Oct 2, 2017

Isn't it Romantic?


Yes indeed, it's a brand new trashcan! The Sheikh (my husband) saw this in our local upscale departmental store and bought it immediately. Woo hoo! I think we're the only ones in our district with a rolling rubbish receptacle like this. There it sits proudly at the end of the driveway by the front gate ready to go. Ain't it grand? It was the only one in entire the store too. Nothing says love like a modern, sanitary, durable, stylish, and easily transportable waste bin!


If you're wondering why all the excitement about a rubbish bin it's because this is how we used to deal with trash. We'd hang our bags full of a day's trash up on the back fence with the mops and such. (Bin liners are not widely available for purchase in Nepal so we make due with used shopping bags.) This kept dogs, rodents, monkeys, yetis, or whatever from getting into the trash until the rubbish collectors came. Unfortunately the rubbish collectors only come to pick up garbage maybe every two weeks at no set time or day. Because we have three cats we generate at least one bag of litter a day. That means there might be like 14-15 bags of stinky, vermin attracting trash hanging on the back fence before the next rubbish pick-up. Then when the rubbish collectors came honking down our street my maid and I would have to grab like 6-7 bags of trash each and run to the front gate carrying the smelly mess. Now we can store the full bags in the bin and just roll it out the gate to meet the garbage truck! Yippee!



It's been hot as Hell here this September. Like between 90F/32C to 100F/38C daily. Fall has definitely not fallen and the Monsoon rains are lingering longer too. I've taken advantage of this decidedly Indian summer (pun intended) to dry some mint. Above you see our garden table covered with mint sprigs. I pick the mint early in the morning and give it a bit of a light rinse before allowing them to dry and wilt a bit for a day in the sunlight. I then place the wilted sprigs on aluminum cookie sheets and allow them to dry for about a week on top of the fridge. There's one of the cookie sheets on the chair in the bottom right corner. Our gardener Khashi is waving to the camera in the upper right corner. Yes, Khashi is wearing an insulated vest as he trims our tiny patch of lawn with a hand shears even though it's 90F/32C.


I shot this photo of a little egret (Egretta garzetta) with the zoom on my Samsung Galaxy phone. I'm amazed at what great quality pics this phone takes. This egret is one of a pair that regularly nests in the sacred fig at the hospital across the street from us. It looks like this photo is taken in some lush and tropical riparian zone doesn't it?


Well, it's actually the vacant lot next to our property. This is taken with the 10x zoom. See the tiny white speck of a bird in the water near the center of the photo? That's the same bird at the same distance as the other photo! This vacant lot/unofficial garbage dump becomes a festering swamp during the Monsoon. The frogs and bugs sing raucously and gloriously around it all night long. It's so filthy the water buffaloes won't even go in it. I'm sure there's all sorts of nasties breeding in there from leptospirosis to typhoid. Blech.


And the tomatoes finally came to an end. This is the typically spindly and diseased mess that you end up with at the end of the season no matter what variety you plant here. That's an old mop handle, a split of bamboo, and some kite string that was a jugaadi (make-do) trellis when the tomatoes were full of fruit. Scale was the predominate pest this year. Our gardener Khashi says scale was a big problem all over Nepal this year. He also says he'd never seen scale in Nepal before 2 years ago.


Rainy weather makes for strange bedfellows. This is how Ms Dawg mostly spends her days during the Monsoon. On the front patio bench. As you can see our Ms Dawg is a gal who really knows where her towel is. Granny Chinger (our grand feline matriarch) is the kitty trespassing on Ms Dawg's bench. 


When Ms Dawg's away the kitties will play! Here the kitties have completely taken over Ms Dawg's bench. 


The kitties make themselves quite at home on Ms Dawg's bench when she's away. As you can see they've spread themselves out strategically in order to occupy the entire bench. Ms Dawg looks on in great disgust but does not bother the kitties when they usurp her bed.


