Friday, August 31, 2012

Les Salons du Palais Royal Shiseido Serge Lutens Chergui

We used to discuss back in the day on the perfume forums what perfume we perfumistas would like to be embalmed with when we die - and that was of course all in jest, just to reassure my readers that I'm thankfully in good health, and have no intention of reaching that kind of heaven anytime soon. However, Serge Lutens Chergui is probably as close to that state of godliness as I could imagine being wrapped in--a cloud of blissful, finely powdered vanilla and spices, with a velvety hint of booze or chai, on a luxurious bed of sumptuous woods on the brink of cool and warm like the air under night skies walking through a late summer forest. The actual notes have little to do with my impressions, and they are as follows: honey, musk, incense, tobacco leaf, hay, sugar, amber, iris, rose and sandalwood. It is an Oriental Spicy fragrance, both dry and sweet, with hints of gourmand as I have also picked up in other Serge Lutens fragrances such as Vetiver Oriental which reminds me of kusamochi, but gourmand of a subtle, refined type (with the exception of Un Bois Vanille which is strictly gourmand, like a coconut cake). For lovers of Middle Eastern sweets such as Turkish Delight, these fragrances evoke a joyfully nostalgic candied essence without going the overly sugary route.

Chergui is the kind of perfume I once dreamed of creating, without having the background in perfumery it would take to achieve such a textbook perfect result: it is undoubtedly a fine perfume yet it has all of the elements of modern tastes, without ever going mainstream, without giving up the classicism that gave it structure. It is an artistic impression of the moment, a creative nose's take on the popularity of compositions featuring a full floral heart, incensey woods, vanilla, ambery woods and androgynous spices loved by most anyone, placing it olfactorily somewhere within the realm of a fragrance wheel's center: the Aromatic family. It can appeal to fragrance lovers of many tastes and walks, and yet it smells distinctive. To create both something universal and unique is a creative feat, and for this reason, not only for its gorgeous, delicious, an almost vintagey "parfum fourrure" scent itself, I regard it as a great perfume, probably my favorite Serge Lutens for the time being (but they are all worth smelling: Fumerie Turque, Un Lys, aforementioned Vetiver Oriental to name a few).

Chergui is as popular among perfumistas as celebrity perfumes are among less connoisseuresque perfume wearers. Many of them might prefer to wear Chergui in the cooler months, because it is a rich, sweet and savory scent fit for autumn and winter, but I enjoyed it immensely over the summer when it was still hot, and also now, here in New York where it seems to have cooled down earlier than usual. I'm not ready to give up my summer just yet, and so I will continue to wear Chergui and cherish every moment--come fall, I would like to review it again to see if my impressions have changed. If there's anything more I could add to this post, the dry down phase on me could be described as the kind of powdery vanilla I once found "perfumey" as a child when I'd smell it on my ballet teacher, or when I smelled Vanilla Fields on people at restaurants--but it's all comforting to me now, as more than a bed of roses, of all my favorite things united in one happy place.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Lady Gaga Fame - Testing No.2

Upon sampling the actual fragrance at Sephora, I found Lady Gaga Fame to be a sweeter scent than when I'd tested the scent strip in a magazine. I also don't detect anything funky in it, which is a good thing; honestly, I wouldn't have wanted my tween to wear a scent that was too funky, you know, even if the creative flow came from Lady Gaga herself. The first thing I noticed was the color of the juice - not like sumi ink or Cleopatra's kohl but a black like murky water in a cup after you've swished around a paintbrush with multiple watercolors in it. The first blast of scent is fruity, like an intense passionfruit mixed with raspberry, then a fruitchouli accord, then the middle phase and dry down which are pretty much a straight Floral, with well-rounded Fruity Oriental-Chypre (patchouli) nuances.

This scent is very sweet, and flowery to be sure. It reminded me at first of the original Kenzo fragrance for Women, and also vaguely of Vicky Tiel Sirene, and other similar rich, retro (by today's standards) Florals, but it dawned on me when I asked my tween what she thought of the scent and she replied, "It smells like Someday (Justin Bieber)," that, to me, Lady Gaga Fame resembled Rihanna Reb'l Fleur most of all. If you switch Rihanna's pineapple with Gaga's dark fruits, you basically get Reb'l Fleur which, not-so-oddly enough, I was reminded of when I sampled Justin Bieber Someday. So, there ya go. Powerful, in-your-face, but also quite beautiful, Fame is a wonderful blend, and I'm glad there's already a roll-on available in this scent.

