Wednesday, 17 July 2013

My top five travel scents and the places that inspire them

I love travel, and even when I’m not travelling, I find ways to get away (physically or mentally) from the stress of day to day living. Fragrances can evoke feelings of nostalgia and take you through an amazing olfactory journey. Mostly importantly (at least for this post anywayJ) they are a great way to put you in vacation mode! So since I won’t be going on vacation anytime soon, (I’m about that 9-5 life!)I decided to come up with five perfumes that smell really great and I chose them based on five fabulous travel destinations.

Dakar, Senegal –Boss Woman by Hugo Boss

Dakar (according to my aunt who goes there often) is a beautiful city with the dual influences of their colonial French culture and their traditional Senegalese culture. With the famous Dakar rally, the beautiful Radisson blu hotel overlooking the Atlantic, great French and Senegalese cuisine, and a critically acclaimed film industry (Faat Kine is still one of my favorite movies EVER), Dakar is an African metropolitan city with LOTS to offer. Another cool thing is that it’s about 20 minutes away from Ile de Goree (Goree Island), so if you’re tired of Dakar you can pop over there and enjoy the famous “House of Slaves” museum, the interesting colonial architecture of the houses and the beautiful beach.
This beautiful mix of urbanism and traditional cultural sensibilities is also apparent in the lifestyles of the indigenes. A lot of Senegalese women are highly educated and/or successful business women. But despite their high levels of financial independence, they manage to fulfill their roles as mothers and wives. It is said that Senegalese women have mastered the art of seduction called “Mokkeu Pojje” which literally means “Soft Thigh”, the art of responding to the Man’s need in the bedroom. And one important part of the “seduction” is the burning of Thiouraye, a secret mixture of oils, perfumes, seeds and fragrant woods used in weddings, funerals, and especially known for its aphrodisiac qualities. Other things like the oils of lavender, peppermint or orange blossom are used in sensual massages. As you can probably tell, when it comes to their men, these women don’t play.

Boss woman is the perfect fruity floral fragrance ideal for day wear with opening notes of Mango (a predominantly exported fruit in Senegal), tangerine and kumquat(a citrusy fruit). It’s really floral at the middle with freesia, orris and passiflore. At the base, which I like to call the “koko”, you have the really woody notes of sandal and cedarwood. According to voters on Fragrantica though, freesia and mango were the two predominant notes they smelt throughout. I think the sandalwood and cedarwood at the base give the fragrance depth and longevity; they are also reminiscent of the fragrant woods found in Thiouraye. The fruity notes also pay homage to Senegal's fruit economy especially with Mangoes and give you that tropical vibe you can only get when vacationing somewhere warm and summery all year round.
  Boss Woman Hugo Boss 30ml travel size from ₦7,300 at Konga.

Paris, France – Chloe eau de parfum by Chloe
Ah Paris! The city of macarons, berets and Chanel! I kid, Paris is the city of Love and dare I say the cultural centre of Western Europe. Its allure can be seen in movies like From Paris with love and its influences can be seen in clothing and food amongst other things.  Wherever there is love, there are flowers and Paris is home to a large number of floral shops with different varieties of flowers like peonies, irises, lilies, carnations, roses, making it an ideal place to buy fresh flowers.
Now you’ve gotten the flowers from Mr Right, it’s time to head out to a nice place to eat. In terms of food, Paris really offers an amazing gastronomical experience; you can head out to any of the cafes and restaurants around. I personally think it’s always a good idea to get a recommendation from the locales in any place you visit. If you’re a sweet tooth and would like to try something like freshly baked French macarons, then you should probably try the famous Fauchon store in Paris with their different flavored fillings such as vanilla, lemon, pistachio, rose, raspberry, coffee, caramel etc. You can also try their chocolates, biscuits, sweets, Madeleine cookies and even coffee and tea (in yummy fruity flavors of course!).  
Paris has so many sites such as the Eiffel tower, Notre dame de Paris, Opera Garnier and several museums like the Louvre, Musee Picasso, Musee Rodin and Musee du Montparnasse.
For the fragrance, Chloe EDP by Chloe is an immensely floral fragrance with top notes of peony, freesia and litchi. The heart is a floral delight of rose, lily of the valley and Magnolia. The base notes are Virginia cedar and Amber. This perfume really captures what a young Parisian woman is like or strives to be everyday; fresh, cultured, free spirited, feminine but not in the traditional sense. One of the ingredients in it, lily of the valley, also happens to be the official flower of France. If that doesn’t say chosen, I don’t know what does!
Side-note: For an inside look at visiting Paris, check out Shannon Able's the simply luxurious life. She was recently in Paris on vacation and shared her Paris adventures on the blog.

