Tom Ford Italian Cypress & The Ten Party

Tom Ford Italian Cypress is big salty, earthy cypress.  It feels very masculine, but I think women who like strong wood scents will be quite taken with this.  I can’t find a list of notes on it, except it mentions wood resins and scents of Italy, whatever that means.  I’ve put it next to CdG Hinoki, and they’re not close on the open. The Italian Cypress is greener wood, not as sweet.  It’s not so much rich as it is … um, fierce?  There’s something that feels like ocean breezes in it, but it doesn’t strike me as being marine or aquatic, mostly a little salty and earthy.  In the drydown, it does veer more to Hinoki as Hinoki loses that sweeter aspect that it has on the open.  There are similarities between the two that become more apparent on the drydown.  I think those who like the drydown of CdG Hinoki will find a friend in Tom Ford’s Italian Cypress.  Tom Ford’s seems to lean more into an earthy quality where Hinoki is more incensey or smoke.

Another gem that a lovely friend picked up while in Italy is the second perfume put out by the same people who put out The Party in Manhattan – The Ten Party.  These two could not be more different. Where Manhattan wants to shock and offend in an understated way, The Ten Party bubbles up and just laughs at you and all your seriousness.  Notes of bergamot, provenà§al lavender, lemon from Sicily, cumin essence, petitgrain from Paraguay, pink peppercorns, tarragon, jasmine, clove, maté absolute, incense essence, cedar wood, Indonesian patchouli, oak moss, white musks accords.  It’s like bubbling woods filled with champagne. Bergamot provides all the laughter over the wood nymphs flitting around in the trees.  I don’t get a lot of the spice notes in a way that they bite me on the nose, they seem to just frolic in the background nicely adding interest, but not pronounced. I very much like this in the same way I adore Santa Maria Novella’s Eva.  It has that same joy.  And for some reason… I think it would layer pretty beautifully with The Party in Manhattan.  One of those understated perfumes that grow on you and you wind up reaching for very often.

Now for a very serious question.  For the cooks out there, what is you most beloved tool/pan/thing you have in your kitchen?  I’ve got the big All Clad stainless steel pan that is terrific, and I’ve got a Le Creuset cast iron Dutch oven on the way.  What else do I really have to have?  We learned how to handmake pasta at class, so I’m stoked to try out my skills there. Whoever said that it’s easy to love someone that makes handmade ravioli was bang-on right.  What else is essential in the kitchen?

  • sherobin says:

    A huge, heavy stockpot, a heavy dutch oven, good knives (something everyone can agree on), plastic (only) cutting boards in several sizes. For pans, I’ve gone to all restaurant quality (not fancy or horrendously expensive) stainless steel. They are just as good as the pricey ones, IMO. I’ve also switched from wooden spoons to nylon, because they are easy care and durable. Other essentials include: a set of small bowls or ramekins to use for mise en place, a coffee grinder dedicated exclusively to spices, and a generous lidded container for kosher salt because a salt shaker or grinder just isn’t too practical for cooking.

  • moongrrl says:

    I’m jumping on the good knife bandwagon and adding a hand-held, idiot-proof sharpener to my recommendation. A knife is only as good as it’s edge and most accidents are caused by dull knives. Take it from me and my long-suffering fingers.

    My other must-have multi-taskers for my tiny apartment kitchen:

    Cutting “sheets”, you know, those large foldy ones that replace boards. They go anywhere, cover a lot of space (if you are messy like me) and you can use them to funnel what you’ve cut right into the pan. I don’t know how I ever lived without them. Seriously.

    A large nonstick skillet. A cheap one, since the teflon won’t last forever. If I spend too much, I would mind pitching it. IIRC, Elton Brown doesn’t recommend spending over 10 bucks for one (neither does America’s Test Kitchen).

    A couple of sizes of “universal” lids. That way, I never have to go lid hunting (and those cheap non-stick skillets don’t tend to come with them).

