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The Orchard The Orchard by Jeffrey Stepakoff
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The Orchard Quotes Showing 1-30 of 32
“A good fragrance is really a powerful cocktail of memories and emotion.”
Jeffrey Stepakoff, The Orchard
“Whether we like it or not, we all come from someplace. And at some point in our lives, we have to make peace with that place.”
Jeffrey Stepakoff, The Orchard
“An apple tree is just like a person. In order to thrive, it needs companionship that's similar to it in some ways, but quite different than others.”
Jeffrey Stepakoff, The Orchard
“A soaking rain had just stopped, and his boots sank deeply into the nitrogen-rich soil. The entire orchard smelled of wet wood and ripe fruit. It was a strong dizzying scent, and nothing else was quite like it- though his grandfather used to say this smell was identical to the limestone caves of Lower Normandy: cold and dripping, where cask upon cask of Calvados, the great fortified apple brandy of Norman lords, slept away the years.”
Jeffrey Stepakoff, The Orchard
“This is Clive Christian Number One. It's one of my favorite fragrances, and one of the most exquisite. It's made from entirely pure ingredients, mainly natural aged sandalwood from India and Tahitian vanilla, but a lot of the other ingredients - the ones that produce the fine top notes- they change slightly every year, depending on availability and the perfumers' preference."
Using her skills, she smelled the scarf. "Pineapple, plum, mirabelle, and peach, heart notes of jasmine, ylang ylang, orris, and carnation. I'm betting this is the '08.”
Jeffrey Stepakoff, The Orchard
“The soil beneath her smelled rich and wet;the only sound in the absolute silence was her breathing. Grace stood still, as still as she possibly could and listened to the quiet, to the stillness, absorbing the strange beauty. She became aware of her heart beating, pumping blood throughout her body. As she stood here alone at sunrise on this mountain, it was more than dreamlike. Accustomed to a world of limestone-tiled hallways lit by tungsten-filament halogen that smelled of artificial lemon and barbecue chemicals and digitized french fry-flavor molecules, Grace felt that she had stumbled into another world. This high peaceful place, it was heavenlike.”
Jeffrey Stepakoff, The Orchard
“She loved watching him eat, as she always loved watching someone enjoy her flavors. But this was also very different. She could hear him breathing and making involuntarily sounds of enjoyment while he chewed and swallowed. It was primal, and she was intrigued, watching him lose control and give in to that.”
Jeffrey Stepakoff, The Orchard
“She leaned over the basket again, taking in the mouthwatering aromas wafting out of it. "Fried chicken? Oh, I'm thinking buttermilk fried chicken?"
Dylan was once again amused. "How do you do that?"
"I like food."
"You don't say."
"And I love Southern fried chicken." She tried to open the basket, and he tapped her hand jokingly.
"Sit," he said.
And she did, crossing her legs and plopping down on the blanket.
Opening the basket and playing waiter, Dylan began removing flatware and plates and red-checkered napkins, and then wrapped food. "For lunch today in Chez Orchard de Pomme, we have some lovely cheese, made from the milk of my buddy Mike's goat Shelia." He removed the plastic wrap, which covered a small log of fresh white cheese on a small plate, and handed it to her.
Grace put her nose to the cheese. It was heavenly. "Oh, Shelia is my new best friend."
"It's good stuff. And we have some fresh chili corn bread. The corn, I think, is from Peter Lindsey's new crop, just cut out from the maze, which is right down this hill." He motioned with his head toward the field, and then he handed her a big loaf of the fresh corn bread wrapped loosely in wax paper.
"It's still warm!" Delighted, she held it to her cheek.
Then he pulled out a large oval Tupperware container. "And, yes, we have Dolly's buttermilk fried chicken."
Grace peeled open the top and smelled. "Fabulous."
"It is!"
He also pulled out a mason jar of sourwood honey, a sack of pecans, and a couple of very cold bottles of a local mountain-brewed beer.”
Jeffrey Stepakoff, The Orchard
“There was something about the scent of apple, she thought, that was truly unique to just that fruit-- it really did touch on so many childhood memories. Probably because it was among the first baby foods so many ate.
"This is going to be so very popular," she said thoughtfully. "I might tone down some of the earth notes, maybe bring up some of the brightness."
Dylan observed as she made some exacting adjustments to the dials while simultaneously watching their correlating meters.
Grace took a few quick sniffs, smiled, and then held the nose cup to his face again. He put his hand on hers and drew the cup even closer.
"I think this balance would make a lovely cider or a blend to an organic cinnamon and apple oatmeal," she said.
"Yes," said Dylan, nodding. "Hot from the pan on a cold autumn morning. I can absolutely smell that."