This week was Dashain or Vijaya Dashami here in Nepal. It is the longest, most popular, and most auspicious Hindu festival in Nepal. if you'd like to learn more about Dashain in Nepal I did a post on it here. The air has been rife with the scents of fabulous feasts being cooked and the fragrance of incense for poojas. Above is a photo I took of a pooja being performed at the base of the sacred fig tree at the hospital in back of us. Dashain is sort of a combination of Thanksgiving and Christmas all rolled into one. It's become a big shopping event like holidays in western countries too. All the stores in town are bringing in extra merchandise, having big discount sales, and special offers for the big holiday. We got a free pressure cooker with the purchase of a kilo of butter! 


Since it's been so blasted hot we decided to take a drive up into the mountains. Above is the view of our valley from the tiny village of Sarankot. Cloudy, lush, and green is what late Summer and early Fall looks like in South Asia. In my native California everything is dry, brown, dusty, dead, or burnt this time of year. It was considerably cooler at this elevation even requiring a jacket as the sun set. 


In fact, it's so much cooler up in the mountains the winter vegetables were coming in! That is asparagus you see in the above photo. Asparagus in late September? You can grow just about anything in Nepal because of all the different microclimates at all the different altitudes here. There was also bok choy, spinach, daikon radish, kohlrabi, turnips, and cauliflower. The Sheikh bought 3 kgs of turnips and 6 heads of cauliflower. I don't think there's another ethnic group on the planet that gets as excited about turnips as Kashmiris. Guess we'll be eating rajma gogji (Kashmiri style beans and turnips) and curried cauliflower all next week.


And here's Jigme and his twin sisters playing on a derelict cart of some sort in the vacant lot/dump/swamp. Jigme must be the youngest Nirvana fan ever. Every time I see him he's wearing yet another Nirvana t-shirt. He's quite the little badass with his gang signs and surly air.


Sigh. Of all the American holidays I miss Halloween the most. My friend in California sent me an email of her thrift store finds. This one deserved a cackle. I do not miss all the hype and frenzy of working in or going anywhere near retail establishments in the US during the Holiday season. 


Granny Chinger and her striped daughter Tikka look about like how I feel in this photo. The maid has gone to Kathmandu for the week to celebrate the holiday with her family. That means in addition to cooking meals and doing the laundry I get to do the maid's chores like mopping and washing dishes  too. It's so blasted hot that after lunch is served I just want to go siesta in the air conditioned bedroom till dark. Oh well, the maid will be back tomorrow and hopefully things will cool down soon. It's October already!

Has Fall started on your corner of the world?
Are you looking forward to the holiday season?

Bah humbug,
Bibi

Sep 25, 2017

Ingredients: Indian Gooseberry, Amla, Amalika, Emblic, Myrobalan

Indian Gooseberry, Amla, Amalika, Emblic, Myrobalan, ingredients, indian, gooseberry, Phyllanthus emblica, fruit,mirobala

The Indian gooseberry, emblic, amalaki, myrobalan, or amla is the fruit of a small to medium-sized tree native to India. The spherical berries are greenish yellow with a fibrous texture. Hand harvested in Autumn, the fruit has a tart, bitter, and astringent taste. The amla tree is considered sacred in Hinduism and is a a staple of traditional Ayurvedic medicine.


Indian Gooseberry, Amla, Amalika, Emblic, Myrobalan, ingredients, indian, gooseberry, Phyllanthus emblica, fruit,mirobala

The amla tree or Phyllanthus emblica grows from 1 to 8 meters (pictured below) in height. It can be found on the plains and sub-mountainous regions of the Indian subcontinent up to nearly 2000 meters above sea level. Its varied natural habitat spans from Burma to Afghanistan and from the Deccan plateau in south India to the foothills of the Himalayas.