    I have a thing for my wooden scraper spoon. Nothing works better for breaking up ground meat while it’s browning and it’s not perforated, so it moves to being a good stirring spoon with ease. On top of that, it’s teflon safe. Woo!

    One of those Chef’n pepper grinders that has a magnet on the back of it. I keep it on the hood over my stove, so it’s always handy without taking up more space.

  • Flora says:

    Well, of course a good cast iron skillet, and a heavy-duty food processor (my Cuisinart is over 20 years old and going strong) but something that is often overlooked is a really good strainer for pasta and vegetables, etc., it is essential. I have had a Tupperware version, with a long handle to avoid steam burns, for ages. Another good choice is a really sturdy metal one with feet, so it can sit and you don’t have to hold it at all while you pour your pasta into it. If you are going to be cooking all that homemade pasta, you will need it!

  • mirandajane says:

    Coming in a little late in the game, but I think a pair of kitchen scissors are invaluable. You can use them to snip herbs, open stubborn packages, even cut meat. Ikea sells big blue scissors with a scary-looking vagina dentata thing in the middle (for opening jars). I use them all the time….& Recipe day sounds great!

  • Patty says:

    I should have never asked!!!!!!!!!! I’m going to wind up spending a fortune now.

    I have a couple of good knives, but now I know I need more, but will save up for the great ones. Have the food processor and a bunch of other stuff, but I’ve got a list now as long as my arm on things I need to buy!

    Thanks, all of you! You’re great to cook with. We should have a recipe contribution day. If anyone wants to do that, we will happily post them over the weekend! Just send them to Contact us over on the left.

  • MarkDavid says:

    Yes, knives are probably the number one for me. I have 2 I can’t live without. One is the Kuhn Rikon paring knife, coated so that NOTHING sticks to them. So chop all the onions and garlic you want – they just slide right off.

    The next is a Kyocera Ceramic knife that I got in Williams Sonoma for around $80. I can’t live without it. Its not metal – its some weird Japanese ceramic that is REALLY sharp. I have the scars to prove it. And the knife is as light as a feather.

    AND – My All-Clad sauteuse and stock pot and a small sauce pot – copper core.

    I know people love their Kitchen mechanics, and I have all of them, but still find myself chopping, dicing, mixing, blending all by hand.

    A really good dishwasher and convection oven are also really important, I feel.

  • tmp00 says:

    A good set of knives, definately. Really sharp ones. I have one thats a ceramic that I adore, but they do shatter if dropped.

    A subscription to “Cooks Illustrated” is great, and do get the online subscription too. You get all the back issues with the recipes

  • Shelley says:

    Hmm…the good knife (paring, chef); the quality saute pan (or cast iron skillet); the immersion blender…these have been my best friends, and by arriving late, I see many others lean that direction, too. I love my salt “pig,” too.

    Since that ground has been covered, I’m going to make a plug for essential non-material equipment: a willingness to experiment, and a good sense of humor. :>

    On the perfume front, I’ll ‘fess up that I guess I’m more suited to smaller parties; on paper, I’ll take Ten, and somebody else can take Manhattan.

  • rappleyea says:

    Forgot to add, I’m also in love with clay baking ware. It does something magical to food.

  • Rappleyea says:

    Since I’m quite a bit more knowledgeable about cooking than perfume (even though I love it!), I’ll chime in here. Since you’re into Italian cooking, I’d highly recommend one of the “plane” type graters. I’ve tried every type made, and this is by far the easiest for parmesan cheese, although it works well for other things too. I got mine at QVC, but Williams-Sonoma has them too.

    • Francesca says:

      Oh, God, yes! I love my Microplane. Patty, you have to get one!

      • moongrrl says:

        Yes! Nothing beats a microplane for quickly zesting citrus, grating hard cheeses, or grating nutmegs.

        I love gadgets that have more than one use. 🙂

  • Elle says:

    Another vote for excellent knives. I know I don’t cook much any longer, but I must say that I have to put in a vote for one of those point and shoot infrared food thermometers – simply brilliant. Also poultry shears (which I use for everything), top quality scales, a spice grinder (basically a coffee grinder) and a superb, heavy cast iron wok.

