Monday, October 22, 2007

In Goût Taste

Last night's Scent Dinner hosted by New York Times perfume critic Chandler Burr was, for the seventeen of us gathered, a privileged peek into the related worlds of scent and flavor. Divided into six courses – each encompassing the expression of a certain staple ingredient (flour, bread, butter, salt, carrot, saffron and so on) – the four-hour dinner could be better dubbed as a sort of olfactionary sleight-of-hand. My table companions arched intently over the rapidly multiplying touches, stumped by white truffle, pink peppercorn and the many masterpieces of modern laboratory scent mimicry. Who would have thought that the pat of butter sitting next to one's dinner roll was infused with a chemical called diacetyl, which most American noses have been schooled in since early childhood and which may explain the propensity (of certain of us, present parties excluded) for drinking over-oaked California chardonnays? In all this gourmanderie, Chandler was an affable guide for everyone from established industry types to budding perfumers, right down to the foodies who swooned over some scents as I imagine they would in a middle-eastern spice bazaar. Favorite among the food-scent pairings was a plate of butter-poached langoustines, heirloom baby carrots and carrot-ginger emulsion avec Jean-Claude Ellena's masterful green mango-infused Un Jardin sur le Nil and, bargain eau du jour, Roger et Gallet's Gingembre, which sent one woman into a near fit of apparent joy. The wines and spirits chosen by the Carlyle beverage director had fewer standouts, but I beamed at the 1990 Poniatowski Vouvray Aigle Blanc, a botrytis-tinged chenin blanc redolent of honey, apples and chèvrefeuille. Six courses later, after a final moment spent in the flame-licked world of Issey Miyake's Le Feu, I thanked my gracious host and slipped out into the air of the Upper East Side: black sequins floating on a cloud of taxi fumes. Eau so New York!


Blogger Perfumeshrine said...

You're the only one attending that wrote about these dinners on the blogs (AFAIK). Thanks!
It sounds like a great experience after all. And nice to experience a good cru!

October 27, 2007 at 2:08 AM  
Blogger Vetivresse said...

Considering how much was covered that evening (and the great company) it was a marvel of organization for Chandler. It's tough to talk at a declamatory decibel for 4 hours, and he did just fine.

October 27, 2007 at 8:05 AM  

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