We’ve found the most relaxing, flower-filled films ever…

You can practically feel your blood-pressure drop as you watch these short but so-exquisite flower-filled films on Instagram – but can looking at pretty pictures of nature ACTUALLY (scientifically, not merely anecdotally) lower your stress levels? Apparently so…

A dear friend of mine recently posted on Facebook to say she’d been suffering panic attacks, but that watching these films had really helped her relax, to focus on something lovely for a while and just help her to breathe out again.

I’d been feeling similarly wobbly, to tell the truth, so immediately clicked and scrolled, and actually found myself sighing out-loud with how beautiful they are.

 

 

Available to watch on Li Ziqi’s Instagram, the IGTV films follow her adventures as she strolles through flower-filled meadows, picking blossoms to cook with, to arrange into stunning, so-simple floral arrangements, and even make her own floral hydrolates with a copper still in her garden. A Chinese food and country-life vlogger from Pingwu in Mianyang, Sichuan, Li has become something of an Internet celebrity within China, and is fast gaining popularity around the world as stressed-out viewers tune in to drop out for a while.

 

 

And oh! That garden! Filled with rambling roses, herbs and vegetables of all description, kittens and puppies frolic and her grandmother chuckles in what are almost overwhelmingly charming and bucolic scenes, as Li Ziqi wanders further into the forest and welcomes spring by picking magnolia flowers, celebrates ‘peach blossom day’ and makes all manner of utterly delicious (and sometimes bewildering, if you don’t happen to be familiar with them) floral-themed dishes.

 

 

Satisfyingly, every single part of the plants seems to be used, in meals, for homemade fabric dyes or in glorious floral arrangements in huge vases. There’s something very ASMR about it all – Auto Sensory Meridian Response: a tingling, relaxing sensation some people feel while watching or listening to pleasing audio – with the wind rustling the rose bushes as she meticulously chops and prepares the food, windchimes tinkling in the background.

 

 

If you’re stuck indoors and feel trapped, as I do (self-isolating while looking after two elderly, at-risk parents) watching these short films feels almost as good as running through the forests in gauzy gowns yourself… And you know, the calm that washes over you isn’t just make-believe. Scientists have proved that even just looking at pictures of trees and greenery for a few minutes a day can actually help reduce stress and depression.

 

 

Dubious? Have a read of this fascinating article in Psychology Today, which asserts that ‘the sight of trees allows the parasympathetic nervous system to gain an edge, calming the entire body and making us more relaxed. That’s a good thing given how many of us live in concrete, urban environments. A recent NIH study [2] found that in urban surroundings, “contact with real or simulated green settings as opposed to [manmade] settings has positive effects on mood, self-esteem and self-reported feelings of stress and depression.” The Japanese have longed practiced Shirin-yoku, taking in the forest atmosphere or “forest bathing,” to alleviate stress, aggression, fatigue, and feelings of depression.’

 

 

So there you have it: if we can’t find freedom for now, or if you don’t have access to a garden of your own (let alone a flower-filled forest to frolic in), you can at least tune in and switch down your stress levels awhile.

Wishing you safe and well, until we meet again fragrant friends…

By Suzy Nightingale

Creed’s sensory dinner & cocktails!

Now is the season when restaurants and cocktail menus get sparkled-up, aiming their wares at customers in the festive mood. But we’ve found something extra special for fragrance-lovers looking for something a cut above: Luxury fragrance house Creed is partnering with award-winning Kensington restaurant, Launceston Place to create a scent-inspired cocktail menu and a four-course sensory experience dinner with specially paired wines!

Available from now until 9th December 2018, mixologist Giorgio Tosato worked with Creed to create four limited-edition cocktails inspired by some of the fragrance house’s most desirable scents – Aventus, Aventus For Her, Green Irish Tweed and Royal Princess Oud.

On Monday 3rd December, the restaurant will also be hosting a Creed x Launceston Place Sensory Dinner. Fragrance expert, Eva Carlo and Head Chef, Ben Murphy will guide guests through a sensory experience including a 4 course meal and cocktail inspired by Creed Fragrances. A once-in-a-lifetime event, what an incredible gift this would be for the perfume lover in your life, or a treat for yourself…

You can purchase tickets here – there’s the option of having the specially created four-course dinner (£60.00), or plumping for the extra lavish option of the four-course dinner with wine pairing (£90.00) which we must admit would be our choice!

