Rhubarb — eat it, wear it, love it!

By Ann

This is one of the many things I love about blogging: You just never know when or where inspiration will strike. (Not to mention that great minds think alike: We didn’t set out to have a foodie Posse weekend here, but I’m happy to follow Fragrantwitch’s tasty post from a day or two ago — rhubarb margaritas, anyone?)

Anyhoo, I was at an upscale grocery store a few weeks ago — one which I rarely visit except for gifts, etc. — when over in the bakery what should I spy but a rhubarb pie? Well, truth be told, a strawberry-rhubarb pie. And although I’m a bit of a rhubarb purist and love it on its own tart and saucy merits, beggars can’t be choosers. I was still tickled pink, as it’s hard to find in any shape or form, particularly here in the South.

Well, it got me pondering scents that contain this lovely red note. There are quite a few of them out there and I won’t begin to list them all, but I’ve just found a new one to love: London, the latest in Guerlain’s Voyage series. One spritz of it in the store and my mouth started to water (“Pardon my drool, lovely sales associate”) for some of that pie. I’m thinking a decant of this will have to be mine for the summer.

Any rhubarb fans out there — the note or the food? Or is there any scent you wear that kicks the cravings into high gear and sends you into the kitchen or out to the supermarket?

  • Sarah says:

    Poivre Piquant has delicious rhubarb notes.

  • Sam says:

    I think the rhubarb thing is a Midwest thing…I’m not from the Midwest myself, but my father is, and now that he’s a winemaker he does a brilliant rhubarb wine. It’s tart and bright and delicious. Love it. (He makes it from organic rhubarb, and we used to have to pick the rhubarb ourselves–a ton and a half of it each year, I think–but now, thankfully, he gets it pre-picked!)

    The only rhubarb scent I can remember trying, however, is that CdG thing. I (of course!) bought a bottle unsniffed–and it was dreadful on me.

    • Ann says:

      Hi, Sam. I don’t drink (save for a glass of champagne on New Year’s Eve) but that wine sounds mighty fine. Is it available for purchase anywhere? And so glad you don’t have to do the picking anymore! BTW, I wasn’t wild about the CdG scent either. I think rhubarb works better in a supporting role rather than a starring one, in perfume, anyway.

  • Julie says:

    Hi Ann. I am a rhubarb lover as well. It doesn’t grow out here in San Diego either (you must have a real frost for it to grow, I read somewhere), but I can generally find some in the grocery stores in the summer. Got some chopped up in my freezer right now waiting to be made into a crisp! I haven’t really found any good perfumes with rhubarb, but there is a rhubarb hand soap (Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day – I found mine at Target) that smells very realistic!

  • Joanna Ravlin says:

    I love me some rhubarb! Is it a midwest thing? I have an entire recipe box of rhubarb recipes from dessert to savory sauces but my favorite rhubarb edible right now is rhubarb jalapeno jam. So damn good! Especially love it as a cheese accoutrement. I have a friend who makes really good homemade rhubarb wine too.
    I think there’s a rhubarb note in Bergamote from The Different Company, (Oh which I’m wild for.) I like the CdG scent as well. I haven’t tried London yet, so thanks for the heads up!

    • Ann says:

      Hi, Joanna, I think it may be a Midwest thing, or at least in Northern-ish states where it’s cold enough to grow it. The jam and the wine sound lovely, and though I’m not much of a drinker at all, I might have to have a glass of that once, just to try it. Thanks — I’ll have to try TDC’s Bergamote now.

      • Ann says:

        Funny story: In my college days, I went into a Kroger here in the South in late spring to ask if they might have some rhubarb. The produce guy smiled and nodded and then proudly led me over to a section of rutabagas. Talk about disappointed!

  • Eldarwen 22 says:

    I’ve never like rhubarb for some reason. What I have been craving is grilled pineapple (just throw it on the grill). No fancy ingredients or fancy sauces that many whole foods or regular grocery stores push now for me. I find that annoying that grocery stores are pushing this fancy and expensive stuff in your face that is even more expensive than regular groceries. Probably what sent me on pineapples was Worth’s Courtesan and I normally don’t like fruity in perfumes.

    • Ann says:

      Grilled pineapple sounds delicious and so easy, too! I like Courtesan as well but didn’t realize it had that note. I’d better get my decant and get sniffin’!

  • Gwenyth says:

    I live “out West” in Idaho. Rhubarb has been a staple in gardens here from my Grandmother’s day to the present. Everyone I know has a plant or two! Our summer treats consist of Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie, Rhubarb Custard Pie (not really custardy, just fruit in a rich eggy/sugary base with nutmeg!), Rhubarb Crumble, Rhubarb UpsideDown Cake and Rhubarb Dump Cake….

    I’ve not identified Rhubarb as a note in perfume, however. To my nose, rhubarb has a somewhat “generic fruity” smell to it that is not immediately specific to my mind. I must investigate more!

    Fascinating post. Thanks. 🙂

    • Teri says:

      Gwyneth, you have given me hope. I need to take my rhubarb search farther afield.

    • Ann says:

      Yum! All those sound so wonderful; my cravings are now officially off the charts!

  • Teri says:

    Love love love rhubarb. It was always a staple in my family’s upper Midwest gardens. I never found the recipe in her files when my grandmother passed, but she used to make divine rhubarb pickles which I’ve never run across anywhere else. And Kristen, we had that same dessert in our family’s repetoire, too. Yum! But I think the pie remains my favorite. And it’s true, you rarely ever see it out West where I live now.

    I, too, was disappointed by the CdG Rhubarb scent. It was just a little ‘off’ somehow. The rhubarb scent I like the most is Ciel Mon Jardin by le Prince Jardinier that I believe has been discontinued. I bought 2 bottles when Lucky Scent remaindered it, though, so that should keep me going for a while.

