I know, I know -- I've been pretty much mum on the about Fresno's first ever perfume scent event and exhibition, and by now everyone's probably already forgotten they were waiting to hear how it went. I started at least a dozen different times to put down in words how the event went, who was in attendance, what we discussed, the display, exhibit and food, but for some reason I just couldn't get it right. And yesterday I figured out why I was (and am) having such a difficult time writing about it -- to me, it was special, personal, less an event and more of a "family" gathering; something private and, in some sense, surreal. Beautiful.
The day couldn't have more perfect. The venue was the back yard of an old mansion in the Tower District; the lawn perfectly manicured, brickwork patio covered tip to tail with a gorgeous canopy, a gentle breeze on the wind, the water in the pond trickling quietly. I, on the other hand, was a hot mess! I was late to my own party! The food, thankfully, was prepared in advance so all that had to be done was to cook it and serve it, but with only moments before the big opening and at least another hour before the food was ready, and only one me doing the setting up of the display, the arranging of the tea table, and the preparation of the food, it seemed an impossible task. My rescuers came by way of Berkeley, CA, bearing accoutrements, good will, helping hands and gusto. Lisa Camasi came with a lovely antique brocade table cloth upon which to showcase my perfumes and perfumery collections to their best advantage; Laurie Stern of Velvet & Sweet Pea's Purrfumery came with a huge tea/coffee pot to heat water for the various floral teas that were being served, as well as gifting me with a case of fresh, fragrant gardenia blossoms from the flower market in the Bay Area; and Yuko Fukami of Parfum Phyto came to help prep and serve food for the guests. More support came by way of San Jose, CA upon the arrival of Shelley Waddington of En Voyage Perfumes and her husband Rich.
Much of my family and a smattering of local friends were also in attendance, turning the event into something akin to a family reunion with new and wonderful "family" joining in. The whole exhibition part of the event went out the window as everyone talked and mingled, ate and drank, brainstormed and commiserated on the difficulty of being an NBP in this economy with so much competition and . . . well, it was a non-stop gab fest from beginning to end! And something I would do again and again just to get perfumers together to talk freely about their work, their ambitions for the art form, their techniques, their ideas for the future -- there was a real feeling of camaraderie amongst the perfumers gathered that day, so much so that even friends and family outside of the perfume community were listening intently to what we discussed.
The food ~ oh, the food was extraordinary, if I do say so myself. There were rose flavored scones with lemon curd, jasmine cheesecake with jasmine whipped cream, petitgrain sur fleur neroli shortbread cookies, and fresh picked strawberries; rose tea, jasmine green tea, blooming tea and a lovely sweet osmanthus tea, as well as wine and champagne (the champagne was courtesy of Lisa Camasi who also brought a big bottle of Hangar One Mandarin Blossom vodka for the now famous Camasi Tea ~ recipe to follow). I shared my bottles of homemade lemoncello and strawberry liqueurs, and it turned out they were pretty darned good too.
I also arranged to make dinner for my out-of-town guests, which turned into making dinner for the entire guest list of attendees, which was wonderful for everyone to sit and talk some more and get to know one another better, perfumers and non-perfumers alike. Dinner was baked apricot chicken, a delicious ratatouille, pasta, salad, and garlic bread.
As I mentioned before, it was hard to write about this because it wasn't like a stuffy gathering or a teaching affair, or what I had intended -- a means of marketing NBP to the local community -- it was a family affair, a gathering of friends intent on one purpose -- to build community within NBP. It was a party!
I couldn't have put this event together without the help of my son Scott, his girlfriend, Becca, and their roommate, Jade. They made sure the guests were comfortable, their glasses full, and their plates overflowing, not to mention providing the gorgeous venue, help with cooking and cleaning and serving . . . they were unimaginably wonderful.
The only downside to this post and the event? I didn't get a single photo I can use here! I literally became so enraptured by the setting up and then the conversation that I completely forgot about the camera. So, no photos.
Now for that recipe ~ Camasi Tea
1 gallon freshly brewed jasmine green tea
1/2 cup (or to taste) raw honey
1 cup (or to taste) Hangar One Mandarin Blossom vodka
Pour into tall glasses filled with crushed ice and drink through a straw. You won't even taste the alcohol, but you will feel it.