Friday, January 30, 2009

Not-So-Vanilla Vanilla

I had a close call today. You may have heard of some people that refer to themselves as “emotional eaters.” Well, I have suspicions that I may be an emotional shopper. I’ve never done well with buyer’s remorse, so it’s even worse if I go shopping only because I am sad, anxious or (worse yet) bored. Both conveniently and unfortunately, there is a 4-level shopping mall only one Metro stop from my apartment. Also to my horror, they have a Williams-Sonoma. Ah, to die only to be reincarnated as an upscale cookie cutter hanging on the wall of a Williams-Sonoma….Needless to say, this morning I barged into the store like any number of similes or analogies you could think of to describe someone barging into something. Only now, because of this blog, I have essentially become my own enabler because any little knickknack or ingredient could be justified as a blog post. I think the store clerks were probably taking bets on how much of my drool they were going to have to clean up off of the floor.

Luckily, a good friend has recently directed me to our nearest public library, so I was able to keep myself from purchasing every volume from the Williams-Sonoma cookbook/entertaining anthology. I was also thisclose to buying a set of baba au rhum molds; if they’d had cannellé molds I think that would have pushed me over the edge. What mostly caught my eye, though, was a bottle of Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Paste. Vanilla what? Obviously I am a baking novice, but I have never in my life even seen a recipe that called for vanilla paste. And don’t get too excited, the ‘bourbon’ in the name comes from the history of where the vanilla is produced, it is not alcoholic *shucks* I know. The bottle contends that it is a sweetened paste containing the vanilla bean seeds and can be used as a substitute for vanilla extract in baking. But at $11.50 per bottle I’m wondering if this paste can possibly be worth its price. I managed to resist it this time, but the 3-pack of vanilla extracts from around the world is calling to me. With vanillas of different flavors and characters coming from locales as far-flung as Mexico, Indonesia and Tahiti, maybe vanilla isn't so 'vanilla' after all.

1 comment:

  1. I find myself at Williams-Sonoma looking at the cuterly and wishing/dreaming of what could be cooked and sliced with such a wonderful array of metal utensils of the finest alloys.