Related link: Lady Gaga FAME: Scent Strip Testing No.1 PINK MANHATTAN August 19, 2012

Friday, August 24, 2012

Colony Records, a Longtime Midtown Music Shop, Is Poised to Close

Image via

Every New York musician and music fan is weeping upon hearing this news, I guarantee. This is where we'd get our last-minute obscure sheet music and/or lyrics before running to a gig, and High School supplies if you're a student at "the Fame school". We can't live without this place--from the extensive sheet music library, vintage records and cool memorabilia to its famous double treble clef doors, Colony is absolutely an essential New York landmark, and will be ever so sorely missed by anyone who felt its value.

From the NYTimes: (...) "Musicians, Broadway actors, reporters and other denizens of Times Square have long frequented the store, which has one of the most extensive collections of sheet music in the country.

(...) "Its current home, the Brill Building, was a longtime home to songwriters, music producers, publishers and radio promoters. In its heyday in the 1950s and ’60s, before Colony Records occupied the ground floor, artists could record their music, find someone to promote it and get it produced for the radio — all under the same roof. After Colony moved to the building in the 1970s from its original location on 52nd Street and Broadway, artists could also go downstairs and buy sheet music to perform or audition with." Read the story: Music Shop Recognizes Somber Tune: Its Final Coda by Aaron Edwards, August 23, 2012 The New York Times

Colony Records, at 49th & Broadway

Related link: Colony Music, New York City institution for 64 years, is closing its doors - Famed record shop in Theater District opened in 1948 - By Jim Farber / New York Daily News, August 23, 2012

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Fred Kimmel's ROCK BAND 101 @ Sam Ash 2pm Sat. August 25, 2012

Bring your "street party" mood and join the Fred Kimmel's ROCK BAND 101 rockers for the Hot Fun in the Summertime Concert Series @ Sam Ash Carle Place, New York - happening this Saturday @ 2:00pm!

Sam Ash Music Store
385 Old Country Rd.
Carle Place, New York 11514

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

London 2012 Paralympic Torch Relay

From "In a break from tradition, London 2012 has created a unique identity for the Paralympic Torch Relay. It starts on Wednesday 22 August when four National Flames will be created in the four home nations – England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

"These four flames will ultimately be united to create the London 2012 Paralympic Flame.

"The public are invited to light a lantern to lead the way to the Paralympic Games, by attending one of many events across the UK and supporting the Torchbearers during the 24 hour Torch Relay from Stoke Mandeville to London." Paralympic Torch Relay 24 – 29 August - Official London 2012 website

Paralympic Games: August 29 - September 9, 2012

Visit ParalympicSportTV - ParalympicSport.TV is the International Paralympic Committe's online video channel.

Image: Paralympics lantern, Cambs Times

Swedish Pancake Recipe from The New York Times

If you've mastered crepe-making and would like to be challenged by an alternative recipe that involves separating the yolk from the egg whites, and will have you feel glad to have gone through the extra measure, try this wonderful recipe: Recipe of the Day: Swedish Pancakes By Mark Bittman, May 23, 2008

They came out deliciously light and fluffy--a lot sweeter than my crepes but surprisingly thinner, too. I love the fact that this recipe, in which more eggs were used, didn't require any water to make the pancakes turn out airy. The New York Times had published another recipe in the past: Swedish Pancakes (Originally published with A SWEDISH COOK WHO BROUGHT HER ART TO AMERICA By Craig Claiborne, April 6, 1983), which I'm going to try next to compare with this one. I'll let you know how it goes, maybe in my upcoming book, in the section on easy peasy metro living tips. ;-)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

OPI Germany Collection

Germany collection by OPI - The Elegant Side of Edgy

I love this nail polish Fall/Winter 2012 collection! Ever since I started playing piano, I've always had short, stubby nails. Although that is not about to change (not into long nails anyway), I'm smitten with these new shades by OPI. Can you guess which color I want the most?