Indian Gooseberry, Amla, Amalika, Emblic, Myrobalan, ingredients, indian, gooseberry, Phyllanthus emblica, fruit,mirobala

The Indian gooseberry tree has smooth, gray-brown bark. The leaves are fern-like, oblong, narrow, and up to 2 cm in length much like a tamarind tree. The flowers are inconspicuous and light green in color. An amla tree takes around 5 years to start producing fruit when propagated from seed. It also requires a well-drained loamy soil and full sun exposure. The Indian gooseberry is a deciduous tree that often drops branchlets as well as individual leaves, but generally retains some of its greenery at all times. Amla cultivars are available such as "Chakaiya" or "Banarsi" which reportedly produce better and more prolific fruits than their wild cousins.

Indian Gooseberry, Amla, Amalika, Emblic, Myrobalan, ingredients, indian, gooseberry, Phyllanthus emblica, fruit,mirobala

Amla berries are preferably picked by hand after they turn from green to greenish yellow or greenish white in the Fall. It is recommended to check the seeds inside one berry before picking all of the berries. Seeds that have turned from white to black indicate the fruit is ripe.

Indian Gooseberry, Amla, Amalika, Emblic, Myrobalan, ingredients, indian, gooseberry, Phyllanthus emblica, fruit,mirobala

Amla is described in the ancient texts of Ayurveda as a peerless panacea. The fruit, seed, leaves, roots, bark, and flowers of the plant are used in various preparations in Ayurvedic and Unani healing. Amla not only balances all three doshas but purportedly cures everything from dandruff to diabetes! Most advertisements for therapeutic amla products attribute the fruit's benefits to it's rich content of vitamin C. The advertisements sometimes bizarrely claim vitamin C from amla is far more potent than ordinary vitamin C. Recently, it has been shown that amla does not contain any significant amount of vitamin C at all!

Indian Gooseberry, Amla, Amalika, Emblic, Myrobalan, ingredients, indian, gooseberry, Phyllanthus emblica, fruit,mirobala
β-glucogallin 
What does amla contain? A  mix of organic acids, common tannoids, and some unique tannins. One or more of these unique tannins was mistaken for vitamin C in the initial qualitative analysis conducted on amla more than 50 years ago. In 2014 a new HPLC method for the characterization and analysis of the various constituents of amla fruit was developed by the Sabinsa Corporation. This new spectral technique allowed a research team at Sabinsa Corporation to determine that β-glucogallin and mucic acid gallates are the predominant active molecules in amla rather than ascorbic acid (vitamin C).  This novel combination of  β-glucogallin and mucic acid gallates appears have high antioxidant activity and is much more stable than vitamin C (ascorbic acid). I was unaware that tannins had antioxidant properties. I hope these tannins do not cause bezoars, liver or kidney damage as some can.

Indian Gooseberry, Amla, Amalika, Emblic, Myrobalan, ingredients, indian, gooseberry, Phyllanthus emblica, fruit,mirobala
A happy and prosperous amla grower.
The popularity of amla for use in Ayurvedic remedies has led to problems for wild amla trees. Foragers often take a deleterious short-cut in collecting the fruits from wild trees. Instead of climbing the wild trees and carefully picking each fruit by hand they resort to lopping off large fruit-laden branches which can eventually kill the trees. As a result some areas have been virtually denuded of these valuable wild trees. Government and non-government agencies in India are undertaking efforts to educate foragers to avoid such destructive practices and encourage the development of commercial plantations of amla trees.

Indian Gooseberry, Amla, Amalika, Emblic, Myrobalan, ingredients, indian, gooseberry, Phyllanthus emblica, fruit,mirobala


The Indian gooseberry or amla is often confused with the common gooseberry for some reason. The common gooseberry is grown in cooler regions of Asia but is not related to the Indian gooseberry. The Indian gooseberry is similar in color to the amla fruit but contains a smooth pit, grows on a tree, is quite fibrous, and is about the same size as a golf ball.
Indian Gooseberry, Amla, Amalika, Emblic, Myrobalan, ingredients, indian, gooseberry, Phyllanthus emblica, fruit,mirobala
Common gooseberry (Ribes uva-crispa
In contrast the common gooseberry is slightly larger than a grape, grows on a bush, has a multi-seeded core, and is much sweeter than an Indian gooseberry when ripe. Common gooseberries are belong to the genus Ribes and are closely related to currants.