  • Natalie says:

    Knives, yes! A good chef’s knife can do just about anything, so long as you keep it sharp. And another vote for cast iron pans — I don’t trust nonstick anymore, and these do the job nicely. As mentioned above, they add iron to your food, and you don’t need to really wash them (I just scrub them with kosher salt). I also love my Benriner, which is a cheap Japanese version of a mandolin. On the down side, it sliced the tip of my thumb off the other night, but that wasn’t really its fault (just me being scatterbrained and in a hurry).

  • Disteza says:

    Yes, I’ll chime in for a set of good knives as well–Managed to get a full set of Wusthof Culinars and I treat them better than children! Also, I admit that the $30 garlic press has been such a time-saver, AND I don’t have to worry about my hands reeking of garlic (gets in the way of the perfume on my wrists ;)). I’ve also found that while having a tagine and a ducth oven are nice, you can pretty much make the same dishes in a large-capacity crock pot: recently did some braised lamb shanks with almond picada almost entirely prepared in our crock pot and came out fabulously.

  • Karen G says:

    Like everyone else has mentioned…Knives. I also love my mezza luna for chopping herbs, and my cheapo Braun coffe grinder for grinding spices. A good pepper mill (Peugeot makes really nice ones). And Kosher salt.

  • divinemama says:

    So funny that perfume has only received 3 teeny mentions in posts so far. I guess many perfumistas are passionate about a wide variety of topics. :d

  • divinemama says:

    Agreed…good knife, big cutting board and ample supply of good salt. I switched from Kosher to sea salt chunks that I grind when needed. Sea salt is ‘supposed’ to be the best salt for you and tastes great.

  • kathleen says:

    A cast iron skillet, of course.

    The Ten Party sounds dead interesting, definately “sniff worthy”.

  • March says:

    Okay, this is less sexy than everyone else, but you MUST (and you probably do) have a regular ol’ cast iron skillet — Lodge makes them, they’re dirt cheap online. Or at thrift stores.

    You season those puppies by greasing them and baking them in the oven and then you never wash them again — just a quick rinse/scour in water and a dryoff on the stove. I bake cornbread, cook eggs, saute/fry chicken, make pancakes, sear meat, etc. etc. etc. in those pans (I have 3 — big with high sides for frying, medium for cornbread etc., and smallish). Cannot imagine life without them. :)>- Also rumor has it they transfer minute amounts of iron to your food, which for many of us is a good thing.

    • kathleen says:

      Hah! Great minds, etc. I got the Lodge at Target. I can do a nice quesaadilla in it. It goes all nice and crispy. Also wonderful for a puffy dutch pancake

    • Shelley says:

      Sad, but true, story. At a family reunion, as first of a first who additionally gave birth to a first (that would be grandchild, great-grandchild, and great-great-grandchild), I was given my great-grandmother’s cast iron skillet.

      As a special treat, it was refinished.

      Imagine how horrible, how awful, the effort required to only respond only to the generosity of the gift, and the heartfelt intentions…even as I was internally screaming AT LEAST 60 YEARS WORTH OF SEASONING????!!! =(( :-< You just can't even try to address it. At least my mother understood. We just looked at each other...and she hugged me when we were out of sight.

  • Musette says:

    Knife,Knife, Baby! A couple of good knives will see you through anything in the kitchen. I seldom use my food processor, being reared Old School. I have a wonderful all-purpose knife made by a knifesmith in Santa Fe, Tim Wright. It’s not stainless so I have to keep it in good heart and oiled and honed – but I love it. I use it for nearly everything. My Globals are my backups. The MOST IMPORTANT THING in knives is to find a knife that fits your hand – it’s more important than finding a knife that fits the task.

