A feast for the nostrils: The dinner parties where guests sniff perfume to enhance the flavour of their food
23:28 GMT, 18 March 2012
Fragrances and fine dining are not normally judged to be a good mix.
During the Eighties, some restaurateurs banned customers wearing Giorgio and Poison on the grounds that the pungent perfumes made it impossible for other diners to taste their food.
But bespoke perfumer Louise Bloor takes an alternative approach. At her Fragrant Supper Club, the guests are given different fragrances to wear to enhance the flavour of what they eat.
Treat for the senses: Louise Bloor has made a perfume using tonka bean and ylang ylang to be worn while sampling Haagen-Daz's new mint leaves and chocolate ice cream
'At a recent dinner, we served a rose and black pepper ice cream with a tiny vial of rose and black pepper perfume,' says Louise. 'You swipe the perfume across your thumb so that, as you lift the spoon to your lips, you get a waft of the same scent you are tasting.
'Ice cream doesn't smell, so you're adding an element that isn't there, which helps to make the taste more intense.'
But olfactory dining isn't just for food snobs. Louise has just been commissioned to come up with a bespoke perfume for ice cream giant Haagen-Dazs, which signals that the trend may become mainstream.
Designed to be worn while sampling the company's new Mint Leaves & Chocolate ice cream, the scent is made with tonka bean and ylang ylang. In fact, the idea of the perfumed banquet is not new.
'The Romans used to scent doves with rosewater and fly them around the room before the guests came in,' says Louise. So if we all wanted to give it a whirl, which commercial perfumes could actually improve rather than destroy our meals
According to Louise, sugary perfumes like Thierry Mugler's Angel would be good for afternoon tea. And, in general, replicating any of the ingredients of a meal in your scent is likely to be a winner.
So, if you know you're going to be eating an orange salad, try a spritz of Jo Malone's Lime, Basil and Mandarin, or Hermes' Eau d'Orange Verte.
But, says Louise, if you're a fan of Opium, it might be best to leave it until you've finished the after-dinner mints…