Marrakech, Morocco – Jasmin Noir by Bulgari

Marrakech (originating from the words mur (n) akush, which means "Land of God") is an historical city and the third largest city in Morocco. It’s a city that has been able to reconcile its historical past with its modern vibrance. The city is divided into Medina (the historical part) and Gueliz (the cosmopolitan part) so there are loads of things to see and explore. You can visit the souks (street markets) and buy some spices, local fabrics and pashminas.  Speaking of spices, Moroccan food is well renowned and spices are a huge part of Moroccan cuisine. Popular Moroccan dishes include couscous, cooked lamb, chicken bastilla and morrocan cuisine usually has soups, side dishes and salads served along with the main course. Morocco is a mediterranean country and fresh fruit is the traditional ending to a Moroccan meal, so you can get fresh fruits like Mandarin, Pomegranate, and Pear from local fruit sellers.

Marrakech is home to the world renowned Jardin Majorelle, a 12 acre botanical and landscape garden owned by the late French designer Yves Saint-Laurent and his partner Pierre Berge. It is known for its extensive range of plants and flowers from all over the world as well as birds (It is home to more than 15 bird species that are endemic to North Africa). Another notable thing is the garden building's special shade of Cobalt Blue aptly named "Bleu Majorelle". The garden has been open to the public since 1947 so you can go and visit the place, its a huge tourist attraction in Morocco.

Marrakech is such an oriental paradise, so it is only fitting that the fragrance suited for this beautiful city would be an oriental fragrance. Bvlgari's Jasmin Noir is a sensual and sophisticated fragrance with top notes of green sap and gardenia (so it opens up really crisp and sharp, like plants but not too floral). At the heart you have oriental notes of Jasmine and Sateen Almond while the base introduces dark notes of precious wood, liquorice absolute and Tonka bean. With a sexy black bottle and Rachel Weisz as the face of the fragrance, its no surprise that that perfume is a bestseller, its definitely worth a purchase.
Sidenote: Check out this beautiful couple's destination wedding in Marrakech on Bella Naija. I just love the simplicity of the bride's gown!
Bvlgari Jasmin Noir 100ml from ₦ 14,245 at Jumia.

Mauritius –Magnifique by Lancome 

 Mauritius, a sparkling crystal in the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean, (at least that's how tourism Mauritius describes it) is fast becoming a favorite tourist destination especially for people from Asia but the really great thing about it is that Nigerians can travel to Mauritius without a visa, you're granted a two weeks visa on arrival! If you've ever had to queue in front of an embassy to get a visa, you'd know what I mean(especially for the "popular" countries like US, UK etc). Anyway back to the serene splendor of Mauritius, it is known for its beautiful white beaches, coral reefs and luxurious hotels. It is also home to a unique and diverse blend of many cultures mainly Chinese, Indian and French. As a result of this multicultural ethnicity, it is also home to three major religions, Hinduism, Christianity and Islam. Despite its diverse nature, all the different ethnic and religious groups live together peacefully and racism is practically non existent here.

If you're wondering how this Island came to be so multicultural, its probably as a result of the Island's history. It was first discovered by Portugese explorers in the 16th century but was later taken over by Dutch settlers for a short period. French explorer took control of the island and were eventually displaced by the British. Each of these nations has influenced Mauritius and left a mark of the Island's cultural landscape. A sizable number of the population are also descendants of immigrants (mostly Chinese and Indian) who came to settle there after slavery was abolished in 1835.
Food in Mauritius is a blend of Creole, Chinese, French and Indian influences. Mauritius has had strong ties with French culture throughout its history and it is evident with the popularity of French dishes like tuna salad, daube, and different Bouillon recipes.Other Chinese and Indian influenced dishes can also be found there like Rice, spring rolls, curry dishes etc.

Saffron, one of  the world's most expensive spices is used in many dishes in Mauritius, it is also used in fabric dyeing and in fragrances. It is with this in mind that I chose Lancome's Magnifique EDP as the fragrance that represent Mauritius the most in my mind. It opens up with a top note of spicy saffron, while at the middle you have floral notes like Mai de Grasse rose absolute, Bulgarian rose essence and Sambac jasmine. Finally, the base is filled with woody notes like Nagarmota essence, vetiver and sandalwood essence.
Lancome Magnifique 50ml edp from 13,250 at Konga.

