Lemon Meringue Sundae Interlude

A delicious lemon meringue ice cream sundaeHere’s a recipe for a lemon meringue sundae I just whipped up. It’s been hot, sweaty and humid for a while and our patio door is still open at night; a brief few hours of cool breeze. Please note that I’m not complaining – last summer in Britain was like living underwater.

Lemon Meringue Sundae


  1. Limoncello
  2. Thin cut orange marmalade
  3. Good-quality lemon sorbet
  4. The best vanilla ice cream you can find
  5. Mini meringue shells
  6. Whipped cream and decorations to taste


  1. Mix one part limoncello and two parts marmalade into a sauce
  2. Pour a spoonful of sauce at the bottom
  3. Place one scoop of lemon sorbet on top
  4. Place three mini meringue shells upside down on top of that
  5. Pour the rest of the sauce over the meringue shells
  6. Scoop out one more ball of lemon sorbet and place on top
  7. Scoop out a ball of vanilla and place next to it
  8. Top with whipped cream and decorations to taste
  9. Serve immediately

This is a deliciously tangy and refreshing dessert for hot days. Ideal perfume to wear whilst enjoying it: Eau de Shalimar.

Lemon_meringue_sundae_main_ingredientsI used Luxardo Limoncello, mini meringue shells, lemon sorbet and marmalade from Waitrose (but Sainsbury’s lemon sorbet is also good and any nice marmalade will do). Kelly’s clotted cream ice cream tastes very similar to home-made ice cream and suits this concept very well. You could also try anything that isn’t too heavily vanilla-flavoured; you’ll need something creamy.

Scents for Scorchio

Scents for Scorchio - hot weather summer fragrances as recommended by Volatile FictionAs Britain swelters in a heatwave and is set to do so for another few weeks (if the weather forecasts are to be believed), I’d like to share my favourite hot weather summer scents with you.

1. In the green, citrus and herbal circle, we have:

  • 4711 Eau de Cologne (which I happen to be wearing as I write this). It’s crisp, bitter, fresh, cooling and fleeting. Apply liberally except to sensitive areas (so no splashing it into your armpits). This scent can be divisive because it’s so old-fashoned but I think it’s as relevant today as when my grandmother used it. We seem to be experiencing a bit of a renaissance of colognes anyway so why not start with this.
  • Eau de New York by Bond No9. I was given a bottle as a present and just as well, because I would not have been able to justify the price given that this mainly reminds me of a brand of Finnish bug spray. So why is it in my selection of summer favourites? Because I absolutely love that smell as it reminds me of being at our summer cottage. I don’t know what’s meant to be New York about it but to me this is a crisp, green citrus chypre with a citronella character.
  • Eau Dynamissante. A “treatment fragrance” from Clarins – the smell of which is medicinal, herbal, hesperidic and calming and it’s easier on the skin and less bitter than 4711. It’s wonderful on a really hot day and should be splashed all over. Also an excellent, inoffensive scent to take with you when travelling.
  • Citron Citron by Miller Harris is a very wearable, slightly bitter groomed and herbal citrus. Transparent and refreshing in hot weather. I wear it often if I’m not sure what I’m in the mood for and the weather is sticky.
  • Terre de Bois by Miller Harris – it flip flops between warm birch leaves and a boiled herbal sweet. It’s quite masculine but wonderful for anyone who wants to smell green and natural without the bitter edge.
  • Neroli Portofino by Tom Ford is my favourite neroli scent (so far); if I had so much money that I could throw it around without thinking about it, I would ensure there’d be a permanent supply of this all year round. Neroli scents are a perfect antidote to feeling exhausted or over-heated. Give this a try.
  • Le Chevrefeuille by Annick Goutal is a a sad story – the green, slightly rosy flower stem scent is one of my absolute favourites but this perfume lasts about 30 minutes on skin, if that. Another one for if you’re feeling wealthy. Reapplying often will be necessary.

Moving into the overlapping area we have:

  • Mandragore by Annick Goutal, which sits in the hesperidic and green area due to its top notes but moves to a sweet and warm blend of anise and ginger as it develops. This is one of my favourite scents of all time, full stop, not just for summer. I am on my millionth bottle.
  • Dior’s Escales is a series of transparent scents ideal for hot summer days and nights; I own Escale a Portofino which starts out as a Neroli Portofino dressed in a satin nightie and moves into its own thing when a powdery gourmand almond note begins to appear. I recommend exploring this range.