Don't Talk Bach to Me!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Lady Gaga FAME: Scent Strip Testing No.1

By now, everyone in the universe has heard about the launching of Lady Gaga FAME fragrance, "the first ever black perfume" lauded by Vogue as being the most innovative in eons (paraphrased). I only have the scent strip sample in the September issue of Cosmopolitan magazine to test with, but I will post my impressions based on this first sampling, and then later when I have a chance to try the real perfume on my skin.

I gotta tell you, it smells fruity. It isn't at all the "blood and semen" perfume that was supposed to be edgier than anything that ever had a smell before, although, without ever having smelled its predecessor, Etat Libre d'Orange Sécrétions Magnifiques, which was supposedly based on blood, sweat, sperm and saliva, it does in fact possess a certain body secretion-type note that I can detect in passing - but does it smell specifically like semen? Since it's just a simulated note, it could just as well pass for snot. How would I know what semen in a perfume would smell like, anyway?

My tween daughter and I like this scent, especially because we're both not only fans of Lady Gaga but of the mango-passionfruit note that's fresh and girly, instantly likable, reminiscent of other favorites such as Kirra (pink) by PacSun, Escada Sexy Graffiti, Philosophy Love Sweet Love and Rimmel London Glam.

I'd say it's sort of a cross between Kirra and Vera Wang Rock Princess, a dark berry scent with a patchouli base, fairly typical of ladies' scents that came out in the past 5 years or so. If you've smelled Bath & Body Works Blackberry and Amber, it's sort of like that. Lady Gaga FAME is not what I'd call a fruitchouli but it has a hint of that familiar, mainstream composition weaving through the otherwise fresh, almost peachy scent, to give it either some depth or that "blood" aspect artistically rendered with the berry-patch woods. Who knows? Perfume, like Gaga's music, is first and foremost all about fun.

Related link: Lady Gaga Fame - Testing No.2
PINK MANHATTAN August 30, 2012

Saturday, August 18, 2012

How to Make Crepes (for those of us who aren't Julia Child)

Making crepes at home shouldn't be as hard as all that, Ms. Julia Child! I couldn't get her crepes to stay round for the life of me. Dear Pink Manhattan friends: I've simplified crepe-making for you, so that almost anyone with a skillet and a stove top can make if not lace-thin and delicate crepes, still lovely, satisfying crepes without going through the agonizing process of trying to master the impossible Julia Child's Crepe Recipe.

Here's the Julia Child crepe recipe that went around the internets during the celebration of what would have been her 100th birthday. I tried it and decided to modify it, so here goes the Pink Manhattan version:

What you'll need:
A skillet
A metal tablespoon
A metal fork
A measuring cup: or, I use an 8.5 fl. oz. styrofoam cup
A large bowl for mixing
A metal spatula

For the batter (which you will *NOT* need to chill for 2 hours or overnight in the fridge like with Julia Child's recipe):
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup water
2 eggs
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
A pinch of salt (optional)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Unsalted butter, for cooking
Powdered (confectioners) sugar, for serving
Lemon (optional, for serving)

Here's what I do: First, put 2 tbsp. of butter in the skillet on very low heat (as low as it goes) to melt it. Then, while the butter is melting, crack 2 eggs in the bowl, add 1 tbsp sugar (with an optional pinch of salt), then beat the eggs and sugar together with the fork. When you get a pale yellow mixture, add 1 c. flour. Just use your standard 8.5 fl. oz. styrofoam coffee cup to roughly measure: fill it with flour up to the top, flattened with your spoon (or scoop it straight from the bag of flour - whatever works), put that in the bowl. Now for the milk: Fill it up almost to the top with milk (about 3/4 of the way up to the very top), fill the rest up to the top with water (The water helps the crepe rise off the hot skillet without sticking to the bottom) and pour the milk+water into the bowl a little at a time while mixing the batter. Beat them all together lightly - it doesn't have to be perfectly smooth, just well-blended enough that the batter is kind of thick and creamy, not quite doughy. The batter now should feel thicker against the spoon than, say, melted ice cream. To recap, my basic "rule" is to use equal amounts of flour (1 c.) and milk+water (3/4 c. + 1/4 c. = 1 cup).