We’ve long been fans of mixing up the senses, and taste and smell always pair particularly well together – we rely so much on our sense of smell to taste the delicious nuances in food and drinks – so this has to be the perfect pre-Christmas treat for any perfumista/foodie and their fragrant pals. We’re drooling at the very thought of it…

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Meet the chef who's cooking with scent in Soho…

Food and fragrance have long been linked – anyone who’s had a cold will attest to the fact that even the most delicious dish becomes less appetising, because your sense of smell is impaired. But for Michelin-trained chef Pratap Chahal, having already worked with some of the greatest names around, including Gordon Ramsey; it was reading natural perfumer Mandy Aftel‘s books that truly inspired him to delve further into the world of fragrant ingredients.

It was a natural fit to collaborate with us at The Perfume Society to create exclusive Scented Suppers for our subscribers – including one for Mandy herself, when she visited the UK last year, and oh, how those fragrantly inspired dishes will linger long in the minds of all who attended. But now, both Pratap and Mandy are taking their scented adventures even further…

Launching in September 2017 in the heart of Soho, Pratap’s finally opening the restaurant he’s always dreamed of – the rather vividly named, ‘Flavour Bastard‘ is to be a journey of flavours, using all the techniques he’s spent years researching and perfecting.

The restaurant, located on Frith Street, is founded by renowned restaurateur Vic Singh collaborating with Pratap, and we predict it will be seducing the senses and blowing the minds of foodies, if the menus are anything to go by. Have a napkin handy, as we are literally drooling just reading them…

Featuring a wide selection of ‘tiny’ and ‘small’ plates designed to be shared (tapas style) or doubled-up to ‘large’ for a main – everything sounds delectable, and so reasonably priced, too! Tiny plates – all under £5 – will include a white lentil, chorizo and pecorino doughnut and steamed rice cake with house kimchi, sesame and assam. Small plates – under £8 – have such delights as miso and mango glazed aubergine with peanut crumble; a ‘clouds of curds’ with pickled chilli; steak tartare with tamarind, chilli and garlic; and tandoori fried chicken. The restaurant’s large plate menu – everything under £15 – offers diners the option of super-sizing any of the smaller plates.

Pratap’s star is definitely rising – he’s recently been featured on the BBC series, Nadiya’s British Food Adventure, with Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain visiting Pratap at home to talk about cooking with ‘perfume’ and tasting some of his fabulous creations.

Meanwhile, Mandy Aftel has just published her latest book – The Art of Flavor – and is set to inspire even more home-cooks and chefs around the world with her groundbreaking use of uniquely delicious ingredients and game-changing techniques of extracting every drop of flavour in your food.

Mandy says: ‘I wrote The Art of Flavor with my dear friend the 2-Michelin-star chef Daniel Patterson. We teach cooks at all levels how to rely on their senses–not recipes–when making a meal, arguably making this the last cookbook you’ll ever need. From historical examples to the scientific underpinnings to pragmatic rules & phrases, we help home cooks understand better how to achieve the flavours they want.’

We cannot wait to taste for ourselves – both the menu at Pratap’s new restaurant, and the recipes in Mandy’s new book. Scent so good… you can eat it? Tuck in!
Written by Suzy Nightingale

The first gourmand: Brillat-Savarin – an 18th Century chemist who knew you are what you eat (and smell!)

Long before ‘gourmand’ foodie-inspired fragrances were even dreamed of and while smell was still perceived as the poor cousin of our other senses, one 18th Century polymath was championing the exquisite pleasures that taste and smell bring to everyday life. And more than mere pleasure alone: in fact, he heralded the proper appreciation and scientific study of these long-foregranted senses…
‘Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.’ So said Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, 1755-1826, a French lawyer and politician whom, apart from law, studied chemistry and medicine, and eventually gained fame as an epicure and gastronome.
 

 
His seminal work Physiologie du goût (The Physiology of Taste), contains Savarin’s philosophies and observations on the pleasures of the food, which he very much considered a science – long before the birth of molecular gastronomy and serious studies of taste and smell had begun. And smell was very much at the forefront of the gastronomique experience, Savarin had worked out; exclaiming:
‘Smell and taste are in fact but a single composite sense, whose laboratory is the mouth and its chimney the nose.’
Previously considered the least important of the senses – indeed, smell remains the least scientifically explored, though technology is making huge leaps in our understanding – Savarin proclaimed that,’The sense of smell, like a faithful counsellor, foretells its character.’
 

 
Published only two months before his death, the book has never been out of print and still proves inspirational to chefs and food-lovers to this day.
 