    I am also in thrall to my workhorse saute pan. Other pans may come and go but I’ve had my saute for 30 years and will probably take it to my grave. Or perhaps it can be the thing used to fling my ashes out over the lavender fields…


  • HikerChick says:

    Must agree with Francesca on this one… I use my immersion blender a lot these day. It makes for such lovely, silky soups and dips! The little minichopper and whisk attachments are essential. I also love my mandoline. I have a fancy food processor with all the slicing and grating blades, but it is so bulky and heavy to bring out that I never use the poor thing. The mandoline fits in a drawer next to the counter and is my workhorse come holidays and get-togethers. Naturally, my knives do most of the every-day work, but you can’t beat a mandoline when faced with a massive number of potatoes and fennel to slice thinly!

    Also my one-and-only, tried-and-true solution to chopping onions is to wear one of my old pair of swimming goggles. Just make sure the neighbors are looking in the windows.

  • multitasker says:

    Do you have a great cookie sheet? You need one (or two). It is the difference between perfectly gorgeous and mediocre results. And let’s face it, this is a good and easy source oooh and ahhhhs. Cookies are so simple to make, and you’ll immediately see a difference–talented or not.

    • multitasker says:

      I love my crockpot too. It is a working mom’s survival tool. It makes my life better, and I can make good quality chiles and soups in it. This is a confession more than a recommendation–it’s both I guess. My second confession is that I have given up on my good knives because I have no time to sharpen them. I use an infomercial knife my husband felt compelled to purchase–it will cut thru a tin can, no problem. . . .

  • Francesca says:

    I agree on the good knives, too. What a difference they make. I guess my absolute can’t live without it is my food processor. And as I mentioned the other day, I love my immersible blender. It just saves so much time and hassle. Plus the Braun version comes with a very handy mini chopper attachment as well as a whisk attachment.

    Hmm, I’m thinking a sample of The Ten Party has to be in my future.

  • Anne says:

    3 things I cannot live without. With everyone else…. knives. Went thru so many till I found my Global. Keeps the edge longer than any 4-star anything else I’ve owned. A HUGE cutting board. Bigger is way better, won’t cramp your prep style. And lastly …. salt. Get a salt keeper for the counter and buy the biggest box of Kosher salt you can find. There’s no stoppin’ ya now! 😡

  • Wordbird says:

    Oh gosh yes, knives. I have a glorious carbon steel Sabatier chef’s knife that my cousin bought me and i treasure it – it gets used, washed immediately, oiled and replaced in the block. Tha baby never goes in the dishwasher and never gets handed to anyone who won’t respect it. But I have a good set of Sabatiers, ranging from breadknife to little vegetable knives. It makes prep so much easier to have good tools.
    Speaking of which, I have a great pepper mill that doesn’t clog up and I love my silicone spatulas too – they make it so easy to make good sauces and cakes.
    For pans, I have inherited my Mum’s massive old cast-iron Le Creuset casserole (marmite?) and use it for cooking everything from giant pots of spaghetti bolognese to classic casseroles like coq au vin and boeuf bourguinon. Finally I have a great set of Circulon nonstick pans – I got them half price in the January sales and I treasure them.

  • dinazad says:

    Third on the knives. I LOVE my Japanese “Global” knives and my Porsche breadknife with a passion. And I’m absolutely lusting after a set of damask steel knives I saw the other day. And then there’s the rectangular tart tin I bought in Paris. That thing is an absolute dream, nothing ever sticks, and the format lets you cut your tarts and quiches into cool strips of equal width……
    I also own a special “cast aluminium” pot which keeps whatever is in it boiling hot for half an hour after I’ve turned off the heat. Saves energy like crazy!

  • jarvis says:

    Big second for a good knife. My favourite is a large “vintage” 8-inch chef’s knife from when these knives were still made with real rosewood handles. Although I am currently lusting over a Nenox knife. (Shall I buy a knife, or a bottle of Ormonde Jayne Seraphim? Hard to choose).

  • Calypso says:

    Good knives are the most imporant thing! A decent blender or food processor of some sort. I also like to keep and often use a little one that is handy for smaller jobs. I’m sure you’ll get tons of other suggestions. Enjoy!