Brunch conversation with a group of perfumers and food bloggers inevitably turns to the crucial interplay between smell and taste in recipe development, whether it’s for a perfume blending, mixology, or good, old-fashioned baking. Offerings this time around included slices of Orange-Rosemary Olive Oil Cake, topped with a glaze that included a few drops of neroli. An oil made from blossoms of the bitter orange tree, neroli is used often in fragrances. Combined here with some ambergris, it bumped up the cake’s citrus note while leaving a fresh, perfumed taste in the mouth. It’s the kind of thing the ancients used to do to freshen breath, baker Deana points out; far sexier than sucking on a breath mint.
The just blossoming magnolia, cherry and Bradford pear trees lining the streets on my walk home served as a reminder that thanks are also long overdue to Deana for sharing a jar of her lilac jam, crafted last summer from bunches of hand-picked Maine lilacs. The lightly scented jam has a honeyed sweetness pulled directly from the flowers’ nectar. (Her beautiful photography and historical food explorations are chronicled on Lost Past Remembered. )