Comme des Garcons Harissa


Last week I bought a gorgeous new cookbook, Jerusalem, and immediately honed in on this Pinterest-worthy recipe for panfried sea bass with harissa & rosewater.


I fully intended to make my own harissa, but I have no idea where to find a good 50% of the ingredients (what the hell is a caraway seed??) Fortunately, I had the next best thing: a sample of Comme des Garcon’s Harissa! Harissa is a classic Tunisian chili paste, popular in most parts of the Middle East. I haven’t had it in years, so I’m not sure how accurate Harissa is to its namesake. According to various online recipes, which call for as many as 12 chilis, Harissa should be a lot spicier than it is. I’ve had a Bloody Mary much more recently; that would have probably been a more appropriate title for this perfume.

Perfumer Bertrand Duchafour chose to emphasize the tomato aspect of harissa over its chili or cumin. Harissa smells like tomato juice with a dash of tabasco sauce rather than a slug of spices. It’s very unusual, but not quite as exciting as the Luckyscent description, which promises “searing heat”, would have you believe. Harissa is much more fresh than it is spicy. This is “niche for beginners” perfumery, quirky and fun without being too weird.

13 thoughts on “Comme des Garcons Harissa

  1. Is that the new cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi? I have two of his earlier cookbooks and the food from them is amazing!
    If you’ve ever had a good seeded rye bread from a Jewish Deli, you have tasted caraway seeds! I’ve never tried Zamouri Spices, but another source is Kalustyan’s in Manhattan. They also sell on-line and they also carry other exotic ingredients and cookware from other countries.
    Too bad the CdC Harissa isn’t all that spicy.
    Let us know how your cooking turns out!

    1. Yes, it is! I’ve been eyeing it for a while, but it was so expensive, even for a hardback (an easily chewable hardback, as Zelda has proven). So when I saw it for 50% off, I had to snatch it up! So you would recommend his previous cookbooks, too? The recipes seem wonderful, but I wasn’t as crazy about the writing. I’ve become spoiled by Nigella Lawson’s cookbooks!

      1. So sorry Zelda chewed on your new book. At least she didn’t chew a $$$ power cord from a MacBook, like my kitty did. (Yes, I still love her). Ah Nigella! Her cookbooks are like having a good friend in your kitchen with you. In my case a younger and far more beautiful friend. Sometimes I can be very jealous of all her talent.

  2. Good for you! I just got Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem too and look forward to busting out some the recipes soon, like that watercress rose water soup one! Your pan-fried sea bass looks great 🙂

    I like CdG’s Harissa a lot. But you’re right: more tomato, less heat, but still very interesting.

    1. Yes, it seems like a great cookbook! In fact, it’s my first non-British cookbook (all of the others are by Nigella Lawson, Sophie Dahl, or Gordon Ramsey). I WISH that was my sea bass, but I must confess the picture comes straight from the book 😉

    1. I mostly hate fish, although I have learned to tolerate salmon and tuna as long as they are smothered in soy sauce. I would be happy to supply you with non-fishy fish recipes if you would like them! 😀

  3. This sounds interesting, though the description does sound more like Campbell’s Tomato Soup than Harissa. And I agree with the other posters that caraway is fairly common, especially if you look toward various breads (certain ryes, etc.) that use them. I’d caution against the big bulk spices as they have greater tendency to be stale or of questionable quality. If you have an Indian market in your area, those usually trade well in many spices (cumin, coriander, cardamom pods, Garam Masala) that really open up a number of dishes. has a fabulous reputation, and I’ve never gone wrong with them.

    Seems like the topic has changed almost to cooking from fragrance here, but it’s interesting since there’s such good correlation in the elements. Now you have me more curious about this Comme de Garcons release.

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