Indian Gooseberry, Amla, Amalika, Emblic, Myrobalan, ingredients, indian, gooseberry, Phyllanthus emblica, fruit,mirobala

Amla fruits keep well on the tree, but they do not keep as well after they are picked. They must be used or preserved as soon as possible after harvesting. Amla berries are so tough they must be smashed on a mortar before being cut into pieces to dry!





Indian Gooseberry, Amla, Amalika, Emblic, Myrobalan, ingredients, indian, gooseberry, Phyllanthus emblica, fruit,mirobala


One of the most common ways to quickly preserve amla is to cut them into small pieces, mix them with salt and/or lime juice and allow them to sun dry. Dried amla can be used as a souring agent much like amchur in lentil preparations. 


Indian Gooseberry, Amla, Amalika, Emblic, Myrobalan, ingredients, indian, gooseberry, Phyllanthus emblica, fruit,mirobala

Amla can also be candied much like ginger. Even though the box says the candy is sweet be forewarned it is VERY sour. This is a good treat to buy and share with unsuspecting non-Indians - watch their faces when they take a bite of this!
Indian Gooseberry, Amla, Amalika, Emblic, Myrobalan, ingredients, indian, gooseberry, Phyllanthus emblica, fruit,mirobala
Amla berries can also be preserved in sugar syrup like jam or a traditional murabba. These are still quite tart!
Indian Gooseberry, Amla, Amalika, Emblic, Myrobalan, ingredients, indian, gooseberry, Phyllanthus emblica, fruit,mirobala
In some regions amla is commonly pickled with salt, oil, and spices to make achaar. The fiery spices and astrigent amla make for quite the hot and sour accompaniment to a meal. I was served these for breakfast one morning in Delhi alongside a paratha and a little yogurt. Oh my. Having never tasted amla before that was a puckery surprise!

So, I'm all ready to retire and plant an amla orchard! The Sheikh says no and shook his head. Well, darn. What a party pooper. 
Ever tried any amla or Indian gooseberry in any form or fashion?
Is it not the most sour thin you've ever tasted (verging on caustic)?

Calmly currying on,
Bibi

Sep 18, 2017

Jamie Oliver's Tomato & Garlic Chutney

Jamie Oliver, recipe, tomato, garlic, chutney, cilantro, easy, indian, savory, simple, fresh, cooked,

This light and vibrant vegan tomato chutney is inspired by the spicy cuisine of Western India. The flavor is sweet and sour with a pleasant chilli kick. It's a great accompaniment to all sorts of foods and a fantastic way to use tomatoes when in season! Beautifully refreshing for a hot summer’s day and quite comforting with warm foods in winter.


Yes, it's another recipe for tomato chutney. Our tomato plants are still producing about a kilogram of tomatoes daily. So I've been looking for all sorts of great ways to enjoy them! "More vegetables = more healthy" - is my mantra.
Jamie Oliver, recipe, tomato, garlic, chutney, cilantro, easy, indian, savory, simple, fresh, cooked,
Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver
A few weeks ago I was suffering through watching the famed British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver on a television cooking show. I'm more of a Team Nigella gal myself. I find Jamie annoyingly ditzy and dim much in the same vein as Gwyneth Paltrow. I do appreciate his emphasis on using ethically sourced, fresh ingredients though. Anyhow, Mr Oliver was attempting to prepare an Indian-style meal on the program. His rather imaginative idea of Indian food seems to always include fistfuls of fresh cilantro/dhania stirred in at the end of nearly EVERY dish. Curious, I ventured on to Mr Oliver's website and found this recipe.

