Thursday, June 19, 2014

Valley of the Roses

Tom and I just took a little trip through Bulgaria’s Rose Valley. We rented a tiny car, thinking it would be appropriate, like it usually is when we cruise the county backroads of Italy or France. This time we got some sort of hideous miniature Toyota death-trap with barely any ground clearance and toy-sized, over-worn tires. The car probably weighed no more than us.

This may be fine to putter around a parking lot,  but we were out looking at distilleries and between the giant potholes on remote mountain passes,  dirt tracks with high weeds, and the flash flood we got stuck in, the car had no chance. The horrifying whine and metallic shrieks it let out when we started it up the last morning were breathtaking, and embarrassing! But the terrifying downpour, followed by a flash flood down the forested mountain in a remote part of central Bulgaria was somehow passable, even in our little float-away Toyota. And we lived, and the car even passed inspection somehow when we returned it, so no harm done. all in good fun, as we say.

Last of the pink roses into the still
We visited several distilleries, of various sizes, and nearly all of them were sophisticated  and professional, beautifully planted with roses and lavender. Quite different from our Laotian jungle stills, remote Indian stills, and our own small and remote frankincense stills in Oman.

We’ve got some fun and interesting things coming and I can’t wait!
Just a hint of things to come: Elderflower, Linden, and, of course, this years Rose Otto. I’ve just been reminded that we still haven’t received our Corsican order either. And that was from April. These things take time, and even though we ship immediately from the store, usually the day of purchase and for sure within 24 hours, it’s another matter with a big essential oil order and different countries. I totally understand and that’s why we ship in bulk to the US from our Omani distillery as well.
Pink Rose Otto 2014

Bulgaria has some great food, in Sofia, as I wrote before, and Kazenlak has less of that, but they do have a wonderful green grassy area in the central square with magnificent roses, and huge evergreen trees and somewhat friendly and adorable cats flopping everywhere. Other than that it’s pretty limited. The countryside is gorgeous and bucolic, with mountains, lavender and rose fields, and wildflowers. Sheep, cows and horses graze freely and everywhere you look people are gathering wild herbs in bags. You still see working horse-carts, even in Sofia.

We learned a couple of things I’m shocked we didn’t know (as usual.) One of them is that the White Rose is not a damescena variety. It’s Rosa alba. Only. The white rose season overlaps with the pink one; it’s just a little later so even though the pink roses ended this week, the white ones are still blossoming like crazy, being picked and packed into the stills.

For anyone who might not easily remember the difference between the odors of these two roses, the pink ones are juicier, richer, stronger, and more feminine I think. The white as less strong, a little more austere and with green notes, while still maintaining their strong rose personalties. If the white is spirit, the pink is emotion. If the white is yoga, the pink are tantra. If the white are kirtan, the pink are the blues.

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