"Let's bring up a spice note, warm up the composition a bit." Watching his face, her left hand still with his, her right hand reaching out to the dials, Grace adjusted the machine, and she could see from his face when she was hitting just the right notes.
Dylan started laughing.
"What?" she asked happily.
"I smell my mother's apple pie." He pressed his warm hand to hers on the cup as he inhaled. "That's amazing!" Then he grabbed her hand and moved the cup toward her. "Here, you have to try this."
Their hands still together, she inhaled. "Oh, this 'is' amazing. Yum." Grace reached for a dial and adjusted it. "I think I can bring up a butter note in here." A blissful expression came over her face as she sniffed the computer's new modulation. "Try this," she said, moving the cup toward Dylan.
Eagerly, he leaned in to her, his head nearly against hers, their hair touching as she held the nose cup out for him. He took in a whiff. "How about just a little more butter?"
She adjusted a dial and leaned even closer, so that they were both taking in the scent from the one nose cup.
Grace turned to him and they locked eyes, their faces together, their hands together on the nose cup before them, which eased forth the intoxicating aroma of hot apple pie.”
Jeffrey Stepakoff, The Orchard
“A visible cloud of steam rose from a long wide pipe protruding from the roof of a large concrete factory-like building nearby, and the air all around was filled with the intensely savory scent of barbecue potato chips, a flavor being manufactured in quantity for one of Southern's vendors.
Grace knew that the barbecue scent came from a massive vat of liquefied compounds, which could be cooled and then poured into hundreds of fifty-five-gallon drums in the morning, carefully sealed, loaded onto tractor-trailers, and shipped out, to be warehoused for as long as two years and then, eventually, utilized in the industrial production of billions of pounds of highly processed potato-based snack foods. She knew what she smelled was a by-product from the manufacture of a highly concentrated chemical.
Nevertheless, the scent evoked picnics in the park, bag lunches in elementary school lunchrooms shared over laughter with her dearest friends, long-buried feelings from childhood that rose from her heart.”
Jeffrey Stepakoff, The Orchard
“His clean skin had a sweet earthy scent, like ripe roasted breadfruit, or warm oiled saddle leather. It was an evocative fragrance that rambled through her blood, at once comforting and licentious.”
Jeffrey Stepakoff, The Orchard
“On top of a goodly helping of baby lettuce, Grace placed a neat rectangle of grilled salmon, and then precisely five cherry tomatoes, five broccoli florets, five baby carrots, five cucumber slices, and five slices of green bell pepper. She liked the balance and symmetry of the meal she had made. Still, she liked almonds more, and daring to disrupt the balance of the universe, she threw in a spoonful of an unknown number.”
Jeffrey Stepakoff, The Orchard
“When I was a kid," he said, "I used to run around this place barefoot, until I stepped on one of those pop-tops. I have a semicircular scar, big one, on my heel."
A hand on the doorframe for support, he lifted up one of his feet and pointed. She stopped, looked, seeing the little scar that was virtually identical to the one on 'her' foot.”
Jeffrey Stepakoff, The Orchard
“After several hours of preparing, cooking, eating, and laughing together, the kitchen was now lit by the glow of candlelight, and the entire house filled with the glorious aroma of freshly roasted heritage turkey. While Dylan had readied the bird with a few sprigs of chopped rosemary, ground black peppercorn, and a splash of maple syrup, Grace and Carter gathered fall beans and bush squash and a few little sugar pie pumpkins, and cooked the vegetables along with the sweet corn that Carter had brought home.”
Jeffrey Stepakoff, The Orchard
“Grace handed the rose back to the old vendor; then she turned and started to walk away.
After a few steps, unable to resist the fragrance still in her mind, she stopped and came back. "Hungarian, right?" she asked the vendor as she pointed to the bucket of pinkish roses, spying Patrick's curiosity.
"They're roses, lady," he said.
Grace bent over and stuck her face right into the heads of the entire bucketful of sweet-scented pinkish flowers. "Rosa gallica officinalis, definitely," she said mostly to herself. "I'm betting from east of the Danube, probably in the plains around Scabolcs-Szatmar-Bereg," Grace pronounced with a pretty good East European accent. She smelled them again, pulled herself away, and again mumbled to herself aloud. "Great depth. Would make a killer base note in a spicy summer parfum." She looked again at Patrick and pointed to the pinkish flowers in the bucket, and quickly walking away, she stated with a professional tone: "Those are nice."
Undoubtedly, Patrick noted, this was a woman much more interested in roses than in the men who presented them.”