Jamie Oliver, recipe, tomato, garlic, chutney, cilantro, easy, indian, savory, simple, fresh, cooked,

Mr Oliver's tomato and garlic chutney was no exception to his cilantro/dhania fetish. A copious amount of cilantro/dhania was stirred in at the end of this recipe too. That presented a bit of a problem because during the steamy Monsoon season any tender, leafy green herb like coriander usually bolts or rots. But this week I harvested the first little scrawny bit of post-Monsoon cilantro/dhania which you see in the photo above! I hurriedly whipped this recipe up with tomatoes from our garden. I left out the sugar from the original recipe as my Kashmiri clan likes their tomatoes on the sour side. I also added a little cumin and used Kashmiri mirch for the chili powder for extra flavor. 
My Indian husband declared this the best tomato chutney yet! 
So there you have it. Authenticity be darned- this is good stuff! I you'd like less heat in your chutney try using a smoky paprika, for more heat use cayenne/degi mirch. In place of the sugar I've also tried tamarind paste which augments the sweet and sour notes of the tomatoes beautifully. Anyway you choose to make this twice cooked garlicky blend of tomatoes and cilantro/dhania it's delicious!

Ingredients:
8 garlic/lahsun cloves, peeled
8 tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 tsp Kashmiri mirch (or 1/2 tsp cayenne plus 1/2 tsp paprika powder)
1 tsp salt
3/4 C  water
2 TBS cooking oil
pinch of asafoetida/hing (optional)
1 tsp black mustard seeds/rai
1 tsp cumin seeds/jeera (optional)
1½ teaspoons granulated sugar or 1 teaspoon tamarind paste (optional)
1/3 C fresh coriander/dhania leaves, finely chopped

Here's what to do:
1) Put garlic cloves, tomatoes, one teaspoon salt, Kashmiri mirch, and 3/4 C water in a pan. Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook over a low heat for 15 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and leave to cool.
Jamie Oliver, recipe, tomato, garlic, chutney, cilantro, easy, indian, savory, simple, fresh, cooked,

2) When cooled transfer the contents of the pan to a blender and blend the mixture to a paste.

Jamie Oliver, recipe, tomato, garlic, chutney, cilantro, easy, indian, savory, simple, fresh, cooked,

Jamie Oliver, recipe, tomato, garlic, chutney, cilantro, easy, indian, savory, simple, fresh, cooked,

3) Heat the oil in pan set over a low heat for about 7 minutes or until oil is fragrant but not smoking. Add the asafoetida, mustard seeds, and cumin seeds.

Jamie Oliver, recipe, tomato, garlic, chutney, cilantro, easy, indian, savory, simple, fresh, cooked,

4) When the seeds begin to pop, add the blended tomato mixture. Be careful as the mixture might splatter when it hits the hot oil. Cook over a low heat for 15–20 minutes until the mixture becomes a thick paste.

Jamie Oliver, recipe, tomato, garlic, chutney, cilantro, easy, indian, savory, simple, fresh, cooked,

Jamie Oliver, recipe, tomato, garlic, chutney, cilantro, easy, indian, savory, simple, fresh, cooked,

5) Stir the chopped cilantro/dhania and sugar (if using) into fried mixture and mix well. Leave the chutney to cool a little before serving. This chutney will keep refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Jamie Oliver, recipe, tomato, garlic, chutney, cilantro, easy, indian, savory, simple, fresh, cooked,

Helpful hints:
I often leave out the asafoetida/hing as I find it really isn't noticeable competing with 8 cloves of garlic.

