Choux a la crème vanille but it's not.
It's a choux a la the vert, framboise by Laurent Duchene.
Where ever did the expression 'plain vanilla' come from?
There is absolutely nothing 'plain' about vanilla. I was given two pods to paint at Frederic Cassels. That's PODS not beans please.
I didn't know vanilla pods come from orchids. How plain is that?
Europeans first discovered vanilla in Mexico when Cortez offered them unsweetened cocoa with added the black pod or tlilxot chitl.to temper the bitterness. Mexico held the monopoly on vanilla cultivation until the 19th century because of the local Melipona bees used for pollination. Vanilla didn't arrive in France until 1812 and then was used only for decorative purposes. Not till 1836, a Belgian botanist, Charles Morren discovered by chance the process of artificial pollination. A t the same time a slave on Reunion Island crushed a vanilla flower in his hand and a few days later it turned into a pod. This simple manual method is still used today. Each orchid flower is pollinated by hand one by one. Who knew vanilla required as complex a process as wine or chocolate to grow and develop. More information here.
There were quite a few vanilla suppliers at the Salon du Chocolat.
As usual I got sucked in and bought a glass tube of 10 Bourbon Madagascar pods(10 euros) though I don't bake at all, from Tahitian Vanille du Tahiti.
And I bought a Balsamic-vanilla spray vinaigre which I can actually use, though not this intriguing jar of dehydrated seeds. Must remember to take up baking soon with all these gorgeous ingredients offered.
The absolute Mecca for Vanilla is Epices Roellinger at 51 bis, rue Sainte-Anne 75002. There are two other shops in Brittany.
A whole floor is devoted to a treasure trove of rare vanilla pods.
I must go back and find out more...
The newest issue #10 of Relais Desserts is devoted to La Vanille to pique my curiosity even further. Many of the recipes are and the cover are by MOF pastry chef Laurent Duchene. Late yesterday I went out on a mission to the 13th arr. 2, rue Wurtz.
Searching for vanilla infused desserts though everything looked supremely tempting..
Safe and sound at home after surviving rush hour chrush. I must try to set out earlier on these missions.
I did forget to notice Duchene's baba au rhum graced the new issue's cover...hmmm.
Inside Relais Desserts this smashing photo by photographer Laurent Fau of a mille feuille sitting on a bed of vanilla pods.
If you have the free Relais Desserts app you can see if your local patissiere is a member and run pick up a copy of the latest (free)fabulous issue. And if you bake you're set up for the holidays: glace vanilla et soupe de fruits exotiques, Riz a l'imperatrice, cake vanille, choux a la crème, and crème brulee.
Meanwhile I'll head back to Laurent Duchene for the baba and to Epices Roellinger for further vanille investigations.