Jeffrey Stepakoff, The Orchard
“Grace rolled up her sleeves and joined the group in the kitchen, where Gladys, Pablo's wife, had worked all day directing many other women who kept food pouring out the front and side door, onto a long series of folding tables, all covered in checkered paper table cloths. While some of the women prepped and cooked, others did nothing but bring food out and set it on the table- Southern food with a Mexican twist, and rivers of it: fried chicken, chicken and dumplings, chicken mole, shrimp and grits, turnip greens, field peas, fried apples, fried calabaza, bread pudding, corn pudding, fried hush puppies, fried burritos, fried okra, buttermilk biscuits, black-eyed peas, butter bean succotash, pecan pie, corn bread, and, of course, apple pie, hot and fresh with sloppy big scoops of local hand-churned ice creams.
As the dinner hours approached, Carter grabbed Grace out of the kitchen, and they both joined Sarah, Carter's friend, helping Sarah's father throw up a half-steel-kettle barbecue drum on the side of the house. Mesquite and pecan hardwoods were quickly set ablaze, and Dolly and the quilting ladies descended on the barbecue with a hurricane of food that went right on to the grill, whole chickens and fresh catfish and still-kicking mountain trout alongside locally-style grass-fed burgers all slathered with homemade spicy barbecue sauce. And the Lindseys, the elderly couple who owned the fields adjoining the orchard, pulled up in their pickup and started unloading ears of corn that had been recently cut. The corn was thrown on the kettle drum, too, and in minutes massive plumes of roasting savory-sweet smoke filled the air around the house. It wafted into the orchards, toward the workers who soon began pouring out of the house.”
Jeffrey Stepakoff, The Orchard
“Notwithstanding the pressure in the room, this was always an emotional moment for Grace Lyndon, when someone was experiencing a scent she had created. When Grace was a little girl, her mother became very sick and lost her ability to hold down food, and in her final days lost her sight. But her sense of smell remained, strong as ever, and young Grace would bring to her mother's bedside fresh cut flowers, lilac and iris and tea rose, the sweet scents infusing the room with light and earth and memories long forgotten, and Grace brought in special foods to smell, like warm orange-ginger rolls, glazed and fragrant as winter holiday mornings, and cotton linens, laundered in lavender water and line-dried so you could smell the sun in them, and slices of ripe apples, a scent so perfect that in the end, it made her mother cry bittersweetly.”
Jeffrey Stepakoff, The Orchard
“Look, Herb, I could keep you all here all afternoon, sniffin' and slurpin' pink Peruvian peppercorns and criollo cacao, and cinnamon and cascarilla and coriander, and caraway and carrot seed and so much climbing ylang-ylang you couldn't tell a cup of tea from a cup of turpentine.”
Jeffrey Stepakoff, The Orchard
“Then she remembered. The apple. Reaching over to her bag on the passenger seat with her right hand, left hand on the wheel, Grace grasped the apple like a baseball and brought it to her face. Again, she held it under her nose and took in its scent. Wow. Even with the wind blowing around her, the fragrance was full and lush and sweet- though not overtly, like so many of today's commercially bred grocery store apples, but deep, dark, sugared, as the night in a Caribbean cane field.”
Jeffrey Stepakoff, The Orchard
“Taking in the scents of very high-end colognes and perfumes, a whiff of Joy, a trace of Shalini, equally exquisite whiskeys and wines, a mossy Islay, Lagavulin perhaps, first-growth Bordeaux, Latour definitely, a distant hint of Cohiba, Grace headed towards the bar. A melange of fascinating and captivating foods, spiced Kobe beef bao buns and Georgia shrimp and grits souffle and warm Coca-Cola chocolate cake, wafted from a variety of restaurants and open spaces to where Grace stood at the entrance, a cozy intimate living room-like space populated by a very well-dressed, well-heeled, and decidedly young crowd, to which Grace looked as though she belonged.”
Jeffrey Stepakoff, The Orchard
“I dug wild mushrooms out of a jungle in Gabon, plucked 'Vanilla pompona' orchids from Madagascar treetops, tracked down Sichuan hot pot pepper in a seedy back alley in Shanghai. I've sniffed test tubes filled with scents that are not of this earth. But I have never quite been struck the way I have been struck by your apple.”
Jeffrey Stepakoff, The Orchard
“Turning a corner, she encountered the smell of fried chicken. One of the test kitchens had been working on a new product for a fast-food client, developing a proprietary sauce for a new kind of sandwich to compete with one KFC had recently brought to market. It had no bun, but rather two pressed chicken segments deep-fried in a shortening of processed lard and beef fat, wrapped around thick shingled bacon and a slice of provolone, and smothered in this hydrogenated oil-based sauce.”