Sep 11, 2017

Perfume Review: Houbigant Orangers en Fleurs

life, love, houbigant, Orangers, Orangers en Fleurs, perfume, fragrance, review, orange blossom, tuberose, Turkish rose, ylang-ylang, Egyptian jasmine, nutmeg, eau de brouts, cedar, musk,
Orangers en Fleurs eau de parfum
Today I thought I'd do a review of my favorite perfume, Houbigant's Orangers en Fleurs. This new interpretation of orange blossom is not just a simple soliflore. It's a lush bouquet of orange blossom, tuberose, Turkish rose, Cormoros ylang-ylang, and Egyptian jasmine. Spicy nutmeg, eau de brouts, sheer cedar, and a base of clean musk temper this heady white floral. I'm certain reading Bibi rave about this overlooked gem is far more interesting than listening to her kvetch and crab about the Monsoon heat, eh? 
Matryoshka dolls
I first came across this perfume in a small duty-free shop in Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport in 2015. I had a 7 hour layover and was leisurely perusing all and sundry luxury goods on offer in the airport. I was expecting amber, vodka, caviar, matryoshka dolls, t-shirts, and perhaps furs? Nope! It was all perfumes and makeup - Bibi's most favorite things! And we're talking everything in the way of fragrance- Amouage, Montale, Escentual Molecules, Juliette has a Gun, Clive Christian, Chanel, Hermes,-you name it they had it. Bibi was in perfume heaven!!! So after about an hour of sampling at the bigger shops I stumbled across this tiny boutique at the end of the terminal. This little boutique had quite an odd assortment of brands. One wall was devoted to the Arabian brand Ajmal, there was a small selection of uber expensive Amouages, and another counter had an assortment of trendy niche brands like Byredo. I tried a few Byredos and other niche offerings and was rather unimpressed. I've already tried every Ajmal in existence so I declined sampling those. Then I spotted the tackiest 70's looking clear lucite display you can possibly imagine on the back wall. 
Orange blossoms
The garish fluorescent-lit display was devoted to three new offerings from Houbigant: Fougère Royale, Quelques Fleurs Royale, and Orangers en Fleurs. I was thoroughly underwhelmed upon trying the Quelques Fleurs Royale (2004). I tried the new version of Fougère Royale and was AMAZED but I know the Sheikh would never wear anything that bold or complex. The pristine crystal flacon of Orangers en Fleurs intrigued me. An orange tree in bloom? That sounds like a rather unoriginal and uninspiring premise for a luxury fragrance. However, white florals are my jam so I had to try it! And it was love at first sniff. Like the heavens opened up on that grey September day in Moscow and a brilliant beam of white floral bliss sparkled down from paradise. I asked the price. The saleslady said $80. I said, "I'll take it!" The owner of the store exclaimed loudly, 
"But that's the cheapest perfume in the whole store!" 

I replied, "It's the best thing I've tried in the entire airport." Her eyebrows about flew off her head. Guess they have crappy service in Russia too.
life, love, houbigant, Orangers, Orangers en Fleurs, perfume, fragrance, review, orange blossom, tuberose, Turkish rose, ylang-ylang, Egyptian jasmine, nutmeg, eau de brouts, cedar, musk,
My box has a white satin lining not this pink bathroom wallpaper stuff.
So I waited patiently until I arrived in Delhi to unbox my new treasure. I opened the immaculate white box stamped with a gilded logo of stylized orange blossoms and lined with elegant white satin. The crystal flacon has a nice heft to it but I will say I was a bit disappointed that the cap is plastic. I spritzed myself lightly before dinner. Would this turn out to be a disappointment as some other love (or like) at first sniff purchases have been? Would it simper off into nothingness in the searing heat of Delhi or morph into something monstrous? The sharp opening of the dry, gorgeously green, and petitgrain-like note of the eau de brouts was refreshing in the heat of the Subcontinent. The honeyed brightness of the orange blossom came shining through next. But then the real star of the show came forward...

Tuberose
A lush and buttery tuberose! The heady tuberose is the perfect foil for the soapiness of the orange blossom. Then Egyptian jasmine absolute appears adding further warmth yet remaining elegant, not animalistic. The prim Turkish rose absolute imperceptibly blends with the orange blossom. Cormoros ylang-ylang brings yet another facet with it's tropical note. Nutmeg chimes in delicately with a subtle citrusy spiciness completely in harmony with the orange tree theme. The cedar is so sheer it simply comes across as part of the tree. As the fragrance dies down a base of clean white musk is revealed. Nectarous orange blossom does continue to linger well into the dry down lightly hovering over the musk for hours (if not days). A deeper whiff reveals that intoxicating tuberose seductively lurking. This perfume gets an A+++ from me for a tenacity of over 12 hours in withering South Asian heat and humidity. In spite of this longevity it remains a well-behaved white floral that never goes indolic, sweaty, skanky, or fecal- YOU CAN WEAR THIS IN THE ELEVATOR!