Now, add the melted butter from the skillet into the bowl. Put the skillet back on low heat; you'll need it again soon. Finish mixing the batter in the bowl with the tablespoon (more like folding, which is to say, gently blend without burning yourself with the hot butter). The batter when mixed should be a lighter consistency than before, but still creamy and smooth (a few flour chunks are OK, but you could mash them against the sides of the bowl with a spoon if they bother you). You'll know at the next step how to adjust the rest of your batter. If it's too thick, you can add liquid; if it's too runny, you can add more flour. Remember every stove is different; adjust as you go, but try to remember my "rule".

Put the heated buttered skillet on the side burner (the cold one) and pour a nice dollop of batter in the middle of it, which will turn into a circle about the size of a silver dollar pancake. Tilt the skillet up, down and a little sideways to get the batter to run a little around the perimeter, making the crepe larger and thin around the sides but still nice and round-shaped. If it doesn't run a little when you tilt it, the batter needs to be thinned out with more water (start by adding a smidge - maybe 1/8 fl. oz. (= 2 tablespoons)). Put the skillet back on the hot burner and raise the heat up to medium (about a 3/4" - 1" high flame as seen by the naked eye, and don't go testing it literally with a ruler). I use a metal spatula because I don't like to eat burned plastic, but use whatever spatula you have to flip the crepe over, just not yet. Wait until you see the crepe start to lift off the skillet around the perimeter (it will start to "wave" around the sides). If the crepe starts to wave hello incessantly, turn the flame down a notch, to about 1/4" - 1/2" high, until it still waves but has calmed down to a friendly finger wave - metaphorically speaking, of course.

Use the spatula to check the underside; if it has a few brown spots like the surface of a pancake or pita bread, it's ready to flip. Do it gently - it's not pizza, you don't need to throw it. Just slide the spatula under the crepe (the whole thing should lift off the skillet easily if 1. there's enough butter coating on the bottom, and 2. if there's enough water in the batter - but too much water and the crepe will break apart, so add more flour to the batter if this happens); with the spatula, go in underneath as far towards the middle of the crepe as you can, and flip the end that the spatula doesn't reach, then lay the rest down with the spatula by letting the crepe slowly slide down from it, nice and easy. If the process freaks you out, or if the oil is jumping out at you, take the skillet off the flame. Put it on the side burner, wait till it calms down, then flip it. No drama.

Put the skillet back on the hot burner, but you can lower the heat to about 1/8" - 1/4" flame at this point, since the skillet's gotten hotter over time, and we're near the end of the cooking process. It won't take long before you'll need to check the underside of the crepe again with the spatula; if it starts to show brown spots, you're done! Transfer the crepe to a plate; you can use the skillet to fold it in half as you're laying it down, but you can also just slide the round crepe onto a plate and arrange it later. You can use a spatula to fold it into quarters; voila, you're a crepe-making chef. Sprinkle some confectioners sugar on top, add a squeeze of lemon if you like, and bon appetit! If the first one didn't turn out perfectly, I promise the next one will be better if you follow my tips. Prepare the skillet for the next crepe: keep the flame on low, add a pat of butter to melt it, repeat. Makes 3-4 crepes.

This and many other tips on easy peasy metro living will be in my upcoming book, The Pink Manhattan Handbook by Sali Oguri, which I am writing in hopes of finishing, oh, eventually. In the book, I'll share a converted crepe recipe to serve a few more people, in case you want to invite a friend over for brunch.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Kenzo UFO

AS Kenzo UFO
"AS Kenzo UFO Traded" By Karen Cattoire on Flickr

- Bottle design by Ron Arad
- Featured in Arad's retrospective art exhibit in both Paris and New York City
- Recommended for evening wear
"Arad was commissioned by Kenzo to create a vehicle for fragrance that breaks with traditional industry codes and evokes sensuality when in contact with the skin. The perfume is not defined by the traditional olfactory pyramid. Its structure is a balance between a powerful heart, “the marble accord”, and four natural raw ingredients that add facets to the note. An exemplary object for both the art and fragrance collector."