Jeffrey Stepakoff, The Orchard
“You ask a lot of questions for a girl in a tree."
"Asking questions is a sign of intelligence."
"I've heard that. Do your parents know you're out here?"
"You ask a lot of questions for a lady who looks like she's been up all night."
"Intelligence," Grace said playfully.
"Barefoot in the mud? I dunno. You don't 'look' so smart.”
Jeffrey Stepakoff, The Orchard
“Twenty-eight courses?" Dylan mused.
"Get comfortable," Grace said with anticipation.

They came on little spoons, tiny plates, in small glasses, atop mini-pedestals even speared and hung, suspended on custom-made wire serving devices like little edible works of art, which was entirely the point: mint-scented lamb lollypops, osetra and oysters on frothed tapioca, beet gazpacho and savory mustard shooters, foie gras porridge with a sweet ginger spritz in an atomizer, ankimo sashimi on house-made pop-rocks, plums in powdered yogurt, goat cheese marshmallows, venison maple syrup mastic, warm black truffle gumdrops with chilled sauternes centers. Foamed and freeze-dried, often accompanied by little spray bottles of fragrance and tiny scent-filled pillows, the food crackled and smoked and hissed and sizzled, appealing to all the senses. Thin slices of blast-frozen Kobe carpaccio were hung on little wire stands to thaw between courses at the table. All sorts of textures and presentations were set forth. Many were entirely novel and unexpected renderings of traditional dishes.
Intrigued and delighted by the sensory spectacle, Dylan and Grace enjoyed the experience immensely, oohing and aahing, and mostly laughing. For as strange as each course might be, as curious as the decorative objects that presented them, each one was an adventure of sorts, and without exception, each one was delicious, some to the point of profound. And each one came with an expertly matched extraordinary wine, in the precisely correct Riedel glass.”
Jeffrey Stepakoff, The Orchard
“Do you know how to climb a tree?"
Grace straightened her posture. "Yes, I know how to climb a tree."
"Okay," Carter said skeptically.
"When I was your age, I practically lived in trees."
Grace grabbed hold of the trunk and began to hoist herself up. After New Guinea, this was gonna be easy.
"No offense, but you're not exactly my age anymore," said Carter, amused with herself.
Grace squinted at Carter. Then she looked at the wet tree trunk, then up at the girl who was holding her hand to her mouth to stifle her laughter. Grace was more than confident she could just climb up the trunk, but having been messed with, she decided to show the girl a little something.
Standing under the tree, she squatted, and then stood up, and then down and up again, and on the third time, she crouched down as far as she could, and throwing all her weight upward, arms reaching completely outstretched, she jumped as hard and as high as she possibly could, springing from the ground, and with both hands grasped the limb upon which the girl sat.
With amusement and curiosity, the girl looked down at Grace dangling below by her hands, exposed feet swinging in the mist. 'What is this lady going to do now?'
Shifting her weight, Grace swung herself forward and then back, and then forward again farther and back again farther, and forward again even more, and as she swung back, throwing her weight firmly, she simultaneously lifted herself upward and as she rose parallel to the limb pushed down on it forcefully and with a quick twist of her hips- 'plop'- set herself down right next to the little girl.
"I 'know' how to climb a tree," Grace said.
"Impressive," said the little girl as she raised an eyebrow.
Grace grinned, proud of herself.”
Jeffrey Stepakoff, The Orchard
“This kid 'was' smart. A bit of an attitude, but sharp. Enjoying Grace's company, Carter returned the smile and, for the first time, in the light, Grace got a really good look at her. She had auburn hair, close in color and in form to Grace's, actually, but it was long overdue for a decent cut. She was thin, bony, moving in the lithesome knobby-kneed way of a girl at the inelegant doorstep of puberty, but that and the ill-fitting tomboyish clothes she wore could do little to diminish the hints of the beautiful young woman she would soon become. You could see it in her when she smiled. Someone had passed on striking features to her, but there was something else that Grace saw, in the girl's big anime eyes, something mature beyond her years that seemed familiar to Grace, and immediately brought to mind the vegetable garden of her youth, where she used to sit and think and spend time alone just like this.”
Jeffrey Stepakoff, The Orchard
“You have a pretty name."
"So do you."
"Not like you. 'Grace' is the name of a princess or a movie star or, you know, something from heaven. Grace. The fruit of redemption." Carter said it as though repeating something she'd heard many times, which of course she had.
Grace just chewed, her mouth full of apple.
"At least, that's what they say," Carter continued.
"That's what they say." On the backs of Carter's hands Grace could see a few scrapes, the kind kids get from running around in the woods. Grace remembered when the backs of her hands looked just like that.