YAY! A white floral that won't asphyxiate people in close quarters.
I've read reviews complaining that Orangers en Fleurs is overly simple, unoriginal, and just pretty. It is a very traditional floral-woods-musk composition. For me it's simple beauty and sophistication harken back to the classic style of Houbigant's older floral fragrances such as the iconic Quelques Fleurs, Les Violettes, and La Rose France . The perfumer is showcasing the quality of ingredients and their innate complexity perfectly. All those gorgeous absolutes are multifaceted and develop quite enough to keep me interested. This is also one of those amazing perfumes that definitely has a vintage feel to it but is somehow thoroughly modern too. No synthetic sleight of hands nor artifices required. Sometimes pretty and uncomplicated is what's called for. I certainly don't want to compete with the cacophonous and often overwhelming stench of South Asia. At least it isn't yet another one of those ubiquitous pink fruitichouli or gourmand things so popular nowadays!

life, love, houbigant, Orangers, Orangers en Fleurs, perfume, fragrance, review, orange blossom, tuberose, Turkish rose, ylang-ylang, Egyptian jasmine, nutmeg, eau de brouts, cedar, musk,

Orangers en Fleurs was launched by Houbigant in 2012. Apparently, it was initially only available at Bergdorf-Goodman and Neiman Marcus. The price started out at the princely sum of $180 for 100mls of the eau de parfum and $600 for 100mls of the parfum. I've now seen the eau de parfum priced as low as $60 for 100mls at online discounters. It's such an underrated bargain! I'm not sure if it wasn't a huge success because florals aren't trendy now or that hip niche houses are considered more fashionable ? I do have to say that Houbigant could have done a lot better with their marketing of the fragrance. I mean look at that ad -
WHY ARE THERE PINK ALMOND BLOSSOMS ON AN AD FOR AN ORANGE BLOSSOM FRAGRANCE!?! 
Pink has nothing to do with this fragrance!!!! White, green, and gold are the colors of this perfume. Almonds?!?

Kirsten Dunst as Marie-Antoinette frolicking at the (relatively) understated surroundings of the Petit Trianon
Houbigant has a long history of purveying to the French, British, and Russian aristocracy. Obviously, Houbigant wished to draw on it's legendary past with that classic Baccarat style flacon and the retro floral feel of Orangers en Fleurs. Marie-Antoinette was a famed client of Houbigant whose passion for feigned rusticity started the trend to lighter floral scents. Because of Marie-Antoinette the dense animalics so popular in the 17th century faded from popularity. Ethereal and elegant compositions of florals and woods became en vogue. Why not get a Kirsten Dunst look-a-like in a flimsy muslin chemise a la reine lolling about the Petit Trianon sniffing an orange blossom posy for the ad? Or just a boxed orange tree amongst the parterres of the Orangerie at Verailles in the background to infer an aristocratic bent?

Queen Victoria's wedding portrait
Here's another royal patron of Houbigant with a love for orange blossoms. Queen Victoria donned a pastoral coronet of orange blossoms on her wedding day. Her white gown and orange blossom headpiece set the style for western weddings for the next 200 years. Why not a simple orange blossom wreath or tiara next to or around the bottle for the ad? Oh well, I doubt Houbigant will be calling me for advertising advice.
life, love, houbigant, Orangers, Orangers en Fleurs, perfume, fragrance, review, orange blossom, tuberose, Turkish rose, ylang-ylang, Egyptian jasmine, nutmeg, eau de brouts, cedar, musk,
Boxed set of Orangers en Fleurs eau de parfum with scented lotion
(What is up with that tacky peach and green print on the box? It looks like a feminine hygiene product.)
Anywho, by now you've probably guessed that I absolutely love this perfume. From start to finish this perfume is just absolute perfection. Indeed, if I had to choose a signature scent- this would be it! Despite florals not being 'on trend' nowadays I get all sorts of compliments on this fragrance. A Chinese lady chased me down the street in Kathmandu last month wanting to know what the "powdery" perfume was that I was wearing. The Sheikh can be rather persnickety about perfumes but he has actually asked me to wear this one! I'd love to try the extrait. The eau de parfum is pretty potent so I'm curious as to how the stronger extrait would wear. I'm not certain if I could convince the Sheikh it's imperative that we buy a $600 bottle of parfum for me to try though ;)

