The Rebel Cake and Perfume Club at Les Senteurs

Salame al cioccolato

Salame al cioccolato

Golden pretzel peanut squares

Peanut pretzel squares

Marmalade Bakewell

Marmalade Bakewell

Umami

Umami cups of white chocolate, green tea and vanilla with dried strawberries

Lemon olive oil cake

Lemon and rosemary olive oil cake

Odette Toilette

On Saturday I spent my afternoon at a fabulously quirky cake tasting and perfume smelling session beautifully put on by Odette Toilette and Leonie Sooke.

It is part of the Vintage Scent Sessions which the wonderfully named Odette Toilette runs at Les Senteurs, a scent salon in Marylebone. Originally Odette was hosting a scent sniffing session with bubbly and cakes merely as the refreshments until she met Leonie, a food historian and cook  of The Gossip Bowl, who suggested matching cakes to the perfumes in a timeline from 1900 to the present day. The rebel part kicks in with the selected cakes and perfumes having been made by people who were avant-garde. Needless to say, it was a great afternoon. Just going to smell perfumes and eat cakes would be a brilliantly decadent combination itself but to have a talk on the cakes and perfumes as well was great sustenance for the brain.

We learnt about how Elizabeth David managed to move the olive oil bottle from the pharmacy to the kitchen cupboard whilst eating a zingy piece of lemon and rosemary olive oil cake. It was interesting that this cropped up as whilst watching “Call the Midwife” a few days before I was interested to see that a midwife bought avocado pears from the market and served them to the other midwives and nuns with olive oil. Several of the nuns and midwives seemed surprised because they were used to seeing it in the pharmacy and found the different context a bit unnerving. I had wondered what medicinal purpose it had been used for and a quick search has informed me that it was used to cure ear ache and rid lousy heads of head lice amongst other things. The wonderful Elizabeth David also steered British kitchens away from the stuffy and meticulously arranged platters of food that were served at family meals towards a more relaxed Mediterranean style with a medley of fresh flavours.

Another chapter concentrated on Trash and the smartening up of street food as has been seen recently with restaurants such as Bubbledogs which has a menu of hot dogs and champagne only, gourmet doughnuts such as those by St John, and indulgent burgers at the likes of Meat Liquor. The perfume that went with this was “Encens et Bubblegum” by Antoine Maisondieu. Smelling it reminded me of chewing Hubba Bubba as a teen wearing a pair of Converse on the rare occasions that I could chew any gum since it was not something I was really allowed (quite right too!). Perhaps wearing a perfume that smells of it is a way of satisfying the urge to have gum without encountering sticky wodges of pink squidge stuck to pavements, hair and the underside of desks.

The cakes were all delicious and being a peanut butter, peanut anything fan I had my eyes on the peanut pretzel (sprayed golden!) square from the moment I walked in. You can sign up to receive Leonie’s recipes on her website here.

I don’t want to give too many spoilers as I really recommend that you go to see, smell, hear and taste this event! Buy your ticket immediately here!

Les Senteurs

Les Senteurs exterior

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