The bottle was exhibited at MoMA; although I did not attend the exhibit, I remembered when this fragrance was launched in 2009 and I was very eager to try it. Thanks to The Perfumed Court, I was able to sample this relatively exclusive fragrance. At first, it smelled to me like a spicy Oriental in the vein of Calvin Klein Obsession, but I quickly realized that it was more of a Woody Floral-Oriental with perhaps some fruity-lactonic (milky) aspects along the lines of Jil Sander Style (edited: Upon dry down, I think it's more of a Woody Floral, as the floralcy reminds me of those of rich Florals Perry Ellis and the original Kenzo (1988)). It's woodier than and quite different from Issey Miyake Le Feu d'Issey but also reminds me of it; simultaneously, it brings to mind the warm, balsamic, almost "sweaty" sauna-woody gourmand-spice muskiness of Hermès Hermèssence Ambre Narguilé, although it's much lighter and easier to wear, especially in summer. In a whiff, it almost reminded me of L'Artisan Parfumeur D'Humeur A Rien, but without the dry, wood chip / insect repellant note. I close my eyes and envision one summer I spent in the Japanese countryside surrounded by the woods, under a clear starry night sky among brilliant fireflies, with music presented by an orchestra of crickets cutting through the peaceful quiet.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Penhaligon's Hammam Bouquet

Head Notes:
Lavender and Bergamot

Heart Notes:
Rose Otto, Cedarwood, Orris and Jasmine

Base Notes:
Amber, Musk and Sandalwood

Hammam Bouquet is described as an extraordinarily exotic oriental scent created by William Penhaligon in 1872.

Perhaps by 19th century standards, this scent is an Oriental, but because of what I perceive to be a dominating floralcy, it smells to me like a Spicy Floral. Being more heart-centric than ruled by the heavier base, I could also think of it as an Oriental of a more insouciant kind than most of its intense family. However, it's no less redolent in all its Turkish rose-scented glory showcased among musk and spice notes. If you might recall, it took me forever to wrap my head around another spicy fragrance named Chanel Les Exclusifs N°18, but I now understand it to be a reincarnation of Hammam Bouquet, a classic spicy Oriental fragrance with a subtle yet luxurious, animalic, musky undertone, although characterized by an overall lightness of feeling - richly fragrant moments briskly touch and go like an impression of a daydream about a trip on the Orient Express.

When I first experienced it, the bouquet of Turkish rose threatened to overwhelm me with so much beauty at once, it nearly knocked me over, but the initial headiness, brewed with refinement and expertise, re-entered the room with a new attitude, sweetening up till I was cozy with the calming base notes of amber, sandalwood and musk. The rose that once stole the show retired early and gracefully, and the all-out handsome vintage charm stepped forward with all its spicy, prickly, savory appeal. It's regal, classic, elegant enough to be worn to a formal afternoon tea.

The description on reads as follows: "Inspired by the scent of the Turkish Baths on Jermyn Street, Piccadilly, Hammam Bouquet is an daring oriental created by William Penhaligon in 1872. Animalic and golden, it is warm and mature, redolent of old books, powdered resins and ancient rooms. At its heart is dusky Turkish rose, with jasmine, woods, musk and powdery orris. Heady and glamorous, Hammam Bouquet is evocative of the Edwardian era of decadence and excess."

A captivating blurb on niche sites states: "A haunting and nostalgic dance; back through time."

Since it is a Men's fragrance, Hammam Bouquet is available as a line of grooming products. As for me, I'll be wearing it après le bain.

10 Reasons Why 1989 Was Better Than 2012 by Hair Metaller Julian Angel

10 Reasons Why 1989 Was Better Than 2012 by Hair Metaller Julian Angel - Posted by Carlos Ramirez, AOL Music / Noisecreep

I'll add one more reason: Metal was called Metal, or Heavy Metal, not Hair Metal. Metal was about Music unless it was Glam Metal. You're welcome.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Olympic Equestrian Individual Jumping Final Tomorrow

I know, I'll miss Gymnastics, too, but don't forget the Equestrian Individual Jumping Final tomorrow live at 11:00am on NBC (See the 2012 Olympics’ equestrian viewing schedule for U.S. audiences on NBC @ The Equestrian News

Related link: Equestrian: Jumping-Individual could mean more gold for Britain - By Sarah Edmonds, LONDON | Tue Aug 7, 2012 Reuters

Gymnast Alexandra Raisman wins Gold in Individual Floor Exercise

Congrats, Aly Raisman, the first U.S. woman to win Gold on Floor Exercise! I love the Hava Nagila routine! Image source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Friday, August 03, 2012