What's your favorite perfume?
Any new white florals or tuberoses out there you think I should know about?
I am anxiously awaiting Gabrielle (the new Chanel tuberose)!
Hope your Summer went well and you're ready for a glorious Fall!

Sep 4, 2017

Monsoon Blooms & Eid al-Adha 2017



As the Monsoon winds down the holidays begin in South Asia! We celebrated Eid al-Adha this weekend with plenty of treats and my summer garden is still blooming. Above is the very buggy and messy but beautiful rose of Sharon in luminous lavender and cerise pink.


A gorgeous double apricot hibiscus is one of the few flowers that consistently endures the constant rain and humid heat of the Monsoon. 


This is a blackberry lily or leopard lily. Belamcanda chinensis is actually not a lily at all but a member of the iris family. In the US I've only seen these grow to about 3 feet tall but here in Nepal they grow to an amazing 5 feet in height. 


If you're wondering why they're called blackberry lilies it's because the flowers are followed by shiny dark purple seed pods that look like blackberries.


And yes, it was one of the holiest days of the Islamic calendar, Eid al-Adha! Also known as Baed Eid or the Feast of Sacrifice, it's a celebration of the sacrifice Abraham almost made when he was commanded by Allah to kill his son, Ishmael. Abraham was about to kill his son, (who was a willing offering) when Allah stopped him and rewarded him for passing this test of devotion.


Here are our guests of honor! We opted for proper sheep this year. (NOT @#$%%!! GOATS) I prefer the long-haired mountain goats called chang-rah but it was too hot for them to come down from the mountains yet. Anything's better than goat in my humble opinion.



I did some baking last week for the celebration. Date and crispy rice laddoos are on the top tier, chocolate crinkle cookies on the second tier, and a new recipe I'm trying out for eggless sugar cookies on the bottom. Trying to bake with random electricity outages is a PAIN!


Snacks a'plenty were served alongside numerous pots of noon chai (salt tea) and masala chai (spicy tea).

Here's what's in those bowls- Haldiram's! Haldiram's is kind of like the Frito-Lay of India. Founded in 1937 they are a major Indian sweets and snacks manufacturer. Personally, I think they make the best snacks on the planet! Spicy, salty, sweet, crispy, crunchy- with over a 100 different products Haldiram's has you covered! My favorites are any of the savory and spicy fried chickpeas, a great low carb treat.



The Sheikh (my husband) bought some local ghee and honey for the occasion. We live towards the edge of town and porters carrying goods from the mountains come walking by our house frequently. One porter was selling this 'homely' ghee and honey so the Sheikh bought all his wares. That was one happy porter! That's like a good 3 liters of ghee and at least a liter of honey. (The teacup is in the photo for size reference.) There's enough ghee and honey there for at least 3 years in our house so I gave some to the maid. The honey is quite floral while the ghee is very smoky in taste. The smoky flavor in the ghee is from being rendered over a wood burning chulo or stove in the mountains. I like to put a scant tablespoonful in meat curries and dal for richness and smoky flavor. Any more than a tablespoonful though and your dish will have a distinct and unpleasant creosote note.



And here's the inevitable food coma after partaking of all the goodies! The kitties crashed on Bibi's potting bench after feasting upon mutton all day. My potting bench is probably the only shady and dry spot outdoors in the yard. Those are some very happy kitties!

Hope all of you who celebrate Eid had a happy one!
How's your Summer going where you're at?
Ready for Fall?

Calmly Currying on,
Bibi

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