2. In the sweet fruity and fruity-floral circle we have:

  • Sugar by Fresh is a lemon scent but it’s a fermented lemon – to me it smells exactly like a Finnish May Day beverage called sima (a fermented summer drink made of lemons, brown sugar and raisins).
  • Ralph by Ralph Lauren is quite a juvenile shampoo/alcopop-type scent but it’s one of the best ones in this style and incredibly refreshing if it’s one of those days when you need another shower after you’re done drying yourself. Avoid if mature and afraid of mutton-scented-as-lamb syndrome (I don’t worry about age and gender boundaries too much although I wouldn’t wear this to seduce or to a serious work meeting).
  • Laguna by Salvador Dali is the first aquatic scent I not only tolerated but really liked; it has a spicy and a kind of dried-fruit undertone which balances the aquatic elements. I find it extremely wearable and the bottle is just fantastic.
  • The Marc Jacobs giant splash cologne bottles are not only beautiful to look at but a great option if you’re not really after a perfume but a nice smell. They also come with a refillable travel bottle which is absolutely perfect. I’ve tried several and currently own the Pomegranate splash. All of them lend themselves to be worn when nothing too heavy or stifling will do.
  • SJP NYC – the incredibly tacky (but kind of cute) plastic bottle with, uhh, animal prints and what looks like 70s wallpaper, contains a scent reminiscent of strawberry alcopop. It’s the perfume equivalent of blonde bimbo stereotypes but you know what? Some days when everything is sticky and the air seems to have developed a texture, this scent is really fresh and pretty and leaves your skin smelling like you’ve been eating strawberries.

3. In the floral, sweet and sexy category we have:

  • Juicy Couture by Juicy Couture. Yes, really. This is a tuberose handled extremely well; the fruity characteristics have been emphasised, some of the green vegetable elements remain but all of the mushroom tones are gone – and the result is a kind of prom dress tuberose. Wearable, young, attractive. And surprisingly fantastic in hot weather.
  • Eau de Shalimar may be an abomination to purists but I really enjoy the re-balancing of this scent for two reasons: the top half of Shalimar was always my favourite and my mother wore Shalimar so I am simultaneously drawn to it but don’t necessarily want to smell exactly like my mother used to either. This offers the perfect solution. And it smells sexy on a summer night.
  • Datura Noir is a syrupy tuberose wine gum, dripping with booze and seduction. It’s the opposite of the Marc Jacobs splashes; where they are a water jug into which a watercolour brush has been lightly dipped, Datura Noir is a jar of tuberose jam. I love it and it can work in the summer heat surprisingly well.
  • Fleurs d’ Oranger by Serge Lutens. It pretends to be chaste and soapy and a bit blousy and then whooshes you into candied musky orange peel and skanky orange blossom and the vegetable aspect of tuberose. It’s a honeyed, intense experience but wearing it during a hot day can make you irresistible if the scent happens to suit your skin. It can be divisive due to the skank emphasis but if it works for you, it’s absolutely marvellous.

P.S. Scorchio!

On Why Brian Griffin Acting Like a Dog is an Excellent Metaphor For Cultural Displacement (and on why setting fires in dry forests is really, really stupid)

It’s our wedding anniversary today. Yay us! Six years and we haven’t killed each other. We’ve grown closer and happier, partly through having been so well-suited to each other in the first place, partly through adversity, partly because of shared interests and definitely because of our mutual roots in Finland.

When you have lived in two countries for pretty much exactly half and half of your life (I am 41 and came to the UK about 20 years ago), you are at risk of developing a sort of bizarre self-aware dual identity. Your cultural and genetic heritage makes you one thing and your surroundings and learned behaviours make you another. At times it feels like an out-of-body experience; I’ll either have my Finnish self smirking at the English self saying *“please” and “would you mind awfully if…” and generally dancing around the real subject of the conversation like any properly polite English person ought to. And making cups of tea. And apologising when someone bumps into me. At other times, it’s the English person rolling her eyes when the Finnish person breaks free and just has to correct someone who is breaking the rules or cut through the flourish and get straight to the point. The latter feels exactly like when Brian Griffin can’t help but act like the dog he is.

