Tag Archives: beach

Smells Like a Beach

5 Jun

I can’t believe it’s June already. And like you, I can’t believe that though it’s technically summer, it’s still raining. Accuweather predicts that in the next 15 days, 11 will have some form of precipitation. *sigh* There goes half of June. With that said, as a seasoned Vancouverite, I just shrug my shoulders, make sure I’m properly layered for the day and pack an umbrella.

But don’t despair! Summer will come soon – it has to eventually. All I’m doing is mentally and physically preparing for it because when it hits, I will want to enjoy every moment of it. How I’m physically prepping for summer? Getting highlights, a layered cut for those easygoing waves, putting on a touch of bronzer everyday and starting the self-tan process. How I’m mentally preparing for summer? By smelling it.

As I get older, it’s less important for me to smell good than it is for the fragrance to conjure up a mood,  invoke a feeling, rekindle a memory or transport me somewhere other than here. I wear Hermes Un Jardin sur le Nil on those cold rainy days because it adds a warmth to the dampness, prefer Carriere by Gendarme for those morning meetings and dab on Comme des Garcons Kyoto as it reminds me of my grandfather. But I’m digressing… again.

During the summer, I don’t let Coppertone do the talking, I get my fragrance to. Here are my picks for summer, or for now if you want to sniff, close your eyes and dream of sunny days to come.

Estee Lauder Azuree from Tom Ford Collection (fragrance and body oil) – when this launched in 2006, the perfume forums went crazy, it instantaneously sold out, there were waiting lists at all the department stores, eBay was selling at ridiculous prices and I stocked up like a mad woman. Why? It wasn’t because it was by the sexy Tom Ford, or because it was in stylish retro turquoise/gold packaging, or that it was limited edition… it was because it smelled like “white sand beaches, azure waters and sultry afternoons that go on forever.” It didn’t smell like the beaches of Miami or Mexico, but of beautiful, tanned people without a care in the world sunning in St. Tropez or the Cote d’Azur. It’s my staple fragrance for summer because the fragrance is sophisticated and subtle enough for work, and layered with the body oil it’s sexy enough for play. In 2008 it was reincarnated as Bronze Goddess (without Tom Ford), which it still remains today, but was reformulated with less Tahitian gardenia and more coconut.

Beach by Bobbi Brown – this is a more sophisticated beach scent that’s more Atlantic East Coast than West Coast or anything tropical. Think sea and salty – the Hamptons or Nights in Rodanthe.

At the Beach 1966 by CB I Hate Perfume is Bobbi Brown’s Beach + (more) Coppertone.

Miami Glow by Jennifer Lopez – I would never admit  that I own a JLo fragrance, but I have a soft spot for this one. It’s perfect for those really hot days/nights when you’re drinking sangria on the patio at Havanas with your girlfriends, smokin’ a cuban or flirting with a hot boy toy. It’s exactly what the name implies: Miami = coconut + suntan lotion + fruity drink with a cocktail umbrella. Wear it anytime or anywhere else, and you’d be deemed a social and olfactory menace. Yes, it’s that offensive. Sadly, it’s been discontinued but you can still find a few bottles at Shoppers Drug Mart and other drugstores.

Articles:

If you’re interested in reading more about scents and places, you’d like this article by Chandler Burr. He has also written about the conceptualization and development of Hermes Jardin sur le Nil for the New Yorker, and recently published the ‘must have’ list of salty/beachy/ocean scents for summer. If you want to get away, Elle magazine has a great perfume guide for travelling around the world without leaving your desk.

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Summer dishes: Yucatan Shrimp

22 May

Warmer weather usually means get togethers with family and friends -potlucks, picnics, BBQs – communal cooking and casual dining. One of my fondest childhood memories was the gathering of 3 or 4 families (actual relations, friends, neighbours) to eat shellfish. No bbq, no meats, no fish. Anything with a shell – lobster, crab, shrimp, clams, mussels – that all the men in the family would go early morning to the docks to buy fresh off the boats and the women would clean/devein and boil and serve on large platters, only to be instantly descended upon and devoured. It wasn’t the just the food that brought people together, but the barbaric and natural act of eating without utensils and using your teeth, fingers and the occasional napkin. The communal and raw way of eating shellfish like this transcended sex, age, race and class – and gave way to a sense of bonding.

In honor of the first long (and much anticipated) weekend of the year – I give you Yucatan Shrimp. Happy bonding.

Yucatan Shrimp (wok style)

Variations below

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced (yes, the whole damn thing)
  • Juice of two large limes
  • 1 tablespoon Indonesian sambal (preferably sambal oelek)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 pound large, fresh, shell-on shrimp (or prawns, deveined)
  • 1 teaspoon jalapeño, seeded and chopped (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro.

1. In a small saucepan set over low heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the garlic and cook, stirring for 2 minutes.

2. Add remaining 3 tablespoons butter to saucepan. When it melts, stir in the lime juice, chili sauce, salt and pepper. Turn off the heat and allow the sauce to rest.

3. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add the shrimp and cook for 2 minutes or until they are just firm and pink. Do not overcook. Drain into a colander and shake over the sink to remove excess moisture.

4. In a large bowl, toss the shrimp and chili sauce. Add jalapeño, if desired, sprinkle with cilantro and toss again. Serves 4, messily. Adapted from Greg Nelson at Doc Ford’s Sanibel Rum Bar and Grille, Sanibel Island, Fla.

Notes: Do not use more butter than needed, or your shrimp will be swimming in oil. Be liberal with the garlic – you can never have too much! Because I didn’t have sambal on hand, I figured since it’s kinda stinky and spicy, I mixed fish sauce and vietnamese chili sauce and threw in some lemongrass paste. If it’s not sweet enough, squirt  in some agave, or use honey if you don’t have it. Sugar is just too 2D sometimes. Serve with beer and lime.


Yucatan Shrimp (BBQ style)

  • 2 tablespoons achiote powder (see Note)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds large shelled and deveined shrimp
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves
  • Summer Vegetable Rice and lemons, for serving
  1. Light a grill. In a large bowl, blend the achiote, garlic, orange and lemon juices, chile powder, cayenne and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Whisk in the oil. Add the shrimp and toss. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Thread the shrimp onto six 12-inch skewers. Season with salt; reserve the marinade. Grill the shrimp over a hot fire, basting with the marinade, until barely cooked through, 2 minutes per side. Transfer to plates, sprinkle with the cilantro and serve with Summer Vegetable Rice and lemon wedges. Serves 6.

Notes: Achiote powder is ground from achiote (annatto) seeds. It has no discernible flavor and is used in Latin cooking to give dishes a reddish-orange color. Achiote powder and seeds are available at Latin markets and some supermarkets.