Cape town, South Africa – Manifesto by Yves Saint Laurent  

Cape town is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world and is known for its beautiful coast line and for such landmarks as Table mountain and Cape point. There are so many places to see such as Bo-Kaap, the castle of good hope, South African Parliament (Cape town is the legislative capital of South Africa). The parliament compound also houses National Assembly, the National Council of Provinces and the old apartheid-era assembly which is now only used for caucus and committee meetings.

Another popular tourist site is the Victoria and Albert (V&A) Waterfront. It is a very popular shopping district close to the Harbour and it also house an aquarium which is open to the public. As you can see, there are lots of places to visit and things to do in Cape town.

The fragrance for Cape town is the new fragrance, Manifesto by Yves Saint Laurent, an Oriental Floral fragrance which is very warm and sweet with lots of Vanilla and Tonka bean. The opening notes are Bergamot, Green notes and Black currant. The middle notes are Jasmine and Lily of the valley. The base notes are Tonka bean, Vanilla, Sandal wood and Cedar. 
Manifesto by Yves Saint Laurent edp from 12,500 at Essenza Surulere.

So there you have it, my top five travel scents and the amazing travel destinations that inspire the scents. If you have any fabulous fragrances which you want to pair with a cool destination you've been to or wish to go, do let me know. Sharing is caring!

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Cooking Diaries: Easy peesy Lemon bread

 I love lemon. I don’t exactly know how my obsession with this citrusy fruit started but all I know is that I use lemon for everything. I use it as part of a “tomato-lemon solution” to cleanse my face when I’m having breakouts, I add lemon oil to my body butter which doubles as a moisture sealant for my hair, and It is a key ingredient in my favorite weekend snack; the Lemon bread.
I first discovered Lemon bread when I was searching for bread recipes. Big treat is one of my preferred bakeries in Lagos (I also like “underground” at Yaba, close to UNILAG) and my favorite bread to buy there is their “cake bread”, a delicious hybrid of cake and bread with the sweet cake part on top and the crusty bread top at the bottom. But spending ₦300 on a bread the size of ₦60 agege bread EVERY weekend (I was an unemployed “ex-coffer” and I wasn’t about to spend all of my allowee on “couture” bread!) was impossible. So I decided that I was going to surf the web and find delicious bread recipes that I could make which would not require any fancy ingredients. That was when I stumbled upon Lemon Bread. It is categorized under sweet bread and judging from the search results, Banana bread is the most common type of sweet bread. I could have gone for the banana bread but I judged it at face value and felt Lemon bread would be better (because it’s prettier!). The original recipe I got was for Blueberry Lemon bread but since I didn’t want mine with fruits, I omitted the blueberry. It still came out great!

Here’s recipe I used for Lemon bread (gotten from joy of baking):
1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (outer yellow skin of the lemon)
1 cup (240 ml) fresh blueberries (I omitted this)
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature (If you must use salted butter, then don’t add the ¼ teaspoon salt)
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated white sugar
2 large eggs (or 3 small ones)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (120 ml) milk

Lemon Glaze:
2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated white sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

The process?
Firstly, Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place the oven rack in the center of the oven. Butter the bottom and sides of a loaf pan (preferably small sized because the bread isn’t big anyway) and dust the pan with flour.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest. 

flour, baking powder,salt and lemon zest mixture
For those that want to add blueberries: Remove 1 tablespoon of the flour mixture. Place the blueberries in a separate bowl and toss the berries with the 1 tablespoon flour (this will help prevent the blueberries from sinking to the bottom of the pan during baking.)
In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until softened (about 1 minute). Add the sugar and continue to beat until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes). You’ll also notice that the butter has gone from bright yellow to a creamy off white color. If you don’t get this color, you should beat the mixture a little longer. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla extract. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture (in three additions) and milk (in two additions) alternately, starting and ending with the flour. Mix only until combined. Gently fold in the blueberries (for the blueberry lemon bread).

lemon bread batter

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 55 to 65 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Lemon Glaze: In a small microwaveable bowl, stir the sugar with the lemon juice. Place in the microwave for about 20 seconds or just until sugar has dissolved.
When the bread is done, remove from oven and place on a wire rack. Pierce the top of the hot loaf with a wooden skewer or toothpick and then brush with the hot lemon glaze. Cool the loaf in the pan for about 30 minutes then remove from pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.

All done!

This recipe is so easy to make, anyone can try it, I would also love to try a fruity version of this just to taste. Anyone wanna try this delish bread? Send me the fab pics!
Recipe makes 1 loaf.
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