Being a Finn, I love forests (the largest forest in Finland is Finland. The whole country is a forest broken up by 155,000 lakes and the odd attempt at civilisation). Forests are sort of sacred to Finns. Not in a religious sense, but seeing as they’re eveywhere, most Finns tend to learn how to behave in them. Forests are a pain in the arse when you have to create arable land but they also provide valuable sustenance and an important economic commodity = wood. Most Finnish kids have gone berry or mushroom picking at some point in their childhood; skiing in the winter or jogging through them in a torturous gym class in school. When you land at the Helsinki-Vantaa airport, glance out of the window and you’ll see that the airport is pretty much a patch of asphalt carved into the middle of a forest.

One of the reasons we moved to Farnham was that there is a wealth of beautiful nature right on our doorstep, including some great forests. Alice Holt was used as a location for Gladiator and it’s a great place for a day out, but possibly a little too popular (although if you want to climb up in treetops like a monkey, there’s Go Ape and if you enjoy outdoor theatre or want to hire bikes for a bit of a ride through nice forest trails, Alice Holt is the place for you). Alas, it is usually packed on weekends and if one wants to emulate a Finnish forest experience, one does not visit a “forest experience”. So Bourne Wood is definitely our favourite out of the two and you can usually walk and climb around for a fair while before even encountering another human being, much less a crowd. It also happens to harbour a little bit of a hidden treasure for us Finns: real bilberies grow there. These are what Finns call blueberries and the variety sold in UK shops is referred to as a bush blueberry.

Today we decided to climb up to our berry spot and check how they’re progressing (still green or nonexistent; the delayed summer may have ruined this year’s harvest). Climbing up further, I suddenly smelled smoke.

Some absolute numpties had not only littered the forest with crisp packets, chocolate wrappers and empty cider bottles, but they’d set a fire around a dried up tree trunk and not put it out properly, so the fire had continued burning in the undergrowth and spread out from their original fire pit right out to the crisp, dry moss and sticks. The tree trunk was still slowly burning, too. A few more hours and the fire would have reached another dry tree or an area with nothing but dried sticks and we would have had a serious local forest fire.

This was like pressing a big Finnish-psyche-ACTIVATE-button. Not only is setting fires in forests illegal (Finns love to monitor that everyone is following the rules, however daft; even though in this case it really is a good rule) – those heathens had desecrated a forest. A forest! Not knowing how to behave in nature is one thing, but nobody messes around with a forest. I could see that the fire wouldn’t go out with what was left of our water bottle so I dialled 999 and called the fire brigade. We had to walk back to the entrance to meet them and direct them to the spot.

Surrey Fire Brigade being heroes

Surrey Fire Brigade being heroes.

When we were driving home, I started giggling: “I feel so smug about that now,” I said, “and the English me is laughing her arse off.” Being on the same wavelength, my husband immediately understood what I was on about and started laughing, too. “Acting like a good citizen and calling in the fire brigade when someone not only broke the law but broke the law in a forest – and saving our forest from a fire in the process – my Finnish self is very pleased with herself and it’s like when Brian Griffin can’t help but act like a dog but is still aware that he’s acting like a dog, and it drives him nuts.”

But seriously. Teach your children how to behave in a forest. I’m not kidding. I have an axe.


* There is no word for “please” in the Finnish language. The sentiment is expressed by behaviour; by sometimes adding a “thank you” where “please” would go – and generally by either a quick nod or possibly even eye contact. When I visit Finland, the empty hole where “please” would go leaves me gasping for air in hilarious confusion. It makes me feel amusingly uncomfortable not to be able to add it. So I end up saying “thank you” a lot more than expected and staff members in shops and waitresses in restaurants look at me like I’m the woman who fell to Earth. Trying to explain to Brits that the lack of “please” does not make Finns rude; that the language and cultural norms don’t demand it, is a bit like trying to describe a colour that doesn’t exist. It is so deeply ingrained in the culture here that I’ve given up trying to explain it and now use the lack of “please” as a sort of gross-out party trick: “Yes, Finnish people go to the kiosk and just grunt Malrboro Lights… and nothing comes after.” Most people turn a little pale and laugh nervously; it’s way better than a ghost story.