A couple of weeks ago at the store I needed to buy some more vanilla extract and noticed that the same size jar of a more expensive brand was on sale and therefore cheaper than the brand I usually buy. And while I don’t exactly go cheap on the vanilla, when I got home I opened this more expensive brand, took a whiff of it, and immediately thought, “Oh my goodness. I have to make some vanilla ice cream.” Literally. I could smell the difference.
The only problem with wanting to make some vanilla ice cream, is that I also needed to get some vanilla beans. So next time I was at the grocery store, at the beginning of last week, I picked some up and put them in my cart, gulping at the price. I went to the next aisle to get some spaghetti, then went back to the baking aisle and put the vanilla beans back on the shelf, deciding that I would just make-do with vanilla extract. They were just too expensive. But then as I finished my shopping I decided that if I was going to make vanilla ice cream, then I was going to make vanilla ice cream right. So back into my cart the vanilla beans went.
This was my first experience with vanilla beans. When I was scraping out the seeds I said they smelled like coffee. Gerrit thought they smelled like a sweet tobacco. One thing we can agree on is that vanilla ice cream with just the extract would pale in comparison to the ice cream made with the beans. This ice cream had the most pure and rich flavor. And while vanilla is usually never my first choice when it comes to ice cream flavors, if homemade philadelphia style vanilla ice cream with real vanilla beans is an option, chocolate might have some steep competition.