Mandy Aftel builds a bridge to span the gap between scent and taste in a way that only a master natural perfumer with the tools at hand could. Aftelier Chef's Essences are single note high quality essences or absolutes that come in drop and spray form to add to foods, drinks and desserts. Rose, fir needle, frankincense, violet, lavender, magnolia can all make magic with your taste buds if you crave the exotic, or even a superb flash of strawberry, coriander, saffron, spearmint or apple if concentrated comfort is the desire. I purchased two sprays and two absolutes. Today is all about the sprays.
Chocolate ($22) seemed like a no-brainer for me and it certainly has found itself to be a staple in my home. I intended it for use in some exotic dish, perhaps a rich mole or marinade. But so far it is an every day work horse that turns the mundane into indulgent. I spray it on top of vanilla bean Haagen-Dazs, into my morning cup of coffee, my afternoon chai tea. The absolute imparts a dark chocolate experience without bitterness and with a clarity and translucence that is sublime. I almost want to spray it on my skin it smells so incredible; coffee bean depth, cocoa nib duskiness, woody vanilla bean pod tones all fuse into this chocolate absolute. The alcohol content lends just a touch of boozy liqueur delight. I may still attempt to use it in an actual recipe but if I never get that far, I will not regret it one bit. It serves me well just adding a spritz of dimension to my every day consumption. (No, I don't eat Haagen-Dazs every day... or do I?). I can also tell this will last me a good long while despite my frequent use, it comes in a 30 ml glass bottle.
Bergamot ($16) Essential Oil spray piqued my interest. This "wild harvest" bergamot adds a peppery aged lemon citrus aroma and taste to foods or drinks. As the chocolate, I envisioned fancy creations using this beauty but those dreams have yet to materialize. Instead I have sprayed it on various cold salad type meals with excellent results. An easy lunch recipe I fell in love with, I drained and rinsed chick peas, added minced garlic, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, sea salt and a spray of bergamot. Instant light lunch with an exotically fresh aroma. This also adds citrus airiness to steamed rice, salad greens and Caprese salad. Mandy does warn that the citrus oils do need to be refrigerated to maintain freshness, and even then they will only last months and not indefinitely like her other essences.
If I could not only have a spice cupboard but an essence cupboard too, I would. And maybe I will work toward that. I did buy the lavender and frankincense oils to bake and make candy with so do look out for those in a Cooking Cove post. Would these look like something you would be interested in experimenting with? What essences strike your fancy? What would you create or enhance with the chocolate or bergamot?