"'Carter' means 'driver of a cart.' In Old English or something. But everyone thinks of the ex-president of Georgia."
"Well, I didn't."
Carter stared at Grace, blinking, as though looking for something.
"I think it's a beautiful name," said Grace. "It's full of character.”
Jeffrey Stepakoff, The Orchard
“After several courses, Dylan looked at the menu, noting that "Cheeseburger" was next up. "Okay, this is something I recognize," he said with relief.
"Don't get too excited," said Grace knowingly as she sipped the last of a bright and barnyard funky Romanee-Saint-Vivant from a big-bowled burgundy stem.
The waiter stepped out of the shadows and set two servings of the next course on the table simultaneously. Another server placed two very large Bordeaux stems on the table, and then carefully filled each with just one and a half ounces of wine. "This is Chef's cheeseburger," the waiter said. "Paired with the '70 Latour." The waiter and other server then backed away.
Dylan and Grace leaned forward, examining the strange creation.
It smelled amazing, though it looked much more like something from a science class than from a Michelin-starred restaurant-- a tiny piece of freeze-dried cheese on a teaspoon of bison tartare, lying atop a small lettuce pillow that had been filled with Vidalia onion smoke. It sat on a small warm open-face wheat bun, and the whole thing was presented on a miniature plate on which was a little pool of foamed heirloom tomato, and another of foamed mustard seed. And it was all topped with a few droplets of pureed brined Japanese cucumber.
Dylan just stared at it. "I feel like it belongs in a museum."
"I know. It's almost too beautiful to eat," Grace said.
They were both captivated by the variety of scents coming from the presentation. It did, indeed, smell like an amazing cheeseburger.
"Well, I'm gonna try," said Dylan, putting the little top bun on. Grace watched as he picked it all up with his thumb and forefinger, dapped it in the foamed tomato and mustard, and popped it in his mouth.
Dylan's mouth and nose were filled to bursting with all the expected flavors and scents of a great cheeseburger-- bread, meat and cheese, ketchup and mustard, lettuce and pickle. Oh, wow, it was good. And as he chewed, he popped the lettuce pillow, adding just the right touch of sweet onion scent and flavor to the mouthful.”
Jeffrey Stepakoff, The Orchard
“You want to test our apples?" Carter asked.
"I want to find out what makes them taste so special so that we can share that with other people, maybe lots of them." Grace saw Carter's perplexed expression. "You ever had a fruit-flavored soft drink?"
"Like an orange soda?"
"Exactly. Well, somebody found the perfect orange somewhere, studied it carefully, and then made a formula based on its special flavor so that anyone anywhere in the world could taste it."
"In a can of soda."
"Very cool."
"Do you like peach ice cream?"
"Well, a lot of the 'all-natural peach flavoring' that you taste in that ice cream is really Gamma-Aldehyde C-14, a molecule created by Nanjing Yuance Trade Company, which I'm sure is based on a perfect peach they found somewhere."
"So you're like a scientist-cook," Carter said excitedly.
"Something like that." Grace smiled.”
Jeffrey Stepakoff, The Orchard
“Grace leaned forward, studying him up close, able to make out some of his facial features in the clay mask: strong brow, broad cheekbones, prominent jawline and chin. As a flavorist, she was familiar with kaolin clay, a virtually tasteless edible mineral often used as an anti-caking agent in processed foods, various toothpastes, and originally kaopectate. But she'd never encountered the raw product out of the lab, and certainly not like this. She leaned closer to him.
He smelled of sediment and mostly sweat, a decidedly masculine note, the precise replication of which one could base an entire career, and then some. Even the most skilled perfumers in the world, experts in the animal secrets of civet and ambergris, couldn't get it just right. It was a human thing. And she'd studied it, androstadienone and most of the known male pheromones, and she knew the effects certain concentrates could have on certain women. She'd written the reports and seen the CT scans of activity in women's brains. Still, knowing about it intellectually and rationally did not in any way lessen what it was doing to her right now, the effect it was having on her senses and her body. 'Can he tell?' she wondered.
Lean and broad-shouldered, he had the build of a man who spent his days using his body in labor. She could see it in the way the mud set into the ridged musculature of his forearms, like the russeting across a firm apple. Still, the inner details of him escaped her. His hair was caked with dry clay, and she thought of the figures she'd seen artists craft in their hillside studios in Montmartre, with the Sacre-Coeur church on the summit above and the bawdy Moulin Rouge crowds teeming below. He looked like that, an unglazed unfinished sculpture of a man, but for his eyes, vast and deep, and very much alive, as if he were trapped inside his statued body.”
Jeffrey Stepakoff, The Orchard

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