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Greater New Orleans

Regional Reports From Across the State

Sausage Platter, The Creole Skillet

Scents and sybaritism
The Dejan House on Royal Street in the French Quarter houses a shop that could all but be a history lover’s sybaritic dream. Like an invitation to walk in a romantic Creole garden from centuries past, Hové Parfumeur Ltd. offers romantic, old-fashioned fragrances amid splendid antiques. Hové has been creating delicious scents in the Crescent City since 1931. Mrs. Alvin Hovey-King, who married a naval commander, was also the daughter of a Cavalry officer and learned the art of perfume-making from her Creole mother. Her passionate love of what was then a hobby took her to foreign countries to enlarge her skill and knowledge of the art of perfume-making. When Black Friday of 1929 wiped out her husband’s investment business, Mrs. Hovey-King went to work. In 1931, she opened her perfume shop at 529 Royal St., the former home of Spanish Gov. Estevan Miro; her family lived in the exquisite apartment above the shop. Since then, the store has remained in her family throughout generations, moving to Toulouse Street and eventually back to Royal Street where it now remains. Hové’s perfumes are world-famous, beloved of both locals and tourists alike.

The Violette perfume has been considered the finest to be found in New Orleans. Tea Olive captures the deeply sweet and languorous fragrance of sweet olive and is akin to being able to sniff the smell of moonlight over the Crescent City. Fragrances like Vetivert, Magnolia and Spanish Moss capture the finer scents of New Orleans au naturel.

Beautifully fashioned gift boxes created by Debra, an employee of 20 years; ribboned bunches of the divine woodsiness of vetiver; shaving soap, brushes and mugs for men; and sachets filled with lavender and jasmine among other botanicals provide wonderful possibilities for Christmas gifts. The lavender is pure and cleansing to the soul as befits a true lavender scent. There was a time when, in sybaritic New Orleans, you could enter beneath the purple sign of K & B Drugstores and buy what I then considered the best lavender cologne to be found in the world, Yardley’s Olde English, for $6.99. Now, to find this time-honored gem, you have to search online only to find it sells for 10 times that amount.

Prices at Hové are as delicious as their products. Even the soap boxes that hold their French-milled tallowed soaps are things of beauty.

With the progression of feminism, I noticed in the ‘90s that wearing perfume was deemed verboten by some women.

I even worked with women who made it a point to hold their noses whenever I came near them because I wore perfume – one of them eventually slapped a subordinate across the face, so I just considered the source, even as I wore more perfume just to show them.

Perfume in my family was a genteel tradition. Christmas was not complete if there wasn’t a bottle of perfume under the tree each year; one bottle lasted the year even when perfume was worn daily.

A visit to Hové may remind you that if you say you don’t want to smell nice, your nose just may grow longer!

Hove’s Parfumeur, 824 Royal St., New Orleans, (504) 525-7827

Skill of the skillet
Located in a 200-year-old building that was once a cotton warehouse, the Creole Skillet Restaurant is a perfect stop after cold-weather forays to the Warehouse District or the World War II or Children’s museums. It’s also a perfect stop après late-afternoon holiday gatherings where you may imbibe more than you eat – take the edge off that appetite by first ordering the Mardi Gras Macque Choux Fritters. Fire-roasted corn that complements spicy crawfish and tomato grilled fritters make a perfect cantata of flavors with an added cymbal-crash of rémoulade topping. The hearty Sausage Platter may suit your late-autumn and early-winter cravings for grilled boudin, andouille and alligator sausage served with dipping sauces of sweet barbecue and orange mustard. Move on to the culinary creativeness of the entrees – Mrs. Jennifer’s Filet Rockefeller is a dish with twin petite filets wrapped in sweet smoked bacon and served with flash-fried Louisiana oysters, creamed spinach and hollandaise sauce kicked up with spice. Boneless duck delightfully filled with a stuffing made with andouille covered in a Steen’s-Creole mustard glaze is served with sides of collard greens and sweet potatoes that make you glad cold weather has come to Louisiana. Always a treat, redfish gets the imperial treatment it deserves here in the form of Redfish Pontchartrain. A beautiful redfish crowned in sweet jumbo lump crabmeat seasoned with lemon butter sits atop a bed of spinach and artichoke sauté. If, like me, you can make a meal of a jar of capers, try the Lemon Pepper Grilled Salmon. Salmon is seasoned with lemon pepper and drizzled with mouthwatering caper butter, while spinach sauté and herbed roasted tomatoes rest at its side.

The Creole Skillet, 200 Julia St, New Orleans, (504) 304-6318.

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