Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Slow Food, Slow Celebration, Slow Travel (hint)

I've had a lot to celebrate lately, in both my professional life as a perfumer and President of the Natural Perfumers Guild, and my personal life. After 2.5 years of grueling work, I'm able to take some time off, party more, enjoy life and just have fun. One of these events was taking my 88 year-old mother to a favorite Slow Food restaurant of mine, Michael's Genuine Food and Drink in Miami's Design District. It's practically a neighborhood place for me, being just a short drive from my house. We had reservations for a little before noon, as I knew the place gets slammed with guests and I wanted to get her settled into her seat before the place filled. When we got to the Design District, Art Basel crowds filled the streets as the galleries were open and excitement was in the air. It was very festive and a lot of fun! Michael's is set back in a treed courtyard, with the choice of indoor or outdoor seating. We choose indoor, even though the weather was nice because the cool, dark interior of the "gallery" side of the restaurant was so serene and seductive.

Started off with some champagne, and then feasted on the delicious kitchen creations. The Slow Food concept - handmade, artisan food, preferably from the farm to the back door of the restaurant delivery, no fuss, just great fresh stuff - has a lot in common with the Slow Scent philosophy and slogan of the Guild. We s.l.o.w.l.y enjoyed our lunch, relaxing for two hours of pleasure and people watching.

The next day, the following appeared in the local paper, and just confirms that Slow Food, even in a glitzy town like Miami that is not an international foodie center, draws in the biggiest foodies when they're in town. From the Miami Herald:
Star chef Wolfgang Puck was seen having lunch with dessert chef and cookbook author Maida Heatter at Michael's Genuine Food & Drink on Tuesday afternoon.

Celebrated chef Alice Waters, was spotted having a solo dinner at Michael's Genuine Food & Drink Thursday night. Waters told general manager Charles Bell that everyone told her if she had one night in Miami, she had to eat there. Which is exactly what she did. Waters, who some say is the founder of California Cuisine, ordered the wood oven roasted giant prawns with garlic and lime, the beet and tomato salad, the Berkshire pork pizza with mission figs and strawberry-kiwi sorbet.

Expected at Michael's on Friday: Martha Stewart and party of 8.

Hey, Alice, that pizza was fabulous, wasn't it? ;-) Morsels of wood-oven roasted pork, mission figs, red onions, fontina cheese, thin crust, topped with baby arugula when it was removed from the oven. Ok, I'll admit I have a vicarious thrill thinking I ate the same dish as Alice Waters within a few hours of her. I'm very lucky - I can go back for more, and I will, soon!


PS: All I have to say about my Slow Travel hint -- all you'll get out of me right now is that the Universe has a way of rewarding me when I've been slammed, either by lies or theft. Why do people do the things they do? (shrug) Don't know, just have seen some stupid, destructive things in my day, and it reflects so poorly on their character. Anyway, within days of a tempest in a teapot by someone, somebody else dropped the opportunity for me - and the Guild - to take part in someting that may turn out to be absolutely, fabulously, incredibly, unbelievably glorious! I cannot say I saw this opportunity coming, but wow, I am so ready for it, and so will 19 of my best friends ;-) Ciao, baby, let the good times roll.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Just for Fun -- I met Clive Christian, creator of the World's Most Expensive Perfume

I posted this the other day on both Perfume of Life and Basenotes. I've never met another perfumer before, and wanted to see the glitz and glamor surrounding Mr. Christian and his luxe line. He is well-known for creating "the world's most expensive perfume." Quite a heady experience for a niche artisan perfumer like me, LOL. One thing I didn't realize until afterwards -- the Neiman Marcus store was not awash in strong perfume fumes, despite many spraying and testing. I suppose they have good air "scrubbers". I appreciated this, as my nose is very sensitive, and it could have been an unpleasant experience. I was told his appearance made the nightly news locally, as did Paris Hilton's presentation of her perfume Can Can the next day. I did somehow restrain myself from going to her event, but had fun relating my visit to NM, the Chanel boutique next door, etc. Please not what a sanguine "reporter" I am, not even getting the names of the perfumes down! I will keep my day job as a perfumer, and not aspire to chronicle perfume events, LOL!
All work and no play makes Anya a dull girl. After truly having
the nose to the grindstone, I made a vow to get out more
to fun stuff. Clive was signing bottles at the Neiman Marcus
at Bal Harbour (Miami). Very nice man, and I'm not sure of the
name of the perfume I sniffed that was refined and lovely, top note was pepper.
Maybe #1 for Her? Didn't do skin test, had my Kaffir on.

Overwhelmed by the hoopla, tons of people, etc., I was uncharacteristically quiet and only introduced myself as a civilian, said I was there for the POL peeps. His daughter Victoria piped up she was very aware of us and she was going to see Karen Lubin in NYC next week. I took some photos, most of which turned out lousy because of my new high-techie camera (that obviously doesn't have a stabilization mode), and I just enjoyed seeing a perfumer/designer living the high life. I liked all his perfumes, they were unique in their charm and stood apart from the "typical" stuff on shelves, for sure.

Wandered around a few perfume bottles from other labels, had stuff sprayed on strips, nothing excited me. Overheard two women (CC reps? NM SAs?) saying Lalique had been bought out by an English company. Chatted a bit with them speculating how the designs would change. (Less curvy, more linear was my guess.)

Back to CC. Dapper, his nose to the grindstone, I think he had been signing bottles for two hours when I got there. Great displays all over with his coffret, gorgeous bottles, and a mostly-natural juice. Wandered next door to Chanel, tried Les Esclusifs (spelling? I did pronounce it properly). Shocked at my first sniffs of Cuir de Russie -- sweet! Bois de Isles - boring. No. 18 ambrette. and more ambrette. so where to go from ambrette? Coramondel (sp?) wouldn't agree with my skin, I knew that. There was a "green" one that began with a C that was nice.

Well, such are my skills as a perfume reviewer. I'll just stick to making them, and besides, I would feel the fool to write a review of another perfumer's product. Painters don't write reviews of other painter's works, actors on other actors. If I hadn't liked and respected Clive's perfumes, I would merely have written nothing.

Wish I could have gotten a sample to take home, I brought my vials and blank labels like Robin on NST and others have declared is a good tactic, but couldn't bring myself to ask.

Oh, they served champagne and the atmosphere was very festive. I didn't have any because I was driving, but if he comes to your city, by all means, go, have a drink and a sniff. Maybe even buy!

And, oh, bummer, they didn't have the $250,000 Lalique bottle of his perfume there. BTW, I did see guards everywhere, guess for the smaller bottles with the diamonds in them.

I'm such a lousy shopper and reporter, but I've reported what I felt were the high points.