 
Preceding the remarkable leaps in knowledge high-tech equipment has allowed and revealing how entwined our sense of smell is to the taste and enjoyment of food, Savarin also observed how our noses protect us from eating potentially harmful substances, explaining ‘…for unknown foods, the nose acts always as a sentinal and cries: “Who goes there?”‘ while coming to the conclusion that a person’s character may be foretold in their taste and smell preferences… ‘Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.’
We devoted an entire issue of our award-winning magazine The Scented Letter (now available in print, and with online subscriptions worldwide!) to taste and smell – as of course we are gourmand fans in ALL the senses. And so it is heartening to know that Brillat was on our side here, with this extremely useful advice we selflessly pledge to carry through life:
‘Those who have been too long at their labor, who have drunk too long at the cup of voluptuousness, who feel they have become temporarily inhumane, who are tormented by their families, who find life sad and love ephemeral… they should all eat chocolate and they will be comforted.’
Wise words, indeed. We plan to enjoy all the sweet temptations that come our way, in scent form and in chocolate. Talk about having your cake and wearing it, too!
Written by Suzy Nightingale

Illuminum 95%…. the delicious link between taste and smell

Illuminum are ‘pushing the boundaries of the possible’ and exploring the myriad links between between taste and scent. Ever ones to enjoy explorations in both of those areas, we set out to discover more…

Did you know that 95% of what we perceive as a taste sensation is actually constructed from our sense of smell? It sounds astonishing, but anyone who has taken part in our immersive How to Improve Your Sense of Smell Workshops can attest to the power of that discovery [our next one is in Brighton, August 21stcome and join us!]
Indeed, anyone who has ever suffered from a cold and then attempted to eat some comforting bowl of nourishment – only to discover it tastes of almost nothing (or simply unpleasant) – will suddenly have realised the intricate connections between smell and taste…
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Illuminum London proudly straddle the worlds of art and fragrance, pushing the boundaries of how we experience scent and altering our pre-conceived perceptions of smell itself. Having collaborated with many artists, designers and architechts over the years, it seems only natural they should now be working with chefs and exploring that vital link between food and fragrance. Illuminum invited innovative chefs Jackson Boxer, Yuki Gomi and Tom Wolfe to create three distinctive fragrances that explored the interfaces of this connection, playing with our notions of what we think our nose knows.
Illuminum say: ‘Outside the world of perfume, it is chefs who use their sense of smell on a daily basis to spark or guide their imagination. For Illuminum, this cross-disciplinary collaboration with three thoughtful practitioners, each with a clear view of the role and potential of scent, is a unique opportunity to transcend the borders of experience, expectation and practice in order the fashion the new. Formulated in partnership with expert perfumers, the three new scents demonstrate the brand’s ethos of carrying a passion for perfume into fulfilling realms of shared experience, including the worlds of art and culture. For Illuminum, fragrance is an art form in its own right.’
Illuminum Bruswick House

‘Founder of the Brunswick House restaurant and bar in London’s Vauxhall, Jackson Boxer brings his individuality to bear on every facet of the guest experience. Here, within a unique architectural emporium, the antiques themselves are for sale as part of a spirited homage to good taste.’ Explains Jackson:  ‘Food and wine have long provided the framework around which I construct memory. Since I mainly perceive this through scent, the opportunity to create a fragrance with Illuminum that would not only stir me, but also represent a range of hard-to-articulate feelings about cuisine, was fascinating.’ His fragrance features labdanum, oak and cedarwood for a warmly woody Oriental to set the nose tingling…
Illuminum Yuki&bottle
‘For Yuki Gomi, master of Japanese cooking, teacher, and founder of Yuki’s Kitchen, the ‘95 Percent’ series collaboration is an opportunity to reconnect with a childhood spent in the foothills of Mount Fuji, home to all the subtlety and poetic suggestiveness of Japan’s culinary tradition.’ For Yuki‘s scent, the notes osmanthus, green tea, tangerine and vetiver are entwined to entice the senses…
Illuminum Tom Wolfe
‘London-based Tom Wolfe pioneered the fusion of food with art and product design, carving out a uniquely flamboyant niche in the capital’s culinary landscape. This collaboration with Illuminum is a chance to show off his dazzling talent for drama, story, spectacle and cultural allusion.’ Tom Wolfe #234 twists fennel infused with bergamot, geranium and neroli and a base of pine tree with amber to intrigue…
Illuminum 95% fragrances £80 for 50ml eau de parfum
Buy them at Selfridges
Written by Suzy Nightingale