering for the U.S. and Canada.

 

 

www.loccitane.com

This company, noted for is soaps, incense, lotions, and balms, has a few colognes that are bright and appealing –including a Vanilla Cologne and a crisp Green Tea cologne. Their newest line (and check out their incense mentioned above) is a heady salute to Feuilles d’Oranger and it is a scent that is sunnily orange and sweet but floral. It comes in body lotion, perfume, and soaps. L’Occitane also has a remarkable men’s line of after shave products, colognes, face and lip balms, and all manner of manly care products that are crisp, clean but retain a nice Gallic sophistication. This is a wonderful line that you will return to for their new items and to stock up on ones you become devoted to. A tin of their honey incense, Green Tea Cologne, and Feuilles d’Orange Shower Gel, and some Creamy Honey Lip balm makes a divine selection of gifts to introduce you to L’Occitane.

 


For more on scent, enjoy my other features:

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