    Oh dear, I’ve just become one of those annoying people who praises something you can’t get anymore. lol Sorry about that.

    • Ann says:

      I’ve not heard of rhubarb pickles, and that sounds interesting. Thanks for the heads-up on it. I’m not a gardener AT ALL, but if I could get rhubarb to grow here in the South, I would become one in a flash just to have a little patch of the plants. Alas, it’s not to be …

  • rosarita says:

    Love rhubarb! I had an old patch at another old house I lived in; when we moved, I transplanted it to my parent’s house. I used to make strawberry rhubarb freezer jam every year. The recipe is in the old Joy of Cooking. We grew up on pies and stewed rhubarb and I still love it, but the amount of sugar needed to make it edible keeps it out of reach these days. I’ve not smelled rhubarb in perfumes. It’s so astringent I can’t quite imagine how it would smell.

    • Ann says:

      Hi, lady! Hope you’re doing well. We had a lot of the stewed rhubarb you mentioned — mmmm …. mmmm good. It sure does take a lot of sugar, but for a seasonal fix, my philosophy is go for it, and cut back elsewhere! Sure wish I could grow some down here …

  • Elizabeth Watson says:

    I love rhubarb and have had two large clumps of it growing in my garden & yard for quite a few years now. Somehow I can’t imagine it as a fragrance note, but it sure makes for some great pies, crumbles, etc. I wouldn’t dream of cooking strawberries with it–for me, cooking destroys the delicate flavor of the berries. I gave some stalks to a friend who made rhubarb frozen (Greek style) yogurt in her ice cream maker. It was delicious! And try rhubarb compote with pineapple…

    • Ann says:

      Ah, another lucky rhubarb grower (and purist)! The pineapple pairing has piqued my interest — that’s not a combo I would have thought of. And a big yum on that yogurt, too. Thanks!

  • Karin says:

    Hi Ann. I’m crazy about the new Aedes scent. Also love London.

    • Ann says:

      Howdy, Karin — great to see you! Glad you like London, too! I’m hoping to try the new Aedes soon as well.

  • Poodle says:

    I love rhubarb. I have a bunch growing in the yard but I haven’t picked much this year. I hope to get out there this week and pick some and perhaps make a pie or something. I usually go on a rhubarb bender but my bathroom scale has kept me in check this year. Hubby won’t eat the stuff so if I make anything I eat it all by myself.

    Can’t say I have much reference for it in fragrances but I did smell that limited edition Jo Malone recently that had a rhubarb note. I thought it was okay but not anything I’d want to wear.

    • Ann says:

      Oh Poodle, you’re kind of like me — DH will only eat it if it’s co-starring with strawberry. But that’s OK; I still get my fix in. I’ve only tried that Jo Malone once and I was on the run and it didn’t get a worthy trial, so I must remedy that. Lucky you to have some growing — I’m green with envy (or should that be red?)! 😉

  • Kirsten Scranton says:

    LOVE rhubarb! I had some transplanted in my backyard in Colorado from my Grandma’s plants in her garden in Illinois. I don’t know if the renters in CO know what it is…it has a hard time there, and needs extra water, but even one Rhubarb Dream dessert was worth it! (No strawberries, Ann, just the rhubarb in an eggy-sugar sauce on top of a powdered sugary crust…heaven!) I haven’t tried London by Guerlain yet… but given that my All Tme Favorite Holy Grail Parfum is Apres L’Ondee EDP (the vintage good stuff!) I will give it a try. Thanks so much for the yummy post!

    • Ann says:

      Kirsten, that sounds just wonderful! It’s so nice that you’ve got your grandma’s plants — definitely worth the extra work! I got my love of rhubarb from my grandparents in Ohio who raised me and we had it for breakfast, over ice cream, all kinds of good stuff. But here in the South I think it’s just too hot and humid for it to grow well.

  • dinazad says:

    I seriously love rhubarb – in any form. Right now I’m on a rhubarb bender: cake, pie, muffins, compote, lentils with rhubarb…. droooooool….. Gotta get as much in as I can while the short season lasts (only two more weeks 🙁 !)

    Unfortunately, rhubarb scents are rather fleeting – I loved the CdG Rhubarb Sherbet, but it lasted all of two minutes on me. And after the rhubarb note in Guerlain London disappears (within seconds on me), the rest of the fragrance is a bit uninspiring.

    Les Roses de Rosine did a wonderful combo of rose and mint in Diabolo Rose – let’s hope they come up with a rhubarb/rose combination someday! (rhubarb is lovely with a drop of rose water or a bit of rose sugar, by the way).

    • Ann says:

      Oooh, can I come over to your house? I’ll happily join you in your rhubarb “bender”! The CdG just wasn’t good on me, for some reason, but the note in London lasts a while on me, so that made it nice. Love your tip on the rose/rhubarb pairing …

      • Musette says:

        Me, too! And I didn’t know anything about rose and mint in Diabolo Rose! How did I miss that one?

        I have never ‘gotten’ rhubarb, not eating fruit except in raw form (no fruit pies for ME! ) . But it does smell good. My mom used to make that Spring fave, strawberry rhubarb pie. My dad and brother loved it!!!!

        xo :Devil:

  • pyramus says:

    I can’t think of rhubarb as a food: it’s like eating facial astringent, and I don’t care how much sugar you put in it. But in a scent it can be really interesting: Mugler’s B*Men is very rhubarby up top, and I like it better than the fascinating but overly sweet original A*Men.

    • Ann says:

      I know what you mean — it’s definitely one of those love it or hate it foods, and not easy to develop a fondness for. Didn’t know it was in B*Men; must try that! Thanks …