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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Back Soon

By Tom

Sorry I've been Radio Silent for a while. I've been having many trips to the dentist fixing myself up and it's actually been affecting my sense of smell slightly.

Actually, that's a big old lie. It's just made me feel hideous and old and annoyed that I can bounce back at (gasp! he admits it!) 50 the way I could when I was 20.

But it's all over and I promise to review something new next week.

Incidentally, I've been pulling out the heavy hitters as comfort for the "why do I have to do this s^&t" moans I've been indulging in. I write "indulging" because it is- I don't have cancer, my home hasn't been swept away in a mudslide and my loved ones aren't in an airliner on the bottom of some sea. But I am always amazed at the power that scent has over me. I can be energized, calmed or even aroused by different scents. 

So what scents to you turn to in times of stress?

Image: Wikipedia

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Rainforest radiance: Samarinda by Providence Perfume Company

By Donna

I am always eager to try a new fragrance from Providence Perfume Company, because I know it will be interesting and stand apart from the crowd. Samarinda is no exception, and testing it has involved keeping my nose firmly glued to my wrist. It's one of those perfumes that has so many interesting notes that it's hard to focus on trying to analyze it; I keep getting pulled in by one thing or another and “following” it with my nose, only to be led astray by something else.

Samarinda is not a heavy-handed Orientalist fragrance loaded with spices and patchouli, as one might expect from something inspired by Indonesia, but rather a subtle perfume that mesmerizes by stealth, unfolding one beautiful note after another until its full glory is revealed. It captured me immediately with a particularly excellent cardamom opening – that is my favorite of all tropical spices and it's usually relegated to a supporting role in masculine scents and often overwhelmed by bolder notes, so it's a rare treat to find it in a fragrance I would actually wear. A delicious sweet orange is the perfect accompaniment. The floral heart that includes a rich orange blossom is sweet and redolent, but its headiness is tempered by a deep impression of Sumatran coffee, enough to give the whole thing a backbone, and not overdone; it is by no means a coffee perfume. Just when you think that is the final act, the base notes begin to peek out, and they are quite unusual – jasmine rice (another one of my favorite aromas), rum, vanilla oakwood, and of all things, roasted seashells. I have smelled the last in a couple of other natural fragrances and it's fascinating, a warm mineral note that's not really smoky, more earthy and salty. Combined with the savory aura of the jasmine rice, it creates a feeling like a sense of place. I can imagine a small island village where the smells of cooking mingle with the aromas of spices and jungle flowers, and over all there is dust and mud, perhaps the essence of the rice paddies where man and water buffalo work as one. A faint scent of the sea comes in on a languid breeze.

Like all fragrances from this company, Samarinda is completely natural, and 5% of sales will be donated to the World Wildlife Fund to help preserve habitat and critically endangered wildlife in Borneo and Sumatra. I can't think of a more worthy cause, and this is definitely a worthy perfume. There is nothing discordant or “difficult” about it, just pure pleasure and a certain restfulness and ease as it spirits you away to your own private island dream. Perfumer Charna Ethier has once again shown us that natural perfumery is limited only by the imagination, and hers apparently knows no boundaries.

Image credit: Samarinda logo and bottle via
Disclaimer: I received my sample of Samarinda  for testing directly from Providence Perfume Company.

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Saturday, March 08, 2014

Foodie Sunday: Snow, Snow and More Snow - Grilled Cheese and Carrot, Dill and Ginger Soup

By Beth Schreibman Gehring

It’s been too cold here in Ohio for way to long.  All of us are getting cabin fever and the dogs are quite uncontrollable so I keep having to find ways to keep us all content. Frankly most of these generally involve craft beer and comfort food!

Today being no different in terms of weather or emotion, I woke up craving grilled cheese; a food that I truly love. The problem is that lately it doesn’t love me. I’ve given up gluten and I don't regret it because until recently there’s been nothing available to me that could even remotely begin to resemble bread in my book.

That is until last Saturday  when I discovered a new and quite magnificent gluten free baker at my local indoor farmers market.  Their name is Uncommon Grains. Watch out for them. They’re a cottage business right now, but I don’t think that they will be for long.

Any of you who have tried gluten free bread in the past know that it is essentially way too dry and for the most part a totally tasteless, crumbly and strange substitute for bread .The bread that I bought today is amazing; flavorful and chewy with perfect air pockets and blessed with a crust that would make a Parisian expat weep.

Today I went back specifically for their rye loaf, because I was sure that it would make a perfect grilled cheese sandwich. Their rye loaf is studded with caraway and has the most amazing rye/pumpernickel bread aroma. I thought that it would be perfect with the artisanal Colby cheese with dill that I’d bought the same day. 

We are so lucky in Cleveland; our origins are in farming as well as industry so incredible farm to table products are available all year round. We’ve got inner city farms, year round CSA’s and lots of farmers markets going on all of the time. There’s never a shortage of good fresh food! After picking up some fresh organic whisky scented sausage, young carrots and some chocolate peanut butter hemp seed bars I went home happy and ready to cook! A few drops of neroli , sage and vanilla essential oil rubbed through my hair (in case a special someone came into the kitchen!) and I was ready!

 Of course any grilled cheese worthy of the name needs some soup to dunk it in, so I played with the dill theme and came up with a savory fresh buttermilk, carrot, dill and ginger soup. My kitchen smells like a buttery on this perfect midwinter day and all of the dill is scenting the air with its cool, crisp fragrance. The caraway seeds from the bread are smoldering like fine incense and the Colby is melting over the edges of the toasting bread.  There are tall glasses of cold, freshly pressed winter cider.  When I take it all down to Jim, he takes a bite and shuts his eyes, smiles that glorious smile of his and for once, I don’t mind the cold nor the falling snow at all. 

What do you like to eat on a cold winters day?  Any thoughts on grilled cheese? If you want my recipes just let me know in the comments and I'll send them straight to you! 


Thursday, March 06, 2014

Short Break

By Tom

I'm having a bit of dental work done so I am going to take a couple weeks off from reviewing. I hope to be back in two weeks. Best to you all.